MRT: a Novel Way to Taste the Dry Nightlife of Taipei

Picture this: Shops on the street are closed and you don’t feel like going to the bar. What to do to kill the night? Here’s a whole new way to experience the dry nightlife (yes, you heard me right, no beer, no alcohol for tonight) of Taipei, discovered only by Sooper Jerry!

Taipei is known for its convenient MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system. To be sure, the MRT proves to be the most popular way to get around Taipei day and night. As a result, most of the trains are jam-packed, rendering it almost impossible to find a seat on a ride. But I’m going to reveal a fun way to spend a late evening and savor a lit-up Taipei, that is, on the MRT, absent crowds.

The best time to set off for the small joy ride is after 21:30. Buy a ticket, hop on an MRT train heading for Taipei Zoo. This southbound stretch of the Wenhu line (a.k.a. Blue line) is all above the ground and takes about 20 minutes if you get aboard at the Zhong Xiao/Fuxing station. (Add more time if you start at stations that precede the Zhong Xiao/Fuxing station.) Once aboard, you’re likely to be able to settle into a seat at this time of day, shutting off fatigue and ennui from a day’s work. Not knowing what others think, but I do find it interesting to observe what people tend to do on the MRT. A little attention would soon reveal that what they do is actually as varied as passengers on the train.

Once you arrive at the Taipei Zoo station, alight but do not walk out the station, as the fun part is just to begin. Jump on the other train heading in the opposite direction. Before you board, spend a few seconds quickly passing the train down the platform until you find a carriage with no one inside — this is the key to the unfolding fun that follows. If a carriage is already taken, proceed to the next car. Or simply wait 4 minutes for the next train.

Now you have the run of an entire railcar. Bask in the solitary moment because this thing is hard to come by in a busy city like Taipei. Take a photo of yourself in the cabin; you can pose every which way you like as there are no other people present. Then take a seat and enjoy the quiet of the railcar. The air-conditioned ambience is comforting and hypnotic, accompanied by the rhythmic humming of a moving train.   You won’t miss the opportunity of looking out the window to appreciate the  glittering night views of Taipei, which is still bustling with activity 5 hours after nightfall.

Now you can cap off the little nightly adventure by having some local delicacies (plus a cold beer if you wish) at one of the many local night markets in town.

1. No food and no drinks are allowed the instant you step into the station, dictate the MRT rules. There are monetary penalties for violators. So don’t be tempted to sneak food or beverage into your mouth while you’re onboard alone.
2. Local people tend to keep to right when they ride an escalator, giving up the left side for fast walkers. Observe this practice when you’re moving about in an MRT station.


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