My first "Memories" post comes from a journal entry back in 6/03/2014.
Boy! Time flies. I leave for Taiwan this Saturday. The last time I traveled was in February to Japan. So this short little trip is right on time. I am excited to walk around and do some sightseeing, try new food, be amongst people I don’t know (strange for a recluse to say, right?), and see some night markets.
I have a cool shirt from Cambodia that says “Lonely Traveler.” A friend gave me a good idea to get little stamps from wherever I visit and sew them on the back of my shirt. I plan to wear the shirt only when I travel on solo trips. I know that sounds corny, but I think it is a great idea. Needless to say, I will be wearing this shirt on this trip
The Sugar Refinery
Against the wisdom of all the reviews on Tripadvisor (and the people at my hostel), I decided to check out the Sugar Refinery. In this area was a little hut a worker at my hostel told me about. There, he said, I could find buns at a place called Qiaotou Tai Chen Meat Bun for breakfast. The restaurant was easy to find. As soon as I walked out of the train station, I walked straight. To the right, before crossing the street, there was a hut selling dumplings. The worker’s didn’t speak English, but she had a menu with pictures (no english).
I ordered two dumplings. They were large and filling! The kinds I ordered were the Original steamed pork bun for 25TWD and a Brown sugar steamed pork bun for 30 TWD. I sat down on the side of the restaurant. They had tables set up under trees in the shade. I devoured the Brown Sugar one first, and it was really good. The pork filling was seasoned very nice and the dough had brown sugar mixed in the dough, which gave it a nice touch. By the time I finished the first one, I was too full to eat the second one. But I did take a bite of it to see how much of a difference the brown sugar made. While the Original was good, the brown sugar was a nice difference.
Across from there was an open area filled with small shops. There were a row of about 6 gift shops enclosing an area where I guy was singing Karaoke. I walked through some of the gift shops, thankful that I purchased the post cards yesterday as they were much cheaper at the store near Pier 2. I sat and listened for a while. The singer was into it. The older people seemed more fascinated with looking at me, so I stayed a bit longer than I wanted to so that they could indulge in my big hair and glistening dark skin.
Past that area was a parking lot and another building with more singing. I saw a little window in the building and people besides it eating ice cream. I went up to the window and said, “Ice Cream.” The woman gave me a little menu with three options- no pictures this time. The cheapest one, I assumed was vanilla. The other two I had no idea about- so I picked one of them because I didn’t know what they were; always looking for an adventure, as long as it doesn’t involve heights. When I got my order, it turned out to be red bean, which I’m not particularly a fan of. However, I ended up liking it. There were benches on the side of the building. I sat and took my time eating. I sat and thought about what I would do next. Up until that part I expected more of the “refinery.” I know the comments on Trip advisor and the hostel worker said it would be boring, but I didn’t think it would be just a few gift shops. So as I ate my ice cream, then went to check out the refinery. Everyone was right. It was boring. I spent a total of 5 minutes there. I might have taken a picture of this refinery building, but I didn’t go inside any buildings; nothing looked interesting to be honest.
Sanduo Shopping District: Mega Fe
By 4:30 I was at a place called Sanduo Shopping District on the map. Again, I found this just by looking at the map I was given. When I got out the terminal, I saw a big building that read “Mega FE.” It looked like a big shopping center, so I figured that is where I ought to be. I took my time and went to all of the floors. There was nothing I saw that I wanted, so I just window shopped and checked out what styles they were carrying. I stumbled across a restaurant called Cha for Tea. Everything in the menu had green tea in it. I ordered a beef green tea spring roll and some kind of milky green tea drink.
My food was filling. The beef spring rolls were savory and crispy on the outside. With the meal came a cup of warmed gelatin balls that come at the bottom of bubble tea. The meal completely filled me up and only cost me 218 TWD. I wobbled out of there around 5:30 and headed to the night market.
Night Market: Ruifeng Night Market
The worker at the hostel said that the Ruifeng Night Market was less about selling food and more selling objects. I figured it would be a good place to buy knickknacks to send home. To get here, I got off at Kaohsiung Arena (R14). I took exit 1 and walked straight up the block. It was on my right hand side. Now, the night Market last night was bustling at 6:00. So I assumed that it would be the same for this place. However, when I arrived they were still setting up. I walked through it anyway. They didn’t seem to have anything I wanted to buy.
Across the street I noticed a large discount store. It reminded me of a Liquidators or large 99 cent store back home in the States. I walked in and there were tons of stuff to shift through. I stayed there about hour, and picked up some things I wanted. I even purchased a few things I needed for my apartment in Korea. I ended up spending 616 TWD. I felt content.
This is another night market that was on the map the hostel gave me. To get there I got off at exit 6 at the Kaisyun (R6) train stop. It was only 2 stops away from my hostel, so I decided to suck up the fact that the heat between my thighs was growing. At around 8:00 I arrived at this stop. As soon as I walked out of the subway exit, I walked down the small strip of stairs and made a left. I headed up the block opposite the under path. I asked some young kids which direction it was just to be sure. It was a long strip of sidewalk. So much so that I kept looking behind me to make sure there wasn’t anyone around lurking.
Finally I noticed some bright lights to the right side of the street. This market wasn’t populated at all. Many sections weren’t set up. The only thing I saw that I purchased was a little bracelet. By 8:50 p.m I was back on the train.
At the market, I treated myself to 3 breads.
Two were potato and cheese and one was shredded beef. At the rice stand I ate at before, I ordered beef noodles. It was easy to find because it was right in front of the 7Eleven. There was a woman who was eating a bowl of beef noodles. So luckily ordering it was easy. I sat down and waited for my food. I devoured it greedily. I didn’t realize I was as hungry as I was until the food was placed in front of me. I plopped my bag in-between my legs and stepped on the strap for extra security. I hovered over my bowl like a gobbling and went to work. I worked those noodles around my chopsticks like a fine tooth comb getting through stubborn hair. A few people were watching me, and I’d like to think I provoked them to order; as many of them ordered the same thing to go.
Journaling on the plane, headed back to South Korea