Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 18

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

Friday, May 10 2024 (Day 18)

Another day, another familiar Taiwan pattern of blogging or working in the morning to early afternoon, sandwiching a quick run out to get breakfast, and then walking or bussing around until I end up at some night market or other in the evening! My breakfast exploits today started with a bit of a misadventure, for I arrived at my targetted store at 10:50 am, since it was listed as open on Google Maps from 7 am until 3 pm or something, but they were actually apparently closed for a mid-morning break or something and wouldn’t be ready until 11:10 am, according to the person in the store that I spoke to.

Well, no problem! Instead, I walked around and ended up at Songjiang Market again, a stone’s throw away from my desired eatery. I had previously mentioned this place three days ago, as it lay between my lodging and the nearest train station to it, and at that point it was closed but a whole bunch of cramped and somewhat dubious food carts were parked outside of it in the evening when I passed by it.

I had noticed that it was actually open when I passed by it on the way to breakfast yesterday, but I didn’t stop by the place at that time. Today though, since I had about 20 minutes to kill, I returned here and stepped through the doors into a traditional market that made me very happy. There were no food carts parked outside, as seen here where they were previously, but there was a door leading into the interior of the market to the left by the stairs.

The top level of the market was basically one large loop of stalls selling fruits and vegetables, clothing, fresh food that could be packaged away into little bento boxes, and weird little trinkets, most for daily life use rather than for souvenir purposes. The actual market was bustling, though not terribly packed, with locals buying up edible provisions or goods for the day or cheap shirts and pants.

These (probably) glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in the green pandan leaves below looked tempting. Perhaps another day. The (probably) wobbly agar jelly or whatever next to it looked interesting too, though jelly is not my sort of snack.

This was a buffet-style fill your bento box thing, that I watched other people do and then recognized the protocol from yesterday’s breakfast place. I was tempted. Perhaps another day!

So many stationery odds and ends here!

There was also a slope, flanked by a couple shops on its side, and some perpendicular stairs which cut through the middle of the slope. Both led down to a smaller, lower level of the market that had vendors selling fresh meat. I didn’t really go down there except to take a singular picture.

There were lots of shops selling clothing, most of them going for between 150 to 500 Taiwanese yuan or so, with the vast majority in the 250-350 range. Many of the shops actually had their goods unpriced though, as one can see in the many pictures above, and I only found out the prices by actually asking the stall owner. Some of the goods were definitely suspect too. Like this Huh moment.

But I actually did end up buying something from this market — I had been on a lookout for cheap shirts and shorts to wear around the house, and I picked up a couple from this store.

The owner actually guessed that I was from Malaysia or Singapore, and when I asked how she knew, she said that it was due to the way I said some word or other. But we were conversing (and it had only been very briefly) in Mandarin Chinese. So apparently I have a Chinese accent as well. Great. She said that she recognized it because sometimes they’d get Chinese tourists from Singapore or Malaysia that came by and specifically sought out this place to visit. That was cool, and she was friendly, and she was standing next to a pile of nice-looking shirts and shorts that only cost 100 NTD each, so I ended up picking up one shirt and one pair of shorts for a total of 200 NTD, or about $9 CAD.

I am a dinosaur, fear me. Isn’t that so cute? I need to find other cheap <$5 clothes.

After that, I went back to my target eatery, something that Google Translates to Guangtian Snack House and Vegetarian Workshop, but is probably a little bit more nuanced than that (光田 簡食屋 蔬食工坊). This place was amazing and cheap, with my vegetarian meal costing 105 yen (about $4.50 CAD) and consisting of a bowl of rice in the middle, surrounded by a pile of mushrooms, radishes, tofu, and assorted vegetables. It tasted really good, and even came with some sort of flavoured soup (I think radish soup but without the actual radishes) to wash it down with. I was quite satisfied with this meal, though I’d maybe have gone for another 20 NTD for a larger bowl of rice if I could do it over again. Nonetheless, even though I’m not a vegetarian, it was yum. The nice old lady behind the counter did not skimp on the serving at all.

The name of my dish translated to King Oyster Mushroom Rice.

