Our hotel near Zhongshan MTR. Small but with a jacuzzi in the bathtub.

First stop: Din Tai Fung for awesome xiao long bau and braised beef soup.

Near Da-an district: A street food market. Too bad we’d already eaten.

Day 2: Taxi ride to National Palace Museum.

The museum is modelled to look like the forbidden city and houses the collection spirited away from Beijing during the civil war. The free guided tour was awesome, a crash course in Chinese imperial history down the dynasties.

Bus ride out of the museum.

And en route to XinBeitou, home to hot springs…

The hot springs museum showcases an old Japanese style bathing house.

Heated by the sulphuric fumes of volcanic soil, you can dunk your feet into the springs any time you want…

…Or you can rent a private bath like we did:

Then off to Shilin night market. Among the delights was the opportunity to get one’s ears candled. I’ll spare you the ear wax after-shot:

One of the disgusting things we did do was sample stinky tofu. It does taste as bad as it smells:

The area also had a lot of amusement park style games though not all the stall-keepers were as interestingly attired:

Day 3: After many transport interchanges, we landed in Jio Fen, pronounced for some reason, as Cho Fun. Which was why the hotel guys had no clue what we were talking about when we kept saying Jiyo Fen. Anyway, knowing how to pronounce it made it a whole lot easier to get there. It’s a village, perched atop a mountain with lots of traditional food and old houses that seem to combine Japanese and Chinese influences. It’s strange how Taiwan seems to be one place that accepts the Japanese influence with equinamity.

Don’t know what the above is but below is a taro ball and a scoop of icecream wrapped in a crepe. Taro balls are a speciality here.

Dog momentarily distracted from contemplation of sea and sky by pesky cameraman:

Example of the old houses I mentioned:

Taiwanese temple. They are somehow different from the ones in HK, though the form remains the same. In this one, the figurines on the roof that tell mythical stories seemed to be made of plaster of paris and brightly painted and gilded:

We descnded from the village and rushed off to Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world, hoping to catch the sunset. The problem with towers is that when you’re walking towards them, they always seem closer than they actually are:

And then, the next day, we were off to the Sun Moon Lake by bullet train. The train travels at 300 km/per hour at its top speed so even though our stop Taichung is somewhere in the centre of Taiwan, it’s only an hour’s ride: