If you didn’t read part 1 already, here it is- 50 things I love and miss about Taipei part 1.
Some of these might be a little bit strange, but well, that’s why I love Taipei.
26. Getting caught in a torrential typhoon-esque downpour This is especially fun if you have no umbrella. In Taipei an umbrella is ESSENTIAL. You are a crazy fool if you don’t carry one everywhere you go. And if the heavens do happen to open and you happily skip out into the rain, people will stare. They will stare in sheer disbelief at the mad foreign girl running through the rain in ballet shoes, umbrella-less. It’s even more fun if there are at least another couple of crazies running with you. That moment when you catch their eye and both burst out laughing as you slip and slide across the streets. Priceless.
27. Huashan I love this creative park near Shandao Temple MRT station. This area is made up of old, renovated warehouses, filled to the brim with cool arty exhibitions, cafes, restaurants, and now the awesome SPOT movie house has opened a theatre inside the park. I also enjoy lazing on the grass outside to dabble in a bit of people-watching.
28. Jianguo Flower Market Right across from the far end of Da’an Park lies the Flower Market. On sunny weekend mornings this is the place to be. I loved walking back through the park with a fresh bunch of flowers for my room, or cycling, plants and flowers balancing on the handlebars, maneuvering through the crowds. It’s a happy place to be.
29. Secret KTV This KTV (karaoke house) really is a secret. If I hadn’t gone with friends, I’d have assumed we were entering someone’s house, not an epic KTV. At this KTV you can sip on Belgian beers of the strawberry variety. At this KTV you can sing Foster the People, The Smiths and other lovely songs by cool artists. No Mariah Carey in sight. Bliss.
30. The view from Maokong As I mentioned in part 1, I love the view of Taipei from Ellie Mountain. I also love the view from Maokong. Take the gondola up to the very top and wander around the little tea houses and fields of green before making your way back down towards the big temple. The view from the garden of that temple is stunning. I miss that.
31. Reading in Pagodas It makes you feel all old and wise and intelligent. Like some emperor from back in the day. You might even meet an old person who will surprise you with his fluency in English. You can also sit and ponder life and gaze into the lake (if there is one) and feel all philosophical. I like the pagoda by the lake in the Taipei Botanical Gardens best.
32. Nangang Bottle Cap Factory This place is very cool, and quite secret. I wrote about it before here. If you fancy yourself as a graffiti artist, or perhaps you want to get your ‘rave’ on, this might be the place for you.
33. Taipei Artist Village This place is incredible. I went here on one of my first and last days in Taipei and it never fails to amaze me. I also wrote about it here last year. Go here!
34. Getting a haircut OK, not so much the ‘cut’ part, but the hair wash which seems to last a beautiful lifetime and the massage thrown in for good measure, yeah, I’ll take that any day.
35. Secret Hot Springs Well, they’re not so secret, but they are illegal to enter. Oops. That doesn’t stop the groups of Taiwanese and foreigners alike traipsing across the river and scrambling up the rocks to reach this corner of natural paradise. It’s called Ba Yan Wild Springs and you can read more about it here. This place has real mud. Face masks, body masks galore, complete with a waterfall. Natural. Yup! Yes please.
36. Weekend Fever Lover of vintage clothing? Unique one-off pieces? Like supporting non-profit community groups and individuals with a flair for fashion and passion? If yes, then Weekend Fever might be right up your alley. I was cycling along the river one day when I happened upon hundreds of people hoarded under the bridge selling beautiful pieces. It was like finding treasure. You can find out where and when they are next in Taipei here on their Facebook page.
37. National Taiwan University (TAIDA) campus I loved cycling and walking through this campus to get from Da’an area to Gongguan. It’s always so peaceful despite the thousands of students swarming around, all on bicycles. Ah, but there’s nothing better than cycling down that big, wide, palm-tree lined boulevard that runs through the campus.
38. Yangmingshan We all need our dose of mountains and fresh country air now and again, and in Taipei there’s a whole national park right on your doorstep, complete with cows and valleys and waterfalls and hot springs emanating scary sulphur. It’s quite the place. I recommend hiking the seven-star peaks. The view from the top is stunning!
