We started off in Datong, the traditional part of Taipei, where there was lots of local colour...
... and local produce to be bought.
Streets like Guide, Dihua and...
had rows and rows of shops
like this dry goods store
or this one
which sold everything from...
seaweed (san hu cao)
instructions on how to prepare san hu cao
to the famous Hsinchu bee hoon which of course we bought for our fathers. Our favourite was this tea shop...
all kinds of tea, including "flower" teas
We also patronised a shop selling...
all kinds of seeds!
We hoped the seeds we bought would take root in our neighbourhood vegetable plot, run by our esteemed neighbour with the green thumbs, Mr Yip.
we didn't need any of this but the colours were lovely
After that, we decided to do lunch at Din Tai Fung. We're not big fans of the restaurant back home but how could we visit Taipei without giving it a shot? That's how we found ourselves back at...
onigiri and a handroll
look at the ikura!
Fortunately we got our table half an hour later.
the standard cucumber with chilli oil
xiao long bao, of course
noodles with prawns and veggies
glutinous rice dumplings
these were to die for - the skin was so fine!
We rolled out, stuffed, and happy.
kudos to the Din Tai Fung chefs in Taipei, more skillful than their counterparts in Singapore
After lunch, we went to Ximending to look for a particular shop selling feng li bing, the Taiwanese pineapple pastry. Failing to find it, we consoled ourselves with tea at the Red House Theatre's cafe.
nanyang panna cotta (sic)
coffee panna cotta
it was such a pretty space
Outside, in Ximending, it was all quite happening as usual.
a rapper doing his thang
hoards of shoppers
a promotional appearance, it seemed
We returned to the hotel to drop off the shopping before heading out again. Having bought most of the gifts we wanted, we were keen to check out the Dinghao Ming Pai Gou Wu Zhongxin properly. For HM it was for the trendy shops...
ballet slippers on sale
the latest in Japanese make-up
... whereas, for me, it was nothing if not eclectic.
as far as I could tell, a shop selling charms
it was clearly frequented by celebrities, albeit newly minted ones like the cast of Cape No. 7
And, as elsewhere in Taipei, there was...
a cute dog
and a cute kid
When it was time for dinner, we wanted more local colour and wandered down a side lane round the corner. We found some roadside stalls...
these seemed pretty busy
lor neng, or braised eggs
noodles with sesame paste, which tasted, unsurprisingly, like tahini
more zheng jiao
All that came up to only NT$115 or SGD$5.75, and I was pleased to have tried more local food (especially the sesame paste noodles) on our last night in Taipei.
After that, we wandered around the Zhongxiao-Fuxing area a little bit more, taking in the sights and sounds of Taipei at night, especially with Christmas round the corner.
Christmas decor on sale
the Sogo girls saying good night at closing time
a Christian evangelist at work, on the big screen
taxis waiting for customers
people taking in the lights
a Watson's getting a new sign (or removing an old one)
Dr Wu is apparently big in Taiwan
and so is Sogo
there were many people determined to get a festive shot
of themselves, not matter how silly
When the three Sogos finally closed for the night, we did what many Taiwanese night owls do - head for the 24-hour Eslite bookstore. Outside, we discovered an impromptu night market of sorts. The vendors all looked like enterprising undergrads. At Eslite, we found some more DVDs to buy before catching the 2359 h train back to Xinyi, to begin packing.