[Wanderlust Tips December 2017] When mentioning Taiwan, we often think of Yehliu Park, Jiufen Old Street, Sun Moon Lake or the National Palace Museum. However, there is a different Taiwan which brings you pleasant yet impressive experiences.
TAKE IN TROLL IN NEW TAIPEI CITY
When just arriving in Taiwan, with inexhaustible energy and full of eagerness, you should stay away from the centre of Taipei and go to Dadaocheng in New Taipei city to travel through time and return to Taiwan 150 years ago. In 1709, Taipei began to develop and attract immigrants from Southern Taiwan and Mainland China. The first development was concentrated on Bangka, a trade spot on the waterway on Tamsui River, connecting all cities in Northern Taiwan. In 1853, due to the internal territorial disputes, some people left the Bangka area to settle in Dadaocheng, about 1.5 kilometres to the north of Bangka. And then the story of Dadaocheng began.
From the 19th century, during the period of Japanese rule (1895-1945), Dadaocheng was still the most populated commercial port in Taiwan, where many rich merchants gathered and settled. Many merchants built their houses, which were also their own shops, following Japanese and Europe architectural details. In the post-war period (after 1945), Taipei entered a period of rapid population growth and the enormous expansion of the city in all directions. Though still being the wholesale trade area of tea, dried goods, and Chinese herbs, Dadaocheng at this time was no longer the center of the city.
The name of Dadaocheng means “a big rice-drying field”. Over years, Dadaocheng has become an ancient long-standing urban area that has many ancient architectural works such as tube houses, offices, and religious works. To discover the whole area, you should prepare a good pair of shoes and take a stroll. You can pass by shops selling all sorts of eye-catching items like dry goods, candy, clothing, and souvenirs; crossing the old street corner full of hot food aromas, and going over the Taipei Xia Hai City God temple with clouds of incense from swinging censers. Dadaocheng appears more diverse with the mixed culture of Chinese, European and Japanese. Each building on the streets will have its own architectural style such as Southern Fujian style, Western style, Baroque style and modern style.
EAT IN MIAOLI
After many hours of walking, you can spend time exploring the Taiwanese cuisine. Besides famous and familiar Taiwanese food such as stinky tofu, egg oyster omelet, bubble tea, you can travel by car to Miaoli to experience Hakka’s food flavours which is also a part of Taiwanese cuisine.
On the island of Taiwan, Hakka people migrated to Taiwan from the 17th century and occupied only about 15% of the population. Particularly in Miaoli district, Hakka is the main group of people here. Therefore, Miaoli is an ideal place to discover dishes which feature Hakka’s flavour and culture.Playing an important role in Hakka’s cuisine are dried foods and pickles. In the past, in order to adapt to the frequent migration resulting from wars or other circumstances, Hakka people focused on drying or souring agricultural products such as Chinese radish, monochoria, mustard, bamboo shoots, wax gourd to preserve food.
Hakka dishes are always featured by three elements including rich, greasy and aromatic. It could be the attractive stewed pork in soy sauce, soft and aromatic tofu, fried duck with luscious leek, or fried pork with spicy ginger. Most of the food is greasy, but tthe guests can still enjoy it because the Hakka has artfully combined greasy food with pickles. The mild sour taste of vegetables helps to balance the taste of fish and meat so that tourists can enjoy the meal with a maximum satisfaction of taste.
“Ban”, which is the name for all cakes made from rice, is also an important feature of the cuisine there. Rice cakes are often prepared by the Hakka on the New Year or special holidays. Besides keeping the traditional flavor, in recent years, the Hakkas have creatively added more interesting ingredients such as taro, sweet potato, pork, lotus, and squash into the cakes, making it extremely good for health with low fat, low sugar and salt.
SHOPPING IN TAIPEI
After eating and visiting famous places in Taiwan, you should take time to explore the shopping paradise in Taipei. There are always shopping activities from luxury commercial centers to colorful night markets.
