Wet Hot Taiwan Summer

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Went to Taipei with my mom for 10 days:

While I was in Chiang Mai back in February, I had finally read Eddie Huang's Fresh Off The Boat. I totally fux with that book. He made Taipei sound so awesome that I was like, gotta go to Taipei. 

Made a day trip out to Wulai, a town that is "famous for its hot springs and aboriginal culture".  It was way too hot to try out the hot springs, so we just explored a spot where there was a waterfall up in a mountain nearby. 


Loved the pattern on this light. 

The park around the waterfall had all these weird/awesome statues. We went there on a weekday and I think normally it's packed with tourists, but with it being rainy and not a weekend, there was barely anyone there. It was kind of surreal, not everything was open in the park (there's rides, some cafes, a performance stage, a semi-extreme games course, the list goes on) and it was as if time stopped and the place was abandoned in the middle of something and you were seeing the aftermath of that. Or aliens invaded. Or I was on the set of the Hunger Games. 

I have no idea what this animal is supposed to be. 

I was kind of disappointed with this town because I was really looking forward to seeing Taiwanese Aboriginal culture. (You're about to learn how ignorant I am) -  I had no idea there was even an Aboriginal culture in Taiwan. I loved all the patterns that I saw around town, but it was obvious that what actual Aboriginal culture there was left wasn't going to be seen and all that there was was something to just please and appeal to tourists. 


Although this place was slammed with tourists, I still loved it here. 

Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung. It was cute, they put this creepy crawler crab thing to indicate that you are having the crab xiao long bao. I really noticed the service at Din Tai Fung, which is the first in a long time. It was really good and it didn't make me uncomfortable. HA! A lot of the times when I experience attentive service at a restaurant, I get really self-conscious and say thank you too much and smile a lot to feel less awkward, but then I think my attempt to seem really grateful just makes it more awkward. Or not. Anyways, with Din Tai Fung, I think the difference was that I felt like the servers were really proud of their jobs, that they were part of an institution in Taiwan that locals and foreigners really love. I liked that they explained how their dumplings should be eaten and that if you look at your receipt, there's notes indicating when to start cooking the dishes so that the meal is timed right. 

When I saw these on this woman's table I went nuts. LOOK AT THEIR TINY LITTLE HANDS HOLDING PIECES OF SHRIMP AND RICE! We asked the woman what they were "they're from Australia" (doesn't really answer my question), how old they were "3 to 4 years old", why is the front one so fat (couldn't get him in the picture) "I dunno but he's fully grown like the others". For someone with such cute animals she didn't seem very happy or into answering our questions. Yes to be fair we shouldn't have interrupted her meal. 

A town with a teahouse that inspired the bath house in Spirited Away

In case you wanted to see a large non real cat on a roof.

Went to so many night markets. 

And ate way too many things. This is the one bite sausage. 

A deep fried sandwich. I...wouldn't get it again haha. The bun is deep fried and slightly sweet and then there is meat, tomato, cucumber, hardboiled egg and its slathered with this sweetish mayo. The English name of the stall was "Nutritious Sandwich". I dunno if the owners were trying to be funny or it's just Engrish, because the women running it didn't really look like they joked around much. 

I was so excited for Taipei. In my research on what to do and eat there, everyone had nothing but good things to say. I dunno if it was my mood (which was a weird, overly-contemplative one), or that it was constantly grey and threatening to rain (and then would), or that it was so hot and humid that the air was thick and a bit of a slog to move through, or that maybe we stayed a bit too long, or that the buildings were a lot more grimier and rundown than I thought (when I imagined Taipei every time I read about it, I thought of giant streets with giant buildings and bright lights and packed with people). But I didn't like Taipei as much as I thought I would. I so, so wanted to. I mean a place that comes up with beef noodles, xiao long bao, bubble tea, night markets galore, has friendly people, how could it not be the best? I dunno! But I'm not going to let that stop me from thinking that it was still nice and that I would like to go back and maybe I'll see you there and we'll be eating xiao long baos and you'll tell me what a fool I am. 

It was nice travelling with my mom again. Eating lots of lychees at the end of every night. Ordering and eating way too much food. Melting in the Taiwan heat and laughing at how delicate we are. So delicate.  

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