Taiwan is like Japan in Chinese
My favorite part of this trip was in Taiwan where Dax and Zoya visited us. While Taiwan wasn’t my favorite place to visit, Dax and Zoya made it considerably better. Miranda said it was 3 v Kieran after she visited us. So it’s sad they could only visit us for around 10 days out of 200.
The first day in Taipei was at the end of a long period of overnight travel that consisted of 7 hours in Bangkok and 3 hours in Hong Kong of layovers. So, the first day was relaxed until around 10pm when we went to pick up Dax and Zoya from the bus station. By the time we got back to our area, all the food was closed, so we went to the 24-hour Yoshinoya (Japanese fast food), as the only other thing open was the McDonalds right below our place. One thing about Taiwan, it felt like Japan with Chinese Characters. The amount of Japanese influence was crazy.
For the next day, we planned to go to Taipei 101. The first thing we did was to get ramen. This wasn’t a very good ramen by any stretch of the imagination. After the ramen, we went to Taipei 101. Taipei 101 didn’t look nearly as tall as it was; maybe it was just because of the design. It flared out at parts so you couldn’t see the whole building. The bottom floor of Taipei 101 was mostly a mall that sold overpriced Taipei 101 merchandise. When we finished with Taipei 101, we walked around for a bit and went to some malls. Once it was late, we went to the night markets. Taiwan is known for its night markets and street food. All of the foods at the night market were snacks and I learned later that the street food Taiwan was known for was their street snacks. Dax, Zoya and I went back to the house while Dad, Mac, and Asher went to another night market. Later that night we played Scum and ate 7-11 food.
The morning of the next day, Mac, Asher, Dad and Zoya went out in the morning to look for rental bikes. They came back an hour later after not finding any bikes. When they came back, we played some more Scum until we were ready to go back out. After awhile, we found a ramen place that was really good. Mac especially liked it because it had pesto ramen, with pesto being one of his favorite foods. Close to the ramen place were some shaved ice cream stores. Though they were not as good as the one we have in LA, they were still fairly good. We went back to the apartment and played some more Scum. After a while, Dax and I went out to go get food at the McDonalds. It was the one day, probably in months Dax said, they were cleaning up the McDonalds so the 24 hour McDonalds was closed. We looked for KFC for a while, but Google maps didn’t lead us anywhere, so we went to one of the 100’s of Family Marts in the mile radius of our apartment. I had to dip my cold chicken into hot water to heat it up, thanks to the apartment not having a microwave. Every other time I got any cold food from 7-11 or Family Mart they asked if they should heat it up; I guess that guy was just lazy.
We had to get up earlier the next day as we had a bus to catch to get to Tainan. We got food at the small stores nearby, which mostly consisted of waffles, wraps, and dumplings. When we got to the bus, we loaded our bags and headed off toward Tainan.
We arrived in Tainan after a 6-hour bus ride. Tainan was very much like Taipei, full of Japanese influences, but it seemed to be more laid back than Taipei. Our plan for the first day was to go see a street that was said to be the visual inspiration for Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. On our way there, everyone but me got different kinds of teas with or without boba, which are fairly common in Taiwan. I despise tea–it just tastes like bad water–why would I pay extra for bad water? Dax also learned this as he got lemon tea, which didn’t taste like lemons in the slightest. When we finished walking and arrived at the street, it wasn’t quite as amazing as I had anticipated, but nevertheless it was still cool. On the street, we stopped to get popsicles. These popsicles were special in the way they were made. I can’t remember fully, but the way they were made made the popsicles harder and melt considerably slower. After we finished with the small street, we looked for food. We couldn’t find anything close as everything was already closed, so we went back to the mall near our place. We didn’t find food in the mall, but we got caught up in “Tom’s World”, an arcade at the mall. Dax, Zoya, and I played a Japanese party game that was so Japanese you couldn’t even describe it with words. Mac and Asher rounded up enough tickets by playing ski ball to get small plastic trucks. After failing to find any food. we went to the 24-hour Mosburger (a Japanese hamburger chain) close by.
The next day we got up early to go to a drum museum. Later we found out it was once an old sugar factory started by the colonial Japanese that was turned into a museum/art space. Now the main activity of the factory is producing cultural drums. When we arrived there, we ate some expensive, mediocre food at the museum cafeteria. Once we went with the guide and started walking around, we went to a few rooms with giant drums. Things went downhill as the next 45-minutes of the tour was walking around the old sugar factory as the guide explained everything about it in Mandarin. We ended up separating from the guide when they went on a train and boat ride around the facility. After we had separated, we started to play in some water jets that were on a timer. We found a place where they let you bang on the drums and when we had finished with the drums, there was a performance that was about to go on. The performance was pretty cool, nothing too special, but I’ve never seen an Asian drum performance. Eventually, we made our way back to the house, it was 97 degrees and the heat index was 114. We rested for a few hours then went out to eat at the local mall. We got tonkatsu which Dax liked due to the unlimited cabbage and rice that came with the meal.
In the morning and afternoon of the next day, we just relaxed as the previous day was so hot that it took its toll on us. Tom’s World was where we were headed after our rest. Dax, Zoya and I played the same game we had played last time while Asher and Mac obtained quite a few tickets that got them a bunch of junk that would end up being thrown away. Dad lead us to a night market after Tom’s World. When we reached the market, Dax and I were put off both by the crowd and the horrible smells from the stinky tofu. It smelled exactly like horse manure. Dax, Zoya and I ended up taking a cab back to our place.
Our bus back to Taipei was in the morning of our next day. When we reached our new place, after the 6-hour bus ride, we went to Din Tai Fung, a popular dumpling restaurant that Asher wanted to go to. I did not think it was among the top 5 restaurants in the world, as I had been told. I had better dumplings in the malls in Thailand, and those were less than a dollar. After we finished with Din Tai Fung, we went to the main train station to go shopping for gashapons. Gashapons are Japanese dispensers that contain small toys and trinkets. Dax ended up obtaining an entire set of Gundams after around 12 attempts. As everyone knows, Sgt. Frog has the best gashapons. For dinner, we went to the ramen place we had gone to on the second day as it was right next to the place we were staying. Mac loved it just as much as the first time when he got his pesto ramen.
On Dax and Zoya’s final day, we went to church in the morning. After we had finished with the Chinese-speaking church, we went back to the main train station and went to a maid cafe–another Japanese import where the waitresses dress up as anime maids. Well maybe we didn’t; maybe we went to a butler cafe :^) Or maybe we did neither.
Dax and Zoya went off in the cab to the airport and soon we were off to Hong Kong. Taiwan is mini Japan with Chinese dubs.
Editors note – For the record, Asher, McKane and I all ate lots of Taiwanese food at the many night markets we found. Kieran was thrilled to have his big brother and Zoya with us so everything else was secondary. As our family has visited Japan and loves most things Japanese it was pretty easy for Kieran to see all the japanese influence in Taiwan. Below are some of the shots of the food in the night market, it was soooo good.