It has been drizzling all over Taipei the whole morning but we decided to still go out. I wear a blue hoody and put on a leather jacket over it. As I wait under our apartment’s canopy, I stretch my arm out and try catching a few drops on my palm. They burst out even before I get to fully clench my hands around them.
We can no longer wait for the rain to stop, so we run a few blocks til we reach the nearest 7-Eleven. I shake the water off and try to dry myself.
Due to the persistent rain, we get ourselves transparent umbrellas. It is so cool to finally own one. I used to just see this in the movies. Now, I can act like I’m Scarlet Johannson in the movie, “Lost in Translation”.
The rain could not stop us, so we head on to the nearest MRT station. We will dedicate this day in knowing how the system works so the next days’ commute can be easier.
Our first mission is to go to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. It is said to have cherry blossoms grow during spring. I have always wanted to see one in Japan but this will do. For now.
We walk outside the station and the sun is suddenly out. We take off our jackets and carry on with touring.
A few trees with cherry blossoms line up in a pathway leading to the memorial hall. It is quite anti-climactic to see them before I get to prepare myself. But that’s okay. I examine the flowers up close. The petals are powdery white on the tip and gets more pastel pink near the center.
The Memorial Hall houses a small museum and a few memorabilia shops inside. Since it’s almost noontime, we got the chance to see the changing of the guards. Their harmony in movement left me in awe. Such precision takes so much practice. Imagine how gruelling the process that takes place in perfecting their routine can be.
I go back to the area where the cherry blossoms are and take countless of photos I can take home with me. I spent nearly half an hour trying to capture its beauty from every angle possible.
We left Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial hall for Longshan Temple at around 1PM. The winds are even cooler now.
The cobblestone road we cross leads to Longshan Temple. The vicinity is filled with locals spending the afternoon away with board games, reading the paper and just chilling.
Our hungry stomachs lead us to Ximending. Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodles, a famed street food here in Taiwan, is also located here. There are no tables and chairs that people can sit on to eat. So it’s perfect for travellers that are always on-the-go. The noodle is basically like our staple Filipino snack, mee sua, a noodle soup. The only difference is the flavor in this one is much richer. Plus, adding a bit of chili oil makes the taste a whole lotta spicy (which I love!).
Ximending, aside from being a foodies hub, is also renowned for being the prime shopping district here in Taipei. There are hundreds of stores here—both international and local brands. Thank goodness, shopping is not my priority coming to Taiwan because if I did, then I would easily run out of money.
Unfortunately, The Red House, located just across the Ximending shopping area, is closed for renovation.
Since we have more time to kill, we decided to roam around tourist spots that is relatively near Ximending. We don’t have an itinerary for our first day here, because our main goal is just to familiarize ourselves with how its Metro works.
We passed by the Presidential Office Building and National Taiwan Museum. Spending the day just walking around Zhongzheng District makes me feel less anxious being in a different country. Somehow Taipei is making me feel at home with its laidback atmosphere and breezy streets.
The gloominess went on until night time. There is something so peaceful with Taipei but the aroma of the food from every direction made a war inside my stomach. The whole day, I was feeling so hungry, even though we are eating our way through tourist spots.
Walking along the streets of Ximending at night provided me some warmth, with a sea of unfamiliar faces walking and lights illuminating the whole shopping area.
Taipei, which I have only seen in drama shows I watched as a kid is now a reality. Its easy transport system, mouthwatering foods and kind (but a bit shy) locals excites me for the coming days. Let’s all uncover what Taiwan has in store for me together.