As a side note, meals are interesting in Chinese cities because I can never read a good chunk of the menu at all (largely I know certain keywords) and thus have to either judiciously use Google Translate or know what I want before coming to a place via looking at reviews, and then do some pointing to the menu (if on a wall) or circling it (if on a sheet) to indicate my choice. But I can often still manage to make small talk with the owner even if they can’t speak much English, since I know enough broken Mandarin Chinese to pass. I’ve also learnt some words like the Chinese words for credit card (信用卡 / Xìn yòng kǎ) and receipt (收據 / Shōu jù) in the few days that I’ve been here, just through said interactions. I’ve also found that store owners like it when I try to practice by repeating the name of the dish that they just said.

I went back to the lodging for a bit to chill out, finish blogging and working, and watch the rising temperatures with horror. It had been in the high 20s or maybe exactly 30 degrees Celsius the past couple of days when I was setting out at 1pm/2pm, but today it was 33 degrees Celsius, and that was a little high for my liking. At least it’s not an outright heatwave that apparently some countries further south, in Southeast Asia, are currently going through though. It looks like it will be raining to some degree for my final two days in Taipei, which might wash out the remaining night markets that I haven’t visited yet.

The good thing about all this heat though is that I won’t have to spend a week acclimatizing once I go to Singapore. The temperatures here are not that much different from Singapore so I’m already going through that process now!

Still, my plan for two days ago was to walk north, my plan yesterday was to walk east. Thus, today, my plan was to just walk south to some night market far in the distance, and I wasn’t about to let something trivial as the weather stop me. Then again, I only (“only”) did 18,712 steps today though, 18,850 by the more permissive Samsung Health, so maybe it did.

I did find myself using a Singapore walking strategy — keep to the side of the street with shade, and duck into every convenience store and/or shopping mall possible along the way and pretend to be looking around a bit to get out of the heat.

The first thing I did upon my afternoon walk was not go get lunch, I actually stopped off in one of those aforementioned 7-Eleven stores and picked up a fancy icash2.0 card.

At this point it’s probably a souvenir since I only have  couple days left in Taiwan, but hey, I can use it for next trip. It works like an Easycard, but I think has some sort of extra point reward system if I go ahead and create an account and stuff too. Even without that, I can apparently withdraw the cash from my current Easycard for a small fee, then deposit it into this one, and use this for my transit card as well as for purchases in convenience stores, some supermarkets and restaurants, and more.

If I’m not mistaken I’ve seen some versions of these cards that aren’t even rectangular but instead are more keychain-shaped, but can still be used for transit card payments etc. I’m not 100% sure on that one though and didn’t want to try. But I had become aware that convenience stores were selling these cuter-than-standard ones and that new ones rotate in and out over time, so I wanted one as a souvenir of my time here. And Kuromi is very cute.

I also stopped by the post office and shipped the one CD that I had missed out on shipping from Japan to Mart in Switzerland. That cost 109 NTD all in, so under $5 CAD ,which is nice, plus now I know how to use the Taiwan Post Office system. It was basically almost identical to the Japanese one, just in Chinese instead of Japanese.

Then I finally went to get lunch. I ate lunch at a Vietnamese place:

That specific dish was Hot and Sour Pork Pho, and it was awesome. Very tasty. Price was good at 110 NTD too.

I then proceeded to jump from shadow to shadow on my walk south. Some interesting things I saw included this guy, who was carrying two pieces of timber on his shoulders and gave no mind to the traffic lights, strolling right on across amidst a wave of honks from vehicles.

This street vendor was very shocked to be the subject of my photography!

This pile of Totoros, plants, and er.. plushies outside of a cafe. Are those plump Pink Panthers?

This flower trying to get grafted to a tree:

And this nice intersection view.

I then reached a mall called Guang Hua Digital Plaza, a secondary objective that I had earmarked for visiting upon my southern trek because it was apparently full of electronics stores, which made it sound exactly like Singapore’s Sim Lim Square, where Dad used to work and which I visited a couple of years ago. I am happy to report that my hunch was accurate, and the vibe of the mall was exactly the same.

The outside of the mall from two different entrances looked like this:

The inside had a LOT of repeat stores — there must have been at least eight ASUS/Republic of Gamers stores, and many other popular digital brands had multiple little stores selling what looked to be the exact same things (laptops, PCs, or Playstation/Switch games) across the first couple of levels of the mall too. I took a couple pictures of each level, and compiled a little gallery.

