Sunday, March 31, 2013

Post trip Taiwan 2013 - Taipei

Taipei, the shopping mecca of Taiwan!

We were staying at an apartment booked from airbnb, nearest mrt station: Zhongxiao Dunhua. This is as downtown as it can get, with Taipei 101 and the shopping Xinyi district to the right and the shopping/hopping Zhongxiao Fuxing area with its Sogo, Breeze Center, Yong Kang St and karaoke joints and clubs one mrt stop away to the left.

I was delighted to find that there was an Eslite branch near our apartment and better yet, that particular Eslite branch was open 24 hrs every day! However, only the main section was open 24 hrs. The children's section of the bookstore was not open until 11 am daily.

Scheduling Taipei at the end of our trip meant that we needed to be smart about all our choices in Taipei; where to eat and where to shop. I told SO "Effectively, we only have 4 meals in Taipei. So you have to tell me what you want to eat, so I can find the right restaurant in Taipei".

BBQ beef at Yuan Shao. This was the only picture of the entire meal! 

In our 2 days in Taipei, we had barbecued beef, Japanese tempura (just like in Tokyo!), Taiwanese beef noodles. I also found out about this famous breakfast place in Taipei and we decided to go since DD is an early riser. Fu Hang (closest mrt station: Shandao station) is a breakfast joint open from 5.30-10.30 am. When we reached there around 9 am on a Friday morning, the queue had extended from the second floor where Fu Hang was to the ground level and outside the building itself.

Place your orders at Fu Hang! 

 Seats available as no one lingers after eating

Hou Bing w/ egg on the left, shao bing w/ you tiao on the right

We were slightly daunted by the queue but I took DD for a walk around the building and came back to see that the line was moving quite fast. We decided to persist and have breakfast there. This place was indeed famous with both Taipei people and tourists. The ladies in front of us in the queue were from Taipei who were bringing their Taiwanese friend to check out Fu Hang and the ladies behind us in the queue were from Japan and placed their order by showing the staff a picture on their mobile phone. To boot, when I told our Taipei friends that we had gone to a famous place for breakfast that morning without mentioning the name, her first comment was "Fu Hang?"

At the counter, customers were asked to order their drink first (hot/cold soy milk) and to place food orders with another staff further down the counter. I ordered hot soy milk but did not expect it to come in bowls. I asked the staff for the soy milk to be in cups (so it would be easier for DD to drink from) and the only cups they had were effectively for take-away, in sealed tops just like bubble-tea drinks. We tried a variety of their offerings, hou bing with egg and shao bing with you tiao. We agreed that the hou bing was far superior.

 Japanese tempura for lunch

Rice, miso soup, salad and pickles as part of my tempura lunch set

I had done very little shopping throughout the trip, intending to shop in Taipei. I had bought books from Eslite whenever I woke up early in Taipei. It felt different to be wandering a bookstore at 6 am with a few customers and yet to go back to the same store at 11 pm on the same day (Friday) and have the store packed to the brim with customers.

Near our apartment, just outside the Zhongxiao Dunhua mrt exit 2, is a 24 hr Watsons (green arrow shows the location of the Watsons). This was a 2 storey Watsons and carried quite a good range of products. I managed to buy For Beloved One masks for a friend and picked up some Dr Wu products which I have been meaning to try since the store was having a 15% off on Dr Wu products.

As I only had a couple of hours to do my shopping alone (SO agreed to take over child-rearing duties solely for a few hours), I decided to focus on what I really wanted: lingere. We headed off to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Xinyi as there was a playarea in the Xinyi area that SO could entertain DD at. Lingere shopping is indeed a different experience in Taipei!

On the whole, everyone in our travel party was happy with the trip. SO was happy as we did very little shopping, got to see sights and had a leisurely time travelling and ate good food. DD was happy to have gone to the ranch and farm and played with other kids. SO and I were talking about the pace of this trip on the flight back and how we should try to duplicate the pace for our future trips and the places in Taiwan we should visit next.

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