After 2 months of winter hibernation, travel, and eating myself silly…I’m back and fat and happy as ever. In case you were wondering where I was, I took a short trip to Taiwan for Thanksgiving, pounded work hard in between, and then took on some R&R in Florida for the holidays. Since it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, I thought I’d start from where I left off…my trip to Taiwan.
It’s been over a decade since I’ve been to Taiwan (my homeland) and boy has it changed….for the better. The streets are cleaner because of the subway, the people are as nice as can be, and the fashion has moved beyond the fobby misspelled English words. Hooray! It could also be that my trip was cheery overall because I was with 2 of my favorite people in the world- my mom and my fiancé. (Yes, I just said cheery. I’ve been watching too many episodes of Downton Abbey, so occasionally I break out in British banter.) My fiancé had never been to Taiwan, so seeing it fresh through the eyes of a virgin tourist made it all the more special. In any event, it was a great mix of decadence and natural beauty. Man bags are way “in” and people have taken a liking to fluffy little dogs and carry them everywhere. On the flip, there are untapped parts of the island that are pristine, mountainous terrains filled with natural beauty and grace. Want more? Then, check out my Top 10 of Taiwan below.
Wendy’s Top 10 of Taiwan
10. Restrooms are EVERYWHERE…
So you don’t have to ever worry about peeing in your pants. Sure, they are squatters, but the good news is that are you building up leg muscle while you squat…a twofer!
9. Cute Mascots
If there’s one thing that the Taiwanese are good at, it’s creating really freakin cute mascots. Look at this fella from the Ding Tai Fung restaurant. Adorbes!
8. Night Markets
You can’t NOT go to a night market if you’re in Taiwan….it’s a staple. However, personally I feel like they’ve gone a bit downhill. I think they’ve started cracking down on fakes, so there aren’t as many knock offs anymore- disappointing! Street food is good, but mostly fried, so get your Tums ready.
7. Free Minibar at the Hotel
In the US, hotels charge you $8 bucks minimum for any drink you consume from the minibar. Not in Taiwan! Every hotel I stayed at had a FREE minibar. Can you believe it? I had pineapple cakes and like a gallon of water at the Hotel Tango in Taipei. Fruit at the Hotel del Lago at Sun Moon Lake. The list goes on and on. Enjoy it while you’re here ‘cause not many other places have it.
6. Jiu Fen
Translated, the name of this town is called “nine portions.” It’s somewhat hard to get to and if you can manage to survive the hours of car-sickening back and forth switchbacks, then it’s worth the trip. The main artery of town is a seemingly never ending staircase, but to the side of the staircase are cute shops and restaurants that you can browse. Great day trip from Taiwan!
5. Chung Tai Chan Monastery
This monastery is modern and breathtaking. You could get lost in here looking at the statues of laughing Buddha, the 4 headed soldiers that are as tall as the building, the decorated Buddhist shrines…It’s in Puli, Nantou Country, in central Taiwan, so if you happen to be near Sun Moon Lake or Taichung, then hop on over.
4. National Palace Museum
This place is epic…like the Louvre of Taiwan…and boasts the largest collection of ancient Chinese artifacts and artwork in the world. Check out the famous jade cabbage if you are lucky enough to go. It’s kind of like the Mona Lisa of the museum. I bought a beer magnet of it as a reminder.
3. The Natural Beauty
I’ve never really seen the natural beauty of Taiwan until this trip. Let’s just say that my last trip was during my 20’s for the infamous “Love Boat” summer camp, so I saw more of the inside of clubs and bars than anything else. Must see places? Taroko’s Gorge in Hualien and Sun Moon Lake. I’ve heard Alishan is cool, too…but we didn’t make it there because we were short on time. In case you’re wondering what Taroko’s Gorge is, it’s basically a huge passage formed by the river cutting through the mountains (pix below). It’s crazy the number of butterflies that live here and just flitter and float around. I’d recommend the Cave of Waterfall Curtain hike here. There’s a nice surprise at the end, which I won’t ruin for ya. And Sun Moon Lake is a lake in case you didn’t know! It was a bummer that the weather was overcasty and rainy, but we had a few good hours where the sun came out and played.
2. Nice People
The people are so freakin nice here and polite. Hospitality is amazing- both family and strangers a like, everybody from our taxi drivers to the people on the streets. There’s no crowding on sidewalks and people respect your personal space, unlike some other places I’ve traveled too. And our relatives there were so hospitable. Every meal was another relative treating us to some amazing food- a local hot spot, the hottest seafood restaurant, you name it! If we said we craved something, they got it for us right away. Thank you family for treating us so well. Yes, it’s expected, but you went above and beyond!
1. The Food
It’s no surprise that the food was the best part about Taiwan. What I love about my people is that they eat throughout the day…my kinda people. They’re always noshing on something. Bakeries are open all day (not just for half the day) and they are by far the best bakeries EVER. You can get an entire Taiwanese breakfast for 4 for the same price as 2 cups of Starbucks coffee. Street food is tasty and cheap. Boba is $1. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to ruin my next blog post, which is my top eats of Taiwan. Stay tuned! In the meantime, drool below.