Back To Motherland
I have been traveling to Taiwan for as long as I can remember. I still recall so many amazing summers touring the island with my relatives, reading 老夫子 (Old Master Q) at the book store, or playing these marble pinball games at the night markets. I went back to Taipei on Friday, September 4, 2015 with friends for sight-seeing but the main reason for returning was to see my maternal grandparents. They have been residing at a nursing home for the last six months and are both well taken care of but it's still breaks my heart to see how much they have aged since my last visit in 2014. I love them so much and I know aging and death is a fact of life that we must all face. Life is very short and every day is truly a present.
There is so much to do in Taiwan but we only had four full days so this is where we went:
National Center for Traditional Arts in Yilan County: This place is a great place to explore Taiwanese culture and traditional arts. Entrance fee is 150NT.
Weng Yao Chicken in Yilan County: Must-try seasoned chicken that's smoked in this large oven over tropical longan wood. You order the whole chicken first. They will bring it to you in this large tray with cloth and plastic gloves. Put on the cloth gloves first to prevent burns and then the plastic gloves. Tear the chicken apart before eating it. It's pretty damn awesome!
Shilin Night Market in Taipei: This is one of the largest night markets in Taipei. Take the MRT to Jiantan Station and the market is right across the street.
Jiufen Old Street 九份 in Ruifang District of New Taipei City: This is my favorite place in Taiwan. It was also Hayao Miyazaki's inspiration for the movie Spirited Away. I love coming here for small eats, shaved ice, and the tea houses. There are many small alleys that snake around and B&B for an overnight stay. The street lanterns are lit at night and this place becomes magical.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei: Most museums are closed on Monday in Taiwan. We decided to come here on a whim. It's pretty quiet compared to the last few days of crowds and tourists. The department store here offers many small DIY boutiques where you can construct your own leather hand bag, terrariums etc. It's a nice place to come if you have free time.
National Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei: This historical place is walkable from Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. It's beautiful, spacious and peaceful.
Ice Monster in Taipei: Mango shaved ice is a must-try!
The Tasting Room in Zhongxiao Fuxing, Taipei: This place was hard to find. It's located in some small street and the signage was small but once you're actually there, the atmosphere is nice, noise level wasn't too loud and the craft beer selection was pretty good!
Taipei 101 in Taipei: I love the elevator ride up and on a clear day, you can get the best views of the city. Adult admission fee costs 500NT.
Ding Tai Fung (Taipei 101 branch): After visiting the Taipei 101 Observatory, we came here at 11am for brunch. There were no lines and we were quickly ushered in. Food is always good here.
Elephant Mountain in Taipei: Take the MRT to Xiangshan Station and follow the signs to the hiking trail. It's a nice and sweaty climb to the top but you get an amazing view of the city and Taipei 101. I recommend bringing bug spray for this climb during the summertime.
Maokong Gondola in Taipei: Take the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station and walk a block over to the gondola. It's a nice scenic ride to the top for 50NT. There are a few cute tea shops on the top of the mountain. We just randomly wandered into one for ice cream and tea.