Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 14)

The next morning, we decided to head out Ximending to look for food for brunch. This place is always bustling with people!

Luckily, many of the street vendors had already opened up. First up was this Green Onion Pancake stall. You can add different flavours or even add cheese or pork fluff to name a few.

We decided to get the original and it cost only NT$25. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but this was probably the best Green Onion Pancake I’ve had! It had such a nice char and they brush on this sweet soy sauce. Delicious!

Continuing on, we tried this Grilled Tempura. Lightly brushed with a sweet savoury sauce, this is fun to snack on. The pieces are quite big though, so i got a bit sick of it after one. Good for sharing. NT$30 for a skewer.

I also decided to get some Hong Kong Style Curry Fishballs. What was I thinking getting fishballs in Taiwan? Yea…these were not good. The curry was not apparent. Perhaps I should’ve gotten the flaming spicy flavour. NT$30 for 4 fishballs.

Getting thirsty, we headed to a 7-11 to look for some drinks. I got the Apple Milk while S got the Papaya Milk. I love how convenient these 7-11s are and how cheap the prices are. The papaya milk was really good while the apple milk was alright. I found it to be slightly tart so it tasted odd.

What to do in Ximending after you’ve visited almost every shop? Go to Tom’s World again and shoot some hoops. S loved this arcade so we ended up doing some exercise and shooting hoops again…

I finally convinced S that we should leave Tom’s World and go do some exploring since we traveled all the way here. Well, we ended up checking some items off my to-do list and that included buying souvenirs. ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅 is known to make some of the best pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥) and it’s a must buy when visiting Taipei! I believe they only have one bakery in Taipei and you can get here by taking the MRT to Nanjing Sammin station and walking straight ahead after you take Exit 2.

When we entered, it was quite a mayhem inside with all the tourists grabbing the pineapple cakes off the shelves. The pineapple cakes are not cheap as they around CAD$2 for one. They have different fillings as well, but after trying many, I still think the original pineapple filling is the best. The filling is not overly sweet and doesn’t stick to your teeth. The outside cake is buttery and flaky. Highly recommend! They also sell other products like wife cakes (老婆鉼).

After doing some pineapple cake shopping, I suggested we visit the  Wu Fen Pu Garment Wholesale Area (五分埔). You can get here by taking the MRT to Songshan Station. It is an area known for the largest wholesale garment market in Taipei.

The area is a huge maze with many shops selling mostly women’s clothing and accessories. I did find that the styles were not as trendy as the ones in Shida and Ximending though. Still, not bad and I picked up some cheap scarves. Because S was super bored shopping with me, he suggested we go play bowling at E7 Play (AGAIN). Well, unfortunately, since it was a weekend, the place was super busy and we wouldn’t get a spot until late.

So instead, I suggested we do more touristy things! We took the MRT to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station and visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. This is a memorial to the Republic of China’s National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun is known for his Three Principles of People: nationalism, democracy, and the people’s livelihood.

Inside the main entrance, you will find a statue of Sun Yat-sen. There is a changing of the guards every hour but we had missed the last one. The building also displays Sun’s life and the revolution he held.

There are also gardens around the memorial hall and you will find many young dancers practicing here. It’s also a perfect spot to see the full Taipei 101.

After, I suggested we visit Ice Monster since it would be a short walk from the the memorial hall. They are famous for their shaved ice.

You can either order take-out or sit in. It was rather chilly that day so we chose to sit-in. The cafe is brightly lit with wooden decor. You order and pay at the entrance and they will bring you your dessert to your table.

We chose the Fresh Mango Shaved Ice because that’s pretty much their signature item. The ice is super light and comes with a scoop of mango ice cream and tofu pudding on the side. At first, we thought there was very little mango but it was actually all on the bottom of the bowl. There were tons! It’s around NT$250 and great for sharing between friends.

After dessert, we took the MRT back to Ximending 西門町and wandered the streets again. You can never get sick of this place! Love the lively crowds and at night you will see many street performers.

S couldn’t resist and had to try the Hot Star Large Fried Chicken 豪大大雞排 at the Ximending location. This location is extremely busy as well.

At this location, they also have a variety of other snacks and also drinks. The wait here was much longer because they have so many other menu items. There is really only one guy who makes the fried chicken so the wait was super long.

At last, we got the Large Fried Chicken again. S and I both agreed that the one from the Shilin location tastes better for some reason…

We also got the Fried Scallop and Squid Balls. These were seasoned with basil leaves so quite tasty. I didn’t really taste any scallop in it though.

I was also on the hunt of Stewed Pork Rice 魯肉飯 so we got take-out at Tian Tian Li 天天利美食坊. They also have sit-in.

It looked pretty underwhelming but it actually tasted okay. Just hard to eat while standing. I didn’t think it was very special but it’s quite the comfort food for locals. Plus it’s only NT$25!

Thirsty, we found a corner shop further away from the busy shops called Mei Tea 梅子兔. Look for the bunny rabbit and the long line ups.

We got a classic pearl milk tea to finish our night off. It was a long wait but this was very smooth and satisfying! Headed back to the hotel and did some packing as we would be leaving tomorrow night.


Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

ChiaTe Bakery: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

Wu Fen Pu: Yongji Street, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall: 505, Section 4, Ren’ai Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Ice Monster: No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Hot Star Fried Chicken (Ximending location): No. 36, Hànzhōng St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Tian Tian Li: No.1, Lane 32, Han Zhong St., Wan-Hua District, Taipei City

Mei-Tea: No. 7, Lane 50, Xining S Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108


Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 13)

On our last full day in Taipei, I suggested that we check out Yehliu Geological Park 野柳地質公園. However, Taipei finally decided to rain on our last two days. It started off as light rain in the morning so I convinced J and S that we should still go. Yehliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei. It is around 1.5 hours by public transportation. We took the MRT from Ximen STation to Taipower Building Station. From there, look for the 1068 bus towards Nanshi. You will get off at the Yehliu Geopark stop. It is then a 5 minute walk to the entrance but it took us much longer because it began to pour. It is also extremely windy here as it is on the coast. There were people selling rain ponchos as an umbrella really did no help with the wind and heavy rain. Admission is around NT$80 for an adult.

