There is no secret that our four day layover in Taiwan was motivated by Anthony Bourdain’s ‘The Layover – Taipei’. The cities, the night markets, even the food we tried was largely influenced by this iconic show.
‘The Layover – Taipei’ was the first show I remember seeing of Bourdain’s— I watched it with my son Kei (several times)— which led to us binge-watching the rest of the series.
I found Bourdain charismatic, insightful, sometimes a little abrupt, caring, passionate and compassionate. As I worked my way through ‘The Layover’, ‘No Reservations’ and ‘Parts Unknown’ I saw him grow and develop his programs to where he was challenging my perceptions of countries and cultures and food. He would ask the hard questions, never judging— listening, listening to understand, often challenging his own notions— often over a bowl of noodles. Curiosity, understanding and acceptance of others over a meal?
That’s something I can get behind.
Bourdain’s love of food and exploration of other cultures showed us how food is a critical part of travel, and any chance to share a meal with the people of the country we are visiting deeply enhances the experience. It forges bonds, connections that link us as humans- transcending culture, beliefs, and language.
Taiwan was a great layover before our trip to Japan. Night markets were fun, they allowed us to explore and graze without having to commit to the time constraints and restrictions of menus at sit down restaurants. Night Markets allowed us to try all sorts of local favorites with locals— especially in Keelung where on a busy Friday night we ordered and ate among crowds of families, couples, and friends out on the town. Eating an early morning breakfast on the streets of Taipei at 6am was also a great experience— we got to see a lot of people who worked really really hard all day long preparing food for the average person as they went about their day.
Our premise for this trip was, as long as we make our hotel each night, whatever we accomplished during the day was great— it allowed us tremendous freedom to go and take time where ever we wanted. This backpacking trip allowed us the flexibility to spontaneously explore and experience Taipei, something we could not have done easily if we were dragging suitcases back and forth from a bus.
Thank you Mr. Bourdain for the inspiration- we pretty much ‘winged it’ in Taiwan.
“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find a perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.” Anthony Bourdain