Friday, May 19, 2017

Taipei, just a bit more

We spent a lot of time eating this trip, and did not have a single bad experience. In all the guidebooks it says if you see a line join it,  it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you will get – the line pretty much guarantees it will be worth it.  One of the best was a stall selling green onion pancakes.   The line was long, but the reward was delicious!!!!

Din Tai Fung our favourite Xiao Long Bao chain of restaurants originated in Taipei and we made the trip to their original restaurant.  The wait was 45 minutes when we arrived so we took our number and went for a wander around the streets.  I left Andrew to his own devices for 15 minutes and came back to find he had sourced a poppy seed bun/cake. 
We had planned to do a guided market tour on our 2nd day in Taipei as a introduction to Taiwanese food.  It was postponed and we ended up doing it half way through the trip – but it was a good way to get some good off the beaten track insights.  We went with Taipei Eats and Jean was lovely. We sat in the streets and tasted smoked shark, sausages inside rice sausages, beef noodle soup, rice dumplings  etc etc.  Some of the stalls had been operating for 40 or 50 years. 
night market
And we spent some time eating our way again Ningxia night market not far from our apartment.  Busy and full off options including an ice-cream wrap with peanut toffee  shaved with a carpenter’s plane and finished with coriander.
night mkt
We spent some time on cultural pursuits visiting the Confucius  Temple and the well-restored Baoan Temple

Another highlight was the National Palace Museum with it’s superb collection of Chinese artifacts.  The porcelain and metal work were particularly stunning.  What was not stunning was the sea of humanity otherwise known as Chinese tour groups.  We went early in the morning but they were still oppressive.  The guides are pushy and the people often just as pushy as they press their phone cameras against the exhibits. Leaving your water bottle while visiting the exhibits and collecting it on exiting was a new one for us  (we didn't have water bottles, just observed others doing it)
Taiwan is a highly recommended destination with it’s green spaces, friendly people and great food!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Taipei as a base

We came back to Taipei and a lovely apartment in the Zhongshan district.  A short walk to the metro system, plenty of restaurants and a supermarket nearby, and very quiet.  One of the pleasant aspects of Taipei is the number of small backstreets and small boutique/specialist shops.  We used this as a base to make a number of day trips and activities.
There was the trip out to the end of the MTR line and the sea-side suburb of Tamsui.  We headed off around the coast and Andrew spotted an ice-cream vendor.  We watched the funny spectale as the vendor teased a small child by offering the ice-cream then taking it away. He was a true showman knowing how far to go and having the crowd in fits of laughter.  Eventually he gave the child the ice-cream.  Andrew decided he would have one too.  He did NOT think the many would toy with little Andrew.  How wrong he was.   With sleight of hand he offered and took the ice-cream away from Andrew

If that wasn’t bad enough.  Little Andrew spent the 1 minute with an empty ice-cream cone in his pocket.  He still doesnt know how the man managed to put it in there without him knowing.
And the ice-cream was delicious.

We wandered around the Fort San Domingo.  Built originally in the early 1600s by the Spanish, the Dutch came through and re-built it, the Chinese had control of it for a while and it ended it’s active life as the British Embassy in the 1980’s when Taiwan (China)  took back control.

We spent a morning up Maokong Hill.  A ride on the MRT takes you to a semi-rural area with plenty of walking and views back over the city.  Here there are tea plantations and camphor forests.  We took the gondola up and wandered around. 
mao kong
Down at Taroko, there were plenty of sandfly/mosquitoes.  As usual Andrew was an insect magnet and spent the remainder of the trip itching the 80 or so bites he got.  And, yes, he did spend time counting them.