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My husband & I were so excited to visit Taipei for the first time, we definitely were planning on going nuts with our camera & take tons of photos.  Here are some of the best highlights of our photo album.

Yes, graffiti is everywhere.  It’s not really a shocking thing in most countries, but we were still excited to see street art throughout the city.  This type of art really amazes us, & these big murals are so cool.

Like I’ve mentioned before, my female friend who got married is from Taipei.  She was showing our big group of friends around town, & as we were walking to the subway station, we passed by this small shop selling funny t-shirts.  All of us thought these two shirts in particular was very fitting for the occasion.  The first shirt on the left says “My husband is the greatest”.  The second shirt on the right says “My wife is never wrong”.  Our group thought it would be funny to buy these shirts for our friends who were getting married that weekend, so they could wear them on their wedding day.  Alas, they begged us not to get them, so we didn’t end up buying them.  It would have been a funny story if we did get those shirts!

It was very interesting to see new/modern buildings mixed in with the older/traditional buildings.  The city itself is quite clean & orderly, however, the older buildings feel a little run-down & worn-out.  This is quite a dramatic contrast against the vibrant background of the bustling cityscape.

During our stay in Taipei, we stayed at the AMBA Hotel.  It’s a really hip, urban & minimalist hotel located in the very popular 西門町 (Ximending) neighborhood on the west side of the city.  For me, this hotel was the best in terms of amenities, service, location, proximity to public transportation, etc.  I love being smack-dab in the heart of the bustling downtown area of any city, so this hotel was perfect for my taste.  One might think that the hotel may be quite noisy, since it is in the middle of such a busy neighborhood, but to be honest, I couldn’t really hear much outside noise from my hotel room on the 9th floor.  I was planning on taking a ton of pictures of the hotel (& my room) while I was staying at AMBA, but I got so busy with my friends & kept pushing it aside until the last day.   Then on the last day, I just happened to catch a bug of some sort & got really sick.  Luckily the illness only cost me one and a half days of vacation time.  These are the few pictures we took of the hotel…

  1. When you walk into the lobby on the 5th floor, as soon as you exit the elevators you are greeted by a large Tofu-Oyako mural hand-painted by the DevilRobots team.
  2. On the other side of the lobby, facing opposite of the front desk reception booth is the dining area & cafe complete with a hip coffee bar.
  3. Also in the middle of the lobby, under the atrium skylight is the community seats where you can eat your meal from the dining cafe.
  4. Near the elevators is another hand-painted mural of the Ximending skyline.
  5. Next to the Tofu-Oyako mural was this big “5” sculpture, which I assume is for the 5-year anniversary of the hotel (?).
  6. I completely forgot to take pictures of our room, so I borrowed one of my friend’s photos to show a sample of the sleeping area.  The rooms are quite compact, but still highly functional.
  7. There is always a valet at the ground floor elevators to escort you to the lobby on the 5th floor or to help you with directions.
  8. Also on the ground floor was a bakery with outdoor bench seats & patio tables.
  9. The bakery served lots of sweet treats (such as cupcakes, New York style cheesecake, etc.).
  10. In the morning, we would always converge with our friends at the bakery.
  11. There was a really cool 3D moving art piece in the lobby, right next to the lounge.
  12. Speaking of the lounge (Legacy), my husband & I had a few drinks there one night.
  13. The lounge had a swanky, modern, urban vibe.  The lounge often hosted many live performances on the stage.  The backdrop of the stage was covered in denim fabric.
  14. There were many types of hip sofa seats & plush couches scattered about the lounge.
  15. One of the walls were covered in stereo speakers & amplifiers.  This was one of the coolest art installations I’ve ever seen.
  16. Finishing off the night with a “Whisky Old Fashioned” cocktail.

Since I didn’t get to take any pictures of our hotel room, I made a little mock-up drawing of our room layout:

Please excuse my poor drawing skills.

Please excuse my poor drawing skills.

