We decided to allocate one full day to the Danshui and Beitou areas. These 2 places are located at the end of the Tamsui Line which you can catch from Taipei Main Station.
To get to the the more touristy Beitou hotsprings area, you have to change train and get to New Beitou Station.
There, we stopped at a local eatery for breakfast.
A must try in Taiwan is the Orh Lua Jian = Oyster Omelette. Unlike the Singapore version, the Taiwanese one is more of an omlette and it comes drenched in a sweet ketchupy-mixed sauce. The SO did not really like it but he reckons its just the style rather than the stall. Ketchup-loving me felt it was pretty tasty and it tasted more like an omelette that way.
We took a quick walk around the market after breakfast and found many fruit sellers displaying delicious looking fruits. By that I mean that it the fruits are seriously over-sized and juicy! Summer is the perfect time for my favorite mangoes which never disappointed me anytime.
Its about a 10 mins walk to the start of the Beitou Park, along which many of the attractions are located.
First on our list was the Beitou Public Library. The building is the first to be awarded the Diamond award for its Eco-friendly theme. The building itself is constructed using wood which leads to less carbon footprints than cement . For its roof, part of it is covered with Solar panels while the other part is covered with a thick layer of soil for thermal insulation. The building also gathers and uses rain water to flush its toilet.
You can go in to take a look at the cosy interior of the library though photography is not allowed indoors
Just a short way uphill, is the Beitou Hotsprings Museum. Do visit it to walk around and learn about how the hotspring culture developed in Taiwan. The Museum is house in a Japanese style building and boasts the oldest tatami room in Taiwan.
We dropped by Plum Garden as well. Though I did not think it was particularly interesting unless you are acquainted with the works of famous Taiwanese calligrapher, Yu You-ren. In any case, like many of the architecture in the area, the Plum garden takes you into the interior of what used to be living quarters in the early 20th century.
Though I can read chinese, chinese poetry demands a higher set of language skills I do not possess. I kindly asked the guides on standby to explain the poem to me instead. Turns out that the content is pretty meaningful. It is a poem that Mr Yu wrote to his wife for their 30th wedding anniversary (i think) telling her that even though they have been together for so long, their ‘work’ together is only half passed and that they still have roads to traverse together.
We finally reached the thermal valley. Basically, this is reason why Beitou was so in demand in the past as a tourism hotspot.
Although I did not get to visit any hotsprings (since it was crazy hot when we visited), but there are plenty of hotsprings hotels around for your picking. Do check the pricing as the rates vary quite widely depending on how luxurious the establishment is. You can even get private rooms where they feed the hotspring water to the comfort of your own room instead.
That concluded our day trip to Beitou.
Next up is Danshui, the sea-side district of Taipei.
Street buskers such as this are such an integral part of the Taiwanese street market atmosphere. I am pretty this was here back when I first visited Taipei 5 years ago.
Although the buildings here look old, this is not the famed Dan Shui old street. It is however a popular shopping district in Danshui. Throngs of locals flock down to browse the many shops that sell a myriad of goods from beauty to homewares. You wont have to worry about being hungry as the small food sellers have strategically placed themselves into any available space between the stores.
Though it is much like many of its counter-part world wide, the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum in Danshui is a good respite from a day of shopping and eating, plus it carries some local and asian themed stuff. Plus I got to carry a snake, all for a price below SGD 5!
If you are thinking of buying some souveniers back, why not get some traditional pastries?
This place is rather un-represented online i guess due to the fact that it does not really have an english name (“shjc” is pretty impossible to find). They specialize in traditional cakes which reminds me of chinese weddings. I like the pastry that contains salted egg.
You can get them in individual size or as a big cake (it really is a ‘cake’ shop). And for those who would like to have a taste of Chinese wedding culture can purchase the : 禮香炮燭 package.
Such gifts are usually given to relatives before the wedding to share the good news with them and to invite them to the wedding as well.
Due to a lack of time, I didn’t really research on food in Taiwan. Instead, I took my spirit of adventure and aimed to try as many things as my stomach will allow me.
We chanced upon this Scallion Pancake (蔥油餅) stall in the back alley. Apparently they are famous or something as there was a loooong queue. So in typical Singaporean style, we proceeded to queue.
One thing you will note about Taiwan is that they have no lack of young hawkers. Many young people are willing to take over their parents stalls while others are jumping into entrepreneurship.
I ended off the night with some dessert.