This was just a crazy idea at first. But then, it became a bucket list item. And, now, it was a reality. Surrounded by thousands of low fare promos from airlines, we got tickets to a weekend in Taiwan.
Why Taiwan? We just wanted to eat all the comfort food Taiwan could offer.
After work on Friday, we went straight to the airport to catch our 11:45 PM flight. Unfortunately, it was a little delayed. Good thing, too, since we had problems with instructions on the Taiwan Travel Authority (here). But it was sorted out easily.
Weird, though, we arrived to an awfully quiet airport.
To be honest, the Taipei Taoyuan International Airport is also quiet in the wee hours of the morning. It was a little eerie too. We wanted to ride the bus to the city because a taxi will be costly. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for a bus ride.
Once we arrive in Taipei Main Station, that’s where we took a taxi to our accommodations, Queen Hotel II near Zhongshan station.
Then, off to sleep since it was almost 4 PM.
It was morning and then we were off to our first stop. Our base station is Zhongshan station (中山站).
Our first stop is a return to Taipei Main Station. It’s a massive structure. It’s also confusing if your don’t read and understand Chinese.
I have this idea of taking the express train to Ruifang (瑞芳) but you do not have that liberty if you can’t tell the cashier what you want. As a result, we ended taking the normal train to Ruifang station.
I didn’t mind because we were able to experience the landscape of New Taipei City.
From this station, we used our EasyCard (you can also buy tickets) to get to Shifen (十分) through the Pingxi line (平溪線).
It’s just a short ride until you reach Shifen.
Now, it’s time to explore Shifen Old Street!
After one pass through the streets of Shifen, we had to grab lunch. We found it hidden from the view of all the hungry tourists.
I couldn’t imagine a meal in Taiwan without xiao long baos. And, to be honest, it’s like they have a template for making these delicious dumplings. No matter where you go, the taste is just as awesome as the last one you tasted.
Shifen is known for it’s paper lanterns. They have a festival for it but you can fly one any time of the year. It’s a bit of an adventure, too, since you will do it on the train tracks. You don’t have to worry where you since the old street is filled with shops.
After Shifen, it was trip back to Ruifang to go to the next stop on the itinerary, Jiufen (九份).
From Ruifang station, we took the bus to Jiufen. It wouldn’t take you long until you reach the Jiufen Old Street.
Jiufen is a sensory experience. You have all of your senses working for you. It’s just sad that it was drizzling while we were there. However, unlike the last time, it didn’t progress into harsher weather.
Jiufen also provides a beautiful view of the northern coast of Taiwan.
We didn’t do much. Going through the maze of alleyways is an experience in itself.
We had a quick snack of a local dessert – shaved ice, soybean curd, mochi balls, red beans, and syrup.
After Jiufen, it’s now time to go back to Taipei. Instead of passing through Ruifang again, we rode the bus that took us directly to the Zhongxiao Fuxing station. From there, we took the metro to Jiantian station. It’s time for Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)!
Shilin Night Market is probably the most famous and the biggest of all night markets in Taiwan. And so, the following items are the things that I tried during that night.
Suckling pig sandwich – a little small in serving but the flavor is really packed! One of the best pigs I have ever tasted!
Deep fried cuttlefish – thoroughly enjoyed this snack and I couldn’t help but crave for more.
Mango and strawberry snowflake shaved ice – definitely one of the best desserts I have ever tasted. I actually love bingsu from Sulbing and this one here is competition.
Shengjianbao (生煎包) – the best pork buns ever! It was just actually a coincidence. We found a line waiting to buy these babies. We got intrigued because you know what they say, “where locals go, you go.” No regrets!
There were so many things I really wanted to try, like stinky tofu that has been calling my olfactory nerves all night. But, I was just too full!
After a little more strolling around, it was time to head home and retire for the night.
It has been a long day.
Others in this series:
Weekend in Taiwan (Day 2)