In order to celebrate my nearly 90 days in Taiwan, I decided to leave her. More accurately, if I didn’t leave, I’d have overstayed my visa. You could call it a “downside” but I won’t. “Travel” should never be considered a downside.
Probably the cheapest — but least enjoyable — thing to do was fly to Hong Kong and back in a day. An hour to the airport by bus, then do all that airport stuff 3 hours before the flight, fly for 90 minutes, hang out in Hong Kong for a handful of hours before repeating the process in the other direction. Minimum total cost: $160 includes $20 for buses. (Unfortunately, Chinese tourists/business folks have driven up the cost of hotels to a minimum of $100 per night.)
Of course, if you look at $160 as the minimum to stay in good standing, then a number of options open up. Taipei (TPE) is nicely situated near a number of interesting cities.
- Hong Kong, China – 105 minutes – $140
- Okinawa, Japan – 90 minutes – $160
- Osaka, Japan – 2.5 – 3 hours – $200
- Tokyo, Japan – 3-4 hours – $200
- Beijing, China – 2 hours – $210
- Shanghai, China – 2 hours – $220
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – 2.5 – 3 hours – $250
- Singapore – 4.5 hours – $250
- Hanoi, Vietnam – 2.5 – 3 hours – $275
- Bangkok, Thailand – 3.5 – 4 hours – $275
It seems getting to Taipei was the most expensive leg of my journey.
Reasons for Kyoto
I chose Osaka because it’s the closest city to Kyoto. For over 1,000 years, Kyoto was the capital city of feudal Japan. Because it was spared bombing by the US during World War II and sits on an island, it has one of the highest concentrations of shrines and temples in Asia. Mao Tse Tung and the Japanese Imperial Army insured that many of China’s shrines and temples were destroyed while a civil war and the Japanese Imperial Army took care of Korea’s cultural treasures. Notice a common element? If you talk to older Chinese and Koreans, you won’t hear many kind words for the Japanese. Thus, I was a bit ambivalent about coming to Japan to see their spared treasures. Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
So I reminded myself that these were not the same people who colonized East Asia. These are a people who have suffered under an economic depression that continues since the bubble burst in 1989.
The other reason I chose Japan was because it’s known to be safe. Given all of my adventures the last few years, I wanted to travel somewhere without fear of pickpocketing, scams, pea-soup-thick air pollution, and terrorism.
Lastly, if I waited to winter, then I would be seeing all the shrines/temples in snow. I didn’t bring any cold weather gear to Taiwan. Forget that!
In the next few posts I will share photos and thoughts from this mini-escape.