39. The Brown Line Yeah, the brown MRT line. I love it. Especially when the sun is setting and you’re in the northern Neihu section, or passing Songshan airport wondering where that particular plane is setting flight for. It’s always such a calming ride and much better than being stuck under the ground. Plus, I conveniently lived on the brown line.
40. Sampling ALL the Vietnamese restaurants Yeah, this might have been more of an obsession. But it was a yummy one. I think I’ve been to them all, but my favourite one has to be the new one in Yong Kang Jie with green leaves hanging outside. Sadly I don’t know the name. But mmm fresh spring rolls, pho, Vietnamese salad…get in my face!
41. Playing the metro game I’ll admit that I didn’t actually play this as much as I used to in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but it’s still worth mentioning. Basically, if you ever have a free day and want to go exploring but aren’t sure where to go, close your eyes, stand in front of a metro map, and point. Wherever your finger lands is your chosen destination. Sometimes it can be a complete success and you’ll come running home with tales of a magical day. Other times, well, yeah, you win some, you lose some- better luck next time!
(but…p.s In Taipei, it’ll always be a magical adventure. I promise.)
42. The ‘ice-cream’ van It’s a lie, it’s a lieeeee. There is no ‘ice-cream’ van. That beautiful, childhood-memory sounding melody is not a funky ice-cream van on your doorstep, that is the RUBBISH truck. Yup. You’ll get over it eventually though. I almost did…
43. Freshly-squeezed juice Ah, freshly-squeezed juice in Taipei is so cheap and convenient. My mouth is watering. Try all the combos. Right now try mango as it’s in season. Yum!
44. Lanterns I love being on a dusty little street and looking up and seeing bright red lanterns floating in the evening breeze. It reminds me where I am, and they are so pretty.
45. FREE toilets EVERYWHERE It’s only once you leave Taiwan that you’ll be like ‘oh my gosh!’ We have got it lucky in Taipei. And most of the time they are sparkling clean.
46. Little quakes of the earth Ok, these are more just scary and I’ll admit I don’t love them, but if it’s just a tiny little quake, just a reminder that the earth is alive and happy and filled with energy, then I don’t mind. It always provides plenty of conversation if there has been a little smidgen of a shake in the early hours of the morning. And yes, I do usually exaggerate them. That being said, they are not funny, and I hope that everyone in Taiwan is safe. Typhoon season is in full swing and it’s not a joke.
47. The proximity of the countryside It’s seriously right there! You can go deep into rural land within 30minutes of being on the train. For me, that is so essential when living in a big city. I want to be able to hop on the train, then dance in a field of fresh flowers if the notion takes me. You’re never ‘stuck’ in Taipei city if you don’t want to be. Go explore!
48. Little Thing magazine The prettiest magazine I ever saw, and you can buy it at Eslite in Taipei. Yay. Look at it- read me…
49. The night life Cities totally come alive at night, and Taipei is no exception. From the night markets to night clubs to a casual drinking session in the park, to playing vinyls in roxy rocker, eating at a late-night restaurant, sipping tea in a cafe, going on a night cycle (don’t forget your lights) to watching a movie, or just wandering the streets taking it all in. In Taipei, at night, those little alleys filled with cats and lanterns come alive. In Taipei you need never stop exploring.
50. When the sun decides to shine It’s true, Taipei likes to rain, and when she rains, she rains for days. Days upon days upon days. But when the clouds part and the sun comes out to play, she plays. There isn’t much more beautiful than Taipei on a sunny day after a week of endless rain. Everyone is stoked at life and the streets are abuzz with sunshine-loving people. That does, however, also equal umbrellas. Lots of umbrellas. Because in Taipei, when the sun is shining, the umbrellas all pop out. They know how to protect their skin in Taipei! I might have sneakily used one on my last day too, just for fun, but maybe I really was too hot…Either way, I love that in Taipei, a little-BIG thing such as sunshine can make all the difference. So Taipei, you rain your little heart out while I’m away. Because if, and when I return, I’m putting in an early request for gorgeous sunshine. Thanks!
Again, thank you if you got through all 50 loves and misses. Perhaps you’ve lived or live in Taipei and have a love or miss you’d like to share? Please feel free to comment below! I love remembering all the little things that make a place so special.