Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eat: Taipei, Taiwan

I have already started my Eat, Pray, Love journey and my first stop was Taipei. It was a random decision I did out of nowhere and did not really think through it. Out of impulse, out of excitement... I booked, just like that. Luckily, there was some sort of promo going on for the plane tickets and got a cheaper fee than the usual.

Upon arriving, I couldn't help but smile while I looked outside the window from the plane and though 'I've made it.' and 'This is it!' Just the perfect moment while M83's "We Own The Sky" was blasting from my earphones. It was such an overwhelming moment! I was filled with happiness. 

As I landed, I soon got out from the airport and headed straight to the bus station. I did not want to ride the taxis since they cost more than NT$1000 and that would cost around Php2,000-3,000! Freaking insane. I went to the booth that goes straight to Taipei since the airport is located at Taoyuan. I showed the lady the address that I had to go to and explained to her that I have to go down to the first stop. She showed me a skeptical look about it but I knew what I was doing since I was instructed by a friend. 

After getting my change, she patted my shoulders and gave me a hand signal to go and a "wait for me there" gesture. She rode in the bus with me after that. We were only about 2-3 people inside the bus including the driver... was I scared? A little... but YO-fucking-LO! 

More than hour passed the bus stopped and the lady tapped my shoulder again and told me to go now. She went down with me! Apparently, this wasn't her stop. She just wanted to make sure I get into the cab safely and instructed the driver to bring me to the address I have in my hand. What nice people they are! But before we found a taxi, the lady and I were having small talk in Mandarin-English while waiting. Such a good practice! 

This is around the neighborhood I am staying in. First reaction? How CLEAN! 

First stop for breakfast

Best Authentic Taiwanese breakfast - Dan Bing. It's like pancake inside a huge dumpling? Hahaha! It's hard to explain but it's just too damn good. It was great way to start my day before I go out and explore on my own!

Clean MRT, fucking amazing. Yes Manila, we truly need something like this.

Funny and heartwarming incident I had as I was on my way to my first tourist-y destination. I got on the bus, I didn't know that we have to have a reloadable card in order to pay. FUCK. Too late, the bus already moved. I was speaking to them in English and also doing hand gestures that I forgot! The driver was just a bit disappointed but still smiling! The old lady infront was handing out some coin to pay for me!!! OH MY GOD. HOW DAMN NICE! I was smiling and blushing out of embarrassment! The conductor stopped the grandma while she was already putting her arm up with her coins, then he swipes his own card and just smiled at me. Aaaah shit. Never felt sorry and lucky in my life! Hahaha! I sat down quietly, and said 'dui bu qi' which means sorry in Mandarin...

Then as soon as I got down from the bus, I could have just asked... 'duo shao qian?' which means 'How much?' I guess they just paid for me and didn't want to talk much cause I was just speaking in English! Hahaha! Oh well! 

National Palace Museum

We're not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, and since I had my day planned out and did not want to wait for the free English speaking tour guide - I rented those headphones with a recorded guide voice while I was roaming! I think it was around NT$100.

Next destination:  Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall 

Very happy how my photos turned out with just using my iPhone! Camera too damn heavy :-(

So I ended my day earlier than I thought! And I haven't eaten yet, I wanted something Taiwanese... but the places around my neighborhood was still closed, so I ended up eating in some Egyptian restaurant with WiFi. HAH!

The next day, I had to wake up early because I have a very very special day planned with my beautiful Taiwanese friend Sunny! She brought me to this amazing place called Jiufen which is out of Taipei! It's so great to be out of the city for a while! Thank you Sunny!!! Much love!

My delicious Taiwanese sausage

On the way back to Taipei...

Then after a long day in Jiufen we headed back to Sunny's dorm to get ready for a night out at Lava!

This is like the Makati Area in Taiwan

It was great to be the foreigner for once! Hahahaha! Anyway it was such a great night, overflowing drinks since it was a ladies' night! Bad thing though, my Taiwanese friends (girls) got in for free and I had to pay like NT$600 (I think) because I don't have a Taiwanese resident card. FML. But that's okay I guess, it's same as Republiq's entrance fee though you only get 2 drinks.  It was also fun meeting local people, some exchange students and more. HAH.

