It was a day of extremes.
In my previous trips to Taipei, I discovered too little of the city’s culture and history. This time round I was eager to make amend.
An early head start to the day saw us at the famous Taipei Confucius Temple… or more accurately, a model of it. The impressive structure built towards the north of the city was, afterall, a replica of the real thing located at Shandong. While the temple carries a certain garish, pretentious vibe with its over-vivid colours and over-the-top displays, I took heart in the simplicity of Confucius’ teachings. Learning about the history of Chinese characters, the musical instruments used in rituals, and the lives of many of the disciples, it’s hard not to take a liking for the old man.
Right across street we stumbled on the Taipei Dalongdong Bao’an Temple – a proper old, slightly crumbling structure for some real temple action. We jostled with the worshippers for space. Them with their offerings, mine with my camera.
The Taipei Flower Show was also in full bloom. While I have seen better of such events, I took heart at how the Taiwenese seem be enjoying the ground.
Keen to take in some culture, we headed to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. What a mockery. Mockery of Taiwanese modernity and colourful past. Of the murkiness of law and cruelty of amputation. It was a show of might for the arts scene in Taipei.
And then… disaster struck. Guided by Lonely Planet, we seek out the Artco De Cafe only to discover it was closed. Bummer. So we ventured round the ground and settled in for a thoroughly mediocre and incredibly uninspiring lunch at the basement mall. The only perk of the meal was when I discovered not one but two lost phones at the next table. From our investigation we think it was left behind by two different groups of customers. Ladies and gentlemen, please be careful of your belongings. Not everyone is as honest as yours truly (plus they were not iPhones).
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Taipei (affectionally known as MOCA Taipei) was a revelation. For some reason I am always drawn to this type of museums, and like those in New York and London, MOCA Taipei didn’t disappoint. Painting of penises? Check. Clever uses of genitalia images? Check. A hung donkey in what I could only assume to be eye shadow, high heels and mascara? Check. Overly pretentious and utterly pointless animation of the flying dragon-man? Check.
But I loved it, my readers. So much so that I bought heaps at the museum shop.
Now that my shopping spirit has been reawakened, we adjourned to Ximending, arguably the shopping mecca of Taipei. I don’t know about you, but Ximending never disappoint. Some may find it overly crowded, very predictable and somewhat boring, but let’s face it – people who found it so are the exact ones whom visited Ximending multiple times, been part of the maddening crowd, and saw the same merchandise multiple times. It’s like… they hate the Big Mac after eating a lifetime of McDonald’s.
I am only saying.
After some surprisingly satisfying find in the market, we were off to Da Shan Wu Jia. It was a journey made of nightmare material. The place was so far out that the taxi metered inched close to TWD500 and we found almost on an empty, dark expressway with no buildings in sight. The annoyingly chirpy cab driver (whom must be very happy with the big fare he was making) at first admitted that he was surprised foreigners will go that far out for a meal, and then kept asking if I have got my facts correct.
Hello, of course I verified my facts. I even called ahead.
Suddenly, the beautifully lit house emerged out of nowhere, and moments later we found ourselves surrounded by happy diners seated in a decidedly posh restaurant. This, my friend, is why you take extreme measure for a bit of a fancy dinner. The experience justifies a blog post on its own, but let’s just say this foodie was very satisfied. Just for the record, there wasn’t any alcohol involved to sway my opinion.
Heading back to town, we decided to go for some massage and booked for one through the hotel. Big mistake. The moment I walked through the shop, I knew I was conned. The place look liked a storeroom, and we were the only customers that night. The skills were so bad that I was gnashing my teeth throughout in an attempt to keep my temper in check. This incredibly mediocre foot rub was priced almost the same as our dinner. I was upset, but too tired to care.
But hey, you can’t have it all, can you? As I take stock of my day to write this post, I found that I have more hits than misses. My glass can be either half full, or half empty.
I just choose to refill my glass, every time.
See more of my Taipei 2013 posts:
- The One With Tales of Taipei, Part 1
- The One With Tales of Taipei, Part 3
- The One With Tales of Taipei, Part 4
- The One With Tales of Taipei, Part 5
- The One With Da Shan Wu Jia – An Extraordinary Yilan Food Adventure Into The Mountainside of Taipei
Eating Out & Restaurants
Da Shan Wu Jia (大山無價)
62, Beiyi Rd Sec 3, Xindian District of Xinbei City (台北縣新店市北宜路三段62號)
Tel: +886 (2) 2217-8891
Tuesday to Sunday noon to 3pm, 6pm to 9pm
NT$1,000 per person plus 10%, vegetarian options available
Exploring Around & Attractions
Taipei Confucius Temple
No. 2號, Nánmén Road, Zhongxi District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
Taipei Dalongdong Bao’an Temple
No. 61號, Hāmì Street, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
No.181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10461, Taiwan
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
No. 39, Cháng’ān West Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103