On March 15th, 2018, our graduation trip to Taiwan began promptly at 4:30am. After Dr. Yang eliminated all other possible drivers for various reasons, I volunteered to take the first shift of the 4-hour trek to San Francisco. As a functional insomniac, driving an SUV carrying 8 bodies and luggage down on a winding and snowy road before sunrise was just what my New England bones craved. We picked up our friend/media teacher and met with Mei-Ling, Nicky, and Kathy at SFO.
Twenty-six hours after leaving the Retreat Center, we waited (im)patiently for the last person in our group to pass through customs. Unfortunately, for reasons still unknown, through no fault of his own, Quentin’s passport was flagged as invalid and he was unable to enter the country, except to stay overnight at a hotel on his dime before being sent back to the US the next morning. After several failed attempts to free Q, we took a chartered bus to Dr. Yang’s brother’s home in Taipei, our residence for the week.
Day 1 (Saturday, 17 March): Taipei
The next morning, Dr. Yang took all 11 of us to eat a Taiwanese breakfast complete with: 燒餅油條 (flat biscuits with fried dough), 鹹豆漿 (savory soy milk), 甜豆漿 (sweet soy milk), 米漿 (rice milk), 蛋餅 (egg pancake), 蘿蔔糕 (radish cake), buns, and various puffs (sesame, taro, red bean, veggie, meat). Anyone planning to eat a healthy diet knew what challenges lay ahead. The total bill came to about 4 USD per person.
Ssu Hai Soybean Milk (四海豆漿) No. 40, Lane 311, Section 2, Heping East Road, Taipei (MRT Technology Building)
With full bellies, we walked to one of Dr. Yang’s favorite spots - the nearby farmers market at Cheng-gong Market (台北成功市場) to buy the last thing anyone wanted - more food.
Some people headed back to rest while others were ready to explore.
We walked to Taipei 101 with the intention of hiking up the nearby Elephant Mountain (象山) for views of the skyline. Other than being a one-time tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 didn’t offer us much beyond luxury shopping so we headed outside. The grey skies and droplets of rain convinced us to save the hike for another time.
And so began a week of a lot of walking and root training on the subway.
Longshan Temple (龍山寺) (MRT Longshan Temple, blue line) Known for its architecture and survival through several invasions.
The Grand Hotel (圓山大飯店) (MRT Yuanshan, red line) Famous for having had famous guests. Other than that, there’s not much to see. We did enjoy an afternoon snack at the First Lady Cafe, checked out the view, and walked along some of the trails.
Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) (MRT Jiantan, red line) Taiwanese night markets are famous for delicious (although usually greasy) and cheap street food and arcade-like games.
52 Tapas House (水鳥公園52號) (MRT Zhuwei, red line) Jon and I continued heading north to meet his relatives and have dinner at 52 Tapas House. The food was good, but we were stuffed and ready to crash.
We pretty much covered the entire red line in one day, stayed up way past my 9pm bedtime, and got up the next day for our trip to Hsinchu - the hometown of Dr. Yang, Grandmaster Cheng, and my grandma.
To be continued... (This is my whip to keep writing.)