Taipei 2017: Day 1 ~ The Day We Ate Too Much

November 12, 2017

The idea of doing this trip started with that usual conversation among colleagues -- "Hey let's go to Taiwan!" We always bursted this idea out over lunch and whenever we had idle time at the office. The trip actually came to life when our friend saw a seat sale and we finally placed our booking! And from there, all the plans were created... and finally the day of our travel arrived!

Taiwan is becoming a hotspot for tourists nowadays. The main attraction? FOOD! I was really looking forward to taste all of their street food! I've heard nothing but amazing things about their night markets here in Taipei. This is what I was hugely looking forward for this trip.

We flew via Philippine Airlines. Thanks to last-minute changes, our arrival to Taipei was changed to around 9AM (originally we were supposed to land in the evening). It was kinda gloomy weather when we landed on Taipei and I was a little bit worried that the weather would be rainy for the next days to come. One mistake I did on this trip: I didn't bring a single jacket. I checked Accuweather prior to our travel dates and I don't know why but it didn't sink in that it might get cold in Taipei during our stay. Anyway I told myself at that point that I'll see if I can survive the trip without a jacket. 😅

We arranged an airport shuttle to our hotel (wazzup Energy Inn!) via KKDay. The personnel who was holding this sign with our friend's name were talking to us initially in English, and then he spoke in Filipino! Haha apparently he's from the Philippines also. It's so nice to interact with our kababayan (countrymen) overseas. He guided us to our van and there introduced us to our driver. Apparently our fellow Pinoy is a staff at the airport. This was similar to my experience in SFO (the airport staff that guided us to get a taxi was Filipino too!) After a few minutes of placing our luggages at the back, we finally took off! We travelled around 1.5 hours to get to our hostel.

Touchdown Taipei!
First Taste of Taipei: Mala Hotpot
After we arranged our stuff at our hostel (it was too early for checkin, good thing one of our rooms were already available, so we just left all of our baggages there), we went outside to start our adventure! I immediately noticed that the wind was a bit cold (it's still noon) and the people there were wearing jackets (oh no 😓). Our friend mentioned that she knows a nearby hotpot place that was really good, so we decided to search for it. Thanks to Google Maps and our wifi (we rented one at the airport), we were able to locate it! The place's name is Mala Hotpot.

The restaurant is a per-reservation basis and walk-ins will only be entertained if the reserved group didn't show up within 15 minutes of their reservation time. We were second in the waiting list. The group before us still had their luggages with them. 😅 The place looked famous because a number of groups came and inquired. Based on our friend's translation, they left when they learned that they would have to queue in the waiting list as no tables were currently available.

It's an unli buffet restaurant and a group can stay for a maximum of 2 hours. The nearest cutoff time for the reservations when we arrived was 12PM (we arrived a few minutes before 12 I think). If all the groups that reserved at 12PM showed up, we'll have to wait until 2PM to be entertained. Luckily for us, there were groups who didn't make it to their reservations, and within a few minutes we were asked to come in!

Mala Hotpot offers unli meat orders too (much like how Tenka works). The hotpot here is lifechanging! I really loved it! From the meat to all the other dishes, it was heaven. The outstanding one was the cheeseball! I love Tenka's cheeseballs, but OMG theirs is on an all new level. The cheese inside is so gooey it effortlessly melts inside your mouth. Yum, I am getting hungry now just by thinking of how good it tasted. If you go to Taipei and you happen to be in the Ximending area, you need to check out this hotpot place!

They also have several flavors of Haagen Dazs ice cream and it is unlimited servings too! They also have various drinks (I tried the tamarind one). Everything was sooo good. This place is really food heaven! 😭#tearsofjoy

But be cautious - there's extra charge if you have leftovers. We actually had some meat leftovers. Good thing they were not really strict (I guess the amount of leftovers we had was still below their penalty level?) and we paid only for our meals. Each of us paid around 500NT.

This first meal we had in Taipei is the best one I had! It was wonderful. I was soooo full when we left the restaurant.

Here's us ready to enjoy this hotpot feast!

Around Ximending
With our happy full stomach, we walked around Ximending and explored the area. The atmosphere here feels really similar to Myeongdong in Seoul -  but here, food as the highlight. And yup, I got convinced that I indeed needed a jacket (I'm beginning to feel the wind) so I bought a jacket during our time walking around checking out the stores.

