Saturday, 22 August 2015

Info on Episode 1: Xiangshan, Taipei 台北象山

(Update: added more info, added Chinese)

In this episode, we took the Taipei MRT Tamsui/Xinyi line from CKS Memorial to Da An Forest Park, Xiangshan, and then to Dongmen.

Info on Easycard, and where to buy:
I highly recommend getting one, because you can use this for not only the metro, busses, public bikes (Youbike) but convenience stores and many, many other outlets. I can't live without mine. I live here, so I use an Easycard credit card that automatically reloads itself at specific increments once it runs out of credit.

CKS Memorial is worth walking around in. There are two ponds and gardens on both sides of the memorial. The outer wall is quite pretty - the windows all have different, classy shapes. The memorial building is a pretty landmark and you can walk into it. There is a guard shift change that is interesting to watch as well. Here's more info:

Da An Forest Park is a very nice park in the middle of Taipei. If you are looking for a place to walk or jog, this is a great place. I think the loop on the clay path is a little over 1k. There are lots of asphalt paths throughout the park, trees, jungle gyms for kids too. The MRT station has an area where there are steps to sit on, rest and be surrounded by natural light while enjoying air conditioning.

The Xiangshan trail is especially nice in the morning and afternoon/early evening because of the sunrise/sunset views. There is a small stand selling water and drinks on the way up shortly after entering the trail from the MRT station side. Bring mosquito repellent and something to sooth the itchiness in case those little buggers get you anyway. There are several lookout points along the trail, and they're all pretty good. The six giant rocks are fun to climb for a picture, but be careful. The Xiangshan trail connects to a network of other trails there, marked at the intersections, so if hiking's your thing, you can spend a lot of time up there.

Dongmen is really popular because of the restaurants and cafes, but the area has gotten incredibly touristy. Tourists go there for xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) at Dingtaifeng, mango shaved ice at Smoothie 15, beef noodles at Beef Noodle Master. I personally like Dingtaifeng and Kaochi - these places even locals go to. Kaochi is a good alternative to Dingtaifeng when DTF is packed, and it's right around the corner. Because the area is so packed with tourists, if you go during meal time, be prepared to wait and be squeezed into small and sometimes uncomfortable and noisy spaces. So where do the locals go? If the craving is DTF (in addition to xiaolongbao, the fried rice, cold dishes, pork chops, noodles, soup and lots of other things are great too!), I go to the one near my apartment, which is inside Sogo's BR4 branch, and I go get a number right when the department store opens, sometimes I go before the department store opens, through the supermarket entrance (supermarket opens earlier), get a number and I won't have to wait at all. Not much waiting that way. For beef noodles, to me it's about the same almost anywhere where there's a healthy number of customers going in and out, and the place is clean. It's hard to get untasty beef noodles in Taipei. Mango shaved ice, there's another place on Zhongxiao East Road Section 4, called Ice Monster. They have quite a bit more variety, more seating and generally a more comfortable experience. Trivia: the owners of these 2 shaved ice shops used to be married. I personally prefer Ice Monster - it's closer to me, and more comfortable. And I love their pearl milk tea flavor shaved ice.

Oh the cafe we did the ending bit at is Yaboo. They have free wifi and decent drinks. I think I had Rooibus tea.

If you want to get around by public bicycles, there are a few ways. If you are a resident or citizen of Taiwan, you register your Easycard via the kiosk or their website, and beep in and out with the card. If you are neither, you can still ride with a credit card. It's something like TWD5 for the first half hour and a little more expensive after that, but generally quite reasonable. There are mobile apps that tell you where the stations are, how many bikes and parking spaces are available. Search for them on Google Play or iOS. I use the official app on iPhone called "YouBike."

Taipei is great, I hope you enjoy it!

You should come. :)

Wardrobe and accessories:
Shirt: Kotipesa (a wonderful Taiwanese brand that I love, pricey but acceptable)
Shorts: Uniqlo (Japanese brand that I go to for basic items)
Hat: Kangol (British hat brand, this was my first piece from them)
Shoes: Rucoline (Italian brand that has high heel wedge trainers. This is my nth pair. I usually buy them over the internet in Japan, where it's less expensive than Taiwan, and then get them sent here, usually through
Watch: Martian (American brand, fashionable smart watch that still works when it runs out of juice)
Camera clip: Peak Design (American brand, attaches to your belt, backpack strap, messenger strap)
Camera and lens: Canon 6D, 16-35mm F/2.8L







東門因為有很多有名的餐廳,所以成為一個很熱門的據點,不過這些年來,感覺要被觀光客擠爆了,有一點點不舒服。很多觀光客會去那邊吃鼎泰豐的小籠包,思幕昔15的芒果冰,或是永康牛肉麵。我個人喜歡鼎泰豐和高記,鼎泰豐客滿就去高記,這兩個地方都是當地人也會吃的。芒果冰和牛肉麵就大概是看著旅遊書來的,這兩個地方不會讓人太失望,但因為空間小,人又多,要有被擠,有要趕快吃完走人的壓力的心理準備。我常吃飯時間到東門,一定都有那種備戰的感覺。好累呀~ 那到底要到哪裡吃牛肉麵,小籠包和芒果冰?我覺得在台北吃牛肉麵,只要餐廳裡面外面有人進進出出,空間乾淨,應該不會太差。台北很難吃到難吃的牛肉麵。如果鼎泰豐(除了小籠包好吃,還有炒飯,小菜,湯,麵,排骨,真的都好吃),我會到離我家最近的,就是Sogo BR4樓下的那家,百貨公司一開門就去拿號碼牌,甚至百貨公司還沒開,但百貨公司樓下的超市開了,我會從超市那邊鑽進去到鼎泰豐拿號碼牌,這樣就不用等。芒果冰,我會到離我家較近,在忠孝東路四段上的 Ice Monster。這邊的菜單比較豐富,地方比較大,位子比較多,坐起來比較舒服。我個人喜歡這裡,方便,舒適,然後珍珠奶茶冰好吃。八卦一下,永康街和忠孝東路這兩家的老闆本來是夫妻~





襯衫:Kotipesa (台灣品牌,台灣設計師,我最近才份是的,而且非常喜歡)
短褲:Uniqlo (日本品牌,很多基本款都在那裡買)
帽子:Kangol (英國品牌,我第一次買)
鞋子:Rucoline (義大利品牌,他們鞋子很多是高跟平底球鞋,我已經買n雙了。通常我會在日本網購,因為那邊比這裡便宜多了,然後透過Tenso.com寄回台灣)
手錶:Martian (美國品牌,時尚又不怕沒電的智慧型手錶)
相機掛扣:Peak Design (美國品牌,可以掛皮帶,背包,背帶)
相機與鏡頭:Canon 6D, 16-35mm F/2.8L

Sunday, 12 July 2015