I’m cheating a little with this one by combining the two months so I can be caught up with these already! And anyway, not too much has happened over these months to warrant separate recaps.
It’s so true that the longer you’re at a place, the less you do. There’s just no need to bust your ass exploring somewhere new everyday when you’ve got three months to do it. But that just means that I’ve put off stuff for so long that now, on the brink of leaving, I still have a long list of things I never got around to. And the constant grey/rainy weather hasn’t really contributed to the exploring mood either.
Instead, we’ve settled in really nicely here in Taipei these past couple months. We’ve focused more on integrating ourselves into the culture and the city. Being here for longer gave us a chance to make some local friends and have some separate activities away from each other. It’s nice to feel like a normal person in a normal relationship. ;)
Here’s what we’ve been up to these months:
Taipei from the top of Elephant Mountain
I kicked off November with a hike and the company of a new friend. Jamie from Ink + Adventure (an American expat in Taipei) joined me on a hike up Elephant Mountain. It was a drizzly day but we still got a good view of Taipei.
It’s funny because I live only a couple of blocks from Taipei 101, but it really doesn’t look that tall. I think it’s maybe the way it’s designed. But from Elephant Mountain, you can really see this gigantic landmark looming tall over the entire city.
Dinner with D’s family
We met up with D’s uncle’s family for dinner again. Last April, they took us to a really good Sichuan restaurant that all of us loved. So this time, it was an unanimous choice to eat there again!
A visit from D’s parents
We got a real treat at the end of November with a visit from D’s parents! Thanksgiving passed pretty quietly and uneventfully, but we definitely made up for it the weekend after. It was great to have some family around, especially since D hasn’t seen his parents in over a year by this time! We had so much fun taking them to all our favorite places and giving them a taste of what our daily life in Taipei is like.
A day by the sea at Yeiliu
At the beginning of December, I went with a new friend (that I met at the mall, of all places!) on a day trip to Yeiliu National Geopark, an area in Northeast Taipei famous for its strange rock formations due to coastal erosion. We had a fun day climbing over the rocks and then eating our way through the Jin Shan old street.
And this little trip proved that traveling with a girl is oftentimes more fun, because we don’t get annoyed with each other when we want to take a million photos of silly poses. In fact, we encourage it. :)
Making local friends
For the first time since we started traveling, we’re in a place long enough to make local friends! I found that Conversation Exchange is an easy way to meet locals (in a non-sleazy way), and I’m so thankful that I’ve met a couple of people from there who are becoming good friends.
About once a week, I meet up with them to explore a new part of Taipei together, whether it’s trying a locally popular eatery or taking a baking class or browsing the shops. This allowed me to experience things that I otherwise wouldn’t have and really makes this city feel more like home.
If you’re interested in trying Conversation Exchange, don’t worry too much about the “exchange” part. The locals are more than happy to practice English, you want to make some friends, and hey, maybe you will even learn some phrases… so it’s a win-win-win!
Going on mini solo foodie adventures
D and I took this time to make separate friends and do more of our own things (since we don’t always have similar interests in activities or in food!), so I made a point to go on some mini solo adventures around town. I loved the freedom to walk around aimlessly and eat whatever I wanted.
Basically this meant that if I wanted to eat an entire huge bowl of mango snow ice (despite it being cold and windy), then that’s what I did!
A day in the magical town of Juifen
This was one of my favorite Taipei adventures! Once again, I met up with Jamie to explore Juifen together, a new destination for the both of us. Juifen is an old mining town built into the coastal hillsides, and is famously the inspiration for the Miyazaki film Spirited Away. It’s amazingly picturesque with its windy narrow lanes, hundreds of stairs, tea houses, local delicacies, and red lanterns everywhere!
I’ve yet to write about it, so check out Jamie’s post in the meantime! It’s full of gorgeous pictures!
Dinner with Airbnb hosts
One of the reasons why we love our Airbnb, aside from the good location and value, is our friendly hosts. Eric and his crew took us out to dinner one night to a very local Taiwanese joint and ordered up a table spread of traditional dishes. It always makes an Airbnb experience more special when the hosts are more involved.
Playing tour guide to travelers
And speaking of our Airbnb, we’ve assumed the unofficial, self-proclaimed title of tour guides. Our Airbnb has more of a guesthouse setup with a few room rentals within one apartment unit. We picked this thinking that it’d be fun to meet other travelers (but with a private room to retreat to if we’re not feeling social). Every so often, we do meet travelers interested in hanging out, and in that case, we always offer to take them on a food tour of our local night market. It’s fun playing tour guide and almost makes me feel like a local!
One such guest was an older traveler from Australia (but teaches English in Vietnam!). Carmel was on a solo trip to Taipei for a week and we instantly clicked with her. We introduced her to stinky tofu at the night market and the delicious xiaolongbao’s at Din Tai Fung. And I even got up early one day to join her for breakfast at the secret Starbucks on the 35th floor of Taipei 101!
And finally, we ended the year with the fireworks off of Taipei 101. It was a lovely way to end the year and begin a new one.
Happy New Year from Taipei!!
Posted by Slightly Astray on Thursday, December 31, 2015
What’s going on in January
I can’t believe our three months in Taipei passed so fast! As I write this, we are in the process of packing for our next destination. It’s kind of amazing how much extra crap I’ve managed to accumulate in just three months, so maybe it’s a good thing to keep on moving to new places!
In two days, we are flying to Kuala Lumper, Malaysia! As much as you guys know I love Taipei, I think three months is enough because I’m so ready for some new flavors (aka. spice again!) and for some warmth! Malaysia is currently in the 90’s (or mid 30’s Celsius) so it probably means that I’ll enjoy it for approximately two days before complaining that it’s too hot. ;)
If you’ve been to Malaysia (KL in particular) and have any tips/suggestions at all, please share!
What are your plans this month?