After eight, lovely days of touring Japan, my family and I headed over to our next destination on our Asia trip this summer: Taiwan! 😀
Now, as I am of Taiwanese descent, I have visited Taiwan countless times since I could even remember. I have relatives on my mother’s side who live in Taipei and so we would visit them quite often growing up. For me, the last time that I went back was in December 2014 (which I actually blogged about here: Adventures in Taiwan!), and although it hadn’t been that long since then, I was nevertheless looking forward to the return.
Interestingly, even though I have been back many times since childhood, all of my experiences while in Taiwan have been restricted to the city of Taipei. Not to say that we couldn’t go anywhere else besides the country’s capital, but we just never thought about nor gotten around to visiting other places in Taiwan. However, this time around, we actually made a full trip around the island-nation, visiting other big cities like Taichung, Tainan, and Taitung/Hualien.
The experience was exciting, as it was my first time outside of Taipei. But before I go into those cities visited, let’s step back and recount my time in Taipei, as there are lots of good things to do there, too! We were in the capital for three nights before we left for our round-trip to other destinations in Taiwan, and so here’s what happened:
After arriving at the Taoyuan International Airport from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, we took a bus and taxi over to the city, arriving at my grandmother’s house in the evening. My grandmother lives close to the famous Taipei 101 Building, and so it’s convenient that she lives right in the city center. Had dinner at her apartment, settled down, and went to bed.
Following morning was spent doing a bit of grocery shopping, eating, and of course, trying to stay cool under the hot, humid Taiwanese heat (only June, and already sweltering!). For lunch, we went to a small mom-and-pop restaurant, where they serve fresh beef noodle soup (牛肉面) and it’s absolutely amazing. I’d been there before last time in Taipei, and it’s so cool to actually see the husband slicing the noodle dough by hand into the pot of boiling water when you first enter the hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Delicious food with delicious side dishes and a refreshingly sweet iced tea to top it off. So good! 😛
As said, my grandmother lives very near Taipei 101, and considering that it has air-conditioning and Wifi (my grandmother’s house doesn’t have the latter), we spent some time inside there in the afternoon, too. The building’s ground floor contains plenty of shopping stores, as well as a food court serving a lot of good, Asian cuisine (even Western ones, too).
Then again, considering that Taipei 101 brings in not only locals, but also tons of tourists, the food and shops aren’t really representative of that “authentic, Taiwanese life.” Most of the eateries are not of Chinese/Taiwanese food, but rather a variety of Japanese, Korean, and even American cuisines! You have your udon noodles stand right next to your Korean tofu soup joint alongside Häagen-Dazs ice cream– amazing, isn’t it? That said, if you want to try that slice of “authentic, Taiwanese cuisine,” you’ll have to go elsewhere.
Besides hanging around Taipei 101 and my grandmother’s apartment, we also did some shopping around in Chengzhong Market (城中市場), a covered, outdoor market that sells tons of clothing, Taiwanese snacks, and other trinkets for everyday use. I believe it’s my mother’s favorite place to go, since she always takes the rest of us there whenever we’re in Taiwan. Ended up purchasing some items, including some new clothes for me and my sister. Fyi, things are relatively less expensive in Taiwan compared to, say, the United States or Europe. The currency exchange rate is $1 USD to 32 $NT, and it is true that cost of living is lower in the country.
Seriously, we could get a good, solid breakfast for no more than $6 USD- for four people! And oh man, do I love Taiwanese food. Breakfast is a big part of its culture, as there are tons of small restaurants dedicated to making good soy milk and shaobing youtiao (燒餅油條), a type of flatbread sandwich with a Chinese cruller inside. Not the healthiest, but it’s very hearty and made with love! ❤
Any case, we only spent three nights in Taipei before we headed out for our five-day excursion all over Taiwan. We stayed inside the last full day in my grandmother’s apartment, as my mother’s sisters dropped by to visit and talk for the afternoon. Considering our family is one of the two in my mother’s family to live overseas (the other family is that of my uncle’s, my mother’s older brother, who lives in Canada. However, my uncle himself lives in Taipei, so it doesn’t *quite* count, I suppose), we don’t see them that often, and so every time we visit, it’s a reunion. 🙂
All right, that’s about it for our stay in Taipei before our trip! Stay tuned for the next post on our adventures in Taichung, the home for boba milk tea and reputably the biggest night market in Taiwan. Until then!
— The Finicky Cynic
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