Kawaii Traveling

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Update

Hey guys,

just a quick update: since I didn’t want to spent my last days in Taiwan with writing for the blog I didn’t post anything and these last days I was occupied unpacking, coming home etc. So sorry for not updating!

I hope I can get the last posts out as soon as possible. Thank you for understanding.

Pia


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Taroko National Park

Hey there!

Sunday we woke up at 7 am or so packed our stuff and went for breakfast at the 7/11 next door. The taxi driver was actually a little early but he waited for us to finish our meal and then we started our trip.

First he brought us to Chishingtan Beach. Which isn’t a beack for swimming or sunbathing exactly but it’s very beautiful. There is no sand but pebble and the water is very blue.

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Afterwards we went to see the cliffs a little north to the Taroko Gorge entry. (Qingshui Cliff)

We went to different sightseeing spots along the cost. I noticed that it really is almost impossible to go there by foot or bike, since the streets are very narrow and there is no space for other than cars, buses and scooters… We also stopped once where buses could never stop (and I don’t think you really are allowed to stop there). There supposedly used to be a walking path to see the cliffs, but since every year there are rocks falling down into the see, the path is closed now.

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Next was Taroko National Park. After a short stop at the Information center at the entry of the park to get a map, we went to the Shakadang Trail where we went around for 30 min or so. There were many tourists so this trail wasn’t my favourite just for that reason.

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At the Eternal Spring Shrine there were also many tourist buses, but we went up the Trail that leads to Changguan Temple and there was nobody except us at first (and later only a few other tourists). The trail is mainly stairs up the mountain on one side and then down the mountain at the other side. At the top you can visit Taroko Tower. In order to get to Changguan Temple however you have to cross, what I call the bridge of death…. It’s a small wood suspension bridge and quite long for a suspension bridge I think. Since I’m not very comfortable with hights this was a challenge…

The temple on the other side is also very beautiful, and as I said there were not many other tourists :) All in all it took us 1 h to get there, but we didn’t walk very fast and stopped often to take pictures.

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the bridge of death….

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the bridge of death as seen from the street under it

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Next we went to Swallow Grotto. Our driver fetched us some trendy helmets for safety ;) Although I think it’s more of a touristy thing to have them, not that they are really for safety. As expected: many tourists were there. The trail is not really a trail, more the side of the road. But the stone formations (where the swallows live) are beautiful, and as I said also with the beach, the river water was VERY blue at times. So very beautiful.

At the end of the trail there is the “Indian Head” rock, which really looks like a head, if you know where to look ;)

"safety" helmets...

“safety” helmets…

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on the right you see the "indian head" rock

on the right you see the “indian head” rock

We afterwards briefly stopped to see the “Frog rock” to take some pictures.

turtle? rock

turtle? rock

the frog rock (underneath the pavilion)

the frog rock (underneath the pavilion)

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And then we went hiking again. This time at Lüshui Trail. There are to trails, a long one and a shorter version, we took the shorter one and it took us about 45 min maybe? (stopping often to take pictures) There weren’t too many tourists and the trail itself was very nice (in the woods) There is a 35 m tunnel that has no artificial lightning so our driver gave us a flashlight, but to be honest 35 m isn’t too long… And a cellphone as flashlight would work too ;)

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Our last stop was Buluowan. There is a indigenous “museum” of sorts and they had a short movie about the indigenous people there so we watched it. Although neither of us could understand it. They spoke their indigenous dialect and only had mandarin subtitles which where too fast for Alex to read… But oh well. We saw how they got their face tattoos (at quite a young age) to symbolize their adulthood (the women have bigger tattoos than the men actually), we saw a traditional wedding, etc.

Since it was already getting late, and also the weather started to get worse (it started to rain lightly) we decided to go back to Hualien and go to a café until our train departed (at 21:10).

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Since the driver kept asking where to drop us off exactly (since it was raining heavily in Hualien) we decided to go back to the café where we stayed the day before (Alice café). :)

There we drank Matcha Latte/Coffee again and also ate dinner, which was a Japanese style menu.