There were specific pictures that I wanted to call out too, and they follow with notes. Firstly, this Logitech store that was like the classic cartoon scene where a character carelessly opens a stuffed storage closet and a mountain of items comes falling out. It was next to a charging station (every floor had a couple, this was very nice to see) and a bench so I sat there and pretended to be doing phone stuff while I quietly snapped the picture.

This Chinese board game store tucked in between the electronics stores. I was really tempted to pick up a couple cheapish, small games even though I had no idea how they played and wouldn’t be able to read the instructions without Google Translate. I still sort of slightly regret not impulse buying something.

Fantastic Factories — I actually own this one in English!

Someone’s dog was running around one of the levels inquisitively:

Oddly I’ve seen quite a few “free range” pets in the couple days that I’ve been here. Also several lost and found pet notices though, so take of that what you will.

There was also, for some reason, a guitar shop tucked away on one of the floors:

And this Western Digital shop on the top level (mosty filled with repair centers) had a pile of plushies.

And then right in the farthest corner of the very top level of the mall, there was an unattended shrine with offerings:

That was neat. Maybe people from the 7th or 8th copy of a store making prayers that they’d be able to somehow catch one or two customers that day.

The building was vaguely shaped similarly to a horseshoe, and the two ends of each floor of the building (except the very top one) had a little outdoor corridor that linked them together too.

And finally, I didn’t have time to visit it but next door to this mall was a very interesting-looking mall.

The streets surrounding the malls were also filled with tech stores for the most part.

Just in case one didn’t like the 8 copies of the ASUS/ROG store inside, I guess. There were also some food stores around, and I browsed through them and a music CD store for a bit before walking on.

The next minor landmark I reached was Yongkang Park. Google Maps describes this place as “Cafes & noodle shops around a park”. It was a very chic area, I had good vibes from walking through here and looking at the accessory and clothing shops and stuff even though I wasn’t actually interested in buying anything. The prices were a tad high, I felt, but the area felt trendy.

One of the shops even had an Oasmu Harada-themed Goshuincho in it. A temple seal book! I don’t think you can even get temple seals outside of Japan. I wonder if its eventual buyer will know what this even is.

Soon after this, I reached my target for the evening, Shida Night Market. It was very obvious when I reached it.

It had a bunch of food stalls along one or two of its main roads, but not many. The bulk of this night market was mostly little physical shops all nestled together and spread out over a crisscross of streets that were all open together at night. Food stores, clothing stores, accessory stores, and stores selling weird but neat knockoff things. Like this:

Mahjong?? Excuse me, that’s clearly Rummikub.

The small area with stalls was focused around a T-junction and looked like this:

I actually did buy one thing here, something called a Gua Bao filled with some stuffings that I’m still not sure what they were.

Wikipedia says that it’s popular in Singapore too. I’ve never actually heard of it or seen it before though.

Regardless, I continued walking around after that snack, looking at the various shops that were open. And you can, too, via this gallery.

I will say that mobile gaming advertising is getting out of hand. This one even paid a lazy cat to sit by their pennant in order to attract people to it.

That was stray cat #1 that I’ve seen on my trip, I believe. That would have checked off a bingo card slot too if I had a travel bingo card, but I expect that this would have easily happened in Singapore if it hadn’t happen by that point anyway. Singapore has lots of stray cats.

I thought I found another stray cat soon after, but this was not a stray cat, just a woman wearing cat ears on her motorcycle helmet.

There was also this really large dog being walked around on a leash, scaring all the stray cats away. Or maybe its legs just look really long.

I recognized the words for Malaysia on this restaurant and eventually stopped here for dinner after visiting all the other stores around the area.

Dinner was interesting, I picked an item that basically translated to “Healthy Chicken Bone Soup”, basically a broth cooked with chicken bones and Chinese medicine. There were only one or two actual chicken bones in the soup though, most of the chicken in it was boneless.

