Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 15

Where The Wind Takes Me Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsStart of DayEnd of Day
Day 0 - Apr 21-22 2024Plane (Edmonton > Tokyo)Edmonton, CanadaTokyo, Japan
Day 1 - Tue Apr 23 2024Akihabara, Sensoji, Tokyo Sky Arena, Taiwan Food FestivalTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 2 - Wed Apr 24 2024Nezu Shrine, Tokyo National MuseumTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 3 - Thu Apr 25 2024Akihabara, Ginza, Yurakucho, Bocchi the Rock! Exhibition (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 4 - Fri Apr 26 2024Craft Gyoza Fes, Niku Fes, Odaiba, Kameido Tenjin ShrineTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 5 - Sat Apr 27 2024Niconico Chokaigi 2024Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 6 - Sun Apr 28 2024M3-53Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 7 - Mon Apr 29 2024Train (Tokyo > Osaka)Tokyo, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 8 - Tue Apr 30 2024Tsurumibashi, Expo Commemorative Park, Osaka Station (with Miyu)Osaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 9 - Wed May 01 2024Kyoto, Takenobu Inari Shrine, SaiinOsaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 10 - Thu, May 02 2024Train (Osaka > Tokyo)Osaka, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 11 - Fri May 03 2024Reitaisai 21Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 12 - Sat May 04 2024Japan Jam 2024 (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 13 - Sun May 05 2024National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 14 - Mon May 06 2024Haneda International Airport, Plane (Tokyo > Taipei), Liaoning Night MarketTokyo, JapanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 15 - Tue May 07 2024Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, Ximending Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 16 - Wed May 08 2024Shilin Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 17 - Thu May 09 2024Raohe Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 18 - Fri May 10 2024Songjiang Market, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Shida Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 19 - Sat May 11 2024Dihua Street, Huaxi Street Night Market, Guangzhou Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 20 - Sun May 12 2024Gongguan Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 21 - Mon May 13 2024Plane (Taipei > HK), Train (HK > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelTaipei, TaiwanGuangzhou, China
Day 22 - Tue May 14 2024Zhongfu Square, Alpaca Sighting (with Kel), Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 23 - Wed May 15 2024Panyu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 24 - Thu May 16 2024Nancun Wanbo (with Kel), Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 25 - Fri May 17 2024Train (Guangzhou > Xiamen), Zhongshan RoadGuangzhou, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 26 - Sat May 18 2024Xiamen Railway StationXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 27 - Sun May 19 2024Mingfa Shopping MallXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 28 - Mon May 20 2024Train (Xiamen > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelXiamen, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 29 - Tue May 21 2024Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 30 - Wed May 22 2024Tianhe Computer Town, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 31 - Thu May 23 2024Comic City, Shangxiajiu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 32 - Fri May 24 2024Train (Guangzhou > Hong Kong)Guangzhou, ChinaHong Kong, China

Tuesday, May 07 2024 (Day 15)

I spent the morning at home working on the blog, and researching some places to go to for the afternoon. There are a couple more famous shopping malls and similar areas in Taipei that generally pop up as tourist areas, and they sounded interesting enough, even if I figured that the stuff in that area would be horrenduously expensive. I needed to experience and learn a baseline for prices in Taiwan though, so those places are where I chose to go today.

The first place I went to was Taipei Main Station, and the malls around it. I ended up at a food court in what I believe was Q Square Mall:

And had Soybean Paste Stew with rice and a bunch of side items, picking 3 from a tray of 12-15 or so.

It was good, though it cost 275 NTD due to the side dishes adding 80 NTD to the cost, so something like 11 and a half CAD.

The mall itself was very modern and… whitewashed? Bright and clean and shiny, higher-class stores full of chic and more expensive items, and so on. REIT malls, I believe I called them before.

Wandering under the mall, I came to a place with a bunch of machines where you could order single-use tickets for the buses. This felt weird since you could just use the transit Easycard to get around, but then again, if I got to keep the ticket.. maybe I’ll buy a ticket sometime too. But I wonder if you can buy these from anywhere else other than here? You certainly can’t just buy them from any random bus stop. How do they work? Who buys them? Hmm.

There was a huge underground mall connecting a bunch of the above ground malls, as well as the Taipei Main Station and I believe a couple of the other nearby train stations too. These malls were labelled with letters, Y, R, K, and Z, and the names of the exits from that part of the mall corresponded to those letters, so they went Y1, Y2, Y3, and so on. Very creative. But easy to refer to at least, because the underground mall area was fairly huge and somewhat complex.

When I first arrived at the underground area of the mall, down an escalator, there was a woman singing for a bunch of people randomly sitting around. About an hour later when I came back here to leave the mall, she was just about finishing her performance.

The mall was long, and often divided into two rows down the length of the mall (especially in the long Y area) so there were left and right side shops on the left row and left and right side shops on the right row. Sometimes the two shops on the middle row were owned by the same company and were just one giant shop though, but most of the time they were separate shops that didn’t open into each other.

I found this that made me smile — a kirara jump posing location! I already found my kirara jump quota this trip though. Magic JUMP!!

