Taiwan 2016

I can't believe it's already been a week since I came back from Taiwan! It feels like just yesterday we were walking and eating non-stop around Taipei. I have my Swarm history pulled up ready to blog about some places I've been and what I've eaten! Here we go.

We got in a bit late our first night, but we still managed to stop by a 7-Eleven to grab some beers and walk around Raohe Street Night Market, one of the oldest night markets in Taipei. It was my first time at a real night market with all the works! The best thing I ate was the pork pepper buns that I burned my lips and fingers on... they shot hot grease out at every bite, but the peppery flavor, tender meat, and green onions were so worth it. The worst thing was the stinky tofu I didn't even eat but could taste in my mouth just from the smell... I just can't ever bring myself to try it - especially since I don't even like tofu!

The next morning we waited about an hour in line at Fu Hang Dou Jiang (阜杭豆漿) because I heard it was the BEST Taiwanese breakfast in Taipei. It was really good... worth a try for sure, but never worth another wait! Make sure you research what you want beforehand because there is NO English menu and workers are very impatient!

 Don't even know the names of half the things we ordered :) Thank you, kind lady in front of me, for ordering for us!

Don't even know the names of half the things we ordered :) Thank you, kind lady in front of me, for ordering for us!

Then we were off to Taipei 101 for some sightseeing and my first time ever at Din Tai Fung! 

 The hype is real. Thinnest but strongest dumpling skin I've ever had, with delicious juicy meat inside. So gooood!

The hype is real. Thinnest but strongest dumpling skin I've ever had, with delicious juicy meat inside. So gooood!

Next was one of my favorite stops... Jack & NaNa Coffee Store. It was the cuuuutest coffee shop in an alleyway, and I definitely had the best iced latte of my trip here. It was really interesting to me that almost all the "hipster" coffee shops took forever to make your coffee... like 10+ minutes. They REALLY care about coffee here! Another note is that "iced" drinks in Taiwan include like 6 pieces of ice and all melt before you finish your drink.

Our friend Chang also took us to Syntrend, a large mall of electronics, games, toys, and more, and that night, we ate a bountiful feast at a small, homey seafood restaurant.

The next morning, we woke up early and visited the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

Between our picture-taking and Thien's Milly Rocking, the huge doors opened up, and we were able to see the Changing of the Guards. It was a pretty cool experience! We took the scenic route back to the subway and ended up crossing a very pretty pond area!

Afterward, we went to Coffee Megane, another great coffee shop. They have really cute Japanese lunch plates, but we too early for it! The drinks were still really good, and I got a curry toast which had the fluffiest bread ever.

Then we took an Uber to Elephant Mountain! It was a great stair master session, and the view was beautiful at the top. I liked it better than Taipei 101 since Taipei 101 itself really makes the skyline. This bro was chilling on the rock for the longest time, so I had no choice but to just include him in the photo.

After we climbed back to the bottom, it started POURING. We thought we saw an old man jack an umbrella, but the whole city seems to have a "take one, leave one" umbrella policy, which was pretty cool. For dinner, we went to the best beef noodle soup restaurant ever: Lin Dong Fang (林東芳牛肉麵). The greatest noodles. Most tender and flavorful beef. Amazing broth.

 Drool drool drool. My only regret is that we didn't come here more than once.

Drool drool drool. My only regret is that we didn't come here more than once.

Later that night, we met up with Cary and went shrimp fishing, where you can catch, cook, and eat your own shrimp! There are a lot of fishing spots along the same street in Shilin district (northern Taipei), so we just picked one.

It was actually really relaxing, and I wish we did it for 2 hours instead of 1. I ended up being too scared to rip off the shrimp pincers and had to have someone else do it every time I caught one... Eating the shrimp was definitely rewarding! We just tossed the shrimp around in salt, grilled it, and it was so perfect and fresh!

Cary then took us to SoShow Bar, one of the best cocktail bars I've ever been to! All of the drinks were so strong, but you couldn't taste anything except the exotic fruity flavors! And they were all carefully crafted, so it took awhile to get the drinks, but they sure were pretty. 

New morning, new coffeeshop. Untitled Workshop has the CUTEST wallpaper!! Totally Instagrammable after editing the incandescent vs natural light ;)

After coffee, we headed to Huashan 1914 Creative Park to see Studio Ghibli's Animated World! It was pretty amazing to see so many of Miyazaki's films rendered in 3D! We also went to the Upside Down House, which made for some trippy photos.

My next favorite adventure was going up the Maokong Gondola to drink tea on top of the mountain! It's an easy metro ride to the gondola, which takes you straight up to the top where you can walk around and visit all kinds of different vendors, restaurants, and shops.

 Going up!

Going up!

The specific teahouse we wanted to go to was YaoYue Teahouse (邀月茶坊), about a 30 minute walk from the gondola stop. It was hot, humid, and a little rainy, but I think the food and tea were worth it! It was the best dim sum I've had in a long, long time... and the view was so relaxing. I loved how they showed us the process of making and how the first cups were for smelling and the rest for drinking. We asked what one of the pots were for, and they spent a minute searching for the English word... "basin." That didn't really answer our question, but the tea was amazing :P

On Friday, we checked out the Tim Ho Wan in Taipei (slow service, but their BBQ pork buns were just as good as I remembered when I ate them in HK!) and then made our way to the National Palace Museum. It was a huuuge museum packed with tourists, so my favorite part was the more spacious Zhishan garden (free entry with a museum ticket).

On our last full day in Taiwan, we visited the Beitou Hot Springs! It was my first time at a hot springs, and it was pretty cool. It was just SUPER crowded. I wish we made time to go to Wulai, but the typhoons definitely interfered with some of the plans. Overall, it was still worth a visit!

Later that night, we went to Shilin Night Market. It was definitely one of my favorites, especially because I got to see the temple. We got more pork pepper buns, flour wheat noodles, and an infamous fluffy bread filled with cheese. I also bought some penis-shaped pineapple cakes to take home, and the TSA flagged my backpack and made me re-scan it... EMBARRASSING! One of the lady TSA agents came up to me and asked what they were made of hahaha. So be prepared that you might set off alarms if you decide to take some home, I guess?

Whew, that was really long. See you again next time, Taiwan!

Bonus: Thien Milly Rocking on ANY BLOCK!

🎼I MILLY ROCK ON ANY BLOCK🎶

A video posted by Thien Tran (@9plus1) on