Taiwanese Adventure, Part I (Taipei)


To give a bit of background…

… a very dear friend and former flatmate of mine (the groom, Roland) found a fantastic woman (Vera) and managed to convince her to marry him.

This resulted in a Zimbabwean-Taiwanese wedding in the midst of typhoon season in Taipei, Taiwan, to which we had the honor of being invited.

Naturally, we said yes. We packed our bags and a set of swim fins, and we headed to Taiwan.
Little did we know, we’d be in for a spot of bad weather, but we still had plenty of good company.

Day I:

After 16 hours in flight, not including our 2 hour stop in Hong Kong, we arrived in Taipei at night.

We arrived at our hotel, quickly unpacked, and headed downstairs to a Japanese restaurant before meeting our friends, whose wedding we had made this mighty trek to witness and the groom’s parents (Christine & Ian), whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know while travelling in Zimbabwe.

It was then that we learned that there really aren’t a lot of bars in Taipei. As it happens, the Taiwanese are not genetically evolved drinkers, which means that gathering at a bar isn’t much fun the next day for most locals. The groom’s parents proudly advised is that this was not cause for concern, as they had found that the presence of a 7-11 on every corner made it easy to make one’s own bar. (Check out the 7-11 link, as Taiwanese 7-11 looks like far more fun than American 7-11.)

That’s right, parents told us to go get beer at the 7-11 and bring it back to their room. Naturally, We did as we were told.

Day II:

Day 2 kicked off with free hotel breakfast and plans to rendez-vous with the groom mid-day.

We took the MRT (pictured to the right) to visit the both the Longshan Temple and the Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

The MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit), pictured to the right, is super clean and wonderfully efficient. It even has very cute tickets!

Inside of Longshan Temple, one could purchase items of food to offer as a gift to the gods, and many people burned incense. Our friend Rachel was randomly given soup by a woman who insisted that it was for Rachel and not for Rachel to place near one of the shrines. Unfortuantely, I failed to document said soup.

The temple itself is very beautiful and ornate, as you can see from these pictures.
It’s really quite amazing to look at.

The Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is located in a large square which is also home to the National Theater, The Gate of Great Centrality & Perfect Uprightness (Freedom Gate) and the National Concert Hall.

The building is quite tall and houses a museum to Chang Kai Shek’s life in the ground floor, which we wandered around before heading to the memorial at the top.

This is the view of the square from the top of the stairs:

Inside of the memorial is a large statue (and Ian & Darren):

inside the museum, you can see, but as the sign sternly advises, not touch or enter Chang Kai Shek’s official cars

After all that history, we headed to what is known as the best dumpling shop in Taipei for Xiao Long Bao (aka: soup dumplings).

Conveniently, they do provide directions on how to properly enjoy the dumplings on a laminated card. (The other side is in Japanese, as Taiwan has many Japanese tourists).

We ordered many dumplings (pictured), vegetable & pork buns, and at the end, a red bean bun (pictured, bisected).

After all that, we headed back to the hotel for a bit of quiet time before meeting up with the bride, groom, and groom’s family for dinner.

We headed out to one of a number of “100” restaurants which seemingly dot the city. These often independent, casual restaurants sell small plates (as displayed in the pictures) intended for sharing for 100 TWD each. Much eating did follow, as did a 7-11 run.

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