Prawn fishing, Richard Parker, and naked hot springs, oh my! Taiwan has by far been one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve gone on, possibly ever. We experienced so much amazing stuff in the four days we were there. Normally I’m not the let’s-try-to-cram-in-as-much-as-possible kind of traveler, but even though we managed to see, do and eat an insane amount of awesome stuff in four days, it didn’t ever really feel like we were in a hurry.
Most of our adventures in Taiwan were made possible by our amazing Taiwanese travel companions: Jordan’s friend Dennis from high school and his girlfriend Maggie, and my friend Jessica from university and her boyfriend Kelvin. Because there is just far too much stuff to fit into a single photo gallery, I’ve decided to separate it into two parts: Part One will be photos from our exploits in and around Taipei with Dennis and Maggie, and Part Two will be photos from our day trips to the surrounding areas with Jessica, Kelvin, and sometimes their friend Raymond (who’s apparently a sort of famous pop star in Taiwan).
We spent days two and three of our trip with Dennis and Maggie, galavanting in and around Taipei. We went prawn fishing, rode the fastest elevator in the world, met Richard Parker and ate dumplings made by Tom Cruise.* Here are some of the highlights of our exploits, in photos (and captions)!
First stop, Longshan Temple, a famous religious site in central Taipei.
There were many different shrines around Longshan Temple, but this one was by far the most popular: a place for girls to pray for husbands. Even better was the not-so-inconspicuous crowd of young, probably single guys checking out the girls who were praying.
Some cats were hanging around outside the temple. There are two cats in this picture… I didn’t even realize the second one was there when I took it, though!
After the temple we headed to Bo Pi Liao, a historic merchant district with beautiful, preserved European-style red brick buildings.
Near the historic district we visited this active merchant district, where we discovered these delicious traditional treats that are kinda like rice crispy squares.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the post I wrote specifically on the rice crispy truck guys here.
In the afternoon we headed to the National Palace Museum, an expansive place that you could spend a whole day in, easily. We had one purpose, though: find the jade cabbage. We were in and out like a sting operation before the museum ate us.
After the museum we realized we still had not had lunch, and so we decided to catch ourselves some prawns.
I caught the most prawns out of our whole group! We were quite the attraction, too, and our Taiwanese friends loved watching all the old Taiwanese prawn-fishing hobbyists watching us in bemusement, haha. It garnered us several extra prawns in the end, though!
Restocking! More prawns are added to the pond. Fresh and lively! Come to meeeeee!
Maggie catching a prawn. I was in a hurry to take this photo so I managed to get the prawn in focus, but not her, haha.
Once we had a good pile, Jordan and Dennis cleaned, salted and skewered the prawns for cooking. They were still alive up until the skewering, and Jordan hates killing things, but he put on a brave face.
Jordan BBQ’d them up good!
Finally, ready to eat! They were delicious, nothing like freshly cooked prawns that you caught yourself!
After our feast, we headed across town to Taipei 101. This is where we rode the fastest elevator in the world (90 floors in less than 50 seconds). Afterwords we ate an epic dinner at Din Tai Fung, the best dumpling restaurant (arguably) in the world.
Oh, and I have a whole post about Taipei 101 with more photos here.
Each morning when we woke up, we saw this view from in front of our hostel. On our third morning we had a bit of time to kill, so we decided to investigate.
What had intrigued us from a distance was the roof of this monument of a building: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.
CKS Memorial Hall from the front. Chiang Kai-Shek was a national hero and helped found Taipei; I had learned all about him in an East Asian history class but he was just one of many names until we went here, so it was very cool for me to see this little piece of history made real.
The epic-looking National Theatre was across the plaza from CKS Memorial Hall.
This is the rather grandiose gate to the CKS Memorial Hall park and plaza area, on the opposite side of the park from our hostel.
Around noon we headed to our primary destination of the day: Taipei Zoo. If I could say one thing about this zoo it would be that it is ENORMOUS. There was even a train inside the park.
Pink flamingos greeted us when we entered the park. I had to stare at them for awhile because, somehow, I kept expecting them to just be statues like the ones I paid to have delivered to my parents’ lawns on their 40th birthdays. But they were real!
This elephant was not real. But I think Edward Scissorhands has been here.
Monkeys PDA. Shameless.
Can you spot the gorilla? The gorillas have a really big enclosure, and we looked forever before we finally spotted this one, napping!
Spotted Hyena! This is no ordinary spotted hyena, either…
Last but definitely, DEFINITELY not least, this is Richard Parker. I mean, this is a Bengal tiger. But if you have seen the Life of Pi movie, this tiger apparently was the one used in the movie (or that was, probably in most cases, the tiger that CG Richard Parker was based on). And if you’re clever you’ve probably guessed that the spotted hyena in the above photo was in Life of Pi, as well.
Richard Parker in all his glory.
After the zoo, and being awed with Richard Parker’s magnificence, we rode the Maokong gondola up the mountain behind the zoo to have dinner in a teahouse. I was a little worried this meant we were just having tea, because I was starving, but no: it was, of course, an epic feast.
…and because it was a teahouse restaurant, and not just any teahouse, “The Big Tea Pot Tea House,” everything was infused with tea. The Jasmine fried rice actually had flakes of Jasmine tea in it, as did all of the other dishes. So delicious!
So, that was days two and three in Taiwan. I know you’re probably thinking “Wait, that was only two days?! How is that possible?” I’m thinking that too, I still have no idea how we managed all of this without a magical time-turner.
Anyways, check out days one and four in “Taiwan Photo Gallery, Part Two!”
*Apparently Tom Cruise had been to the dumpling restaurant at the base of Taipei 101, where we also were, and made dumplings alongside the chefs. There were photos of him making dumplings all over the restaurant. So, while the specific dumplings we ate were not made by Tom Cruise himself (thankfully, who knows what weird scientological ingredients he might’ve put in them), he did make the very same type of dumplings that we ate at some part in recent history.