[07/08-07/14/16] So what have you all been up to? As you may or may not know, I spent 5 (and a half) days travelling in Taiwan and I’ve just returned to my hometown in China. And with that said, here’s the travel blog post to wrap things all up~
I am lost for words to describe the past week. It was my first time travelling alone and my first (real) time in Taiwan. [I bracketed real because I’m pretty sure I’ve made transfer flights to China via Taiwan, although those trips are definitely foggy in my memory.] Stepping outside of high school, this trip to Taiwan was also my grad trip!
It all started on Thursday night; technically Friday as my flight was past midnight. A couple of days before, a typhoon warning was issued in Taiwan. I remember fretting over the weather but it is by the grace of God that the typhoon cleared up within a day.. which was the day before my plane so my flight was unaffected. Praise the Lord!
The plane ride was around 12 hours. It went by quickly because I was very fatigued from pulling an all nighter (I tend to not be able to sleep the night before any trip.. overexcitement. :P) so I mainly slept. I also met a new friend who was taking a transfer flight from Taipei to Manila and in between our naps, we chatted lots.
There was a 2 hour delay due to a pipe problem on the plane, but we arrived around 6:30am in Taoyuan. I took a one-hour shuttle bus into Taipei city.. and my journey commenced.
Food, food, food.
Okay.. Taiwan has hands down some of the best food ever. From bubble tea, street food and their huge night markets.. I can attest to the affordability and quality of Taiwanese cuisine. I don’t know if I can ever be satisfied with Vancouver’s summer night markets again.. 😛
If bubble tea and I had each other on Snapchat, we would’ve had a 5-day streak. xD I know, I’m a bit overboard, but how could I resist bubble tea in its country of origin? The drinks here are undeniably better.. Milkier, foamier and smoother, with chewier pearls. Most are also under 50 NT.. which is approximately $2 CAD like whaaaaa.
Of course, we can’t forget the night market. I only had time to visit one of their many markets, but I was able to try a whole bucket list of Taiwan’s specialty just that night.
Shilin Night Market is one of most expansive night market in Taipei, look at our spread! First time trying stinky tofu as well and the verdict is.. DELISH. The deep fried soft shell crabs are my new favourites.. but I admit they creep me out a little eating it..
I also enjoyed a snacky lunch at Ita Thao- Tea Eggs （茶叶蛋）, Assam Black Tea （阿萨姆红茶）with Pearls, Assam Black Tea Icecream,
My first bento box（便当）on my HSR train back from Taichung! They offer these for lunch and dinner at both high speed railways and regular trains for a limited quantity.
Pineapple Pastry （凤梨酥） is one of the most iconic snacks in Taiwan, and it’s a popular souvenir choice as well. I went by Sunny Hills for some tea and pineapple pastry, and the set is complementary when you visit the store.
Some typical breakfast items in Taiwan..
Shop till you drop; bustling streets.
On the first two days, I hung out with my friends San and Jan. It can get sizzling hot in the summer in Taiwan, so the many malls and shopping districts are great places to go to stay out of the heat. It’s also a good alternative if it starts pouring buckets outside as well, which is exactly what happened on our second day.
The malls are all very nearby in downtown Taipei and some are connected by skyways, so hopped a few blocks worth of malls for that entire rainy afternoon.
I hiked up Elephant Mountain an early morning for the skyline of Taipei, featuring the 101 and its surrounding buildings. The trail was easy and very quick (~ 20 mins up) but the view is totally worth it.
I also made a trip to Ximending, one of the most popular shopping and entertainment district for youths and students. Imagine streets of clothing shops, accessory shops, restaurants, stationery stores. I spent a whole afternoon here just by myself!
The buildings look like they’re only inches apart..
The view from Taipei 101. The night lights are seriously spectacular.
History & culture.
The memorial parks and museums in Taiwan showcase its long history and important historical figures, but I wasn’t particularly interested in those so I experienced their culture through my visits to a a few old towns including Ita Thao, Jiufen and Shifen, and Pingxi.
