Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I posted a travel journal in Preei’s blog. This time, I will share some of my experiences in Taiwan.
I went to Taiwan last September for a holiday. I visited 3 cities there, Kaohsiung, Taipei, and Tainan. I will write according to the cities, not in chronological order. I stayed there for 10 days and most of the time in Kaohsiung, so I will write about the other cities first and the last is Kaohsiung.
I arrived on Friday afternoon at Kaohsiung and on the next day, I went to Taipei for the weekend. We use THSR (Taiwan High-Speed Rail), it took around 3 hours from Kaohsiung to Taipei. It will take 6 hours or more using the regular train, the high-speed rail surely my only choice since I don’t have much time. The high-speed rail costs about 1000 NTD for one person, one way. Once I arrived at Taipei, I went straight to the hostel to check-in and it’s almost time for lunch so I head to a restaurant that’s on my wishlist whilst taking a stroll walk.
2/28 Park Peace.
And you probably already knew this famous place that is a must-eat when in Taipei, Din Tai Fung! I went to the one at Xinyi road, it is actually the original Din Tai Fung where it all started. I arrived around 11 AM, not at lunchtime yet, but the queue is already no joke. I waited for about an hour before I got a table and finally ate there. I was just too hungry and overwhelmed that I forgot to take a picture of the food.😁
Queue in front of Din Tai Fung Xinyi.
Shops around Xinyi road.
After that, I went to a local trade market but there was heavy rain and it was quite a chaos weather, so I decided to just wait for the rain at a mall nearby. And the rest of the day was just going from a mall to mall cause it was still pouring rain.
The next day, thankfully, the weather was better. Not sunny but no rain. I went to a cool shop called Ri Xing Type Foundry. This is presumably the oldest of Taiwan’s type foundry. You can get various type plates from here. They have several sizes and many characters such as Latin, Chinese, Japanese, numeric and even zodiac signs!
Ri Xing Type Foundry.
Ri Xing Type Foundry Collections.
Another must-try in Taiwan, bubble tea! There’s a lot of shops there so you won’t have to worry to miss them. Their tea usually sweets and cold, perfect for the weather. It was quite hot and humid at Taipei at that time, even though it was cloudy. So you’ll crave cold drinks more!
Cold tea shop.
The following week, I went to Tainan. It took about 1-1,5 hours from Kaohsiung to Tainan using a local train. The train trip costs around 120 NTD one way. It was a day trip, so I went quite early and then back around 5 PM to Kaoshiung.
One of the most attractive things in Tainan is its food. It was so hot that day, so I decided to search for dessert or cold drinks instead of a heavy meal. And so I went to this fruit shop that also sells fresh fruit juices and dessert. I ordered a Watermelon juice but then I saw people there ordered mango, then I decided to also buy a mango juice 😁.
Watermelon juice from a Fruit shop.
One of the most popular cultural destinations in this city is Shennong street. This street is full of restored old buildings. There you can see how Taiwan’s old houses facades back in the day. It is all renovated now, and it all looks pretty and neat. There are many things to see other than its architecture. Along the streets, you can find craft shops and also cafes.
Cute souvenir shop.
Another popular architecture site in Tainan is Hayashi Department Store. Hayashi Department Store was originally completed and opened in 1932, during Japanese rule. Upon completion, the building was one of two such stores in Taiwan with state-of-the-art features of elevators. The building was bombed by the United States airplanes at the end of WWII. After refurbishment, the building function was restored and reopened in 2014*. Some tips if you visit this place, go to the rooftop. There, they have a cafe and a souvenir shop where you can enjoy the city’s view too.
The top floor of the Hayashi Department Store.
I’ll start with food for this city, okay? In the other cities, I don’t have much chance to experience their food, but in Kaohsiung, I got plenty of time to try things out. And here are some of our favorites dishes that I’ll definitely come back for sure.
Now, I will talk about dessert! It was around 30 degrees Celsius when I was there. Of course, cold drinks are the first thing I search for. This one is Mango ice. It is a shaved ice served with fresh mango slices and mango ice cream in a bowl. It was very refreshing to eat after lunch or even after dinner. It’s just too… yummy!
Mango shaved iced with ice cream.
The other dessert that I liked was this Oolong tea tofu pudding with grass jelly and taro balls. The taro balls and puddings are sweet, combines with plain cold Oolong tea makes it a really balanced combination of sweetness. It wasn’t too sweet yet very refreshing. I had the dessert here.
Cold Oolong tea tofu pudding.
This one is very tempting just by looking at it looked, is Fruit Sorbet in a melon! There are a few dessert shops that sell this kind of menu. This one has various flavors of sorbet on a fresh melon that you can also eat. By the way, I don’t eat it by myself. I mean, look at that huge portion!
Fruit sorbet with melon.
And for the last from my food journey is this Taiwanese beef burrito. After all the food that I’ve tried in Kaohsiung, not that I already eat everything in there, this is my most favorite dish. This dish even makes me come back again in a few days after my first visit. Overall this restaurant is great, I also recommend their wonton noodle and xiao long bao. Back to the beef burrito, it is a wrapped seasoned beef with green onion and cucumber. That’s it. But it was so good, the beef is seasoned very well combines with a fresh taste of cucumber and a little bit of bitterness from the green onion. If you’re curious to try, here is the link to restaurant maps.
Taiwanese beef burrito.
For sightseeing, I didn’t go to many places. One of the most famous places in Kaohsiung is The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. It is a temple located at Lotus Pond. The temple was built in 1976. There is a sign outside the pagodas that tells you to enter through the dragon’s mouth and come out from the tiger’s mouth. It says if you do that you will be able to get rid of your bad luck and got a lot of luck.
The Dragon and Tiger Pagoda.
Lotus pond at sunset.
Another iconic place in Kaoshiung is their Dome of Light at Formosa Boulevard MRT Station. This illuminated work of glass art is one of the biggest pieces in the world, it was built by an Italian artist. The dome is said to tell the story of human life in four different themes: Water, Light, Earth, Fire. It also contains a message of love and commemoration to the heroes who helped political changes in the country that stand up for freedom
Dome of Light.
I was there at the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s a public holiday there. There are many activities in the city. One of them that I found was this night street theater. Even though I don’t understand what they said, it was still interesting to watch.
Night street theater.
Kaohsiung is a port city that is directly connected to the sea. We went to a nearby beach cliff in western Kaohsiung. It is called Chaishan Fishing Pier. You can explore the area or chill at some cafe there.
Seaside at Chaishan Pier.
Stairwell to the pier.
The view from cafe.
In Kaohsiung, I stayed at a hotel near Pier 2. Pier 2 Art Center is a former warehouse district housing galleries with rotating exhibits, plus outdoor sculptures & shops. It is well-known to be a new cultural area. There are a lot of local brand shops and galleries.
Street along Pier 2.
One of the best stationery shops in Taiwan, Tools to Liveby. It’s a must-visit if you a stationery lover. It is also located at Pier 2.
Tools to Liveby at Pier 2 Art Center.
There are several options for public transportation in Kaohsiung such as Metro, bus, bike rent and my favorite is their brand new tram.
Kaohsiung latest addition on their public transport, Circular light train. It was first operated in 2015.
Tram station near Pier 2.
That’s it for my travel story in Taiwan. If I have a chance, I would love to go back there again. There are many things to see in Taipei that I haven’t gone to. I hope you enjoy this blog post!
Photos & text by Ayu S.