Yehliu Geopark is famous because of the amazing rock landscapes created by nature. Because of the waves and rock weathering, there have been many interesting rock formations. One of the most famous is the Queen’s Head (女王頭). We found this later on but it was raining too hard to get a good picture. We instead got a picture of the duplicate of the Queen’s Head which is really a replica. The real one looks pretty much the same.

We also found this leopard chilling in the park. This is also a replica because the real one had collapsed back in 2010 during a typhoon.

Of course, the park is not filled with these replicas. The park is pretty big and there are signs pointing you to formations that you may want to see. It was raining quite hard and the real formations were quite far out so we didn’t end up seeing too many.

One of my favourites were the Mushroom Rocks. So cute!

They also have Ginger Rocks and Camel Rocks but we didn’t end up seeing them.

If you look carefully, the real queen’s head is the tiny rock with a circle of rocks surrounding it. You can walk down to the bottom level to get a better view. As it was raining and freezing cold, we really weren’t in the mood to look any further. A bit of a waste, but I’d love to come back to visit next time when it’s sunny. Really interesting if you’re into geology!

We were hungry and cold so we decided to eat at the closest restaurant. There are many seafood restaurants further away from the park near the town, but we were too exhausted. We quickly headed into Shark Bites Toast 鯊魚咬土司野柳店 which is next to the Yehliu Ocean World.

The restaurant is a milkshake and western food cafe. We started off with a Papaya Smoothie even though we were freezing cold. Pretty good.

J got the Pesto Risotto which he said was pretty good.

S and I shared a few snacks. First was the Deep Fried Chicken Nuggets topped with fries. Pretty good but not as good as the ones from the street or night market. Plus it’s pricier.

We also got the Deep Fried Chicken Wings which were also topped with fries. Again, they were average. Nothing too special. After lunch, we decided to just go back to Taipei city center. My original plan was to go to Keeleung for it’s famous night market. This would be around an hour of public transport but would be worth it since we were already quite far from the city. We were all tired and cold from the rain so unfortunately we skipped this. I would highly suggest checking out other cities nearby since you are already so far out from the city. Many people choose to go to Jiufen or Yangmingshan National Park on the same day.

After drying up back at our hotel, J took us to Rahdesign Cafe. You can get here by taking the MRT to Dazhi Station. The cafe is perfect for coffee lovers as they are famous for their coffee. Apparently three national champions from the World Barista Championship opened this cafe.

The inside is pretty hipster and has ore of a European feel. You’ll find many locals here with their laptops doing homework and such.

I got the Matcha Latte and it was beautifully presented with latte art filled to the rim. Very good!

I think J got an Americano or some sort of coffee…

S got the Ice Cream Coffee. This was my favourite! So good!

J also suggested we get the Mochi Waffles. These are so good! Drizzled with honey and topped with a very light whipped cream, the waffles are filled with chewy mochi inside. Prices are around NT$100-170 for beverages, but still a must try! Such a cute cafe to visit!

J then suggested we visit the Miramar Entertainment Park. You can take the MRT to Jiannan Road station to get here. This is a shopping mall which is famous for their IMAX theater with one of its movie screens being the largest in Asia.

Another famous attraction at the mall is the Ferris wheel on the roof of the mall. It is the second tallest in Taiwan.

We weren’t really in the mood for shopping, but the guys were in the mood of bowling… E7 Play was pretty far and we felt like it would be busy, so J did some searching and found Yuan Shan Bowling Alley 圓山保齡球館. It is near Jiantan MRT station and also right across Shilin Night Market.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was how old it looked…and also a weird smell inside. Anyways, if you are looking for a retro bowling alley, this is for you. Apparently it’s been open since the 1960s… Look how old the point machine is…

The alley is quite terrible. The lanes are rugged so your ball does not bowl straight since there are dents on the lane. The balls also have dents everywhere so nothing rolls smooth. The balls were also really oily and everything felt dirty inside. Price was also not as cheap as E7 Play. Our pinsetter would also screw up multiple times. It was just a disaster.

Since we were right across Shilin Night Market, we decided to go there again for dinner. I’ve been seeing stalls selling these Flame Grilled Beef Cubes 火焰骰子牛. They place these beef cubes on a grill and then torch them with a flame. NT$100 for a portion.

These were so disappointing though! They were way overcooked and super chewy. The beef had so much fat attached that you could not chew. Really sad because I’ve heard great things about them.

While the guys were lining up for the beef cubes, I couldn’t help but look over at the next stall selling mini sausages. A small bag for NT$50!

Mmm these are really good and fun to eat!

We decided to head down to the basement floor and sat down at this restaurant. They offered a variety of classic Taiwanese dishes.

J was really hungry so he got a bowl of Beef Noodles. He said this was just average.

We decided to give these Bite-sized Crab a try. I was slightly creeped out by all the crab legs and the fact I was just eating mini crabs with the whole shell, but these are deep fried so they are very crispy. They are only seasoned with pepper and salt. Not bad and would be good for sharing with a large group.

We also got this Grilled Squid but I didn’t like it at all. Again it was only seasoned with pepper and salt, and I found it to be rather unflavourful. It still had that slimy texture as well. I was expecting the ones at Japanese restaurants, so it was quite a disappointment.

As J would head back to Kaohsiung that night, we decided to have some Taiwan Beer to end the night. A very light beer so it was easy to drink!

We also headed to 711 to check out some local snacks. We found the Honey Beer this time and throughout the trip, I’ve been trying out almost all their flavoured beers. I quite liked this one as it has a sweetness to it. They sell these in the BC Liquor stores now, but at almost CAN$4 a can!

J also told us that these snacks are really good. They are actually instant noodles with seasoning packs where you shake it up and eat the noodles dry. Not good for you, but great as a midnight snack!


