Travelogue

Taipei 2014: Taipei Trippin (Part I)

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To be honest, I wasn’t really excited for this trip in the beginning having just recovered from an operation. But I’ve never been on a company conference, its not everyday we get to travel with colleagues, plus, flight and accommodation were paid for! I’ll be nuts not to go! Though Taiwan was never on my list of ‘places to visit’, I figured I’d make the best of it. Although we only had two full days to spend, it ended up being pretty amazing.

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I was the part of the group that was on board China Airline.

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It was a four hour flight to Taipei and all the while having my Dior shades on while listening to Coldplay, eating and sleeping. Blissful PBG moments.

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Upon reaching Taipei, we were brought to Amba Boutique Hotel in Ximending. I shared a room with Joy.

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We were in a mad rush to get ready for conference dinner but thankfully we all made it safely to the restaurant. We got a lot of attention from the locals while waiting for the bus outside our hotel dressed in red, yellow and orange.

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The theme was ‘Re-ignite as One’ hence the dresscode to commemorate our first conference in three years. There were dancers to welcome us to Taipei, food and dancing. I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to attend this time around.

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So I found out that the dance was to bring fortune but the group of us were too busy eating (oops!). Can’t help it, I was famished and we didn’t stop eating until it was time for our big boss to give her speech and later, sales figures.

Some of the girls stayed up late to hangout. But Joy and myself decided to get some instant noodles and mineral water from 7-11 and putting on a mask to sleep would be more ideal to prepare for the early day we’ll have tomorrow.

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The next morning, we were prepared for our trip to Shifen and Jiufen Old Street. All back on our buses again.

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We only had about an hour to spend in Shifen so we were (once again) rushing about to do our souvenir shopping, camwhore and whatnot.

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Shifen Old Street is a well known stop along the Pingxi Branch Line. The Pingxi Branch Line was originally built to transport coal. Here you will see trains chug along a railway just by their houses and shops like how roads are to us. The proximity to the tracks is a symbol of how closely connected the people’s lives are to the railway, a characteristic unique to Shifen.

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Yes, it is this close. So please hold on to your kids (and your skirts!). The shopkeepers here know the train’s timing and would shout out loud to get you to move away from the tracks. Although the trains are manually operated, I would suggest to be aware of them approaching and not pull a stunt in front of it unless you wanna end up as muachi.

The other thing Shifen Old Street is known for are its Sky Lanterns. I learned that its a tradition in Taipei to write your wishes on a coloured lantern and release it into the sky and up to heaven for the Gods to read. I thought it was a beautiful tradition to carry out despite it being in the 21st century, the locals still practice this. I was delighted to find out that our company had got us each lanterns to write on!

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Some of my written wishes sent to heaven:

  • Have more $$$.
  • Marry my Shine and live happily ever after.
  • Travel.
  • Keep old friends, make new ones.
  • Better health.
  • Have my own family.
  • Be happy.

And there was a side where I wrote ‘Have More Money (Huat Ah!), Have Good Life, Have Good Luck! Joy wrote hers in Chinese characters which she translated to me. It was nice watching our lantern fly up into the sky. I hope my wishes will come true *hopefully gleams.

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Despite spending such a short period of time in Shifen Old Street, it made an impression on me with its traditional way of life, it made me feel like I was stuck in the 1950’s. Next, was another old street…

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Jiufen has been around since the Qing Dynasty. It was barely unnoticeable until gold was discovered during the Japanese Occupation of Taipei and housed a Prisoners of War Camp where Allied Soldiers were made to work in the mines. Gold mining has since been discontinued. It is now one of the popular tourist destinations in Taipei with its quaint teahouses, little narrow streets and the stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. Many of the buildings remain unchanged and Japanese’s influence can be seen on the structures and culture.

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And these were the pictures that were taken within two hours! It was really crowded and humid so I had to make it snappy, literally. I must’ve had a lot of training from my Beijing trip earlier this year, lol (thanks to all the photo bombers). Jiufen is a small town with huge character. There was so much going on at every corner and I wish we had more time as I loved it here.

Turned out, I was really pleased we came to the old street visits, a trip to Taipei would not be complete without it.

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My initial thought when we stepped in was that we had been mistakenly brought to a gallery. But no, this is a restaurant. Can you believe that this restaurant was made entirely out of driftwood, scraps, iron, clay and stones? Pretty impressive work they’ve put into this.

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Enjoy the sight of paintings and sculptures of boobs while you eat. Trust me, wait till you see what I’ll be posting on Part II of this series, you’ve seen nothing yet.

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After lunch, we went back on our bus to our hotel where we took a short break before heading out again.

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This is the heart of Taipei with a host of shops, clubs and theatres and is also known as Taipei’s “Harajuku” due to its source of fashion and Japanese culture. Through staying in Taipei during this short time, I’ve realised that there are many Japanese influences not just in culture but also with their trends.

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Joy, Angel and myself took the train to our next destination.

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Yes, I’m one of those swaku tourists that take pictures in the train station, even of my moccasins.

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The Shilin Night Market is the biggest and well known night market in the city. It has two distinct sections, one formerly housed in the old Shilin Market building that has mostly food vendors and small restaurants and the other contains  businesses and shops. The market was located to a wharf on the Keelung River so agricultural produce from farms in Shilin were being shipped to other ports and sold in this area. The influx of customers attracted many new businesses and food vendors that began to establish themselves here thus creating the Shilin Night Market of today.

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Spent hours browsing through the shops and snacking on their street food when I spotted the penis waffle shop. I’m pretty shameless to say that I was hoping to find this. You’ll never find a stall like this in Singapore especially not associated with food. Maybe I should open a boobie restaurant? Too bad, its been taken (Driftwood).

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A rather obscene picture of me licking my mango ice-cream. I was initially thinking of getting the peanut butter flavoured one since I was curious about the taste and that my ice-cream would really look like a penis. But guess I’ll just have to stick to my mango ice-cream. And in case you were wondering, yes, I did get some attention from walking around licking on my uniquely shaped ice-cream but whatever bitches, I’m on a holiday.

Right after I was done with my ice-cream, I got another cold treat – shaven ice with peanut butter (equivalent to ice kachang in Singapore). Woohoo, it was heavenly!

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And here is the original Shilin Mee Sua. I was already bloated from eating so much.

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Looking through the pictures, I can’t believe how much we’ve covered and done in a day. The two old streets, wishing lanterns, eating in a driftwood restaurant and visiting the Shilin Market! What an achievement.

Tune in to the next part of Taipei Trippin as we visit some funky themed restaurants!

Taipei 2014 Taipei Trippin:
Part II

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