It was pretty good, and I recognized the taste of some of the medicinal fruits (though I don’t know their names), but my priciest meal of the evening at 220 NTD (just under $10 CAD). My breakfast and lunch *together* came out to 225 NTD! When I was with Quintopia at Japan Jam and looking for that cheap supermarket to buy drinks for in the early evening, he commented something along the lines that from hearing me talk about looking at prices, $10 CAD seemed to be my line between a cheap and an expensive meal, and he’s right about that. If this one was noticeably past the 230 NTD mark that I consider equivalent to $10 CAD, say about 250 NTD or more, I probably would have just walked on. I blame it on mental scarring from the rapid rise of food prices in Canada over the years and how it’s impossible to find a decent store meal for $10 or less anymore.

I then headed on home after the meal, with the only notable incident along the way being that I did find an actual stray cat #2 as well, with this noraneko being perched on a wall in a residential street that I walked by on the way to the train station.

Taking the train also meant that I got to pass Songjiang Market on the way to my lodging again, and this time I saw the stalls all lined up outside the market and open for business again, at 8:56 pm.

Finally, thanks to some sharp-eyed inquisitiveness from Jah, I’ve been wandering into convenience stores and looking at the flavours of this particular brand of sandwiches to catalogue them all — or rather, I’ve been using this as an excuse to get out of the heat and go into every other convenience store that I’ve seen.

There’s quite a few flavours that I’ve seen, spread out between 7-Eleven and FamilyMart outlets, though no store has stocked “all” of them at once that I’ve seen. I have not seen any of these being sold in the Hi-Life convenience stores here though.

The flavours that I’ve seen (catalogued from those photos above and marked with 7-11 for 7-Eleven or FM for FamilyMart) are:

  • Blueberry & Cheese (7-11)
  • Blueberry & Yoghurt (FM)
  • Chopped Almonds & Chocolate Cream Hershey’s (7-11)
  • Club Sandwich (FM)
  • Crayfish and Egg Salad (7-11)
  • Cream Cheese & Chocolate (FM)
  • Double Cheese Ham & Egg (7-11)
  • Egg Salad (FM)
  • Ham Cheese & Egg (FM)
  • Japanese Roasted Chicken & Egg (7-11)
  • Mentaiko Potato Salad and Tuna (7-11)
  • Mustard Egg Salad & Cheese (FM)
  • New Orleans Grilled Chicken & Lettuce (FM)
  • New Orleans Roast Chicken with Vegetables (7-11)
  • Pork Club Sandwich (7-11)
  • Strawberry Jam & Pork Floss Egg (FM)
  • Strawberry Jam & Sea Salt Cheese (FM)
  • Teriyaki Chicken (FM)
  • Triple Cheese (7-11)
  • Tuna and soft boiled egg with mashed potato (7-11)
  • Vegetarian Meat Floss, Egg & Cheese (FM)
  • 瘋狂起司 (Crazy Cheese) (FM)
  • 鮪魚溏心蛋 (Tuna and Soft Boiled Eggs) (FM)

Some of the names using the & symbol and some of them spelling out the word “and” instead bug me a little bit. And lowercase/uppercase. Be consistent!

Is there no crossover between the stocks of the two stores? The branding for the sandwiches seems exactly the same. They even have the same deals, like if you buy the sandwich together with one of the listed drinks then you get a discount. Hm. I didn’t visit that many Familymarts to check though, as there are a lot more 7-Elevens around. I also saw a sticker saying that if you find the sandwich still on sale during certain times you can get it for a discount, probably because it’s a bit stale by that time. I wonder how that combos with the drink offer, though.

Apparently the 折 symbol means discount, and is a multiplier tacked onto the price, so like 8折 means you pay 80% of the price (20% off), 4折 means you pay 40% of the price (60% off), and the lower number is better. But it’s weird because there’s a multiplier of 10x being tacked onto those numbers for them to make sense, yet there’s a 65折 there that does not have a 10x multiplier and just straight up means paying 65% of the price (35% off) as I understand it. Very weird.

So that sticker says, if you see this bread on sale (with this sticker on it) between 7-7:59 pm, you can get it for 80% of the cost. if you see this bread with sticker on sale between 8 pm to 3 am or 10 am to 5 pm, then it’s 65% of the cost. Most of the sandwiches don’t have the sticker though, which means someone comes along at some point and puts them on the sammiches depending on when their original cook time was.

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 17

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 19

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