Continued from Taiwan Day 4.
Today feels like the first real day of our honeymoon. We have no obligations to see any relatives today, and have no errands to run. Today will be spent just doing what the two of us want to do. It feels great!
We are starting to get over our jet lag, I think we woke up at around 4:30am.
Breakfast of champions.
We got off to a really early start. We plan on seeing the National Palace Museum today, and due to the influx of oversea tourists, it gets super crowded. Our goal is to try to beat the crowd and get into the museum before the crowds show up.
We were out of the door by around 6:30 in the morning, so even the breakfast vendors were not quite fully in operation yet.
Since the National Palace Museum didn’t open until 8:30, we figured that we’d see a local temple before heading over to the museum.
People playing Chinese chess. This feels like a gritty area. “Bum Central” was the way my friend RE described it when we spoke about this area.
Here’s Longshan Temple. RL and I both agree that the giant scrolling LED sign at the front looks way out of place. Terrible idea.
That man looks like he’s taking a leak.
Not taking a leak.
Lots of older and poorer people pray here. I am guessing that they are praying for good health and money, which is typically what the Taiwanese always pray for. Then after they pray and inhale all the incense smoke, they give money to the offering box. Oh the irony…
Fortunetelling wood blocks and sticks. Not sure what the long sticks on the right is for, but I know the red blocks, you take two halves in you hand and drop it on the ground. Depending on how they fall, it tells you something…so really, nothing.
I believe these towers hold the names of individuals who have passed away, and they are held here in remembrance and some sort of spiritual benefit…probably for a fee.
The name cards of the ones who have passed on. I am probably breaking all sorts of rules by taking pictures of this. They used to have candles that light up the name cards, but now that we are in the 21st century, an ink printed name card and LED lights will please the gods just as well…
Well, that’s that. Let’s head to the museum.
Guess what? What?
Mystic lion/dragon butt.
Back to the MRT station for second breakfast.
Little chocolate chewy dough balls…not that great.
This is the MRT stop to the National Palace Museum, from here, we need to connect to a bus.
Any of these buses will take us to the museum.
We waited about 30 seconds before a bus came by, sweet!
It’s about 15 minutes after the museum had opened, there are already tons of tour buses here. Well, at first I thought, oh great, only 4 buses, only to realize that this was just the drop off zone. There’s a giant parking lot across the street filled with these buses.
Go go go, beat the crowd.
Noooo…more buses showing up.
Fuck…I don’t think we beat the crowd.
OMG, there are so many tourists here. When I came here a few years back, there were almost no people here. This is insane!
This is the ticket booth for individuals. Any independent tourist or local would come through this counter, and there was no line. All the people here today are foreign(mostly mainland Chinese) tourists.
There were no photos allowed inside so no photos to show anything. We got into the museum, and ran up to the top floor, which contains the most precious jade jewels. There were thousands of tour groups up there already. We saw the one highlight of the museum before the room was closed off and the line to enter snaked all the way around the top floor and halfway down the stairs to the second floor. Fuck this.
We left the top floor, and visited the exhibits on the second and first floor. Meh. Frankly, even when I was here by myself last time, I didn’t think the exhibits were that amazing. This museum supposedly has some of the best treasures from all of China. When the Nationalist lost out to the communists, they took all of the treasures from China and brought them over to Taiwan where they have stayed today.
No tourists came by the less popular exhibits, so we snuck in a few photos. Hah, take that museum! This was a modern painting in the Chinese style.
I took this one because, well, there’s a nude woman. Blurry because RL told me that a guard was closing in on us.
RL was really tense the whole time we were in the museum. Lots of short little old ladies were really rude and pushing her around. It’s funny to get pushed around by these rude old ladies, since we are so much bigger than them. Well, I am at least.
Happy to be out of the museum. We were in and out of the museum in 30 minutes.
This one we’ll show my dad, who RAVES about this museum.
This is how we really feel about the museum. Meh!
Back on the bus back to the MRT station.
Standing from the same spot as the previous photo(note the green and red mailboxes), there’s a 7-Eleven right across the street.
Back onto the MRT, we are going to grab some lunch soon.
Sogo mall, the restaurant is down in the basement.
Din Tai Fung! Michelin 1 star restaurant that serves traditional Taiwanese/Chinese food. My friend RE has already eaten here like 5 times since he’s been in Taiwan.
Everything is made fresh here by super well trained hands.
Doesn’t know how to make a dumpling.
The steam room.
Let’s get down to business and order some dumplings.
Still doesn’t know how to make dumplings.
