Travel

Travel Taiwan: Our must see, must eat, must do (Part 1)

This is a very backdated post. We travelled to Taipei last year in July 2014 but I’ve only mustered enough energy to compile it now. Heh.

Taipei is a very familiar place to me. I love the culture, the food, people and we always try to meet up with our Taiwanese friend, Xiao gang, if he’s available then. During my teenage years, I listened to Chinese songs and fed on Taiwanese varieties. Naturally, it became the first place I decided to visit when I got old enough. Several years on, I still go back from time to time due to the ease and language comfort.

K and I even took our wedding album in Taipei. Let’s just say, it’s a place that holds for us, a lot of precious memories.

Since we’ve already been there more than half a dozen of times, I won’t be touching much on the typical touristy places, but will share what our 4 days 3 nights itinerary is like.

This was the view from where we were staying.

taiwan12We went with Airbnb and the apartment was just next to Xing Tian Gong MRT station. The experience was pretty decent and we didn’t have much problems with the owner but when I checked again, this listing was already taken down. One of the things I love most about airbnb is we get to choose apartments where they offer a kitchen and washer. I can cook some simple stuff if I ever get tired of the local food and wash our dirty clothes every day.

Raohe night market

We arrived late at night so after settling down, we called Xiao gang who then met up at our apartment. After chatting for a while, we hailed a taxi to go to our supper destination- Raohe night market.

10301206_10152411003489822_5992967472439643024_nActually, we had wanted to go Shihlin cos it’s much bigger, but the taxi uncle dissuaded us, saying there’s too many Chinese PRCs there and they sell inferior quality goods lol~ Well at least he wasn’t as radical as that one we encountered last time in Taizhong. Politics can be a very passionate subject for some taxi uncles!

raoheMentai snacks. K loved the sesame noodles. Cheap and simple fare.

kI’m less crazy about the food compared to the crafts and goods available at the night market.

This fascinating lady was drawing illustrations on canvas shoes and can customize a pair for you on the spot, in less than half an hour! I just had to support this amount of awesome talent.

10174822_10152184233780382_379282169455562941_n It costs about SG$30 for my pair of Lisa and Gaspard shoes~

Just the first night and this was my damage:

taiwanhaulTo my credit, the weather was hotter than I expected and I didn’t bring any season appropriate clothing, that’s why I bought some light clothing and shorts. On average, the tops cost around SG$17. I love getting shoes made in Taiwan as they are comfortable and fits me nicely, plus it’s really affordable! The oxford shoes on the left only costs around SG$20+.

Eslite flagship store

The next morning, we woke up late for brunch and headed to Eslite at Xinyi. Eslite is one of the largest retail bookstore chains in Taiwan and the Xinyi flagship store embraces a mall concept. So you can eat, shop and browse books all in one place.

aranzitwI was lured into the Aranzi cafe by these adorable looking cakes:

aranzitw10The place was mostly deserted cos it’s still early on a weekday.

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aranzitw5You can view the cake making process from here:aranzitw6The cafe has since revamped as a bistro but this was what’s served previously.

aranzitw2

aranzitw7

We ordered the Pink rabbit berry cake and Monkey brother’s walnut honey smoothie.

aranzitw8

aranzitw9The cake was uber cute and delicious with fresh fruits and vanilla sponge cake whilst the smoothie tasted super healthy (you can interpret that in any way you like). I would have bought the rabbit head cake pan if they have one but alas, they only sell the plates and other zakka merchandise.

aranzitw1After dessert, we walked around the mall before heading to the books section. taiwan6

taiwan7These are actually perfumes in solid form and they are a bit like deodorant? Totally cool and innovative. Convenient for bringing around as well. I got two of them. One for myself and another for a girlfriend.

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taiwan10Super adorable coasters and decorative items.

taiwan8When we visited it was the kids festival month so there’s projects and interactive events catered for children in Eslite.

As you can see, I didn’t have any photos of books cos I forgot about taking pictures once I’m in book haven. I love the atmosphere and can spend more than half a day there just browsing and reading. There’s also talks or cooking demonstrations going on at different timings so you can always sit down and participate if you desire.

I always wonder how bookstores in Taiwan seem to thrive vibrantly whilst the ones in Singapore continue to dwindle and die. Though books there generally cost $6-$10 less than those sold locally, certainly it couldn’t be just the cost? Bought about 4-5 books this time and had to restrict myself from getting more cos it’s too heavy, lol~

Kiki restaurant

Lunch was at Kiki, one of my must-eats in Taiwan.  kikimaoIt’s started in 1991 by Lan Xinmei, a Taiwanese veteran celebrity whose mom loves Sichuan cuisine. I was introduced to the restaurant several years back when I was at Taipei for a work trip and fell in love with the Cang Ying tou 苍蝇头 (NT$220≈SG$9), which literally means “Flies’ head”.

kikimao1

It’s basically minced meat with chives and black beans. Rather spicy though you can request for a milder version. Very salty but it’s exactly the type of dish that we Chinese say, 很好下饭, good to pair off with a bowl of piping hot rice. Another dish that I highly recommend is the Crispy deep fried egg tofu though we didn’t order it this time as we tried the Pork with sliced ginger instead, which was just okay. Depending on what you order, dishes cost between SG$7-20.

After dinner, we proceeded to Taipei Dome for a concert.

taiwandome

taiwandome1It was raining but we got there early so we didn’t get caught in the rain.

exoconcert

Just by the looks of it, do you know which concert we were at? 🙂 No prizes for guessing it right though.

This is the first time I’m watching a live concert in Taipei and I must say, the experience was really pleasing. Firstly, the audience etiquette was top notch. I’ve always heard about this in the field but to see it for yourself is an entirely different thing. The fans were considerably quiet during ballads, yet lively and rowdy during fast numbers. Even one of the performers pointed out they were the best behaved bunch in their tour concerts yet.

Secondly, the sound system was great. I could hear the singing clearly and this was especially apparent cos I went to their concert in Singapore and for some reason, the sounds were muffled like there’s too much reverb in a small hall. Thirdly, even though I was sitting at the restricted view area, the seats were really close to the stage and I guessed it’s cos of the steep slope? I could see properly with zero blockage by bobbing heads.

On the way back, we got some bread and pudding for supper and tomorrow’s breakfast.

taiwan11The pudding was quite nice!

 

Check out our full Taiwan trip here!

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