I am finally writing about my trip to Asia!! Yippee~
This might end up being a 5 or 6 part blog post, as I’ve traveled to Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, and Hakone. That’s way too much for me to be able to cover in just one post!
This was a 3 week trip that I went on with my husband.
Each of us with just 1 carry on luggage.
Let’s start with our first destination,
Taiwan (duration 6 days)
We arrived in Taipei on Sunday, October 12th at night. Picked up by Erick’s cousin’s wife to be (at the time)’s dad, we headed over to where we were staying, Erick’s grandma’s apartment. Oiii~ That was a lot of ‘sssss, lol’s.
I was a bit nervous to meet Erick’s family in Taiwan, as I haven’t really met them before. And to meet them as Erick’s wife! Wow, that’s just weird, am I right? Luckily, they were all very friendly towards me. (I’ve had bad experiences before in the past, pffft)
After we settled in, Erick’s cousin took us out for our first adventure in Taiwan, a night market! I was happy to get a quick fix of my favorite dish, Beef Noodle Soup. It wasn’t the best, but definitely hit the spot for me.
Theres lots of different things you can do at night markets, which is probably what makes it so great. You can go there for delicious foods, get bargain deals on shopping, get your nails done, or even a facial! I also heard from my friend Bori that you can buy puppies at one of them. Haha, I missed out.
Seems like when you google things to do in Taiwan, you get flooded with information on a ton of different night markets. It’s a pity that the night markets are the “selling points” of Taiwan, because I think there are much better things besides that. Also I realized that night markets exist all over Asia and not just in Taiwan.
The next morning, we went out with Erick’s aunt to get some traditional Taiwanese breakfast. Definitely a great and quick way to start of the day. That’s one thing that I love about Asia, the convenience of food.
Anyways, for our first day in Taiwan, we decided to go visit Jiufen Mining Village. We had to take a bus to get there, and it was about 2 hours away from the center of Taipei.
It was great getting to see the sights of Taiwan by bus. Sometimes when you spend too much time on the subway, you get stuck underground and don’t get to see much of the country except for the tunnels.
Jiufen sits on top of a mountain, near the far north tip of Taiwan. The view is quite pretty as you can see the ocean and mountains for miles.
You may be wondering why we came all the way to Jiufen though. Like what’s so special? Let me tell you, hehehe.
Jiufen is the city that inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s town in Spirited Away!
Now how can you not want to visit a town that looks like Spirited Away? That’s literally like walking into a dream. My oh my, how this little treasure of a town truly shines.
Well once you move past all the magical beauty of real life Spirited Away, there’s also a crap ton of food. We got the chance to eat a few things, like this sort of egg wrapped thing, mushrooms, fried chicken, and coffee.
Here’s us in this mining tunnel that we found. It’s pretty cool, and I have a video of us going through it! I’ll have to do a little video compilation later when I get the chance.
At one time, this town was occupied by Japan, so most of the workers here still speak Japanese and there is a ton of Japanese influence everywhere.
One of the must do things in Jiufen is to go to a tea house. They are famous for tea houses, and it really is quite the experience.
We ordered some fancy tea leaves and a slice of cake to get our party started. All of the tables at the tea house had little square cut outs in the middle of the table where the kettle boiled water over coal. All of these fancy dishes were part of the tea ceremony that our sever performed for us. I got a video for that one too!!
One thing I love about Jiufen is that there are so many ally ways and paths that wind around the town. You really can spend a good half day here and “get lost.” Sadly, we got here very early in the morning and couldn’t think of much more to do until the night time. I really wanted to stay till it got dark so that I could see the lanterns lit up (like it Spirited Away!), but we ended up moving on to our next destination.
Leaving Jiufen, we took another bus to Keelung, which was about a 45 minute ride. Keelung is one of the ports to Taiwan. When we arrived, we saw cruise shipped docked and a huge city surrounding it.
While at Keelung, we mostly just did a lot of walking and exploring.
We passed by a temple, and of course I couldn’t help but walk in and have a look! I loved how the lanterns hung all around. I went to the second floor to get a better view.
Around this time, I also went to the bathroom to try to throw up because I had too much caffeine from the tea. It made my stomach turn and my legs wobble.
As it approached closer to dinner time, we accidentally found another night market. This one was huge! We got some snacks, browsed local shops (like this super cute pet store), and got hot pot for dinner.
It started to get quite dark and cold after dinner, which pretty much meant it was time for us to head back home. On the way home we saw Coco tea and got some milk tea to go. It was only $1 for a large! Thank goodness it costs more here in the states or else I’d be pretty fat, lol.
After a long day of walking around, we ended up getting a full body massage. It was quite pricey for the both of us, maybe around $150 per person? Totally not worth it. Erick and I both agree that it was the most painful massage we have ever received, even after telling them several times to lighten up!
The next day we returned back to the busy streets of Taiwan.
For breakfast we decided to get Yoshinoya. When we went inside, it was completely empty. We kept calling out for some service so that we could place our order, but no one responded! Lol, I even turned on their microphone and began shouting into it. Finally, 2 young teenagers (male and female) came crawling out from the back. They look like they had just woken up. I wonder what they were up to back there, hmm…
Well the food sucked, despite how good it looks in the photo below. It sucked mostly because it was kinda cold. Whatever, I guess thats what you get for going to a chain.