Ita Thao (伊达邵／at Sun Moon Lake) is the main settlement of the Thao aboriginals, and I enjoyed exploring through their village of delicious food and handcrafted trinkets on my day trip to Sun Moon Lake. It’s also the station for the gondola to Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
It was interesting walking through the old streets of Tamsui, Jiufen（九份）, Shifen（十分） and Pingxi (平溪）. And fun fact: the setting of Spirited Away was inspired by the railway in Jiufen!
Although the “Old Streets” are all tourist attractions now, the historic style and tradition remains.
The annual Sky Lantern Festival is located in Pingxi and the main reason why I wanted to make a trip here is because one of my favourite movies, You Are the Apple of My Eye （那些年，我们一起追的女孩）, had a scene filmed at the railway station here.
Creativity all around.
Taipei is a very innovative, modern city. Not only are you surrounded by adorable cartoon at all times (LINE is a huge trend here), but there are also many places with fun concepts.
Check out this toilet themed restaurant. I knew I had to go there when I saw my friend Dina’s post. 😛
Hou Tong Cat Village （猴硐猫村 ）
Yes, this was an entire village of cats and cat things. If you know anything about me, you would know that kitties and I don’t get along.. However, this town was honestly cute. Lucky for me and unlucky for cat lovers, it was too hot that particular day we were there so most of the cats weren’t outside.
I also bumped into my neighbour at the mall!
Behind Taipei 101..
The cutest MRT card ever.. why can’t we have this in Vancouver ahah.
The metro (equivalent to Vancity’s Translink) was my main form of transportation throughout my trip and the system is both very affordable and accessible, taking you basically everywhere in the city.
Breathing in some fresh air.
The mountains, lakes, oceans, forests are what I love exploring most.. although it may be tiring and sweltering hot, the beauty of the view and serenity of the environment make the journeys’ worth.
Tamsui River （淡水河）
Sun Moon Lake （日月潭） is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taiwan, located in Nantou County in Central Taiwan . I took the HSR from Taipei Main Station to Taichung HSR and met up with a friend, then we made a transfer to a 1.5 hour shuttle bus ride.
The package deal we got came with roundtrips to/ from the station, boat tours, bike rentals, cable car rides. The best part was definitely the gondola rides, which comes with an aerial view of the beautiful, shimmering lake and its encompassing, majestic mountains.
The place is called “sun moon” lake because the top portion is round like the sun, while the bottom resembles a moon crescent. Do you see it?
Chinkuashih Golden Waterfall （金瓜石黄金瀑布）
Due to years of practices of the once active copper mining industry in this area, pigmented sediments begin to collect and coat the water bed. When the sun shines on it, it appears golden like this.
Yin Yang Sea （阴阳海）
The lighter colour in the sea is caused by the deposition of minerals of the pigmented rocks. You can see the split of the pigmented and natural blue ocean water, a “yingyang” effect.
Shifen Waterfall （十分瀑布）
It was my first time travelling alone in a foreign country, but I was rest assured with knowing that Taiwan is a safe and friendly place. And the people who told me so were right! I encountered incredibly awesome people along my trip, and even received lots of help from random strangers on the street.
Friends at the hostel! Special thank you to Bing (helper at the hostel) for all the conversations and guidance. (:
I was pleasantly surprised to find out how many people were in Taiwan in the duration of my stay.. although many are in different cities, I managed to meet up with a few friends. Thank you all for taking the time to accompany me on my adventures.
I guess I really wasn’t that “alone” during my trip afterall. (:
Thankful for the experience.
For starters, I’m very grateful for my parents who supported me financially and also emotionally on the trip. This trip came with lots of struggles and challenges with some unforeseen circumstances at the beginning, but I made it!
God has brought me to this special place and I had more fun and learned more than I ever imagined I would.
You have blown me away, Taiwan. I’m still in awe of your unique culture, delectable food, bustling streets, and breathtaking scenery.. and I know I’ll visit again very soon. ^^
PS- Although my stay in Zhongshan be a chill vacation with my family, I’ll be back to share snippets of my trip. Hope everyone is having a brilliant summer, bye for now!