Do not leave yourself exhausted while strolling around flashy shopping centers because Taiwan also has famous shopping streets (Zhongxiao East, Ximending) or colorful night markets (Shilin Night Market, night market of Raohe street). There you can take a walk and look at a series of shops that sell items such as souvenirs, bonsai trees, books, phone accessories, and of course fashion items like clothing, footwear or handbags. Although the products are not of famous make, their quality is quite good and the style follows latest trends; and the prices are very cheap. After shopping leaves you with countless bags, you can stop along the way to enjoy delicious food or drink a cool glass of sweet bubble milk tea.
Besides fashion items, visitors also favour cosmetic products. Cosmetics chain stores such as Watsons, Cosmed, and Sa Sa sell products from cheap to luxury brands, or from imported to Taiwanese products. In general, Taiwanese are very fond of Japanese products, so you can easily find cosmetics imported from Japan. However, the most popular products are still “made in Taiwan” because the quality is as excellent as any famous brands, and the prices are very reasonable.
Visitors to Taiwan can also buy traditional biscuits or famous hot roasted tea as gifts. Supermarkets are always the ideal place to choose these items, and Taiwan’s supermarket chains are open 24/7 so you can shop at any time. Besides, candy stores or tea shops on the streets and in the night markets are also an interesting choice to buy more unique and high-quality items.
1. Dadaocheng Harbor: This harbor marks the golden age of Dadaocheng in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with bustling trading activities taking place day and night.
2. Taipei Xiahai City God Temple : Located in Dihua Street, the temple was built in 1859 with its ancient Chinese architecture. People and tourists often come here to burn incense and pray for love.
3. Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theater Museum: It is home to a large collection of unique puppets from Taiwan and Asia. Coming here, you can learn and enjoy the extremely interesting art of puppetry.
4. Wang-tea: Located in Chongqing N. Road, Wang Tea is a tea shop which has existed for a century. This place sells the famous roasted tea of Taiwan.
1. Crescent Phoenix: It serves dishes featuring Hakka style, and especially prioritizes the experiment of new dishes. In addition, the restaurant also hascooking class area for students who love cuisine.
Add: No. 1-3, Shengxing, Sanyi Township, Miaoli County.
Tel: +886 3 787 5570
2. New Sun Restaurant: The 50-year-old restaurant specializes in serving traditional Hakka cuisine, and use local ingredients only to make dishes with natural flavour.
Add: No. 101, Lot 9, New Village, Shitan Township, Miaoli District.
Tel: +886 3 793 1338
3. Shitan Peanut Ginger Candy Shop: This small grocery store is famous for crunchy peanuts. Over the past three decades, the shop owner has preserved the most traditional processing method to create the unique flavor of crunchy peanuts.
Add: No. 354, Shitan Township, Miaoli District.
Tel: +886 3 793 1308
4. Shokolake: Within 7 years, this brand has built up its reputation as the chocolate manufacturing facility with the best taste. There is also a small museum where you can learn everything about chocolate as well as how it is made.
Add: No. 49/2 Shuimei, Fuxing Village, Dahu Township, Miaoli District.
1. Bellavita Shopping Mall: Bellavita is home to the most luxurious brands such as Gucci, Bvlgari, Bottega Veneta, Tiffany, Tod’s, and many high-class restaurants.
Add: No.28, Songren Road, Xinyi District, Taipei.
Open time: 10.30am – 10pm
Tel: + 886 2 8729 2271
2. ATT 4 Fun Shopping Center: This is an 11-storey shopping mall that brings together affordable brands like Forever21, H & M, Bershka, Gap, Gu.
Add: No. 12, Songshou Road, Xinyi District, Taipei.
Open time: 11am – 10pm
Tel: +886 80 006 588
3. Ximending Walking Street: This street is considered an outdoor shopping center with countless shops shops located close together , from fashion brands such as H&M, Gu, The Face Shop to small shops along the road, and stalls selling all kinds of delicious Taiwanese food.
Add: Wanhua District, Taipei.
4. Guanghua Electronic Center: This is the largest electronics supplier in Taiwan. In addition to electronic devices, visitors can easily find components with reasonable prices.
Add: No. 8, Section 3, Civic Blvd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei.
Open time: 10am – 9pm
Tel: +886 2 2391 7105
Van Ly | Wanderlust Tips