First stop of the day was the Shilin Official Residence. I am very uneducated in history, so I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about. But there was a big house, giant garden, and green houses. We walked around not knowing what we were looking at and quickly moved on to the next destination.
All of the tourist from China who were visiting the site kept saying to each other things like, “look even those Japanese are here to look at this landmark.” We’re not Japanese, duuudeee.
Next stop was the National Palace Museum. I highly recommend to not pay the money to go inside. Wow, what a huge waste of all the money. The museum has 3 levels and contains mostly collections of calligraphy, pottery, and stones. So unless you have interest in one of those 3 genres, this is not the place for you. And mind you, I loooveee calligraphy, but honestly once you seen a few thousand, it’s all too much.
Oh but do stop by and explore the outside, it’s quite beautiful!
Our next destination was shrimp fishing. This has got to be one of my highlights in Taiwan. Really a must for tourist. Ughhh, the other thing I wish I had time to do was to go to the pool where fish eat your dead skin cells off of you. Too bad we ran out of time. Next time Taiwan, next time.
Shrimp fishing is pretty cool. It’s basically a giant indoor pool that has a bunch of different types of ginormous shrimps inside and you can try catching them with your bait and line. You pay per hour and for each pole.
We managed to catch a fair amount. Once you’re done fishing, you bring your catch to the workers and they help prepare them for you to cook yourself. Either that or you can pay extra and have them cook it into an actual shrimp dish of your choice. We went the free eating route and cooked it ourselves, and my oh my. Hands down one of the best shrimps I’ve eaten.
After we returned back home to the grandma’s apartment, I got to meet Erick’s dad for the first time. Wowza. Talk about awkward? We all went to dinner as a “family.” Once dinner was over, we went over to one of the “uncle’s shops” to check out some purses that he sells. I almost bought a $2,000 Prada purse that night. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that I didn’t, haha!
So we ended up moving from the grandma’s apartment over to another one of Erick’s aunt’s homes. This home was further than where we were originally staying. Getting to the city now involved taking a bus and then the train for a while. Thus, our Taiwan trip gets a little more boring.
We end up not doing very much this day, and only end up going out at night. During the day I helped with a video slideshow (my pleasure).
At night, I went with the boys to go eat 100RMB stirfry dinner. Apparently, theres this whole street in Taiwan that specializes in this really cheap 100RMB stirfry. Too bad Trip Advisor doesn’t know about this. Also near by is a street full of sushi bars! Jackpot!
I got kicked out of the group once dinner was over as it was a bachelor party, lol. They left me to go sight see on my own.
The first place that I went to was Taipei 101. It was quite refreshing getting the chance to explore Taiwan alone. The area is quite safe, so theres no need to be afraid of anything bad happening to you.
I had lots of time to reflect and explore my curiosities. What’s better than Taipei 101 and the super expensive high end stores that it offers is the bookstore about a block away from it. Theres a very interesting array of items inside that I probably should have ventured more.
My next must visit was Ximending. I heard this place is called the “Shibuya of Taiwan.” I can see where they got that from. This area really is quite fascinating to visit, especially at night since it lights up so beautifully. I wouldn’t say it’s as safe of a place to visit alone though. While I was there, I got hit on a couple of times by creepy guys. I remember at another point, while I was sitting down, another guy was taking photos of me with his SLR zoom.
However, nonetheless, still a very hip and cool scene. A lot of youngins and girls in slutty attire. Plus street performers. I never ever thought I would see a shiny silver robot man on the streets of Taiwan. Never in a million years.
Somewhere around this time, I got a message from Erick that they were done with their bachelor party. I went to go meet up with him and the gang around 1 or 2 in the morning and we all got some late night munchies.
The next day, we went all the way back to Ximending. You know, I went there alone, so Erick had to check the place out too rah? Yea well for lunch we got some beef noodle soup. Yasss, it was good, especially because I love tendon.
Haha, we found this dick at a pastry shop. They had all different kinds, white, black, yellow, cream filled, sausage filled.. you name it! We didn’t get any though since they were $10 each. Ya know, I can get it for free. LOL JK~
After a bit of shopping…. I think Erick’s cousin made the Swatch worker’s day as he bought maybe 5 watches? Haha. Friggin’ Americans. Everyone got a massage while I got a facial. I guess it’s sort of inconvenient that I’m saying I got a facial right underneath a dick photo.
The rest of the day was spent at karaoke. Gotta do that at least once in Taiwan, yea? Then we got some super crappy Japanese food and ended our day.
Our last day in Taiwan was saved for Erick’s cousin’s wedding.
We did nothing today except for some local beef noodle soup, duh.
Congratulations David and Mary!
These two are soo cute together.
(am I talking about the photo above or below this text?!)
The wedding place was gorgeous, and the food was good. The only thing I would have wished for was a ceremony and not just a banquet. It would have been nice to see more of a personalized touch. Otherwise, I could have felt like I was at any other Taiwanese wedding.
Erick wasn’t feeling very well this entire day at the wedding because he got food poisoned. Too bad, more food for me. Oh well, I totally got what I was asking for later after arriving in Shanghai.
Overall, Taiwan was a very enjoyable place to visit. Good food and good sites. The people are very nice and willing to help, though they probably don’t know English. It’s not hard to travel around Taiwan with the help of google maps and their excellent transportation system. Oh and you can also get a sim card so that you can use data in Taiwan~ sweet.
Okay, until next time!