Our Time in Taipei (2014)

Taipei is a city that I fall more and more in love with each time we visit. Chad and I used to live there, way before Z came along. Because of that, we made sure to visit there (for three months) in our travels around the world in 2013, and then just recently went for a quick visit/visa run before Christmas.

We packed up our winter clothes (what few we still have… a pair of jeans and a hoodie constitute winter clothing right?) and headed back to our second, second home, Taiwan.

We arrived at 1 am at the Taoyuan International Airport and took a taxi to our airbnb.com rented apartment. It was cold, and Z was awake. The jostling around after the flight made it impossible for her to stay sleeping while I carried her too-big-for-me-to-carry body and so she was awake the whole drive, well until about 3 am actually… Yikes!

When we arrived at our apartment that we got an amazing deal on, the owner’s father kindly helped us in and gave us all the directions for the house. It was not until he left and we were getting settled and such, that I noticed that the apartment did not have a back door!

The layout of most Taipei apartments is that there is a patio or open air kitchen/cleaning area off the kitchen. This apartment was no exception, except that the door between the kitchen and open-air patio was missing! Oh, and most places in Taipei do not have heating, and neither did this one. Yep, I was freezing… I ended up having to buy a coat at Costco a day or so later, not so much because of the outside air, but the air in our beautiful 9th floor freezer apartment! I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I think the cold slowed my brain function!

Look at me in a coat! You may never see this again! Or maybe we will someday go to the snow..brrrr.
Look at me in a coat! You may never see this again! Or maybe we will someday go to the snow..brrrr.
I couldn't get over how cute these little gloves were for Z, so I had to take a (very blurry) photo of them.
I couldn’t get over how cute these little gloves were for Z, so I had to take a (very blurry) photo of them.

Regardless of the possibility of frost bite (it was a very cold week, between 11-15 degrees C or 51-59 degrees F), I loved the apartment. I was in a great neighborhood, near many shops, restaurants, two 7-11’s, and some breakfast places that made great cheese dan bing for breakfast. It was also close to the MRT (although we rarely used them, taxi’s are so cheap in Taipei, and we were lazy).

I still have not taken a good picture of dan bing! I usually eat it too fast. The credit for this photo is at the bottom of my post.
I still have not taken a good picture of dan bing! I usually eat it too fast. So I have to borrow one from PhotoPin. The credit for this photo is at the bottom of my post.

 

Our first night there, our good friends (I used to teach English to their now teenage children) took us to dinner at Mihan Honke at the Regent Taipei and introduced us to Sukiyaki. This Japanese table-cooking includes delicious vegetables, fungi, and  thinly sliced pork and beef. All of this is sautéed in a pan on your table with onions, soy sauce, and water. The flavorful end to the cooking is dipping the hot fare in a raw beaten egg and eating it immediately. At first I was a bit wary of the raw egg, but it was delectable! It was all you could eat and I ate so much! Now I am on the look out for a Sukiyaki place here in Phuket, I’m hooked!

That night at the Regent there was also an opportunity to take a picture with Santa’s helper (all the store Santas are Santa’s helpers in our family). After waiting in line after a very large group of people changing their positions with Santa numerous (probably 20 or more!) times we got our chance to take a few photos with the man in red. Z was ecstatic, I think it probably was the highlight of her whole trip!

Z meeting Santa' Helper at the Regent, Taipei
Z meeting Santa’ Helper at the Regent, Taipei

The next day we went to the Thai Embassy, which was the main reason we were in Taiwan again. We needed another tourist visa to continue our lives in Phuket for the time being. Thailand had changed their immigration laws in the past few months and they were denying tourist visas if a traveler had more than three back-to-back in a year (which we did not)… well sometimes. BUT sometimes it doesn’t matter… the whole difficulty of understanding the Thai immigration policies, is that there is no definite answer. It is truly a crap shoot. This time we rolled the unlucky number (what is it in craps anyways?) and our visa was denied. They mentioned something about we had only been in Taipei for 3 days… we are still not sure why that mattered. We would have to go back to Thailand with just a thirty-day visa exemption. It was really worrisome, they could still turn us away at the airport… Yikes!  We strived to just trust God and make fall back plans to go somewhere else just in case we got turned away.

The rest of the week was spent Christmas shopping at Costco, taking Z back to some of her favorite play areas, meeting up with old friends, and checking off a list of things I had made of what I wanted to eat. Yep, you read that right, I like to make lists of what I want to eat when we visit a new place… my traveling life is about the food.  Now if only I would learn to take pictures before I eat the food, that would be a good idea (a resolution for 2015 maybe?).

