Okay, back to Taipei! The rest of the trip was spent running around the city looking for the best food and local hot spots for shopping and entertainment. Our first stop was 金锋鲁肉饭 (Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice). It’s the opposite of a fancy place, but the food is hands down gobbling material. Next, we went to 在欉红本铺 (Red On Tree), a unique coffee shop that sells handmade jam, handmade ice cream, and an assortment of desserts and drinks. Their focus is on quality and to promote Taiwan’s abundant variety of fruits. Most sorbets and ice creams are too strong and sweet for me, but the watermelon ice cream I ordered was purely refreshing and natural to the core. Later in the day, we went to Ximending, a shopping and hangout district popular among young people. We were mainly looking for the One Piece store hehe. Added another ice-pop to my conquests and also discovered the best ramen I’ve ever had after randomly picking a place to eat out of indecisiveness.
At the beginning of day 6, we met up with a friend from college who is in Taipei studying Chinese. We went to the original 鼎泰丰 (Din Tai Fung) and queued for twenty minutes. That place is supposed to be all the hype but honestly paled in comparison to other popular eats. The rest of the day was spent near Taipei 101 area. We stopped by the Computex expo in hopes of catching a game of Dota but found out that Zotac Cup was being held in another building and the games weren’t open to viewing until later in the week. Down a few blocks from there was an Eslite department store. Four words: “Can I live there? Forever?” Okay, five words. In essence, I love a good bookstore. I love a bookstore even more if it comes with stationery, a pen shop, and three more floors of specialty gift shops and unique items. There was also a floor that sold kids clothes and toys – best place ever.
A few blocks down from Eslite was W Taipei, a 5-star hotel in which we would spend more than two-hundred dollars on one meal for the two of us. My boyfriend and I had absolutely no idea what we were in for when we made our online reservation. We immediately knew the place was out of our league when we entered the lobby and there were foreign businessmen in suits walking about. The restaurant, Yen Chinese Restaurant, was located on the 31st floor of the hotel. We had to transfer to a different set of elevators half way. The view was incredible and the service was exceptionally attentive. The best food that night was the dessert – an egg tart. When I bit into the filling it felt like all the fluffy goodness in the world was suddenly contained in my mouth.
Day 7 was one of my favorite days. After picking up a late breakfast from 刘妈妈饭团 (Liu Mama’s Rice Balls), we made our way to 丽华行 (Li Hua Xing), a popular internet cafe. We ordered some milk tea and won a game of Dota. Though there were constant shouts of frustration and victory all around, the atmosphere provided a sense of comfort and acceptance. I could see how people become engrossed in the internet cafe life. After that, we stumbled upon a marvelous stationery store on the way to lunch. Fate works in a funny way. I did a lot of research on the best stationery stores, but the ones I found were no match to this random gem. Three floors of all the pens, notebooks, and every other type of stationery you can name. If I had school supplies this pretty, I would be a hundred times more motivated to study. Not sure how much time was spent in that haven, but we were starving when we finally left. Next stop, 林东芳牛肉面 (Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodles). Another small, unadorned joint yielding some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had. Their beef noodles put all other beef noodles to shame.
We spent the evening at Miramar Entertainment Park and watched Wonder Woman at their movie theater (stunning movie by the way) and rode the famous Ferris wheel. Bought a few Gunpla model kits for our friends and ate a mango ice pop so yummy that I went back for seconds. By then, the mall was near closing time so we ended the day with a sleepy taxi ride back to the hotel. It was an elegant and magical night and one of the most lovely dates we’ve been on.
We spent the last day of the trip with my boyfriend’s granduncles and grandaunt at 淡水老街 (Tamsui Old Street) and 宁夏夜市 (Ningxia Night Market). Took a leisurely stroll along Tamsui river and then drank the best yogurt mango smoothie at Mister Donut. It had a pudding-like texture and the perfect blend of flavors. The night market was one of the better ones in terms of variety of foods, and we had no idea it was just one street down from our hotel!
I learned a lot on this trip in terms of traveling without parents and having to handle all the logistics ourselves. Everything fell into place smoothly and we got around to doing all the things we wanted. I am extremely grateful and happy to have experienced so many new things, seen such beautiful places, and discovered quite the amount of “bests” with my best friend.