March 13, 2016
We set our alarms today at 5am to get ready to pack up and catch our train back to Taipei at 6:07am (Tim: One snooze later…). We checked out of our hotel and caught a cab to the train station. Unfortunately the hotel free shuttle to the train station doesn’t run so early in the morning (Tim: Neither does their breakfast, which was pretty good). This was the first cab ride we’ve taken this trip, generally we try not to take cabs but since time was an issue this morning we had to. The cab fare to the train was 140 NT = $5.70 CAD for a 3km ride.
Once we arrived at the Hualien train station, the place was packed for 5:45am! The only store that was open was 7-Eleven and they had two long line ups to pay. We passed on grabbing anything for breakfast as we planned on just sleeping on the ride back to Taipei. The train ride was 3 and a half hours, it was the only train that wasn’t full (local train). The ride didn’t feel that long because we both slept for the first two hours. The scenery along this route was quite nice, the ocean and high mountains lined the east coast. As we got closer to Taipei the scenery changed back to older run down buildings and high rises. I was looking forward to getting back to Taipei. Although I enjoyed seeing the rest of Taiwan, Taipei is probably my favourite city in terms of accessibility and variety.
We arrived at the Taipei Main Station at 9:38am. We decided to buy our tickets to Kaohsiung for next week – when we’d be going down to Kenting (a beach resort area at the southern tip of Taiwan) with my sister, Noel, and Nate. We didn’t want to get burned with not being able to pick a good train time with them. Since we bought the tickets early, they were 20% off. The high speed rail tickets are about double the price of the regular Taiwan railways tickets (which we took around the island this past week). But to save time (especially traveling with a toddler), the high speed rail was a no brainer. It would take less than two hours to get to Kaohsiung (the trains go at 300km/hour) from Taipei, versus around 5 hours on the regular train.
We headed back to Tim’s uncle’s apartment to drop off our bags before finding something to eat. The whole train ride I was craving shabu shabu hot pot again. We went back to the same place we had dinner last Saturday. It totally hit the spot and I was on a hot pot high. I noticed there were a lot of children (around 5-8 years old) with their parents there – about half the tables had children at them. We will probably take my sister, Noel, and Nate here when they visit. It’s a block down from where we’ll be staying, it’s kid friendly, good value ($20 CAD total for both of us) and delicious.
We planned on walking to Daan Park after our lunch but it started to rain and Tim didn’t bring his rain jacket, so we went back to the apartment. I repacked my bag and organized items that we had left here last week. Also, I forgot to mention that as soon as we got back to Taipei, I saw two miniature red poodles.
We met up with the Airbnb host in front of the apartment at 3pm. Her name is Violet, an English speaking local, who showed us up to the apartment. The apartment looked like how it did on Airbnb for the most part. The walls are a bit weathered but that’s not really a big deal as the apartment is clean and stocked with all the necessary amenities. It has 2 bedrooms (3 beds), 1 bathroom and a large kitchen. The location is really good- close to two MRT to lines (Daan and the Technology Building stations) and lots of restaurants. One of the perks of this place is that it has a washer and dryer (Yay! We can finally do laundry) (Tim: The dryer just basically spin dries the clothes…).
After settling in and finishing up our laundry, we headed out to buy some groceries for my nephew, Nate. My sister will be cooking for him while he’s here. We went down to the Technology Building station and went to PX Mart to buy a 6L jug of water, some fruit and chicken. Across from the street from the apartment, there are a couple of organic grocery stores. We bought organic milk and eggs from the market – Nate is a lucky boy!
Around 6:30pm, Uncle Albert stopped by and we went for dinner down the street on S. Fuxing Road. Tim and I have walked down this street every morning we went to the King Soy breakfast place but since it was always the morning we never realized the street was filled with lots of busy restaurants. Uncle Albert said that S.Fuxing Road used to be full of all the same restaurants for people looking for late night eats, but now there are only a few left. We headed to his favourite one down the block, basically two doors away from our favourite breakfast joint.
When you walk into the restaurant, there is a long counter full of dishes to choose from. You simply point to what you want and then they prepare it for you. Most items are already prepared (except the fish dishes) so they plate the food in a metal bowl over top a flame (similar to how hot pot is served at Boiling Point in Vancouver). Uncle Albert treated us to dinner (again! Tim is not good at fighting for the bill) so we don’t know how much each dish was, but from what we can see on the wall they range from 60 NT to 150 NT ($2.45 to $6 CAD). It was nice to have congee on a rainy Taipei night and all the dishes were more homestyle cooking which was nice and comforting.
When got back to the apartment, we took the clothes out of the “dryer” and they were still damp. Asian wash/dryers don’t actually use heat to dry clothes, they just spin it, so we had to hang dry everything. I washed the bulk of my clothes so hopefully they dry on the balcony for tomorrow!
Now we’re washing up and going to sleep early because my sister, Noel and Nate will be here tomorrow at around 6am. Uncle Albert kindly offered to pick them up from the airport at 5:30am. We’re very lucky to have Tim’s family here – they’ve always been so kind and hospitable to us.
Another random thing to note about Taiwanese buildings and high rises, most are made of concrete- something we’re not used to as most buildings and homes in Vancouver are made with lumber. I first noticed because when I walk down the halls at home, I usually like to tap the walls with my knuckles and hear back a hollow sound. But here, I do the same thing and there’s no sound at all and it hurts my knuckles. That being said, Nate isn’t allowed to run around apartments here. The walls are too dangerous.
Our step count today is pretty low at 11,500.