Alrighty, time for Part 2.
I had decided to book a tour the day before as an easy way to hit some of the most popular sites outside of Taipei. I had repeatedly been recommended to visit Jiufen and had decided against it before I left for Taiwan (as I was really short on time), but it seemed like a must do thing so I ended up doing it.
As I went to book, the travel agent mentioned that the tour would be conducted entirely in Mandarin. I then inquired about an English tour, but that turned out to be three times the price. So, a total immersion into Mandarin it was for me that day!
The weather looked like it was clearing up as we headed off to our first destination – Shifen Old Street. On the bus, I struck up a conversation with a girl and was promptly ‘adopted’ by her family. She was traveling from Macau with her parents and was kind enough to translate things for me when needed.
The rain started to pour down as we wrote down our wishes on paper lanterns which were then released up into the sky.
Right: My ‘adoptive’ family!
It started to clear up and was getting quite hot as we made our way up to Jiufen. Apparently this area is what was used as inspiration for the movie ‘Spirited Away’. It was about an hour drive away and the further up we went, the worse the rain became. So much so that this was the view from the top of Jiufen old street.
But that didn’t stop the exploring! The guide was nice enough to point out some vegetarian friendly places to eat.
Top right: The only shot I could get of the street. It was absolutely pouring by this stage so I couldn’t get my camera out. Top Left/Bottom Right: A delicious taro ball dish with beans – nice, sweet and warm perfect for a cold rainy day. Bottom Left – Interesting ice cream pancake with peanuts topped off with coriander!
Next we made our way to Yehliu GeoPark – a coastal area filled with interesting rock formations and even more interesting names.
Top right: With my new friend Twinkle!
My favourite picture of the day:
Random lady feeling it while posing for a photo
These cute figures were around everywhere. Couldn’t give up the chance for an awesome selfie!
Our final stop for the day was a pineapple cake DIY session. We were taken to a store that specialises in making the famous Taiwanese dessert – pineapple cake. We were guided step by step how to make the cake, using the batter they had pre-prepared for us. While were were given a tour of the shop, they baked the cakes for us to take home!
Top left: Pineapple shaped entrance. Bottom Right: All ready to take home!
Couldn’t resist a selfie with the pineapple cake mascot!
And that was the end of the trip. The natural beauty of Taiwan was clear to see despite the unfortunate weather and I am sure I will be back another day to see it again!
We made it back to Taipei station around 6pm so I headed to another vegan place for dinner and then packed in some shopping time too.
Had a really good cup of soy chai – who knew vegan milk could be so good!
The next day my flight back to Tokyo was around 4pm, so I only had the morning to sight see. So I decided to hit Taipei 101, which at one point was the tallest building in the world. And of course the view was great, but then was quickly overrun by clouds.
Small photo bottom left: I think I waited a good 5 minutes for some older ladies to finish up a very interesting photo session of them posing on the ground with one another to take this photo. Hilarious.
Look, another mascot!
I then found a place for lunch and boy, what an interesting concept this place had. You choose your ingredients (entirely vegan) and give them to the cooks and after choosing what type of noodles you would like, they make it into ramen for you! Absolutely delicious!
And then it was time to head back to the hostel to pick up my bag and head to the airport.
Near the hostel I was staying in Ximending.
It was a short but sweet holiday but it was really fun getting lost in a city and trying to find my way around the places I wanted to see. I will definitely be back, Taiwan!
One last mascot selfie at the airport!