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Colourful Taipei

Excellent food and Vibe

rain 35 °C
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After a week in Penang, I was definitely ready to come to Taipei and explore a different culture outside Southeast Asia. I guess I was expecting a similar vibe to Hong Kong, but I think it is actually better. It is a very lively city with many spots to visit, great night markets, great food and friendly people.

I stayed in a hostel in an area called Ximen (Meander Hostel), well known for the youth shopping district, illuminated buildings, bars and restaurants - a great spot to be based. It was always nice walking through such a colourful area every time I went back to the hostel, and the hostel was great too, much better that the ones I have stayed in in Europe.

The days I spent in Taipei were quite intense, I walked so much (25,000 steps per day) but I managed to see so many great sights, so it was definitely worth it. The only thing that wasn't great was the weather... It rained (pouring tropical rain) three days out of the four days I spent in Taipei - so as you can imagine I got soaked, but I still found Taipei an amazing place, and I am sure I will be back.

On my first wet day in Taipei, I visited an old Buddhist temple originally built in 1739 (Called Longshan). I managed to see the Buddhist chanting early in the morning and it's so surprising to see how these people maintain their traditions, and how many locals come every morning. It was a great start to experience the culture. That day I also visited the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, such an impressive site to honour the president that protected Taiwan from the Communists in mainland China. After walking already a lot in pouring rain I made the (not so good) decision of exploring the hot spring town (Beitou) and a riverside town in the north called Tamsui. In Beitou, the most outstanding place is called Hell Valley (or Thermal Valley), it's an area where the hot springs naturally go through, creating clouds through the stream. It's very impressive to see. In Tamsui, the old street is gorgeous and many street food stands that are hard to resist. Also the riverside is quite nice, and you can take a ferry to a place called Fisherman's village - I decided to do it and suddenly the rain got so heavy, that it felt like the boat was going to capsize, so I had a quick look and returned home to get dry before dinner. Overall, a very interesting day. I definitely got a sense of the city and the culture.

Longsham Temple

Longsham Temple


Hell Valley - Beitou

Hell Valley - Beitou


Tamsui Old Street

Tamsui Old Street

My second day was also quite adventurous, I did a day trip outside Taipei city. I visited two beautiful towns, Shifen and Jiufen. Both very different but pretty. Shifen is famous because the railway goes through its main street, and also for the Chinese sky laterns where you put your wishes, light it up and let it fly. Shifen also has a very nice waterfall that you have to hike to, but it's worth the walk.

Shifen Main Street

Shifen Main Street


Shifen Waterfall

Shifen Waterfall

Jiufen was a quite different place, it's a town high up in the mountain that offer great views and the old street is so traditional and nice to walk. It has plenty of food stalls, touristy shops to visit - I totally recommend visiting this place and spending a couple of hours. Also, it's supposed to be a great spot for sunsets, but as it was raining I didn't stay to see it. Jiufen used to be a gold mining town, and it's also famous due to a Japanese cartoon called Totoro that was inspired by this place.

View from Jiufen

View from Jiufen


Jiufen Old Street

Jiufen Old Street

On my last full day in Taipei I finally saw a bit of sun and blue sky in the morning. As the weather was good, I went up the Elephant Mountain to see great views of the city - it's quite a steep hike, and it was 41 degrees, so it wasn't pretty, but the views were really worth it. I spent some time on the viewing platforms admiring the city. After that, given I was so close to Taipei 101 (building that looks like a very tall pagoda), I went up to the observatory to see the city from a different perspective. The views were really great - the place is a bit overpriced but it was nice to visit. I finished my day visiting another memorial (Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Memorial) with a great park and views of Taipei 101.

View from Elephant Mountain

View from Elephant Mountain


View from Taipei 101

View from Taipei 101


Taipei 101 from Dr Sun-Yat Sen Memorial

Taipei 101 from Dr Sun-Yat Sen Memorial

Through my days in Taipei, I visited a few night markets, and managed to go to a very famous restaurant called Din Tai Fung, recommended for Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings with pork inside). That was definitely the most satisfying meal I had in my time in Taipei.

I also tried so many different things - some of them I have no clue how they are called. I just pointed at the pictures in the menu - but everything is so tasty and delicious. The only thing that I definitely couldn't eat, was the stinky tofu - really not my thing (smells like sewage, and the taste was not pleasant at all).

Taiwanese Sausage

Taiwanese Sausage


Taiwanese Pancake

Taiwanese Pancake


Gua Bao (Taiwanese Burger)

Gua Bao (Taiwanese Burger)


Beef Noodles

Beef Noodles


Toilet themed restaurant

Toilet themed restaurant


StinkyTofu

StinkyTofu

Chocolate Xiaolongbao

Chocolate Xiaolongbao

All in all, Taipei passed my expectations, I enjoyed my time in this place, that I certainly will come back in the future. Now, it's time to explore a more traditional place further south, Tainan.

Omar

Posted by omarp 22:13 Archived in Taiwan Tagged street_food

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