After an eventful five days traveling all over the island-nation of Taiwan, my family and I made our way back to Taipei, where we would spend our last two nights before catching our flight back home to the United States.
*for Part 1 of our stay in Taipei before the trip, check it out HERE.*
Now, we didn’t do much once we returned to our grandmother’s apartment, since we were exhausted from the trip and didn’t have a lot of time to explore Taipei, anyway. But we still did some activities, and definitely ate well before heading back!
Upon returning to Taipei’s main train station, it was around lunchtime, so we headed over to Tokiya, a Japanese-Chinese fusion restaurant that is quite upscale with its six-course meals. We had eaten there before during our previous stays in Taipei and, while not cheap, is worth a meal. From the smoked duck roll to the oyster mushroom soup to the signature pork chop, Tokiya prepares its dishes well- in taste and presentation.
Of course, we also spent some time in and around Taipei 101, as there’s plenty of eating and shopping to do there, too. After having an A-okay lunch at the food court, we wandered around the inside of the building before heading out to the Viewshow Shopping Center, another shopping area with world-named brands like H&M, Abercrombie, Zara, etc. We stopped inside NET, a Taiwan-based clothing store which has some good clothing items for the “young, hip crowd” (namely, teens to twenties). I got myself a couple of work blouses, in case of future job interviews or formal occasions, and although they weren’t as inexpensive as I had thought, nevertheless they still look spiffy, if I do say so myself. 😉
After leaving NET, we were caught up in the sudden rain. Since Taiwan is a tropical country, you can bet that it rains frequently, even in the summer. Of course, we were prepared for the weather, and used our trusty umbrellas to head over to a shaved ice joint for some cool, refreshing desserts. Even though it was raining, the weather was still quite warm- and who wouldn’t want some delicious, Taiwanese shaved ice? 😛
Seriously, the portions were HUGE. I didn’t expect my shaved ice to be so humongous, filled with layers and layers of crunchy, sweet-flavored ice and topped with tons of delicious items like red bean, taro, mochi, and boba- all of which are my favorites! I wasn’t even hungry, but of course, I downed that shaved ice like no other. So good…and only $2 USD- can you even believe it?!
Not only is shaved ice cheap as heck, but so is boba milk tea! I have had plenty of boba while living in the United States (especially Los Angeles, with its diverse array of cuisines), but they are not cheap, about $3-4 per drink. But once you arrive in Taiwan, aka the homeland of boba milk tea (it was invented in Taichung), you can get a good-sized cup for around $1.50 USD- half the price! While I would say that the quality remains about the same either way, the fact that it’s cheaper in Taiwan makes it even more pleasurable to drink! *slurps*
Aside from going out to eat, we also had plenty of good food in my grandmother’s house. Her caretaker cooked us tasty meals, and always sliced up some delicious guavas and mangoes afterwards. And I absolutely love Taiwan’s mangoes; they’re so much better than the mild, stringy kinds that we get back in the United States (imported from Mexico). Mangoes from Taiwan are bigger, smoother, and juicier, and man, do I miss them dearly. 😦
It was essentially a food fest during those last two nights in Taipei. We left after dinner on our final night, heading over to the airport for our red-eye flight back to Los Angeles. A shorter ride than when we had arrived, I slept through the majority of it, and ended up staying up until 4h00 upon arriving back home. The jet-lag absolutely killed me for the first two, three nights, but afterwards, everything returned to normal. Thank goodness…
Overall, I would say that this time around in Taiwan was definitely a rewarding one. I wouldn’t say that it’s any better than the other times that I’ve been, because each visit has its own, different purposes. But I would say that I saw a lot more of the country through the brief, but activity-packed days touring the other cities besides Taipei. Indeed, there’s so much more to Taiwan than just the capital, as I was able to see what each city had to offer in terms of sights, culture, and their distinctive foods.
Nature was everywhere, and everything was so…green. Just like Japan’s bountiful nature, but in Taiwan, it was thriving. High mountains, clear streams, everything felt so bigger-than-context, making the human individual feel smaller-than-life, which was refreshing to experience, having had grown up in the city and expecting to be this big-boss of a person (after all, we created urban landscape). Especially journeying through Tainan and Hualien, I was struck by the lush, untamed beauty of the country, and have nothing but good memories from there.
Despite the heat, the humidity, and the fact that I was still recovering from a cold that I had caught back in Japan, I would say that I had a good time in both East Asian countries this summer. Again, it is very different from my experiences in Europe, but I am glad to have seen both sides of the world this year so far. I desire to return to Asia someday, whether to revisit Japan and Taiwan, or maybe venture out to other places like India, Thailand, or Indonesia. Perhaps both.
This post thus concludes my epic trip to Asia (Japan and Taiwan) this summer. Thank you for reading up to this point, and I promise you plenty more stories and travel-related things to come. Goodbye/再見!
— The Finicky Cynic
Check me out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefinickycynic