We were crazy hungry after touching down at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport and after clearing customs, I was excited to find a FamilyMart (convinience store) at the airport basement. For those that don’t know, convenience store culture in Taipei is really developed like in Japan. You can get anything you need there. If you are feeling peckish, you can grab a pre-prepared Taiwanese meal (i.e. Braised Pork Rice, La Mian…) which the staff will help you heat up on the spot.
Our first snack in Taiwan is the every popular Tian Bu La (similar to Oden in Japan). All you need to do is to grab a bowl and pick the food that you want from simmering pots of broth. If you like, you can even add some soup to your bowl.
Just near the FamilyMart is the airport’s bus station. From there, you can find counters to buy bus tickets from. There are quite a few options so do look through and compare the prices. Most common alighting location for tourists is the Taipei Main station (metro and railway). However, I was staying at Ximending area and managed to find a bus that took us straight there for about 150NT (about SGD6) each one-way.
We stayed at the HereXThere Hostel in Ximending and found it pretty convenient. On the first portion of my trip I stayed in a 8 person sharing room and when I returned to Taipei I stayed in a 12 person sharing room. The beds are comfortable and the guests seem pretty well-behaved so we did not encounter any problems with our accommodation.
Xi Men Ding area is a youth-centric area and on weekends, it can be get quite crowded. Good thing is that because of the good business it gets on the weekend, you can find eateries and shops opening till 2am in the morning.
I headed out to the famous Shihlin Night Market (士林夜市). To get there, take a the Metro to Jiantan station. The market is about a 5 mins walk from the station and you can follow the crowd if you are unsure.
The photo below shows the prices of taking the metro and is accurate as of July 2015; pardon my blurred photo. In this instance, I chose to purchase the 24 hour pass as I intended to head to Dan-shui the next day (furthest point on the metro). You can read more about Taiwan transportation in my post here.
A lively area, Shilin Night Market did not disappoint in terms of food. For the first dinner in Taipei, we had steak at this restaurant which boasts to sell beef which is bigger than your face.
We wanted to save space for other foods so we got a more reasonable portion of beef instead.
This sirloin steak costs about NT170 (about SGD8) and comes with soup and free flow drinks
Taipei Shilin Area, Dadong road No.52
Price Range: 90~350NT(No service charge)
If you are into quirky foods, perhaps you may be up for these penis-shaped sweet snacks. They have it as a chinese pancake or as a Popsicle. But note that its not known for being tasty, so unless you just want to take a picture with it, otherwise just give it a miss.
One of the things you have got to eat in Taiwan is the Mee Sua (麵線). Mee sua is known as the longevity noodles in south-east asia. In Taiwan, you can eat it with pig intestines or with oysters. For just 20NT, you can get a bowl of piping hot noodles codes in a thick delicious broth. At this stall located just outside the temple, you will see their many customers sitting on the steps of the temple enjoying this Taiwanese cuisine.
Ah Hui Mee Sua(Outside the Mazu Temple)
Address：Taipei Shilin Area, Da Nan Road No. 84
At Taiwanese Night Markets, its also common to find games stalls. Aside from those played by children, you can also find games meant for the older crowd such as BB Gun shooting, darts and also games that are almost like gambling in my opinion.
After filling our stomachs, we decided to head to Miramar Complex. This shopping center is featured in most Taiwanese idol-dramas and is a really pretty place at night. With more shopping and residential complexes being built nearby, Miramar is much more lively than I remembered it from my previous trip.
You can get there by catching a free shuttle bus from Jian Tan Station
Just opposite Miramar Complex is a Carrefour. We headed there to get some food for our trip to Yang Ming Shan tomorrow. We found that they sold some cooked Taiwanese snacks there such as the Smelly Toufu and the Pigs Blood Cake. Non-chinese people must be gagging right now 😛
One thing I like about Taiwan is their love for their pets. You can bring them anywhere with you and it’s not uncommon to see cute little dog peeking out of their owner’s bags. However, when it comes to food, to maintain hygiene standard, pets are not allowed into supermarkets. Instead, you can leave them for a short while at the ‘Pet Hotel’.
Looks like the kaya-toast trend is hitting the shores of Taiwan.
Heading back for a good night’s rest in preparation of tomorrow’s exercise up Yang Ming Shan..