Hallo Mama und Papa! I’m sorry it took me so long to get to “your” post. I had a stellar week with you in Taiwan! And I am very grateful you come to visit me every time I go abroad, even though it usually includes a 12+ hours flight!
One of the highlights during my truly eventful winter break was certainly the visit of my family (minus sister, but I know she’s not really the outgoing kind). Beware, this will be a long post.
Mom and dad had stayed in Singapore for a few days before coming to Taipei. Apparently, the beer prices there are an insanity and an absolute insult to the German soul (14 Euros?!! For a pint?!!). So I took them out to Gordon Biersch for the first evening and we had some much-deserved beers to celebrate our reunion (it IS our national drink, don’t judge). The beer was American, but excellent nonetheless.
On Saturday we went to see the National Palace Museum, which hosts the most extensive collection of Chinese art in the world.
I should mention that the Taiwanese are quite proud that the collection resides in Taipei and NOT in mainland China. It was really very impressive (but I’m never going there on a weekend again, believe me).
The highlight of the collection is… this jade cabbage. Please klick on the link, you simply have to see it to believe it. It’s about 18 cm × 9 cm and people went CRAZY about it (there is also a stone that looks like a slab of meat, similar craziness ensued). You’re not allowed to stand in front of the case, but have to keep walking around it slowly, because EVERYONE wants to see it and the guard will let you know to move on.
I’m finding this so funny, because the comparatively tiny thing is so hyped, but falls a bit flat compared to the detailed jewelry boxes, wood and ivory carvings, porcelain artifacts, textiles and other truly astonishing antiquities.
No photos were allowed inside, so you just have to check out the website for some glimpses of the other artifacts.
We went on a walk through a river park afterwards, where I went a bit crazy under a flowering tree…
…and had fantastic vegetarian Italian dinner at Mia Cucina that night.
On Sunday I had to work, so my parents equipped themselves with a MRT map and explored CKS Memorial Hall and the Lin Family Garden by themselves. They also found a delicious vegetarian place very close to their hotel. So they had a fantastic day good-resourceful-German-style (even in a city as confusing as Taipei :).
The next day the weather was quite nice, so we went to Wulai by bus.
We tried some street food (glutinous rice mochi or ziba coated with sesame or peanut powder) and fruits (kumquats, wax apples, and btw strawberry season is in February here) and walked around the area to the waterfall.
Tuesday we did something I had intended to do for a while now. We went to Maokong for tea. Unfortunately, the weather that day was as ugly and cold as it gets in Taiwan. So… the best thing you can do is sit inside and drink hot tea anyway!
We went to location Y17 on the tourist map (or 四 哥 的 店 tea house) and our lovely host showed us how it’s done (he’s the little guy on the green label, as he pointed out to us).
If you can sit through the 7 minutes, here is a tutorial video:
After we were left to our own tea-faring devices, Mom was appointed the table’s tea boss and made batch after batch of delicious high mountain oolong.
While all the while we marveled at the truly ghastly weather outside.
Eventually, we got tired of sitting around, so my parents went shopping for some souvenirs and I bought some tea (Oriental Beauty and more High Montain Oolong).
To really show the weather that it couldn’t ruin our time together, we had a hot pot dinner at one of my absolute favorite places here in Taipei, Hiyen Shabu.
Wednesday was spent at the MOCA, Taipei’s contemporary arts museum. The way there was already pretty artsy and cutesy:
The inside of the museum is even more interesting, of course, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
I liked that they included sketches of the finished artwork:
For dinner we met with Andrew and Lily at Din Tai Fung. Andrew is coming to study in Bayreuth next semester (and hopefully Lily will be able to go, too!). I’m hoping they and Jenny can also visit the village where I grew up and my parents still live.
After a delicious meal, we went to see Shilin night market and had some almond tea and bought a USB cable. The things you do.
Thursday had us going on a campus tour around Fu Jen Univeristy (including my room, was is clean enough mom?) and then all the way up the red line to Tamsui. The weather was still a cold, windy and drizzly, so we spent most of our time drinking coffee inside a cafe with a view.
I… did not take pictures of my green tea latte, because I found it a bit uneventful.
Dinner that day was at Balle Balle Indian Restaurant and they serve some of the best food I’ve ever had, Indian or otherwise. My parents agreed, I think, and there was not one drop of sauce left on the plates.
Friday was our last day together. Since the weather had cleared up just enough so that there were no low clouds hanging around, we finally went up the Taipei 101 skyscraper.
Part of the floor is covered in mirrors:
There was also a shop with mostly coral (boo!), jade and pearl artefacts, so not really my price range. They had some nice cabbage, though.
We concluded our week with another fantastic vegetarian dinner at Yan Xin (養心茶樓．蔬食.飲茶, 素食, near Songjiang Nanjing MRT station, exit 6, you have to go through a bakery to find it) with my friend William and his mom
And then we had to say said our goodbyes. It will be September until I see them again :'(