Nah… This is not another brand of an instant coffee mix. It’s more of a “squeezing in a 5-day trip into one 1 compiled experience” for your
hopefully reading pleasure.
Pats and I have touched the “Heart of Asia” for our first trip for 2013. For 5 days, Pats braved the shivering coldness that engulfed Taiwan, especially up north. No problem for me as I loved the then 15 degrees temperature, 13 – when rain fell, with the cool breeze hitting my face. Living in the tropics, you’ll be craving for such “chill satisfaction” from time to time.
XIMENDING for starters just after we checked in at Dong Wu Hotel. A Thursday night stroll around Ximending proved that, though it was crowded, it wasn’t as lively as we had hoped it will be. Expectations that this Taiwan’s Harajuku will live up to Japan’s. Probably on weekends. Nonetheless, it was a good place to kick start our trip.
Traveling up north the next morning, we got mesmerized by Yehliu Geopark‘s natural beauty. For NTD50, we got to see how the ocean proved itself to be a natural artist, sculpting and paving the lands to make such wonderful rock formations. Since the geopark is by the ocean, and rain drizzled for a while, temperature got even lower, which was perfectly fine for me, but again, was torture for Pats. ;p
Back at Taipei City, we strolled along the highway from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station, checking retail shops one after the other, until we reached Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. We rested there for a bit, and people-watched. Its grounds were crowded with locals and tourists making it quite entertaining just watching them do their thing.
Few minutes away is the infamous Taipei 101. Merged with it is a mall having several designer brands that every lady looks for, as far as I know, and mostly expensive – if not all. Din Tai Fung Restaurant can be found in its food court, but we opted that out for later.
Before ending the day, a quick stop at Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall was the plan. A few snaps and were done with the place. Pats stood at a corner trying to block the cold winds from hitting her. So, we didn’t stay for long. Otherwise, I’ll be bringing a statue home. ;p Imagine how she was burdened with the cold temperature since morning… Poor Pats. Hehe
Saturday morning was scheduled for another trip up north. This time to visit Jinguashi and Jiufen, small towns famous some time ago for their gold and copper mines.
Our stay in Jinguashi was rather short since we didn’t plan on getting into mining tunnels and stuff, let alone pay for it. We just strolled around to have a quick glimpse of what it was about, and get a good feel of it from the outside – it was wet and cold. Haha. Rain was drizzling again that time.
There after, we rode the bus going back to Jiufen Old Street and checked out the shops and food it has to offer. It was jam-packed! Since it was a Sunday, lots of locals, and tourists alike, were crowding up the narrow street. This is where we bought mochis and pineapple cakes for our friends back in KL. Price was pretty standard among the stores (NTD100 / box – Buy 5, Free 1). Not quite a good move on our part though since we had to carry all of those boxes on our next destination… >.<
From Old Jiufen Street, we went back to Ruifang Train Station and rode the train towards Pingxi to fly some lanterns, which it is quite well-known for. I bet some of you have already seen Taiwan’s ads on this. That mostly happened in Pingxi, and also at a nearby town called Shifen – which I think is better.
Pingxi was the last stop for the day. That day’s trip was a short yet tiring one due to the long bus and train trips. But! It was worth it, in my opinion. Just be ready battling your way unto riding the train in Pingxi if you’re going there on a weekend.
“Sunday morning, rain is falling” – Maroon 5, and it was cold again. We headed for church first before starting everything else. Priorities people. After the church worship service, and a quick McNuggets plus coffee break, we headed for Beitou, which is famous for its hot springs.
It would have been a great experience in Beitou, hot springs on a cold weather. However, we didn’t try it since we’re looking for a private one with a good ambiance/view. Our research failed us on this part, unfortunately.
Our walk around Beitou area lead us to the Hot Spring Museum, and the Thermal Valley, aka Hell’s Valley. Both of which are free of charge. 😀 I must say, we were fascinated with Thermal Valley, making our trip worthwhile.
Next on the list was Danshui Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Lovers’ Bridge. The area being nearby open waters again, wind blew quite strong that Pats surrendered to it. Just a quick stroll atop the deck and she went for refuge at a ferry waiting room, while waiting for me to finish taking photos.
We concluded the day at the crowded Shilin Night Market. We happened to reach a food court inside some establishment when we were strolling around. There, we grabbed dinner and of course, Taiwanese Sausage was again part of our meal. Told you, never miss this!
There were several shops in Shilin Night Market, selling: clothes, bags, etc. Unfortunately though, we were not that convinced to buy anything. So, we came out of the night market with our wallets unscathed. All of the street foods, on the other hand, are very tempting. So, if you’re not up for shopping, go food-tripping instead.
And for our last day – Monday, we closed our trip with a quick pre-lunch at the original Din Tai Fung Restaurant at Xinyi. It’s famous for its Xiao Long Bao – a steamed dumpling with some fillings inside: pork, crab, red bean, etc. Good thing we arrived early. The queue was rather long by the time we went out of the restaurant. So, make sure you go there before lunch time, especially on weekends.
As usual, we had the Pork Xiao Long Bao, and the Red Bean XLB for dessert, with some tofu as appetizer. The taste is consistent to what we had here in Malaysia, delicious and fulfilling. It’s the same thing as what I can say for this entire Taiwan trip: Delicious and Fulfilling.
Delicious as there are lots of delicacies to try and enjoy. Gluttony at it’s best! Fulfilling as there are new things, new activities, new sights and places to do, see, and marvel at.