Yehliu Geopark: Take MRT to Taipower Building Station and take #1068 bus towards Nanshi and get off at Yehliu Park stop: No.167-1, Kangton Rd.,Yeh Liu Village, Wanli Dist., Xinbei, Taiwan

Shark Bites Toast: No.167-3, Kantung Rd., Yehliu Village, Wanli District,, Xinbei, Taiwan

Rahdesign Cafe: 1/F, No.1, Lane 9, Dazhi Street, Zhongshan District, Taipei

Miramar Entertainment Park:

Yuanshan Bowling Alley: 6, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 5, Taipei City

Shilin Night Market: Take MRT To Jiantan MRT Station and follow the rest of the crowds!: Betweet Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Road and Jihua RoadTaipei, Taiwan

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 12)

After a late night out, we started our day off rather late and met up with J and SC again. Since they are pretty much locals, they took us around Ximending for brunch to show us the top eats. The first stop was Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle. When we arrived, there were tons of tourists crowded around the area either in line or eating.

They really only sell one thing and that is the Flour-Rice Noodle. A large bowl goes for around NT$65 while a small is NT$50. S and I decided to share a bowl so we got the large, but it was quite big! Essentially, this is a hot bowl of really soft rice noodles along with pork intestines in a very thick flavourful broth. The pork intestines threw us off a bit but the chewiness gives it a pretty good texture. You can add vinegar and chili sauce to make it even better. The broth is really good and makes a great breakfast. There is always a line but it moves really quick.

Walking around, we found that there were many food carts around and we saw the peanut taro ice cream wrap again! We first had this in Jiufen, and were excited to have it again because it’s that good!

This is so addicting and perfect on a hot day. Love the crunch and sweetness of the peanut brittle shavings along with the ice cold taro ice cream.

After grabbing some snacks on the street, we wandered the streets of Ximending and J suggested that we go to Tom’s World Arcade on the fifth floor of Wannian Plaza.

The arcade is pretty big and there are a variety of games. Our favourite was this air hockey which is great for four people and the number of pucks it spits out is ridiculous at points of the game. Not your typical air hockey table for sure.

The boys loved playing the basketball game.

S and I took our dancing skills to the test with this awesome Dance Dance Revolution which senses your motion.

After some fun at the arcade, we headed back to the streets of Ximending and looked for more snacks. J said that the Ji Guang Fried Chicken 繼光香香雞-西門店 is really good. It is super easy to spot as it is the corner shop with the 1973 sign in red just across the Ximen MRT station.

The guy is super friendly and they make sure the batch of chicken is fresh and that you’re not getting pieces of just fried batter.

We got a freshly made batch and it was steaming hot. I like how these like popcorn chicken so easy to eat on the go.

After some snacking, we took the MRT to Nanjing Station as we wanted to visit Chun Shui Tang 春水堂. They are famous for their milk tea and claim they are the founders of pearl milk tea. You’ll find that many of the famous milk tea restaurants will claim so…

We started off with a dessert which was the Brown Sugar Cake. I quite liked this as it was sort of chewy and not overly sweet.

Of course we couldn’t come here without trying the milk tea. We got a classic Pearl Milk Tea and a Tieguanyin Pearl Milk Tea both in the large size. They feature the tiny pearls which I quite liked and the top was foamy from the shaking of the milk tea. My favourite was the Pearl Milk Tea as I found the Tieguanyin to be a little too strong in the tea flavour so it was a bit bitter. If you love to drink tea though, this might be a good choice for you. Their bubble teas run a bit on the higher end at around NT$150-170 for a large size. Very big though so you can easily share with a friend.


After snacking (once again), we decided to check out the bowling alley since J and S love bowling… J suggested we go to E7 Play 三重店 which we had take the MRT to Taipei Bridge Station and then take a short walk in a pretty random area. Such a witty name because E7 Play in mandarin means “let’s play together”.

Bowling here is super cheap. I think it was around CAD$12 a person for three hours unlimited play and free shoe rental. What a deal! I found it funny that they also have nail clippers here, perfect for us girls who break their nails easily. And they even have tape to cover your nails.

The lanes are pretty new and we had no complaints. Be sure to bring someone who can speak mandarin here though as their English is limited.

After bowling, we took the MRT to Jiantan Station to visit the famous Shilin Night Market. Despite there being a Shilin MRT station, the closest to the night market is actually Jiantan Station. Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taipei. It is also the one that most tourists will visit.

The first stall you will see when you are coming from the MRT station is this yellow fried chicken stall. We saw a huge line up so we quickly got in line.

Look at all that oil…so unhealthy but so good! Fried chicken is around NT$70. I found most items in Shilin to be more expensive because it’s where the tourists go.

We ended up being quite disappointed with the Fried Chicken from this stall. It was actually more of a grilled type of chicken even though it is deep fried. It didn’t have the salt and peppery taste we were expecting but rather a teriyaki like sauce. I would skip this next time.

While the boys were lining up for the fried chicken, I headed over to the next stall which was Fried Milk.

The Fried Milk here is very good! The lady warned me to not eat it right away because it is piping hot. The outer layer is crispy and the inside is sort of like a mochi texture with the milk flavour being strong. Remember to take small bites when you eat this!

J said his all time favourite is to eat at Zhong Cheng Hao Oysters 忠誠號. This is a sit in restaurant although I think you can order to go. Sit in turnover is pretty quick though and you can even order one item to share and they won’t question you. Look for the red signage.

They are famous for their Oyster Omelettes so of course we had to get this. Man, this was the best I’ve had. The egg is fried so the edges are crispy and the amount of gooiness was just right. I also loved the sauce they used. A must try!

We also got the Deep Fried Stinky Tofu. These came with a side of picked cabbage as they usually do. These were pungent but perfectly crispy on the outside with the sauce being soaked in in the centre.

The famous Hot Star Large Fried Chicken is what people come to Shilin for. They actually have one in Ximending as well which we try on a later day, but we think that this is the best location to get it. Of course, there is a line up, but it moves pretty quick as usual. For just around CAD$2, you get a HUGE piece of fried chicken.

