Having been back in the pretty homeland (Scotland) for a month now, it is to suffice to say that, despite Scotland’s overwhelming beauty and surprising sunshine and daily blue skies, I still miss Taiwan as if I’d lived there my entire life.
Why, you ask?!
If you have to ask why, you clearly haven’t been to Taiwan, in which case you best get your booty over there. It’s the best, and here are
a few 25 reasons why.
1. The food Need I say anything more?! The delicious food of Taiwan could take up all 50 misses, but rather I’ll keep it brief- I miss beef noodles from the beef noodle shop downstairs, I miss RED BEAN BUNS like nobody’s business (has to be the ones from the baozi 包子 shop on Shi Da Road, has to be!!), I miss the mangos, I miss DIN TAI FUNG’s xiao long bao, I miss duck, I miss mango shaved ice, I miss brownies (more on that later), I miss the fact that I can have anything I want to eat at any time of day from any country in the world. I miss the Vietnamese restaurants…You get the picture, I miss the food.
2. The sparkly pavements In Taiwan, the pavements sparkle. Like there is actual glitter inside the pavements and they sparkle. All.the.time. Once you’ve walked on a sparkly pavement, those plain grey ones don’t work anymore. They just can’t compare.
3. Taiwanese people Seriously, did they get ALL the manners? They are so nice. Friendly, welcoming, optimistic, sometimes psychic!!, I just love them.
4. Being able to cycle everywhere It’s all the rage these days to do a round the island bike trip, or if you’re not quite that fit, to at least cycle everywhere in the city. I loved my bicycle Lulubelle. I actually bawled my eyes out when I gave her one last glance as I departed my dusty apartment building. Come rain or boiling shine, I took her almost everywhere. Bicycles are the best.
5. Taipei 101 It used to be the tallest skyscraper in the world, now it’s just no.2, but it is still the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. No matter where you are in the city, you’ll never feel far from home or lost or scared, because that big bamboo 101 is always out there, looming high above you.
6. Speaking Chinese I really do miss speaking Chinese. Today I stayed in H&M for a ridiculous amount of time so I could practice my listening skills by eavesdropping in on a group of students from Beijing.
7. The alleyways Taipei might not be the prettiest, glitziest city, but her twisting, cute-as-can-be alleyways sure know how to win a heart or two. I loved getting lost in all those lanes.
8. Cafe culture Taipei’s cafes are the best! (well, not Old Heaven best…but still). From perfect little girly afternoon tea spots, to quirky, eccentric mis-match sofa spots, there’s a cafe for everyone. And they are everywhere! And a good thing too, because if you know Taipei, you’ll know that the weather can be
a little ALOT unpredictable and so thank goodness for all these lovely cafes lurking on every corner.
9. Heart-shaped leaves Yup. In Taiwan, the leaves are heart-shaped. That’s all I’m saying.
10. The convenience of life You might think living in a foreign country could be difficult. There’s the language barrier, the differences in culture and the fact that you might be completely new to the place. Well, in Taiwan, that.doesn’t.matter. Taiwan, especially my beloved Taipei, is so convenient. In fact, it’s quite ridiculous. There is a 7/11 or Family Mart on EVERY corner. There are tailors, shoe-fixing people, bike repair shops, breakfast shops, clinics etc, on every street. It’s like a perfect little world. And then there’s ‘The Everything Store’. Don’t even get me started. Taipei is the epitome of convenience. If convenience was to be re-defined it’d be simple…T A I P E I.
11. My friends This should probably be no.1 really, shouldn’t it?! When I first arrived in Taiwan I knew a handful of people. Oh, how lucky I was, because that handful proved to be the bestest friends anyone could ask for. And it’s easy to make new friends there too. The majority of people who live on that island are lovely!
12. Creativity everywhere The very first time I went to Taiwan was to participate as one of the winners of the Taiwan 4th Youth Trekker’s competition. My research was on Taiwan as a creative catalyst. I nailed it on the head! Taiwan is positively over-flowing with creative energy. Everywhere you go you’ll be sure to spot something arty. Even their metro stations are colourful and eye-catching. Every city should contain as many creative bones as Taipei does.
13. Tea Fruit tea, green tea, bubble tea, milk tea, black tea, red tea, whatever colour tea, Taipei has it. (And coffee…but I haven’t started drinking coffee yet).
