I found the Rilakkuma Cafe in Taipei

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

You can watch all of that in this video:

 

Thank you for reading and watching!

Merveille.

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Taipei Travels Part 4: Departure

So my last day in Taipei has finally arrived. I was up early to get ready, put the last things in my suitcase and check off. I had some cheese sandwiches that yinwen gave me stored in the fridge at the lobby, so I asked for those and ordered a hot chocolate to have a relaxed breakfast before my flight. The receptionist also ordered an uber for me. While I was still drinking up my hot chocolate, my uber driver had already arrived to pick me up. I was told not to hurry because I still had plenty of time until my flight.

Anyway, my uber driver was relly nice and he gave me his business card, so I could call him when I would be back to Taipei one day again. At the airport, I checked in and then relaxed a bit, ate some of my dried veggies before proceeding to security.

After security check, I still had some time so I went to the duty-free bookstore and I saw “Crazy Rich Asian” again. I saw this book already around a year ago when I had to fly to Hong Kong, but didn’t buy it then, cause I still had to read GoT. This time, I really wanted to buy it, and I had some NTD left. I also saw a cute key chain with dumplings on it, so I had to buy these things anyway.

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My gate was perfect. We could watch the planes landing, taking off, getting in and out of parking position.

Boarding was on time, my seat was comfy, food was okay. Cathay Pacific is just such a great airline! Probably the best asian airline I have flown with. The movie selection was good, the flight attendants were extremely friendly and competent. Nothing to complain about.

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My layover in Hong Kong passed without problems. I had to take a bus to my gate though, and I was rushing because I thought I’d be late, but the boarding was a bit delayed, so was my flight to Shanghai a little bit.

Yet, another great flight and this time with a window seat. I could take photos of Shanghai by night from above. It came out a bit blurry though.

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When I finally landed, got a taxi at the airport in Shanghai, got to my crappy hotel, and checked in, it was already around 10 pm. I was trying, and after texting my parents, I just fell asleep, too tired to handle anything.

My next few posts will be only about Shanghai and how I spent the last two days in that mega metropole. There is a little surprise, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Final rating:

Sightseeing: 4/5
Food: 5/5
Shopping: 5/5
Nightlife: 4/5
Transportation: 5/5

Taipei Travels Part 3: Rain, Dumplings and Taiwanese Hospitality

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 :)

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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.

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The beginning of the ascend

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Some fancy apartments

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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.

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Well, the view is not really good

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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.

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The cooks preparing some deliciousness
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Shanghai Dumplings a.k.a. Xiao Long Bao
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Shrimp Dumplings
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Pork and Beef Dumplings a.k.a. classical Jiao Zi

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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.

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There was a sushi stand <3
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An ancient rickshaw

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The bookmark together with the book I bought one day later at the airport.

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

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The owner with one of the japanese ladies
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The tea he gave us to try

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.

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Yinwen showing me how to prepare a Bao
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My Taiwanese Bao

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.

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Some of the dishes. There were still some to come.

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.

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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.

Merveille!

Taipei Travels Part 2: Locals, Views, and Food Craze

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.

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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.

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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*

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What I ordered
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What I could have ordered
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The toilet mirror

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The best croissants of my life! No exaggerations

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The most beautiful cake

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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.

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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:

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The view looks super blurry because the windows were a bit dirty from the rain that was going on the whole day :/

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The view from the park downstairs from Taipei 101

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!

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Roulade with spring onions on the grill
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The vegetable pastry cake. I also got to choose some toppings
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There was a temple as well
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And the glorious matcha crepe with an Oreo and ice cream on top <3

 

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.

Taipei Travels Part 1: Flight and Arrival

As you know from my previous post, I have been to China from the 7th – 19th of January. From the 13th to the 16th, I decided to take a short trip to Taipei, since I have never been there and really wanted to go.

My flight was on Friday afternoon from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Taipei International Airport with a stop in Hong Kong. Of course, there were direct flights as well, but the time wasn’t very comfortable for me. The only flight with a good price and time was with a layover in Hong Kong.

My flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong didn’t start really well. I was on time at the airport and also at the gate. However, my gate was changed, and it hasn’t been announced. I only realized it when I noticed the tickets of the queueing passengers were not from Cathay Pacific but some other airline. Then I just saw on the screen of my gate that it has been changed. It was written in the tiniest font ever, so of course I went to the wrong gate, asked there, was sent back, and on the way a ground steward saw my ticket and sent me to the right gate. While I was rushing to the new gate, I finally heard the announcement that it was the final call for my flight.
This has never happened to me before.
Pudong Airport is really big, but I don’t really like how the gates keep on being changed all the time.

Anyway, I was relieved when I finally made it to my flight and was sitting on my seat. The flight with Cathay Pacific was very pleasant, but we took off around half an hour later due to the long take-off queue.

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When we finally landed in Hong-Kong, I was picked up by a ground hostess from Cathay Pacific. Together with around 6 other passengers, we were told that we wouldn’t make it to our flight and we would have to take the next flight, which would take off at around 8pm. She took us to the counter to get us new tickets for the next flight. That took quite long actually but finally we made it to the gate and could sit down for a while before boarding again.

So Guys, this is the reason why it is so important to book your layovers from one airline company. If I had booked 2 seperate flights, I would have missed my connecting flight and would have to pay for the next flight.

I arrived in Taipei at almost 10 pm. Yet another pleasant flight.

