CNY Getaway – Taipei (Part 2)

Xingtian TempleFollowing on from my initial introduction to Taipei and its people over hotpot, which included delicacies such as extra-chewy duck intestines (yeah I’m all good for that one especially for future, thanks) it was off to see the first of many temples, Xingtian, which was just nearby.

 

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m never sure what is actually good tourist manners in a temple – do I just walk around and take pictures freely as I like, do you pretend to be having some spiritual moment yourself while cheekily snapping the couple a few rows ahead having a quick pray, or do you just go in, enjoy it for what it is quietly, and leave again? In the end, we were loudly invited to join some kind of ceremony and that was enough to let me know it’d be fine to take pictures, though perhaps I’d skip out on the ceremony this time…

 

TamsuiNext morning it was up and out early for a serious day of travel. First stop was Tamsui, which is the end of one of the train lines – wow, and what a journey it was. The town was pretty quiet (which it definitely wasn’t a few days later) when we arrived and it was absolutely perfect for walking the streets, taking in the sights and smells of the market stalls lined up along the sides of the street; eerily, no matter how narrow the street and how closely the traffic was passing.

 

Further out (via a 15-minute pretty hairy bus ride) was Fisherman’s Wharf. I’m not sure how to describe this place; it was mega picturesque and reminded me of a sort of rich old men’s yacht club and marina (perhaps it is, for all I know), with a beautiful bridge spanning the marina.

Fishermans WharfBack into Tamsui again, it was time for sunset and honestly guys, I don’t go all in usually for sunsets, especially ones on the outskirts of a city where I can mostly see cargo container ships a few miles out to sea, but check this…

Sunset at TamsuiWe hopped back onto the train and into town, stopping once more at Shilin Night Market. Now, I know – don’t judge me for this – you should always embrace local food, but as many of you I’m sure will sympathise, sometimes you just run out of steam with that one and by the time we hit Shilin, the one thing I wanted – which incidentally isn’t Irish food either, but a Malaysian creation in the name of ‘Western cuisine’ – was a huge chicken chop. Thankfully, Taipei also got (I might as well keep the Malaysian English going).

 

Hunger satisfied, I enjoyed the quiet streets of the market – again, a rarity since I was back there the following night and it was absolutely insanity. It was like Glastonbury of the Taipei night market scene; but this night it was serene, calm and with no risk of pickpocketing!

Shilin Night MarketFinally, my friend and his brother who’d come along had to head for home to get their Chinese New Year celebrations quite rightly cracking, which left me, for the first time, by myself. Do I go and nab a few cans from the Family Mart and head home? Erhm – well, I decided since I’m not a complete old man just yet, to try out Elephant Mountain, which they’d told me about.

 

So, Elephant Mountain. Apparently it’s a 20-minute or so walk up a hill; I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it was more effort after such a long day than I’d definitely bargained for. It was actually only 15 minutes, that’s the good point. On the flipside, it was all steps. Every last one. It was like getting the workout I definitely didn’t need by that stage of the day. But was it worth it for the shots? I’ll let you decide…

Elephant MountainNext time around, I’m going to hit you with a review of the hotel, then my day tour and wrapping up my visit before the – once again – eventful journey back. Stay tuned!

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