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Later we only bought some snacks for the journey and went to Taipei again. :)

If your coming to Taiwan please visit Taroko National Park! There is plenty to see! Maybe you could rent your own car to go there, or go by tourist bus/taxi.

Thank you for reading!

Until then,

Pia


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Daan Park and our trip to Hualien

Hello :)

Friday it was raining heavily in the morning so I decided to stay in and write and also pack for our trip to Hualien the next day.

When the weather finally cleared up a bit I left for Daan Park. I got off at Dongmen because I’ve read about a café in the area that supposedly is quite good. It’s called the Formosa Vintage Café. But when I entered I noticed it’s not my cup of tea… So I didn’t stay… Because Lonely Planet wrote that the café also is a museum I thought it would be interesting for me, but it only had some old newspapers, toys etc. at display. And no explanations in English… (Since it really is a café, not a museum) But maybe if you’re a fan of vintage stuff you’ll like the atmosphere?

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inside Formosa Vintage Café

Next I went to Daan Park. And I have to take back all I said earlier about parks in Taipei ;) I won’t change my earlier entry, because it was what I felt when I wrote it, but I have to add, that until then I hadn’t been to many parks either. And not to Daan Park. :)

I love Daan Park. It’s very similar to German parks in the sense that there are smaller paths and more trees, but of course the flora and fauna here is different. For example there were many birds I havn’t seen before :)

my lunch from a bakery

my lunch from a bakery

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weird birds ;)

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snack: green tea bread with red bean and mochi filling

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here in Taipei there are many street dogs :(

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Since it was already getting late I decided to go back to my hostel by foot. As you might have noticed I love going by foot ;) I took some pictures along the way.

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Bubble Tea :)

Bubble Tea :)

at Ximen

at Ximen

For dinner we decided to have “western” food and went to Chili’s at Ximen. We had a chicken salad and Hot artichoke and spinach dip. :)

Later we got some mango shaved ice for desert at a shop near by.

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Since we had to wake up early the next day in order to take the train to Hualien we went to bed early.

Saturday I woke up at 6:30. Our train departed at 8:48. For the first hour or so we didn’t have reserved seats, but we found some that weren’t taken yet.

The ride to Hualien takes roughly 2,5 h and costs about 450 NTD for one journey. We bought some pork buns for breakfast to eat in the train. At the Taipei Metro it’s prohibited to eat, drink, smoke or chew gum inside the trains, but the eating/drinking part doesn’t apply to long distance trains.

We slept most of the journey. ;)

When we arrived at Hualien Station it was pouring… Fortunately we had bought some raincoats at a convenience store earlier in Taipei.

First thing we did was go to the Visitor Information Center to ask about going to Taroko National Park. Since we arrived at 11:30 it was already to late to go to the National Park, but that was ok, since it was raining anyway. We already knew that we probably would take a private cap for the day to go to the park the next day, but preferred to also ask at the Information center. There they informed us that indeed this would be the best choice for us, since you can only go by bus (with tuns of other tourists, for about 1700 NTD per person) or by taxi (2500 NTD for 8 hours, and you can go wherever YOU like and how long you like) if you don’t have a car or scooter.

So for us the taxi was the best option so we booked a taxi at the Information Center for 8:30 am the next day. The driver would pick us up at the hostel.

Our next stop was the hostel. The lady at the Information Center gave us a map and a description on how to get to the hostel, though the description wasn’t very accurate so in the end we took a huge detour… (In the rain…)

The hostel was ok… We booked a private 2 bed room for the night which cost 440 NTD. And the hostel itself was fine (and freshly renovated), but we didn’t have beds… Only mattresses on the floor… But oh well, I slept very good :D (Mainly because I only had Alex for a room mate, not 3 other (sometimes noisy) room mates.)

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breakfast ;)

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random kawaii picture of the day?