First things First: 

  • If you are flying to Taipei over the weekend, then make sure to exchange all your money at the airport. The exchange rate is, unlike other airport exchange stations, very accurate. I made the mistake to only exchange a part of my money which was enough for a taxi and my hostel fee. The next morning, I was told that banks are closed on Saturdays in Taiwan, very unlike the opening times of banks in China. On Saturday morning I was then sent to a department store to exchange money, and their rate was a little bit lower than the one at the airport. Bummer!
  • Make sure to buy a sim-card at the airport as well. In my rush to make it to the hostel before it got too late, I totally forgot to get one at a stand right next to the money exchange. You won’t miss it, it’s right there. And it was really cheap too.

 

I paid around 1100 NTD (around 33€) from the airport to downtown (my hostel was very central), so I’d say that the price for the taxi was quite cheap actually.

I stayed at Oxygen Hostel which is a great hostel with interesting interior and useful amenities offering everything you might need. The only negative side to the hostel was the limited space. I was travelling with my huge suitcase, and there was barely any space for it in my dorm room. I guess most hostels in Taipei are like that because of the limited space there. So if you are travelling with a suitcase, just like me, make sure to check the size of the rooms in your hostel/hotel.

I took a shower and fell to bed, almost dead tired from flying too much.

I know that this post was rather uneventful (except for the airport anxieties), but I promise that the next two posts will be full of surprises.

Thanks for travelling with me!

Travel Anticipation: Taipei

By the time you are reading this, I will be in Yuyao, reuniting with my friends.

The reason I go to Taipei is actually because I am going to China for one of my best friend’s wedding. She is getting married on January 9th and I didn’t want to miss it. I have never been to a chinese wedding and I also wanted to be at the wedding of a friend who helped me a lot during my time in China.

After the wedding I will stay in Yuyao for a few days, and then on the 13th, I will board my plane to Taipei. I will stay there for 2 days and 3 nights. On Monday I will land in Shanghai and stay there for a few days until flying back to Germany on the 19th.

So my stay will be quite short, but I guess it will be very busy.

Because I am not taking my laptop with me, I will now write an anticipation post about my plans in Taipei.

Sights

  1. Taipei 101
    Source: totaiwanandbackagain.blogspot.com

    If this is not on your Taipei List, you are doing something wrong.

  2. Elephant Mountain
    Source: taiwan-photography-blog.com

    After hiking up this hill, you will have a magnificient view over Taipei and its famous landmark

  3. Night Markets: Shilin or Raohe
    Source: cavinteo.blogspot.com

    I can’t wait to indulge into all of the yummy and cheap varieties of asian food here.

  4. Beitou Hot Springs and Thermal Valley
    Source: alectravelguide.com

    I would really love to visit this place while I am in Taipei, but I am not sure if I will be able to visit with this huge itinerary. I will definitely ask about this place at the hostel.

  5. National Chiang-Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
    Source: adventuresofagoodman.com

    I am still not sure if I will visit the historical sites yet. If the hot springs should be easy to visit I will probably skip the memorial halls.

  6. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
    Source: tripadvisor.com

    This place actually looks very beautiful and it has a nice park. I guess this would be more interesting to me than the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial since I have visited Sun Yatsen’s Memorial Hall in Nanjing already. So I’d have the background knowledge already.

  7. Guandu Temple or Lonshan Temple
    Source: darrenmelrose.com

    There are two temples I am interested in. One of them is the more popular Lonshan Temple and the other one is the more artistic looking Guandu Temple. I will decide spontaneously which one to visit. Maybe I can make it to both.

  8. Shrimp Fishing
    Source: traveljunkiephotography.files.wordpress.com

    I would really like to visit this unique place because I am sure I can nowhere find a place like this.

  9. Jiufen Cat Village
    Source: remotelands.com

    I’d love to visit this place while I am there. I head it was the example city for Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Academy Award winning movie Spirited Away, one of my most favourite movies during both my childhood and adulthood. It already looks amazingly beautiful on the picture and I would love to spend at least a few hours here. I will also get some information about this place at the hostel.

Food & Drinks

  1. Modern Toilet Restaurant
    Source: untappedcities.com

    I am dying to eat here! I think you know why :’D

  2. Hello Kitty Shabu Shabu
    Source: dayre.me

    I have never been a big Hello Kitty fan, but if it comes to food, I am a sucker for anything cute-looking :’D

  3. Ounce Bar
    Source: travelandleisureasia.com

    This bar has a secret entrance, and I have always wanted to visit a bar, hotel or library with a secret entrance.

  4. Xiaomijo
    Source: flickr.com

    Did someone say cute lattes?

  5. Rilakkuma Cafe
    Source: suddenlycat.com

    *heavybreathing* As you can see, my Taipei itinerary is filled with cute cafes and restuarants :’D

  6. Coffee Alley Zhongxiao
    Source: stephs852diary.com

    Who doesn’t like waffles? I will try to make some time for this place. I am not sure if I can…

  7. Agnes B. Cafe
    Source: pixieprodigy.wordpress.com

    This looks like the Angelina Paris of Taipei, so I will also put this on the maybe-list.

  8. Ooh Cha Cha
    Source: tripadvisor.com

    This actually looks like a perfect place for lunch/brunch.

  9. Din Tai Fung
    Source: city543.com

    Probably the most famous restaurant in Taipei and I will definitely visit it after going up the observatory deck.

 

So, as you can see, my itinerary for Taipei is HUGE! You might wonder why, but I know exactly: It will be the second asian country I will visit, and I am more than excited to make this happend. So I will have to try and make the best out of it. I just can’t wait for it and I hope that everything will go according to my imagination :)

Oh and the hostel I am staying at will be Oxygen Youth Hostel:

See you next time with a lot of new and old posts from China and Taipei.

Have you ever been to Taipei?
If there is any recommendations, please leave them for me in the comments.

Thanks for travelling with me.