14. Eslite Oh, you know those nights where you just can’t nod off, or maybe you’re in a club and a bad song comes on and ruins your vibe…what are you going to do? You could try and get to sleep, or…you could go to the 24hr Eslite!!! What’s Eslite, I hear you wonder? Oh, only the biggest, coolest book shop EVER! And yes, the one in Zhongxiao Dunhua is indeed a 24hr store. Happy days! I personally love the gigantic one at City Hall MRT station. It has everything! Book wonderland.
15. Cold Stone Creamery OK, I know this has nothing to do with Taiwan. Infact, it’s probably American?! But we don’t have it in Scotland, and so I associate it with Taipei and going to Eslite. Their ice-cream is thee BEST.
16. Lomography I love Lomography and luckily for me, Taipei has a big Lomography Gallery Store. I was fortunate to do an internship here which was so much fun! It has a very creative atmosphere and if you need to get some photos developed or want to experiment with an analogue camera, or just see what Lomography is all about, then this is the place to go. It’s in Zhongxiao Dunhua which is a perfect location for it. Tucked in a cute back street, surrounded by hip boutiques and cafes, it fits in nicely.
17. Meeting old people in Da’an Park Haha yes. A walk through the gorgeous, green Da’an Park would not be complete without bumping into a friendly old face or two. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been sat on a bench or flopped in the grass scribbling my Chinese homework, when out of the corner of my eye I’ve noticed an old person peering over my shoulder and grinning. Conversations begin, nuts and snacks are shared, an old friend is made. Haha. Some of them are psychic. True story.
18. FUDGE brownies You’ve had a really bad day (doesn’t happen often in magical Taiwan) and you crawl home and jump on your bed, when all of a sudden your nose begins to itch. In one second you find yourself in the kitchen surrounded by the sweetest smell you’ve ever come across. Brownies. Gooey, chocolatey, fudgey brownies. Being baked in your apartment. You know you’ve got it good when your roommate makes brownies for a living. Not any old brownies. FUDGE brownies…the best brownies in the entire world, hands down. I believe I started to smell like chocolate. That.is.a.good.thing. And those caramel brownies…girls, they taste so good you don’t even need a boyfriend! Amen.
19. Bubble Man on Heping Dong Lu Who? Why, Bubble Man of course. I like a bit of continuity in my life and when Bubble Man is selling his bubbles on the same street corner everyday, I’m happy. From 9am until 6pm, Monday to Friday, he sits and smiles and blows his bubbles, contentedly waiting for a passerby to purchase a bubble pack or two.
20. The Simple Market- Good Cho’s Bagels Situated in the sunny shadows of Taipei 101, Good Cho’s is a very funky cafe-come-shop-come-delicious bagels spot. I highly recommend their sun-dried tomatoes and chill bagel and their spinach bagel. Yum. Or their duck and grapefruit bagel-hello! And go on a Sunday because that’s when they have The Simple Market and you can browse some delicious foods and treat yourself to the best ice-lolly in the world- fresh passion-fruit ice lolly. ‘Nuf said.
21. Roxy Rocker Where else can you be your own DJ in a social environment? Deep in the basement, in a soundproof room lie hundreds of vinyls just waiting for your excited little hands to select and spin. I can’t tell you how many fun nights I’ve had down there. Crazy dancing!
photo by Gamy Wong
22. Yong Kang Jie This is one of my favourite areas in Taipei. Right behind the mandarin training centre, so perfect walking distance for a spot of lunch if you’re a student there. This area is swarming with cool. Antique markets, coffee brewers, tea houses, galleries, boutiques, Leora’s apartment for tea, vietnamese restaurants, cute cafes, the best mango ice in town, and the list is endless. Go here.
23. Beitou Library This is probably the most beautiful library I’ve ever seen, well from the outside. It’s a totally wooden structure, nestled on the side of the foresty Beitou hot spring area. It oozes peace and quiet and makes browsing books all that more special.
24. On Christmas Day, bus drivers dress as Santa Claus Or maybe it was just that one guy, but still, respect! For a guy who isn’t westernised, thus doesn’t celebrate Christmas, he’s pretty darn amazing. And he had a sack of sweets for the passengers. I like that. Going the extra little mile to get people in the mood for other people’s cultures. Taiwan!
25. Elephant Mountain This is my favourite place to get an awe-inspiring view of Taipei city. From the top of Taipei 101 you get a cool view, but you get an incomplete picture seeing as 101 is missing. Thus, from Ellie Mountain you see Taipei in all it’s magic. I love the fact that 101 looms out like this gigantic futuristic bamboo plant, and the rest of the city dozes below, smiling in all it’s dusty antiquity. The old and the new, hanging together, combining to create the whimsicality of Taipei.
…And if you got through that small thesis, stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!