(image via NYTimes)

I just got off the phone with my Dad. Initially, I was worried that I was going to spend 20 days in Taiwan playing slow painful games of mahjong with my 89 year old grandmother. But he’s assured me that we’ll definitely be visiting other cities and seeing the sites!

I haven’t been back to Taiwan since 1999, so I’m definitely going to do tons of exploring! On my last trip, my brother and I spent hours on a decrypted train from Taichung (central Taiwan) to Taipei. But this time around, I can take the Taiwan High Speed Rail! Taiwan High Speed Rail, or THSR, was a privately-funded projected completed by a partnership between a number of Japanese companies. Now, people can go from southern Taiwan (Zuoying Station) to Northern Taiwan (Taipei Station) in approximately 1.5 hours.

1. Eight Stops: Currently, there are only 8 stops right now (Taipei, Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, Zuoying). By 2010, there will be 10 total (Nankang, Miaoli, Changhua, Yunlin). This makes traveling through Taiwan quick and easy!

(image via THSR)

2. Reasonably Priced: From Taichung to Taipei, which is the leg that I’ll be taking with my Dad, it’ll cost about $18 USD. As of today, May 12, 2008, the exchange rate is about $30 NTD (New Taiwan Dollar or Taiwan New Dollar) to $1 USD. For $36 USD round trip, this may seem like a lot, but for a 50 minute train ride, I’d gladly spend that money so that I can have more time exploring all the cities. Currency Converter

3. Transport system for all Eco-travelers: I love all things green! By uniting Taiwan with this bullet train, commuters and travelers don’t have to make long solo drives in a high carbon dioxide emitting car. According to the New York Times article, ” Passengers who travel on a fully loaded train will use only a sixth of the energy they would use if they drove alone in a car and will release only one-ninth as much carbon dioxide“.

After taking the virtual tour on their official website, I can’t wait to try it out myself!

Fares range from $1- $64 one way. THSR website: http://www.thsrc.com.tw/en/index.htm

Part 2 – The Ins and Outs of Taking the Taiwan High Speed Rail

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