Taipei’s January weather is an escape from the muggy heat that Singaporeans are so well acquainted with. Sadly, we only had 4 days in Taipei, so we wanted to make the most out of the trip. Taipei City might be a bustling nexus, but its outskirts held great food and wonderful sights for those that made just a little bit more effort.
Luckily for us, that little bit more effort entailed hopping on to KKDAY’s website to find a trip that would help us cover a bunch of sights in as little time as possible. We ended up picking a trip that would allow us to see the sights of the famed Jiufen Old Street, the natural formations at Yehliu, and even make our own pineapple tarts.
We had to get the campy (but still somewhat fun) stuff out of the way. I was told that no trip to Taipei would be complete without a release of lanterns at the popular Shifen rail track. In order to avoid the masses, we went to release our lanterns and send our wishes for the New Year to the heavens first. It took us so long to finish writing our wishes because our Chinese was so bad. I think we spent more time thinking of the phrases than we did writing them down.
The track was actually in service, so we had to scatter off the track when the train came by. The place was a little sleepy when we arrived, and I kind of liked that.
Old Streets, Good Eats
We dodged the incoming Korean/Chinese Tourists and made tracks for the popular Jiufen Old Street. The market is actually situated rather high up in a hilly area, so the road up there was full of twists and turns that required skilled driving. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t look out of the window!
The trip to Jiufen Old Street seems to be one of those pilgrimages that every traveller to Taipei makes, and with good reason. Besides great food options, the market is situated on the northern end of Taiwan, so it’s home to sweeping sights of the East China Sea.
I was already quite hungry, so when I chanced upon this Taro Puff, I jumped at it.
I really admire the effort they put into this puff. It was light and fluffy, and the taro filling was sweet but not cloying. Needless to say, I polished this off in a few seconds.
We still needed something to warm us up as we walked down the old street, which brought us to the famed赖阿婆芋圆 stall.
We were told that this was one of the best stalls to try hot dessert that’s filled with wholesome items like red beans, green beans, taro balls, sweet potato balls, etc. Jiufen Old Street yields its good food to us, and we were happy.
The Yehliu leg of the trip was something that I was unexpectedly enjoyable for me. I’ll be honest with you: The Geopark and its various rock formations didn’t impress me.
What stood out for me here was the view of the place and how these natural structures had been formed through millions of years of erosion.
There was this “Queen’s Head” structure that was pretty cool. We were told that the neck of the Queen was slowly buckling under the weight of the head, and that it is an inevitability that the head would topple in a few years time.
We walked around for quite a while, and spent a good chunk of time just chatting by the seaside. Lovely place!
Getting Hands-on with Pineapple Tarts!
After leaving Yehliu, we got back into the city, and ended up at the Vigour Kobo Taiwanese Pineapple Tart Factory for a spot of pineapple tart making. I thought that this was the most interesting part of my day, because I got to get busy with my hands.
The setup is simple: They’ve already made the dough and the jam, so we were able to knead, roll and press our own pineapple tarts into the moulds that were provided for us.
I had to flatten out the dough first, before pinching some pineapple jam to place on the dough. I then had to wrap up the jam in the dough, and then push it into the mould. It took me quite a bit of time, but I finally got it right!
When we were done, they baked the tarts for us, and let us take the them home. While these tarts aren’t preserved, they’ll last 2-3 days, just enough time to finish them!
What a day!
I was really glad that we were able to see some of the best places outside of Taipei within a short period of time. To be entirely honest, I didn’t expect it to be that fun, but sampling hearty street food food at Jiufen Old Street and the experience of making pineapple tarts at Vigor Kobo really made me smile. Taipei is warm and friendly, and its culture is rich. I’m only grateful that I could have a small taste of it all.
A quick shoutout to the guys at KKDAY for getting me onto this day trip. KKDAY is a leading travel platform in Asia that connects travellers with authentic experiences run by professional travel providers. This day trip is just one of 6000 travel experiences that are available on KKDAY, so if you’re travelling anytime soon, do check them out!