My second day in Taipei was full of sightseeing. The MRT (subway system) in Taipei is really great. It was really cheap and easy to get around the entire city. I was able to see so many things in a short amount of time. After I left my hostel I went to the bakery across the street. Everything looked amazing, but nothing was labeled in English so I just had to randomly pick things to try. I ended up with three pastries, and all of them were delicious. One of them had meat inside, which was a surprise, but it was really good! I think it was ground pork cooked with some type of curry (YUM!).
After that I went downstairs into the MRT station. I quickly figured out where I needed to go, paid the fare, and jumped on a train. In just about 15 minutes I came out at Longshan Temple. This is one of the most popular temples in Taipei. The temple was a very short walk from the station, but there were signs in English pointing the way so it was very easy to find. I enjoyed walking around the area. Outside the temple there are tons of vendors selling various things – lotus flowers, water, fruit, etc. These things are bought and brought into the temple to give up as offerings. The temple was packed full of people, but it was still a very peaceful environment. Everything was beautiful, and the smell of incense permeated every nook and cranny.
After exploring the Longshan temple, and the surrounding neighborhood, I went back to the MRT and went a few stops away to the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. By this time it was around 12:30, and the sun was shining brightly. As soon as I came out of the station I was surrounded by beautiful buildings – The National Theater, and the National Concert Hall. It was ridiculously hot, but I powered through it and walked around the area. There was a beautiful little pond and garden that was shaded my many trees. I was reluctant to leave the shade, but I really wanted to walk up to the Memorial Hall. Once I made it up there and took my pictures, I was able to rest for a little bit. I wont get into all the details about Chiang Kai-Shek, but if you are interested in Chinese and Taiwanese history, please google it!
By the time I was finished touring this area my feet were killing me and I was starting to get very hungry. One of the downsides of traveling alone is not having anyone to eat with. Add that with not being able to read any of the restaurant signs or menus and it’s pretty tough to figure out what to eat! I decided I’d head back in the direction of my hostel and see if there was anything to eat near Taipei Main Station. I was really wanting to try the famous Taiwanese beef noodles (Niu Rou Mien). Luckily, Taipei Main Station had an enormous food court with a whole section dedicated to these noodles. It was hard finding a seat, but I got my noodles and sat down at a huge table packed with people. They were really good! After lunch I was debating on what to do. I decided to go back to my room to rest for a little while, and then conquer the National Palace Museum. It was Saturday so the museum stays open until 8:30.
I’d heard so much about this museum, so I knew I couldn’t miss it. After a short rest, I hopped back on the MRT to Shilin Station, and then took the bus to the museum. I wasn’t quite sure how the buses worked, but I met a couple on the bus, and they were in the same boat as me. We stuck together and easily found the museum. Just walking around the outside of it was quite a site. I didn’t have a lot of time to see the museum, but I was able to spend about an hour and a half going through it. It was really interesting. It holds one of the largest collections of Chinese art in the world. I really wish I’d had more time there, but I had to leave to meet Rachel and Miguel for dinner. When I came out it was dark, so I got to see how beautiful the museum looks all lit up at night.
I rushed over to the other side of town to meet them for night market street food. We got lots of snacks – sausages, green onion pancake, fruit, and bubble tea and headed over to the nearby National Taiwan University to have a little picnic. The campus was really beautiful, and I wish I had gotten to see it in the daytime. I have never seen entire parking lots full of bicycles. I don’t know how anyone can remember where they parked their bike! We had a nice little picnic street food dinner, and Miguel and Rachel told me a lot about Taiwan and it’s history. It was so nice to be shown around by locals!