Taipei (Day 28): Movie Monday

March 28, 2016

This morning, we were woken up by Tim’s Taiwan cell phone ringing in the other room at 8:30am. It felt good not to have any set plans until later in the day. Taipei is 15 hours ahead of Vancouver, so when woke up, it was perfect timing to FaceTime with my family who were at Uncle Barry’s for Easter dinner.

It was nice to see everyone together and it felt like we were there too! They had finished eating dinner, but I saw all the plates of turkey leftovers and it made me really want a home cooked turkey dinner. We will have to have a turkey dinner in the summer when we’re back. There is a Canadian restaurant (Whalen’s) down the street from us that has a turkey dinner on their menu, but it’s quite expensive, so we’ll just wait.

We decided to go for breakfast and have a nice walk since it was sunny out today. It was about 20 degrees with a warm breeze (pretty ideal weather). We headed back to King Soy Milk and had the same meal we had the very first morning we were in Taipei. We shared a sao bing with egg, rice roll and a cold soy milk for 85 NT = $3.45 CAD.

Back to our fave breakfast place
Back to our fave breakfast place
During down time, staff continue to prep for the day
During down time, staff continue to prep for the day

After breakfast we decided to walk towards Taipei 101 and watch the movie, “Batman v Superman”. There is a movie theatre in the mall right beside Taipei 101, called Vieshow Cinemas. The walk to Taipei 101 took about 20 minutes. The weather was very pleasant so it was good to walk off those carbs we just had for breakfast. When we got to the theatre, we saw that Batman V. Superman was playing pretty much every half an hour (they have a lot of theatres). At the ticket counter, they asked if we wanted popcorn and drinks. The cashier said that if we bought the package with the tickets it was cheaper. He told us the price and for some reason we had miscalculated the conversion in our heads and thought that for two tickets and a popcorn combo (two drinks and a popcorn) was $20 CAD, but after we paid we realized we divided it wrong and it was actually $37 CAD! Each ticket was 270 NT = $11 CAD and the combo was 369 NT = $15 CAD. It wasn’t outrageous, it was North American prices.

Sunny and blue skies on our way to Taipei 101 area to watch the movie
Sunny and blue skies on our way to Taipei 101 area to watch the movie
Vieshow theatres
Vieshow Cinemas. This complex is attached to Taipei 101 via an outdoor overpass
Waiting for our popcorn at the concession
Waiting for our popcorn at the concession. It wasn’t that busy.. we’re the suckers while everyone else brought in their own outside food
We miscalculated the price of the food when added it on to our tickets. We only realized after we paid that it was 369 NT = $15 CAD
We miscalculated the price of the food when added it on to our tickets. We only realized after we paid that it was 369 NT = $15 CAD. Not pictured is a stuffed toy car, maybe they ran out of batman figurines. This is not something we would normally buy at theatres…

When we first went into the theatre, we sat there and thought we should’ve double checked that the movie was in English and subtitled in Chinese (i.e. not dubbed). Tim spoke Mandarin to the cashier so he never would have told us if it wasn’t in English (Tim: that’s a pretty big compliment to the quality of my Mandarin I guess). We had only thought about this after since a Canadian family behind us were told that the Zootopia time they wanted was dubbed and was in Mandarin. As soon as the movie started, we were relieved to hear English (Tim: Ben Affleck’s sweet voice) and see subtitles in Chinese (phew!).

The movie wasn’t the best, that’s all I’ll say. When we left the theatre at around 4pm, there was a huge ticket line up wrapped around the entrance, so we’re glad we decided to watch an earlier movie.

We headed back to the apartment and walked down Tonghua St. to look for something quick to eat for a very late lunch. Tim found some oyster vermicelli (soup) and decided to have that. I just had a few spoonfuls since I was still full from my healthy lunch of pop and popcorn from the movies.

Oyster vermicelli
Oyster vermicelli shop on Tonghua St.
Oyster vermicelli (45 NT = $1.80 CAD)
Oyster vermicelli (45 NT = $1.80 CAD)

Our bubble tea for the day was from Ten Ren, a Taiwanese store known for their tea. We had passed by so many locations but hadn’t tried it yet. We ordered pearl milk tea and it was 50 NT = $2 CAD.

