Welcome to Taipei I guess! I have been ridiculed, laughed at for having not been before to Taiwan despite being to so many places around the world. Now I can finally say that Seeing The World In Steps have finally been here. I do have to say that Taiwan was never ever on the top of my bucketlist, or even on it! Thankfully back last year while I had some time off and wanted to take a breather, right before I went back to being a student, Taiwan somewhat came back into the plan. Being the very first time in my 24 years of life, I am determined to go all out and this country bumpkin is determined to see all the must see. Especially seeing that I will probably not come back again!
Previously, I have mentioned about my stay in Taichung, the other city that I went to, and also the day trip that I have taken to Sun Moon Lake, as well as the suburbs in Taipei that I just wrote about. I shall not dwell too much into those anymore. I had about 4 days in Taipei city alone and it was a nice relaxing time. Following on, I would love to share with you about the city and the places that I have been to, it is probably more of just eateries and eateries!
First up, Ximending! The Orchard Road and Time Square of Taipei! This place is the most trendy place in Taipei and also a shopping and eating hotspot. It is also never quiet. The place is kinda of a lively meeting spot. Famous brands lined up the street and youngsters meeting there. Of course, given the Taiwanese culture, bubble tea shop can be found on all corners as well. Street food is another thing as well. The place starts to get happening in the afternoon and is never quiet till the wee hours. This is also a popular place for peaceful protest by the vocal locals.
Ximending is also host to the renowned Ay Chung Mian Xian. The famous noodles that shake up the world. In fact you should have probably heard about this. I had it a couple of times and it is never quiet. You can see the staff scooping bowls after bowls of noodles all day long. Coming at 70 TWD for a big bowl and 50 TWD for a small one. I love adding lots of garlic, and the chilli is so awesome.
Another awesome place that I would like to recommend at Ximending is this humble little eatery at one of the street there, Tian Tian Li. You will definitely recognise it from the crowd as well as the cook frying and cooking up right at the entrance. Carrot cake and oyster eggs flying off the pans! This place is super small and everyone share table and eat quickly. Check out the menu here.
You order at the entrance and pay for it, cash only of course. Then once a seat is available, you will be shown in and food arrives in minutes. They serve up traditional street food. Order their minced meat rice, top with an egg. The soup as well as carrot cake and oyster omelette. Everything is so good and the meal for 3 of us, cost less than 300 TWD. Super cheap and good! Don’t expect good atmosphere, but awesome and cheap food.
Another favourite place of mine was Tanshui, this is located to the north of the city, near the coast area. It is like a waterfront area. Thankfully the MRT brings you nicely there, it takes about 30 mins. I love this area so much. The vibes, the views, the atmosphere here is amazing. I love that you can just carefreely walk down the single street and enjoy the sounds of wave crashing as well. Check out some of the pictures here.
The main area here is the Tanshui Old Street, where it is lined up with street food, souvenir shops, restaurants & cafes. I just enjoy strolling down the waterfront area where you get to see some street performance, enjoy the sounds of wave crashing, there was even live music. I managed to catch the sunset before I head off.
I check out the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall as well as the changing of guards as well. Although it is nothing too interesting.
Being in Taiwan, especially in the mid of summer, you can never say no to shaved ice! The Yongkang Street Smoothie House is definitely one of the best in town!
Talking about Taipei or Taiwan in particular, you can’t of course go without the famous night markets. A local culture of theirs. There are numerous night markets over the country and countless in Taipei alone. Of course the most famous one remains the Shilin Night Market.
I went in the late afternoon, although the right time should probably late in the evening. Furthermore it was kinda of a rainy and gloomy day, so perhaps not all the stores are open. In fact actually, most of the same food can be found in all of the markets. Of course, do not think about the hygiene aspect and you will have a great time, with that being said, it seems much cleaner than street food in other country as well. Shilin is located around a couple of streets in the area. It is pretty unorganized. Here are some of the memorable mentions of the night. Of course, always go to a market hungry. I love the grilled mushrooms.
Besides Shilin, the other market that I went to was the Raohe St Night Market. This is located in the Songshan area. In fact I prefer this much more than Shilin and had a much better time. First of all, the food is much more varied. The layout is also much better, it is located down one long stretch of the street, there are stalls on both sides and you can just walk on one side down and then the other side when you return. I tried the famous Black Pepper Bun, Crispy mushroom, tempura, oyster egg and many many more.
One final place that I would like to introduce was the 101 area as well as the hike up to Xiangshan. Or elephant mountain as they called it. This place is a popular hike right in the city centre. Perhaps the motive was due to the view of the iconic Taipei 101. It is quite a walk actually and quite tough. Especially when I did the climb in the rain. All for the gram right? Definitely shag in this humid weather. It consists of mainly steps, with steep incline. Hopefully this picture is worth the climb. It took me about 30 mins up and down.
All in all, I think that Taiwan is a pretty nice place. Especially for us living in Asia. I used to think that it is pretty similar to Hong Kong, but they are pretty distinct as well. The locals there are nice I would say, which is a stark different to HK. Singaporeans will find the cuisine and the language very similar to us. I would say that eating and spending is pretty light on the wallet. Although taxis and accommodations are more expensive. While the food is good, it does get pretty bored after a few days since they are always around the same flavour. While I don’t see myself coming back, it’s been a nice trip.