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Monday, October 19, 2015

CarmenXTW: 台北旋风八小时 龍山寺 & 西门町 Speed trip to Taipei's Lungshan Temple and Ximending Shopping District

On our 3rd day in Hualien city, we woke up late and spent quite some time at our hostel's lobby. It's just so cosy over there that we don't feel like moving at all LOL. Wanted to visit Taroko again as we missed out some of the trails but end up changing our plan and head straight to Taipei instead. 

Taipei was suppose to be just a interchange spot for us to take bus back to the south. But some part of me just screamed that I couldn't just leave Taipei like that, And so we decided to visit some places and make the most out of our 8 hours before taking the midnight bus back.

It's my first time in Taipei even though I've been in Taiwan for more than a month. So excited to witness the charm of this capital city! The moment I got out of the station, I just wished I could stay there and not leave. The weather is so nice!! It was drizzling slightly but I love the cool and gentle winds. Saw many people wearing pretty jackets and I wished I have one with me too haha...

1. Lungshan Temple 龍山寺
Woonkiat have already traveled in Taipei before, and so we had to choose somewhere that he hasn't visited. And this was the place that came into my mind! This temple is pretty amazing! Aside from the beautiful architecture, what really amazed me is the atmosphere of the temple. So many people, regardless of age were doing their prayers over there. It's abit busy as people walk from here and there, but there's still a sense of calm and peace when you see those people praying with all their hearts. Hope and faith in their eyes. I believe in Him but I still think it's a beautiful scene to observe how religion is an important aspect of an individual's life. 

The guys prayed while I explored around the temple, snapping photos of the ancient building, and observe the believers. 

求签 (draw divination sticks) summore!!
I can't exactly understand what my 签 was about, but I remember it says something about stop dreaming LOL
Btw there's a counter for you to consult the master for explaining your 签. 

Yep, this temple is so interesting that we stayed until the sky turned dark lol. 

2. 艋舺夜市: Night markets in Wanhua
There are 3 of them
廣州街夜市, 梧州街夜市 and 華西街观光夜市 
Guangzhou Night Market, Wuzhou Night Market and HuaXi Street Tourist Night Market

Just a street across from Lungshan temple, there's this whole area of night market! I don't understand why they have to differentiate it into 3 markets coz they are all in the same area. Just one street next to the other. Love this night market though, it's not too crowded and has enough space to move comfortably along. But the best part of this night market would definitely be the food! With Taipei's weather, any hot food is just so satisfying! 
Huaxi Night Market are mainly restaurants instead of food carts. 

The other two night markets have lots of food carts and also have stalls that sells anything from clothes to massage machine LOL

Was already starving and the moment I see this...
I knew I gotta have it!!!

刈包 Pork Belly in Steamed Bun -- TWD45
One of the things I wish I can eat in Malaysia or Singapore!
Pretty much all my favorite things in a bun!
Thick Pork belly, preserved veggie, cilantro and grounded peanuts. 
Biting through, you have the fluffy and sweet bun, the chewy braised pork belly which instantly burst awesome flavors into your mouth, the crunchy preserved veggie and peanuts. OMGGGG mouthwatering now...

 炒米粉 Fried Vermicelli -- TWD30
猪肠 Pork intestines -- TWD50
The beehoon looks simple but it actually taste yummy! Not too dry or soggy and strong aroma of garlic. The intestines were actually okay too! I guess it's just boiled intestines without any seasoning. The chili sauce adds mild spiciness while the ginger removes the slightly unpleasant smell of intestines. Love the crunchy texture haha.  

综合羹 Squid and Meatball Soup -- TWD65
This soup is a life-saver in the chilly weather. The broth has the essence of both the squid and the flavor of minced pork. Together with some spring onions and beaten egg, the aroma and taste is delicious!

We were sitting right in front of the stall. Watching this uncle preparing all the food for us while we waited impatiently. 
It's quite a cool experience heh

旗鱼黑轮 Fried Fishcakes -- TWD10 
It's cheap and yummy! I like the fact that they sell it in sticks so you can just try a small amount. I was gonna ask for more after trying it, coz it's really yummy! 
Crunchy outer layer with chewy fishpaste! The chili sauce is mildly spicy and slightly sweet! Awesome flavor.  

After filling up our stomach, we were just checking out all the stalls at the night market and also went into this arcade for some fun! N there! we were they were lucky enough to grab all these adorable plush toys. They gave the banana keychain to me haha Thanks!!

3.剝皮寮歷史街區 Bopiliao
We decided to walk from Lungshan Temple to Ximending since they are only one station apart. Passed by the Monga district on the way. It's night time so the area looks quiet. It's the area (incl Lungshan temple and the night markets) where the Taiwan movie Monga  艋舺 is based in. The buildings are all red bricked with a timeless sense. There's red lanterns hanging above. Not to forget that there's quite a few temples as well. Loving the mixture of Chinese elements and Western architecture. Feels like going half a decade back. 

青山宫 Qingshan Temple

Wished I had more time to explore this area of beautiful ancient shoplots
The shoplots are well preserved with not just its ancient architecture, but interior details like old signboards and furniture as well. Bet it will look awesome in daytime . 

4. 西门町 Ximending Shopping District
Another must-go place in Taiwan I believe. The internationally known shopping district of Taiwan. And I must say, I'm impressed by the scale of the area. This is where you find real SHOPPING STREETS, with no cars, no bikes or whatever and you can just stroll along and drown yourself with pretty things before you. 

5. 西门红楼 Red House Theater
With the same red brick architecture as Bopiliao shops, the Red House Theater is a grand building which is the symbol of Ximending area. Formerly a market and also a theater, it's now a majestic historical building which still hosts plays and concerts.

The ground floor has an exhibition that tells the history of the building.

There's this market outside of the red house (as seen from above photo) that sells all sorts of pretty things from local artists. Bags, postcards, clothes, all designed locally. 

Back to the Shopping Streets!
all those super bright billboards everywhere!

All kinds of shop you see there!! Feeling so tempted to switch on my shopping mode haha
The boys shopped more than me walaooo

Life is good when you can Shop while sipping Taiwan's Bubble Tea!

I didn't do any shopping coz we don't really have much time. 
Even if you don't buy anything, this area is truly a place to just feel the lively pulse of the city!

Street performance

One of the boutique-lined lanes, with fashionable youngsters hanging out.
(Of course I'm not talking about Gary haha)

6. 二二八和平公园 228 Peace Memorial Park
A park that we passed by on our way back to Taipei station. It's still open at night but it's kinda creepy LOL anyways it's a park dedicated to Taiwan's February 28 incident which was a massacre of many Taiwan civilians. Haven't read the history in depth, but I guess it must have been an important event in Taiwan's history. Pay your respects to the victims or simply just have a leisure stroll around the park. 

And we arrived at where we began.
Taipei's Main Station at night.
So heavy hearted to leave mannn...
Really love Taipei's atmosphere.
Can't wait to be back with sweater and jackets woohoo
and of course feel sad to be bidding farewell to the travel buddies. Hope it's not our only trip!

Despite being only 8 hours, I really enjoyed our speed trip. Taipei is a whole new environment with a different vibe from other cities that I previously visited. Do visit the Lungshan temple area if you wanna get a taste of ancient Taiwan streets.

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