Thursday, 14 January 2016

Taipei 4-Day Itinerary: Day Four

Read Day 1 here - Ping Xi, Shifen Old Street, Raohe Night Market
Read Day 2 here - Wufenpu, Xinyi area
Read Day 3 here - Wanhua, Yehliu Geopark
Read Day 4 here - Elephant Mountain, Yangminshan


It is already my last full day of this trip. I had a reunion with local friends for lunch at a pizza place which sold boba milk tea dessert pizza. It was interesting to say the least but I still prefer drinking instead of eating my boba/bubble tea.

Boba milk tea pizza
After lunch, they accompanied me to get souvenirs and I got some boxes of Taiwanese food goodies from the supermarket. Then we went to Ximending (西門町) so I could get my favourite mochi from Tai He Traditional Bakery (太和). The packaging was now much nicer than when I last had it but unfortunately it was no longer as soft and amazing as it used to be since it is premade and put in the fridge instead of freshly sold in a wooden crate.

We took the MRT to City Hall Station, locked our bags in the coin locker and rented U-Bikes. They are easy to use if you have an EasyCard (Taipei’s transit card) and the first 30 minutes is free. We rode it to Elephant Mountain Station (象山) and locked the bikes in. Then we walked to the Elephant Mountain trail.

View from Elephant Mountain
The hike up didn’t take long, about 20-30 minutes, but there were a lot of stairs. The sun was setting as we went up and despite the foggy, cloudy sky the view was beautiful. We could see Taipei 101 clearly since it was close by and I saw Miramar’s Ferris Wheel from afar. There were quite a few photographers there with their tripods capturing the scenery.

In the evening I had another experience that was possible thanks to my Taiwanese friend. She asked her friends to bring us around for the evening on their motorbikes since some places weren’t accessible by public transport. First we went to Hao Ji (好記) for dinner and then we rode up Yangminshan to a place called Cao Shan (草山). The restaurant was called Sleepless (草山夜未眠) and there was an inside and outside area with small tables and patio umbrellas overlooking the city. The undersides of the outdoor tables were heated like a kotatsu. The view was spectacular.

Dinner at Hao Ji
View from Yangminshan
It is a restaurant so you can order food but since we already had dinner we ordered drinks and stayed until 12am. I was told that there is usually a live singer and you can choose songs but there wasn’t one tonight probably due to the rainy, windy weather.

We stayed until 12am because they wanted to go to a place in Shilin (士林) that only opens after midnight when the Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) and shops are closed. It was a food cart that made re chao (熱炒) with tables and chairs placed on the sides of the street. It was one of those places that only locals knew about and each dish was only NTD 100!

Getting food was a competition. They say only first timers will order food but frequenters will not. When a dish was ready, one employee would hold multiples of the same dish in his hands and go around asking who ordered it since it is a free flowing system. So all you have to do is shout, “We did! Over here please!” when you see a dish you like even if you did not order it. I was amused by this business model as the four men worked at extreme speeds. The food was pretty good and it was just a fun experience to eat street food in one of the most famous night markets, Shilin, while it was closed. It was as if the locals waited for the tourists of Shilin to leave at night before they brought out the good stuff.

Read Day 1 here - Ping Xi, Shifen Old Street, Raohe Night Market
Read Day 2 here - Wufenpu, Xinyi area
Read Day 3 here - Wanhua, Yehliu Geopark
Read Day 4 here - Elephant Mountain, Yangminshan
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