My list of food? I wanted Shabu Shabu, Cheese dan bing, shuǐjiǎo, and beef noodle soup. We accomplished them all along with much more! Hooray for yummy food!  I enjoyed it so much, I was actually thankful that I was wearing skinny jeans to keep myself contained… winter clothes for the win!

IMG_3439
Z looks like she wants this giant Lindt Chocolate Bear, but it was really me… good thing it was a fake!
Shopping can seem very different in Taipei.
Shopping can seem very different in Taipei.
Play time in between meeting with friends and shopping.
Play time in between meeting with friends and shopping.

There was one more fantastic part of our trip to Taipei that I must share. The wonderfully kind family that took us to dinner the first night in Taiepei also gave me a ticket to a Chamber Concert where a String Quartet was playing music from Hadyn, Beethoven, and Tchaichovsky at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. It was fabulous, not only because of the beautiful music and masterful playing of their cello, viola, or violins, but because they gave me the red carpet treatment and I was able to sit with them in the front row, dead center! It was so amazing, I could hear the musicians breathing, see every finger movement, and truly become one with the music. It was such a treat!

My ticket to the show!
My ticket to the show!
A beautiful night at CKS Memorial Hall.
A beautiful night at CKS Memorial Hall.

We ended up getting back into Thailand without a problem and can actually extend our 30 day stay without any problem. Then we will have a year-long visa (more on that later)… And what that means is that our 3 month visa runs will end. And it will mean that our travels will be to places that we have never been! We will not feel it necessary to go somewhere just because they have a Thai Embassy that grants visas anymore, we can go anywhere and start traveling again the way we did before: traveling to experience new cultures, places, and FOOD! I am very excited to see what is in store for us this new year!

Now it’s your turn! What does the temperature outside (or maybe inside if you don’t have a back door either) have to be for you to want a coat? What do you make lists about while you’re traveling? Wait, doesn’t everyone make lists?! They do right? Leave a comment and join in the fun!

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Jennifer Turek via photopin cc

  34 comments for “Our Time in Taipei (2014)

  1. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
    January 3, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Year-long visa, eh? Well that does sound intriguing!

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time in Taipei. We’ve only been there once and have been meaning to go back ever since. Will have to hit you up for info if and when.

    • andthreetogo
      January 3, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      Yep, many new things in the works here.
      Taipei is always a fantastic time. I think you would definitely enjoy it again. And yes, definitely hit me up for info.
      Are you guys back in Singapore now? Or still enjoying the homeland?

      • Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
        January 3, 2015 at 10:34 pm

        Jut got back. So much catching up to do! And of course it’s the start of school, too. Plus I need to look for a job etc. Will eventually get to post… sometime in 2015…

        • andthreetogo
          January 3, 2015 at 10:44 pm

          Will look forward to it! Until then try to keep in touch! Hopefully we can meet up for some yummy Singaporean fare this year.

  2. citramanica
    January 3, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Sounds like a nice place to visit!

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 7:55 am

      It really is! Thanks for commenting ans reading!

  3. Jhanis
    January 3, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Anything lower than 25c you can count on me to wear a jacket, coat or a shawl. I cannot function at the slightest blow cold air. 😀

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Same here. It hurts my bones! Z wants to see the snow and I keep hoping that pictures of snow will suffice. 🙂

  4. freebutfun
    January 4, 2015 at 1:04 am

    A year long visa? Interesting!

    Your apartment not having the door made me remember the first ever common hostel room we booked with my current day husband: we wanted a bit more privacy, so as backpackers to pay for an en suite double (still in a hostel) was grand. Clean and tidy. And then I realised there was no door to the bathroom but a straight view to the toilet from the bed. Freshly in love but still seriously TMI!!!! 😀

    Apart from that: Taiwan, yet another place that would be lovely to visit. One day…

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 8:00 am

      It is a place that should be visited and is fairly untapped tourism-wise.
      Hahah! I would have made my husband leave the room if I had to go more than pee. 🙂

      • freebutfun
        January 4, 2015 at 7:06 pm

        Lucky there was bathrooms in the hallway too…

  5. Sue Slaght
    January 4, 2015 at 1:45 am

    Wonderful news about the visas! Looks like you now have the clothing to come visit in Canada. Maybe even a polar plunge while you are at it. 🙂

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Hahah… No! I think my coat is more for around 10-20. I think I would need a couple of snowsuits on at the same time for a Canada winter. 🙂

  6. journey2dfuture
    January 4, 2015 at 1:53 am

    So does that mean you guys may just stop by poland 😉 hee hee
    Im glad it all worked out for you in the end.
    Sounds like you had a great time with all the food.
    I tend to wear a coat in anything below 15oC. Thata crazy your apartment didnt have a door.
    I hope Z wasnt too cold.

