Taiwan: Taipei

National Theatre and National Concert Hall, Taipei.

For the average tourist, Taipei is a city of night markets, cheap and delicious foods, and endless pearl-packed bubble tea. The city had a feeling reminiscent of Seoul, with busy streets, traditional food markets, a pristine and efficient subway system, and coffee shops and convenience stores at regular intervals, a symptom of a similarly high-speed culture.

Market outside our hostel.

Delicious breakfast for about $2 USD.

Awesome interior of our hostel.

Stairs/ladder hybrid in our hostel.

Taipei offers a balance between concrete jungle and lush green and gardens. Our first day was spent exploring some of these contrasts. The colossal Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial (in memory of the former president of the Republic of China, who passed away April 5, 1975), National Theatre, and National Concert Hall, are surrounded by quiet gardens.

CKS Memorial.

Memorial ceiling.

CKS Memorial statue.

Guard inside memorial.

Lantern sculpture inside the memorial.

Dr. Seuss tree.

Pansy love!

We also strolled through Shida Market, a fashion-oriented market that opens during the day, but truly wakes up at night. Here we spotted a bunch of Korean stores and other k-fashion inspired items.

Cool cafe outside Shida Market.

Our escapades in Vietnam encouraged us into an early to bed, early to rise routine. Taipei, however, required a change in our schedule in order to enjoy the bustling night life its famous for. Our first stop was the Tonghua Night Market, specializing in food. In particular, the market offers up seemingly endless access to Taiwan’s famous “stinky tofu.” I’ve always imagined descriptions of this to be an exaggeration. However, the smell of fermenting toe-jam wafting through the air proved me wrong.

Fried Squid.

Pikachu street eats.

After our adventures avoiding stinky tofu and enjoying other street eats, we headed off to my personal favourite, the Raohe Street Night Market. While Tonghua is a less busy, more “local” market, Raohe caters more to tourists. In addition to a variety of sweet, stinky, and savoury street eats, Raohe offers a number of other goods, such as clothing, jewelry, crafts, electronic accessories, and more.

Gate to Raohe Street Night Market.

Enjoying treats in the market.

Yum!

Sweet and spicy chicken topped with garlic and cilantro.

Ximen, also known as the Times Square of Taipei.

Our final day gave us a better taste of the balance between nature and city in Taipei. The morning was spent in Beitou, an area of the city famous for its hot springs. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to soak up the warm, sulfurous water due to construction at the public pools. But the area still offered some beautiful views, making the visit worth it. Beitou stream runs through the community, shaded by the abundant trees and gardens.

Beitou stream.

Temple at the top of the hill in Beitou.

Temple in Beitou.

Temple in Beitou.

Roses at the temple.

The most perfect flower I’ve ever seen!

Mosaic overlooking streets of Beitou.

Goopy vines in Beitou.

The trip wouldn’t be complete without a hike up the famous Elephant Mountain for a view of the sun setting over Taipei. Six giant boulders rest at the top, offering a place to sit as the sun disappears behind the surrounding mountains, and the city lights up.

Before sunset.

Purple skies over the city!

Last view before heading down the mountain.

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