Going slow in Taipei

One of the things I love about travel is the lack of housework. No cooking, cleaning or gardening required. The weekdays and weekends are ours to enjoy. Well, almost. On a long trip like this there is still washing to be done. The laundry facilities of the CityInn II may be free to use, but that doesn’t make them faster.

Funky dining area at the hotel

While the load was in the wash we wandered around the local area searching for breakfast. Little stalls boiling up noodles, others selling assorted bags hanging from the ceiling or wheeled luggage on the ground. Scooter repair shops, a toy shop, odds and ends. Even market stalls with raw meat and fresh fruit.

We had noodles, pork and Taiwanese tempura (lots of tofu) for breakfast. Then back to the hotel to load the washing into the dryer.

Hours later, the clothes are finally dry and we can go out for lunch and exploration. Half of Sunday is gone.

We eat fried and steamed dumplings at the same place as last night. B orders a bowl of green noodles and green dumplings. The normal versions were nicer.

The MRT takes us one station up from last night, to Shilin, where we catch a bus to the National Palace Museum, the world’s greatest collection of Chinese art and antiquities. No cameras are allowed inside the three levels of exhibits – they make you put them in the cloakroom. On display was the history of Chinese pottery and ceramics, calligraphy and painting and jade. Surprisingly, tour groups didn’t cause too much hassle and the museum wasn’t a crush of people despite being the weekend. Trying to keep Alex occupied was the real challenge. With a forced short concentration span there were probably too many exhibits to really appreciate them.

Another bus returned us to Shilin MRT station, the smartcards we purchased making travelling easy. From Shilin, which was looking a lot emptier than last night as we approached 5pm, the MRT took us to Yuanshan station. We had spotted the Taipei Municipal Children’s Recreation Centre from the train. Unfortunately, it had just closed at 5pm when we arrived, so Alex sadly had to go without his carousel in Taiwan.

From my map I could see the Dalong Street Night Market near Yuanshan station, so we walked back to there, stopping by a small children’s playground to let Alex have some fun. The area is right under the flight path of aircraft descending into Songshan airport, so much closer than Taoyuan International.

This night market was far more accessible than Shilin’s, except that we weren’t really sure what was cooking.  The basics – noodles, congee, dumplings – yes, but what about all the other ingredients? Unable to decipher enough from the stalls we eventually ate from the Delictous Buffet restaurant, selecting assorted vegetables and meats to eat from a paper tray.

It was just okay. I’m finding that much of the local food isn’t really to my taste, or that of B’s. Strong, salty or herbal flavours, brown salty sauces and a lot of deep fried street food. I don’t mind the dumplings and buns and I can eat noodles, rice and bits of meat, but I don’t find myself hungry for them. That’s not to say there’s nothing to eat, because there is plenty of great food from all around the world. But we are here to try the local stuff.

The Taipei Expo Park is beautifully lit at night

After getting Alex a bun to satisfy his hunger we returned to the hotel and an earlier night. Last day in Taiwan tomorrow.


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