Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 16

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

Wednesday, May 08 2024 (Day 16)

Thanks to Jah suggesting that I go out and get actual breakfast for breakfast, I looked up some porridge stores near me and found a nearby roadside stall that seemed interesting, although most of their positive reviews praised their noodles rather than their porridge. Nonetheless, it looked cheap and good and I decided to go get both. It was nice and windy as I stepped out of the lodging that I was staying in, crossing a couple of roads and past the market with all the late-night stalls yesterday (they were all missing in action this morning) to my targeted stall, named Ah Lian Canteen. It looked like this from the outside:

Just a store on the diagonal of a road intersection. There were all of two tables in this little store, one outside in front of the store and one inside behind the stall itself, and the outside table was already occupied by two old chatty women when I got there, so she invited me to sit in the inside one. This also gave me a nice view of her stall as she made the large bowl of Preserved Egg and Lean Meat Porridge that I had asked for:

About halfway through my meal, a guy pulled up on a motorcycle which was loaded down with gas canisters for the stove. I got to witness him bringing the new one in and carrying the old replaced gas canister out, and the proprietress paying him for the gas.

When the food was nearly done, I said that it was great and asked to get some of the noodles anyway, to go. She duly made me a small bowl, which I brought back to my lodging.

She only charged me 130 yuan for both together, or slightly over $5 CAD. She asked if I was full, I said yes, and she said that even though I had ordered a large bowl of the Preserved Egg and Lean Meat Porridge, she had only given me a small one because that was what she felt was closer to what I could eat instead. The bowl of Pig’s Large Intestine Noodles she gave me for my take-out order was a large, though. They looked exactly the same to me, but hey, that saved me 15 yuan. And I devoured it shortly after returning to my lodging.

Both dishes were nice, neither one was the best porridge or noodle I had ever had but they were indeed satisfying, especially when I added pepper to the porridge, whose broth was neither too thick nor too thin/watery. The noodles were thin and short and reminded me sort of like a Singapore dish, mee sua. And judging by the Wikipedia article, that’s exactly what it was. I’m just more used to seeing that dish in a clear broth.

I did a bunch of work tickets through the morning, catching up and finishing “tomorrow’s” work tickets, though the delineation between work days are kind of fluid due to timezones. I had a weekly check-in meeting with my boss at 10 pm, so I wanted to get work out of the way and then set aside a chunk of time for going out and wandering, which I did starting from about 2pm onwards. As I hadn’t had lunch yet, finding that was the first order of the day, but I didn’t have anything in particular in mind, so I brought up a few landmarks on the Taipei city map in Google Maps and started walking towards them from my hotel room. My entire afternoon-evening walk took nearly 6 hours — it was 6.6 miles over 6 hours and 5 minutes, according to Google Maps, but that counts the morning bit for breakfast as well. Google (and Pikmin Bloom) says I did 23,014 steps today, while Samsung Health, ever the contrarian, says I did 23,174 steps.

Today’s weather was great, it was warm but also very windy for a good chunk of the day (as it was yesterday as well), and I no longer had any uncomfortable blisters or mouth/tongue cuts/ulcers (although the latter doesn’t exactly affect walking, it irritates me) so it was nice to just let loose and do some urban exploration. I just spent the day wandering, not particularly caring exactly where I went although I had a few vague goals in mind, and I ended up walking basically across nearly a third of Taipei City’s north-south width, I think, and I visited so many places a little bit today that I’m not going to even list them in the summary section in the table of contents above, as they would never fit. Instead, I’ll just name a couple of the more memorable ones in chronological order.

My route for the day looked something like this map below, with the walk first taking me all the way to the northernmost point, before I took a bus back down south to the messy middle region, and then took a bus back down south again to get home.

My first standout find of the day was a small, T-shaped shopping street, very similar to the Japanese shoutengai ones but with a much narrower pedestrian passage, though that didn’t dissuade the occasional motorcycle from passing through. It was a covered street, but Google Maps called it Qingguang Shopping District or Qingguang Market and said that it was a night market. There were some food carts outside the shopping street so maybe that part of it might be a night market, but I don’t think the extremely long row of shops in Qingguang Market itself counts as a night market. Just a regular market. Even Google lists some of the shops’ closing times as 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

The stalls outside Qingguang Market looked like this:

And the actual sheltered market inside looked like this:

This blouse.. this made me want to start a segment where I just find an outlandish picture, post it on my daily travel blog, and make the only caption I give it a “Huh.” What even were they trying to say with “You’re Lickchcice”? And what is that character above the first c? What does any of this even mean?

Huh?

