Taiwan, 2024

On our way back from Thailand, we made a pit stop in Taiwan. Hannah initially wanted to stop in Singapore, but I insisted that we might not have a chance to visit Taiwan again if we didn’t go this time around. Walking around Taipei, you could never tell that it’s the capital of a country under such a contentious political situation.

While traveling in Thailand made me think of religion and spirituality, Taiwan made me think of politics and history. I don’t think I can understand Taiwan without first understanding China. I had Frank Dikötter’s The People’s Trilogy on the list, and added Graham Peck’s Two Kinds of Time to the queue on this trip. Now I actually have to read them.

We stayed in the Da’an neighborhood, and really enjoyed the vibe of city life there. I really hope we get a chance to go back.

The food at the night markets is as amazing as you’ve heard. Better, actually.

We signed up for a walking tour and took a train to Longshan Temple. Public transit in Taipei was amazing.

We got there early, so we went on a walk around the block before the tour started.

The temples are all packed, and the plazas in front of them seem to be used as third places where people just hang out.

I really enjoyed the scale of the streets, with their tight sidewalks and arcades. I was especially surprised that many of them don’t have raised sidewalks, and instead just have a stripe painted-on, as if for a bike lane.

The Ximen Red House market was less interesting than I expected, but the political backdrop of it being a remnant of Japanese colonial rule turned into an icon of the local LGBT community made it an interesting stop on our tour.

Hearing our tour guide tell the story behind the rename of 228 Peace Memorial Park and the waves of political unrest and civil wars in the country made us realize the tour we were on was on some degree a vehicle for propaganda. Our guide was a filmmaker, and actually had a crew come meet us at this spot to film his explanation. I happen to agree with their stance (ie, Taiwan should be independent) but that was a very strange realization an hour into the tour.

We ate a lot of delicious food, but Fu Da Steamed Dumplings was probably our favorite. This hole in the wall had better food than most of the high end places we went to.

I really love the mix of old car part shops and boutique clothing stores living side by side.

Caught them filming a tiktok.

Our friends who had been there before insisted we should go to Addiction Aquatic. The fish market didn’t disappoint. Their sushi was delicious, and we also had some of the best spot prawns I’ve ever had. I was so excited about the prawns that Hannah couldn’t stop laughing at me.

On our last day, we left Da’An in the morning, and headed up into the mountains.

Getting to and from Yangmingshan National Park was kind of a pain, but the hike was a highlight of our trip.

We went to the top of Taipei 101 to wrap up our trip. We’ll definitely go back.

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