First full day in Taiwan felt like two days in one. My itinerary didn’t seem that ambitious but turns out there were a lot too see, eat, and do. Here is what happened…
1. Breakfast: Liu Mama Rice Balls (劉媽媽飯糰 Liú māmā fàntuán) – these are glutinous rice balls that are stuffed with fried cruller (youtiao), pork sung which are like dried finely shredded pork jerky, braised egg and other toppings. I used Google translate to decipher the menu as my Chinese was not that great. Here is what we decided to get:
- milk tea (奶茶 Nǎichá)
- almond milk (杏仁奶 Xìngrén nǎi)
- healthy black soybean milk (健康黑豆浆 Jiànkāng hēi dòujiāng)
- pork chop rice balls (豬排飯糰 Zhūpái fàntuán)
- sausage rice balls (香腸飯糰 Xiāngcháng fàntuán)
- smoked chicken rice balls (熏制雞飯糰 Xūnzhì jī fàntuán)
After tasting all the different ones we all decided that the prok chop rice ball was the best with milk tea. All the other drink tasted too sweet and syrupy. The healthy black soybean milk tasted like it had ginseng in it so it was too strong for us. We bought 5 drinks and 5 rice balls for breakfast for less than ~30 USD!
2. Pickup mobile wifi at Taipower Building from ivideo. I can finally play Pokemon Go. I need to catch a Farfetch. It’s only available in Asia. Don’t you judge me! The mobile wifi is good in most areas unless you go up a mountain. The device I got can connect up to 10 devices. We used Line as our communication app and we also used used it to call each other when we split up. The locals also use Line or Whatsapp.
3. Off to Beitou Hot Springs
- Mellinium Hot Springs was not what I expected. There was a lot of people and it was very crowded. There was not much young people. The place was small and they were strict on bathing suit requirements. You have to have swimsuit that is not loose and must be one piece or two piece that covers the belly like a tankini. You can buy the swimsuits there, which I did for about $24 USD. It’s a bit expensive. The people there are super nice. They are open in 3 hour increments and take about half an hour to clean up the place. The plus side was that it was less than $2 USD entrance fee and then less than $1 to rent a locker. You do have to bring a towel of your own and probably some kind of sandal to walk around with. They had cold and hot areas. I’m glad I experienced it, but I would recommend researching on other options such as booking a private hot spring at a nearby hotel if you can afford it. Perhaps if you went earlier in the morning it would be more pleasant, but we went around 11 am.
- Beitou Thermal Valley (地熱谷 Dìrè gǔ) was the main attraction for us. This valley was beautiful and magical. The place was filled with steam and the water was clear and green. You can see the ridges on the botton of the lake.
- Beitou Hot Spring Museum is a historical bath house that was created under the Japanese occupation of the area.
- Man Lai Hot Spring Ramen is a ramen restaurant that serves steamed egg that are cooked using Beitou hot spring water
- We also visited the public library and the plum garden.
4. Songshan Ciyou Temple is a must-see destination. This impressive temple is astoundingly beautiful with its detailed artwork, interior design, and religious significance. You can also buy some incense sticks and spirit money and burn them as offerings to the dieties.
5. Wufenpu is a massive shopping area with its labrinyth of clothing, shoes, and assessory shops. There were tons of clothes. A lot of cheap clothes, but I felt like a lot of the clothes are like what you get at Forever 21. So there are tops for less than $5 and most of the time you can get it cheaper if you buy more than one clothing. You also can haggle. You get what you pay for, so check the clothing material before you buy it. I bought a sweater and a top for work for about $10 USD each. After a while all the stores pretty much look the same. I think this is a must visit for the experience, but Shida night market is a better shopping option for me.
6. Raohe Night Market is one of the night markets in Taipei, Taiwan. The entrance to this night market is right next to the Ciyou Temple. Night market was originally established as a place to eat after people make their pilgramige to the temples. This night market is the perfect example. The entrance to this night market is right next to the Ciyou Temple. It is really breathtaking at night as the entrance and the temple are all lit up. I recommend going here after shopping at Wufenpu and the Ciyou temple. A most eat is the Fuzhou hot pepper buns (胡椒餅 Hújiāo bǐng) that are made in a tandoori oven. The line can be long but it moves fast and the stall that sells it is right at the entrance of the Raohe night market.
7. Rainbow Bridge is right next to the Raohe night market. We went after the Raohe night market around midnight and was too late to see it all lit up. It closes at midnight and early on Sunday at 9pm. Sorry about the pictures. Only took photos of this place on my phone which was not great.