Weather forecasts had predicted that Wednesday would be the coldest of our trip so we decided to stay closer and explore the city with an all day MRT pass. We started at Xingtian Temple, which was quite ornate but busy with a service so we didn’t go in.
It was amazing how this temple was surrounded by an otherwise bustling neighborhood.
Next we took the MRT south to the Lungshan Temple. This complex was more interesting to us with waterfalls and ponds in the courtyard, and a quieter atmosphere.
Ximen was our next stop … wow! Similar to Times Square in activity and sensory overload.
We wandered the streets of Ximen exploring the myriad shops and food stalls. Getting snacky we stopped at Ah Zong Mian Xian, a popular beef noodle stand. Noodles were good; the broth was OK, with a slight plastic scent and a lot of black pepper spices to warm us up. The beef intestine pieces were quite chewy, so we mostly ignored those.
Refortified, and in need of a bit of quiet, we next went to the Taipei Botanical Garden. Though only one MRT stop away, the gardens are a world different and still quite green and lush even in December.
From the garden we walked to the Memorial Park plaza with the massive Chiang Kai‑shek Memorial Hall, National Concert Hall and Performing Arts Center. Lots of photo opportunities in the golden light!
After several hours of walking we needed a break so we headed back to our room to recharge and plan our evening.
Evening in Taipei means night markets, so Wednesday night we went up to the Songshan MRT stop, then walked south to the Wu Fen Pu clothing market. We’ve never seen so many clothes in our lives! Block after block of stores offering goods for sale…
Nothing was catching Leandra’s fancy so we headed to Raohe night market. On our way we stopped at a bakery in the metro station and found a tasty red wine roll with cranberries and nuts, and a tomato and cheese roll too. Along the way we stopped to enjoy the new ceiling light installation.
The entrance to Raohe market is right next to the the beautiful Song Shan Fu De Temple (Land God temple) which makes for an interesting blend of commerce and spirituality.
Raohe is one long lane packed with vendors. This marked Leandra’s first experience with stinky tofu… Whew. The smell invades your nose and is overpowering. We hustled along to get out of that cloud. Even though it was a Wednesday night, the lane was still very crowded and eventually it became exhausting to simply be around so many other people. At the exit we stopped for a pepper cake, and we are glad we did. Basically, these pastry pockets are stuffed with scallions and minced pork seasoned liberally with black pepper all assembled by a small army of workers right on the street. The buns are then baked on the side of a brick oven.
The 15 min wait in line was well worth it, as the buns are excellent; similar to an pork hamburger cooked inside the bun, with lots of flavor.
Exhausted, we took the MRT back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.