October 17 – October 22: Taipei, Taiwan
We returned to Taipei Monday night and headed over to Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101 for some delicious dumplings. This restaurant chain began in Taiwan and is now a world famous Michelin Star restaurant. My favorite part of the meal was dessert. We ordered dumplings filled with warm, amazing chocolate. They were awesome! This restaurant is so delicious we went back on Thursday, but on Thursday we went to the original location.
Black Sand Beach
On Tuesday, we went in search of a beach since we weren’t able to get down to the beach in Kenting due to the typhoon damage. One of David’s (John’s Uncle) colleagues told David about a black sand beach not too far from Taipei. So we went to check it out. It was not beach type weather at all on Tuesday – it was cloudy and rainy. But the black sand beach was beautiful! I have never been to a black sand beach, so I was excited. And this beach did not disappoint. John took a lot of great pictures. I want to frame some and put them in our house when we move.
David then gave us a tour of the coast. We took a scenic route home to Taipei. It was a beautiful drive and awe-inspiring to see huge mountains right next to rocky beaches. I loved the drive home.
Once we returned home, we headed to Taipei 101 to see the city from the 87th floor of Taipei 101. Taipei 101 has 101 stories, and it is the 5th tallest building in the world. To get to the observation level on the 87th floor, we rode the world’s fastest elevator. In just 34 seconds we traveled up 87 floors (well, I think 82…we entered the elevator on the 5th floor). My ears popped on the way up.
Yangmingshan National Park
The next day (Wednesday), we headed to Yangmingshan National Park. I think this was my favorite part of the trip. I love the beauty of nature and of the sky. We went on two hikes and walked a total of eight miles. The first hike was a circular trail through grasslands. The second hike was to some falls. The second hike was much more rigorous. The first hike was definitely my favorite. I loved being able to see the beautiful sky. During the second hike, it felt like we were surround by rainforest and couldn’t see the sky at all. It was still beautiful, but I am a sky girl 🙂 It was a very windy day, which actually turned out to be a great thing because we got pretty warm while hiking. We were beat when we got home but it was well worth it.
On Thursday we toured the Martyr’s Shrine, ate the most amazing shaved ice, once again went to Din Tai Fung, perused Taipei City Mall, and visited Longshan Temple. The Martyr’s Shrine has amazing architecture. We arrived in time to observe the changing of the guards. I felt so bad for the soldiers because it was super hot outside. I can’t imagine how hot they must have felt in their uniforms.
Once we were done at the Martyr’s Shrine, we needed something cold. David led us to Smoothie House, a famous shaved ice location. This place has been written about by CNN. It certainly did not disappoint. I forgot to take a picture of the shaved ice until we had already eaten half of it. I don’t think it’s worth posting haha. After the shaved ice, it was time for some more dumplings, and they once again delighted our taste buds. Then we headed to some local shops and the Taipei City Mall. It was fun to walk through the mall and observe the people shopping. It was very different than an American mall. David said it reminded him of an indoor Taiwanese night market.
Our last stop of the day was Longshan Temple. The architecture was incredible. I enjoyed sitting and watching all the worshippers who came pay their respects and offer prayers. It was a neat cultural experience. I thought a lot about faith and the role that God plays in my life. It made me grateful for faith and belief that God hears and answers prayers and that He created a plan for our eternal happiness.
On Friday, our final day in Taiwan, we headed to a Confucius temple. Once again, the intricate architecture was amazing and beautiful. Friday was super hot…92 degrees. I enjoyed seeing the temple, but it wore me out. We ate lunch at a Latin restaurant and lingered there for a while. The food was great and the air conditioning was delightful. We then hopped on the metro and took the red line all the way to the end of the line to Tamsui.
Our final evening in Taiwan we spent in Tamsui. This was a great way to end the trip. We walked along the river that connects to the Taiwan Strait. We had fun walking through souvenir shops, and then we stumbled upon a waterfront restaurant with delicious food and an elegant/beachy/relaxing ambiance. It’s hard to describe the feeling of the restaurant, but it was an absolute perfect ending to the trip. We could see the water from our table, and part way through dinner fireworks started going off. I joked that Taiwan was giving us one heck of a farewell!
And now we are sitting in the L.A. airport, and I am beat. We woke up a little before 6 a.m. Taiwan time, and now it’s almost midnight there. We still have about nine hours to go before we are home. I tried proof reading this blog post for grammatical errors, but I’m so tired I am sure I missed a few haha.
It’s been a great vacation! We loved exploring a new culture, disconnecting from “normal life,” and seeing a new, beautiful part of the world.