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The hostel was the Formosa Backpackers Hostel, if you’re interested. The dorms seemed to have beds ;)

For lunch we went to a Japanese style restaurant. We each ate a bento box with eel. I loooooove eel. :D

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Since Hualien isn’t too beautiful (it’s a little bit like a small Taipei) and there isn’t too much to see we just wanted to go to a temple near by, which was quite beautiful! :)

It’s at the foot of a mountain, so you have to climb some stairs…

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stylish rain ponchos ;)

stylish rain ponchos ;)

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near the temple

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By then we were drenched so we decided to go to a café. We found the beautiful café Alice. It’s a café targeted at families and they have a room where kids can play and many books for reading.

I had two matcha lattes and Alex had coffee. :D (we stayed for several hours, since it was so nice and outside it kept raining).

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For dinner we wanted to go to a nightmarket, but the one we found wasn’t too big, or maybe because of the rain not many stalls were open… :S

We had a duck role that was a little spicy :) Very delicious!

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The rest of the day we spent window shopping and sampling sweets. :) I bought some mochi cakes for souvenirs.

We also had Dan Bing, which is like a Chinese savory crape.

Afterwards we went home (drenched…).

So that was it for those two days… I know I didn’t do too much, but it was raining most of the time.

Thanks for reading!! :)

Until next time,

Pia


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Temples in Dalongdong

Hey there,

first off: I found a great breakfast/lunch place near my hostel! They have dumplings (sweet and savoury) for just 22 NTD and have an English menu! :D So I got myself some Taro filled dumpling and unsweetened fresh soy-milk.

My breakfast

My breakfast

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Today the weather was a bit better than yesterday (at least it was a little warmer) so I decided to visit the Confucius Temple and the Dalongdong Bao’an Temple (which are right next to each other).

To get there you can simply take the Metro to Yuanshan Station. There is also a Information Center right at the Metro Station. I went there to get a map of the area (they gave me two ;) One for the temples which lie in one direction and another for the Expo Park in the other direction.)

I decided to go to the temples first. I find the Confucius Temple rather interesting. Since Confucius isn’t a deity, it’s not you typical temple. Upon arriving to the temple from Yuanshan Station you first pass the Wanren Gongqiang (Wall of Supreme Knowledge) (this is also what it’s supposed to say on the wall).

Passing the wall and turning right you get to the main entrance the Pan Gong (Side Gate). Inside you will see an information point. I would advise you going there and picking up the brochure that they have in English for all the information about the various elements of the temple.

The temple itself, and the famous Pan Pond on the inside of the Wanren Gongqiang are beautiful. I really liked the Chinese unicorn painted on the inside of the Wanren Gongqiang. It’s interesting how different a unicorn might look to for example Germans and Chinese. The gates of the temple are not decorated as in other temples (since there is no deity) but the buildings itself are heavily decorated with carvings or Koji Pottery.

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Random Kawaii Picture of the day :D

Random Kawaii Picture of the day :D

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After roaming around a bit I went to the other side of the road to Linsheng Garden. It’s a Chinese style garden built by Bao’an Temple.

The Bao’an Temple is right on the other side.

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It’s interesting how different temples here look compared to temples in Japan. Here I think they are more heavily decorated and maybe there is a bit more colour. Also the motives are different. For example here you see more dragons (like on top of the buildings).

Most people at Bao’an Temple pray for good health since the halls are dedicated to Baosheng Dadi (the god of chinese medecine) and Shennong Dadi (god of herbal medicine).

My next stop would be Wenshang Shrine, but I had my difficulties finding it. After asking a shop owner for directions his wife (and baby) showed me the way and accompanied me quite a bit of the way :) Most people are really nice here and try to help whenever they can. Although most of them don’t speak English (or don’t want to?) they’re trying.

Finally, I found the shrine. It was hidden in an alley and since the shrine itself isn’t too big I didn’t see it at first. What I noticed is that there are often cars parked on the shrine or temple grounds which I find funny. But maybe it’s just practical.

