I graduated from college last month! With a computer science degree in hand and a job lined up, I moved out of dorms for the very last time. My s/o and I graduated together but he will be working in a different state for a while. We decided back in January to travel together before we said hello to LDR, so we chose Taiwan, which I absolutely loved when I visited with my family last year. We figured it would be a suitable beginner’s destination for us since we know the language and it’s very convenient to get around.
The first day was spent in Taipei. We ate breakfast at 阜杭豆浆, the best soymilk and youtiao place around (waited in line for twenty minutes). For lunch, my boyfriend’s granduncle treated us to 养心茶楼 (Yang Shin Tea House), a unique vegetarian restaurant that supposedly needs to be reserved two weeks in advance. Every single dish was vegetarian, but some resembled meat in texture and everything tasted amazing and surprisingly flavorful. I definitely recommend this place to anyone, regardless of food preference. In the evening, my boyfriend and I took the metro to Beitou, an area full of hot spring resorts. We picked 春天酒店 (Spring City Resort) for their co-ed outdoor hot springs. Very roomy, calming atmosphere, and reclining beach chairs and a beautiful lookout for when you want a break from the water. Under the darkening sky and steamy air, it felt as though nothing in the world could disrupt the peacefulness of the moment.
The following day, we took High-Speed Rail to Taichung. Let me tell you, I did not think I would enjoy Taichung as much as Taipei, but I ended up being super grateful for the experiences there. I fell in love with 中社花市 (Zhong She Flower Market), also known as 花海 (“sea of flowers”). It wasn’t so much a flower market since festival season is in November, but the flower displays and flower fields trump everything! It was the closest I’ve been to my storybook vision of frolicking in a vast field of flowers.
In the evening we went to 高美湿地 (Gaomei Wetlands). It was cloudy that day so we couldn’t see the sunset, but it was nevertheless a beautiful date spot. We walked along the narrow boardwalk that extended way out into the center of the wetlands. At the end of the boardwalk, we took off our shoes to wade in the shallow water that barely reached the top of our feet. The ground looked muddy but was firm and clay-like. The soft wind in my hair and openness of the ground and sky was alluring in the most subtle of senses. If there was a sunset that day, I’d definitely have run off into it.
After the wetlands, we headed back towards city center and spent the night wandering around 逢甲夜市 (Fengjia Night Market), the largest night market in Taichung. Tons of classic street snacks such as 大肠包小肠 (“big sausage wrapped around small sausage”) and claw machines filled with cute stuffed toys. The area is very populated and there are all kinds of stores along the streets, from boutique clothing shops to tech accessories stores. Sidenote: Chain drugstores in Taiwan are the best! 7-Eleven and Watsons are everywhere and you can find almost anything in a two-story Poya.
After our adventures in Taichung, we took a Nantou bus to Sun Moon Lake and stayed at a local bed-and-breakfast. There are three main modes of transportation around the lake – boat, bicycle, and ropeway. We first rode a boat to the other side of the lake to rent bicycles and then biked along the trail, stopping at scenic nodes along the way. The body of water itself was not particularly remarkable but the biking experience was superb. The cool breeze kept us invigorated and at some point, a very light drizzle added an extra touch of rawness to the excursion.
For lunch, we stumbled across a hotpot restaurant that was constructed entirely out of paper material! Certainly a delightful find. For dinner, we wandered around the local night market and collected a few different snacks to bring back to the hotel. Pro tip: go for the food stands with long lines. Proven correct by our choice in bubble tea.