5 Days in Taiwan Part I

21:01:00



Under the influence of peer pressure, I am forced to push my other backlogs even later and start blogging about my recent trip to Taipei in the accompaniment of girlfriend, Sheryl first lol. As I have probably mentioned before, it was a very impromptu trip. One fine day, we were on the subject of spontaneity and randomly decided to make "next time when we travel together" come true. We were really lucky too to be rewarded for our effort in stalking the websites of a handful of budget airlines - $230/pax with 20kg baggage to and fro by Jetstar for our preferred flight schedule.

On the way to the airport, Sheryl's fiance, Bryan was looking our itinerary and was amazed at how tightly we have packed it. Despite how unbelievable it was, we actually did managed to cover the stuff we have planned on our first day, and I am really glad we did because both of us fell sick on our fourth day and had missed out on a couple of places we wanted to go. We did go out, but we toned down by leaps and weren't as "hiong" as we were or would like to be. It was an awesome adventure nonetheless so do read on to find out the food and places we conquered during our 5-day quest ^.^

National Theater and Concert Hall 國家兩廳院
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall MRT Exit #5



Jinfeng Braised Pork Rice 金峰鲁肉饭
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall MRT Exit #2



Having a bowl of braised pork rice when you're in Taiwan is a definite must. Hence we started the day as well as our trip perfect with a hearty breakfast at 金峰鲁肉饭. What we got was the small portion (30NT), together with bamboo shoots and a braised egg to share. I have had braised pork rice on various occasions in both Taiwan and Singapore but never did I had one that blew me away like this did. Unlike most of the other braised pork rice, the rice here was very soft and came with a generous serving of gravy from the braised minced meat that was both luscious and flavourful. And guess what, the whole meal was only 90NT i.e. less than SGD$4!



After trying to waste some time by taking the bus (125NT) instead of the High Speed Rail from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station, which would have been the faster option and making a detour with our luggage to 金峰鲁肉饭 for breakfast, we arrived at Ximending and waited for us to be able to check in Taipei York Minsu. The hostel is very conveniently located in the heart of Ximending, at No. 23 Hanzhong Street and their rooms are very simply yet adequately furnished. However, we didn't exactly had a pleasant stay so I would not personally recommend this hostel to anyone although they are truthfully inexpensive. And this is all I am going to say about them.

Mala Top Hotpot 马辣顶级麻辣鸳鸯火锅
Ximending Station Exit #6, walk straight and turn right at intersection
** Update: read dedicated blog post here

We quickly headed over to 马辣顶级麻辣鸳鸯火锅 for lunch after checking in eventually at about 11 am. I am not sure if it is a good thing or not but because I have taken just too many pictures at the hotpot restaurant and I sincerely think that they deserve a dedicated blog post for the kind of food and service rendered, I will only be blogging about our meal at this amazing place at a later date and place its permalink here when its published. Stay tuned!

Dazzling Cafe Pink 蜜糖吐司專賣店
Zhongxiao Dunhua Station Exit #2, turn left at Zara and then right at junction



Although most people will probably get to skip the next meal after completing a buffet, we found ourselves at Dazzling Cafe and are eating once again for some unexplainable reasons. Dazzling Cafe is one of the most popular cafes in Taipei known for their pretty Shibuya honey toast, and they are so well-liked by the locals and tourists that the cafe was so crowded that we were informed we might have to wait for up to half an hour before we can get seated even though it was a weekday afternoon. We waited of course, and as much as I find the honey toast enjoyable, especially when it is taken with the ice-cream, it wasn't very evenly toasted as some sides were are crispy while others were soft like our usual white bread. Drinks were acceptable but not fantastic either. I would have skipped it if it wasn't mandatory for each patron to place an order for a drink.



