Taipei offered me the best of Chinese culture; I have never been so enthralled by the Chinese history and language.
Throughout the trip, my sister and I were speaking Mandarin and learning to read traditional characters.
At a pet conference. This photo was taken by the dog’s very friendly owner. He told me that the dog is sniffing my pineapple tarts so I tries to hide it!
We were so impressed with Taiwanese’s cleanliness, efficiency and politeness.
People were so helpful and cultured; many go out of the way to help us get around and spoke so tenderly to us. For example, they explained that we don’t look like Taiwanese because we look ‘healthy’ (read: dark).
Taiwan is a pet-friendly nation too. We saw people carrying dogs everywhere! I really don’t mind living in Taiwan. Here’s 10 things we did:
1. Climbed to the highest peak in Taipei, QiSing Shan (7 Stars Mountain)
My goal is to visit every national park in the world! So we checked out Taiwan National Park. Went to Yang Ming Shan, and hiked for a few hours to the highest peak in Taiwan: Qising Shan. We braved the rain, sulfurous gas and uneven rocks – to be rewarded a mountainous view of the national park and Taipei city.
2. Eat street food at markets and everywhere else
We went to Shilin Market, Raohe Market and Shida market for street food. We had stinky tofu, mee sua, papaya milk, grilled mushroom with wasabi powder, fried cuttle fish, xiao long bao at the first Ding Tai Fun branch, pork bun at Raohe Market, fried chicken at Shilin Market, beef noodles etc. We heard that there’s plenty of good Japanese restaurant, perhaps next time.
3. Learn about Chiang and Soong May-Ling at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, probably my favourite site in Taipei. Enjoyed learning about his life story immensely, and seeing the everyday things he used eg multipurpose clock, bulletproof car.
Actually my interest in him is solely because of his wife, Soong May-Ling. Read Wild Swans then watched The Soong Sisters as a teen. Thought the sisters were so cool; they got an education and played important roles in society when women were not encouraged/ expected to.
But it was Soong May-Ling’s speech at the US parliament that made me a fan: http://www.history.com/speeches/madame-chiang-kai-shek-addresses-congress
4. Appreciate Chinese artefacts at National Palace Museum
So glad Chiang Kai Sek took a lot of Chinese artefact to Taiwan hence not destroyed by the communists. I think my favourite section is the first floor about nature and the calligraphy section.
My favourite piece says: “Do not cultivate arrogance, do not indulge in desires, do not leave ambitions unchecked, do not let pleasures go to the extreme”
5. Walk around Jiufen
It was like a trip up to Genting Highlands. We had tea and Chinese dessert, and admired the scenery. More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiufen
6. Party at Barcode
Night out with the sister at bar recommended by the hotel. It seems that celebrities are sighted here, but we saw none (maybe because we the only celebrity we can recognise is Jay Chou)
7. Checked out the Grand Hotel
This building is commissioned by Chiang Kai Shek and Soong May Ling to accommodate foreign ambassadors. This place has really good feng shui – its backed by mountains at Yang Ming Shan and facing a river.
8. Visited Eslite
Checked out the biggest bookstore in Taipei. It spans five floors and it opens till 12 midnight! I was browsing at the language/literature section, hoping I can enjoy Chinese poetry one day…
The only one I know:
Quiet Night Thought (靜夜思)
Perhaps I shall start with reading common Chinese characters (its kanji too so its inline with my Japanese speaking goal). Or not.
9. Watched Changing of Guards at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
10. Checked out Beitou Hotspring
The Japanese bought to Taiwan their hot spring culture (My absolute favourite thing to do!). Oh, so much to write. Perhaps I’ll talk about it more the next time. In the meantime, read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beitou
For me, the point of this whole trip is to spend quality time with my sister. What random things we did: take pictures of Jay Chou everywhere, talk nonsense etc. Fun!
To do in Taiwan next:
- Visit Taroko National Park
- Get on Ubike
- Book a private hot spring pool at Beitou
- Spend more time browsing through books in Eslite