The size of the fried chicken is literally the size of your face. It is so crispy and flavourful and is great to share because you will get too full eating this on your own. You can also choose between regular or spicy, in which the latter gets chilli powder sprinkled on. I hear they have a chain store open in Toronto now, but at a price of around CAD$8 a piece…

Shilin Night Market also had an underground food centre that seems to be less popular for tourists. Here, you can sit down to eat your food so great if you want to skip the pushing and crowding outside. You will find more seafood type items that require more care in refrigeration.

That night, it began to rain, so it got pretty messy. Rain and night markets don’t mix well. We decided to just grab one last drink and head back to our hotel. This stall featured the Frog Eggs Drink.

This is of course not actually frog eggs! Rather they are clear tapioca-like balls that look like frog eggs. We got this served with aiyu jelly and it was cold and refreshing. There is not much flavour to it but only the lime flavour.


Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle: No.8-1 Emei StreetTaipei, Taiwan

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

Chun Shui Tang (Nanjing branch): 105 Taipei Nanjing East Road Section 4 No. 182 1FTaipei, Taiwan

E7 Play: 241, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Sanchong District, Zhongyang S Rd, 63號B1

Shilin Night Market: Take MRT To Jiantan MRT Station and follow the rest of the crowds!: Betweet Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Road and Jihua RoadTaipei, Taiwan

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 11)

On our fourth day in Taipei, we took the MRT to Beitou station. It took around 30-40 minutes from Ximen. Upon exiting, you will smell the sulphur from the hot springs. Beitou is famous for its hot springs and is also the most mountainous and highest of Taipei’s districts.

We had pre-booked a private hot spring in advance as they are reasonably priced compared to the ones in Canada. I did some searching and chose Grand View Resort in Beitou. The great thing is that they offer a shuttle bus from Beitou MRT station and drive you up the hills (which you otherwise would need to walk or cab).

The resort is gorgeous! I found service to be rather cold, but the people here can speak fluent English. The great thing is that you do not have to stay here to use the hot springs. You can just pay for a one-time use charged by time. They do however offer hotel rooms with hot springs within your room. That is so neat and I would love to try it sometime.

You can choose between public or private hot springs. We ended up choosing the private hot spring where you get an independent bath house with the hot bath outdoors.They have different rooms with designs that are a bit different. You can email the resort to ask for the pictures. We chose Ylang-Ylang. The room was spacious and had a couch, private shower, bathroom, closet, and sink.

For our room, the hot bath is outside. They have high brick walls so there is absolute privacy but you can still sort of hear the people next to you when you’re outside. The price is fixed at NT$2,300 for the room and allows two guests for 90 minutes. You can add NT$600 for each additional guest. The 90 minutes includes showering and getting dressed. They will call you 15 minutes before your time is up.

This was a super relaxing experience and we enjoyed that it was private. The other option for hot springs was to use the famous Millennium Hot Spring which costs a fraction of the price but is filled with people. We opted for this so we could really relax. Plus it was super clean.

They also provide you with all amenities you need, whether it be shampoo, bath wash, lotion, makeup swabs and even a brush. They also provided these cute little matcha panna cotta kind of desserts. It was refreshing to eat after being in the heat.

After the hot springs, we took the shuttle to take us back to Beitou station. They are only able to drop you off at the Beitou main station. Therefore, we had to walk back up the hills to go to sight see the area. Along the way, we found 山西刀削番茄牛肉麵, which features hand-cut noodles.

We got their famous hand cut noodles which were mixed with beef and vegetables. The plate was large and good value. We also got their fried rice which was pretty good. All their dishes had that wok flavour. The ambiance is rather shabby, but we found many locals coming here during lunch hours.

Of course, we had to get some beers as our drinks along the way… Fruit beers are the way to go!

After around a 15 min walk, we found Beitou Hot Spring Museum. The building was actually built as a public bath house under the Japanese rule and was once the largest bathhouse in east Asia.

Today, the bathhouse is a free museum where you can see the old bathhouse on the ground floor and other history of how hot springs became significant in the area. Only downside is that they have no air conditioning in here, so it’s super hot inside still!

Take another 5-10 minute walk, and you will find the Beitou Thermal Valley (地熱谷). It is also known as Hell Valley.

The Geothermal Valley is a volcanic crater filled with steaming natural sulfuric hot spring water and has a temperature between 80 to 100 degrees Celsius and therefore is fenced. Not the best place to linger around on a hot day, but it’s pretty neat!

The water from the Thermal Valley are the source of the hot spring bathing facilities in Beitou. The water contains radium, which is said to have beneficial health affects for fertility, long-term illnesses, rehabilitation, and skin beauty.

After exploring Beitou, we took the MRT to Dongmen Station to meet up with J who had took the train from his city to meet up with us. So nice to have a Taiwanese take you around! He took us to Smoothie House (思慕昔) for some desserts pre-dinner.

Smoothie House is now a chain dessert shop and they have so many flavours! The menu looks so appetizing already.

We got two shaved ices to share. Both were mango flavoured with tons of fresh mango. One had a pudding on top while the other had a scoop of mango ice cream. They were really good! The shaved ice is super thin just like the ones in Korea.

After shaved ice, we headed over to 8% Ice 冰淇淋專門店. I guess we were on a dessert hopping trip.

8% Ice is famous for their ice cream and is pretty hipster inside. Prices are not as cheap though, but the ice cream and popsicles looked delicious!

J had the Passionfruit while me and S shared the Sakura Plum. We found the passionfruit to be too sour and the Sakura Plum to have an odd flavour. Flavourwise, they were just okay. Pretty to look at though. J said that the gelato is much better.

We were going to meet our celebrity friend E for dinner that night, so we took a taxi to the restaurant. He had suggested to eat hot pot at 火鍋世家涮涮屋(台北延吉店).

You get individual hot pots here and you can order a la carte or combos. Sort of Gokudo in Richmond. We chose the combos so they came with a variety of vegetables, shrimp, and fish balls and that sort of stuff.

The combo also comes with your choice of noodles. I got the udon.

S and I both got a meat combo, so we ended up sharing our meat. We got the regular beef and it was very good already. Extremely tender with the right amount of fat.

