Five days in Taipei

I’m trying to remember, but I think this is the first time that I’ve ever managed to extend an airport layover. I’ve had some planned overnight layovers — Berlin, Vancouver, Seoul — but those were due to flight schedules, not my choice. And I’ve had unplanned overnight layers — Atlanta, Paris, and Moscow come to mind. Eva Air had reasonable rates so Ferda and I decided to spend five days in Taipei on our way from Singapore to Los Angeles.

My very first impression as we walked from the metro to our hotel was that the streets sure look a lot like Japan.

IMG_20230213_122959 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230213_124643 by bryandkeith on flickr

Turns out there’s a good reason for that. Much of Taipei’s infrastructure was built by the Japanese while they occupied Taiwan for about 50 years ending with WW2. Who knew?

On our first morning in Taipei we headed out for some food toward an area full of restaurants according to the map. Oddly there wasn’t a single restaurant on the ground there. We quickly figured out that everything was underground! Indeed we ate at a number of underground food courts during our short stay.

IMG_20230209_122015 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230211_114541 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230212_133459 by bryandkeith on flickr

Of the few touristy things we did in Taipei, by far the best was the National Palace Museum.

IMG_20230210_114300 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230210_131240 by bryandkeith on flickr

And the best exhibits at the National Palace Museum were the many rooms of porcelain.

IMG_20230210_153852 by bryandkeith on flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryandkeith/52916204473/
IMG_20230210_155159 by bryandkeith on flickr

The beautiful pieces went on and on.

IMG_20230210_155239 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230210_155324 by bryandkeith on flickr

There was surprisingly little background information — nothing about Chinese history, for example. Something as simple as a timeline of Chinese dynasties would have been useful. I was also curious about how and when these pieces made their way to Taiwan, but I suppose that’s a thorny topic.

I enjoyed the snuff bottles after seeing a fine collection in Lisbon.

IMG_20230210_145425 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230210_144912 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here are a couple photos of the area around the Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall.

National Theatre by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230209_161808 by bryandkeith on flickr

I must admit I didn’t learn much there either.

We found a few pretty temples to visit. At Xingtian Temple a kind, older woman who spoke English well explained to Ferda how the divining blocks work. Ferda threw them three times and got three resounding “yes”.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryandkeith/52915761241/
Xingtian Temple
IMG_20230213_133729 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230213_134315 by bryandkeith on flickr
Dalongdong Baoan Temple
IMG_20230209_150147 by bryandkeith on flickr
Longshan Temple

One day at 228 Peace Park we met about 25 other tourists and Andy, our guide for the afternoon.

IMG_20230211_145027 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230211_145051 by bryandkeith on flickr

Andy mostly talked about Taiwan’s history — Portuguese came 400 years ago, then the Dutch in 1624, later Spanish. China took over in the mid-17th century but mostly neglected Taiwan. The Japanese, I guess, were next as I mentioned earlier. Andy spent too much time on the 228 Incident (in 1947; the start of a police crackdown as I understand it), but overall he gave an interesting tour.

Andy, our Taipei Old Town walking tour guide by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230211_163219 by bryandkeith on flickr

A young Taiwanese couple on the tour encouraged us to visit the Lin Family Mansion and Garden the following day which we dutifully did. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but maybe that’s ’cause the mansion itself was closed for renovation. We could only visit the garden.

IMG_20230212_142547 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230212_143903 by bryandkeith on flickr

Back to food. Isn’t that where I started? We ate two dinners at the Ningxia Night Market near our hotel. On the first evening we tried oysters, meat skewers, steamed spring rolls, and here Ferda is with steamed pork dumplings.

IMG_20230210_183812 by bryandkeith on flickr

You can see the line of people behind her in the above photo. Curious what the hype was about, we waited in that line (behind 38 people!) on our next visit — omelettes with oysters and clams billed as “traditional Taiwanese cuisine”. Indeed it was worth the wait.

IMG_20230212_190219 by bryandkeith on flickr

We finished off with a kind of shredded/grated ice cream dish called “snowflake ice”, shown here in the mango version. And again, surprisingly good!

IMG_20230211_190400 by bryandkeith on flickr
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5 Responses to Five days in Taipei

  1. Jeffrey Anderson says:

    Great reporting and photos, as usual, Bryan! Curious looking purple cubes on the left side of the plate in the second food photo. What is it?

    Also, have fun with your family in CA!

  2. Mike Painter says:

    Interesting and nice, as always!

  3. Jeff Anderson says:

    Thanks Bryan! I love eggplan

  4. Jeff Anderson says:

    ..eggplant.

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