We took the red metro line from where it meets the blue line all the way to the end in the north. It took about an hour but the views were pretty awesome. The change in scenery was really nice, with the metro line coming above ground for the last half of the ride.
The Tamsui/Danshui station is located right next to the river bank and has hundreds of tiny stores and stalls that sell everything from candy to stinky tofu and ice cream. There were a lot of carnival style stalls where you could play to win prizes. There was even a Turkish ice cream post with the Turkish man doing the whole Ooo got your ice cream, if you don’t know what I’m talking about click here: Oh you Turkish man. Below is one of the first food stands I saw; fried quail eggs on a stick. Cutest thing ever?
I also found doge! So many people have dogs here that there are even fortune tellers dedicated to tell you your pet’s fortune and help you name them. I think I saw more dog clothing stores than children clothing stores while walking around this area.
Moving away from the water front we walked toward the main street lined with more shops and people as far as the eye could see! I ended up having a freshly made donut, one of these ice creams:
stolen borrowed from a random blog. Mine wasn’t so ridiculously tall, and the ice cream felt almost crunchy, like more solid than creamy. Still delicious. I also tried stinky tofu. I should have listened to the Salvadorians, it tasted awful! You know how a petting zoo smells? When you had a bite, you could smell the stinkyness wafting from your mouth to your nose and down your throat and it smelled exactly like goat and chicken poop. I can’t describe it any other way. I also had shrimp crackers that looked like giant fried pork skins, pickled quail eggs called “Iron Eggs” that looked like this. The outside black texture was kind of rubbery, like licorice, and the inside was creamy, it was ok. Last but not least I had chunks of guava sprinkled with plum powder, so delicious!
Before heading back on the metro, we were distracted by some cumbia music coming from part of the riverwalk near the station. We walked over and found a puppeteer with about 14-15 different puppets and each puppet had its own special song and dance. My favorite was the bikini pig and the skeleton. He would also choose random children from the crowd and have them help out. The little girl in the red jacket made her puppet dance to Gangnam Style while she yelled at her sister to feed her snacks and kept a perfect rhythm with the song.
Heading back to the city. No crocs allowed! Apparently this is common enough that you’re discouraged from wearing rubber shows while on the escalators.
We decided to go to a tiny restaurant in an alley somewhere (I have no idea where we were) but it turned out to be closed. Lunar New Year strikes again! So we ended up having 7-Eleven beers (they were about $1.50 a can, they had tall cans for not much more!) as we walked to another place near by. I learned the Chinese character for person, pronounced “ren” and looks like this: 人. 7-Eleven also had these crazy eggs that were cooked in tea and herbal spices. I didn’t even want to try any. Maybe sometime soon. Maybe.
We ended up at 45 Pub which is located in front of where Angela’s university is. They were playing pretty fun music, I heard a few tracks from The Clash and The Specials. We finally finished up our “chips” and salsa (doritos with salsa on the side) and since the metros and busses stop running at midnight, Angela took a taxi home and I rode a bike back to the hostel!
There’s a public bike system here called “You Bike” where you pick up a public bike from one of the bike station docks by tapping your metro card to the reader. It unlocks your bike and off you go! It has a front light that lights up as you petal and a little basket to put your things in if needed. It was super comfortable and I rode it with ease back toward the hostel. When you’re done with the bike you just find the nearest You Bike docking station, park it in an empty spot and tap your metro card on the reader one more time. It charges you by the amount of time you use it, but it’s really affordable, about $.30/half hour.
We were out and about from 11am til nearly 3am. Angela was the best tour guide ever, translating and helping me understand local customs and culture and making me try so many different things that I don’t think I would have had the courage to ever try. :]