Dawn of the final day.
We had an early afternoon flight, but we got up near the crack of dawn for a special sendoff on our last morning. Erin’s friend, Nicole, whose family we had spent the past several days with, finally made it to Taiwan, and we were able to meet up with her at last in the city. We were all exhausted–jetlag on her part, four weeks of overexertion on ours–but we all decided we wanted to make our morning special.
Amid the sparkling skyscrapers and city sprawl of Taipei is a famously beautiful and notoriously difficult walking trail called Elephant Hill. At the top of hundreds of winding stone steps lies, so the internet had promised us, the best views of Taipei. Even Nicole, who grew up in Taiwan, had never been to the top! So after a reunion a long time coming, we grabbed snacksfor a breakfast on the go, and set off up the mountain.
It was a tough hike, another typhoon was rolling over the island, so the air was damp and the steps were slippery and the mosquitoes were out in full force, but we cheered each other through it and after only about 20 minutes, we made it to the top. The view was certainly as promised, with the hills all around us and the city in front of us and Taipei 101 cutting straight up from the skyline. A few friendly strangers helped us out on our way up, showing us which rocks to climb to get the best shot, taking our picture, and even teaching us acupressure techniques to keep our muscles in tip-top climbing shape!
Everywhere we’ve gone this month, people have asked us: why Taiwan? Out of all the places in the world we could have spent a month, why come here?
There are a lot of answers to that question, but among the biggest reasons was for days like this. For the intensity of nature everywhere you look and for the way that nature mingles with and lives alongside civilization. For the friends, new and old, we’ve had beside us every step of the way, and the willingness of people to show us what makes their home special. For the fact that the people here live big lives on this little island. For peaceful mornings spent on top of mountains.
And now, as we say goodbye to Nicole and get ready for our flight home, we say goodbye to all of you too. Thank you so much everyone for reading along with us on this incredible journey! We’ve both had the experience of a lifetime, and we hope you learned a little about this place we’ve come to love and maybe even been inspired to visit too! If so, send us a message: we know a few people who would love to show you around!
Thanks to all, and hopefully you’ll be hearing from us about our next journey very soon. But until then we’ll leave you with this: Taiwan Number 1!