Day 4 in Taiwan – Movies, Ferris Wheels, and Night Markets

This was our last full day in Taipei, Taiwan. We had a blast traveling around the city and making a few day trips to the outskirts. If you missed the first few posts, you can read about them here.

Our Last Full Day in Taiwan

Nicole and I got up and headed to the Starbucks down the street from our hostel. We each had a coffee and some snacks to tide us over for the day. Since the two of us had been running around having so many adventures over the past few days, we decided to take it easy today and just do random fun things around town.

Starbucks breakfast of champions
Starbucks breakfast of champions

Wu Fen Pu Garment Wholesale Area

Our first stop, after Starbucks was to a wholesale clothing market. Nicole and I took the subway out there and walked through dark and narrow stalls filled with discount clothing, shoes and accessories. For a weekday, it was surprisingly empty. There were a few other shoppers walking around the streets stopping into shops here and there, but it was far from crowded. Many of the stalls weren’t even open yet. Mind you it was around 11am when we walked through. It was surprising to see. I imagine the market must get going later in the day.

Miramar Entertainment Park

After the clothing market, we took the subway to Miramar Entertainment Park. We walked around the mall for a bit and watched “As Above, So Below”. It’s a great horror movie if you’re into that genre. After the movie we rode on Taiwan’s second tallest ferris wheel. It had breathtaking views of the city and like the gondola, it had a glass floor to look down and see the ground far below.

Beer and Pretzels

After the ferris wheel ride it started to rain, and thunder, and lightning really hard. We took the subway back into central Taipei and happened to spot a Paulaner Brauhaus. We’d visited one in Munich this past summer and really enjoyed it so we had to stop in and visit while we were in Taiwan. We had authentic German beer and inauthentic Taiwanese pretzels. Nicole also ordered some steamed dumplings, so it was a vaguely cultural experience. Overall, it was quite the combo.

Night Market

After our lunch of beer and pretzels and dumplings, we took the train out to the Shilin Night Market. Of all the night markets we visited while we were in Taipei, Shilin was the biggest. Streets lined with stalls and carts spread out in all directions. The night market had everything from clothing to food to even a carnival right inside the market. There was a temple at the center of the market playing a Taiwanese movie on a projector screen free for everyone in the community. Nicole and I got some chicken skewers and fresh fruit and walked through the market.

 

After our stroll through the night market, it was getting quite late. We headed back to our hostel and packed our things.

Leaving Taipei

The next morning we left the hostel and took a cab to the downtown airport. From there we transferred to Taipei’s international airport outside of town, the same one we used when we arrived. I had a great time in Taipei. There were tons of sights to check our and the people were incredibly kind and friendly. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about visiting Taipei to do so. However, I think you only need a few days in Taipei. I would couple a trip to Taipei with a few day trips outside of the city or even to different cities in Taiwan.

 

 

Day 2 in Taiwan – massages, night markets, and toilet restaurants Part Two

This is a continuation of the very long second day in Taiwan. Part one is about Zhinan temple and pandas. Read it first.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

From the Zhinan temple, Nicole and I took the gondola back down the mountain and transferred to the MRT. We rode it all the way back into central Taipei and visited the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, National Theater, and the National Concert Hall. The three of them form a beautiful plaza in central Taipei and are definitely worth a visit while you are in Taiwan. Chiang Kai Shek was a military leader closely allied with Sun Yat Sen and was an influential member of the Chinese national party. We arrived on the hour so we were just in time to see the changing of the guard. It was a big production and took close to 15 minutes.

Renting Bikes

From just outside the plaza, we rented bikes for only about 30 cents and rode through town like a band of hoodlums recruiting members into our underground bike gang. Just kidding. We rode to Xiemending, Taipei’s hip downtown area home to massages and toilet restaurants. That’s right, restaurants themed like toilets.

Modern Toilet

We returned our bikes in central Xiemending and wandered around for a bit before our reservation at Modern toilet. We got massages, I played around with some vintage lenses at an outdoor market, and we soaked up the downtown atmosphere. It’s interesting, based on my  limited experiences in Japan, China, and Thailand, I feel like Taiwan is a perfect mashup of all three. It has China’s commerce and availability of products. It’s still somewhat conservative and bizarre in unexpected ways like Korea and Japan, and its a bit tropical like Thailand.

Now to the part that you’ve all been waiting for, Modern Toilet. If you visit one toilet themed restaurant, I encourage you to visit this one. It’s apparently part of a chain and there are several around Asia so you’ll have a few opportunities. The restaurant is off the beaten path and up on the second story off the main road. You really have to search for it to find it.

Inside you’re greeted at a small counter and led to your table. All the tables are bathtubs filled with plastic balls (think McDonalds ball pit) and covered with a sheet of glass. The seats are toilets, with the lid closed. They are not to be used as real toilets. The food is pretty good. Not fantastic, just good, but then again, you’re not going for the food. I ordered the chicken curry, Nicole ordered something else. Both entrees came in small ceramic toilets. Dessert was chocolate ice cream, of course. It was served in a traditional squat toilet.

Modern Toilet
Modern Toilet

Longshan Temple Night Market

After diner we visited some shops in the Longshan Temple Night Market. We bought some incense and an incense holder which I am convinced is actually a back scratcher but we are using it as an incense holder anyways.

It was an amazing, yet incredibly tiring day. We saw pandas and rode gondolas. We ate at toilet restaurants and rented bikes. We did everything.