My paradise: Treats of Taipei

My paradise: Treats of Taipei

by Tech Sgt. Joely M. Santiago
AFN Pacific

When you Google the word paradise, images of palm trees, beaches and waterfalls populate your page.  For many, that’s the epitome of paradise.  And it is for me too… kind of.  My paradise lives in the undiscovered.  Experiencing new things and seeing new places.

This year, I was lucky.  I traveled a lot.  I saw so many awe-inspiring places, met plenty of fun and friendly people and ate plateful after plateful of exotic (at least to me) foods.  But out of all the places I went, Taipei was my favorite paradise.

It’s the kind of place that has something for everyone.  If you like shopping, history, the arts, culture, nightlife, food or the great outdoors, you can find it in Taipei.  And it’s easy-to-navigate public transportation system makes it easy to see and do it all.

I only had five days to get in as much of Taipei as I could, and there’s so much, so sleep was on the backburner for the week.  My first priority was food—spicy beef noodles in particular.  So after a little research, I set my sights on Yong Kang.  We arrived to find a line half a block long of locals and foreigners alike waiting to get their serving of noodles.  I was certain this meal would be legendary, and it did not disappoint.  The noodles were spicy and flavorful, the beef tender and well-seasoned and the side dishes… well, there are no words.  It only took one meal to know that this place would be everything I hoped for and so much more.

After dinner, we went for dessert and city views at Taipei 101—the tallest building in the city.  Seeing how big Taipei is from up high inspired me to set a rough itinerary of how I wanted to spend the remaining four days.  I’m the wing-it type, so I didn’t have anything planned.  But my time was limited and there was a lot more to see than I’d originally anticipated.

I spent the remaining time visiting parks, hiking hills and mountains, checking out monuments and museums, exploring nearby cities, feasting on street foods, navigating through night markets and frequenting temples and art galleries.  It was incredible.  Taipei was so clean and vibrant.  The people were so kind and warm.  The food was unique and gratifying.  And the fact that nearly everyone spoke or understood enough English to assist me in getting around, made the experience that much better.

I could write pages about how phenomenal this trip was and city is,  but I think it’s best to experience it for yourself.  Take my word for it, it’s worth it… even if only for the food.

• Why I like working for AFN: I like working for AFN because I like having a hand in bringing a little bit of home to those of us stationed overseas.  I know how important it is to have the things that make you feel connected to what’s happening in the States, whether it’s NFL football or the most recent episode of your favorite show.  Those things help make me feel a little closer to home, and I’m sure they do the same for others.  Knowing that makes doing my job every day more enjoyable.

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