13.12.16 Walking tour of Taipei

After checkout, MRT, left luggage and MRT we were confronted by dozens of Santa’s helpers, some of which handed us presents!

Today we are following the Lonely Planet’s Taipei walking tour. Sun is out, smiles are on.

First up, we go off piste to Fong Da coffee shop which Al has found. It has a working bean roaster in the entrance. With the coffee, we have a side order of toast, ham and eggs. It’s a well frequented, locals cafe which takes coffee seriously and we enjoy it.

We walk from Ximen to Bopilao, an historic street where modern brides have their photos taken.

Past some temples to an old burnt down monastery then to the old market which is now a creative quarter where designers sell boutique gear. Al buys a “Do you like my buns” T-shirt.

Further along, we reach a two storey Japanese colonial building with a mansard roof. It has an exhibition of photos of Tamsui in the 1980s which looks like a different world. They have a roof farm where we’re excited to see rice growing.

On the route, Al spots a deep, rich, saucepan.

We stop.

The texture is soft, melting, braised, pork fat. Mmmmmmm. Its accompanied by pickles and cabbage which soften the richness of the pork. Its good, but still not as good as Qufu.

We see more colonial architectural sights and the wide boulevards that the Japanese modeled on Paris and we divert off the tour to the botanical gardens. They are lovely. Al is in her element. She spends a long time in the “food” section where garden beds demonstrate crops we eat that people no longer recognize due to convenience food. 

We go to the ginger garden. Al desperately looks for a sign to photo me in front of but thankfully there isn’t one.

We MRT across town and walk through Da’an park to the Wisteria Tea house where we sit on tatami mats and learn to make tea. We order two different Oolongs, both from Taiwan,  Gao shan cha and the lighter Tie Guan Yin. The pot is warmed, leaves washed, then a pot is brewed for 2 minutes before being emptied into aroma cups which are decanted into tasting cups. The leaves can be used 6 times. Its a relaxing, fun hour.

We return to the first Airbnb we stayed at in eastern Taipei hosted by the fabulous Fiona. It feels like going home. For tea we go to the local night market and have beef sizzlers with peppers sauce. The beef is really tender.