Taipei

Advanced Warning: Long blog with lots of photos

Taipei City is the capital of Taiwan. It’s a modern metropolis that reflects a mixture of Japanese influence along with it’s deep traditional Chinese culture in location that contains both modern skyscrapers and lush scenic nature with its numerous mountians, waterfalls, rivers and lakes.

The last time I visited Taiwan was 40 years ago as a small kid and truth be told, my recollection of Taipei is a bit fuzzy already. My family and I had a chance to visit and spend CHRISTmas in Taipei last December. It was an copportunity for me to get reacquainted with Taipei. The city has many attractions for us to visit along with its famous night markets and is a foodie heaven for those who love street food.

We stayed in place called XIMENDING. Ximending has been called the “Harajuku of Taipei” and the “Shibuya of Taipei”. Ximending is the source of Taiwan’s fashion, subculture, and Japanese culture. Ximending has a host of clubs and pubs in the surrounding area. This area is in the northeastern part of Wanhua District in Taipei and it is also the most important consumer district in the Western District of Taipei. The well-known Ximending Pedestrian Area was the first pedestrian area built in Taipei and is the largest in Taiwan (from Wikepedia)

Our hotel is a budget hotel called the Diary of Ximen and is located right where the action is at Ximending.

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After checking into our budget hotel, we headed out to one of the most iconic attraction of Taipei – Taipei 101. Taipei 101 is the tallest skyscraper of Taiwan. As the name indicates, it has 101 storeys of offices and a posh shopping mall along with its famous observatory deck which allows for a panoramic view of Taipei City. Unfortunately for us, it was raining and foggy the whole time we were there so visibility was quite poor. We pre-booked out tickets online and then claimed the actual tickets there. We then took the elevator from the 5th floor which transported us to the 89th floor observation deck in 37 seconds.

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The next day we met with an free lance tour guide. He is a retired Filipino Chinese who decided to retire in Taiwan after working there for many years. He now spends his day conducting tour and driving people around. If ever you need someone to tour you around Taipei do let me know so I can pass on to you how to contact our highly recommended tour guide. 🙂

Our 1st stop was the Yehliu Geopark. Yehliu is a cape on the north coast of Taiwan. It’s known for Yehliu Geopark, a landscape of honeycomb and mushroom rocks eroded by the sea. Well-known formations named for their shapes include the Queen’s Head and Dragon’s Head.  (Source: Wikepedia). It was once more raining so the view wasn’t as nice as it was had the weather been better.

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Our next stop was the IG worthy/famous place of Jiufen. Jiufen is a mountain area in the Ruifang District of New Taipei. It’s a famous old mining town where the old narrow alley ways now known as the Jiufen Old Street had been converted into shops, food stalls and restaurants.

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After that we travelled to the coastal part of Jiufen then to the old railway station town of Shifen. Shifen is known for it’s beautiful water falls and the famous IG worthy/popular sky lanterns. People visit the old streets where the stores are set up facing the old abandoned railway. Each store sells trinkets, touristy stuff and sky lanterns. You can purchase colorful sky lanterns and decorate them with your wishes or any design you like then take it out to the railway where the store where you purchased your sky lantern will assist you in lighting it and letting it fly to the sky. The idea here is to write your wishes or messages for a special someone on the lantern and allow the lantern to carry these wishes up to the heavens.

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The next day we decided to visit the Taiwan National Palace Museum which houses one of the worlds most expansive and extensive collection of ancient Chinese  imperial artifacts and artworks. The place is massive and the collections in there is impressive. Visiting everything there will take up the whole day!

We then visited the awesome and majestic Chang Kai-Shek Memorial complex. It is the most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan, the CKS Memorial Hall was erected in honor and memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China. It contains both the National Opera House and National Concert Hall with-in its compound.

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That evening we visited one of the more popular night market in Taiwain, the Shilin Night market. It’s street complex of food stalls and street food vendors and stores. For food street lovers, this is a must visit place 🙂

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Aside from all the sights you can see in Taipei, many travel to Taipei just for food tripping and man! Taipei is definitely up there when your food trip is geared towards street food and traditional Mandarin and Hookien cuisine. Taipei is also known as the capital of bubble milk tea. You will see numerous stalls and stores selling these delicious flavourful drinks. Here are some of the food we had there during our visit. My fave definitely is the blowtorch ribeye cubes which can be found in food stall of almost every night market in Taipei.

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For this trip, I decided to risk it and travel really light (gear wise). SoI decided to just bring along my fave travel/street camera – the Fuji X100F with the Sony RX100M4 as my back up. I also wanted to change my field of view for this trip so instead of settling with the built-in fixed 35mm(FOV) lens of the X100F, I decided that I want to try shooting most shots with the Wide Converter Lens (WCL) which is basically a wide angle lens converter that you screw on to the existing lens of the X100F giving me a 28mm FOV. I also did something I’ve never done before, ever since I started seriously documenting my trips with a camera, I left behind my ancient (2010 model) 13″ Macbook Pro and brought with me the new 11″ iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil 2 as my main photo editing device. I wanted to see how it performs and I am glad to report that it handled everything I threw at it with ease from RAW files to High resolution jpegs. I uploaded every photo file to the iPad Pro via a USB-C SD Card reader and then edited everything via Lightroom Mobile CC and uploaded everything via the iPad Pro.

Taipei is definitely more laid back and relaxed compared to Hong Kong. It’s a different city with a different feel. Where Hong Kong is all glitter, modern hustle and bustle which can feel a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated, Taiwan somehow feels a bit “rural” with its much slower pace, more traditonal Chinese setting. But I say it not as a put down to Taipei. It is not worse nor is it better, it is just different. In fact, I find the more relaxed pace and setting to be quite refreshing and look forward to visiting Taipei again, God willing.

If you enjoyed this blog or did not enjoy this blog, I would love to hear from you. I will deeply appreciate any comments, critiques or even a simple greeting from you. Thank you for dropping by. God bless 🙂

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6 Comments

  1. Wonderful photos! You were able to visit so many nice places in such a short time. Taiwan tourism should get your photos for their promotion!

    Like

  2. wow!.. very informative and helpful travel blog.. you are so multi-talent.. from music to sports to cooking.. and now travel.. hats off to you! sayang we could have met.. we stayed in the same hotel pala.. cheers!!

    Like

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