My trip to Taiwan was definitely a once in a life time experience (corny I know). It’s one of those places that offers it all, and no matter how much time you spend there, there’s still so much you don’t get to see. Taiwan is home to some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, not only because I grew up in New York and everyone else in the world is nice compared to us, but because the locals legitimately go out of their way to assist you. Although the language barrier was a challenge at times, the locals make it work; whether it’s through Google translate, body language, or hand gestures, they will make sure you can understand.
You can’t hit up Taiwan and only expect to visit one-night market, and if that’s the case, you did it wrong. Now, I’ve typically been one to say that while on vacation once you see 3 or 4 of something, you’ve seen them all. And to some extent, there is some truth to it… Whether you’re in Rome visiting cathedrals or in Paris checking out museums, after a certain point, the cathedrals all start to look similar (besides St. Peter’s Basilica of course) and museums after the Louvre just seem dull (or maybe I’m just uncultured, you can decide). However, I did not find that to be the case when it came to Taiwan’s night markets. I only made it to about 3 or 4 different markets, so of course I can’t speak for the rest, but what I can say is, while you may find similar food choices in each market, the experience is completely different. My second night market experience was none other than, Shi-Da Night Market.
Now, getting to Shi-Da isn’t as one, two, three as getting to Raohe Night Market, so listen closely. The great part about almost all activities in Taipei is that they are train accessible. Make your way to the MRT and take the Green line towards Xindian and get off on stop 8 for Taipower Building. One of the beauties of Taipei’s MRT system is that each exit is numbered and labeled so that you can use the exit closest to your destination, and I’m talking about specific buildings and tourist attractions, not just NW corner of 42nd Street (*cough cough* I’m looking at you MTA). With that being said, you’re going to use Exit 3, and make two rights until you reach Shi-Da Road.
First thing you notice once you get to the market is, holy crap there’s actually room to walk freely. The nice part about Shi-Da is the openness! Like I said before, each market is a completely different experience. Unlike Raohe, Shi-Da offers more of a variety when it comes to what type of stores there are. Of course, you will find plenty of food but from what I noticed, Shi-Da has just as many clothing and electronic stores as it does food stands. Now, for those who like fashion, you’ll see that Taipei offers a large selection of chic clothing stores, much similar to the boutiques you’ll find in Soho but for a quarter of the price! I can go on and on about the fashion, but let just say, set aside a good chunk of your budget (and your luggage) for some shopping.
On another note, the highlight of my visit to Shi-Da was definitely trying the lu wei, or as I refer to it, noodles in a bag (literally). I know it sounds weird as hell, but I’m being completely serious, noodles inside a clear plastic bag, inside another plastic bag. Basically, when you walk up to the stand, you’re given a basket to put in all your favorite ingredients, from meat, vegetables, noodles, anything (think of it kind of like Chipotle, but not really). The ingredients are then chopped and boiled in the famous broth and in 7-minutes or less you’ve got a complete dinner for about US$9.00! Enjoy!
If you’re into hiking along some incredibly scenic trails then Taiwan is the place for you! I’m starting to see a pattern here… looks like this island is the perfect destination for just about anyone. After a 45-minute taxi ride from Ximen and 700 NTD, of course there is the option of the bus for my non boujie compadres, my first hiking adventure in Taiwan began at Yangmingshan National Park. Now, if you’re thinking about hiking anywhere on a tropical island, don’t forget the essentials, sunblock, water, and LOTS of mosquito repellant. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to go on a hiking trail that doesn’t entail hiking 5 miles before you get to the good stuff. Photographs and videos alone do not do this place justice.
For some bizarre reason and unexplainable reason, I’ve always been obsessed with waterfalls, and this park has TWO. To say we got off to a good start is an understatement. As soon as the taxi dropped us off, we were greeted with an unbelievable view within 5 minutes into our are miles of trail to explore, with the only downfall being that there is not enough time to see it all. Not only is the scenery to die for, but the locals you meet along the way just continue to support the theory that the Taiwanese are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.