In September, I took a trip to Taipei with Tomo and his parents. Tomo and I had planned to go, but then Tomo thought it would be fun for his parents to come along too. So three native Japanese speakers, one native English speaker, in Taiwan. The communication challenges were potentially difficult, but we learned that a LOT of people in Taipei speak a little Japanese (might have something to do with 50 years of Japanese occupation (I didnâ€™t know that)), Taiwan uses traditional Chinese characters instead of simplified Chinese characters, and folks speak a lot of English as well.
Since the trip was over three months ago, I canâ€™t pretend to remember all the details. I can say it was a terrific trip, and I really enjoyed Taipei. It was a friendly city.
Of course, upon arrival and check-in, our priority was to get to Din Tai Fung. There are Din Tai Fung everywhere these days, and I was first introduced to it in Los Angeles. There the wait is almost always over one hour. We went at a strange time, so we were seated pretty quickly. Of course, the food did not fail to satisfy me. I love the soup filled dumplings. Interestingly, in LA, most of the kitchen staff were Hispanic. In Taipei they appeared to be Chinese.
When we left the restaurant, we were hit with some pretty hard rain, so we shopped around a little and then made it back to the hotel. The rain went away and then we went to the dried food part of town. These shops are really popular with the Japanese, and it seemed that dried squid was the most precious commodity. I had some, and absolutely hated it. It reminded me of strongly fish flavored shards of glass. Sound good? I thought not.
From the dried food area we went over to another area where we did a bunch of tea sampling. The shop had a whole tea sampling course, starting from weak teas to really strong teas. It was very interesting. The hostess spoke Japanese very well, so I just nodded and pretended I knew what was going on and looked to Tomo for a translation.
Following the tea sampling, we made a scramble to one of the night markets â€“ Shilin. We wandered through the market and ended up eating some â€œbig chicken.â€ Apparently this is pretty famous. The night market was impressive â€“ the sounds, the smells, the tastes. I donâ€™t think I bought anything but we had a good time wandering through.
A City of Sadnessâ€ and apparently like all places made famous it has become a big tourist attraction. We were able to walk around and enjoyed a nice lunch there before making our way back to Taipei.