The next day... I visited the same area where I was in last night to see the famous Taipei 101! I was also there to meet a couchsurfer who is willing to tour me around show me around!

I got hungry while I was waiting for my Couchsurfing friend get out from work... I wanted to eat something Taiwanese, but all they had was pictures and Chinese words... and chose this Taiwanese looking place! To find out... they serve Hong Kong food! It was fucking awesome though.

Curry rice with cheese on top!!!!

Gavin brought me to the Eslite bookstore and it's the best bookstore I've ever been to. The music store on the last floor has Indie music from A-Z!!! WTF. How come we don't have that here?!

Check out Marty's in 711! Can't believe they have it here! 

Next destination: Shilin Night Market

Stinky Tofu small restaurant


So good with chili powder!

Mmm... Mango shaved ice!!!

On each table they have this weird looking machine and apparently if you put a coin in it it will give out a paper that tells your zodiac sign's personality

So while Gavin and I were just going around the night market while looking for this one food stall I'm dying to visit... and there I see the huge sign!!!

I SCREAMED! And ran to it... of course! HAHAHA! This is the highlight of my night besides eating that huge fried chicken.

Wrong side

Right side... EPIC!

The night ended earlier around 11PM I think since both of us were so full and Gavin had to work tomorrow. I want to be left still and shop for clothes! So he left earlier and was left alone to roam around to buy goodies! My god, shopping in Taipei is heaven! 

The next day... I had to wake up early again to meet another couchsurfer! However, the weather was pretty bad (not that bad) so we couldn't ride the Maokong Gondola (not the boat but a cable car!) 

Too bad... it could have been really nice.

But then he brought me somewhere more interesting... to an authentic Taiwanese restaurant! Finally! A place where no one speaks English and no English menu!

Some kind of huge meat balls

Fucking great, I don't know what you call this but I just had another foodgasm. Sticky rice + pork + special sauce

And oh my god, these century eggs are to die for!

Next Destination: 228 Peace Memorial Park

I Love PORNO?!

Next destination: Authentic Taiwanese Milk Tea! Of course, since milk tea is so popular here in the Philippines I must taste the ones where it originated!

After this, we chilled for a while until I had to go to meet Gavin again his officemate and friends for hot pot night!!!

My god, all I did that day was to eat, eat and eat. 

Gavin, his girl friend and I went to Shida to shop and roam around! Gavin got this delicious Taiwanese waffle for us to taste! Oh my god. It is to die for. 

The next day, I finally had some me time and roamed around to look for Hello Kitty Cafe! I also used this day to buy some pasalubongs for my loved ones. 

I didn't get to sit down and eat something because the line was too long and I didn't want to wait and waste my time :-( Sad... maybe next time, but the atmosphere was really great! I felt like a little cute princess while I was there looking at the menu and watching locals and tourists eat.

That night I went to a club called Luxy with Sunny & Beny. Sadly, I didn't get to take much pictures because I was not in my normal state! Hahaha but it was a cool club, they have lockers! YES, LOCKERS FOR ANNOYING BAGS. So you can just dance the night away without worrying about your bag.

And here meet the Dutch gang (pictures below) that I also met in Lava a couple of nights ago and bumped into them again in Luxy. The girls and I also got to meet really cool guys from France, and some funny Taiwanese ones too.

The next day... I got up early and went around in Longshan Temple! It was such a fine day that day, not so hot. 

A puppet show


Alligator, anyone?

Then had a late lunch x dinner at this noodle place that is super cheap but gives big servings! Worth the money!

Had desserts in Ximending at Modern Toilet with Sunny, Beny and Trysha! 

Then on my last day (the next day(, I roamed around again just went with the flow. Along the way, while I was at MRT station I met some skateboarders who travel around Asia to skate and take videos. One of the guys I had a chat with is pretty famous, sadly I didn't get his last name. His name was Justin I think, I'm not so sure. 

So that's where my adventure ends, it was crazy, spontaneous and just amazing. I'm so lucky to have this opportunity at a young age, and I can't wait to have a part two. Thank you so much Sunny girl for having me and being with me throughout before and during this adventure. I love you and see you again!