After everybody slept off the long day of travel yesterday, we decided to make the most of the day. This started with breakfast, as my wonderful mom had already gone to a local store and picked up duck and guava, among other things. So, our day started with a wonderful brunch to provide much needed energy for the day ahead. After heading out from the Airbnb around noon, we decided to make our way to some of Taipei’s temples, which you can see in some of the photos. From there we took a quick taxi ride to the National Palace Museum to experience more of Taiwan’s rich history and culture. A lot of what we saw was calligraphy and ceramics/pottery, but it was hard not to be impressed by the centuries of brilliance produced by these craftsmen! Sure, we may have sped through some of the exhibits, but we departed being thoroughly dazzled by what we laid out eyes on. After that, our growing hunger pangs led us to deciding on trying our luck at the famous restaurant, Din Tai Fung. Once we got there, the first thing that greeted us was the massive queue outside. Basically, you had to grab a number and wait for at least forty five minutes. Hence we walked around some of the neat back alleys in pursuit of getting new glasses and finding cards with Wi-Fi. We didn’t end up accomplishing this, but soon enough we made our way back to the queue. As it turned out, we didn’t have to wait too much longer afterwards, as the staff let us in if we agreed to share a table; this was a no brainer since we were hungry and didn’t mind having extra company. While ordering, the subconscious thought was that this would cost us an arm and a leg, but it turned out that for three people, we paid the equivalent of $60, which was very affordable! So, how was the food? Simply put, amazing! I wouldn’t say it was extravagant, but the basic simplicity of it all proved to be why the meal was so great-the focus was on turning normal Chinese/Taiwanese food into something out-of-this-world! Once the final bites were swallowed, we all sat back in a state of semi-bliss, semi-food coma.
After walking around in what continued to be a futile attempt to find a card that could enable our phones to access the internet, we then proceeded to visit another temple located smack dab in the center. Xingtian temple apparently is relatively modern, so personally it didn’t have as much charm as others. As we were entering the gates, we noticed a massive queue of people, which initially scared us. However, upon further questioning, it turns out this was a line for people to receive special calendars. Well then. At any rate, we proceeded to head on in, and evidently there was a fairly massive process of people getting blessed and having their fortunes told. We didn’t stay long, but on the way out we noted the opulence of this particular temple, since it was bigger and had shinier decorations. From there we headed back to our lodgings for a quick break to prepare for the last event of the day.
After an hour’s rest, we went to Raohe Night Market. It didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts, as we tried to flag down some taxis without success before taking the excellent MRT to a closer destination then taxiing directly in front of the market. Despite that false start, things went smoothly. While my brother and I surveyed places around the entrance, our mom waited in line to pick up our first meal: a beef and green pepper burger of sorts. As we were munching on them, we found a place to get a watch for my brother. While they were finalizing the purchase, I set my eyes on a nearby seafood stand and got some wonderfully fresh calamari. After picking up some wonderfully sweet Taiwanese fruit (which you shouldn’t ask me the name of, since I genuinely don’t know) and tasty watermelon drink, we barreled on down the long strip. In general we didn’t really stop for much other than to briefly toy with the idea of getting more food and to browse, but we did make a detour into a little cafe. A recurring theme of the market was that the food was fresh and top notch, and this place was no exception. My brother, being an adventurous lad, decided to order sashimi, much to the chagrin of my mom; being pretty darn stuffed by then, I opted for a solid local beer. Turns out that the quality of the raw fish was no issue, and we all enjoyed our respective culinary options. By this point, we had all reached bursting point, so we just walked to the other end and back to conclude our nocturnal visit.
Getting a chance to experience all this was an action packed day, but none of us expressed any regrets. For my mom, it’s her first time back in the country in almost two decades while for my brother and I it’s our maiden voyage to the motherland. Thus, we were determined to delve into the culture as much as possible!