Every year, at the beginning of April, Qing Ming Festival is celebrated. Chinese people honour their ancestors and clean the tombs of the dead.
I get a long weekend here in China. This works out rather well for me, because it’s usually a few days before my birthday, so Dave and I began a tradition of getting on an airplane and exploring Asia. Last year, we hopped over to Seoul for the weekend, but this year, we decided to check out Taipei; Taiwan’s capital.
Now, Taiwan is a bit of a confusing and difficult subject here in China. If you ask most people in the world, they think Taiwan is it’s own country. I mean, they have their own currency, their own government, their own passports and visa regulations….it’s easy to see why some people might get confused when China claims Taiwan as its own.
As far as China is concerned though, Taiwan is a province and not a country. But, like many areas of China, Taiwan has its own culture, it’s own cuisine and it’s own customs that are quite different from the mainland.
Night Markets & Street Food
We have friends from Taiwan who were very excited about our trip to Taipei. Before we left, Linda gave us one very important piece of advice: “try everything”. So we did!
The night markets in Taipei are exciting, lively and full of interesting and tasty food to try. There’s an abundance of choices, and my biggest regret is having run out of stomach room before I could try them all!
We only ate in one actual restaurant during our time in the night markets, and that was mostly just for fun. “Modern Toilet” is a poop-themed restaurant with food that certainly doesn’t look like it should be eaten! The whole place was silly, but the food was alright, and it was a good laugh, so I’m glad we stopped in!
Of course, night markets aren’t ONLY about food. We also saw street performers, movie theaters and arcades, as well as all the shopping options you could ever possibly need. I appreciated the fact that you could buy popcorn without watching a movie, because salty theater popcorn isn’t a thing in China, but it is in Taiwan!!
Our cultural stop in Taipei wasn’t planned, but it sure was pleasant! On our way to find another night market, we stumbled across Lungshan Temple. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Taiwan also celebrates Tomb Sweeping Festival, and Lungshan was buzzing with people offering sacrifices and praying to their ancestors. Incense was being burned in various places around the temple as well.
This was probably the nicest temple we’ve seen ‘in China’. It was extremely well-maintained and the detail was stunning. I couldn’t take enough pictures!
We weren’t planning on a trip to the zoo, but we ended up in Taipei during a rather drab and rainy weekend, so to the zoo we went!
We were pleasantly surprised by the space the animals were allowed. They seemed to be well cared for. Unfortunately, the Asian elephants looked quite stressed out, which further convinced me that they do not belong in city zoos. Our time in Sumatra also gave me insight into how Orangutans and horn bills are suppose to live….and zoos are not it!
The large building in the photo below is called ‘Taipei 101’. It was our last stop before flying back to Suzhou, and although I’m not usually all that impressed with architecture, I really liked this building!
Taipei is a gorgeous city, and the view from the 89th floor of this skyscraper is impressive, to say the least! Taipei 101’s observatory is definitely worth a visit!
There were two things that really impressed me about our trip to 101. First, it was the elevator ride to the observatory. To get from the 5th floor reception to the 89th takes only 39 seconds! The elevator moves so quickly that your ears pop on the way up! I’d been in tall buildings before, but Taipei 101 holds the record for the world’s fastest elevator!
The second thing to impress me at 101 was the Wind Damper. At first, I thought it was just a big metal ball that was hanging there for show…then Dave explained…
Wind Dampers are used to help stabilize very tall buildings from wind and seismic activity (earthquakes). It turns out that ‘big metal ball’ is quite a scientific feat! You can hear more about this from people who actually know what they’re talking about by clicking here.
A weekend in Taipei is not NEARLY enough time to see everything the city has to offer, but it is a start! The people were incredibly friendly and helpful, the food was amazing and it was a modern, clean and beautiful city. There’s so much I have left to see and do in Taiwan, that I just KNOW I’ll be back before to long!