Now, she knows how to eat dumplings.
After that hectic morning at the museum, some beer is in order.
They have the best soy sauce dispensers here. The sprout does not have a bottom, but sucks out the sauce through capillary channels. It doesn’t matter how slowly you tilt the bottle back up, there are no drips!
Dumplings filled with meat and broth.
Soooo good. RL says that this is the best meal we had since we’ve been here. I agree, other than my favorite meal in the world.
A small piece of dough in the shape of a crab to denote the crab dumplings.
We showed up really early at around 10:30, and there was no line. By the time we left, there was a huge line. It’s not unusual to wait one to two hours for a table here during regular dining hours.
Since this morning, we’ve been looking for a pharmacy to buy some medicine. Apparently, no one in Taiwan gets sick, because no one knew exactly where to find one. We asked 5 different people, and got 5 different answers, of which, none of the pharmacies were within easy walking distance. WTF. Finally, at Din Tai Fung, we asked our waitress, and she told us that there was a pharmacy in the supermarket a level right below us. Finally, an easy answer.
Supermarket found, and pharmacy found. Check.
They also had a rotating sushi place here! Want!
Our hotel is in between this MRT station and the next MRT station, so we decided to just walk back…we walked the wrong way for about 5 minutes, then had to turn 180 degrees around. Doh.
Came back to the hotel, and napped!!! YEAH! That was a long morning.
What better thing to eat after waking up than an egg pudding.
It’s time to head to a night market! Taiwan is famous for its night markets.
Found. This isn’t quite the biggest night market in Taipei, but we chose this because we didn’t want to be overwhelmed by the huge crowds.
Wild boar sausage.
Yes, some good ol’ oyster egg omelet thingy that’s a traditional Taiwanese fare.
They don’t have a dishwasher here, so they just wrap the plates in a plastic bag. Yum, it was quite good.
All kind of skewered meats you can imagine. I was scared of this one actually so I didn’t buy anything here.
Raw oysters…I wasn’t brave enough to eat raw oysters at the night market.
A pet shop with a french bulldog puppy. Probably from a puppy mill.
It was around this time that I felt like something was going wrong. In a matter of minutes, my stomach was disagreeing with me. I need a bathroom, now. NOW! I went into a store asking if they had a bathroom, they didn’t have a public bathroom, but the guy pointed across the street and said that there was a public bathroom.
I walked across the street, face pale, and stared down this dark narrow alley. There’s a porta-potty at the end…FUCK!!! There is really no other option here, so I made a run for it. As I opened the door, I remembered that I didn’t have any toilet paper on me…SHIT!! Too late now. As I opened the door, I see that it’s a squat type toilet, but wait, there are two rolls of toilet paper and there’s even a light inside.
I can now mark off using a squat type porta-potty off my bucket list. I was lucky in that it was relatively clean and that there was toilet paper. I don’t think it was food poisoning, since I had just eaten the night market food not 10 minutes ago(also felt fine the next day). This is one of the ugly sides of traveling, stomach issues.
Shake it off, back to traveling like a boss.
There was a game stand where you shoot balloons with bb guns. We had a competition.
RL hit all 10 of hers…shit.
Don’t suck KL.
….I hit them all but the last one. I lost, NOOOO!!
The winner’s circle, with her prize, a bottle opener.
Sugarcane juice, first time for RL.
After my “incident” a while ago, I had to take a break from eating street food…but I couldn’t resist. I ended up buying a bunch of food to go.
Oh yeah, little pancake things with cream and red bean fillings. Childhood favorite.
Picking up fish with nets made of tissue paper. You scoop them up until the nets break. Where are the naked PETA girls making a fuss about animal abuse?
Kebab!! The guy running the stand looks Turkish.
Never had a red guava before.
Lining the night market are many permanent shops. There were several underwear stores. Seems like an odd mix next to a busy night market.
I love Taiwan.
She paints the shoes that she sells. Pretty cool.
I love guava.
A white guy manning a night market stand. Odd, but of course he’s selling fried Oreos. Speaking of foreigners, RL is just about the only Westerner tonight at this night market.
There was one other Caucasian seller, selling cakes. I wonder if they sell more food because they are not Asian?
We had a great time eating and looking at all the different food stands here tonight. Definitely one of the highlights of this Taiwan trip.
Back on the cab back to the hotel.
Taipei 101 lit up at night.
Our haul for the night. Time to dig in.
Tomorrow, we’ll be leaving Taiwan and heading to our next country.
To be continued at Chiang Mai Day 1.