Rojakcoder
Of Linux, Programming, and Singaporean Ramblings

Day Two in Taipei

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 11:15PM +0800
  1. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (国父纪念馆)
  2. Taipei 101 (Skyscraper)
  3. Hello Kitty Cafe
  4. Window Shopping in Sogo
  5. Hwahsi Night Market (华西街夜市)
  6. Ximending (西门町)
HUGOMORE42
Ximending 西门町
Ximending 西门町

We were greeted with dark clouds this morning. A quick check on the Internet told us that we can expect rain the whole day for today and the next three days.

Bumper. Looks like we were simply lucky yesterday was sunny the whole day. To think I was complaining it wasn’t cold enough. Sheesh…

Our first order of business was breakfast! :)

Due to the rain and unfamiliarity with the place, we decided to go for the safe route of a KFC breakfast. We also thought it would be interesting to see how the menu for an international restaurant chain differs from country to country.

KFC Breakfast Set
KFC Breakfast Set

So we stepped out and headed to the nearest KFC we found from yesterday night. We didn’t know when the rain started but the temperature certainly seemed to suggest that it had rained for quite some time.

After checking out the KFC menu, which turned out to be really different, we started our day’s itinerary with the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.

MRT Station to Reach Memorial Hall
MRT Station to Reach Memorial Hall

The fact that we were walking in 16 degree Celsius weather on a Monday morning and not crouching behind a computer screen made the walk from the MRT station to the memorial hall all the more enjoyable.

Taipei 101 & Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101 & Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101 Shrouded Behind Clouds
Taipei 101 Shrouded Behind Clouds

Very quickly we reached the memorial hall. We didn’t know what it looked like but the building’s outline gave it away. Walking from the station, when we reached the memorial hall, our view is that of Taipei 101 in the skyline behind the memorial hall – a juxtaposition of economic progress against history and culture preservation.

It was still raining by then but the skyscraper is clearly visible. The passing clouds added more mystique to the once-tallest building in the world.

Founding Father Statue with Guards
Founding Father Statue with Guards

We went inside the memorial hall just to take a quick look. There were many tourists, mostly from China, at the main entrance of the building. Needless to say, we, along with them, were preoccupied with capturing that perfect picture with the statue of the founding father of Taiwan (I think I got that right, not sure). Next to the statue were two soldiers (or policemen, I’m not sure either).

After touring the place, we exited the establishment and walked towards to City Hall, where Taipei 101 is situated.

We did not have any plans to take the elevator to the top. My previous experience with the Pearl Tower in Shanghai has told me that the reality up there does not quite match the expectations. Furthermore, the misty weather will probably not yield a good view.

We simply window-shopped the boutiques and the surrounding shopping centres.

Soon, it was past 1 pm and we made our way to my girlfriend’s eagerly awaited cafe – Hello Kitty. We took the train to Zhong Xiao Fuxing (忠孝復兴) station. It took a little walking and asking to find the cafe. It is located at an alley, and not along the main road.

Zhongxiao Fuxing Station – Also the Location of East District Shopping Centre (东区购物中心)
Zhongxiao Fuxing Station – Also the Location of East District Shopping Centre (东区购物中心)

As luck would have it, my girlfriend’s friend was also at the cafe when we reached. The serendipitous feeling of meeting a friend on foreign soil is really hard to describe.

There is a time-limit that you are given to eat at the cafe – about an hour and a half. Naturally, everything in the cafe is Hello Kitty themed.

Once done, we took a look at the Sogo shopping centre across the road. There wasn’t anything much there. At this point, we decided that we had to return to the hotel to get some warm clothing for my girlfriend. We had not expected the weather to be as cold as it was, so she did not bring anything to keep warm – only a chiffon long-sleeved top over her tank-top.

When we got to the hotel, we found out from the news that today was actually a record low for Taiwan. Lucky us I guess!

We then decided to visit one of the lesser advertised night markets, Hwahsi Night Market (华西街夜市). The night market is a little ways from the MRT station, Longshan Temple (龙山寺). The market is basically a long stretch of covered walkway with shops on both sides. We discovered it to be an eclectic mix of shops selling local treats, DVD shops, posh seafood restaurants, snake soup (yes, live snakes), and everything in between.

Entry to Hwahsi Night Market
Entry to Hwahsi Night Market
Pig Blood Cubes
Pig Blood Cubes

We walked to the end and found nothing to our fancy. When we exited the market though, I found a dish that has long since vanished from Singapore – pig blood cubes! (Little did I realise then that the ones that I will be having are actually quite hard to find among the food stalls!) I also had a taste of Taiwan meat balls (肉圆). It is actually a small piece of meat wrapped in gelatin-like material topped with braised sauce (at least I think that’s what it is).

Pig Blood Cubes & Taiwan Meat Balls
Pig Blood Cubes & Taiwan Meat Balls

Some way back to the station, we chanced upon a road side stall selling egg rolls. We bought a pack to try. We were quite surprised that the road side stall packages the egg rolls in a zip-lock bag and with packaging like this.

Egg Roll Packaging from a Roadside Stall!
Egg Roll Packaging from a Roadside Stall!

With that, we proceeded to return to Ximending where we familiarised ourselves some more with the shopping district and where we had some fried rice and cockles with egg and the same gelatin stuff with the meat balls. That concludes our trip for the day.

Cockles Fried with Egg, Gelatin & Vegetables (hidden)
Cockles Fried with Egg, Gelatin & Vegetables (hidden)
Fried Rice
Fried Rice
Tags: travel
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