After delaying my trip by two weeks and sadly missing Borneo altogether I arrived in Taiwan on Monday. Stepping off the plane I was greeted by a wall of heat, a welcome change from the chilly Melbourne winter I had just arrived from. I headed to my hostel (Dadaocheng hostel) and collapsed in bed after a long flight.
Having only decided to go to Taiwan several months before I didn’t know what to expect from Taipei, although I had done a million hours of research it was hard to grasp what I would find. Waking up the next morning I decided I would start with the local breakfast market, I wandered down and grabbed a bubble cup and some dumplings for breakfast for the outrageous price of $2.00. Next I thought I would check out the national history museum to get an overview of this country I know very little about, which actually turns out it was more of an art history museum but it was beautiful regardless.
Afterwards I decided to seek out the original cat cafe! One had recently opened in Melbourne but I was holding out for the original, apparently cat cafes rose to prominence due to the strict pet laws in Taiwan, and the rest as they say is history. I made my way to the aptly named cafe and cats and spent the afternoon petting sleeping kitties.
After several hours sweating it up in the heat I went back to my hostel for a couple hours rest before heading back out again to the close by Ningxia night markets I try to be brave when I am overseas and try things I wouldn’t normally eat, sometimes it works out sometimes it doesn’t.
Like other cities that exist in the heat most shops don’t open until late morning, so I have tried to acclimatise by getting up later rather unsuccessfully. I rose later and went to visit some tourist spots such as the red house theatre and a memorial park, killing time before I met up with a local tour group in the afternoon. The guides were local students, we wandered around the back streets of Taipei, ducking in and out of local tea houses and admiring the architecture. Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese for 50 years, and you can certainly see it in the buildings and tea houses. Although I haven yet been to Japan I imagine Taipei to be very similar to Japan. We visited a couple more monuments and ended our trip at Din Tai Fung Michelin star dumplings restaurant devouring delicious dumplings filled with soup. Although I was full from the dumplings I headed to Shilin night market, the largest food market in Taipei where I discovered the peanut ice cream pancake.
For my final day in Taipei I headed out of the city, I had heard about a cat village that had previously been a mining town about an hour out of the Taipei. As I was already heading in this direction to see Jiufen I decided to check it out. The cat village is the result of some enterprising locals who created a tourist attraction after the mining boom of the area declined. Although there really wasn’t much to see it was a cute detour and if you are heading to Jiufen anyway its worth the trip. After the cat village I jumped on a train and headed to Jiufen, a beautiful city on the side of a mountain overlooking the Taipei harbour. This is the village that the town in the movie spirited away is based on, and it did not disappoint. The narrow warren like streets are filled with beautiful old style buildings hanging off the mountain with incredible views, as the sun goes down the town is lit up with lanterns strung over verandahs. Jiufen also has a busy night market where I tried stinky tofu and some fried mushrooms.
This morning I packed up and left Taipei and am currently on a high speed rail heading down to Kenting. The drive would normally take several hours but on train it only takes 1.5! Very efficient, much Taiwan.