Once Again, Taiwan

Revisited Taiwan last November to visit my sister who was there for an exchange program and also to take a break from work. On my previous trip, I had visited many beautiful and interesting places (you can read it here) and this time round, we had fun exploring other landmarks.

So here's my 2016 edition Taiwan travelogue! Splitting the travelogue into a couple posts based on my daily itinerary / recommendations.

Here's my post for Day 1 and 2.

My first time flying solo, it would have been so boring if not for the movies.

Arrived Taoyuan Airport about 10PM and went to collect my SIM card which I purchased from Klook before I departed. I think this was the best decision made as I didn't have to waste time queuing at the telcos. The SIM card was paid using my credit card the moment I placed my order, so all I had to do during the pick up was to produce my passport and identity card for verification. And the price for the SIM card was similar.

Then hurried off to catch the coach to Taipei.
Being alone in a foreign country, I was paranoid most of the time. Afraid that I would miss my stop or dropped my phone / passport / wallet. So I constantly checked my stuffs and Google maps. Thank god, I made it to the hotel safe and sound. And travelling around the different districts in Taiwan is pretty convenient, there are coaches and trains available easily.

My first meal in Taipei, the famous and long-established 林东芳牛肉面, Braised Beef Noodle Soup with Beef Brisket which my sister packed for us.


Getting There
忠孝復興 (Zhong Xiao Fu Xing) Station (Blue Line), Exit 5
Head north on 復興南路一段 toward 復興南路一段135巷
Turn right onto 復興南路一段
Turn left onto 市民大道三段
Turn right onto 安東街
Turn left onto 八德路二段 and destination on the left

The beef slices and broth was so good! The thick beef slices were incredibly tender, it literally melt in the mouth. And the broth was bursting with flavours, it's not oily and I made sure that not a single drop of soup remained in the bowl. However, I wasn't a fan of their noodles, it tasted like udon.

I believed that beef noodles is the staple food for most Taiwanese, they have got so many popular beef noodle shops around. And 林东芳牛肉面 is one of the highly recommended stall among the locals. Do give it a try, it's not like your foodcourt / kopitiam beef noodles.

How can we missed my all time favourite - fried chicken! We got a fried chicken cutlet from Two Peck (2派克), which was finger licking good. In my opinion, this is the best fried chicken joint in Taiwan. And they had the option of boneless fried chicken cutlet. If you are unaware, most of the Taiwanese fried chicken cutlet comes with bones which can be a little troublesome during consumption.

The chicken was ultra moist, soft and crispy. The chili powder gave the chicken an extra oomph. I couldn't stress enough on how good this was.

Turning in with a happy belly before the exploration on the next day begins.

Prior to the trip, I spent lots of time researching on new places that I should visit and even paid attention to Taiwan food related programs on the TV. As recommended by a variety show, 永樂雞捲大王, a traditional breakfast shop with more than 50 years of history is a popular breakfast spot for the locals. They specialised in fried chicken rolls, porridge and braised pork rice.

103, Taiwan, Taipei City, Datong District, Lane 50, Section 2, Yanping North Road, 6號

Getting There
北门 (Bei Men) Station (Green Line)
Head north on 塔城街 toward 鄭州路
Continue straight onto 南京西路
Turn right to stay on 南京西路
Turn left onto 民樂街
Turn right onto 延平北路二段50巷 and destination on the right

The shop is located in an alley. First impression of the shop was nothing positive - old, dirty, greasy and why was it so empty?

Food was done outside the shop which is at the alley.

To he honest, the food didn't look appealing to me.

Ordered the recommended dishes, fried chicken rolls, porridge and a braised duck egg.
The food was not up to my expectations, and I did not enjoy it. The fried chicken rolls was tofu skin filled with chicken and cabbage. I would choose my mom's ngoh hiang anytime.

Porridge was bland and braised duck egg tasted weird. The taste of the egg yolk was pretty overwhelming which I couldn't appreciate.