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 8:03 am

      I sure hope so! I would LOVE to visit poland!
      Z was loving it! She says she loves the cold, strange child. Hahaha

  7. Anna (Four Kids One Mom Travel London)
    January 4, 2015 at 3:05 am

    Great post! I’m Canadian so I find the British definition of “cold” and “snowstorm” somewhat overdramatic, but I guess it’s all relative, right? Looking forward to what adventures your year long visa will bring… 🙂

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 8:04 am

      It definitely does depend on where you are from. 🙂 I’m originally from
      Northern California. It occasionally got to 0, but rarely. And it never snowed. I was spoiled for the cold 🙂

  8. mamabyfire
    January 4, 2015 at 5:02 am

    I would be writing a list of food too, that cracks me up! AND I would be rockin the skinny jeans to contain things a bit. The concert sounds amazing! I love all of those instruments, especially the cello!

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 8:05 am

      Cello is my favorite as well! It reminds me of smooth hot chocolate (with maybe some baileys). See, everything come back to food. Haha

  9. thehomeschoolingdoctor
    January 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    What a nice visit. No back door, though. Challenging for me. The cold would be okay as long as I came from somewhere warmer, and it was sunny enough. It is very, very, very hard for us now when we visit family in South Carolina in April (which is still winter in South Dakota) at Easter, when the weather there is below-normal and it is only about 55 degrees there. They always say, “Well, it’s warmer than where you came from.” They have no idea how disappointed I am. After living in winter for six months, I need sun, warm, short sleeves, and to get hot! The concert sounds lovely. And the photo with Z with Santa was so sweet. It captured her emotions. My hubby was reading me some statistics about Spain. I love how he’s “travel dreaming,” although I found some of the stats a little alarming. Food. Yes. Food. I’ve got to get this “leaky gut” in shape so I can tolerate that raw egg. (Egg and me–no good.)

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      That must be so disappointing! 6 months of winter, huh? Yep, South Dakota is definitely not in the cards for me! You guys could be snow birds and head to phuket during those long winter months… And you coukd teach me how to cook whole foods in person!
      Spain still appeals to me, if Thailand doesn’t work out thats where I would like to head to.
      Well, the rest of the sukiyaki was amazing, so the egg isn’t necessary. I want to try doing it at home with organic everything. 🙂 or you can and write a post about it. Haha

  10. joylovestravel
    January 4, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Sounds like a great trip – the concert and all that yummy food ….. not too sure I could cope without the door though!! Glad your visa situation got sorted, looking forward to reading about lots of other exotic places I can dream about travelling to!!

    • andthreetogo
      January 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      It was a great trip! The door will just be one of those stories that will have me chuckling in the future. Some of the things you run into while traveling are so odd. 🙂

  11. kemkem
    January 5, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Hah hah! I think it’s funny that you never get to take a picture of the food. I do that sometimes well..often :-). It’s a good sign when the food is grrrreeeeaaaattttt!!! Good news about the visa! I am excited for your 2015!!!

    • andthreetogo
      January 5, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Thanks! Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can stave off hunger long enough to take pictures. 🙂 haha
      Here’s hoping we make it to Spain for a visit. 🙂

  12. Nomibug
    January 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Totally rocking the puffy jacket!! And how awesome is Sukiyaki? It’s one of my favourite meals, I got a super easy recipe for it while in Japan 🙂

  13. Lani
    January 7, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I’ve been worried for you all when you went to Penang and Taipei. It’s been strict as hell over here, too. But everyone I know that has been “asked to leave” has made the very best of the move. I’m shaking my head over what Thailand is doing, but it seems as though you will follow the exciting trend of “on to greener pastures”. And trust me, we won’t be too far behind if this keeps up.

    Thanks for the Taiwan teaser. I’ve been really wanting to go. I have friends there and it’s one of those places that I seriously consider moving to…we’ll see though. Here’s to the next ADVENTURE. Much love from CR.

    • andthreetogo
      January 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Well, the work visa is in the works here. Regardless of that, we want to travel this year for fun and adventure, not for visa runs. Keep
      Your fingers crossed for us. 🙂
      Hoping to head up north for a visit too this year. 🙂 If everything goes well that is.

      • Lani
        January 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm

        Good luck 🙂 and please let us know what happens!

        • andthreetogo
          January 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

          You know I will!

  14. thebritishberliner
    January 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Phew! Thank goodness your visa worries will be over. 🙂 Wow! I didn’t know that you used to live in Taipei and as well-travelled as I am, even I didn’t know much about the country. I’ve sort of been mixing it up with Taiwan. Head bowed in shame! I’m happy for you though. 🙂

    • andthreetogo
      January 7, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Taipei is the capitol of Taiwan so you were right! No shame needed. 🙂 Thanks!

      • thebritishberliner
        January 8, 2015 at 2:46 pm

        Phew!

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