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Taiwan has a very interesting mixture of flavors. It’s a place of contrasts where cities coexist with a very well preserved countryside life, especially in the Eastern part of the Island. Discover Taiwan by bike and enjoy the overwhelming landscapes of dense mountains and bohemian coastal enclaves either by food or bicycle. And if you can, travel across the island by train. The railway system is efficient. Since the island is not very big, it’s quite easy to move from one point to the other as you enjoy the green tropical views. The people are warm and kind. About the food, expect Chinese dishes with a Taiwanese twist.  If you like trying out special and eccentric fruits, Taiwan is home of very special tropical fruits. Taipei also has interesting shopping options. From boutiques to street markets similar to the ones in Japan or South Korea. Not so much of Taiwanese Fashion though, not yet at least. But still it’s possible to find good travel finds. taipei_sights_web_res_may_13-3268 READY TO EXPLORE THE EAST COAST OF TAIWAN BY BIKE ? Taiwan is the biking enclave of Asia. The roads couldn’t be more bike-friendly, with bicycle lanes almost everywhere. Expect to be hailed frequently as by standers, car passengers or motorbike drivers shout Jia You (Come On! in Chinese) as you pass by. There are plenty of routes to explore the island on two wheels. Bring your bike or rent one on the spot. Local bike manufacturer Giant, for instance, offers a very convenient service allowing costumers to pick up their bicycle and drop them off at different locations. We started our trip in Taitung (台東市), after a three hours train ride from Taipei. From there we cycled an average of 60km a day until we reached Hua lien (花蓮市). From Hualien, trains leave regularly for Taipei. After all the biking, refuel with a snack at the popular Gong Zheng Bao Zi (公正包子) located in the Hualien's buzzing night market, in Zhong Shan Lu 199-2 (花蓮市中山路199-2號 ). It’s a lively spot opening 24/7. They serve delicious steamed pork buns and dumplings. Only queue up if you want to order for take away. If you want to eat on the spot, don’t be shy and ask for a table. Expect little English here, but the staff is helpful even though they look extremely busy. Just point out at what the others are eating and they’ll serve you. No worries, the menu has only a few dishes and almost everybody is ordering the specialty of the house. Oh! And after all the pedaling don’t forget to order a cup of the sweet and crispy Taiwanese Iced Tea. taipei_sights_web_res_may_13-3297 If you have time for one more food experience before heading for Taipei, visit the famous Hua Lien Xian Bian Shi Dian (花蓮香扁食店) and taste their delicious wantou soup.  Again, little English is spoken here, but the extremly helpful staff will guide you through their display of fake- plastic dishes with the different kinds of wantou sopus they have. Taipei is the typical Asian metropolis. Big and crowded but with a personality of it’s own.  Except for the Business District and some other areas, the city is mostly made of narrow, lively and pleasant alleys. So best is to walk the streets when the distances are not too big. Most of the streets are covered by convenient porches to keep you dry when the sudden tropical rain falls. Eat at one of the best restaurants in the world, Din Tai Fung. This emblematic venue specializes in the mouth melting Xiaolongbao (steamed pork dumplings), which are responsible for the restaurants’ worldwide reputation. Read the blog post about the secrets behind Din Tai Fung. Another very good option for Taiwanese food is  ZhuJi restaurant. It has a more familial ambiance than Dintaifung probably because it’s less popular overseas and a more common spot for gatherings among local Taiwanese. Finally, the shopping! If you feel like getting lost into the crowds, explore Ximending (西門町). The area is often compared to Japan’s Shibuya and Harajuku. And whereas it’s as crowded and as shop-dense, Ximending lacks the local flavor of its Japanese sisters. The lack of a strong Taiwanese street wear culture makes Ximending a spot where one can find lots of Japanese and South Korean deals but little of local Taiwanese fashion. taipei_shopping_may13-5165 Da’an district (大安) is a very good alternative. The quiet alleys are packed with small boutiques catering a tasteful selection of fashion items from local and international designers. taipei_shopping_may13-5187  

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