Friday, June 21, 2013

Taipei Revisited: Treats for the Eyes and Belly

We love returning to a city that we’ve previously enjoyed. We get to experience a sense of familiarity, revisit favorite places, and explore a bit deeper. All this made our second stay in Taipei a delight! We went to both the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Fine Arts Museum. Since there’s no photography allowed inside we’re including photos of the outside sculpture.

Our friends Lance and Laura lived in Taipei 22 years ago. We asked them what their favorite things were then, and they told us about Wisteria Tea House. Sure enough, it’s still here! We enjoyed an afternoon of tea looking out at the garden.

Lance’s favorite places to eat were the night markets. We checked out Shilin, which is the largest of the night markets in Taipei. It was packed!

These soft-shelled crabs were succulent.

The line for the deep fat fried chicken was long, so we were expecting it to be tasty; It was incredibly moist and tender, and an absolute bargain price at $2!

Lots of different types of sausages were available, so we sampled.

The night markets have a carnival atmosphere. Alas, Pete didn’t win a stuffed Tigger for Kristina.

We ended up going twice to Shilin, as there were dishes we still wanted to try but we didn’t have room in our bellies. The second visit included oyster omelets, these absolutely delicious snails and “stinky tofu”. 

Stinky tofu has been fermented in brine, then is served deep fried, drizzled with a sweetened soy sauce and topped with sour pickled cabbage. Obviously we are adventurous eaters, but the stinky tofu pushed us to our edge.

Laura suggested we go to the National Museum. It had an incredible collection of Chinese cultural artifacts, back to 7,000 BCE. We were enamored of the carved jade! Here’s the front gate with a look through to the museum building.

We learned that the Chinese Nationalist government had crated up the Imperial collection and carted it around China for 15 years, to protect it from Japanese invasion. When the Communists were about to take the city of Nanjing in 1949, the Nationalists shipped the collection across the Taiwan Strait. It sat in crates for another 15 years, as Chiang Kai-shek was expecting to conquer China and return with the collection; In 1965 the National Museum was built in Taipei. Here Pete is in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Inside is a museum about The Generalissimo. Here is a wax figure of Cash My-check, as he was called to denote the level of corruption in his government.

We enjoyed the hot springs in Beitou district. Here’s a photo of Plum Garden gate and house where scholar and calligrapher Yu Youren spent his summers. His calligraphy is on the gate.

And we had an amazing sushi dinner at Sushi Tour. It was “chef’s choice” style and we sat at the counter so we could watch them prepare each course.

We had 16 different dishes. Both the squid and salmon were lightly torched before serving. We loved it!