I also found this plushie that I really wanted, featuring Frieren from the Sousou no Frieren anime being eaten by a mimic, a signature scene from the show, in plush form. I really wanted it. But it was huge. And cost 1300 NTD. That’s $55 CAD. Do I want it that much? And is that actually Frieren? Why is she wearing purple instead of white?

I saw a couple guys in the mall dancing around next to a mirror, as though they were practising choreography for their songs like idols and other performers do in studios.

There were a LOT of claw machines around the place, and some looked very winnable, but I didn’t try any. Mostly for plushies, but some of the more unique ones included snacks inside the machines:

That girl didn’t win the oversized candy that she was going for. Here’s a gallery of other random pictures from this portion of my wanderings.

I ran into what seemed like a couple of homeless people when I came up from the escalator while leaving the underground mall area. Their backs were turned though and I snuck a picture and then snuck off.

I wandered above ground around the downtown area for a bit, and saw a bunch of tent stalls closer to what I think of when I think of a “night market”:

It was small but the tent sold things like clothes and accessories. It wasn’t night yet though. Some other highlight pictures from my above ground wanderings include this row of motorcycles:

This dirty.. errr rustic building surrounded by cleaner and brighter-looking buildings that caught my eye and made me wonder how much history the building had:

This truck — this company operates in Japan (and apparently in the US) too under the name Yamato (local). But here they’re T-Cat or Black Cat Delivery (黑貓宅急便)? Weird.

Talking about black cats, I went down to a music store in a basement somewhere and there was this cat wandering around and making laps inside the store. Likely belonging to the owners.

And up on the main street a bit later on I saw this thing. I couldn’t decide if it was a dog or a monkey. Google seems to think it’s a poodle, but…

And behold! Angel’s ladders in the distance!

I had come to a realization by this point that outside of transit, food and items seemed to be very much more expensive in Taiwan than in Japan, and while Taipei, at least, had a cheaper bottom price floor than something like Canada, where everything cost two arms and a leg, the regular or pricier stuff was all there too. I mean, these were the prices for shaved ice and fruits and ice cream at a slightly fancy downtown store. Around $10 CAD!

By this time, I had walked from the Taipei Main Station area to Ximen, also more or less interchangeably known as Ximending, a popular tourist shopping district that also hosted not really a night market in the traditional sense, but night.. shops. I arrived during the late afternoon and wandered around a long while. There were anime-style posters hanging everywhere, and lots of crappy souvenir stores around. You know the types of places that every city has, where there are ten souvenir shops selling the exact same “unique” items for slightly inflated prices. There were also a bunch of accessory shops, clothing shops, more claw machine and even pachinko arcade shops, and more.

This one proclaimed itself a gelato shop, but…

There were also food places, and I ended up eating at the left store in the bottom picture here, a place called 365 Taiwan Xiaochi.

Like many other places, they had a paper menu where you had to check off the things that you wanted to eat from a list. I do like this system. Unlike many other places, and this is something I appreciate, you had to pay BEFORE eating so that there were no surprises like yesterday evening. Also, these prices seemed surprisingly reasonable.

Google Translate version of above:

I ordered the oyster omelette, a carrot cake (white radish cake), and poached eggs, and this came up to just 145 yuan, or slightly over $6 Canadian dollars. I got this for that amount:

It tasted good! Unlike yesterday’s dinner, I regretted nothing. After eating, I continued walking around Ximending, noting things like this performance:

And this Don Don Donki store, which was playing its usual jingle (I think it was the Japanese version of the song) and where I finally found my favourite Japanese Juurokucha tea, but didn’t end up buying any of it because Taiwan has a lot of different types of tea that I am enjoying trying:

That Ximending “shopping street” district was surrounded by streets on the outside that were distinctly more upscale, you can see the shopping street area extending away on the left middle side of the picture here, while the regular street extends off to the right of this four-way crosswalk:

And another shot of the outside streets, as I weaved my way in and out and around the shopping district:

Heading back toward the inner pedestrian streets again, I passed a shop selling what I believe was pet clothing:

There were also little side passages and alleyways with weird little independent “malls” around the inner pedestrian shopping street area, like this one, whose ground level was a corridor that formed a small square and looked like this:

And there was an escalator down that led to a food area which also formed an identical square of corridors as the one directly above it:

It was all very rustic and neat. There were some food stalls tucked in alleys above ground too, which probably came closest to the feel of a real night market that this place had:

The center of Ximending pedestrian area/shopping street looked like this, with the main roads stretching away in four directions from there:

I didn’t take a picture of him, but there was a guy here that I think was begging, he was in a prostrate kneeling position with his forehead on the ground by the side of the square, and a can held in front of him. No one was really paying him any mind, or cash, at least in the brief moment which I saw him. Also, this store, right in the middle of the square, was very popular:

Apparently it’s a bubble tea and fried chicken and dumpling store named Xing Fu Tang. Tourists were lining up at it, so it must have been terrible and overpriced, and thus I didn’t try it (that and I’m not a bubble tea person in general).