We also got the pork bacon which was surprisingly quite good. The meat combos range from around NT$280 and can go up to NT$580 for premium cuts. The restaurant provides unlimited drinks, self-serve ice cream, and self-serve sauces. Quite a good value to get you full.

After dinner, we decided to go get drinks. We ended up taking a nice walk after a huge meal and headed into the Da’an district where E normally hangs around. He took us to this nice cozy bar called Tickle My Fantasy. It was very quiet when we got there as it was rather early, but it got very crowded at the end of the night.

E suggested we all get the famous Long Island. This is not your typical Long Island, but rather known to be potent. The ones we get in Vancouver usually have very little alcohol, but these were strong! We watched the bartender make our drinks and noticed it was mostly all alcohol. The drink is around NT$500 but a good deal because one drink will be enough. We all had a good night and it was great to see our friends again. As we stayed out past 12, the MRT had closed so we ended up taxing back to our hotel. A great night indeed.


Grand View Resort: No. 30, Youya Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City

Beitou Hot Spring Museum: No. 2, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City

Beitou Thermal Valley: Zhongshan Rd. near Wenquan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City

Smoothie House: No.15, Yongkang St., Da’an Dist., Taipei City

8%ice冰淇淋专门店: No. 6, Lane 13, Yongkang St, Da’an District, Taipei City

火鍋世家涮涮屋(台北延吉店) (Songshan district):

Tickle My Fantasy: No. 8, Section 2, Anhe Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 10)

On our third day in Taipei, we decided to do a day trip to the Ruifang District of New Taipei City. Our destination included Jiufen (九份) and Shifen (十分). They literally translate to nine portions and ten portions. Our first stop would be to Jiufen. To get here, you can either take the train to Ruifang Station and then take a Keelung Transit Bus. However, we chose the cheaper version which is to take only the bus. Take the MRT to Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station and take Exit 1. From there, make a u-turn and take the first left. You’ll find the bus stop for 1062. Beware of these marketers standing at the station who will try to sell you that the bus is just straight ahead. They are trying to sell you their own bus service that takes you to Jiufen but costs more. The public transit bus will cost only NT$102 but will take a little over an hour. The bus is sort of like a coach though so the seats are pretty comfy and you’re guaranteed a seat.

Jiufen is a mountainous area and therefore the roads are very curvy and steep. I was quite scared on the ride as there were points where I thought we would drive off, but I guess these bus drivers are super skilled! Almost everyone will get off at Jiufen, so just follow along.

Once you get off, there is a beautiful viewing point. From here, you can see a temple and mountains. Does this not look like Spirited Away or what? This is actually the town that the writer visited and drew inspiration from!

Follow the other tourists and you’ll find yourself in Jiufen Old Street (九份老街 ) which are both pedestrian streets with cute shops. Jiufen actually used to be a prosperous gold mining town, but when mining was discontinued, the streets and tea houses were saved so it has become a popular tourist spot to relive scenes from the past.

There is so much food here for all you foodies out there! Taro Balls are the most famous here. Look for Grandma Lai’s YuYuan as they are the most famous.

I highly recommend trying A-Jou Peanut Ice Cream Roll (阿珠雪在燒) which you’ll find a line up for.

These rolls feature peanut brittle shavings and two scoops of taro ice cream.

These were the bomb! I could eat this all day…

Moving along we found many stalls selling Pork Sausages.

That smell drew us in and we had to get one for ourselves. Not sure how clean the food is, but street food is a must in Taiwan!

One of my favourites were the Grilled Cuttlefish Balls. So satisfying!

You’ll find so many of these mochi ball shops where they are rolling them by hand. You can purchase them to bring home.

We decided to try this stall and got the cold version of the Mochi Ball Dessert Soup since it was so hot! NT$45.

They give you a mix of different types of mochi and beans. I really liked the mochi balls but the dessert soup was underwhelming.

Near the end of the street, you’ll find another beautiful viewing point of the countryside. By the way, the name Jiufen comes from the story that the village housed nine families back in the day.

We somehow wandered into this beautiful street and again it reminded me of Spirited Away. Oh, and there are tons of steps and uphill walking here, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes as walking is the way to get around here.

After snacking in Jiufen, I wanted to see Shifen. We hopped onto a bus back to Ruifang train station and checked out the railway route. We would be taking the Pingxi Line which runs through Ruifang and Pingxi districts.

It’s extremely important to go into the service center and take a picture of the train schedule because they come at one hour intervals. Missing a train means you’ll be waiting a while… The Pingxi district is a rural area in eastern New Taipei City. It was an important coal mining town back in the day.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long for the train. You can tap your EasyCard before entering to use the train or purchase actual train tickets at the booths.

The railway line stops at multiple stops, all of which are coal mining towns. The railway track was actually used to transport coal back in the day. Many tourists visit all the stops since there’s something different about each one, but we weren’t sure about how much time we had, so we headed to Shifen, the one I wanted to see most.

When you get off at Shifen station, the most bizarre thing is that you cross the track by going in front of the train. So the train literally stops there until everyone has moved onto the other side…

There are so many tourists here!

Shifen Old Street (十分老街) is filled with sky lantern and souvenir shops as well as food vendors.

Of course we had to get something to snack on!

We got these delicious fried cuttlefish sticks. Mmm chewy and delicious!

This little town is just so charming! It’s like you’re taken back in time. Great place for photos!

Shifen is famous for sky lanterns, so you will find many visitors writing their wishes and setting them off.

An attraction I wanted to see was the Shifen Waterfall (十分大瀑布). This is the broadest waterfall in Taiwan and was very beautiful. I don’t think it can compare to the one we have in Niagara Falls back in Canada, but it’s pretty nice too. This was a bit of a trek and we got lost along the way but was well worth it. Around a 20 minute walk by foot or you can rent mopeds or take a taxi.

After the waterfall, we headed back to Shifen Old Street and decided to set the lantern as well. There are many stores selling the lanterns and I honestly think they’re priced around the same, so any stall is fine. This is the one we chose. I think we paid around NT$150 for a single colour. Each colour has a different meaning. We wanted to wish for a good career, so we chose blue.

