As you might have seen at the beginning of this year, I went to visit Taipei in January and I was on a mission to find my first ever character café which should be the Rilakkuma Café. I had a hard time finding it, but I am so happy that I didn’t give up the search and eventually, I found it!
Other highlights were: seeing the Taipei Tower, meeting locals, eating street food at the Shilin Night Market, and being attacked by a japanese toilet’s water fountain :’D
On my previous blog post you could read about my difficult arrival in Taipei.
On the second post you will finally see the first impressions I got from Taipei which were pretty awesome and fun.
First, a small introduction. As you might know, Taipei is the capitol city of Taiwan, a small island south from China. Hundreds of years ago, citizens from Fujian Province in China settled to this small island. They just hopped on a boat and sailed off. In the last decades, Taiwan was also influenced by the Japanese occupation that happened when Japan tried to take over China and Taiwan, so you will meet many Japanese locals and tourists, and the language is spoken by quite a lot of people as well.
Nowadays, Taiwan is famous for its laid-back lifestyle, its fast trains, and milk-tea culture.
So here are in 7 steps of how to discover Taipei on your first day:
1. Play with squirrels:
My hostel was very close to the National Taiwan Museum, and it had a huge park I had to pass to go to the metro station. When I passed that park on my first day on the search to the metro station, I came across a man who was feeding the pigeons. As I followed him and his animals I also met some squirrels who were fearlessly approaching me. When I was trying to stroke them, they would quickly run away though. I took some snaps of them. I might upload those short video snippets here as well.
2. Use the metro:
Taiwan is famous for its trains and its flexible metro, so you have to use it as often as you can. Plus, it is super cheap, one ride is less than 1€, a dream for a european budget traveller.
3 Visit a cute cafe:
Coffee Culture is a big thing in Taipei. It is actually known as THE coffee city of Asia, and with so many choices, I had to visit one. Mine was the Rilakkuma Cafe I saw on the internet, and I knew I had to find this place, or I’d kill myself. Anyway, it was really hard finding this. I was walking around for a VERY long time, so guys, if you wanna find a specific cafe or location, make sure you have the right directions or a local sim card with mobile data on it. I didn’t have either, so I was trying to connect to some random wifi on the go and it was a huge pain the ass.
But I eventually found it, after what seemed like hours of searching and wandering around the place. It is in some hidden side street with a lot more cafes and little restaurants. I entered, was seated and fell in love with the menu. I decided to take a chocolate cupcake and a coffee latte. Both of them tasted amazing and looked very cute *o*
For all of you who don’t know what Rilakkuma is, it is a japanese cartoon character, similar to Hello Kitty, actually it is from the same brand and designer if I am not mistaken. But it is not a cat, though. It is a brown bear and it is so much cuter than Hello Kitty. Kuma means bear in Japanese, and Rilak means, very easy, relax. So it is a lazy, relaxing bear :’D
4. See the changing of the guards:
I decided to go to the Dr. Sun-Yatsen Memorial Hall for this which also had a small park inside. I think the Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum also has a changing of the guards, if I am not mistaking.
Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of the guard changing, but I saw how the old guards walked away and the new ones took over their places. It was really impressive and calming to observe their mechanical movements.
5. Meet the locals:
While I was walking around the grounds of the memorial hall, I saw a lot of groups exercising, dancing, and doing taiqi. It was quite interesting because none of them cared that I was watching and filming them. They just continued doing whatever it was.
Something very funny happened then. I was filming 2 men doing taiqi and there were also 2 women waiting for their exercise. While I was taking pictures, one of the women approached me and started chatting with me. She wanted to know where I came from and when I said Germany, she was thrilled to hear it. She wanted to exchange Line contacts so that I could meet her daughter. We then talked and talked and she offered to invite me for a coffee after her taiqi lesson.
So after her and her sister’s taiqi lesson was over, we went to a coffee shop, together with the taiqi teacher and some tea, coffee and cake. It was a lot of fun talking to these people, and they also recommended me many things. The sisters also invited me for dinner the next day which was such a nice gesture.
6. Go up Taipei 101 in the evening:
This sight was on the top of my Taipei To-Do List, so I had to do this on the first day. It was a bit hard to get up all the escalators in the mall up to the top. I don’t know if there was an elevator or not, but I just saw the escalator and used it.
At the ticket counter, I purchased my ticket and had to wait in line for the elevator to go up to the observatory platform. The elevator was pretty fast. My ears popped, but the ceiling was amazing! It was getting lit up and changing colours. So that was pretty impressive.
When I arrived at the top, finally, I had a view over Taipei at night, or should I say in the dark, because it wasn’t really night, but evening. Anyway, the view was pretty nice. Not as overwhelming as the one in Shanghai, though, but still awesome, and worth taking pictures of. Convince yourselves:
7. Go to one of the Night Markets:
I saw some videos and pictures of the night markets of Taipei and of course I had to go to one. I wanted to go to the Shilin market because I heard that they have lots of amazing sweets and desserts.
At first, I was busy with buying lots of merchandise stuff like pokemon plushies, Disney stuff, and studio ghibli socks :D When I finally realized how hungry I was, I ventured out to look for some food. The place was packed though. I could barely move around, and eating and walking is something I am really bad at, so I’d prefer standing in a corner to eat.
I ate Hong Kong Waffles, Sweet Potato balls with peanut powder, roulade filled with spring onions (there were way too many spring onions inside, it burned my mouth), some kind of vegetable pastry cake, some berry juice, and as dessert, I had matcha crepe with ice-cream on top, and it was AMAZING!
The Shilin Night Market was also the last stop on my first day in Taipei. I had too much food and spent quite a lot of money on merchandise stuff, although I could have spent more as well :D I had to be careful with my luggage though.
Anway, I hope you enjoyed this post.
Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Taipei and if there is anything you loved that I didn’t mention.