The first time I visited Taiwan I made plans to spend a few days in Danshui, a small historic district to the north of Taipei, but travel plans changed an I never made it there. Although it sounded a bit touristy I didn’t wan tot make two visits to the country and not even attempt a visit, I decided to dedicate my Monday to exploring the area.I considered getting up early and finding my way Guanyinshan mountain for a morning hike and then making my way to Danshui via Bali, in the afternoon, but those plans dissolved. I woke up later than planned, really wanted a long morning session of yoga and before long it was almost 12. Instead I decided to simply take the MRT direct to Danshui and explore the town by foot.
The weather was supposed to be gorgeous (mid 70’s) so I didn’t bother piling on the layers like I had on my previous days. This probably would’ve worked had I stayed in Taipei but one hour north in Danshui, near the water's edge, temperatures had dropped. I exited the MRT and was welcomed to the city with gusts of cool wind and cloudy skies, really regretting not grabbing that long sleeve shirt. Having no other option I zipped up my jacket and made my way out into the chill, headed straight for the old streets, my stomach was growling and street snacks were waiting.
The streets, vendors and snacks all reminded me of previous travels, most notably the streets leading up to Fushimi-Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto Japan. I was hungry but given all the options had no idea what to eat (a daily problem for me and my indecision), I knew there were a few local specialties so I thought it’d be stupid to come and not try. Finally, I stumbled upon a row of small restaurants filled with hungry customers who seemed to be enjoying their food, so I knew the food much be good. One had pictures and English posted on the walls so you can only guess where I wound up, I ordered my A-Gei (stuffed tofu) and patiently waited. Although it looked like a blob of goo covered in more pink goo I stayed hopeful, it was after all cheap and warm. I dug my spoon in to reveal the glass noodles stuff inside, scooped up a bite and was thoroughly impressed, snack one, definitely a hit. I also managed room for a bowl of potato/yam/taro chucks and a giant ice cream before starting my walk towards Fisherman’s Wharf.
The first half of my walk wound along the seaside before I turned inland to pay a visit to Fort San Domingo, the White House and Aletheia University. There weren’t many people around the fort area and I soon discovered why, basically all of the attractions in Danshui are closed on the first Monday of the month, and lucky me, that just so happened to be the day I picked to visit. Since I was there I decided to walk around the University, which had a gorgeous campus and lots of students on the athletic field. I love the vibe whenever I visit a University campus, no matter what the country, just another reminder that I should probably wind up working on one, whenever I choose to stop roaming the planet.
After my detour I continued on towards the Wharf, finding myself there about 30 minutes later. I seem to be good at hitting wharf's in their off-season, doing so a few times during my travels in California, so I’m not sure what they’re like in full swing. In the off season though these places look like run-down, soon to close amusement parks. There were various restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir stores but only a few were open and the clientele and workers were sparse. I didn’t mind the lack of crowds but it all felt a little empty. I picked a bench to sit and write in my journal, relax and take a few pictures before deciding to head back to town, there really wasn’t much else for me here.
I could’ve taken a bus back to the city center, old street area, but I generally prefer to walk when it’s possible, plus there was a gorgeous sunset I didn’t want to miss. By the time I was back the old street was much livelier than it had been earlier that day, many more people around and the vendors were practically dragging you into their stores. I was once again hungry so after taking a lap to see my options I found myself seated at the table of three smiling older women matching pictures on the wall to menu options, eventually picking a combo of fish ball, dumpling soup. It came quickly and looked delicious until I saw the plethora of cilantro doused on top. I picked out the big chunks and persevered, I was determined to enjoy it despite the little devil green leaves trying to ruin it for me.
Having exhausted my options in Danshui I decided to call it a day [night] and head back into the city, but not before one more bubble tea. Seriously you can get addicted to those things fast! I’ve tried a few times to break away from my ‘go-to’ Taro flavor but usually I can’t resist the delicious purple drink, in fact, I’d kill for one right now. My visit was mildly disappointing considering half the places one would visit were closed for the day, but I enjoyed my day nonetheless. I knew I was headed there with the main purpose of eating and I managed to do that with no problem. In my opinion, a day with good views, nice weather, a little bit of exercise and good food is never a day wasted.
This country has a smell, I can't describe it and I actually don't know what it is, but as soon as I step out of the airport I know I've arrived. The land of night markets, bubble tea and so, soooo much food, your tastebuds will be tired.