TAIWAN | Our Adventure in the Land of Bubble Tea & Shilin Chicken

Hey everyone,

Last week, we took off on an epic journey to Taiwan, the land of good food and great scenery! We travelled with Damian’s friends (Patrick, Clive and Angela), and it was Sandra’s first time to Formosa (the name given to Taiwan during a short-lived Japanese occupation). We stayed in Taipei but travelled out, and our adventure will be described in greater detail in our next few entries!

Our post outlines what we did generally, and is not intended to be a complete guide to our trip. If you would like more personal details e.g. budget, addresses or our itinerary, feel free to contact us in private at damianwithsandra@gmail.com and we will be more than happy to supply you with what information we have!

Taiwan!!!

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Taiwan is a beautiful, mountainous island (though not featured above… yet!) that is home to more than 23 million people, who live mostly in the urban cities such as Taipei (pictured above), Kaohsiung and Taizhong. The country enjoys both hot and cold weather, but during June through September one can experience typhoons, heavy storms and immense sunlight. We are certainly not discouraging anyone from going, but be sure to check the weather in advance if you do not wish for your travel schedules to be disrupted by unexpected weather forecast!

DAY 1: National Palace Museum and Shilin Night Market

Our first day involved a 4 1/2 hour flight from Singapore to Taiwan (via Taoyuan Airport). It was a morning flight, so as to maximise our time spent in Taipei City. Our choice of airline was Jetstar, having found a good return airfare (but obviously without the luxury of a full-service airline).

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The most common way to get to Taipei City from Taoyuan Airport would be via bus/taxi, and we chose the former. A short one-hour trip, and voila, we reached Taipei! Taipei is densely populated, but remains the prime location for tourists. The city is well known for its street food, friendly residents and amazing scenic locations in and around the region.

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At Taoyuan Airport, where the steel, triangular roofs stood out and filtered light into the main hall.
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Just one of the many sights travelling from Taoyuan Airport!

Our accommodation was situated in Ximending, and also belonged to a popular chain of hotels, Go Sleep Hotel. For the price we paid, it was really worth it! The rooms were clean and well kept, as was the toilet (arguably the most important place of any accommodation)!

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Piano keys forming the backdrop of the hotel room; creative and fun!

We immediately sought out some nourishment, and as shown below, the Taiwanese cuisine was simply tantalising, delicious and out-of-this-world!

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Sampled a Taiwanese meal consisting of friend pork cutlet, with rice and vegetables! It was SO good!
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A bright sunny day in Ximengding! Of course, little did we know that the first day was only one of the few days of clear skies!
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The ever popular bubble tea can be purchased at one of Taiwan’s most renowned shops, 50嵐! In fact, the franchise has hit Singapore, rebranding itself as Koi.

Our first place of interest was the National Palace Museum. The iconic grounds houses over 700,000 unique pieces of Chinese artifacts and artworks, and was the former Palace Museum for China during the 1920s (and aesthetically similar to the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, both being sister palaces). We were not allowed to take pictures in the museum, but nevertheless enjoyed reading and witnessing Chinese history and folklore!

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Spotted at Jiantan Station, this life-like mural epitomises the active and creative side of Taiwan!
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The National Palace Museum, bearing similar resemblance to the Forbidden Palace in Beijing!
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Welcome there!

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Selfie game strong.
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As the sun set, the evening light illuminated the grounds, emphasising the grandness of the Palace Museum.

After staying at the Palace Museum till sunset, we headed to the hugely anticipated Shilin Night Market! It serves, amongst others, the famous Shilin friend chicken, which we immediately grabbed! The night market also features fun carnival-style games, with enticing rewards but seemingly difficult tasks (such as lifting a glass bottle with a rod and string (!?)).

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We were spotted!

