Where to start! This past weekend I went to Taiwan (Taipei mainly) with a fellow ALT. I had a four day weekend and I really wanted to explore another country, so it was either Taiwan or South Korea. In the end, warmer temperature location won out.
We left on Friday the 11th out of the Chubu International Airport (Nagoya). I had to catch the 6am train to make our 10am flight, but it was worth it. We got to the airport and had breakfast, got on the plane and then it started to snow, and snow some more...Our 10am flight didn’t take off until 12:30pm, due to snowfall and a broken de-icer truck. After we got to Taiwan, we took a bus for 50 minutes into Taipei (the capital of Taiwan). The bus cost 125 New Taiwanese Dollars or about $5! The weather was noticeably warmer and I truly appreciated it! We stayed at a hostel that was a 5 minute walk from the main train station.
Cixian Temple at the Shilin Night Market
Inside the Temple
On Friday night we wanted to explore the night market scene. There are several night markets, but we decided to explore the largest night market called Shilin Night Market. This was located just 6 train station stops north of us and very convenient. After walking around in search of a place to eat dinner (and for the general location of the night market), we thought we were out of luck. Instead, we took a turn down an alley and amazingly enough, we walked right into the night market. How could we tell? So many people!!! The smells were welcoming and in true Taiwanese/Chinese fashion, several food shops/stations awaited us. We walked through stores and sampled some local cuisine. Our first stop was bubble tea. I LOVE bubble tea and Taiwan is the capital of bubble tea. That being said, we made an agreement that every time we saw a bubble tea store we had to get some.There were contemporary shops like Nike and Adidas, and then there were knock off stores, like Nike and Adidas (ha). Overall, there were more food shops than clothing shops, believe it or not. We found it more convenient to try Japanese before English as a common language as more store merchants spoke Japanese. Trust me when I say that we were as surprised as they were when we found out that an American and Taiwanese person would use Japanese as a common language. Some of the food we sampled: mini pancakes, curried chicken/veggie wrap, dumplings, and others that I’m forgetting. At about 9pm, we needed a pick me up, so we found a Starbucks and ordered some drinks. Since we were pretty tired, we were going to call it a night before we found a massage store. For a 45 minute shoulder and foot massage, we paid 600 New Taiwanese Dollars, or about $22. Yes, an awesome deal and totally worth it. After our impromptu massage we found our way back to the hostel and called it a night.
Sampling All Kinds of Food
So Thankful for English!
Some lessons I learned: it would really help to know Chinese. I could read some of the Chinese characters/kanjis, but I didn’t understand some usage because it had different meanings from the Japanese versions. It would really help to have a friend who knows the area. We spent a lot of time wandering, something that I’m glad we did because we got to see a lot more, but it would’ve helped.