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Right across the big street near the shrine there is the Recreational Sports Park atop the Dihua Sewage Treatment Plant. I went to check it out but it’s not a “must go”… Often I find that the parks here are very different form parks in Germany. In Germany the parks are really green with many trees and you often have small paths that are not paved. Here, all the paths are paved and there is a bit of green, but only at the sides or at open spaces as a decoration. And there are hardly any trees…

At the park there was an observation platform atop Danshui River to which I went to see if one could go to the river and walk a bit there. But as I expected you can’t do that… Every time I have seen (or I knew it should be there) one of the rivers in Taipei there were large highways between me and the river or highways going from one side of the river to another… So it’s not particulary beautiful… Which is a pity, but you can’t have everything ;)

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For lunch I had dumplings again, but at this place they didn’t have an English menu and couldn’t speak English either, so in order to explain what was inside the owner grunted at me, and the customer after me said “Pig! Pig!”. :D It was delicious!

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The only bad thing about the district: there are many planes that fly directly over it…

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Next I wanted to go to Expo Park. The park is divided in three parts. The Yuanshan Park Area, which is more like a big open paved space with a bit of green, but there is the Yuanshan Plaza with food stalls, Fine Arts Park, where the Taipei Fine Arts Museum is located and the Taipei Story House (a European-style house) and the last part the Xinsheng Park Area, which was my favorite since it’s more like a park in Europe.

At Xinsheng Park there is also a beautiful Creative Garden (Rose Garden). Right across the street of the Park there is the Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum. The entry is free (it’s open until 5 pm) and I really recommend going. The house is of southern Fujian style architecture and it’s really beautiful.

The Taipei Story House

The Taipei Story House

at the Expo park

at the Expo park

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in the rose garden in Xinsheng Park

in the rose garden in Xinsheng Park

the creative garden

the creative garden

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Lin An Tai Historical House

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I spent quite some time at the park, just going around, relaxing a bit. I really like parks I guess.

Since it was getting dark already I decided to head back to meet with Alex.

This time we ate typical Chinese food again :) We also had the soup dumplings again… I wish they had those in Germany… If someone knows a place where I could get them please write me!! :D

We also had fried noodles and different kinds of vegetables.

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For desert Alex wanted to show me pineapple bread, but unfortunately the place was already closed. So we found a small ice cream parlor that had freshly made ice cream without added preservatives. The lady was very nice to us and we could try almost every flavour until we decided on what to get. I had Sesame ice cream (black) and alex had banana hazlenut :)

It was very good! The place is near Zhongxiao Fuxing if your interested.

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sesame ice cream :)

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banana hazelnut ice cream

banana hazelnut ice cream

So I really recommend you going to the Dalongdong Area since there is so much to see.

Until next time,

Pia


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The National Palace Museum

Hello again! :)

So today the weather wasn’t too nice (It was pretty cold and looked like it was going to rain) plus I woke up at 11 am (I don’t know how… Normally I woke up at 8 am everyday…), so I decided to go to a museum. My friend recommended the National Palace Museum so it was a fast choice. ;)

In the museum they have ancient Chinese imperial artefacts and artworks (quoting Wikipedia ;)).

So if you at least a little interested in art: pay the museum a visit!!! I really liked it a lot!

So in order to go there you can go by Metro to Shilin Station and take a bus directly to the Museum (it’s the last Station). First I thought I could walk form Shilin but it is a really long distance, so I wouldn’t do that… Plus I didn’t have a proper map. In the bus you can pay cash or with your EasyCard. (It’s one fare for one ride.)

The museum building itself is quite beautiful. They also be the only pictures of the museum since inside it’s prohibited to take pictures…

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So… Where to begin ;)

The entry costs 250 NTD for one person (if you have an international student card it’s only 150). The museum is quite big, so you can spend a lot of time there… I think I spent like 4-5 hours for the Main building 1. And then I was tired and couldn’t look at art any more :P (And it was getting late) So I went back to the city to meet Alex for dinner.

The first floor had the “Garland of Treasures” Exhibit which showed masterpieces of precious crafts in the museum collection. This one was one of my favourite exhibits. It’s astonishing how intricate some of the pieces were and how detailed. Unfortunately, because it was one of the more famous exhibits there were many tourist groups which can be a little noisy/crowded. They had many pieces made out of rhinoceros horn, wood, ivory and jade.

