I want to preface this by saying, I know I’m very late with this, so… sorry.
Trying to make the most of our week in Taiwan, Sydney and I packed our most of our days from morning to night with a shit ton of activities. Pro tip: don’t do this. Besides neglecting the fact that most places didn’t operate at 8 or 9 in the morning, we also didn’t consider the intensity of the summer humidity and heat that remained consistent throughout the day. Which killed us. That said, we had a lovely first day in the city.
Our day started with a complimentary weird buffet-style breakfast offered by our hotel which also served as a cafe on the ground floor during the daytime. The menu offered a mix of eastern and western breakfast dishes, ie: congee, waffles, or eggs with sausage. And included in this is a buffet of fresh squeezed juices, cereal, fruits, soft-boiled eggs, pastries, and toast. I’m assuming this is some type of attempt at a Western-style breakfast, and the food itself wasn’t too bad. But gimme dat jianbing, know what I mean?
Inn Cafe, inHouse Hotel
After breakfast, we headed out to our first stop of the day, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – a Taiwanese landmark and popular tourist destination.
This was my first time taking the Taipei Metro, also referred to as the MRT. If you know me, you know how much I love any subway system so long as it’s not the god damn MTA Subway and the MRT was no exception. Clean, fast, prompt, cheap – I miss it everyday. Not to mention the air-con in all the stations and trains, and the ubiquitous EasyCard.
It only took us about 10 minutes and $0.50 USD to get to the CKS Memorial Hall from the hotel. It was around here when the humidity started creeping up on us, even though it was only 9 in the morning, along with a light drizzle. Just FYI, if you’re going to Taiwan in the summer, don’t bother packing long sleeve anythings. Just stick with tank-tops and shorts everyday.
We spent a little less than an hour walking around and taking in the the beauty of the memorial before we (mostly I) couldn’t take the humidity anymore and we pressed forward to the next stop on our itinerary: Bitan!
Bitan is a small water town located on the southern tip of Taipei, which we got to very easily via the green line MRT. It banks along the Xindian River and has a ton of shops and restaurants along that strip, but of course, nothing was open when we got there. Shame we figured that out only after spending an hour walking up and down the bank, and back-and-forth on the suspension bridge over the river. On the bright side, at least the pedal boat rentals were open.
We spent the rest of the morning relaxing on the river in our swan boats and taking in the scenery Bitan had the offer.
Then it was lunch time! We decided to grab lunch in Gongguan, a popular trendy shopping district, so we could also take a look at some goodies on our way to eat. Again, only some of the shops were open by the time we got to the area, but enough to enjoy and get an idea of what we could find. If you’re into Asian fashion and highlighter-colored New Balances (you know what I mean), you’ll probably enjoy shopping around in Gongguan.
We took refuge in another Western-style cafe and enjoyed lunch there, though not much of note. After that we actually retired back to our hotel for a siesta (little did we know these siestas would become a daily occurrence throughout our trip).
Shida Night Market
Come early evening, we made our way to Shida Night Market. Alleyways upon alleyways of street food and boutique shops galore! It felt like being a kid in a candy shop walking through the night market, leaning over to see what vendors were cooking and peeking into all the different shops. So many options… What do we buy??? What do we eat???
Make sure to check every shop because you don’t know what you might miss. After searching high and low, I ended up buying a really awesome (and hilariously obnoxious) Gudetama iPhone case and Sydney found a pair of nice sunglasses. Pro tip: Go check out other stores before buying something – often times you’ll find the same thing in another shop for even cheaper!
For food, we ended up going to one of the hotpot stalls. Essentially, they sell a variety of meats and vegetables, you fill up a basket with whatever you’re in the mood for, and then hand it back over to get it all cooked in a giant boiling pot. After that it’s topped with a gravy-like sauce, and bagged up so you can eat it as you explore the rest of the market. We opted for a bag full of chicken, fish balls, mushrooms, and other veggies. It was a tad too sweet, but still a delicious and convenient on-the-go meal.
Miramar Entertainment Park
Our next stop and last stop was the Miramar ferris wheel, located in northern Taipei.
Perched on the roof of the Miramar Entertainment Park, a giant complex housing various department stores and an IMAX theater, sits the familiar ferris wheel that has made many appearances in Taiwanese dramas. The ride to the top provided a (somewhat) gorgeous view of Taipei at night. It’s taken me forever to write this post and I’ve ranted enough, so peep the pics.