I had so much fun on my trip.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I started my vacation with the intention of blogging photos of each day, but *pffffft*, that obviously DID NOT happen.  Every day was like a whirlwind, & by the time I had gotten back to my hotel room, it was extremely late & I was exhausted.  My two friends who got married had a beautiful wedding (with a few very minor glitches).  I have never experienced a half traditional Taiwanese , half Western mixed wedding before, & my friends pulled it off wonderfully.

One part that really amazed me was that my male friend was asked to sing a song during the wedding reception.  According to my female friend (who is Taiwanese), it is part of a newer type of wedding tradition where the groom is required to prepare & choreograph a special song (of one’s own choice) & sing to the new bride.  I was so happily surprised to see my male friend, who is usually quite shy, get up to sing in front of the entire wedding party.  He chose to sing a popular/well-known Chinese pop song, & he sang the lyrics in Mandarin…which was a feat by itself, since my male friend mainly speaks Cantonese & English & was not very familiar with the Mandarin language until he met his new bride.  He was really great with the choreography too!

Overall, all of us as a group had a really awesome & memorable experience in Taiwan.  For some of us, it was a first-time experience.  For others, it was like visiting familiar territory.  I didn’t go as crazy with the food eating as I had initially thought I would.  However, I DID go a little buck wild with the shopping.  I really wasn’t expecting to do that much shopping in Taiwan.  I gave myself a budget (I did stick to it) & had planned to spend a majority of my shopping budget in Japan…but I could not resist all of the cute stationery popping up around every corner!  I ended up purchasing quite a bit of postcards, greeting cards & sticker sets.  (Yes, I was a bit of a naughty girl.)

I have a special use for all these things, I promise!

I have a special use for all these things, I promise!

Here’s a quick rundown of all the things that happened on the Taiwan leg of our Asia tour…

A glimpse at the food we ate:


01. Won Ton soup noodles
02. Ramen Kagetsu Arashi (花月嵐拉麵) – tonkotsu ramen with onsen egg
03. Japanese beef curry with rice
04. Lion Head meatball (獅子頭 – shi zhi tou)
05. Locally farmed organic chicken with sliced green onions
06. Mini soup dumplings (小籠包 – xiao long bao)
07. Rao He night market – a very popular fried bun filled with minced pork & veggies
08. Fong Da cafe latte – this place is very famous & has been open since 1956!
09. Ice Monster red bean shave ice with ice cream & condensed milk
10. Ice Monster (very popular) mango shave ice with mango sorbet
11. All-you-can-eat hot pot – side A = spicy broth, side B = mild broth
12. You can choose up to 3 types of broth for your hot pot!
13. We celebrated our dear friend’s birthday with a tiramisu Mille Crêpe cake!
14. Believe it or not, Taipei is known for some really good Japanese sushi spots. We topped off our sushi extravaganza with some Negi Toro hand rolls.
15. We visited a 50+ year old beef noodle soup shop to have 紅燒牛肉麵 (hong shao niu rou mian – red roasted beef noodles).
16. Yes, we also tried Shanghainese food in Taiwan. This was some good slow cooked beef with some veggies in a delicious broth.
17. Didn’t get enough veggies yet, so we ordered a steamed cabbage dish
18. Shredded chicken noodle soup
19. Shredded bean curd served cold
20. Small river shrimp with a special vinegar sauce for dipping
21. The best thin rice noodles I’ve ever had at the 阿宗麵線 (Ah Zong Mian Xian – Ah Zong Noodle Line) food stall. No tables, no seats. Everybody just stands around the shop & eats on the sidewalk. You can add your own fresh mince garlic or special hot chili sauce.
22. A plate of duck with a bowl of soup noodles at 鸭肉扁 (Ya Rou Bian – Duck Meat Slice). I found out recently that the meat is actually wild goose, not really duck.

 

MORE PHOTOS AND INFO TO COME…

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