While I was wrestling with my puzzlement, I ran into a food store that sold (and specialized in — it was their only dish) Hainanese Chicken Rice, a very popular and very nice Singapore dish. This made me want to try out and see how it compared, so I ate lunch here. The rice and chicken came with side dishes, from which I could pick two of seven.

I picked the Century Egg Tofu and the Nyonya Acar Seaweed, and the meal was served almost immediately — they apparently had most of it already prepared since they were a one-trick shop.

The rice and chicken were nice enough, the two sides were whatever, but the actual standout here was the corn and carrot soup, it was amazing and I want to try to make it once back at home now.

The shop itself was one long table in the middle of the room with stools along the side, that bit of it was interesting too.

After lunch, I walked on north, passing two dog friends who must have recently fought since they weren’t talking to each other anymore.

My next interesting find came when passing a school called Tatung University, as I saw little white tents in there by a fountain just behind the wall dividing the school grounds from the street outside, and an opened gate that was practically beckoning me in. And who am I to turn down an invitation?

It turned out to be just a tiny gathering of food trucks and external vendors though, not some sort of school festival like I had hoped. Or well, it sort of was, it was the 3rd day of a graduation ceremony thing and the 3rd day was specifically for external vendors to come in and set up shop for some reason. The student response was about as tepid as mine was. Like next to things like cookie stalls, there were two booths with camera/photography gear laid out and on display. Who the heck is going to buy that as a recent University grad?

Sauntering on, I got to Taipei Expo Park, which I had to first walk alongside for a bit, then cut through to get to a bridge that would take me across a river.

I passed by some phone booths (Taipei still has a good number of phone booths! And they still seem to take phone cards! I briefly used to collect phone cards…) and saw a number of little books on them, and after inspecting them found out that they were free and left at different phones as some sort of weird free advertising. I probably will never get around to it, but I took a couple with the idea that I would eventually scan and upload them onto the Internet Archive or something. Especially since one of them was a Buddhist thing entitled (after translation) Introduction to the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra. The other one was some sort of fictional short story.

This sign also made me go “Huh.” Taipei Collectible Botanical Garden? Dancing Butterfly Inclusive Playground? Who came up with these names/translations?

This bear was cheering me upon my journey.

I also ran into a flock of pigeons being fed by a kid while two old men watched on. It reminded me of this Memory Snippet.

Very nice. There was also a colourful temple that I passed by on my way to the other side of the park.

I was also amused by this police car parked next to anti-police graffiti.

Past the park, I came across a steamed bun (bao) shop selling a variety of buns. There was a small queue there and they were cheap, so I joined the queue and picked up two baos:

The first one was Braised Lion Bun or maybe Braised Lion Head Bun (it didn’t actually contain lion, that’s just the name of it):

It had either curry vegetables or acar seaweed or something like that in it and was interesting but close to average at best.

The second one was Longan Brown Sugar Steamed Bun:

It was horrid because there was basically no filling at all inside of it, it was just bread that was mildly flavoured like longan (a fruit that I do like) with tiny chunks of something or other scattered between the bread. Yuk. I had to go buy some tea from a store after that to wash it down.

While eating those buns, I crossed an overhead bridge, got inundated by the flow of a bunch of middle or high school students headed in the opposite direction, went under a highway, then crossed another bridge over a large river. I don’t have much of a commentary on these pictures so they instead will get stuffed unceremoniously into a gallery here.

The next cool thing I found was shortly after that bridge, a line chock-full of food stalls on either side of the road. The road doesn’t even have a name, it’s just known as 承德路四段40巷 (Lane 40, Section 4, Chengde Rd) but even that didn’t show up on Google Maps for me until I put that exact name in. It was very cool though, and must certainly be a place that locals know about and go to (otherwise they’d all be out of business) but that tourists don’t. It was great, I walked up and down the length and into a side road with even more stalls too. There must have been around a hundred stalls. And my nose also confirmed here that the smell I smelled yesterday at the late night market was indeed the stinky tofu dish that some Taiwanese stalls sell.

My journey then took me past Jiantan MRT Station and a park near there, where a little unleashed poodle ran up to me and then ran away.

And I passed whatever shrine-like thing this was, I couldn’t figure it out:

This area was really pretty, sort of a middle-class neighbourhood with lots of space and nice views:

Starting from around the station area, there were several tourists walking around the place:

Some minor attractions like the Taipei Performing Arts Center, marked by this “Huh” sculpture, were in the area too.

But the real reason that this area was popular with tourists was that Shilin Night Market, one of the most famous night markets in the city, was nearby.

I didn’t visit it yet though, as I planned to come back later tonight when it was actually, well, night. Instead, I wandered off north past a couple of really busy intersections, and past this woman, doing something beauty-related to another woman underneath a tent whose canvas were flapping madly and loudly in the wind. I was worried for the woman who was having a procedure (Beauty face mask? Hair trim? Eyebrows? Acupuncture? Surgery???) done on her. I never heard any screaming though.

