Enjoying the extended weekend, we headed off to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. We had heard really great things from friends who had visited and were excited to see it for ourselves. The flight was only an hour and a half and then the centre of Taipei was about 40minutes from the airport. We stayed at ArTree Boutique Hotel which was in a great area, walking distance to a metro and a lot of great areas to wander around.
Day 1: Saturday 27th April
Using a trusty map (yes a paper one!) we navigated through the Sun Yat Se memorial hall and park towards to Taipei Mall which is where the Taipei 101 building is. There is a good view of the building from the park.
The weather was not great, but the rain held off thankfully. The mall is full of high end stores and then some high street vendors as well, such as a personal favourite - Zara!!
Where Din Tai Fung originated, Taipei!! We went and enjoyed Dim Sum, Xiao Long Bao and other specialities in the heart of Taipei. Definitely worth a visit, but be prepared to get your ticket and then wait for up to an hour in peak times (we used this as another excuse to wander around the mall!!)
Longshan Temple and Huaxi Night Market
Navigating the much more spacey metro and quieter carriages we were quickly on the authorised of the city. Here was one of the most highly decorated and ornate temples which you could wander around. The intricate details on the dragons and elaborate designs on the roof, will be something that will always be spectacular, no matter how many temples I have now seen! From here, it was very close to Huaxi Night Market, which we wandered down through and it did have shops and things open to peruse but I can imagine that it really comes alive in the evening. What was strange, the huge snakes which were being kept outside the restaurant and the mice/rats being kept to presumably feed them(!!!) On a lighter note, I did enjoy seeing people playing on retro games in little arcades, like the man playing tetris in the photo below.
Huashan 1914 Cultural Park
This was a recommended place for those who like arts and it is based in an old industrial building, with lots of shops and exhibitions dotted around it. We happened to catch it when there was a festival going on, so there was even more going on and shows to go and see too. Nice area to explore and enjoy a drink or two!
Spotting a brewery on the map, Matt was keen to check it out nearby... well as it turned out, clearly it can be called a brewery if it has kegs outside the gates and has benches outside a shop where you can buy it!
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night market in the northern part of the city has many streets filled with games, toys and most importantly F O O D! Taiwan night markets are renowned for their high quality food in substance and flavour and we were very impressed from what we ate/saw! I could not really tell you what it was... but it was tasty. There were lots of fairground type games as well which the children enjoyed playing (and some adults!)
And yes... that was all in one day; 21,000 steps and 15km later!!
Day 2: Sunday 28th April
And finally the sunshine was here! What a lovely day to go to the top of this tower, the worlds tallest tower from 2004-2010! We got there for 9.15 to get in the first wave of tickets and it was not busy at all. When we came down however, just an hour later, there were queues, so do get there early. It was good to get a perception of the city from this high vantage points. And also to see the only visible damper in any tall building around the world, which prevents the tower from moving as much when there are typhoons/earthquakes!
A short metro ride away and a well sign-posted walk later, you arrive at the bottom of a stepped hike up 'Elephant Mountain'. Here you can get exceptional views (on a clear day!!) of the city and Taipei 101. I have got some good pictures on Matt's phone which I will add at a later date... for now here are mine.
Maokong Tea Plantations
If you go to the end of one of the metro lines to the zoo, it stops at a Gondola station which you can take up and over the hills to the tea plantation area. Here you can go on buses to explore this area more and take in the vast views and really appreciate the diversity of this city away from the hustle and bustle of the centre. We went to a restaurant with a roof terrace, very close to the gondola station, to enjoy some Taiwanese cuisine, tea and the views. Unfortunately the weather for us, was not so lovely and the blue skies were no more!!
After having a few hours downtime resting our legs, we headed out to the W Taipei down the road and then to an incredible sushi place! We live next door to W Guangzhou, and have not been there yet, but we now have been to the one in Taipei!! I was told this had good views of the tower - now it had great views, but not of the tower!!
Addiction Aquatic Development
All the fish is cooked (is that the right word here... maybe prepared!) to order and as you can see from the pictures it has a lot to choose from! It is a standing sushi dining experience and well worth visiting if you enjoy sushi!!
So all in all - an AMAZING trip and well worth seeing the culture and the sights which Taipei has to offer. If we had had more time, a trip out of the city to the coast would certainly have been the thing to do.