Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Taipei - more sightseeing

Taipei 101
We spent a few days happily wandering around Taipei. Unfortunately we didn't have the best weather, so our attempt to get up the Taipei 101 tower was foiled by heavy mist, which made paying to go up rather pointless, but we did pick up some very tasty pineapple cake in the foodhall downstairs.

Dihua Street, Taipei
We quite enjoyed a walk down Dihua Street, which has sections dating back to the mid 1660s, making it the oldest street in Taiwan, and still an important commercial area.

Peacock Bistro, Dihua Street, Taipei
But there are some nice little shops there too now, and some nice cafes. We enjoyed a stop at the Peacock Bistro, where we enjoyed lunch and trying some of their fruit liqueurs.

Something we hadn't expected to see, was a man sitting outside a cafe with what looked like a pet frog on a tiny lead next to him. Disappointingly, we later saw a shop that sold all sorts of frog souvenirs, so we suspect that his was just a fake frog from there.

Dihua Street, Taipei
We also checked out the Taiwan Brewery, one evening, not to do a tour, but just to visit their on site bar Beer 346, where you can buy their beers by the bottle or barrel, and sit outside to drink them. They sometimes have live music, but it was quiet when we were there, and we didn't stay that long, as they weren't serving food.

Instead, we found nearby Huashan 1914 Creative Park, which is an old wine producers factory from 1914, which was abandoned. It was 'discovered' in 1997 by members of a theatre company, and they started transforming it into a creative space. Eventually it was done officially,and it is now a thriving place for the arts. Of course it was mostly closed by the time we arrived, and we just went to the popular Alleycats Pizza place.

Dihua Street, Taipei
Dihua Street, Taipei
Talking of food, we did go to a little cafe that is famed for a real Taiwanese specialty, beef noodle soup. We had been recommended to go to Yong Kang, near Dongmeng station, which has been serving up its broth since 1963.

Lantern Festival, Taipei
It is something of an institution, ranking amongst the top in the competitive beef noodle soup world. They were certainly busy, with lots of people queuing up to get in when we arrived. We joined the queue, and before too long we were ushered upstairs to a shared table and presented with a menu, and a list to tick what we wanted.

Lantern Festival, Taipei
Of course the words on the menu didn't match the words on the order sheet, but with a bit of help, we ordered our soup. There is actually a lot of choice here, people only come for one thing, the only real question is what bits of beef and how much comes with it.

Lantern Festival, Taipei
Honestly, I can't say we were that impressed. Other people were definitely enjoying slurping their soup and sucking and chewing their beef, but, having spent years cutting all of the fat and gristle off of my meats, I couldn't enjoy beef that was more cartilage than actual meat. In all honesty, unlike many people, I don't think I will every truly enjoy most Asian food.

Lantern Festival, Taipei
Leaving the beef noodles behind us, our final stop was at the expo centre, where they had a huge display of lanterns, some of which were part of a competition. They were quite impressive.

Toilets, Taipei
Oh, there are two other things that I have to mention - both of which involve toilets. The first, we noticed in the stations, but it may be some other places too. The toilets have a little electronic board outside which shows a plan of the toilets, so that you can see how many there are of disabled, squat and western styles, and it also has a little coloured light next to each. The colour of the light indicates whether the toilet is occupied, vacant, out of use, or somewhat ominously, under investigation (presumably waiting for someone to deal with a blockage or something).

The second was a restaurant, that sadly we never managed to get to, but saw photos of. It is a toilet themed restaurant, where you sit on toilets, eat from miniature toilets, and some foods are shaped like poos. Now that is something I've never seen before or since, even in Japan.

Lantern Festival, Taipei

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