I then went down this side passage, named Guifu Street, was immediately glad that I did so, as I found another nice and hidden covered market street past it called Huarong Street, that ran north-south.

The day was turning into a cooler evening at this point and many of the shops here were closing or already closed, and portions of this market had a bit of a desolate feel to it due to that, but I liked that feeling too. Almost a liminal sort of feeling. On the south end, there was a long line of people queued up for baos from this cart:

On the north end, the road opened out into this grocery store selling nothing but fresh fruits and veggies:

That street was called Meilun Street, and was an open-air street but had a bunch of shops itself, so I walked west and then east on that before reconnecting with the main road.

There was an arcade claw machine shop on this street, and one of the things that I had read earlier in the morning was that sometimes, these claw machine shops in Taiwan are here because the owner or landlord of the home or shop or whatever is trying to find a new owner or tenant for the place and the claw machines are just there so that they can make some money with the space while they look for someone to take the place over. That made me look at the well over a dozen claw machine shops in Taipei New Station Underground Mall in a totally different light! With that possible factoid in mind though, I had been approaching these claw machine shops to see if I could figure out if that was true or not, and for this particular one at least, it seemed like it might be, as there was what seemed to be a For Sale sign posted next to it.

That’s listed for 22.8 million NTD, or about $965,000 CAD! It includes the 5 room/2 living room/3 toilets house above it though, as I understand it. I’m not sure of all the nuances around real estate in Taiwan so who knows for sure.

I went a little bit further north from there, past another river and bridge, as I enjoyed the sunset. Nothing too untoward happened except a Chinese woman stopped me to ask (in Chinese) for directions to the nearest bus stop, then was all apologetic when she learnt that I wasn’t a local here either. But no problem, we found the nearest bus stop with Google Maps!

There was a brand new black car parked precariously here on a little island by the side of the road.

Huh.

I ended up at a Sogo department store next to that robot, and went in, walked around a bit, and then wandered back out without buying anything. At that point, nightfall had arrived, and I only had about three hours left before my 10 pm meeting with my supervisor, so I took a bus back down south to Shilin Night Market.

This market had an outer ring of stalls, and it looked different depending on which direction you approached it from. I think I came in from the south, and it looked like this.

In this picture below, there’s what I assume is a beggar, prostrate, head down on the ground and bowing over and over, assumedly asking passersby for cash. Just like I saw in Ximending. Just like over there, I only saw this scene once though.

The “central” covered market area, basically the building on Google Maps that “Shilin Night Market” points to, is basically a bunch of balloon/hoop/toy gun/basketball games, flanked by a couple of accessory stores on the edges. Very funfair/carnival like.

The stall barkers kept on repeating Hao Jian Tan, Hao Jian Tan, which is basically “it’s really easy, it’s really easy”. Uhhuh. Sure it is.

The outside streets were a mix of really busy and really quiet. Here are some of the busier main streets:

Some of the medium ones:

And some of the really, really quiet ones (and a couple of the weirder shops on them):

I don’t get how the people living above the shops sleep at night, but I suppose most of them actually own the shops as a family, too.

The store was a weird mix of regular shops and small food stalls parked at the entrance of those regular shops. I don’t know what I think of it. Parts of it felt like a real night market, or a Japanese festival or a Singaporean pasar malam, but the rest of it were just.. shops that happen to be open at night. Or in the evening. The only thing I bought at this night market was fried ice cream, which was a fried warm exterior crust wrapped around a glob of cold ice cream.

Also, this place was tourist-friendly for sure, even aliens were welcome.

My time here was up soon after that, and I took another bus home to my neighbourhood. I still hadn’t had dinner by this time, so I first poked my head into a McDonalds, but didn’t fancy anything from there. I did see a vertical conveyor belt with hooks that sent takeout bags filled with people’s orders from somewhere above down to the counter though, which was interesting. I couldn’t stay around long enough to take a good picture of it, but this one has a paper bag descending from the left side of the conveyor belt.

I ended up at an eatery called East Rock Oystery Restaurant near my lodging and ordered milkfish fried noodles and clam soup. I didn’t really like either dish, the soup in particular had a lot of ginger and lemongrass, which was a weird combination. The store had free complimentary cold tea and that was nice too, but it was also bitter.

The meal served its purpose though, and was cheap as well like my other meals today — my breakfast, lunch, and dinner cost 130, 160, and 140 NTD respectively. I went back to my room, had a nice, long shower and then my work meeting, and went back to bed soon after.

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 15

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 17

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