I hadn’t been to Taiwan in 20 years at this point, so I didn’t know what to expect when I got off my China Eastern flight to Taipei.
Suffice to say that upon landing I, along with my parents, climbed into a taxi and headed towards our hotel. I have to tell you, Taiwanese cab drivers are something else. They are super friendly, refuse tips (my dad had to firmly say he didn’t want his change, and then the cabbie still insisted that he should take the change), and are extremely eager to talk Taiwanese politics (current topic is all about Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou). Though, if you aren’t fluent in Mandarin, or Taiwanese for that matter, it would be a mostly silent ride.
We stayed at the Park Taipei, located in the Daan District of Taipei. Although the hotel’s rooms are slightly on the small side, it offers free internet, breakfast is included in the hotel rate, and an excellent concierge service. Honestly, I have never experienced better customer service in any of the places I’ve gone, save Japan. The staff is mostly college students studying hospitality and hotel management and therefore are working here as part of their studies. One employee, or rather trainee, I remember well because he was so eager and inquisitive about the world outside Taiwan, asking questions about America, especially what it’s like to live and study there.
Anyway, I spent my time there seeing the sights of Taiwan, such as the National Palace Museum, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, a requisite visit to Taipei 101, and some shopping ventures to the various Sogos located around Taipei.
Other than that, I ate. A lot. Taiwan is famous for its snack food, and thus I found myself diving headfirst into eating pineapple cakes and wife cakes, freshly made at Chia Te, located on Nanjing Rd. Pineapple cakes you can find the world over, but I’ve never had ones as freshly made and delicious as these. I’d post a picture, but I ate all the cakes before I realized I should take a picture.
But here I realized that I have a love affair with wife cakes. These pastries are so light and airy, and the filling has this slightly chewy, but not chewy, texture. It’s not saccharine sweet, so eating one will not result in sugar overload. And man, Chia Te sells these warm. It was magical; I could’ve happily died right there.
I also got the chance to try out this Japanese restaurant Mitsui, which was fantastic. This restaurant also completed the unimaginable: I left the Japanese restaurant too full to move, and stayed so full throughout the day that I had to skip dinner. I was shocked. Full, from Japanese food? As my friend said when I told him, “if you’re full from Japanese food you’re doing something wrong.” But it wasn’t wrong. It was so so right.
After 5 days in Taipei, I boarded a plane and headed to Hong Kong to see my grandfather that I hadn’t seen in about 4 years.