We arrived back in Taipei in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving day – something we’d all forgotten about until one of Theresa’s classmates invited us to a Thanksgiving party. The crowd was a mix of twenty or so people, most of whom were part of the same Chinese-language program as Theresa.
The next couple of days were mostly leisurely. We had no particular plans or destinations in mind, so we spent most of our time meandering around the city.
On one of our days in Taipei, Ana and I set out to do some of the checkbox tourist items. We spent the morning visiting Taipei 101 which was, at one time, the world’s tallest building.
From there, we took a taxi to Ximending – Taipei’s most popular shopping district. The area reminded me a bit of the Kowloon neighborhood of Hong Kong; there were a ton of stores and restaurants stacked on top of one and other. Ana and I had a coffee, a painful, but refreshing foot massage, and shopped for a few hours.
That evening, we went to Din Tai Fung with a few of Theresa’s friends and classmates. The restaurant chain originated in Taiwan, so I was really excited to try it as it was meant to be served, but I have to say it tasted almost indiscernible from Din Tai Fung in Seattle.
We had a very lazy Saturday - I spent a few hours reading in a coffee shop before meeting Ana for lunch at a Korean restaurant near Theresa’s apartment.
My friend Andrew had invited us to a dinner party at his house in Neihu that evening, so Ana and I went over to help him set up. We had some time to kill before guests began arriving so Andrew offered to take us in a drive in his very nice, very fast VW GTI Clubsport.
I don’t think Ana nor I really know what Andrew meant by “a drive”, but flying up the side of a mountain, in the rain, at night, at speed was a ton of fun. I was very glad I had not eaten or drank anything prior to the drive.
On our last full day in Taiwan we met up with one of Ana’s friends from Seattle who happened to also be visiting. We took a bus out to Jiufen - a mountain town an hour or so northeast of Taipei. It’s full of tight alleyways and small shops and restaurants. The town is mostly geared towards tourists, but it was a ton of fun to explore. The locale allegedly inspired a few scenes from the movie Spirited Away.
Our flight back to Seattle was late that evening, but we had just enough time for a final dinner in Taipei with Theresa. We ate delicious Japanese food and had a few beers at an Izakaya before jumping in an Uber to the airport.
The flight back was three hours faster than the flight there and we arrived Sunday afternoon which made for easy jet lag recovery.