Waiting for our pearl milk tea at Ten Ren
Waiting for our pearl milk tea at Ten Ren

We headed back to the apartment and rested for about two hours before dinner, which was at 7pm. Dinner tonight was with Tim’s relatives (Tim’s Dad’s cousin’s family) who I had met during our 2013 trip.

G-Woo is known for their chicken soup
G-Woo is known for their chicken soup
A super delicious dinner (with lots of greens too!)
A super delicious dinner (with lots of greens too!)
A wonderful dinner with the Chuehs
A wonderful dinner with the Chuehs. We’ll see them again when we come back briefly in May.
G-Woo's most famous dish. A very rich chicken broth with very tender chicken pieces
G-Woo’s most famous dish. A very rich chicken broth with very tender chicken pieces
A-Giak with 11 month old Oliver
A-Giak with 11 month old Oliver. He kept waving to me all dinner!

After a big dinner, we met Austin at the Raohe Night Market to walk around. It was Austin’s last night in Taipei before heading off to Hong Kong so it was great we got to see him again on his Asia trip. Raohe Night Market is located north of where we are staying but very close to the airport in the city, Songshan. It’s one of the more popular night market’s in Taipei after Shilin.

At the Raohe Night Market with Austin on his last night in Taipei
At the Raohe Night Market with Austin on his last night in Taipei
Temple right beside the Raohe Night Market
Temple right beside the Raohe Night Market
These pork buns are what I would come back to Raohe for
These pork buns are what I would come back to Raohe for. They are cooked in a “tandoor” and served piping hot. It was like a sao bing on the outside with juicy pork and vegetables on the inside. We only got one to share because we were full but if I had an empty stomach, I would order more than one.
The finished product (40 NT = $1.60 CAD)
The finished product (40 NT = $1.60 CAD). This was the only place that had a pretty long line. Lucky they’re super efficient
Raohe Night Market is located just south of the Keelung River
Raohe Night Market is located just south of the Keelung River

It was a great night being able to spend time with Tim’s family in Taipei and seeing Austin while. Obviously family is very important to both myself and Tim and we know we are very lucky to have such amazing people in our lives – we don’t take any of it for granted.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Taipei before our Korea and Japan portion of our trip. We’re planning on meeting another one of Tim’s second cousins for dinner and use the rest of the day to pack and prepare.

Steps for today: 20,000

Taipei (Day 15): Rain, Rain, Go Away

March 15, 2016

Since more than half the people in the apartment are jet lagged, I woke up at 6:30am too. Nate was in a good mood this morning but you can tell his internal clock is very confused. Hopefully he can adjust in the next couple of days so he will be in a better mood.

Once Tim woke up, he went with Noel to Yong He Soy Milk King to get breakfast. I think my sister and Noel learned early on that those egg wrapped rice rolls are really filling and that they should just be shared. My sister cooked Nate one of the organic eggs for breakfast – he loves his eggs!

When we looked out the window, it was raining and it didn’t look like it was going to let up any time soon. We wanted to try to keep most of our activities indoors since it was raining and it wasn’t that warm (around 15 degrees again today). As most of our planned Taipei activities are outdoors, we decided to do the one sightseeing activity that kept us the driest -that being the National Palace Museum.

The National Palace Museum is a museum that has mainly Chinese arts and artifacts – even more than what is at the Forbidden City in China. This is because during the Sino-Japanese Wars, the Nationalist Government in China decided to pack up all the most valuable artifacts in the Forbidden City and hide them in storage to keep them away from the Japanese. After World War II, as the Chinese Civil War resumed (and the nationalists were losing), Chiang-Ki Shek decided to move all the (already packed up) artifacts to Taiwan. Now, the museum houses around 700,000 ancient Chinese artifacts, of which approximately 1% is on display at any given time in 3 month exhibitions.