The vendors will help you set the paper lantern on a rack with pins. Paintbrushes and paint and provided so you can paint your wishes. You can fill four sides with wishes, so perfect to share with four friends.

The funny thing about Shifen is that visitors are allowed to walk on the tracks pretty much whenever they want. But when a train starts coming, they ring a bell and tell everyone to get off. While we were writing, the train came and we had to run off. It’s pretty old school and I have no idea how safe this is considered…

Finally, we set our lanterns into the sky. Most of the vendors are super nice too and included in the price is photography. They can help you take videos or photos on your phone.

Hope all our wishes came true! A fun activity for a small price. Plus it’s beautiful watching all the lanterns go up.

After setting our lanterns up, we did some photo shoots along the railway track since it is pretty beautiful. Along the way, we also got some Taiwanese beer. Love that we can just drink on the streets here!

The famous Jing An Suspension Bridge (靜安吊橋) is located just across the train Station. It connects Shifen to Nanshan, another village.

The bridge was also used to transport coal back in the day. Today, it is a pedestrian bridge.

You can catch the sunset as well as lanterns taking off here. Beautiful. Overall, I highly recommend checking out Jiufen and Shifen. I was worried at first whether S would enjoy it since he’s a city boy, but I think he really appreciated the charming countryside in these districts. The views in these areas are breathtaking.

We took the Pingxi Line back to Ruifang station and were hoping to catch the bus back to Taipei City. However, we could not figure where we were and our wifi and battery was dead. We ended up catching the train back to Taipei Main Station. I think you’re supposed to purchase seats at the booths, but because we used our EasyCards, we did not get assigned seating and ended up having to stand…Not fun. Our train made a stop at Songshan, so I suggested we get off and check out Raohe Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市). Take Exit 5 when you get off.

This is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei and is pretty big! Tons of food, shops, and even games.

There are also some stalls that offer seating. People eat and go, so the wait isn’t long to get a seat.

I swear S was on a mission to eat all the Fried Chicken Steak in Taipei, so of course, he couldn’t leave the night market without one.

Mmmm so crispy and the piece was the size of our face. You can also choose different flavoured seasoning. I found this one to be a top contender! You can have it whole or have it cut up.

We decided to sit at this stall for some snacks.

And I got the Fried Oyster Omelette. Taiwanese oyster omelettes are always so glutinous with that gooey binding. A must try in Taiwan.

With all the food, we needed to get some drinks so of course we had bubble tea! We checked out this stall called Dragon Beads.

We got the Chocolate Milk Tea, thinking it would be chocolate flavoured bubble tea, but we were wrong! These tapioca balls were filled with chocolate! Something I’ve never seen before. No wonder the pearls were so big. It was pretty interesting, but I think I still like the normal pearls!

We checked out some other vendors and then headed back to the hotel after a long day.


Jiufen: Take MRT to Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station and take Exit 1. From there, make a u-turn and take the first left. Take bus #1062 towards Jiufen

Shifen: From Ruifang Train Station, take Pingxi Line to Shifen station.

Raohe Night Market: Take MRT to Songshan MRT station and take Exit 5:  Raohe St, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 9)

At Westgate Hotel, we had complimentary breakfast included. So on most mornings, we took advantage of their buffet breakfast. The dining area is very nice and they had quite a variety of choices. Of course S had to get his chicken steak!

For myself, I got a bit of everything. There’s really something for everyone. Plus I love their fresh juices.

After breakfast, we headed to Ximen MRT Station. Since it was our first day we had to purchase our transit pass. You can choose to get the Taipei Pass which gives you unlimited rides for a specified number of days or the EasyCard which is their touch and go card which offers some discounts compared to a single fare and is re-loadable. Simply purchase the card at a machine at almost any station and your initial purchase will require a NT$100 deposit. You can get this deposit back at the end with a small transaction service charge at the service booths.

We chose the EasyCard since we thought it would be a better deal for us based on our itinerary. I highly recommend getting one since you can use it on buses too. The MRTs are very clean and there is English on all maps. Super easy to use!

We took the MRT from Ximen to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station. Follow the signs and you’ll find yourself in front of the beautiful National Theater.

Continue walking and you will find the Liberty Square and also the National Concert Hall. It was burning hot this day so remember to bring your UV umbrellas and look super touristy! Liberty Square recalls the important historical role it played in Taiwan’s transition from one-party rule to modern democracy and is now used for mass gatherings.

Take the long walk down across Liberty Square and you will find yourself at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The memorial hall was made in memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, the former president of the Republic of China who ruled Taiwan. There are 89 steps to represent the age at the time of his death.

When you get to the top, you will see a large statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. The ground level has a museum with history of his life as well as Taiwan and China history.

Be sure to plan your time when visiting because the highly viewed change of the guards occurs at the hour from 10am to 4pm daily. Pretty neat to see them do the performance but we found it a bit too long.

After watching the guard change performance, we took the MRT to Taipei 101 / World Trade Centre station. Upon exiting, you will see the grand Taipei 101! The building was the tallest building in the world in 2004 to 2009!

When you enter the building, you will find that there are many shops and restaurants. It basically houses a shopping mall now in addition to many offices. We decided to purchase tickets to go up on the observatory. This costs NT$500 for adults.

You will then be put in an elevator with other visitors and within 37 seconds, you will go from the 5th floor to the 89th floor. It is the fastest elevator in the world!

The view from the observatory on the 89th floor is breathtaking. It offers a 360 degree view of Taipei and I highly recommend checking it out. The 89th floor is located 382 meters above ground and you can literally see every direction of the skyline.

Take the stairs down to the 88th floor and you will find the world’s largest and heaviest wind damper as well as the cute damper baby. This is the structure that stabilizes the tower to prevent high winds and earthquakes from toppling the building. On the 88th floor, there is also a gallery of Taiwan’s carved coral and gemstones. We weren’t too interested in that though.

Now climb the stairs again and head up to the 91st floor. This is the highest floor they allow you to go up.

