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No trip to Taiwan is complete without visiting the capital Taipei, aka the shopping spree city.  So.  Many.  Market.  Stalls. 8)

Taipei, located at the tip of Taiwan, is, like Taichung, mercifully cooler than our first stop – but then again, I think every place north of Kaohsiung is cooler –  and just as crowded with mopeds and buses and drivers that manage to not collide as they barrel towards you even though you are in a cross walk…no, I’m not bitter about that.  Or traumatized at all.  Please, what an idea.

I didn’t think that a hostel could get any better than Stray Birds, but that was before we checked into the Star Hostel.  One point against them is that they don’t have an elevator, meaning we had to lug allllllll our suitcases up the stairs while wearing the mandatory slippers that are NOT a good match with slippery socks.  However, when you have an eating area like the one they do, you can forgive the lack of stairs:


Add a free breakfast into the mix, and you have one happy Kristen.  Definitely worth almost falling and breaking my neck on the stairs, thanks to those blasted slippers.  You can bet that I wore my best walking shoes for when we headed into the city for some sightseeing.

First up, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, which honors the former president of the Republic of China.  The area is beautiful, and I was only slightly disappointed that the day was overcast and I didn’t have the best lighting for pictures.  But I think they turned out okay. 😉



And, once again, I was hit by inspiration for that college story that I’m convinced I have to write. What, might you ask, brought on this second round of creative cranial activity?  Trees.  More specifically, these trees:


Oh yeah, trust me, this will be good…when I actually begin penning the story.  But one major best-seller at a time (heehee).

After wandering around the grounds surrounding the memorial, we made our way to Taipei 101, a huge tower/mall that houses the MOST AMAZING restaurant in the world: Din Tai Fung.  Din Tai Fung, now a chain, originates in Taiwan, which is probably why the food always tastes better in all the Taiwan locations.  You’ve heard of soup, you’ve heard of dumplings, but have you ever heard of – wait for it – soup dumplings?  That’s right, mini dumplings filled with rich broth and a variety of meat/seafood.  And there’s a process to eating them, one that the restaurant outlines in a handy dandy guide, although our waiter personally explained it to us: you have to pick up a dumpling in a spoon, use your chopsticks to poke a hole in it to release the broth to slurp up, and then you can eat the rest of the dumpling.  Or, you can bite into the whole thing and scald your mouth on hot soup, your choice.  I followed the waiter’s instructions because I REALLY didn’t want to burn off my taste buds, especially when I saw the dessert menu and realized that there exists in this beautiful world chocolate soup dumplings. #heavenonearth


Delicious, absolutely delicious.  Any place that puts bacon on green beans is, in my book, a genius.

Last for the day was shopping in a local market.  And that’s where the shopping spree started; we descended on this one stall that sells waterproof bags, our delight apparently hilarious to the stall owner, who kept laughing and running around to grab us more bags.  She even threw in a free bag for me, her new most loyal customer, and we left with bags filled with bags filled bags.  VICTORY!!!

We were planning on going out again the next day, but unfortunately MC got a migraine because of the weather, which was yucky due to the Typhoon Yutu, so we couldn’t have gone out anyways.  So I spent the day hunkered down in the hostel room, hunched over my computer as I alternated between working on edits (productive) and watching Netflix (uhh, not productive).

Thankfully, the weather didn’t impact our flight to our final location.  Drum roll, please, because next (and final) stop is…

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