Welcome to Day 6 of Janet and Randy's Taipei Adventure 2018Friday, April 6th, 2018
Woke up early again (around 4:00pm), and tried to get back to sleep. Finally got out of bed around 5:00am. Randy ended up sleeping until about 6:00am. He went for a run, and we went for breakfast around 8:00am.
The club lounge was busier at 8:00am than when we were normally going at 7:00am - mostly with families. But the lounge still wasn't completely full. Had some breakfast and tried to decide what to do for the day, as the weather was supposed to start getting cooler and rainy. We finally decided that we would meet up with Dennis in the Xi Men Ding area - which is a shopping area not far from his hotel.
The plan was that we would meet at the Ximen MRT station and get to the shopping district just before the stores opened at 11:00am. Randy and I left our hotel at 10:00am to head to the MRT station - which was about a 10 minute walk. Luckily we had brought our coats with us, as it had cooled down a lot since Randy had gone out for his run earlier. However, when we got to the station, Randy couldn't find his iPass card to use on the train. So, he had to go all the way back to the hotel to get it (I stayed at the station). Luckily he did find the card in the room, and we were on our way. Stupidly, I hadn't put it back in my wallet from the previous evening so hence it was sitting in the room. Great place to leave the card.
Dennis was already at the Ximen station when we got there, and we decided to go grab a drink at a Starbucks. After we were finished we decided to go wandering around the pedestrian shopping area of Xi Men. There were a log of big name chains like H & M, Adidas, Nike, etc. We had just started walking around when some lady come up next to us and started whistling loudly. She started hassling Dennis and Randy - but they weren't really sure what exactly she wanted. She showed Randy a pocket knife - but he wasn't sure if she was trying to sell it or what (and after saying No multiple times). But finally we stopped in the middle of the street and she continued walking. We ended up going into a couple of shops, and I was happy to see one of my favourite shock shops from Japan - so I had to go in and get some socks! (I am glad that Randy noticed the shop for me). Later in our wanderings, Whistle Lady found us again and started hassling us. So, Randy had us duck into a New Balance store as he figured she wouldn't follow us in there. He was right. We hung out in there for a while, then snuck back out into street. We walked away from the main pedestrian area, and luckily didn't see her again. Yup, there are weirdoes everywhere !
It was not a national holiday, but most people would've taken the Friday off to make a 5 day long weekend. So, the shopping area was busy, but as it is a wide pedestrian street, it wasn't as crazy or packed as the night market.
We decided we should stop for some lunch, and Randy found a nearby place called Sushi Express. This seems to be a chain restaurant, as we had seen one close to our hotel. It is a kaiten sushi place - where the sushi comes around on a conveyor belt. There were people waiting to get in, so we were given a ticket with a number on it. But, luckily they were seating people quickly, and we only had to wait about 10 minutes.
The sushi coming around on the conveyor belt was your typical sushi you would see in Japan. However, there were some unique dishes that I can only assume are a unique Taiwan variation. For example, there is a type of sushi called inari - which is sushi rice stuffed inside deep-fried tofu pockets. However, we saw a version of inari that had pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins and dried cranberries on top. We referred to it as the Trail Mix Inari. We saw it go around a couple times, and finally I decided to try it. It wasn't actively bad, but it was a weird flavour combination. The trail mix made it a little too sweet for my sushi liking. But, hey it was worth a try. There were some other interesting sushi items such as ones with half a hard boiled egg on top. I didn't bother trying that one. There was also another inari that had cashews embedded into it instead of trail mix. We didn't try this version. The trail mix was good enough.
After we had our fill of sushi, we walked a couple blocks to see the Red House Theatre. This is an octagonal red brick theatre that was built in 1908. It now contains a marketplace for local crafts and designs. We wandered through the marketplace (Randy bought a couple pairs of socks) and then we decided to start wandering towards Longshan Temple (sometimes spelled Lungshan) - which was about a 20 minute walk. The temple was built in 1738 by settlers from the Fujian province in China. The streets we walked down seemed to have a lot of businesses closed due to the long weekend, but there was the odd shop open. But there wasn't a lot of business, as there were very few other people on the street other than us.
Closer to the temple we walked down a short street called the Bopiliao Historic Block. This street had some original 2 and 3 level brick buildings from the 18th century. There seemed to be a lot of young couples on this street taking selfies. Note: the young Taiwanese seemed to be very self absorbed in making sure their hair is just right for their instagram selfies. We see it pretty much everywhere, including on the metro. You'd think you'd want a better background. But what do I know.
We wandered around the temple, which had some really cool and ornate architecture. There was also some large displays containing puppies, deer and dragons that I'm pretty sure weren't part of the original architecture. There was an inner courtyard where people could get incense sticks and light them to pray to the gods.
After taking a few photos, we decided it was time to head back to our respective hotels. We got onto the Blue line together. Dennis got off at the Shandao Temple station, and we continued on to our connection to the Brown line. On our way back to the hotel from our MRT station, we decided to wander around a section of the nearby shopping centre that we hadn't checked out yet. Randy found some cool t-shirts, but they didn't have the right size for him. So, we just went back to our room and hung out.
At 5:30pm, we headed up to the club lounge for Happy Hour. I had some wine, while Randy made himself a vodka martini. There is some food offered during Happy Hour - but it is more of little bite-sized appetizers. Not really enough to make up a full meal. There were a lot of families with small children in the lounge. All the kids we've seen here are really cute, and well behaved for the most part. We had some food and drinks, and then went to wander around this open-air marketplace area on the main floor of the hotel. There are a number of nice items there, but a little on the pricey side.
Randy was still hungry, so he headed over to the Carrefour to get some snacks while I went back to the room. We watched a bit of TV, then I finally headed off to bed. Even though I was really tired, it took a bit to get to sleep as there was all this thumping from the room above us. I can only guess that it was some family in the room with kids running around. The thumping calmed down around 9:30, so it wasn't overly late. It's just that we are still not fully adjusted to the time zone yet.
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