On my last trip to Taipei I completed a rite of passage: successfully navigating Taipei’s mass transit system (the MRT). Thursday I took it up a notch: traveling from Shihlin to Neihu requires not one but two exchanges. Also, this time I was not alone; my traveling companions were with me. My mission required the successful navigation of the system with witnesses. Ahem. I mean “company”.
We caught the train at the Jiantan station (on the Red Line), near the Shihlin Night Market. We successfully acquired 3 tokens (one apiece) that would get us to the Huzhou station (on the Brown Line), near our hotel. We made our first exchange at the Taipei Main station, transferring to the Blue Line without incident. When we went to make the exchange at Zhongxiao Fuxing station (from Blue to Brown) I had in my head “change trains at SOGO” and so I inadvertently led the team astray.
NOTE TO SELF: if you find yourself having to drop your token into a turnstile before your designated point of departure, turn around!
SOGO is a huge department store located at the intersection of Zhongxiao Rd and Fuxing Rd (i.e. at that station) and often the locals refer to that station as the SOGO station. With “SOGO! SOGO! SOGO!” running through my mind I followed the signs that said “SOGO” which took us out of the MRT system. We climbed a flight of stairs and entered a hallway that led into the SOGO department store. I quickly u-turned and headed back down the stairs without comment, hoping my engineering companions wouldn’t notice the error of my ways. Fortunately they didn’t give me too hard of a time. Besides, this situation provided a learning opportunity for them to experience purchasing tokens.
The MRT fare is relatively cheap: 45NTD for the whole trip, 30NTD to get us from SOGO to Huzhou (30NTD = ~$1). For about $1 apiece we caught a glimpse of the SOGO department store. If I’d correctly anticipated Saturday’s adventures, I’d have taken the time to go all the way inside and purchase a jacket…but I’ll tell you about that experience in the next update.
So with the exception of that one small side-trip to almost shop at SOGO, we made it safely and expediently back to the hotel, and lived to tell the tale. Except it really wasn’t expedient – I think it took more than twice as long as a cab ride would’ve taken, but where’s the adventure in a cab ride? Unless it includes short cuts….