One thing I noticed at the very beginning: in all the exhibit halls it’s quite dark… And I don’t know why? Can someone explain maybe? I always get sleepy when it’s so dark inside… ;)

There were also many temporary exhibits (like the religious sculptural arts, the rare books, I think, so on). As I said, the museum is big.

So I won’t talk about every exhibit, but only the ones I really really liked and the famous ones.

The rare books exhibit for example could be very interesting for some, but since I don’t speak Chinese it’s only semi-interesting for me. ;) Calligraphy on the other hand is also beautiful if you don’t understand the words.

The museum is most famous for it’s jade artefacts. Especially the “smart carvings” with the jadeite cabbage. I really liked seeing it, but it’s a pity, that you had to queue up in order to see it. And don’t linger too long… They will shoo you away… So be prepared ;)

The jade exhibits in general were one of my favourites. The also show you how the usage of jade through the Ages developed (from only being used as tools, to being used for rituals and finally for art). Also explaining what jade is and so on.

Another exhibit where you have to queue is the one with the bell and the cauldron with Chinese Inscriptions. For me this one wasn’t too interesting, since I couldn’t read the inscription either. But I could read about it ;)

What I really liked was that at every start of an exhibit there was a big wall with English (Chinese and Japanese) text about what we were going to see. And they had free pamphlets that you could take with you with the most important information. (Now I have like 20 pamphlets ;P)

The next two important exhibits were Clay and Bronze. To be honest I’m not a big fan of neither, but it’s interesting non the less! So don’t miss it!

What I really REALLY liked was the exhibit of the world of birds and flowers in painting, tapestry and embroidery. When it comes to art I’m more a fan of “2D” stuff (aka paintings), so this was my section. It was very interesting to see the differences between tapestry, embroidery and painting. They always displayed similar motives of all three arts next to each other for comparison.

So all in all: check out the museum if you like art (even if it’s just a bit)!

I always thought I didn’t like Chinese Art, but the visit really changed my perspective! In European museums, if they have a “Asian section” I always think it’s the same old stuff… But the National Palace Museum shows you otherwise!

So after 5h in the Museum I went back to meet Alex and we had Japanese Curry with breaded chicken for dinner. And for desert we had shaved ice with milk tea flavour, sweet tofu and bubble tea from Ice Monster (a very famous shaved ice brand here) :)

Sooo good!

Japanese Curry

Japanese Curry

sooo good

sooo good

Thank you for reading!

Have a nice day!

Pia


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Walking through Taipei

Hey there,

Today I went for a walk… A long one ;)

I started my journey at Ximending, where my hostel is at. Since I wanted to go to see Longshan Temple I went in the general direction.

It’s cool to see how you can start at Ximending, with it’s modern vibe and many stores and walk a bit and see not too modern houses and small local stores that are family businesses.

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At Longshan Temple there were many people. Not many tourists like me (who don’t worship there) but many people praying. First thing I noticed was the smoke of the incense. Everyone had incense in their hands and it was almost hard to breathe (although we were outside). The temple itself is quite different from all the temples I saw in Japan. It’s more decorated maybe? And more colourful. I like all the dragon ornaments.

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so much incense….

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Right next to Longshan Temple is Herb lane. A street were Chinese medicinal herbs are sold. I didn’t take too many pictures because some of the owners looked at me weird. But I should have one or two good ones ;)

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Later I decided to go to 2/28 peace park. It was quite the walk but I like walking. :) Next to the park is the Presidential Office Building which reminded me a lot of London. The architecture was inspired by western architecture and you see that immediately.

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Presidential Office Building

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little park right next to 2/28 Peace memorial Park

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Can someone read the inscription and tell me who this is? I didn’t find any English signs and I can’t find it on the Internet either…

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Jingfu Gate (Taipei East Gate)

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The 2/28 peace park (and the small park next to it) are beautiful. It remembers the victims of the 2/28 Incident in 1947. It was an anti-government uprising that was suppressed by the government by killing thousands of civilians.

