Some of my favorite highlights of the trip.
Click here to read PART ONE.
New Taipei City
Tamsui, otherwise known as Danshui, continues to reign as one of my favorite places to visit in Taiwan. It's very well known for its nightlife and seafood, but there's something inherently relaxing about it's morning air, especially on a quiet weekday.
The September air had already started to cool down, with dainty breezes that blew around the briny scent of the river. Immediately, my friend and I darted for the waterfront, anxious for the next boat ride to Fisherman's Wharf.
With a glance ahead, we saw a mountain faintly framing the glittering waters with gentle hues of green and blue to accent its grandeur. The boat ride was bouncy and the waves roared as we sailed through before eventually reaching our quiet destination. As always, Lover's Bridge is elegantly perched atop the water with floating boats filling the harbor.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Fei Cui Wan
Beach Resort, New Taipei District
Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the more celebrated holidays in Taiwan, and it was exciting for me because it was the first time I got to celebrate it with my family. Our plan was to travel to Fei Cui Wan, a small beach with a surrounding resort that housed hot springs and a water park. We had our celebration planned out; however, seeing that Typhoon Dujuan was headed toward the island, we knew that our plans may not turn out as expected. Nevertheless, we had fun. We gorged ourselves with endless barbecue and desserts, bathed in hot springs, and ended the night with beer and mooncakes. It didn't even matter that we didn't see the full moon or drove back in the middle of a typhoon. When it's with family, nothing else mattered.
From stand to stand, we tasted the delicacies that Jiufen is best know for, such as the taro and sweet potato balls. At another stand, I finally indulged in some fried stinky tofu. (Thanks to the typhoon, the city's power blacked out for a good 10 minutes. There's nothing like eating in the dark. Quite a bonding moment.) We finally ended at A-Mei Teahouse, where we partook in a small tea ceremony (the traditional way of drinking Chinese tea) and relaxed over homemade snacks. Did you know it is actually possible to be drunk from tea?!
The latter part of our trip took us to Jiufen, a city best known for its mountainous view and features that echoed its past. Interestingly, it's also a famous attraction as it had inspired Hiyao Miyazaki to create Spirited Away, one of his animated works. It was the kind of city that had me ambling around the streets, giving each scenery a double take and embedding each frame into memory. It broke my heart that I couldn't photograph the beautiful scenery with my camera because I broke my lens the day before, but thankfully I had my phone. Though lacking in quality, it managed to capture just enough for me to cherish.
Jingtong & Shifen Waterfall
In the past, going to the zoo excited me like no other, and even at this age, I knew that wouldn't change for me, and I hope my intense love for animals and sea-life will never waver. However, the purpose this time extended beyond the animals because tucked within the zoo is the Maokong gondola ride, otherwise known as a cable car. Since it's located in the mountainous area of Taipei, it wasn't a surprise to see acres of farmlands and trees flooding the view below.
Back in 2004, I vaguely remember shopping around the area where Taipei 101 was being constructed. It reigned as the world's tallest building until it lost to Dubai's Burj Khalifa and eventually five other skyscrapers. Though now at number seven on the list, it continues as one of Taiwan's top attractions and one of my favorite places to visit. For reasons unknown, I never took the opportunity to tour its upper deck for the grand view of the city, but that's no longer the case. To celebrate the last night of our trip, my aunt booked a reservation at Diamond Tony's Panorama, an Italian restaurant located on the 85th floor of the skyscraper. Talk about killing two birds with one stone, am I right? It was an unbelievable experience where nothing was less than perfect.
It was a rare occasion to eat in such a grand atmosphere so I took advantage of every opportunity given. As soon as I we were escorted up to the top of Taipei 101, I was already busy gawking at the magical view. The floor-to-ceiling windows panned across the room and showed off the city and its liveliness from the nightlife.
After settling down from my excitement, I finally had the chance to direct ALL of my attention to the food. In all of my life, I've never been overwhelmed by the menu. It was almost a dream come true to have eaten such delicacies that existed only as knowledge and not an experience.
It was bittersweet to see our little family excursion come to an end, but I looked forward to home and work, knowing that the rest of my year would be fueled by this trip's inspiration and rest.