Travel: Taipei in 36 hours
A quick weekend in Taipei – my first visit and definitely have to go back to do more fabric shopping at Yongle Fabric market and have to visit all the night markets to see the variations of street food snacks they offer. I was on my husband’s schedule as I played tag along on his work trip at the Grand Hyatt and have to confess that I did not make it to any night markets as I spent an evening catching up with old friends from Beijing and the rest of the time, walking around the wonderful city. Brilliant location right across the iconic Taipei 101 building.
I was a little apprehensive staying at the hotel given how its reputation preceeds it as one of the most haunted hotels in the world. Thankfully, we didn’t get spooked during our stay. The taxi driver was telling me all sorts of story as we made our way to the hotel from the airport and he started talking about fengshui and architecture. Turns out the buildings in the shape of tomb stones and Chinese graves are more common than I thought. Like how Takashimaya in Singapore is built like a tombstone and the flags even symbolically representing incense offerings infront of the tomb, has the same similar structure of the Grand Hyatt Taipei. The former built on burial grounds and the latter an execution site during the Japanese occupation.
So, 36 hours in Taipei, what did I do?
- I went to the wonderful fabric market and picked up quite a few yards of fabric. So many options and shops that sell Japanese fabric – remnants of its colonial rule. Yongle market is located in the older part of town and is a great walk down the little alleyways of Datong district into pottery and porcelain shops.
2. Pottery shops Art Yard
I wandered into Le Zinc bar and café for a coffee through ArtYard and on the other side of the street are bookstores and more little shops. There’s a simple menu, wine, beers and Taiwanese brews. Cosy little spot.
Highly recommend walking through Dihua Street, home to old traditional Chinese medicine shops and you’ll stumble upon temples along the way too.
3. Oyster Mee Sua for breakfast @ Chen Ji
Went at 10am, fortunately for me, no queues! I opted for no innards version, but you can order the whole works. I think this was 40NT a bowl. Peppery from white pepper, tart from the vinegar and complex flavours from this delicious bowl of gravy and soft vermicelli noodles topped with lots of corriander. Sooo good.
No. 166, Sec. 3, Heping W. Rd., Wanhua Dist, Taipei, Taiwan
4. Songshan cultural and creative park
This is a 20min walk from the Grand Hyatt and old industrial warehouses turned art district and shopping mall. Interesting and very gentrified, not really my thing. In the Eslite mall is a big book store as well as lots of local Taiwanese fashion/design goods. There’s also a Kapok store inside. A friend recommended it, but found the selection quite limited in a sea of sameness, compared to Beijing’s pre-olympics gentrified 798 or Shanghai’s Mogenshan Lu, it paled in comparison. The organic creative vibe was missing.
This is pretty far out and quite a cab ride, but if you choose to take the MRT and then bus, directions on the website. Go early before the hoards of Chinese tourists by the bus loads jostle with you from 11am onwards. Of course where the best treasures were taken out of the Forbidden City in Beijing pre cultural revolution and all the intricate carvings, curios boxes of the tiniest calligraphy paintings in ornate little wooden drawers amongst the most detailed carvings on jade you need a magnifying class to look! There’s an app you can download as the museum is moving into VR. Caught a great exhibition on the missionaries and how they brought catholicism to this part of the world.
6. Eating at the first Din Tai Fung ever in Taipei of course!
Love the road signs painted on that reflect part of the city of Taipei. Still would love to know more about these motifs on the manhole covers pine trees and fishes? There must be a story behind it.