It’s finally Friday and my last day at work. So far, I haven’t found myself including the term ‘millennial’ as an aspect of my personality. I feel like everyone, whatever the generation they are born in, are all just dealing with the cards they’ve been dealt with the best that they can. While it connotes a number of traits and values that I certainly adhere to, such as viewing travel as a necessity and valuing experiences over material things, I also find that a lot of people (particularly the older generation) attach it to negative behaviors. And they’re not always right, but they’re not always wrong either. It’s a tricky idea to find out which is right because while the older generation had better housing/retirement opportunities when they were my age, the current generation has better chances at work-life balance and the opportunity to find career niches that better suit everyone. It’s now a norm to find somewhere you can at least have a semblance of fulfillment every single time your alarm rings for work. Last days have almost always been a conflicting concept for me because you try to fit in as much as you can in one day. You make sure you accomplish everything you need and that you don’t leave anything behind but good friends and good memories.
And on my last day at Taiwan, I tried to do the same thing. We already packed up all our things, leaving some space for souvenirs we were planning to buy and headed downstairs to have breakfast at DG Cafe. We chatted with the staff, and Audrey told me that when I went home and posted the videos of my trip to Taiwan, they all watched it (because I posted about them on Facebook haha) and felt bad that no one knew about my birthday. Although there’s a language barrier between the other members of the DG Hotel team, you really can’t deny that they’re warm and hospitable.
After having breakfast, we decided to spend the rest of the morning exploring Dihua Street. This street is one of the oldest streets in Taipei (the buildings have a heavy Dutch influence from the time when they were colonized) and the government has made sure to preserve the architecture of the entire street. Honestly, walking along this street felt like walking into a scene in a movie. It was a Saturday morning, hence, you see a lot of different people mulling around. There are grandmas on a photo walk, families buying tea leaves and other dried delicacies, friends on their way to brunch, and tourists scouring the different snack shops. There’s a lot of things you can buy in this street from clothes, to food, to cheap tea leaves up to some fancy ‘tea cakes’ (compressed tea, not the actual pastry). There are also some art galleries that are open within a restaurant or quirky shops, which are also interesting as well. One of the things that I noticed in Taipei is the value they put into art, as I know that within the Longshan Temple area, they also preserved the old merchant buildings and let people use it for their art galleries (but I can’t remember if it was for free or for a fee).
We didn’t even realize that we already had spent hours buying (and tasting) all the pineapple cakes and moon cakes (amongst a lot of other delicacies as well) along Dihua Street. We went back to the hotel to do one final round of packing, checked out and left our luggage to collect them in the evening before heading to the airport. We headed to the other end of the red line to explore Tamsui. Tamsui is in the northern part of Taipei, and I think they have a lot of museums and attractions here because I read blogs where this place was for a day trip. Given that we arrived early in the afternoon, we walked around with no destination in mind. There were a lot of sights to see, although I got the feeling that Tamsui looks so much better at nighttime with all the Christmas decor lit up. As we’re walking, we found a street filled with so many food stalls that we ended up just trying them all (and I didn’t get to take photos because my hands were busy with food lol). We also went inside a lot of the stores within the area in between munching on all our food purchases, and [unfortunately] bought some more souvenirs. My sister who is a huge fan of 3D puzzles was enthused to see a store dedicated to it (along with varying canvas sizes for paint by numbers). Since it was a weekend, there were a lot of people (but not too crowded which is nice), and some of them even had a picnic overlooking the sea and the mountain. We should have brought our own blanket!
We headed back to Dongmen Station to try and queue up for some xiao long bao at the original location of Din Tai Fung. However, the line was still TOO LONG even at 4 PM. We knew it would take us a couple of hours just to get inside, so we passed on it and headed to Yongkang Street once again. Yongkang Street has tons of hole in the wall restaurants to choose from, and we knew we weren’t going to get hungry here.
We saw the sign that this was CNN’s best beef noodles in Taipei and we decided to check it out. My favorite beef noodles was the bun bo hue that I had when I went to Hue in Vietnam (which was slightly better than the one I had in Ho Chi Minh). Their beef noodles were special because they put tomatoes in it, and the homemade noodles were thick and would definitely not get soggy no matter how long it takes you to consume the noodles. You can simply pick up side dished from a table and they would add it to your bill after your meal. Personally, I feel like this bowl of noodles would count as a meal already because there was nothing light about it. Although it tasted great, I couldn’t finish all the noodles because it was quite filling. I did enjoy eating kimchi with it because I feel like the kimchi gives more dimension to an otherwise savory soup. You know what I mean?
Another one on CNN’s list of Taiwanese food they can’t live without is the mango smoothie. I’m not quite sure where this particular dish comes from because I feel like all the countries in Asia have a similar version of this dessert. The Philippines has halo halo, Singapore/Malaysia has ice kachang, Japan has kakigori, and Korea has bingsu. So it’s a bit hard to determine which country started the shaved ice craze first. But one thing is for sure, the mango smoothie from Smoothie House is not for a solo traveler (unless you plan on getting brain freeze for hours). Maybe it’s just us (because let’s face it, we already ate A LOT within the day), but one serving was enough for the four of us. We did see a lot of couples and groups of friends sharing a bowl.
We wanted to burn at least a bit of the food we consumed that day, so we walked around the area some more. There was surprisingly a lot of shops that were solely dedicated to umbrellas, which was weird in itself but it does make sense because Taiwan is also a tropical country. Rain showers occur so frequently that it’s best to be prepared by having a foldable umbrella in your bag (if you’re like me who hates having to carry around a huge umbrella).
We eventually found our way to the airport in time for our original check-in time, only to find out that our flight has been moved back a couple of hours. Ugh. I haven’t really felt the festive spirit that December brings and flying out during the holidays have made it harder to get that feeling back. We ended up in the airport’s food court (that closes early and is not 24 hours) and had our last full meal in Taiwan. I was so tired that I couldn’t wait for our two-hour flight back home and passed out at the boarding gate’s waiting area. One of the things that also sucked was that none of the stores after immigration were open since our flight was pushed back, and the check-in gate opened later than we expected. I knew there was a bookstore inside the airport that sold snow globes (what I buy for myself in every trip), but I ended up with none. Anyone heading to Taipei that can buy me one? Haha!
And that concludes my 2017 posts! It’s weird that it took me until almost mid-February to finish this but I’m hoping that I get better at documenting my trips this 2018. 🙂
TEESH || PHILIPPINES