Wufenpu 五分埔
Houshanpi Station Exit #4

We finally started to burn some of the carbs we had when we arrived at Wufenpu for shopping. To get there, take Exit #4 from Houshanpi Station, go straight on the right, and then turn right again at either around Formosa Chang or Cosmed across the road. We were both extremely excited at the opportunity to revamp our entire wardrobe with this trip and had high hopes for Wufenpu in helping accomplishing this goal. Unfortunately upon reaching the highly regarded wholesale centre, we found little on the shelves and mannequins that caught our eyes. Being very quick (or rather, impatient) shoppers, it wasn't long before we called it a day and proceeded to Songshan, where Raohe Night Market is instead.

Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市
Songshan Station Exit #5



If you were to look at the map of Wufenpu, you will see that the boundaries of the wholesale centre is marked by two Cosmed outlets - the one that you will encounter if you came via Houshanpi on the bottom right corner, and the another on top left right along Songshan Road. With that, in order to get to Raohe Night Market, keep walking straight in the direction of Songshan Tain Station along the main road from the second Cosmed, and you will find the start of the night market next to the temple past Songshan MRT station. If all else fails, just follow the bulk of the crowd coming out from the station because they are without a doubt heading towards the same location.

We weren't exactly hungry of course, but in the presence of so much good food in a place like Raohe Night Market, one simply cannot just visit and leave without eating anything. Therefore, on top of the three grilled oysters we have had for 100NT, we also sat down at a seafood stall that stopped us in our tracks when we saw the boss placing giant crab legs on the grill. The price of these crab legs ranges between 200NT and 800NT for the largest you see in the picture below. However, although they looked all meaty, mouth-watering and was indeed very tasty, I personally thought it was too small a portion for the price we paid and definitely paled in comparison with the oysters (6 for 100NT) that were so fresh, juicy and satisfying. Come to think of it, I really regret not having more oysters then!



Another benefit of being "stationed" in Ximending is that it is extremely convenient, being so near to Taipei Main Station and connected to anywhere by the blue and green lines. Returning back to our accommodation from Songshan was a breeze and so we returned to place our barangs, before we head out once more, to another night market that both of us hadn't went before.

Banqiao Nanya Night Market 湳雅觀光夜市
Fuzhong Station Exit #1



湳雅觀光夜市 was strongly recommended to us by a Taiwanese friend of Sheryl for its wide variety of goods and food items. To get to there, make a pedestrian u-turn when you come out from Exit #1 of Fuzhong Station. Continue by walking straight along Section 1 Xianmin Boulevard and finally turning right on Nanya East Road. It take about 10 minutes to walk from the MRT Station to the entrance of this relatively new but huge night market. It was also said that food and merchandises here are comparatively cheaper than in other night markets as Nanya is more of a local night market than one for tourist. Apart from the pocket-friendly pricing, I also like how spacious and wide the streets are so it was easy and comfortable to walk about even though Nanya is just as crowded as any other night markets.

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We woke to an early start and decided to have Spring Onion Pancakes 葱抓饼 for breakfast when we walked by this uncle that Sheryl recognised from her previous trip. These pancakes are actually somewhat similar to the Roti Prata we have in Singapore except for the dash of spring onions and the option to add other savoury ingredients such as ham and corn, and they taste FREAKING GOOD, so much so that we had the Bacon & Egg (50NT) and Cheese & Egg (40NT) almost everyday.



The uncle is very kind and friendly too, giving us suggestions on where to go when we were up extremely early, and reminding us to be careful of the scammers on the streets. We also found out that his wife sells muachi 麻薯 in the same vicinity when I was having the muachi I bought the previous night while waiting for my pancake, and he could actually recognise them as his wife's! Do frequent his stall, usually stationed outside the Starbucks at Ximending if you are looking to try some delicious 葱抓饼.

Addiction Aquatic Development 上引水产
Take cab from Xingtian Temple Station
** Update: read dedicated blog post here

Our first stop on our second day was the up-and-coming Addiction Aquatic Development. Due to the same reasons I have indicated under Ma La Premium Hotpot 馬辣頂級麻辣鴛鴦火鍋 above, this place will be featured in a separate blog post whose permalink will be placed here when it is published. Oh gosh, Sheryl is so going to kill me when she reads this post lol.

