We have made it to Taiwan, and let me tell you something: we are totally in love with this place! It has quickly become clear this country is the hidden gem of Asia. From busy streets to happy and relaxed people, we fall harder each day.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon. After finding our way into the city center, we met up with our Taiwanese dad, Michael. Michael is my friend Stephanie’s dad (Stephanie is one of my best friends in Seattle, whom I met in business school and happens to be from Taiwan and would be home visiting the week we were in Taipei). Michael gave us a ride to our home for the week: Ama(grandma)’s guesthouse in Shilin!
Compared to everywhere we’ve stayed so far, this place was a palace. We were so grateful that Ama offered up her guesthouse for us for the week. It was the perfect location for us to explore Taipei and it was nice to have some space to stretch out a bit, being two stories and very comfortable. I doubt we’ll stay in a place like this again on our trip! That evening, we grabbed some delicious Chinese dinner with our Taiwanese parents, Michael and Emily, at their local club.
The next day, we woke up early and Michael picked us up and took us to Yangmingshan National Park, which is just north of Taipei. After giving us a tour in the car, Michael dropped us off and we did a hike through an area that is mostly grasslands. We were in the clouds, so it was foggy and wet, but still very beautiful.
That afternoon, after resting and some showers, we headed to the National Palace Museum. They have tons of old stuff and I highly recommend it if you’re in Taipei. It’s also a must to see a national gem: the Jadeite Cabbage.
That evening, Steph arrived from a wedding in Hong Kong, and took us out to Shilin Night Market, one of the biggest and best in Taipei. While we did check out the shopping, we were primarily there for food.
Of course we had to get stinky tofu, a Taiwanese delicacy. I’ve tried it before, but Shawn has never had it, so I recorded it for your enjoyment.
And we tasted some Taiwan Beer.
The next day we headed to Taipei 101. I don’t think I need to explain much, so here are a few photos.
No trip to Taiwan is complete without a visit to Din Tai Fung. While we had considered visiting the original shop, the only reason we wanted to go there was for the extended menu. When we found out the DTF at Taipei 101 had the extended menu, we went there instead, avoiding what we heard were very long lines.
There’s one thing we can confirm – DTF is very consistent. Everything tasted like the DTF at home (though with new flavors this time!). We had three kinds of soup dumplings (chicken, pork, and shrimp with squash), spicy shrimp and pork wontons, sesame noodles, and shrimp and pork shao mai. It was delicious, and though we didn’t feel that “OMG” feeling, we still love DTF and it was great to try new flavors.
That afternoon, we headed home for some R&R and to vote! We voted! From Taiwan! Stephanie brought our ballots from Seattle and she is dropping them off for us back home.
Ama has a connection in Taipei for fruit. She made sure we were fully stocked up on delicious fruit, some of which we had never tried! So delicious!
That night we went to Ning Xia Night Market for some food.
On the way home, we made a stop at Shilin Night Market to find some sneakers for Shawn, who has needed new ones since before we left. He finally found a great pair of Sauconys! Since we were there, we couldn’t resist grabbing some of the delicious sesame noodles Steph had us try the previous night.
Stay tuned for Taipei part two coming tomorrow!