Sometimes you know you can trust a person. Sometimes you can feel the kindness in a person’s heart within only 5 minutes of talking. It is in the eyes and the smiles that will give you a feeling of joy and happiness. If you feel that way, go for the situation and make the most of it, because you are gonna have one very unique experience.
My third and last full day in Taipei started dark and grey. It was a gloomy day and I was arguing with myself whether to walk up Elephant mountain. The weather said no, but my stupid brain really wanted to walk up there to have a view over Taipei, even if I might not get a perfect view.
My previous post was a list of 7 things to do in Taipei. Since I had more individual time the day before, I could tick off some things on my itinerary. On my third day, I had already some things planned, so this will be in diary structure.
In order to start the day, I was in need of breakfast, so I grabbed a Matcha Latte from the Starbucks nextdoor my hostel, and together with the croissant that the Taiwanese woman I met the day before gave me, I sat in the park of the National Taipei Museum and had a breakfast with an abundance of birds surrounding me. I also shared with them, no worries :)
After finishing my breakfast, I headed to the metro station and took the metro to Xiangshan on the red line. From there, you walk your way up.
It was already starting to get gloomy, but I didn’t get myself discouraged. There were still plenty of people walking up with me, so I wasn’t the only YOLO-person doing this :’D
Walking up was a bit tiring, but not too much. Still, you should wear sneakers or comfortable walking shoes.
When I finally arrived at the top, I was a bit disappointed by the view to be honest. The clouds were already covering the peak of Taipei 101, and the clouds were so close, you could almost grab them.
I should have walked down right away, but I still lingered on, in the hope the clouds would clear off, but it actually got worse. It started to drizzle a little bit, so I decided that I should slowly walk down. I took a different route from where I came from, stupid me, and got lost while trying to find the exit. I found myself in the middle of a mountain village and was secretly freaking out, walking as fast as I could to finally find my way out. Luckily, a taxi passed by and I immediately stopped in order to take me to the next metro station.
From there, I took the metro in the hope to stuff in some time to visit Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum, but I was also hungry, so finding food was the priority. I would have loved to eat at Din Tai Fung, but there was none nearby so I just went to another dumplings restaurant which was yummy as well.
The better plan would have been to quickly leave elephant mountain again, or not go at all, so I would have had time to visit Din Tai Fung and endulge in the amazing food.
The reason I had limited time that day was because the Taiwanese woman I met the day before, yinwen, invited me to visit her neighbourhood she grew up at, and then she invited me to have dinner at her parents’ house, so that I could also meet her daughter. I confirmed and was supposed to meet her at around 3pm. I took a taxi there and she was already waiting in front of the house :D
First, we walked around a street market that was taking place in time for the Lunar New Year which would take place in 2 weeks.
While walking through the streets we entered a temple that was popular for young girls to pray for a good future husband and a nice marriage.
We also came across some interesting stands. I bought a Taro Milk drink. Taro is something like a sweet potato. It looks purple on the outside and white on the inside and tastes quite sweet. I love that vegetable so I bought the drink. It was a little bit too sweet and heavy for me though.
We also went into one of the shops that are lined behind the market stands, and I found a wooden bookmark that has the shape of a Taiwan map and also has all the provinces on it. It is THE perfect souvenir in my opinion.
Another amazing stand we came across was one that sold dried fruits and -hold your horses – dried vegetables. It had the best dried veggies ever! From green beans to purple sweet potatoes, from carrots to Taro, they just had EVERYTHING! The fruit selection was even bigger. They had the classical stuff like dried mango and bananas, but also apples and honeymelon. It was insane! The girl kept giving me new stuff to try while I was desperately trying to remember what I liked and wanted in my plastic bag :’D I left quite a lot of money there, but compared with Euros it was okay, even cheap for dried fruits and veggies. I was so excited about everything that I totally forgot to take a picture of that stand :'(
We soon came to an end of the street market tour. But yinwen wanted to take me to a teashop where the owner was a japanese man who was a friend of hers. She also speaks japanese, since she did her study abroad in Japan. At the tea shop, there were already other women as well. They were japanese, too, and they were about to have a tea ceremony, so we joined them. It was very random, but it was very interesting :D
Yinwen bought some tea for herself and as a gift for someone, and she also bought me a package of dried mangos which are supposed to be very famous and tasty. That was so nice of her.
We left the tea shop to head to her parents house to have dinner. Her father has a tailoring shop and they live above the shop. Yinwen lives somewhere else with her husband and children, though, but they occasionally come together to have dinner with their parents and all the siblings. She has 7 other siblings and some of them were present as well.
They were still preparing some dishes, but most was ready. Yinwen made me another gift which were 2 different sorts of tea famous for Taiwan. I was too flattered and couldn’t believe how nice a person could be.
When dinner was ready, Yinwen helped me prepare my Taiwanese Bao, which is like a Taiwanese version of a Burger. It is made of glutinous rice flour I think, so it is actually healthier than our typical burger bun. You fill it with pork belly (quite fatty, but I took the less fatty part, and it tasted quite good actually), cilantro, brown sugar and some green veggie.
My bao was ready to be eaten, and when everyone else joined the table, we all started to eat. My Taiwanese Bao was really good, but I also wanted to try some of the other dishes, especially the two fish dishes.
Everything was really tasty, but soon I got full and couldn’t eat anything more.
After dinner we had tea with some snacks and fruits, and talked and watched TV. Yinwen’s daughter was sitting next to me so we were talking all the time, but I also talked to Yinwen’s other sisters. All of them studied in the US, except for Yinwen and one of her brother.
Everyone was so nice to me and welcomed me like I belonged to the family. When it was time to go, Yinwen and her daughter took a taxi with me and dropped me off in front of the hostel since their home was on that route anyway. They didn’t let me pay for the taxi and wished me the best for the future and my travels. I told them that I was awaiting them in Germany as well.
Some of you guys might be shocked by now. Meeting totally strangers in a foreign country, being invited to their home and even eating their food? That girl must be crazy, you might think. My parents thought that way at least. But in Asia it is different. People are very genuine here. They seriously wanna ensure you have a good time in their country, even though they have just met you. Being invited to someone’s home in China or Taiwan (or perhaps other asian countries as well), can be quite normal. Of course, if you are a person who is open for offers like that, you will have one of the best experiences in a foreign country. In my opinion, that should be a goal of every traveller, to meet local people and learn more about the way they live, ideally being invited for dinner. Of course, you can’t force it, and sometimes you just have to have common intuition about whom to trust. I am also not saying to trust every stranger who is trying to help you. If it were a dodgy looking man, things would have turned out differently. But when I met Yinwen she was smiling, about to do Taiqi (one of the most peaceful kinds of sports you can do) with her sister and apparently someone who has a family with 2 kids (She showed me legit photos on that very day). Sometimes you know you can trust a person. Sometimes you can feel the kindness in a person’s heart within only 5 minutes of talking. It is in the eyes and the smiles that will give you a feeling of joy and happiness. If you feel that way, go for the situation and make the most of it, because you are gonna have one very unique experience.
So much about a little bit of a philosophical rant on the side of my travel post :D
I returned back to the hostel and although I could have still done something that evening, I relaxed a little bit, and prepared a little bit for my flight the next day.
That was my last day in Taipei and I hope you enjoyed it, despite the shortness of the trip.
Thanks for reading and travelling with me.