Trying to get used to the time difference. Not sure if not getting any real rest on the plane rides helped or hindered my jetlag.
The first thing I did when I landed was to head over to the information booth at the airport and grabbed myself a handy-dandy “free wi-fi service“. The government set up hotspots all over the country that you can use while traveling or near those buildings. It’s already helped me out while trying to find out information near the metro stations.
Once I checked in to my hostel I decided to look for some bars near the area. Apparently Taipei doesn’t really have a big “bar” scene, you can usually drink at a restaurant or just grab a couple of beers from your local supermarket or 7-11 and drink anywhere, streets included. I decided to go to a place near by that I’d researched while still in San Diego called “Revolver“. I wandered over there a bit past midnight and found myself in a pretty small bar with lots of foreigners. I was actually quite surprised, but I didn’t complain when I saw they had nachos on the menu.
I grabbed myself a local beer and sat at the bar enjoying my first beverage in this new country. There was an old man (around 60) sitting next to me who struck up a conversation which somehow ended up with him giving me a name for some stinky Chinese herbal medicine in cases I had stomach problems while here. Such nice, wow. I was soon distracted when I heard some people speaking Spanish behind me and helped translate the amount the beer cost from English to Spanish.
The group, consisting of 3 guys and a girl, turned out to be students from El Salvador who’ve been living in Taipei for the past year and a half. They told me about some things to expect as a foreigner, what to try, not to try, showed me some photos of their recent hiking trips, and were over all some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They also told me about a “Latin Night” at some club in town, apparently there are a lot of latinos here. Where’s my guacamole? (Costco has tortillas!)
I walked back to the hostel shortly after that and made plans to meet up the next day with a local girl I met back in San Diego a few years ago.
First REAL Day
Angela and I decided to meet up 2 metro stops from where my hostel is located, in Lungshan Temple. Since it’s Lunar New Year, a lot of the streets were blocked off to traffic and the night markets were open all day long. We walked around and snaked on a few things, the first of which was this soup with pig blood in lil cubes floating around. It was actually quite delicious. It tasted like soft tofu, no real blood flavor… I wonder if I’m sad or relieved about that. We also tried another soup with fish balls, tofu, shrimp disks (?) and pork. I even managed to ask for extra soup at the end all by myself [I actually just stood behind the lady until she noticed me and thrust the bowl near her hands and she gave it back with some soup].
After snacking a bit we went into the temple where Angela explained the whole process of how to enter the temple (always through the door on the right!) and how to navigate through the different prayer points. Near the end I even got my fortune told, Angela roughly translated it to having good travels. Appropriate, no?
The rubber duck has nothing to do with the New Year, but because of the artist who’s been traveling with the giant rubber duck, they’re everywhere, even at the temples.
Before leaving that area we had some bitter tea, and let me tell you, it is BITTER, like the worst medicine you’ve ever tasted. Since I was told it was good for you I had myself half a cup… half a cup too much.
Shaved ice made it better. Milk and sugar water shaved ice with peanuts, red beans, other beans, some jelly stuff, mochi bits, and it was all DELICIOUS!
After our walk around the area we decided to catch the sunset in Tamsui, to the north of Taipei.
More on that later.