After breakfast, we took a walk at the vicinity which is known as 迪化街 (Di Hua Street). The old street is long been known for rows of Chinese medical shops which sell herbs and dried preserved fruits and plums.

Then we came across 霞海城隍廟 (Taipei Xia Hai City God Temple). The temple was built in 1856. Located in Da-Dao Cheng, a port city that at the time was one of the better-developed areas in Taiwan, the Xia-Hai City God temple ensures prosperity and peace through its blessings. Nowadays young people come to pray for a happy love life and good job.

No. 61, Section 1, Dihua St, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103

How To Get There
Head west on 延平北路二段50巷 toward 民樂街
Turn right onto 民樂街
Turn left onto 永昌街
Turn right onto 迪化街一段 and destination on the right

We also walked past a couple of temples and also roadside food stalls which had a variety food choices that are not commonly seen in night markets.

Then we headed over to 上引水产 (Addiction Aquatic Development), a modern Japanese concept fish market with a that houses an array of live and fresh seafood and also, they have a few bars/restaurants within the fish market that sells cooked seafood, sushi, sashimi etc. 

No. 18, Alley 2 Lane 410 Minzu East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City

Getting There
行天宫 (Xing Tian Gong) Station, Exit 4 (Yellow Line)
Head north on 松江路 toward 錦州街
Turn right onto 農安街
Turn left onto 建國北路三段
Turn right onto 建國北路三段93巷
Turn left toward 民族東路410巷2弄
Turn left onto 民族東路410巷2弄 and destination on the left

If you are a seafood and Japanese food lover, this place is a must visit. You can expect sashimi, oysters, snow crabs, uni and more! And the price that you are paying for is only a portion of what you will be paying for at sushi bars.

Apparently this place is well-known among the tourists. It was so crowded that I got annoyed. And you see that everyone is throwing so much food into their baskets as if it's free.

We weren't that hungry so we only settled for this sashimi set. If I don't remember wrongly, this costed around SGD10.

Look at the thick slices of sashimi! I don't think anywhere in Singapore serves such affordable and good quality sashimi.

Addiction Aquatic Development is not the most accessible place cause it's not exactly near the train station, but the 10 minutes walk from the station is definitely worth it. The place is an eye-opener.

After roaming around the city for a bit, we decided to head for the famous 東區粉圓 (Dong Qu Fen Yuan) to rest our legs and quench our thirst.

No. 38, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

How To Get There 
忠孝敦化 (Zhong Xiao Dun Hua) Station (Blue Line), Exit 3
Head east on 忠孝東路四段/台5線 toward 忠孝東路四段205巷
Turn right onto 忠孝東路四段216巷 and destination on the right

This is Taiwan's version of ice-kachang and blackball where you can opt for a cold or hot version then you can select a couple of toppings. They've got an array of handmade ingredients such as pearls (this is what they are famous for), beancurd, grass jelly, yam balls, matcha balls, sweet potato balls, green bean, red bean, peanuts, lotus seeds, jelly, glutinous rice balls and more! We went for the cold version and got beancurd, grass jelly and yam balls. I think the combination of toppings that we had was pretty weird, we weren't enjoying as much as the other patrons. But according to the Taiwanese, this is a local dessert that everyone should try! 

We also brought the new flavours of milk tea from 純萃∙喝 - Black Mix Oolong and Earl Grey Milk Tea. I got to say the Black Mix Oolong is the best flavour among the others. Also, I tried the Green Milk Tea. Both the Earl Grey Milk Tea and Green Milk Tea were pretty overrated.

Moving on to 国父纪念馆 (Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall), a memorial to the founder of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the memorial hall was built in 1972 as a tribute to the founder of the Republic of China.

No. 505, Section 4, Ren'ai Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

How To Get There
国父纪念馆 (Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall) Station (Blue Line)
Head south on 光復南路 toward 北基公路/忠孝東路四段/台5線
Turn left and destination is on the right

A trip to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is an excellent place to visit enroute to the Taipei 101.

