To be frank, I was a bit surprised how much there is to write.
A Few Hours in Taichung
A little incident happened during the bus journey from Sun Moon Lake to Taichung HSR Station. Our bus briefly made several stops, briefly, en route to Taichung to pick up other passengers. As Constant Companion RR and I were sitting right at the front, directly behind the driver, we watched as people getting on and off the ride.
Somewhere near the local university, a young man boarded the bus. As the bus driver drove on, the young man started going through his bag, standing right besides the door, searching for something. Logically, he was trying to get money to pay for his bus fare. After a good five minutes or so, I overheard the young man telling the bus driver that he was 10 NTD (equivalent to about $0.45 SGD) short.
Not one who always spring into action immediately, I remained observant to the situation as it unfolded in front of me. The bus driver initial response was almost clueless on how to react, asking the young man several times if he was indeed 10 NTD short. He then offered what sounded like a waiver for the chap but almost immediately asked again if the lad indeed did not have 10 NTD on him.
To watch any further, would be too painful and awkward. But before I could step in to intervene, the other lady seated right in front, called out “Here’s a 10 NTD.” and handed the young man the shiny coin which finally completed his bus fare. The young man graciously accepted and thanked the lady gratefully before, at long last, proceeded to a seat.
Now that I have given some thought about the incident as I write, the reason the driver was so baffled on what to do, might be because his concentration was on the road.
The rest of the hour long bus journey went on uneventful.
Taichung’s 2nd Market
After we have alighted at Taichung HSR Station and given the bus driver our bus tickets/ receipts, we went straight to the taxi stand where a lady was busy ushering people to a consistent flow of taxis. In no time, we boarded one and headed towards Taichung’s 2nd Market.
From our conversation, the cab driver seemed rather surprised that we would be interested in that place since it was just a really old, local market place where they sell food, groceries and other daily necessities. According to him, there is not much going on there. We reassured him that we were indeed looking forward to have our first meal of that day, there in the 2nd Market, for I found some really rave reviews while researching on “Trip Advisor”.
Taichung’s 2nd Market is really old. I dig walking around such environments. The narrow pathways were packed with crowds of people, going in both directions. Constant Companion RR and I weaved through the horde, keeping both eyes peeled for a good joint to eat.
Constant Companion RR spotted an old eatery which was jam-packed with customers, stuffing their faces full of a particular form of noodle dish. After going through the menu the shop had printed, in rows of big Chinese characters, Constant Companion RR decided, for us, that we would eat here.
We were told firmly, but in a friendly manner, by a lady-in-charge, that we would need to wait and find our own seats. We waited outside the eatery on the pathway with people walking by, as we eyed for a free table and taking notes on customers who were about done with their meal. It was pretty chaotic.
The shop was staffed with efficient people. As soon as a customer stood up and left, someone would be there immediately to clear up the plates. Luckily, we managed to locate a spot before long.
We ordered the noodle dish which everybody else ordered and a few other dishes. To put it simply, the meal was absolutely delicious. Of the 4 dishes we ordered, 2 blew our minds and the other 2 were above average. The main highlight was the noodles with peanut-based sauce. On it, the lady-in-charged recommended that we put some of the sesame seed based sauce, which can be found on every table in a large metal mug along with other condiments. We did as we were told and the result was incredible.
The noodles were soft and chewy, gooey with the mixed sauces which gave the dish an unique but delectable flavour. The water spinach that came with the noodles was crunchy with a strong taste of sesame oil.
The second dish which took us by surprise, was the “Mei Hua Rou” (which can be translated to Plum Meat, maybe?). I saw this on the menu and we placed an order out of whim, not knowing what it was beforehand. When it arrived with the rest of the dishes, it was a bowl of meat, slightly pinkish, garnished with some coriander and fine strips of ginger. Its pinkish appearance of the meat was most likely from the use of plums (maybe?). It was exceptionally tender meat, with a hint of sweetness from plums (I guess?). Crazy good. Would definitely order it again.
Then other two dishes were okay. A plate of greens, a little too salty, and a bowl of dumpling soup. I have had better dumplings before, but these are decent enough; just a bit too much of the dumpling wrapper on these.
To wash it down, we got a drink from this popular shop in the market, which specialises in tea. Apparently, it has been around for a long time. In the long queue, we waited for a good 10 minutes before we arrived at the counter. From the menu hanging from the ceiling, I chose “青草红茶” which from my understanding at that point of time, was “Grass Jelly Red Tea”. I could not be more wrong. However, it was still a pleasant and refreshing drink. 10/10 would order again.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
From 2nd Market, we decided to walk down to National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. With our drinks in hand, Constant Companion RR and I headed towards the general direction of the museum, guided by the super useful GPS of Google Map. However, we did not last very long under the glaring hot sun before we hopped on a comfortable, air-conditioned taxi.
We left our bags in a locker, so even I (the “travel mule“) could walk around leisurely. We spent a good couple of hours wandering from gallery to gallery, admiring the many art exhibitions. When it was time to go, I was almost sad to leave such a comfortable environment, but we had a train to catch back to Taipei. Reluctantly, with the weight of our stuff on my back, we left the museum for the HSR Station and took the High Speed Rail back to Taipei in time for dinner.
Taiwan Oct 2018 Trip Afterword
The first few day in Taiwan were not very time efficient as there was an unnecessary need to switch accommodations. All in all, we have stayed in 4 different places through the week.
We had to deal with the bad weather as well; the annoying prolonged drizzle. Made moving from places to places more tedious, while limiting photo-taking opportunities.
Food wise, the keyword is variety. Even Constant Companion RR, who is usually a small eater, seemed to consumed a large quantity of food. I know it is just because we ordered a lot of different food in small portions, so we can try many different kind of food.
However, this trip is a lot more “personal” to both Constant Companion RR and me. I guess it is because we have done even lesser “Touristy Activities” and more on the mundane “Local Activities”.
Based on that point alone, it is a trip to remember.