The Taipei idea came out when I was talking with my friend, but the problems came along (like always).
At that time, we reached a key point of our thesis writing, had to arrange the defence like right then; work had filed up a bit; we were already planning the Asia Wanderlust trip and already had the ticket from Taipei to Beijing; already told my mum the arrival time, how indeed could I kind of tell her I would probably arrive one week later? Sounds hm… not so cool.
Luckily (tried a lot), we made it! Whoohoo.
The compensation was we had to fly to Taipei just one night after we came back from the defence (in Stockholm). Ah, what about the dirty laundries, what about tidy the whole house, and what about preparing the luggage for 4 months? In the end, two zombies jumped on the plane, with two coffees, ready to fly.
With the plane landing in rainy Taipei, things started to become cool, the weather also. We finally slept and woke up.
WHERE TO STAY
Our hotel E-house is located in Taipei city centre Xinmending. It has a really good location, clean, but the building itself from outside is not so “pretty”. I kept my suspicious thought at the arrival moment, but it was all gone after checking in and talking with the nice reception lady.
WHAT TO DO
1. Go to one of the night markets
Oh right, Taipei is a night market city. The night market definition of night market there covers clothes, snacks, cafes, cool small handcraft products, crowds of people, and endless eating.
Rao He night market is more about food. There are western style snacks like fries, cafe, waffles, pancakes, as well Taipei local style snacks like smelly tofu(be careful), beef soup, local sweet etc.
Shida Night Market is more about clothes and small handcraft things. Of course, food is there, but for me, it is like a break between all the local clothes shops. Since it is near the university area, here you could easily find a stylish and cheap outfit.
There is another night market, which is actually the most well know one in Taipei, Shilin Night Market. But now it is not recommended by locals since it became too touristy and hard to find a close to local feeling.
2. Take a hot spring tour
Taipei has a lot of spots of hot springs. One of the popular areas is Beitou. It is accessible by metro, New Beitou Station. Beitou hot spring started its development since 1894. Till now, the whole area is covered by big and small hot spring resort.
3. Pick a book at Eslite Bookstore
It was funny when they hear about this sentence.
“We have to go to this bookstore!”
“What is the big deal, it’s just a bookstore.”
“No, it is NOT just a bookstore.”
Eslite Bookstore is a place to hang out and stay for a long day without noticing time passing. It has tons of books, cafes, music, design shops, and so much more. Plus, it was the first 24 hours bookstore in Taiwan.
4. Dominate the whole city at 101
Like the Eiffel Tower of Paris, Seoul Tower is Seoul, it worth a visit. But the experience of going up went really well. Especially I like the interactive map on top of 101, which you could easily get an orientation of the whole Taipei city.
Taipei 101 is designed to withstand the typhoon winds and earthquake tremors that are common in the area east of Taiwan. Suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor, the pendulum sways to offset movements in the building caused by strong gusts. Its sphere, the largest damper sphere in the world, consists of 41 circular steel plates of varying diameters, each 125 mm (4.92 in) thick, welded together to form a 5.5 m (18 ft) diameter sphere. Two additional tuned mass dampers, each weighing 6 tons (7 short tons), are installed at the tip of the spire which help prevent damage to the structure due to strong wind loads. On 8 August 2015, strong winds from Typhoon Soudelor swayed the main damper by 100 centimeters (39 in) – the largest movement ever recorded by the damper.
5. Have desert at Jiufen
I learned the place Jiufen via a lovely singer Cheer Chen，“The Cafeteria in Jiufen” (video), in her limited edition album “Demo 3”. The whole album is all poems talking, this song is the only one with actual singing, along with a classic guitar.
We went there on a rainy cold day, even that it was quite crowded. Kinda got a feeling here and there, but a less touristy day would definitely be better. This is a Taiwan version of cool, seaside, pretty little town.
WHAT TO EAT
1. Street snacks.
There are many, as mentioned before, you could find them at night markets, but not only there. Snacks are everywhere! I am sure you will not miss them. It might bring some challenge feeling if it is the first time you eat street snacks, but you will love it once you open the door.
2. Din Tai Feng. Link.
Ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times, Din Tai Fung has its roots dating back to Taiwan 40 years ago. With its famous signature xiao long baos (steamed pork dumplings) and heart-warming steamed chicken soup, this authentic Taiwanese restaurant has been making waves with branches throughout the world, including Singapore, Thailand, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and the USA.
Din Tai Fung’s cuisine is all about harmony. Utilising the freshest ingredients paired with a relish for simple cooking styles, the recipe selection is never too rich or heavy on the palate, and is a fresh welcome given the increasing preference for healthy cooking. With a wide selection of enticing dishes, diners are destined to tuck into flavourful creations that burst into delight with each and every bite.
Ah, you have to queue most of the times, takes around half an hour to get in. But it totally worth it.
3. Yongkang Beef Noodle Soup. Link.
It is located in a so-called noodle soup street in Taipei, Yongkang Street. This one is the best beef noodle soup in Taipei city. The restaurant is quite small and old, there is not much to choose from the menu, however , he taste of the soup is amazing.
4. Mr. Black Bird.
Mr. Black Bird became famous by recommended many time on one top Taiwan TV show ” Kang Xi Lai Le”. It is famous for its creativity in the design of cafe, and it’s modern art gallery. The coffee itself is more fun than tasty. For example, they make the sugar like a piece of fluffy cloud, it is hanged there gradually bringing melted sugar drops to your coffee (Really cool for pictures). If one day they put more effort on cafe itself, will really improve the whole experience.
Since it is famous among Taiwan pop TV shows, now and then you might come across some pop stars there as well.
5. Mala Hotpot.
One really good hotpot place. It is buffet, and opens till 5 in the morning. WOW, overnight hotpot sounds….spicy.
1. Black Bean Cafe.
We found this cafe accidentally. One early morning near Shilin Area, with the hope to find just a random coffee, we run into the cafeteria due to the coffee emergency. It is an old (but not vintage)style cafe with some art paintings on the wall. When we entered in, there were two customers inside, both of them not young. One elegant lady helped us to make the order, and recommend us not put sugar into the coffee. After my insisting, she gave us feel drops of her brown sugar syrup she made herself.
The coffee taste stuck on me. We left and came back again, ordered another coffee, still it was just perfect. That made me surprised. Then I noticed that they also sell all kinds of a tool for making coffee, not shining shining tools, more like handcrafted ones. I bought one bag of ready beans from Costa Rica, and one book I saw at the door, called “The Old Cafes”.
This helped to solve my curiosity. In this book, the author introduced some old cafeterias in Taipei, which built up the coffee culture and technique into Taipei. The Black Bean Cafe is one of them. It was opened since 1988, and never changed since then. The owner of the cafeteria, who are the elegant lady I met, and her husband spent their life in coffee, and they made the very first roasting machine Brand in Taiwan, since then, they don’t need to roast coffee from imported machine.
The shop itself has been up and down but never stopped. All the paintings are from one of their customers a long time ago. He was studying in university nearby, and became an artist with the owner’s help and support.
2. Hun Communes Link
To work on the go is not easy. We have been testing and collecting co-working space along the trip. And Hun in Taipei is a good one. It is quite, with fast internet, reasonable coffee offering and some snacks to solve urgent hunger. The price is good as well.
Hope you are not bored reading. The end.