Robert Whiting In search of awesome

Taiwan day two


zoo day

Keeping track of the days is difficult, so I’m taking short notes in Google Keep so I have the days events roughly captured. My day began at 2-3am, cuddling with my jet-lagged kids, trying to soothe them back to sleep. We did end up going back to bed for an hour or two, before beginning our “zoo day.”

more transit

Around 9 in the morning, we walked down to the MRT (Taipei metro) and did just a little better with the kids going through the turnstiles. Our protocol: Dad hands out EasyCard to each family member, Mom scans her card and goes through first, then the kids go through one at a time slowly to make sure the scan worked properly, Dad follows last to make sure it all worked correctly, finally, Dad collects cards before proceeding to the platform.


This metro trip took significantly longer than the last one, so we could enjoy the sights. On the way, we saw a variety of city and jungle sights, including temples, skyscrapers, industrial buildings, schools, and so much highrise housing. It was fascinating to see such a massive city and catch a glimpse of how the locals live their daily lives. mrt2

With each stop, the metro slowly emptied out until we were left almost alone. The Taipei Zoo is the final stop for the brown metro line. From there we purchased tickets at the kiosk. It’s nice to always have Google Lens Translation as a backup, but most of these kiosks have a small button somewhere on the touchscreen for “EN” or “English,” and I’m so very grateful. The tickets worked just like the metro: Mom first, scan card, hear happy sounds, walk through, next person, Dad last. The only difference was that the tickets were QR codes instead of NFC. Taiwan is in the future, or the US is lagging.

Speaking of QR codes. Taiwan uses QR codes for everything, and it’s amazing. Receipts from coffee shops and grocery stores are all standard sized card-like pieces of paper with some basic store info on it, the amount due, and two QR codes for the details. Want to pay via Line Pay? There’s a QR code on the counter. Want to get bus info? QR code. It’s beautiful.


Taipei zoo

We stopped for snacks just inside the zoo to get chips for the kids and a coffee for me. I fumbled through ordering a mocha and kicked myself for still failing to clearly communicate, “一杯熱摩卡” (a cup of hot mocha). It’s such a simple thing, but my brain freezes, jumps to Indonesian (“satu moka panas”), then back to English before completely blanking on “cup” and “hot.” It definitely feels like driving clutch left handed while in traffic. Thankfully, the people here are wonderful and gracious.

At the zoo, we were blown away by the huge and elaborate exhibits for the animals. We saw everything from elephants and giraffes to pandas and monkeys. Typical zoo stuff but way bigger. One unique feature worth noting was the Pangolin Dome. this giant dome had a winding sky walkway that zigzagged through an indoor habitat full of birds and monkeys, waterfalls, sloths, tortoises, and an aquarium. A small group of cotton top tamarins (tiny cute monkeys) ran along the railing and were close enough to pet (we did not).

tiger enclosure

pangolin dome

pangolin dome

Initially, we planned on spending the “whole day” at the zoo to see all the exhibits, but we were fading by lunch. We had McDonald’s for lunch and ate outside because the indoor seating was all full. The pigeons and cranes tried to snag any unguarded fries. fish gibon metalworker iguanas

There were several pre-school or elementary groups in all matching bright clothes. The bench next to us had a couple women and their young children running around. At one point, one of the kids ran out toward the pigeons and picked up a french fry off the ground. Becca and the child’s mom both screamed and lunged in horror as the kid attempted to put it in his mouth. The mom was horrified and had a long chastising talk with the little one. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Some things are universal: kids will do their best to kill themselves and parents will do their best to keep them alive through their formative years–sometimes more comically than others.


Becca impressively ordered ice cream in Chinese, and I successfully paid with cash. We took the zoo train (lightly decorated John Deer tractor pulling a line of cars) to the furthest exhibit and we made our way through the final few must-see animals: hippo, red panda, gorilla, camel.


The ride home was (thankfully) uneventful. It’s amazing how quickly metro transit and navigating the city has become normal. The first time we walked to the metro station, it seemed so far away, but after 2-3 times, it feels close.

zoo entrance

days end

During naptime, I wrote up the blog post for day 1 and picked up some more groceries from RT Mart. I didn’t follow any old men around or get turned away at checkout because of mis-packaged produce.

At home, we buy groceries from one place for a whole week (and many of our groceries last over a month). I’m growing an appreciation for the daily ritual of gathering groceries from multiple places for just the next couple days. “Give us this day our daily bread” comes to mind every time I walk to the fruit vendor down the road because without those daily trips, we wouldn’t have food to eat.

I’m also amazed that the little fruit shop can stay in business. It’s right around the corner from a larger fruit store that is just down the street from a large grocery store. In America, the little shop would be out of business in a month because we don’t walk for our food and we seek out convenience over relationships. Unfortunately, it’s self-perpetuating. I don’t have a grocery store within walking distance, so I drive to the most convenient one. Once a car is involved, I’m no longer engaged in the local environment, I’m seeking convenience from my own crafted bubble. I wish I knew how to fix that.

Becca says I should include pictures. I know she’s right, but it’ll add a lot of time to the blog capture/creation process. I’ll go back and do day 1 too, so you have her to thank for that.

  • Outlined with the help of ChatGPT