Here are a couple more pictures of the neighbourhood:

I am a big fan of bright lights and bustling streets at night, and it had that vibe going on for it at least, though I didn’t end up buying anything here (except for the meal earlier). Window shopping was always fun though. I wonder what this “punching lemon tea” was about:

And sometimes following the little alleyways just led to weird dead ends past clothing shops, a hidden karaoke bar, garbage bins, and abandoned food carts:

Eventually, I came out onto the main street again, right next to Ximen MRT Station, so I snapped a couple more touristy photos and then headed on home.

While on the train back home, a random woman I was seated next to was looking at me, and when I met eyes with her, she apologized, hesitated, and then seemed to compliment(?) me on my pale “white” skin. I said I was from Canada and she asked if it was hot there. I said nope! It was very cold. It was an awkward but somewhat wholesome conversation, partly because it seemed like she was very shy about even speaking up (even though the conversation was in Mandarin) but really had to get it off her chest. The train reached my stop after a minute though so I bade her farewell and headed off.

This is the night-time counterpart of the scene from yesterday, just outside Xingtian Temple Station, the nearest station to my lodging. It was the first “outdoor street scene” I saw in Taipei after stepping out of the train. This was the scene tonight:

And the equivalent scene from yesterday’s blog:

Why did I do this? No particular reason. Just felt like it.

There was a little grocery store or supermarket named PX Mart just left of the station exit that I stopped by, and while browsing around in it, I saw some very familiar instant noodles, Tung-I brand, which I love!

They were definitely cheaper than in Canada, but probably not to the point that I had to sacrifice luggage space for it. There was also no bowl for instant noodles in my inn room, which lacked a kitchenette altogether.

I also saw Sriracha chilli sauce:

I was happy to see chilli sauce at all — Japanese grocery stores and supermarkets don’t really tend to carry chilli sauce, though there are some smaller or specialty stores that do. I’m not sure if the Japanese have low spice tolerance or just don’t like the taste of chilli sauce in their food. Anyway, I wanted to try a new snack, so along with a bottle of winter melon tea, I bought these winter bamboo shoot biscuits from the store:

Both the tea and the biscuits were really good. I also learnt on my way out from the store that that store didn’t accept credit cards as payment, but did accept transit cards, so I charged the 45 NTD ($2 CAD) that it cost me to my Easycard instead.

Finally, while walking home from the station to my lodging, I first passed this random fruit stall that wasn’t there during the day:

And then I saw this market with a bunch of open food stalls that were not there when I passed them at 11 am yesterday on my way to the hotel, nor were they there when I passed the area at 8:30 pm yesterday, as they were right opposite from the odds and ends store that I took pictures of right at the bottom of yesterday’s post. But nonetheless, they were open today, at 7:50 pm on a Tuesday.

This was kind of like a Singapore hawker center, but much more cramped, with lesser seats, and stinkier, for lack of a more politically correct term to use. I don’t think it was particularly hygienic, though Singapore hawker centers seldom let that stop them either. They were next to a small roadside drain, which didn’t help, and there were a few houseflies around, which is sort of normal for this sort of shop, but also I think some of the dishes itself were pungent on purpose, like I’ve seen stinky tofu on the menu on other places and perhaps a stall here sold that or something like that too. I didn’t eat here, but this was Songjiang Market, or at least located just outside of it. And it was neat to experience as I wandered by it.

Finally, to wrap up this blog, I wanted to note something that happened to me multiple times today as I travelled two of Taipei’s more touristy shopping areas as a solo female tourist/traveller. Across both the underground mall and Ximending, I was accosted SIX times by different people who tried to give me a free face mask packet, and then tried to get me to sit down and try and buy their cosmetics. This was annoying and put a damper on my exploration and adventure, especially since many a time they would not accept no for an answer, saying “but it’s free! take it!” in Chinese as they pushed their face mask into my hand, and then trying to extend into their spiel from there. Two of them I rejected outright by pretending that I only spoke English. Sometimes the sales agent worked alone, sometimes they were a pair where one person gave me the free product and an accomplice hovering nearby then tag teamed in to try to get me to go to their shop and sit down. One of them I let them put some moisturizing cream on my hand too before I had to wriggle out of that one. For that one, and another of the three that I accepted the face mask for but who then ripped open another packet and applied the face mask to my face itself, then had to use some other lotion to wipe the gunk off when I peeled it off “early”, I had to also accept a brochure from them before they would let me go.

One also gave me a scratchcard, made me scratch it, then never gave me the hydration lotion or whatever item I allegedly won, since I skedaddled from them the first chance I had. Oddly though, when I compared the two 6-page brochures, the inside of the brochure featured their product lines, but I noticed that the back two pages of the brochure were nearly identical. Nearly.

The pink one, which was from some stall in the Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, listed prices that were significantly more expensive than the red one, which was foisted upon me while walking around in Ximending. I guess they think the people who visit the underground mall were more affluent? I don’t think that they were targetting tourists either, since most of them did not speak English at all or only very poor English. They were targetting locals, I just look enough like one since I was Chinese they they buzzed like flies in the beauty lotion to me, I guess. Curse these annoying and pushy cosmetic salespeople, and their overpriced garbage.

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 14

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 16

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