This is the tip of the skyscraper and you’ll exit to an outdoor observatory deck where you’ll feel the wind and again enjoy a beautiful view with no glass in front but rather metal bars. As it was quite windy that day, they blocked the area so we were only able to see around 180 degrees.

After the view, we headed down to the shopping mall and went to Din Tai Fung. Of course a trip to Taiwan wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the famous Din Tai Fung. The Taipei 101 location is super busy because of the tourists so expect a long wait. We ended up waiting almost an hour to get a seat for a late lunch.

The XLB restaurant has become such a tourist spot that they even have signs telling you where there’s good photo opportunities…like this one here where you can watch the chefs make your XLBs.

I don’t recall seeing this at the other locations, but they have their rice vinegar and brewed soy sauce. The server taught us how much to pour of each for the best taste.

They also provide you with a “how to eat xiao long bao card” for first-timers.

We ended up sharing a large bottle of Taiwanese beer. Mmmm cold and refreshing after a hot day.

We always get the same things here but they’re so good to not! So we got the Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai.

And their world famous Pork XiaoLongBao.

We also decided to try their Braised Beef Noodle Soup. I didn’t think this was as good as the one from Tao Yuan Beef Noodles though.

We also got the Pork Buns which was something new we tried. Not bad.

After lunch, we decided to head to the Tamsui district since we were way ahead of our itinerary. The area is also known as Danshui sometimes.We hopped on the MRT towards Tamsui station which is quite far (around 30 minutes or so). When you get off the station, you will need to transfer onto a bus (either Red26, 836, or 857) if you want to see the Fisherman’s Wharf which I highly recommend. You can use your EasyCard on the bus but it’s quite a ride especially if you don’t get a seat. I highly recommend going to see the sunset because it is absolutely beautiful. Take the bus to the last stop, where almost everyone else will get off, and you’ll see beautiful boats here.

One of the most famous attractions is the Lover Bridge of Tamsui. As the sun was starting to set, we decided to run to the bridge before we missed it. Luckily, we got the sunset and it was gorgeous. The bridge itself is beautiful and makes a romantic date night.

The Fisherman’s Wharf is absolutely beautiful and well worth the trip. There are also many seafood restaurants here which we unfortunately did not try.

Cross the bridge which is a short walk and you’ll find the beautiful love sign where couples took pictures. So romantic! Apparently this is also where Jay Chou filmed a video. Apparently at night, the bridge lights up with rainbow colours.

After the sunset, we wanted to check out Tamsui Old Street. I believe there is a bus that takes you closer to here, but we weren’t sure so we took it back to the Tamsui MRT station and took a short walk to this street. This pedestrian shopping area has a ton of restaurants, street food vendors, and souvenir shops.

We found a vendor selling these jumbo ice cream and could not resist! I’ve seen so many pictures of these ice creams!

When they say it’s tall, they’re not kidding! We got the mix of Matcha and Mango which was so good! Surprisingly, the ice cream didn’t taste cheap. Definitely quenched our thirst and is great to share.

After Tamsui Old Street, we continued wandering into the coastal town and found many more shops. Great place to walk around nice as it’s so laid back and a nice getaway from the busy streets in Taipei’s city centre.

At night, we decided to head to Shida Night Market as we thought restaurants in Tamsui would be probably on the pricier side. You can get here by taking the MRT to Taipower Building Station and taking Exit 3. We got a little lost but eventually found a bunch of shops and food vendors. We settled with Chicken Kings which appeared to be the only stall selling fried chicken.

Of course S got the Fried Chicken Steak. Not bad but we later found better ones.

For myself, I ate at this stall.

I got the famous Fried Stinky Tofu. It did smell, but the taste was fantastic. I love how the outside is super crispy and they poke holes in the tofu so that the sauce is absorbed in. It comes with a side of pickled cabbage and chili sauce. So good!

We also ordered from the Drink Monopoly Shop. Be warned that unlike in Singapore, most of the menus are in Chinese in Taiwan. Vendors are still friendly so it shouldn’t be a problem asking even though there may be a communication barrier.

We got a simple Milk Tea with Pearls for only NT$40. Such a deal for bubble tea in Taiwan! Probably not the best in town, but pretty good in our standards.

Shida Night Market actually didn’t’ have as much food as we’d hope for compared to many of the other night markets. However, it had tons of cheap and stylish clothes. This is the trendy neighbourhood since it is near the National Taiwan Normal University or Shida University for short. Great for the ladies who love to shop.

After dinner at the night market, we headed back to Ximending to walk around. Always so much going on here!

We also scored a box of Chicken flavoured Lays Chips. As a foodie, I’m always trying new flavours from different countries! Had some munchies and played some games in our hotel room and called it a night!


Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: Take the Yellow or Green Line to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station: No. 21, Zhongshan S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan • 10048

Taipei 101: Take the Red Line to Taipei 101 / World Trade Centre Station: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Din Tai Fung @ Taipei 101: B1 at Taipei 101

Tamsui Fishermen Wharf and Lover’s Bridge: Take the Red Line to Tamsui/Damshui Station (last station) and transfer onto a bus (either Red26, 836, or 857) and get off at the last stop, Fisherman’s Wharf:

Tamsui Old Street: Turn left when you get off Tamsui station and it’s a short walk: Section 1, Zhongzheng Rd, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 251

Shida Night Market: Take the Green Line to Taipower Building Station (Exit 3) and walk 5-10 minuntes along Shida Rd: Lane 44, Taishun St, Taipei City, Taiwan 106


Singapore & Taipei Trip (Day 8)

Day 8 of our trip in Singapore really only gave us enough time to grab breakfast and head to the airport since our flight was at around 10:30am. We went to Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Hawker Center and tried Granny’s Pancake.

We got one Peanut and one Coconut Pancake and oh my goodness! These are so good! They are sort of like mochi cakes and the filling inside is really good. Must try! They are under a dollar too.

I ordered from San Yuan Gourmet which features different noodles soups.