I had visited the museum in 2013, during my first time in Taiwan. I had seen the highlights of the museum – the jadeite cabbage and the stone that looks like a piece of pork (Tim: my favourite!), but I didn’t remember the rest of the museum too well (I was half asleep when I visited after a long flight) (Tim: Any it’s hard for things to look familiar when many of the exhibits are rotated out for new exhibits). I knew that the museum gets really busy with tour groups from China but I didn’t know how busy it would get.

We got to the museum around 10am, and were met with the hoards of tour groups and schools on field trips. As soon as we stepped inside, it was a gong show. General admission to the museum is 250 NT = $10 CAD (in 2013 it was only 160 NT = $6.50 CAD).

First, this is the strictest museum I have ever been to and I’ve been to a lot. You’re not allowed to bring any food or drink inside (which is understandable but this includes water bottles that are inside your bag). Traveling with a toddler, this isn’t ideal as you never know when they really need something to drink and they won’t take no for an answer. There are signs that say no backpacks are allowed and that you have to check it in. I’ve been carrying a small Longchamps backpack as my purse during this trip and as soon as we got into line to get into the museum, they singled me out and told me to check it in. I get why you can’t bring huge backpacks in, but mine was smaller than most purses and that made no sense to me. I even took everything out of it and was folding it up (it’s a foldable bag that can fold into a small square) and they told me I needed to check it in. At this point I was getting really irritated and annoyed with the security people (Tim: who were just doing their job) at the museum. They weren’t very courteous and it was a bad start to the morning. We put everything into a locker (for 10 NT, which is refundable), including Nate’s lunch bag and water (which he later cried for).

We finally got into the museum and were greeted with even more Chinese tour groups. I was already on edge with security that this whole scene made me want to leave. Being pushed around and cut in front of it not a great way to start your morning. In addition to the pushing, the tour groups were so loud. I felt bad for the museum workers inside that were holding signs that said “Please be quiet”, as their jobs seemed really hopeless and a bunch of them looked so defeated. Even when Nate woke up from his stroller to see where he was, his crying didn’t even matter since the tour groups drowned him out (this was the only upside to the noise). I know this is bad, but I learned to start walking with my hands on my hips when I wanted to get out of crowds because I didn’t want to get pushed around anymore. I don’t remember the museum being so busy when we were here in 2013. Not only did the price go up 90 NT, but it was not nearly as enjoyable. This was probably my least favourite place in all of Taiwan – inside the museum, which is such a shame because they have a lot of interesting things to see. But personally, I wouldn’t want to go back again (Tim: a statement that could probably apply to all museums for Kaitlyn :P).

Posing outside the National Palace Museum like the other tourists
Posing outside the National Palace Museum like the other tourists

After we escaped the museum, we headed to the Miramar Entertainment Park. This is a mall that is known for their large Ferris wheel on the roof, that has nice views of Taipei. Due to the weather, no one was on the Ferris wheel. Once we got to the mall, we went down to the food court for lunch. We were feeling a bit cold and wet – although it was 15 degrees, it didn’t feel like it when it was damp. We did a quick loop around the food court and all decided on Pepper Lunch (a Japanese casual/fast food place). I knew we could get this in Richmond, but we hadn’t tried it yet. We shared two lunch specials between the four of us, which each came with an appetizer and a drink.

Our Pepper Lunch - "USA Beef with egg" . The combos were 199 NT, but we added an egg for 15 NT = $8.75 CAD. You mix everything together on the hot plate
Our Pepper Lunch – “USA Beef with egg” . The combos were 199 NT, but we added an egg for 15 NT = $8.75 CAD. You mix everything together on the sizzling hot plate

The mall food courts in Taipei are all really good – great food selections, clean and ideal for eating with children. They have very clean high chairs to sit on and cleaning stations for people to wash their hands right in the middle of the food court. Since Nate is here, we’re eating more in food courts because it’s easier than what we have been used to. It’s nice and comfortable compared to eating on the street.

