May 7, 2019 Current: Taoyuan Airport
My route from New York (JFK) to Fukuoka (FUK) included a 12 hour stopover in Taiwan (TPE) after a 16 hour sojourn across the Arctic Circle before descending down toward the Pacific. The government provides a free tour for foreign passport holders with layovers between 7 and 24 hours, with a morning option from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and an afternoon trip from 1:30 to 5:30 PM. The tours offer a convenient way to get into Taipei without taking the Metro Rapid Transit (MRT) that connects the city to the airport.
Before touching down in Taiwan, my experience in east Asia was limited to a few weeks spent in Hong Kong. The same dense urbanism that characterizes Hong Kong is present in Taipei, though, in comparison to Hong Kong Island's vertical density, any city can feel sprawling. Taipei capitalizes on its additional horizontal ground plane with rice paddies, densely packed hoop houses and generous basins for its rivers. Its street space is limited - but a variety of material and texture changes make the space feel somehow ornamental.