Have I actually left Japan yet? Last time I checked my itinerary, I was pretty sure I had already left Osaka, and landed in another country, and a city called Taipei. So why am I questioning it? I know, that is a strange question to ask. But let me explain.
To put quite simply, I feel like Taipei is a mini version of Japan! You can get just about every common Japanese brands here like Mos Burger, Yoshinoya, Otoya, with the streets littered with Japanese cuisines like Okonomiyaki, ramen, sushis and shabu shabu! I could not avoid turning a corner without running into something Japanese here! There’s even a mini ‘Shinjuku’ (a famous young trendy area in Tokyo) right here:
And perhaps a ‘not-so-hot’ attempt at cosplay:
No need to go to Japan right? And guess what? There is even an Onsen area called “Beitou” which is littered with hotels with private Japanese style spas! This is one of the public ones you can go to:
The difference between this Onsen and the one in Japan though, is that.. Whilst the one in Japan cleared all the rashes on my skin, this Taiwanese version gave ALL the rashes back to me!! Don’t expect the public one to be tooo clean!
Anyway, this heavy Japanese influence makes sense, given Taiwan was under Japanese occupation for something like 50 years in the early 1900s. Whilst, the people back then were busy protesting colonial rule, it is a very different story today. It is ‘cool’ to be Japanese. Every man here wants to date a Japanese women, and every women wants to dress and look like a Japanese lady!
Of course, it is every bit Chinese as well. After a month of squeaky clean Japan, the smell of stinky tofu, and even the occasional whiff of bad air from the drainage system are welcome signs that I am definitely in ‘real’ Asia! 🙂 And like most parts of Asia, this place is full of scooters! No point riding one of these though, since you WILL have parking problems!
Whilst I was unintentionally on a weight-loss diet in Japan, it is the reverse in Taiwan. I am unintentionally on a weight-GAIN program. There are a ton of food choices here! After all, it is the homeland of the famous ‘Pearl Ice Milk Tea’! I could not even fully remember all the varieties of food I had tried in the last few days. See if you know any of them?
Perhaps, this one special meal I had is worth mentioning here. This shop is located about 40 minutes subway ride away from the centre of Taipei, in another area known as “Dan Shui” (Basically “Non-salty water”). This place is normally famous for its river walks, and old streets. BUT, it is also the birthplace of probably Taiwan’s biggest mega-star ever known to them, Jay Chow (Zhou Jie Lun or ???). Most Asians would have heard of this guy before, known for his ‘murmuring’ style of singing, and an actor. Well, apparently this little Wonton shop in Dan Shui is where he used to go very often as a student.
And he will ALWAYS order a chicken drumstick, a bowl of wonton, and a crispy biscuit…
It has since been known as the “Jay Chow Meal”. I can’t say it tasted anything special, but we humans (or perhaps it’s just me) are vain animals wanting to be like him. Perhaps after this meal, I will end up murmuring like him 🙂 Will let you know, if my singing career takes off.
Another unique feature of Taipei that is worth mentioning here is that the place is FULL of night markets. We are not just talking about 1 or 2 or even 5! There really is a night market EVERYWHERE. I had visited a different market every single night for the last 5 nights in a row, and I had probably only covered a fraction of them all. Don’t go on a weekend though, ‘cause I could barely walked through this one:
And no matter how crowded a market is, scooters will still somehow be able to whizz pass the narrow alleyways without hitting anyone:
This market here (Wu Fen Pu or ???) sells ONLY clothes, but offers a ton of them in sacks! Most shops sell them on floors like this, which is unique!
And as if the streets of Taipei don’t already offer enough food, the night markets just add to them all, and offer a whole different variety of food again! How about some chicken asses on a stick? No problem!
To be honest, I am quite surprised just how many sights are available here in Taipei alone. You can stay here for a whole week, and won’t be done with it all. It isn’t just about the famous Taipei 101 building, which dominates the skyline here! In fact, I thought the entry price was a bit overpriced!
I haven’t even begun to explore anywhere outside of Taipei yet, even after 5 days here! The best I have done is a visit to a former mining town, known as “Jiu Fen” or ??, about 1 hour bus ride of town, for some moutain and ocean view.
It just offers a serene alternative to the hustle and bustle of Taipei, with yet another ‘old street’ to explore.
Plenty of reasons to make it back here again, for a FULL Taiwan trip! Or should I say “Mini Japan with a little bit of Chinese flavour”?