Trigger warning: post contains a lot of ridiculously good looking food.
I've landed in Taipei on Sunday night. Getting to the city from the airport is fairly easy no matter what time it is, however, you should be aware that you might have to take public transport or a taxi from Taipei Main Station in order to get to your accommodation. I thought I'd make it before midnight but I didn't so I was kinda screwed when there was no public transport operating anymore, no wifi to be found and I only had two shitty screen shots that I pre-cautiously took before boarding the bus at the airport... just in case, you know. The bus drops you off right in front of a taxi stand which is awesome - if the drivers would actually be willing to take you which in my case didn't happen. Why? Because apparently my hostel was around the corner but since I only had my two extraordinary shitty screenshots I didn't know that. So I've walked. And walked. And usually I don't mind walking and my luggage wasn't even that heavy BUT keep in mind how hot and humid Taiwan is... eventually I've found my hostel and after taking the world's longest shower fell asleep around 2am. Yay.
Monday started with some delicious pork-filled dumplings and a hike up Elephant Mountain. I didn't actually plan on getting a cardio workout in but Lord Jesus, I was sweaty. And by sweaty I don't mean huge sweat patches all over my body but my clothes were wet. Dripping wet. Not so pretty. The view was kind of worth it though ...
After sweating my bum off up Mt. Elephant I went to the National Palace Museum. To be fair, museums are always a bit tricky. I've been to a bunch of them but I can only think of two or three museums I genuinely liked. The NPM turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment. It's basically just a bunch of calligraphy and ceramics - not being able to speak Chinese, the calligraphy is - even if it is nice to look at - not really super interesting for a long nose like me.
Later that night I had a stroll around Ximen which is full of young people, shops and restaurants. I've had dinner at this Taiwanese buffet-style restaurant and tried something that is a bit like bubble tea but it was basically just almond milk with tapioca - super delicious. I also got this little pastry filled with hot vanilla custard which I bought from a street vendor - and by hot I mean SUPER HOT. Sometimes the things you love burn you, I guess - what a good metaphor for life.
Around noon I left to eat some delicious food. In general, my main approach for Taiwan was to eat as much and as diverse as possible and preferably all the street food that there is. Around my hostel were all these delicious buffets where you can take whatever you're craving and then pay per 100g.
Because I am a big mochi fan (mochi is some kind of rice cake often with a filling or topping, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory) and I found some in a local bakery I got one for dessert. They had three different types but everything was in Chinese so I just picked the green one which had a red bean filling and was delicious but I couldn't finish it by all means, it was simply too big.
Later I had a delicious green bun which was filled with cheese and walnuts. You couldn't really taste "the green" so it literally just tasted like a normal bun but I really liked it a lot. It was sweet and savory at the same time but a little heavy.
I also went to the Chiang Memorial and watched the changing of the guards and had a stroll around the different exhibitions inside the building.
After that, I had a look at the Longhuan Temple but didn't stay super long because it was just too hot and there was hardly any shade.
While I was taking a break from the heat and just hanging out in the hostel's lobby, I've got to meet Ben (to the left) and Lucas (to the right) from Macau who later went for a stroll with me around the Shilin night market and basically bought all the food that there was.
We had watermelon juice with some kind of jelly in it, some kind of sausage, another thing on a stick which was absolutely not identifiable and I kinda also don't want to know what it was and I also tried the infamous mashed potato covered in cheese sauce and chicken pieces (there are different options, you can also get bacon, pork, a vegetarian option and there were many more on the menu).
I've also tried this delicious little burrito/spring roll to finish off the night. It's basically sugar-coated shaved peanuts wrapped in a crepe together with some lemon sherbet and coriander. Yes, coriander. I am usually not a big fan of this herb but the combination was delicious and it only cost about 50 NTD.
I've skipped breakfast on Wednesday and started my day with lunch once again. I had mushrooms, broccoli, tofu, fried pumpkin, more tofu, glazed potatoes, cabbage and a small pork-filled dumpling! This pick and mix is about 100 NTD and only a short walk away from Taipei Main Station, Exit 8. In general I would just recommend to have a look at the small streets around this area - there are so many delicious restaurants, bakeries and food vendors that are worth checking out.
I have a little, teeny tiny sweet tooth so dessert is definitely always an option. Knowing that mochis are not really a thing in Australia I got myself another classic red bean-filled mochi and two variations filled with taro and sweet potato! Each of them were about 14 NTD (0,39€, 0,40$, 4SEK) so more than affordable.
After demolishing my lunch and dessert I made my way down to the Taipei Zoo in Wenshan district. The zoo was founded in 1914 when Taiwan was still under Japanese rule. The Taipei Zoo displays animals from Taiwan, Australia, Africa, the Asian tropical rainforest, the desert, and the temperate zones and is open all year around (with a few exceptions) between 9am and 5pm. Regular tickets are only 60 NTD (1,70€, 1,80$, 15SEK). You can also go and visit the Maokong Gondola when you're in that area already, it's just around the corner - just follow the signs from the MRT station.
Taipei is full of different night markets so if you get tired of one just go and visit another one in a different part of the city. Wednesday night I went to explore the Raohe St. Night Market which is located at Songshan Station (Line 3, Exit 5).
This time I've tried the BBQ pork roll which is filled with spring onion. It's a little difficult to eat because the onion keeps falling out of the roll BUT it's more than delicious and has a lot of flavor. It looks spicy but is very mild, however, I am sure that they are able to spice it up for you if you like that. You can get this roll for around 150 NTD (4€, 5$, 40SEK) at either Shilin or Raohe market.
My last day in Taiwan was on Friday and originally I had planned to go to the Taiwan Museum and another art exhibition that day but due to a typhoon warning everything was closed and I was worried that my flight would get cancelled, so I headed to the airport around noon and spent my time there - a bit unfortunate but oh well - better safe than sorry, right? My flight was fine and I am in Melbourne now where I'll be staying for the next 5 months, so get excited for some Aussie action!