Day Six in Taipei
- National Palace Museum (故宫博物院)
- Shilin Night Market (yes, again)
- Ximending (yes, again, too)
Today is the last day of touring before we depart to the airport tomorrow. To be frank, we were a bit running out of ideas as to where to go for today. We were put off the hot spring baths due to the wet weather. We were pretty disillusioned with the night markets, and the wet weather didn’t make Yang Ming Shan (阳明山) National Park too appealing either. We were also not sure if there would be the ceremonial changing of guards at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正纪念堂), or whether we would be in time, as there are specific timings during which the ceremony would take place.
We finally settled on the National Palace Museum, partly for the ancient artifacts, and partly for the shelter. (At last, one place in Taipei where we didn’t need to hold umbrellas everywhere we go.)
There isn’t much to say about today’s itinerary as there weren’t many photos to go along with the description. Cameras are not allowed in the National Palace Museum, so forget about bringing them there. Although if you did, there are shelves for you to hold your stuff while you tour the place.
There are three floors of exhibits to feast your eyes on. However, if historical artifacts or Chinese culture is not your cup of tea, give this place a miss. We simply took a glance-and-walk away approach to the displays and that already took us nearly three hours to traverse the three floors.
The most interesting, and perhaps most well-known, exhibit is the piece of jade that was carved to resemble a stalk of cabbage. Next to it was another brown jade that was made to look like braised meat. Access to the exhibition area was controlled and only a few tour groups were allowed inside at any one time.
So after the touring, we went outside to take a few more photos. I took this chance to take a photo that I could do some image editing on to create a kind of miniature effect.
Since there wasn’t much else to do, we went to Shilin Night Market again. This was because we didn’t have a good look at the place the first time we were there (no thanks to the long trek to Fishermen’s Wharf). With time on our side, we walked slowly in the night market and took the time to buy some food stuff back.
I also made it a point to visit the food stalls at the basement. (I read from the papers some years ago that the food stalls were made to relocate to the basement from the streets, which did not make a lot of sense to me, considering that the smoke and grime from cooking would make the place unbearable.) It was indeed crowded, and had the same selection food you would find elsewhere. The crowds made it a tight squeeze to move around the place, and surely a dampener on the dining experience. Still, there were many people enjoying their feast of Taiwanese delicacies.
After being satisfied that we had explored the Shilin Night Market thoroughly, we went back to Ximending to patronise some of the places that we had missed out before. In particular we chanced upon this uniquely themed cafe that is also a kind of gathering spot for music lovers (民歌餐厅).
The place was cosy and nicely decorated although the service can be improved – I waited half an hour for a piece of cake and two cups of tea.
After that we went to take a look again at the bag that my girlfriend was longing for. Unfortunately, the bag was still out of stock since day two when we saw it.
We had thought of asking a friend who was intending to visit Taiwan in January to buy it when the stocks are available. So we got a name card from the sales lady.
Not wanting to give up easily, we called up another outlet in Zhongxiao Fuxing to see if they have stocks. I didn’t know how to describe the bag and since all bags from the brand were endorsed by the same celebrity (Hebe), I didn’t think I would be able to get a clear answer. Considering that we still had plenty of credit in our MRT cards, and that it was still early in the night, we could make a quick trip to the shopping centre and try our luck.
We quickly found the counter in the basement of the SOGO shopping centre. To our disappointment, however, there was only the purple version available. That bag that my girlfriend was hankering after only looked attractive in red, no matter what. To our surprise, however, the salesgirl offered to ship it to us when the stock came in mid December if we made the purchase now. The shipping fee to be borne by us of course. We decided to take up on that offer, trusting the kindness of strangers, which, so far in Taiwan, has not disappointed us.
With that, having a sense of accomplishment in my girlfriend’s mind, we spent more time around the shopping district and went to the underground shopping mall that we had missed two days ago. It is a stretch of shops in the basement that connected the MRT station at Zhongxiao Fuxing to another station. And this was how our last night in Taipei ended!