During the 2019 holiday season (December and January), I traveled with family to Taiwan. As college students, my parents (who had yet to meet), immigrated from Taiwan to the United States to attend graduate school.
I have aunts, uncles and cousins in Taiwan. I last visited when I was in high school, which was a long time ago! Now, many of those cousins have kids of their own, which means that I have a lot of relatives in Taiwan.
My parents, my sister and our families made the trip as a family reunion of sorts. We’d visit with relatives living in Taipei, Taichung and Chunghua.
We stayed near National Taiwan University, where my dad received his undergraduate degree. Here’s the street near our hotel:
From Taipei, a driver took us about one hour East to see the Shifen Waterfall. It’s located in New Taipei City. Once we parked, we had to walk along several paths and a few bridges to reach the falls. Here’s a scenic bridge that we crossed:
Here’s what the waterfall looks like:
When the Taipei 101 skyscraper opened in 2004, it became the tallest building in the world. It held that title until 2010, when the Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai.
A high speed elevator takes you up to the 89th floor in 37 seconds. That’s faster than it takes to go 10 floors in most U.S. office buildings 😜
We visited the observation deck on the 89th floor. It was an overcast day, but we were still able to take in vast views of Taipei and surrounding areas.
In the basement of Taipei 101 is a vast food court. There must have been 30+ stands there. The place was packed! I chose a chicken curry lunch:
We visited Jiufen, a quaint town in New Taipei City that’s set high up in the hills. Our car dropped us off in a parking lot and we made a trip up several flights of stairs to the shops and restaurants set in the hills.
We stopped in the A Mei Tea House for tea and snacks:
There are night markets throughout Taiwan. We visited three in Taipei: Ningxia Night Market, Shida Night Market and Shilin Night Market.
At the Ningxia Night Market, I tried the famous Taiwanese delicacy called stinky tofu. It’s prepared a few ways — I opted for the fried variety:
Our family shared an order of steak, cooked and seared with a torch:
The Shilin Night Market was the most crowded of the three. Here’s what the entrance looked like:
Here’s a little Taiwanese marketing at work: the fried crab is presented to passersby as “one bite crab.” I’ll take one! (one order, that is.)
National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum in Taipei houses 700,000 pieces of art. While we spent a few hours there, one probably needs a full day to take it all in. Two of the more popular attractions are works of art that resemble food: the Jadeite Cabbage and the meat-shaped stone.
The meat-shaped stone was recently on display at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is a restaurant chain famous for its soup dumplings (“Xiao Long Bao”). It was founded in Taiwan and now has locations across the globe. Back home, we have a location in Santa Clara, CA.
We went to the Taichung location for lunch. One trick? Arrive before the doors open, as the lines are shorter. Here are workers preparing the soup dumplings:
More Food Pictures!
As one might expect, food was a big attraction during the trip. In Taipei, we waited in line at a popular beef noodle soup restaurant:
Good things come to those who wait:
I had this sandwich on our last day in town. It was one of my favorite snacks. You can’t beat this price!
Our New Year’s Eve meal in Taipei was dumplings! We had a party of nine and ordered 100 dumplings. Along with four bowls of soup, the bill came to US $27 ($3 per person). That’s not a typo!
Here’s a street vendor selling dried squid:
And here’s the fried variety:
We visited my cousin’s new house in Changhua. His family was kind enough to prepare a home-cooked meal for all of us:
My uncle used to own a Chinese restaurant in New Jersey. As part of the meal, he cooked up a fried fish. It was amazing!
During our visits to Taichung and Chunghua, we sampled traditional Taiwanese dishes at restaurants. Like these:
Until We Meet Again
I had such a fun time in Taiwan. I hope to return again soon!