Taipei at Night

Taipei is a really charming city and like many Asian cities, really comes to life after the sun goes down. There are many districts that come to life after dark and many night markets with street vendors galore.

The skyline is dominated by Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world. It’s a very unique structure and the design looks like a stack of Chinese takeout boxes stacked on top of each other.

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About half way up, the spectacular view becomes apparent and pushes you onward.
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Many of the newer buildings are quite colorful.

A must-see and do when visiting  in Taipei is to hike up Elephant Mountain (象山). The trail of stairs begins about 15 minutes just to the southeast of Xiangshan Station, the end of the #2 red line (Tamsui-Xinyi). The best time to go is around sunset for a spectacular view of the city. It’s a twenty minute strenuous hike to the top, but well worth it for the view! It’s a safe trail, well paved, and well lit. Even at night, there were plenty of people walking up and down. The views from the top are better than those from Taipei 101’s observation deck because you get to see Taipei 101 and the rest of the city. It’s also free! After you finish taking in the view, head down to Taipei 101 for dinner which is only a short walk or two MRT stations away.

Xinyi  (信義) / Taipei 101

The Xinyi district is home to Taipei 101. It’s a new neighborhood that I’m guessing got redeveloped after Taipei 101 was built. There’s many new office buildings and several western hotels including a Grand Hyatt and W. Inside and around Taipei 101 is a large shopping mall and large food court. As it was the week before Chinese New Year, it was very festive with year of the sheep decorations.

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The dream of traveling around the world just  ... don't touch.
The dream of traveling around the world just … don’t touch.

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Shilin (士林)

Jiantan Station in Shilin
Jiantan Station in Shilin

Jiantan is one of the main stations to visit. Outside the station are many shops and busy streets. This is where we spent the first half of our first day when visiting the National Palace Museum. It has a really neat design that looks like a suspension bridge. At night, the Shilin Night Market opens, and there’s many streets of different food and shops. This is a real fun place to walk around and people watch!

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Some of these cars outside the station had tickets. Most were parked so closely together that there’s no way anyone’s getting out.
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Parking outside the MRT station can be difficult.

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Xi Men Ding (西門站)

Ximending is the Times Square of Taipei. There’s many bright lights, TVs, and people walking about, especially at night. A bit of history behind the area, it was set up as an entertainment, theater,  and business district under Japanese rule. In the main area, you won’t find many street vendors as it’s mostly clothing stores and restaurants.

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Taipei and Taiwan

IMG_5108Part 1: Taipei, Taiwan

IMG_5339Part 2: Taipei at Night

IMG_6071Part 3: Temples and Markets of Taipei

Some food carts put an emphasis on the aesthetic quality in addition to taste.Part 4: Taiwan Food

IMG_5824-2Part 5: Yangmingshan National Park

IMG_5659Part 6: Taroko National Park and Hualien, Taiwan



Back in February, I had the opportunity to stop and visit Taipei, Taiwan for four short days on our way to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. Similar to Hong Kong, it’s a very busy and populated city. Taiwan is very modern and rapidly growing country. While Taipei not as developed and westernized as Hong Kong, it offers distinct charm and Chinese hospitality. Walking the streets, the rich culture, heritage, and tradition was evident. It’s a very vibrant and colorful city.As a plus, the cost of living is lower and the people are more laid back!

Here are some sights of the city.

Taiwan National Palace Museum
Taiwan National Palace Museum
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You could easily spend an entire day at the National Palace Museum browsing all of the exhibits and special collections.
Many of the streets are busy, yet very orderly as people get from place to place
Many of the streets are busy, yet very orderly as people get from place to place
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An intersection at the busy Shilin district.
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IMG_5098 The vertical street signs remind me of Seoul.

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Scooters and mopeds have their own lanes and some unique turning laws.
Scooters and mopeds have their own lanes and some unique turning laws.
It's not uncommon to see several kids riding with their parents. Sometimes, they get sleepy.
It’s not uncommon to see several kids riding with their parents. Sometimes, they get sleepy.
Scooters run rampant throughout the city as one of the main forms of transportation.
Scooters run rampant throughout the city as one of the main forms of transportation.
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Even parking can be a challenge for the scooters.
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The memorial gardens are very peaceful and have lots of trees and flowers.

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Chiang Kai‑shek Memorial Hall
Chiang Kai‑shek Memorial Hall
The hall was undergoing renovations, so we could not go inside.
The hall was undergoing renovations, so we could not go inside.

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National Concert Hall
National Concert Hall

You say Pi, I say tart

IMG_4351We recently got back from a few weeks in Asia, spending the majority of the time in Hong Kong. One of the famous desserts of Hong Kong and my favorite is egg tarts. (蛋撻)They can be found at many bakeries across the city (although they can sell out quickly) or at dim sum.

There are many kitchen supply and cookware shops around Shangahi Street (上海街) and Waterloo Road (窩打老道) in the Yau Ma Tei district  where you can find anything you could need in your kitchen or to open your own restaurant. One of the things we bought were deep baking tin cups which I planned to use to make deep dish egg tarts. I have made egg tarts plenty of times in the traditional round style, but this time I wanted to try something more unique to create an even bigger egg tart. The idea came from the Yamazaki Bakery who makes something similar (a bit smaller). Their tarts aren’t as good, nor do they look as pretty as St. Honore’s, or Tai Cheong’s, but I like the concept and it usually comes with a small spoon.

I used the same recipe from a traditional egg tart, but had to tweak the amounts slightly since the volume of these molds is about double, so I expected to make half as many as I would normally make.

before after egg tartsI wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I consider it a success and the results tasted even better! I expected them to be undercooked, the crust to crumble into pieces as I took it out, or for it to be burned, but it turned out just fine. In fact, it slid out easier than the regular ones I make. I’ll definitely be making these again in the future.

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Happy Pi Day!

Top 10 Photos of 2014

Happy new year!

Yesterday I wrote a recap of the year and what I’m looking forward to in 2015, but just wanted to share some pictures. In 2014, it didn’t feel like I had quite the opportunity to use my camera as in previous years. In looking at my Lightroom collections, 2014 only had 5,500 images taken vs some other years that topped 15,000. Most of these opportunities usually come from long vacations in which I may have had 80+ GB of photos or from weddings or other events which may yield a thousand pictures in a day. Nevertheless after perusing my collection from the year I found some of these gems. Enjoy!

2014’s picks come from a variety of destinations (left to right, top to bottom). Some have links to their related posts. Most are new to the blog.

Fred Hartman Bridge - Baytown, TX
Fred Hartman Bridge – Baytown, TX
Partial solar eclipse - my front yard
Partial solar eclipse – my front yard
View from the Eiffel Tower at Paris of Las Vegas Boulevard - Las Vegas, NV.
View from the Eiffel Tower at Paris of Las Vegas Boulevard – Las Vegas, NV.
Fourche La Fave River - Nimrod Lake, AR
Fourche La Fave River – Nimrod Lake, AR
Valley of Fire State Park - Overton, NV
Valley of Fire State Park – Overton, NV
Orange Dream Japanese Maple, Dallas Arboretum - Dallas, TX
Orange Dream Japanese Maple, Dallas Arboretum – Dallas, TX
 Downtown Manhattan Skyline - New York City, NY
Downtown Manhattan Skyline – New York City, NY
Saguaro National Park - Tucson, AZ
Saguaro National Park – Tucson, AZ
San Antonio River Walk - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio River Walk – San Antonio, TX
Great Salk Lake - Salt Lake City, UT
Great Salk Lake – Salt Lake City, UT