Fiftea: our favorite milktea house is here!
(well it originated in Taiwan, what was I expecting. 😜)
Aboard the Subway to Taipei 101
Since we didn't really have an itinerary for that day (for most days actually hehe), we decided to go to Taipei 101, this famous building in the city, the tallest one I believe.

So it was our first ride at the subway! We bought our EasyCards and reloaded them at the station. After we checked which subway lines to ride (well they did, I just followed hehe), we were on our way to Taipei 101!

I got amused by this real-time "vacancy" detectors at the comfort rooms. It's so high tech!
Maybe they have this so that riders can estimate if they would be able to make it to the next train if
they did a bathroom break.
Obligatory photo with the tower.
Good thing our friend was good in tilting the camera to get the whole tower framed in the photo. 😂

I was always taking photos while my friends figure out the lines in the subway to find our way to our next tourist spot destination. Yup, I am that useless friend who depended on them. 😅
Quick Walk Around the Park
Since we didn't really want to go up the Taipei 101 building, we decided to walk around and check out the nearby places. We saw a park nearby (based on Google Maps) so we walked towards it while sightseeing at the same time!

We saw this park having some "Oktoberfest" kind of event (with lots of food stalls!). We wanted to try some of them out but the payment was a bit complicated (we had to buy some cards as payments in a store nearby), so we backed out and continued walking.

After several minutes of walking, we arrived to that park we saw on Google Maps - Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. There's nothing much to see (based on what we saw so far there), but there's a nice spot there to chill. That's where we stayed for more than an hour (I think?) and just chatted away. It feels so nice to have a flexible itinerary. This reminded me of that time in Seoul when I just relaxed at the top of our hostel's rooftop, with the Namsan Tower in view.

an old tobacco factory can be found inside the park
This is the spot where we just sat and chatted away. There were a few people passing by.
Some of them were walking their dogs. It's one of the most relaxing time I've had in this trip.
Shilin Night Market
When we noticed that it's becoming dark already, we headed our way back to the subway to go to one of the most famous night markets in Taipei - Shilin Night Market! I knew it's a bit of a wrong timing because we were still full (at least I was) because of that hotpot lunch that we had, but we pushed with going to the night market anyway to check things out.

There were lots of food stalls around! It was overwhelming to absorb. It was like I was in Divisoria but it's all food stalls! It was crazy. If only I was not that full, I would have had the motivation to try them all. But since I was not that hungry, I just took the leisure to observe and look at the food being prepared at each stall.

Approaching Shilin Nigh Market
food stalls everywhere!
I was actually curious how this one tasted - it looks like squid in melted cheese.
But I was not able to try it because I was too full! 😭

Our friend bought this beef (drizzled with lots of pepper) at one stall and shared it with us.
It tasted okay to me, nothing exceptional.There's just too much pepper. 😂
My friends really liked this sugarcane drink. They told me it tasted really authentic.
When I tried it (cause I was really getting thirsty then), it just tasted to me like water with a hint of sweetness.
I dunno, maybe I'm just not familiar with sugar canes. 😅
While our friend was lining up for her favorite stall of fried chicken, the rest of us sat down on a nearby block.
(Our feet were soooo tired already!). I noticed this unique building structure, so I took this photo, which happened to be perfectly framed with a girl's shirt saying "Ecstasy Make You Crazy." 😂👍
I felt it was indeed a bit cold already that night.
Oh look, there's the temperature displayed on top of that building. Cool!
Coffee @ Ximending
And when you thought the day is over, well think again! 😂

I felt so tired already, but we need to make the most out of the trip, right? Since we had a full stomach again (thanks to the wonderful food stalls at Shilin Night Market), we decided to have some coffee to make the food go down (dunno if that's the right term). So we checked out the coffee shops in Ximending and we landed at 85C Bakery Cafe. It was already past 10PM but the streets of Ximending was still full of energy. The night is indeed young around these parts of Taipei.

Well actually it's still early, but we were soooo tired already. We did a lot of walking and eating. After our coffee, we decided to call it a day. We went back to our hostel to officially checkin and to finally settle down in our rooms.

And this is just the first day! We still had six days to spare in Taipei! 😍

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