For Mom’s birthday this year, my Dad decided to take the whole family to Taipei, Taiwan. Of course, I was more than thrilled to be off exploring another country yet again, and one I had never been to.
Prior to our departure, I was told by friends that Taipei was street food heaven. Hence, I prepared to eat my way through our four-day trip. Apart from pinning down the locations for food tripping in Google maps, we also booked a van for a day of sightseeing outside the city. I was eagerly anticipating the food, and I was more than excited for the new places we were scheduled to visit.
I must admit, the food definitely lived up to all the hype. We went to two night markets, the Raohe Night Market and the Shilin Night Market. Both had good food but the latter was bigger and had more choices. We tried everything that smelled good and looked good. My personal favorites were the blow torch steak cubes and the grilled squid.
Taipei is also milk tea heaven (oh joy!). There’s milk tea everywhere and every single one we tried (from different areas we visited) was good! Oh, how the tea and milk blend perfectly with the soft, sweet pearls.
On the day that we hired a driver and a van, we visited the Yeh Liu Geo Park and we went to Shifen to see the waterfalls, visit a local marker there, and experience releasing a lantern. Usually lanterns are released during the annual lantern festival, but because it became very popular among tourists, it may be done any time of the year.
Sometimes nature just blows you away. This, witnessing the way the rocks formed into live statuesque works of art, was one such moment.
Waterfalls are just as enthralling. Those at Shifen are no exception.
Releasing the lantern was a special activity for our family. We wrote our wishes, hopes, and dreams on each side of the lantern then lifted it to the heavens. As I watched our lantern drift into the sky, I was struck with a sense of peace and gratitude. Peace in the belonging with family, and gratitude for the gift of time in their presence.
We also visited the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, a beautiful and historical compound that is dedicated to the late leader. Here we witnessed the changing of the guards that happens every hour. As soon as I stepped into this grand compound, I could feel the pride and love of all the people whose lives have been touched by his leadership and reign.
What I was not prepared for during this trip was the local shopping experience. Taipei is great for shopping! Had I known, I would have brought more pocket money (most stores don’t accept credit cards, only cash). Alongside the endless carts of food in the Shilin street were stalls of all kinds of merchandise–clothes, gadget accessories, giftables, and a lot more. I was able to take home clothes for a good deal here.
Another great place to shop is Xiemending, a nearby area with streets lined with shops of both international and local brands. We stayed for only a few hours; I wish we stayed all day. There are food stalls here too, by the way. So you can always grab a bite in between shopping.
I came home happy, full (from all the good food), and grateful for full four days of family time. I sure hope we return some day because I’m still hung over from the good food (and I still kind of want to tour and shop some more, hehe).
Lastly, happy birthday, Mom! We love you and we hope you enjoyed the trip, ’cause we surely did. 🙂