Last time I went to Taiwan I visited Taichung and Jiufen 九份 but didn’t see much of Taipei except for a restaurant and a hostel. So I decided this year I would make it back to accomplish a few goals: Drink a lot of tea (bubbles would be a bonus, I only managed to have one throughout the entirety of my last trip to Taiwan), eat as much of the food my friends told me I had to eat, and just see some more of Taipei.
This year there haven’t been a lot of holidays, mostly due to a change in policy (and schools). So instead of getting three day or four day weekends for holidays that fall in the middle of the week at the schools discretion I’ve ended up with a lot of holidays that just happen for a single day in the middle of the week. This meant Chuseok was the only long(ish) holiday between summer and winter vacation. And it fell in September this year, for only a 4 day weekend. I left on the first day of Chuseok and expected utter madness. Usually Chuseok and Seollal are utterly awful when you try to travel. The roads are insane, the trains are packed, getting a bus is nearly impossible and the lines at the airport are long. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t squished on the train and I didn’t have much difficulty on the bus except getting home from work the night before. But when I left late at night it was all quiet. And in the morning it was totally fine. My wait at the airport wasn’t even that long, and I got there so early I had way too much time to kill and wandered around for hours. It felt so bizarre.
Once in Taipei I picked up a wifi pack I ordered online that worked…okay. Not as great as the one I got when I went to Japan, but this time I was unable to get that one. The Play wifi booth I’d used was at a different terminal (terminal 1) and the terminal I was at required credit cards only, no debit cards or cash. (terminal 2) The one I booked in Taipei took my debit card. At first when I showed my voucher they were a bit confused thinking I was showing them a plane ticket, but eventually they understood and scanned it and gave me my little box. It worked well in emergencies but thankfully a lot of public transit in Taipei has free wifi because the wifi box would just turn itself off…a lot. Except when I had it plugged in at my hotel. The only time I didn’t need it at all.
I took my gudetama key-chain that I bought last time as my public transit pass and was surprised to learn I was in the negatives. I haven’t a clue how my pass was in negative NT$. Thankfully it was only 4NT$ which is approximately 13¢ (USD) or 150 won, but it was still a shock.
When I mentioned I was going to Taiwan my friends didn’t give me a list of things to do but instead they gave me a list of foods to eat and restaurants to try. I made it to about half of them.
My friends who live in Taichung told me that after much discussion with their coworkers they’d all agreed that Pan’s Cake was currently the most popular and best selling pineapple cake. I did go here, however I was unlucky and they were closed for the Moon festival (Autumn festival).
Address: No. 11之1號, Lane 135, Zhongzheng Road, Banqiao District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 220
Sugar & Spice
The place to go to get nougat. This turned out to be a chain. There was one really nice beautiful storefront near my hotel that ended up also being closed when I walked by due to the holiday. However I also found it inside of a mall I ended up spending a ton of time in. So instead of sitting and chilling in a storefront I found a little kiosk of it and bought some as a souvenir for my coworkers. Try their classic nougat to start off with. (All my coworkers loved it.)
Address for the pretty storefront one: No.158, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City
李圆圆 Bubble Lee
Bubble tea is a really popular and famous bubble tea shop and one of two my friend suggested I visit, however this one was on the other side of Taipei then where I was at and I didn’t have time to visit it. And if you’re in Toronto Canada it can be found there as well.
Address (near the ocean!): No. 16號, Gongming Street, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 251
I also didn’t manage to go out for a traditional Taiwanese breakfast which one friend told me I had to do. My hotel ended up having a free/included breakfast so I ate that every morning. Plus a couple places I tried to go to that claimed 24 hour breakfast were also closed for the holidays.
I ended up having a lot of failed trips because shops were closed. It was a little disheartening, especially if they were far away. But there were always cool things to see while I was out and about. Like this sweet cat that said hi to me and then followed me for a couple blocks.
On my first night in Taipei I ate convenience store food for dinner. It was quick and easy and I could just buy it then go back to my room. Which I greatly appreciated because I was tired. I also thought it was very cool because they asked if I wanted a bag, but instead of giving me a bag they gave me a piece of cloth that expanded to carry everything.
A quick note about Taipei. I’m not sure if this policy is everywhere in Taiwan but, like Singapore all food and drink is banned on public transit. So drink your water before going through the gate, or keep it in your bag. You can also buy a reusable drink bag so you can carry it in a little pouch, but don’t drink or eat or have open containers on the pubic transit or you’ll be fined. I think Thailand also has the same rule.