Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ilha Formosa

Because we're morally obligated to take advantage of being in Asia and travelling around it, we booked tickets to Taiwan for a post-Christmas getaway from -17 degree Jecheon. When we got into Taipei it was a glorious 24 degrees, Tom was so excited he took a picture of the thermometer in the airport. 

We took a bus from the airport into the city and set about getting a train to Hualien. Taiwan's notoriously... uh.... busy... over the weekend so all of the seats were booked out and we resigned ourselves to Standing Room Only. This means every single piece of space is occupied by a person. After a few stops we managed to get seats only to have to move every few stops when more people got on and off. We got a cab from the station to our hotel, the taxi driver dropped us off a kilometre or so from where we should have been because he didn't want to waste our money driving around looking for it. I was a little taken aback by the honesty and briefly suspected his reluctance was some sort of elaborate scam. 

Our hotel was pretty sweet, and although I couldn't see any roadworks nearby we got a box of peanut muachi and an apology for any 'disruptions caused by our road.' I dumped my bags on the floor and thus began my Taiwanese routine - eating all the things.

The hotel staff told us the best place to eat would be Ziqiang night market, about 15 minutes walk away. And man, was it a good place to eat. The market is relatively small but was packed with delicious food and so many people. Taiwan has a booming domestic tourism industry (which is why the weekends are so busy) and a lot of the stores have been profiled on TV shows and in magazines. The popular stalls had lines which were rumoured to be over an hour long. Tom and I were way too impatient for that kind of wait but still managed to stuff ourselves with steak and noodles, fruit kebabs, steamed buns and bánh mì. My favourite was xiaolongbao, a steamed pork bun which is fried and crispy on the bottom. Nom.

Alllllll of the juice.

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