Look What I Found
The last time I was in Taipei was a year ago in April 2017 and I needed a visa to get in (as I do to most countries outside of Southeast Asia, because passport problems). So when I got a chance to visit Taipei again this year (and visa-free at that), I thought why not?
At first, I was ambivalent (I wasn’t sure about the visa situation), but then I found out, there was no need and the deal was sealed. It’s funny because my friend Macy was going to celebrate her birthday there and she had invited me earlier, but again, visa laziness. I decided to go anyway and surprise Macy (thanks to Mimi for helping with the surprise)
Jiufen & Shifen
I had never been outside Taipei so the chance to get to Jiufen and Shifen was something I really wanted to do. The only problem was that my flight was landing at noon and the bus that Macy and Mimi were taking there was leaving at 1:15pm from the city. Knowing the crazy lines at immigration, I knew I wouldn’t make it.
I had already plotted the many trains/buses I would take to make it there at the same time as Macy and Mimi (and last resort would be a ride share) but I was scared I wouldn’t make it. Luckily, my seatmate on the plane was a sweet girl named Rita who’s been living in Singapore for 4 years now and was visiting home. She gave me tips on getting there faster, taking different routes than the Google Maps recommended one.
And true enough, I made it to Shifen as Mimi and Macy were going around. Success on the surprise! Shifen had a pretty railroad and lots of amazing snacks. So a win for me.
It was dark & rainy by the time we got to Jiufen (though it was only 5:30 pm) so the 200 steps up to Amei Teahouse was not the easiest but it was pretty worth it. The tea ceremony the performed and the oolong tea was superb. Who knew I’d like it so much!
I literally had nothing to do with this itinerary and give it to Macy and Mimi for planning everything. The next day we went to Taichung bright and early (for me at 8:30 am) to see another city in Taiwan.
And it was super good. From the flower farm (and trying to get those perfect flower shots — while competing with all the other folks that wanted to take their photos) to walking around the city, to the ultra colorful Rainbow Village, to the very gorgeous Miyahara store (the queues were crazy though) and finally ending our day with super yummy bubble milk tea, it was a great day spent away from the city.
For my last day in Taiwan, we spent it in the city, it was a shopping trip I didn’t expect I’d have, but ended up enjoying. Walking in our neighborhood of Ximending (a place I hadn’t explored last time as much) where there was so much happening was a treat. I definitely took them back to my ‘old neighborhood’ of Dihua where I knew Mimi and Macy would give in to the cuteness of things.
We had lunch at Mala Hotpot (but didn’t go crazy on the spicy hotpot) but we did go get 12 scoops of ice cream each because why not. It’s an eat all you can buffet. It was sad to leave our super beautiful hotel (holler at Hotel Papa Whale in all its hipster glory), and even sadder to leave Mimi and Macy behind and go back to real life. But it was such a nice trip back to Taipei.
I hope they continue on this visa-free situation because I wouldn’t mind another visit back. Good times all around.