I ordered the Laksa for a killer price of $2 SG. It came with bean sprouts, tofu puffs, fish balls, and fish cake. Really good!

S got a BBQ Pork Noodle. I don’t remember which stall he got it from.

I had the Grass Jelly Soya Bean drink again. We don’t seem to have this a lot in Vancouver.

The aunt then drove us to the Changi Airport. Such a nice modern airport. Security was very quick and we had tons of time to spare.

We took China Airlines again and took off at around 10:30am. At around 3:00pm, we arrived in Taipei. It’s actually a pretty long flight as the two cities are actually quite far. Luckily this aircraft was brand new and was barely at capacity so we had tons of space and great service.

We arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan Airport and customs took quite a long time. Finally we collected our luggage and we went to the basement floor to the HiLife convenience store to retrieve my pocket WiFi we had rented. Wifi on the go is convenient so we had ordered online from iVideo before arriving. Super convenient as you just order in advance and pick up at your chosen location with two being in the airport. When you leave, you can drop it back at the same location. The employees were super helpful and friendly. Depending on which device you get, it can cost around CAD$15-18 for five days. If you can read Chinese, check out the Chinese version of the site and you can enter a promo code to get some discount off. We ended up paying only around $20 for 7 days. It can support up to 8 wifi devices so great to share. The only downside was the battery only lasted around 6 hours and it would shut down when we most needed it. Remember to bring a portable battery pack or purchase one to rent as well.

After picking up our wifi, we headed to the bus station. You can purchase your ticket easily inside with a vending machine. If you are going to city center like us, take the 1819 Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport and it will take you to Taipei Main Station where you can exchange to a metro or cab to get to your hotel. It’s a pretty long ride and took around an hour. It only costs NT$125 one way so around CAD$6.

As our hotel was right in the heart of Ximending, we had to transfer after getting off at Taipei Main Station. We decided to cab since our luggage was quite heavy. Cab fare was quite reasonable at around NT$100 and was only a short 5-10 minute ride. We stayed at Westgate Hotel which was awesome!

The rooms were spacious enough for us and the bed was comfy. The only weird thing is the sink is right at the entrance of the room but I didn’t mind it as I could use it while someone was in the shower. We paid less by choosing a room without windows but that actually didn’t bother us. There are tons of complimentary items including bottled water and a pineapple cake on the first day. Water and amenities are replaced every day if you finish.

The bathroom situation is pretty unique with the shower and toilet separate. Pretty good again since we don’t need to wait for one another. Loved the faucet of the shower with different massaging heads. The design was great so that none of the water spilled out. Only downside is that you sort of need to come out to get dressed so not ideal for sharing with friends.

Although Westgate Hotel was a bit pricier than the other options, one thing we loved about it was the location. Literally one minute away from the MRT and a step away from the crowds of Ximending. Ximending was super cool since it was sort of like Taipei version of Shibuya in Japan. Bright lights and tons of trendy young shops. Great for the young crowd!

Of course I had done my research for food, so we took a 10 minute walk to find Tao-Yuan Street Beef Noodle Shop. It’s a bit away from the bright lights and a little quieter in this area. It was pretty hard to find but look for that big red sign!

The tricky part is you also have to head up stairs. The waitresses barely speak English, but she was super nice and gave us a stack of all the order sheets that had gone through to show us what the popular dishes were. Menu is in Chinese so if you can’t read it… you’ll have to order with a surprise.

We both got the Signature Beef Noodle Soup with S getting one with all beef, while I got a mix of beef, beef tendon, and brisket. The noodles and soup were really good! My beef was really tender although S had a piece that had a lot of tendon in it and he didn’t quite like it. You pay when they place the bowl in front of you. A must try! Prices are around $6-8 a bowl. Consistent with Vancouver pricing.

After dinner, we headed back to the Ximending area and checked out the Ximen Red House. This is a historic theater and built back when this area was under Japanese rule. Today, it houses a display of the history of the structure, some cafes, and shops where artists sell art. Around this area, there was also a night market going on where many vendors sold handmade products.

We then headed back into the busy streets of Ximending where there were tons of shops and food carts. This is actually the first pedestrian area and the largest in Taiwan.

Getting thirsty, we headed into a 7-11 to purchase my favourite Taiwanese fruit beers! These are so cheap here…at around less than CAD$2. Mango was my favourite! Oh and by the way, 7-11s are literally on every block of this area!

The famous Modern Toilet was a place I wanted to see. I’ve heard negative reviews about the food, but I’m a sucker for restaurants with a cool design so I wanted to check it out.

The restaurant’s ambiance definitely wowed us. Super fun since you sit on a toilet and everything is just bathroom themed.

They serve actual meals, but I heard pretty bad things about it, so we decided that desserts couldn’t be too bad… Well we were wrong. We ordered the Passionfruit Shaved Iced and this was the largest bowl of shaved ice I’ve seen! But it was also disgusting.. The toppings they put on there were the sweetest and cheapest stuff ever. We barely made it through because it was so sweet and it just didn’t taste any good!

We also ordered the Fresh Milk Boba and paid extra to have it in an urinal. This was also disgusting…

Apparently fresh milk literally means fresh milk… I guess we missed the word tea in it? So we were served fresh milk in an urinal and for some reason the inside looked really dirty… Why was their brown stuff in it? The pearls were pretty good though as they were the clear ones which I haven’t tried before. But other than that, Modern Toilet was a miss and I would recommend skipping it altogether.

Since we were pretty tired from our flight, we headed back to our hotel and called it a night.


Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Hawker Center: 210 Lor 8 Toa Payoh, Singapore 310210

Taipei Westgate Hotel: No.150 Sec.1 Zhonghua Rd Wanhua Dist. 10843 Taipei (Take 1819 Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport to Taipei Main Station and change to Line 5 to Ximen Station Exit 6 OR take a cab when you arrive at Taipei Main Station)

Tao-Yuan Street Beef Noodle Shop: No. 15, Taoyuan St, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100

Ximen Red House: No. 10, Chengdu Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Modern Toilet (Ximending branch): 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Lane 50, Xining S Rd, 7號2樓