Huayin Shopping Street 后火车站百货批发
Taipei Main Station, Taipei City Mall Exit Y17/19



The three pictures above were taken at 后火车站百货批发, where we alighted from our cab so we could shop our way down to Taipei Main Station, where we went crazy with shoes and facial masks. This place is said to be a popular wholesale centre among the locals, and many traditional eateries can be found around this area too. We didn't find anything we like here either.

Since our hands were full, carrying about 20 heavy boxes of facial masks, it was necessary for us to return to Ximending to put our loots aside and take a quick break before we could start afresh again. That was also when we decided to drop by Ah Zong Mian Xian 阿宗麵線 on the way to have the reputed mee sua, and happened to run into and make friends with a group of Japanese lol.



By the way, one of the best street food I have had in Taiwan is the 火焰骰子牛 (flamed diced beef). On every possible opportunity, I will buy this back to our accommodation and will still wish to have more each day, so much so that I downed two boxes on my own on our last day. My favourites are the rose rock salt and black pepper flavoured. Mask-shopping and flamed diced beef, how I miss them.. and golly, you are hearing this from someone who dislikes beef.



Danshui Old Street 淡水老街
Tamsui Station

The view by the bay is really spectacular and there is no doubt a wide array of local delicacies and interesting shops that you probably wouldn't find anywhere else along this celebrated old street. This is in fact my second time in Danshui, and I probably would not have returned due to the long journey up to the last station of the entire red line if not for something I have not done before, like our initial plan to take a bus from here to a cafe we wanted to go. It was unfortunate that we didn't have enough time so we had to scraped it eventually. Yes, this implies that I will need to go through the journey that never fails to take its toll one me some time again T.T



The surprisingly tasty croissants


Some old-school snacks you can find in Danshui



Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Jian Tan MRT Exit #1

Last but not least before we mark the end of our second day, is the must-go place for every tourist - Shilin Night Market. Located just across the street from Jian Tan MRT (please don't alight at Shilin Station), Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most popular night markets in the whole of Taiwan, and is always teeming with locals and tourists alike. If there is only one night market that you can afford time for, go Shilin. Although I didn't really like the squeeze and how agonising it can be to move around the crowd on a hot summer night, this is where you can find the most comprehensive list of vendors selling almost everything from local cuisines, snacks to trendy apparels, souvenirs and merchandises. Besides, they have the same 火焰骰子牛 here too lol.


"Pay Toilet" - charges 20NT per entry and a bottle of mineral water

Aforementioned, we kind of overestimated ourselves and overstretched our time at Taipei Main Station and Danshui Old Street on our second day, hence we had to relinquish some of our plans. If you have more time than us and is looking for some fun and exciting places of interest, do consider Maji Maji Square, Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf, Oia 伊亞藝術咖啡館 and Ningxia Night Market. One of my biggest regrets for this trip is probably not being able to go to Oia 伊亞藝術咖啡館 even though it takes an hour to get to that corner of Taipei from Tamshui. That was how much I wanted to see alpacas T.T

And so, that was all we did on our second day. We turned in rather early so that we would have sufficient rest and energy to explore Yilan the next day. Do read on to find out what we did on the next three days of our trip!

Continue with 5 Days in Taiwan Part II here,
Yvette

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6 comments

  1. Thank you very much for sharing information that will be much helpful for making coursework my effective.

    ReplyDelete
  2. where is the Spring Onion Pancakes 葱抓饼 shop located at? Any landmarks nearby?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! There isn't a shop per se, just a cart that the uncle pushes around so there is no fixed location. But he is usually along the stretch where 7-eleven, Starbucks and Hao Da Da Ji Pai are at Xi Men Ding :)

      Delete
  3. Taiwan has one of the most beautiful place that you will every see.
    luton airport meet and greet

    ReplyDelete

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