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Shilin Fried Chicken! It was heavenly, to say the least!
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The famous Taiwanese sausages, which is meaty and full of flavour (and pork!)
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These were the simpler games (dart throwing), but we were bamboozled by the other challenges, which included bursting a water balloon as it fell through a pipe (seems like only the owner could accomplish it!)
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On a Saturday night, it was understandably crowded, and we had to unceremoniously stumble through the sea of people.
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Smelly tofu; yes, it was indeed quite smelly!
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This caught our attention; using a flame torch to COOK beef. The results? Amazing, tender beef.

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Last but not least, the fun but extremely frustrating claw crane (where the aforesaid claw would be moved and have to grab onto the prize). The claw itself was (intentionally) loose and we spent no small amount trying again and again! Needless to say, we did not win :/

We returned to our accommodation, which is located in the famous shopping district of Ximending. It boasts a wide array of shops and eateries, and since we were staying nearby we took our time in exploring the area.

DAY 2: Walking, Shopping, and Wufenpu/Raohe Night Market

In lieu of the weather forecast projecting intermittent rain throughout the day, we decided to stay indoors for most of the day. That being said, we certainly enjoyed the better part of the day exploring the local sights!

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Empty roads are only common in the morning; in the night, the hustle and bustle spread everywhere!
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The alley.

We first headed to SOGO, a popular Japanese chain of departmental stores (which had a flagship store in Raffles City, Singapore till the early 2000s); the ladies immediately found some Disney-themed shoes (which could not be found in Singapore) and promptly got them! We also found a Lomography shop, where a workshop was being conducted for enthusiastic instant photographers.

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Angela and Sandra satisfied with their purchases (not pictured)!
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And guys (from left: Patrick, Damian and Clive) do what they do best when girls shop: sit around and contemplate about life/use their phones.
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Graffiti is common in Taiwan, but the artistic merit here is beyond belief!
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An old man making mochi (Japanese rice cake).

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Tadah, the Lomography shop!
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We got a peek at some of the photographers’ snaps, and they were really good!

After a brief rest at the hotel, we headed out again to Wufenpu, a well known commercial shopping district much like Bugis Street, with alleyways filled with shops for both men and women. Admittedly, it was not as impressive, and in fact it was its foodie counterpart, Raohe Night Market, that drew our attention! Unfortunately, it was raining heavily and we could not fully enjoy the normal boisterous atmosphere of the night market.

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But for the rain, Wufenpu would have been very crowded.
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With their simple display of clothing (found in plastic sacks), it is no wonder that shoppers flock here, finding their clothes with ease.
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Lonely walk.
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Sandra in the moonlight~~
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The vibrant colours of the neon signboards made for stunning shots during the rain, such as this one.
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The stunning Ciyou temple stood out at the entrance of Raohe Night Market.
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Three first-timers at Raohe!
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Clive with his splendid street food dish of deep-fried small crabs!
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The rain did affect our enjoyment of Raohe Night Market, but it is not so often that we get to walk through a night market in the rain. Nevertheless, that is an experience we certainly will not want to go through again!

Heading back to Ximending, we found more delectable food to tuck in and savour before the night’s end. After all, there’s no such thing as a curfew on food in Taiwan!

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Busking is common, and this young gentleman was serenading the crowd with Chinese songs.
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At a famous outlet selling mee sua, a thin noodle dish served with succulent gravy and oysters!
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Our final dish for the night: a sweet-tooth dessert which is made using ‘snow ice’, which is flavoured shaved ice (fore: milk tea flavour snow ice with tapioca pearls; back: mango flavour snow ice with mango fruit and ice cream). It was a fitting end to our gastronomic adventure!
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Angela and Sandra approves!

So that’s it for our first two days! We also had the opportunity to take some Polaroids and Instax wide films (which will be posted during our last entry), and if you follow us on Instagram, you would have gotten a glimpse of our photo montage. We will be posting more about our trip in the next two weeks, so keep a lookout for those entries!

Till next time,

Damianwithsandra

2 thoughts on “TAIWAN | Our Adventure in the Land of Bubble Tea & Shilin Chicken

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