Somewhat spontaneously, we decided to do a long weekend in Taipei at the end of March. Every other person we knew seemed to be going, and with the reopening post Covid and loosened restrictions, it seemed like a good time as any.
We didn’t want to take any vacation days, seeing that we had an upcoming trip up the Western Australia coast to Ningaloo in April, and so decided to take the red eye into Taipei, arriving at dawn Thursday, whereupon we’d head straight to the hotel, and work a full day from there. Sometimes, we think we’re still in our 20s…
Somewhat surprisingly, we held up. We had time to stroll to a scallion pancake place for breakfast, before diving head down into work. I’d blocked off time for lunch, and so headed out to a beef noodle place for lunch and to buy back for Jeff. Benefits of working remotely – we get to enjoy the local cuisine!
In the evening, we grabbed a cheeky cocktail and some snacks at a quiet joint, Fuzzy April Bar, then took a cab over to the Raohe Night Market. Compared to when I last visited three years ago, the crowds were a lot thinner. This being Jeff’s first time in Taiwan though, he partook in some stinky tofu, which he declared tastier than durian. The travesty.
Friday, another full day of meetings, but with time enough blocked off to go in search of another beef noodle store at lunch. Ate a little too much, but man, the Taiwanese make some of the tastiest beef noodles. Beautifully al dente noodles with melt in your mouth brisket and tendons. Just drooling a little recollecting.
In the evening, we walked to a speakeasy recommended by Notion AI. Haha, I’d actually used it to help plan my Taipei itinerary, right down to the neighborhood to stay in that would have fast internet for remote work. It did a pretty great job actually – we double checked the recommendations against Google and everything stood up. This might be our way forward from now for trip planning! Anyway, enjoyed a drink at Key Company, where to get in, we had to guess who the 2023 Oscar best actress winner was off a rack of keys, then use that key to enter.
Dinner at Mume was the highlight. Every course was delicious and for the price, we thought a really good deal. The portions were just right too – I didn’t roll out feeling overstuffed, as I usually do.
Saturday, I was too lazy to plan an itinerary and figure out the public transportation, and so just hired a private driver to bring us to the attractions in the outskirts of Taipei. Do those touristy things.
It turned out a good idea since it was misty with rain all day. And we could doze in the backseat to catch up on much needed rest.
Honestly though, not sights I’d visit again or highly recommend. Yeh Liu was this super commercialized boardwalk around the coastal geographic formations that reminded us of the Bondi to Coogee walk, which we enjoyed for free. Shi Fen was an old mining town we stopped at so we could light up sky lantern along the rail road tracks. I felt marginally guilty we were littering the countryside with these lanterns – though the guide assured us that the locals were paid to help retrieve them. We also stopped by other mining towns like this little place that was full of cats – good for the cat lovers to take their gram, and Jing Gui Shi for a bit of a stroll through the verdant forests.
The highlight of the day was the squeeze through the narrow and crowded alleyways of Jiu Fen, also the inspiration for the popular animation Spirited Away. Haven’t watched it myself since I’m not a fan of anime, but it did remind me.of an Asian Diagon Alley. Pity though, that most of the little stores hawking mouthwatering snacks only took cash, and we hadn’t withdrawn enough, and so had to really prioritize on what we wanted to get in the end.
In the evening, we met up with Jeff’s old college buddy for dinner at a swank Chinese restaurant on the 46th floor of a tower right by Taipei 101. The storm earlier had caused a fog to set in, completely obscuring our view, but happily cleared up by the end of our meal.
Jeff had initial grand plans for a hike Sunday morning, but given the forecast was more rain, we opted instead for a tour of the Grand Palace Museum. I didn’t mind to be honest, since we were flying home that evening and I’d rather not sit in sweaty clothes all day. Plus, the museum was fascinating, and we zoomed through most of the exhibits in 2.5 hours before decamping to Tarroir for another delicious and value for money omakase meal.
All in all, it was chill way to explore a new city, sample the local cuisine, and we’re very grateful we have the ability to work remotely!