Nate at the food court at Miramar
Nate at the food court at Miramar
Waffle (fish shaped) stuffed with red bean & mochi and custard (40 NT = $1.60 CAD)
Waffle (fish shaped) stuffed with red bean & mochi and custard (40 NT = $1.60 CAD)


We walked around the mall and went to Muji and Uniqlo to look around. My sister and Noel bought a couple of items from Uniqlo. I notice that their prices are a bit more expensive than what they are in New York and in Hong Kong. There was also a Carrefour (French grocery store) across the street from Miramar, so we went to check it out. Our Grandma (Paw Paw) really likes the cookies my sister brought back for her from Paris’ Carrefour so we went to see if we could find them. Unfortunately, there didn’t have much Carrefour branded items so we couldn’t find the French cookies she wanted. (Ah zut!)

View of the Miramar from the MRT station
View of the Miramar from the MRT station

The rain continued to come down so we decided to go back to the apartment for the day- it was about 3pm. Nate was in and out of napping, poor guy, his days and nights are mixed up. Once we got back he was pretty happy playing around with the bubble tea cups – he likes to play with the straw and poke holes in the top of the thin plastic lids. Nate went down for a nap and then eventually so did everyone else (including me) except for Tim. I feel like since my sister has been here, I’ve reverted to having jet lag again. Nate and I woke up from our naps around 7:30pm – except Nate eventually went back to sleep and has been sleeping since (it’s midnight right now). Noel fell asleep and has been sleeping since as well.

My sister, Tim and I went for dinner without them, hot pot as originally planned. We went to the same place we’ve been twice before. Tim and I now have a stamp card (10 meals and one is free). My sister enjoyed her first individual shabu shabu experience and had some much needed vegetables. We picked up some soup noodles from a popular food stall down the street for Noel – but he hasn’t woken up to eat it so we put it in the fridge.

Once we came back to the apartment, we started to watch the finale of the Bachelor (3 hour finale). Warning! Spoiler alert!

My sister hadn’t watched any of the season so she was rolling her eyes the whole time (and same with Tim). I knew he would pick Lauren B, but I liked Jo Jo more. We were joking around that out of the final three girls, he got rid of the ethnic ones (half Persian and half Filipino) and picked the blonde girl (typical).

Now everyone is sound asleep and Tim is watching the Walking Dead. Apparently my typing is too distracting, so he went into the bedroom to watch it while I type away outside in the living room.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be mainly cloudy so hopefully it will be a better day!

Our total steps were 15,400.

Taipei (Day 2): Let’s eat!

March 2, 2016

After our day of travel, we woke up at 6:30am, feeling refreshed and excited to explore! The first thing that came to our minds was, Taiwanese breakfast.  We’re staying around the Daan and Xinye Anhe MRT stations so we decided to pick something close by.  I googled “The best Taiwanese breakfast in Taipei” (I know, my google skills are top notch).

永和豆漿大王 (English translation is “King of Soy Milk”) came up as one of the top picks that was only about a 10 minute walk from us.  We left the apartment around 8am, and made our way to the breakfast place.  From the looks of it and the amount of locals inside, it looked promising.

Restaurant store front 永和豆漿大王
Restaurant store front 永和豆漿大王
Pancake with egg, Rice roll with pork floss, pickled veg with Chinese doughnut Soy millk and Chinese doughnut
Pancake with egg,
Rice roll with pork floss, pickled veg with Chinese doughnut
Cold soy milk and Chinese doughnut (This was all 95 NT = $3.86 CAD)

















Everything hit the spot.  The Chinese doughnut was super light and just out of the fryer which made it super delicious.  I can see us going here multiple times during our time in Taipei. I have to keep telling myself that we’re here for a while, so we don’t have to eat everything in the next two days.

After breakfast we went to Daan Park (Taipei’s “Central Park”) and walked around and checked out the children’s playground area.  My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew (20 months) will be visiting us in Taiwan in two weeks so I wanted to check out to see if it was “Nate friendly”, and it was!

Entrance of Daan Park

Look Natey! You can play here :)
Look Natey! You can play here. There’s a huge sand pit too!

I always love to visit parks in the middle of the city, to escape the hustle and bustle.  Although Taipei is a pretty laid back city, there wasn’t that much crazy hustle and bustle to get away from, but it’s always nice to have that option. Tim and I said we could go running around the park together, we’ll see if that actually happens…

We continued our walk to Taipei 101.  Last time I was in Taipei, we went at night so we didn’t really get any good views or were able to go inside. When we got to Taipei 101, they had just opened the doors to the mall at 11:00am, it was like we were waiting for it to open like the several groups of Chinese tourists.  The mall is filled with multiple floors of luxury brands and free wifi!