One of Taipei's most recognizable structures.

The huge bronze statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen that sits in the middle of the memorial hall.

The elaborate changing of guards take place every hour. Unfortunately, I didn't had the chance to witness it.

There are numerous galleries which showcase international art pieces.

Outside the memorial hall is a beautiful garden which is well used by dancers, picnickers, kite flyers and the early morning taichi crowd.

Instead of heading to Taipei 101 after Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, we made our way to 象山 (Elephant Mountain) instead. For the best view of Taipei which overlooks the entire city and even the famous landmark, Taipei 101, you need to hike to the top of Elephant Mountain.

How To Get There
象山 (Xiang Shan) Station (Red Line), Exit 2
Look for 中强公园
Lookout for the sign - 象山步道 (灵云宫)

It was an exhausting hike which took us about 20 to 30 minutes but the stunning view of the city made up for all the hard work.

We went there on a Sunday evening, so it was really crowded. Everyone crowded at the peak was vying to get the best view and the position to capture a shot.

If you are contemplating whether to visit Taipei 101 Observatory Deck or Elephant Mountain for the view. I would suggest the latter. The view that you get on Elephant Mountain is inclusive of Taipei 101. And what's better, it's free of charge and you get to burn off the calories from your fried chicken, mango shaved ice, oyster mee sua etc.

Finally, after a long flight of stairs, but this is not the top! 

This was then taken at the peak.

The best time to be at the top - evening to night time. This is when you can catch the sunset at the same time! Since sunset is pretty early in Taiwan, it will be good if you can check the sunset time and also start climbing 45 minutes earlier to be safe and to get a good spot! 

After exhausting so much energy, it's time for dinner!

We walked over to 通化夜市 (Tong Hua Night Market) also known as 臨江街夜市 (Lin Jiang Night Market). It was about a 10 minutes walk from Taipei 101. 

Linjiang Street, Da-an District, Taipei 106

Getting There
信義安和 (Xin Yi An He) Station (Red Line), Exit 3 / 4
Head east on 信義路四段 toward 通安街
Turn right onto 通安街
Turn left onto 臨江街

Since Taiwan has a strong night market culture, it's inevitable that at every corner of the city, there's a night market and of course, for this trip I was eager to visit those night markets that I didn't go to on my previous trip. Tong Hua Night Market is a smaller scale night market that is frequent by the locals. Hence, not many tourists are aware, which means lesser crowd.

Our first stop was a stall that sells a wide variety of food which includes noodles, rice, soups, pig innards and many more. We saw that many people were queuing and we followed suit.

We went for meesua and vermicelli soup. The vermicelli soup alright, nothing to rave about but the mee sua was really good. It was comparable to the famous Ah Zong Mian Xian, the braised intestines were much more flavorful. 

Then we headed to one of the recommended stall for stinky tofu - Ya Kou Stinky Tofu.
The tofu wasn't as stinky compared to those that I tried previously. But it still tasted good with the garnish. The tofu was fried upon ordering, it was warm, crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside. If you are a first-timer, probably you can start off with this before challenging yourself to stinkier ones ;)

We chanced upon this stall in the middle of the night market selling peanut ice-cream roll. And we were like 'WE NEED TO GET THIS'. We've heard so much about this and this was our first time trying.
Basically the stall owner shaved a generous amount of peanut candy from the huge block and laid it on the popiah (spring roll) skin followed by 3 different flavours of ice-cream namely pineapple, taro and red bean. Up to your preference, you can top it up with the coriander leaves (we opt out for ours). 

The super odd creation / combination was really really really good. Apparently all the ingredients complement each other. I've got no words to describe how good this was. I can eat this everyday.

If you dislike crowd, Tong Hua Night Market is the place to go. No annoying tourists, good choices of food with reasonable pricing.

More or less, these were what we did on Day 1. More updates on Taiwan coming up soon!



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