Hi blog reader(s), it’s been a while. In the time since my last blog post highlighting some of my favorite parts of a 3 day trip to Washington DC, a season and a half has passed. I spent a long weekend with one of my very best friends and her family in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada. I was able to visit family in southern California and play tourist at Disneyland, downtown LA, and Joshua Tree National Park. I also worked a lot, but that’s not what y’all are here for.
Earlier this year my parents decided that they were going to go on a trip to Japan and Taiwan. Seeing that it’d been over 6 years since I’d been back to Taiwan (read: over 6 years since I’ve seen half of my family), I inserted myself into their plans and bought a ticket to meet them in Taipei.
After a 13.5 hour flight in an aisle seat next to a man with shoulders broad enough to dictate when and how I could shift in my own seat, I arrived in Taipei in the late afternoon on Thursday tired, sore, and dehydrated. I waited in customs for a while before heading out on the MRT and into town where I met up with family and tried to adjust to the new time zone as best as I possibly could.
Most of my time was spent with friends and family, but here are some of the more tourist-y highlights from my week in the motherland.
The first full day in Taiwan, my parents and I took an ~hour long train ride to Keelung, a fishing town on the northern coast of the island. We took a bus from the train station to the Badouzi Seaside Park where we walked around for several hours in >90ºF/80% humidity weather.
Then we went to the famous Keelung Night Market and sampled a bunch of different tasty snacks.
We got a couple different types of freshly prepared squid and octopus (pictured above), as well as a peanut butter ice cream, squid ball soup, and taiwanese sausage served with fresh garlic. Everything was absolutely delicious–so good that I completely forgot about taking pictures 🙂
Da’an District, Taipei
My dad has a lot of nostalgia for visiting the Da’an district since it is where he spent a large portion of the early-mid 90’s, so when my mom decided to bail and hang out with some of her friends, my dad and I decided to go back to his stomping grounds and do a bit of urban exploring.
Our first stop was Daan Park: a large, beautiful park filled with spaces for exercise and community engagement. One of the neatest features in we saw was this set of bikes, that when peddled, pump water from a pond and power a variety of water fixtures. There’s even an app you can download so you can compete with your friends!
After grabbing some lunch, we walked over to another park in the foothills of Taipei, Fuzhoushan park. The heat and humidity made the hike through the lush jungle habitat a bit more strenuous than anticipated, but the view at the top made it completely worth it!
We decided to descend the hill a different way, and ended up in Fuyang Eco Park. Much smaller than its neighboring park, but still very neat. We got to see a good doggo taking a break in a river, which made everything just that much better.
But wait, the adventures didn’t end there! We hopped on the MRT and took it to the Taipei Zoo Station, where we then got on the Maokong Gondola and got to spend some time up in the little town before heading back to have dinner with family.
Jiufen had been on my to-visit list ever since numerous trendy websites started reporting that it was the inspiration for the ghost city in Spirited Away (spoiler, it wasn’t). It is however, an incredibly charming city with tiny alleyways and lots of little food and souvenir shops.
We’d originally planned on taking a bus up to the coastal city, but got a good deal on a shared cab with a recent graduate from UC Hastings. The cab ride was windy and I felt a little sick, but it was much faster than taking the bus.
We got various drinks and snacks while navigating the small alleyways, like watermelon juice, a traditional taiwanese ice cream roll, and guava juice. We then settled at a little restaurant for a light lunch and beers. Food wasn’t anything to write home about, but the view was incredible.
This was actually the first trip back to Taiwan where we didn’t stay with my grandmother in Xinzhuang. My mom had worries that we’d stress her out too much if she felt like she had to constantly entertain and feed us, so instead, we opted to stay at an Airbnb in Ximending just a 15 minute bus ride away from my grandma.
One of the best parts about the district is the amount of really great, cheap food all within walking distance. We got great seafood soup and noodles at正老牌魷魚平, incredibly cheap and delicious chicken, rice, and soup at 施福建好吃雞肉, and tasty traditional Taiwanese ice cream at Yongfu Ice Cream.
The amount of absolutely delicious and super cheap food available in such a small radius is truly incredible. I could spend days on end just going around to different restaurants, and then walking around to see all the neat street art in the district.