Since we can’t get all the vaccines we need in Shanghai, we occasionally have to try and fit in a visit to a pediatrician on our travels out of the country or make a dedicated trip as was the case for this visit to Taiwan. This was our first international trip out of China so we were a bit nervous and unsure how Charlie would handle it all. Ultimately we were much more concerned than he was and we were lucky that he was more curious than anything else and it ended up being a great trip… though not without a few hiccups.
One of our favorite things about any trip to Taiwan is staying at one of the best hotels we have come across in all of our travels, Les Suites Taipei. While unassuming and not filled with rarely used lavish amenities, what Les Suites Taipei does have is top notch and from the moment you walk in the door a wave of comfort over takes you with their hospitality and the amazing attention of detail. See our full review here for why this hidden gem in Taiwan is so fantastic.
Departure from Shanghai
We flew direct from Shanghai to Taipei on the weekend so that we could do some sightseeing and figure out where Lauren would need to take Charlie for his vaccinations. Since this was Charlie’s first international flight we were pretty anxious and prepared everything we could possibly think of to preempt any possible meltdown. One of the great secrets to flying out of Pudong with a small child is that there is a special lane in the center of the passport check hall to let you skip the long line.
Security was another story as we hadn’t broken down the full Uppababy stroller before and since we had so many things with us it was a blur of computers coming out of bags, multiple carry-ons thrown on the belt, car seat being detached with Charlie in it, trying to fit the stroller in the x-ray machine and realizing the wheels had to be removed, having Lauren go through the metal detector first and then trying to explain we weren’t willing to let the breast milk go through the machine, putting the car seat through and handing Charlie to Lauren and rushing to get through the other side to put everything back together again. Needless to say that we learned how important it is to have a system when going through such a stressful process and the crowds behind you are visibly impatient.
Once we got on the plane though it was smooth sailing. Charlie was sweet as could be and all the flight attendants loved his cute expressions. We were lucky to get a bulkhead seat with a bassinet so after we got all situated I put up my feet and played with Charlie on my legs while we waited for takeoff. This was the moment of truth and to our surprise Charlie simply drank milk and fell fast asleep without even a sign of any discomfort from the change in air pressure.
Arrival in Taiwan and Check In
We flew into Songshan airport, which has easy access to the Brown line that is only two stops from where our hotel, Les Suites Taipei, was located at the Nanjing Fuxing Subway stop. We got checked in and Lauren was just as impressed by the Les Suites as I was, especially at how quickly they got a crib set up for little Charlie. They always have an amazing fruit plate waiting for you, a Nespresso machine that we used extensively given our lack of sleep and a great snack bar downstairs that always has something to tide you over till the next meal or while you wait for your room to be ready.
Lauren insisted that we immediately go find a proper Taiwanese bubble tea and luckily there was a stand just around the corner from our hotel. I’m not as much of a fan of the tapioca bubbles in the tea but fully subscribe to the “when in Rome” philosophy so got this one here. It is rather refreshing, particularly in the summer heat in Taiwan.
Sightseeing in Taipei, Taiwan
We decided to get off to an early start on Sunday so that we could see as much of the city as possible in the limited time we had available. One of the awesome things about Les Suites Taipei is that they can set up your room key to be used in the subway and also give you a portable wifi hotspot for free to use during your stay. That made it extremely easy to figure out how to get from our hotel to the various temples that we wanted to go see without having to figure it all out in advance.
I rocked my baby Bjorn carrier and it was so much easier than having to deal with the stroller and all the public transportation. Although, we didn’t take the stroller because of the concern about ease of access and use in the public transportation, it actually wouldn’t have been that bad since all the stops were actually well designed with very intuitive elevator placement next to specific cars for handicap access.
Another interesting observation was just how mother friendly all the facilities were as we noticed that all the stations has mother’s rooms for breastfeeding. We’ve found that to be the case in general across most of Asia, though not nearly to the same extent as in Taiwan.
We took the brown line and then changed to the blue line and went to Longshan Temple to show Lauren where I went to pray before Charlie was born for his health and for Lauren’s strength to get through the upcoming birth.
It was so much cooler than the first time I went because the temple was particularly full this day and all the people were chanting along together from a religious text. It was one of the most calming and spiritual experiences that we’ve encountered on our travels.
We then made our way to another temple in the northern part of the city that wasn’t quite as busy but was special because we had the monks there write some blessings in Chinese calligraphy for Charlie and then he proceeded to fall asleep in Lauren’s arms. Of course this meant that we were hanging out there for a while and trying to be polite to all the other tourists that were coming over to admire the cute little baby.
It started to rain so we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up, change diapers and restock the skip-hop backpack before heading out on the town. We wanted to go check out one of Taipei’s famed night markets so we had to switch back to our stroller so that we could use the child seat.
We decided to go to one of the more well known night markets, Raohe, that we thought would be easier to get around with a stroller. There were so many delicious snacks and Lauren just had to stop and get some Japanese noodles at a stand in the middle of the market. The one aspect that neither of us could quite handle was the smell of the fried stinky tofu that was apparently one of the street foods that Taipei is particularly well known for. Charlie didn’t quite know what to make of it all and while it seemed curious at first, about halfway through his demeanor shifted towards concern and borderline fear with the crowds so we quickly made our way through the remainder of the street market.
We planned to grab the first taxi we could find to get Charlie back home but then we saw a temple to the left and could not help but go check it out. As soon as we got inside, Charlie calmed down and became enthralled with the red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Lauren captured one of of my favorite pictures of him as he peered upward towards the hundreds of lanterns and I’ve always wondered what was he thinking as he saw such a beautiful sight for the first time in his life.
Eventually we found a taxi, headed back and got ready for his first round of vaccines the next day. Luckily it was uneventful and we returned to Shanghai glad to have found a great clinic for Charlie’s vaccines and looking forward to the next trip.