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After resting a bit I went to Ximen again (by foot) to see the Red House. It was build by the japanese and nowadays serves as a cultural and creative center. Inside you can find some art exhibitions and a small store with souvenirs. I really liked it since it’s not the normal souvenir stuff you can get anywhere.

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Zhongshan Hall

Zhongshan Hall

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The Red House

The Red House

inside the Red House

inside the Red House

random temple

random temple

I then walked around again for a bit, ate waffles at a café in Ximen and decided to walk to Alex’s Hotel to meet here there after work. (Which is 5 metro stations away ;))

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Random kawaii picture of the day

Random kawaii picture of the day

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It was a long walk but I took some beautiful pictures…

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Taipei Main Station

Taipei Main Station

so many scooters!!

so many scooters!!

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Barbie Cafe from across the street :D

Barbie Cafe from across the street :D

For dinner we ate Vietnamese pho and Vietnamese sandwiches. :) Delicious! (The restaurant was inside Breeze Shopping Center)

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they still have their christmas lights :D

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As always, thanks for reading!

Keep commenting ;)

Pia


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Hiking up Elephant Mountain

Hello ;)

The next day started similar to the day before. Since we wanted to go hiking (up Elephant Mountain) in the evening we decided to get a big brunch and then buy something small for the hike.

So we went to brunch at New York Bagel ;) Of course we had some bagels (with eggs and bacon/hash-brown). I was a little sick (I guess from the air-conditioners everywhere) so I got some black tea with my menu and it was free refill. ;) Yay!

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Afterwards we decided to go by foot to Taipei 101 (Elephant Mountain isn’t too far from the tower). We were near Zhongxiao Dunhua, so it was quite a walk. But I could take some pictures along the way.

random kawaii picture of the day ;) (I really like cats!)

random kawaii picture of the day ;) (I really like cats!)

random tai chi statues

random tai chi statues

attempting and failing ;)

attempting and failing ;)

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we're almost at Taipei 101

we’re almost at Taipei 101

there are so many scooters in Taipei!

there are so many scooters in Taipei!

weird tree... (I don't know much about plants... Sorry)

weird tree… (I don’t know much about plants… Sorry)

Taipei Cow

Taipei Cow

Transformers ;)

Transformers ;)

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At the mall at Taipei 101 we got ourselves some cooling drinks. I had Green Bean and Pearl Bean Milk. It somewhat does taste like beans but I liked it!

green bean and pearl bean milk (left) and strawberry milk

green bean and pearl bean milk (left) and strawberry milk

So finally we thought it was late enough (cold enough) to go up Elephant Mountain. It was like 3 or 4 pm. We went from Taipei 101 by foot. It’s one MRT station, so not too far. Once at Xiangshan station there are maps (at the station) to see where to go. But there were also a lot of people (since it was a holiday) so we couldn’t miss it.

At the bottom we bought some Onigiri and water/tea. Going up the mountain is not as much hiking as going up stairs. You don’t have to be too athletic to go up. Actually we were passed by by some elderly people ;D I guess we are not very fit…

At the top the view was very rewarding. :) (Although there were many people) We waited until sundown and I could take some cool pictures. I hope you enjoy ;)

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Elephant Mountain

Elephant Mountain

yeah... I'm already red... ;)

yeah… I’m already red… ;)

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One thing though: better bring mosquito spray or something… I didn’t…. My legs are red now… (I later bought a “mosquito relief” thingy)

It was getting dark so we started ours descent. There are lanterns every few meters but still I don’t like going down hundreds of stairs when it’s dark…

For dinner we went to the Taipei 101 mall yet again and ate Indian Curry (hey, it’s asian alright… Maybe not taiwanese but still asian… ;)) and had … for desert. Which I never had before and I love it! Well, generally I’m a big fan of tofu and soybeans, so… But I recommend trying it. We ate it warm, but they also had a cold version.

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Thanks for reading!

Pia

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