Din Tai Fung also has a location at Taipei 101, so we decided to just go and have some xiao long baos.  We know we’d go again (likely to the original location) with my sister and Noel.  We didn’t have to wait for a table, which was good but when we left the line ups looked outrageous (Tim: Actually, the sign said 5 minute wait).

We ended up ordering 10 XLBs (200 NT), Green beans with minced pork (110 NT), and Beef Noodle (230 NT) = 540 NT + 10% Service Charge = 594 NT = $24 CAD (Tim: Current “priciest meal” champ). Everything was good and the service was excellent – my tea cup was never empty.

Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Baos
Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Baos
Gotta take pictures of the food!
Gotta take pictures of the food!

After our early lunch we walked around to the neighbouring malls and checked out Eslite 24 hour bookstore (8 levels) which was also filled with so many cool boutiques and restaurants within the store.  If this wasn’t a backpacking trip for us, I would probably buy a lot from here.

On our way back to the apartment, we passed by the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and decided to check it out.  It was filled with Chinese tourists – which was reminiscent of some of the temples we saw in Bangkok with all the tour groups being dumped there at once. Inside, they had the changing of guards in front of a huge statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun Yet Sun Memorial Hall
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Inside the memorial hall
Inside the memorial hall

At this point in the afternoon, it was about 25 degrees celsius and we were both wearing t-shirts and jeans.  With the sun beating down on us, we were warm (Tim was obvs sweating)! It was funny because we passed by so many people wearing parkas, wool jackets and 80% of people had scarves (it is winter I guess..). Even when we got back to the apartment, a lady talking to the doorman looked at us and said “they hardly have any clothes on, it makes me feel like I’m wearing too much” (this was Tim’s English translation for me). Maybe we’ll start to acclimate soon.

It was nice to relax in the afternoon – I started this blog and Tim caught up on the Walking Dead.  We started to get a bit sleepy but we had to get ready for dinner with Uncle Albert.

Uncle Albert picked us up at around 6pm and we headed to the Ningxia Nightmarket for dinner.  I was pretty excited for this because last time we were here, I was only able to eat one thing (stinky tofu) at the Shilin Nightmarket because we had a huge dinner beforehand.  We ended up starting off at a Taiwanese chain restaurant called “Formosa Chang” for their stewed pork on rice and a couple of other sides. We ventured back out to the stalls and Uncle Albert ordered us a bunch of things to share – BBQ steak bites, bacon wrapped chives and a shrimp paste patty wrapped in a spring roll but presented like a pancake. We also ordered a chicken thigh that was fried, grilled and glazed (delish!) and I got my favourite ai-yu jelly drink.

Ningxia Nightmarket is located right outside an elementary school
Ningxia Nightmarket – which is basically right outside an elementary school.  This nightmarket was a lot more local feeling than what I remembered Shilin was like.
Formosa Chang – stewed pork on rice 30 NT ($1.20)
at Formosa Chang
at Formosa Chang
Fried glazed chicken thigh stand
Fried glazed chicken thigh stand (70 NT = $2.80)
It was sliced and put in a bag
It was sliced and put in a bag. It was piping hot and delicious!
The ai-yu lady with her coins on top of her cart
The Ai-yu lady with her coins on top of her cart
Ai-yu jelly drink 35 NT ($3.40 CAD)
Ai-yu jelly drink 35 NT ($1.40 CAD).  It’s a lemony flavoured drink with jelly and tapioca in it.

After our non-stop eating, Tim and I were fading.  It was 8pm and we both fell asleep in the car ride back.  We washed up and Tim tried to finish watching the end of Survivor and we fell asleep at 9pm.

I got woken up by a phone call and couldn’t go back to sleep – it was 4:30am.  I started to write this blog post and catch up on what happened on the Bachelor on Monday (I knew Ben didn’t love Caila… poor girl)

To offset everything we ate, we walked 24,761 steps yesterday. Yay!