The second day saw us arising bright and early to check out the traditional market (wet market) on Taishun Street (come take a stroll around if you have time on a weekend! Live chickens and everything!) before grabbing some Taiwanese breakfast at a typical JSP breakfast joint: we got the classics of Taiwanese breakfast: dan-bing (egg..crepe?) with ham & cheese, luo buo gao (radish cake), and soybean milk. In my opinion, there are actually two subcategories of Taiwanese breakfast: one encompasses all the items I mentioned below (and usually is served in these brightly colored little joints like JSP, it also includes sandwiches)–and yet another kind is more old school (this would include that one famous place by Shandao Temple, I forget the name)–which has rice rolls stuffed with pork sung and pickled veg, fried dough stick (you tiao), and lest we forget the crowning item of Taiwanese breakfast– fried bread stick in a piece of bread (shao bing you tia0). Sometimes these items overlap in the same stores, but I wanted to make sure Ryan & Sherylvi experienced both. So I took Ryan to get shao bing you tiao (carbs wrapped in carbs. The nerve!). He wasn’t a fan (his critique: it just tastes like…oil. Oh, and carbs. Why’d they put two fried oil sticks in my piece of bread?!)
We needed to burn off some serious calories after our carb loadup, so we went to the nearby U-bike station to rent some bikes for the day. Actually, that was a totally false statement. I just wrote it for the sake of blogging orderliness. The first thing we did for the day, before even grabbing breakfast, was to run frantically to the U-bike station and rent our bikes for the day. Why, you ask? (And if you do ask, you are obviously a U-bike novice)–because the most popular U-bike stations (and all the ones around Shida/Gongguan are quite popular)–are usually all rented out around…9:30am on the weekends (during the weekdays, even earlier!)
This is a problem that I think can be addressed by raising the U-bike rental fee (10NT an hour?! We could definitely all pay more)–which leads to the problem of people taking out bikes for the whole day and leaving them while they go sit in a cafe for 4 hours, etc etc. But since I don’t have any control of that, I am forced to bow to the whims of U-bike regulars. So, a tip to remember: If you are planning to rent a U-bike, rent it early (or be disappointed).
Our goal on this particular day was to get to Simple Market (see my post on it here), an amazing Sunday-only love fest of handcrafted goods, bagels, mulberry yogurt ice cream in cones, and so much more! We wanted to get there in time to get the bagels (they typically run out by early afternoon), so we hopped on our bikes and off we went!
There are many ways to get from the west side of the city to the east side (where Taipei 101 is)–but my favorite way is through Renai Road. (Note: If you are planning on doing this, do not take Xinyi Road (major construction currently as they’re building MRT stations)–and do not take Zhongxiao E. Road..for obvious reasons. This pretty much just leaves Heping. E Road/Keelung Rd or Renai Road)
Renai Road is one of the most beautiful major roads in Taipei. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of it, as I always bike it. It’s too beautiful to pass by car or by-pass by MRT! It’s lined with trees (even though it’s a major road) and there’s a nice walkway running through a large chunk of it. And it passes by such interesting shops along the way (I always stop at Florida Bakery to check out their newest sugar cookie styles). We also made a short stop at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (y’know, to get a little historical perspective in there).
We got there in time for some bagels at Good Cho’s, some ice cream in cones at Midori, and took a look at some of the exhibits in the “veteran’s village” where Simple Market is located (we ended up missing the actual market since they don’t set up until around noon-1pm and we didn’t want to stick around that long). Girls, this is a perfect place for cute photo-opps! Please see adorable picture I took below—
Then we returned our U-bikes (there is a U-bike station right by Taipei 101)–and crossed off an item on my Taiwan bucket list (link here) and visited the Starbucks on the 31st floor of Taipei 101! We got there just when it was queue-less, so we grabbed the tickets (it’s free, but you have to sign in and show an ID at the check-in desk) and up we went! The elevator was so quiet and so fast; we only knew we were skyrocketing up because of the building pressure in our ears!
Would I recommend the experience? Probably not. There’s a reason I’ve never been up to the top of 101; that reason being that I don’t think the view is worth seeing. Taipei may be the best city on a micro-level, but it’s certainly not like its glittering sister Hong Kong (in fact, Taipei is quite ugly from the top!) Besides, I knew that we would be getting a way better view via Elephant Mountain later on.
But we had a good time jostling the crowd for a chance to sit at the window seats; and peer out into the skyline.
This post has already run away from me; it’s way too long! We did even more that day, but I’ll cover that in the next post, in which I’ll finally talk about all the shopping options in Taipei (I’ve been meaning to do a post on that for a long time!)
Have you done any of the things we did on our second day? What’d you think?