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Taiwan Day 1: Our Apartment + Metro + Shilin Night Market

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I went for a holiday in Taiwan from 2-7 April with 4 of my good friends! ^^ It was our first trip by ourselves - without our parents, and without teachers (in school trips). It was probably one of the most fun trips I've ever had! I've been to Taiwan twice before, but they were so long ago and I only remember bits & pieces of them, plus I wasn't vegan then. 

Vegetarian food is quite easy to find in Taiwan (because they have quite a lot of Buddhist vegetarians), but vegan food is slightly more difficult. Vegetarian is  (su4) in Chinese, but there isn't a specific phrase or word for vegan - even  doesn't cut it. So I tried to stay as vegan as possible for the first 2 days, but after that I was a bit more lax towards baked goods. :x I don't regret it though, I love trying all sorts of food!

I also really liked the weather!!! It was a cool 20 degrees on average. A shirt, sweater and jeans is enough. ^^

Oh yes, the currency exchange is about 23.3 TWD (Taiwan Dollars) to 1 SGD (Singapore Dollar), or 30 TWD to 1 USD. To convert TWD to SGD easily, I move back 2 decimal places and multiply by 4. It's not exact (it's less), but it's a good estimation. Surprisingly I spent only about SGD$410 for the food, shopping and transport during this trip. ._. 

I'll be writing this series of blogposts in a semi-personal way - there'll be photos of me (I'm in the middle) & my friends (L to R: Ya Fan, Amanda, Cassandra, Eunice), and also how to get to the various places, etc. ^^

On the plane from Singapore to Taipei!

Food I brought for the 5 hour plane ride: grapes, cucumber, carrots, strawberries and apples. It was a morning flight; I had breakfast earlier so this would be counted as a mid morning snack I guess! I'm glad that I brought such water-rich foods, because the plane was dry and we didn't get to refill our water bottles. 

When we arrived at the airport, I bought a SIM card - it was 450 TWD for 6 days, with 20 mins talk time (if I remember correctly). It's really recommended because it's affordable, you can use hotspot to share the Wifi, and there's no fear of getting lost because you can use Google Maps!! I can't remember which Telco I used though, but another one only allows those over 20 years old to purchase.

We stayed at the City Centre Loft Apartment, in the Oshare building in Zhongshan District. 

It was a short walk to Zhongshan Elementary School Station, and it was quite a convenient and central location.

What's even better, is that each of us only payed less than SGD$155 for 5 nights' stay!!! 

The apartment was smaller than expected, but it was an okay size for us since we spent most of the day out anyway! ^^

This is what you see when you enter the doorway. 

Small kitchen area.

One of the bedrooms.

Another bedroom (basement).

Toilet & shower.

Bedroom (second level).

Then, we left the apartment in search of lunch. This is a small 'night' market near our place.

Red bean pancakes!

The filling is SO generous!

These looked great - but it seemed like there was meat in it -_-

Random bakery.

A fruit stall! 3 packets for NT100.

I bought some because I wanted to try these fresh MULBERRIES!! :O They were sweet, and not very tart. ^^

The fruit on the right is water apple (jambu); the one on the left is preserved plums (it's soaked in a sweet-sour-salty solution) or something. I thought that they were fresh and the stall holder said that they were very sweet.  -_-

Wow I just noticed the plums being soaked in a liquid 2 pictures above. -_-

We settled on this cafe for lunch.

There were 2 vegetarian options on the menu. I ordered the Angelica, Baby Cabbage and Yam Thin Noodles (NT180).

The portion size was quite generous! It came with a choice of tea and I chose green tea.

A soup with lotsa ingredients!!

What I didn't like was that these veggies were very very oily. I rinsed them in soup and gree tea lols.

I really LOVED this mee-sua! I can't remember when was the last time I had it. What's even better, is that it's PINK! Haha. Hopefully it's just because it's cooked with the goji berries. It looks really little but the bowl was actually quite deep.

I finished everything hehe.

Then, we headed to the Metro station.

We were thinking of buying a 7 day unlimited pass but the station control person recommended us to just buy the EasyCard, because it's more worth it. It costs NT200 for one EasyCard, and there'll be NT100 in it. When you return it at the end of the trip, you get NT80 and whatever stored money refunded back. ^^ It's really affordable. We topped up NT100 every day.

They stand on the right of the escalator. And rarely do people stand at the left side and block the way! Plus at most station platforms, there are lines on the floor to guide people to queue. I think that's great!

We arrived early at Shilin night market. To get there, take the red line to Jian Tan station (yes, not the Shilin station) and leave via Exit 1.

Gorgeous fruits!!

I really regretted not buying these candied haw sticks! D: I looked for it at other night markets but all they had was candied fruits :(

There was a really cute Gacha machine shop!

Ice cream that's made to look like a potted plant ooooh.

It really looks like soil!!! Or is this display one really soil? o_o

More fruits!!

A WALL of candy!

Grilled mushrooms. We tried these later on at another night market, but perhaps we should've had them here - these are't overpriced.

It still wasn't dark yet. I starts to get dark at about 5+pm though - so I always get tricked to think that it's already late at night lols.

Stinky tofu 臭豆腐. I didn't try it because I heard from a vegan friend that it might be marinated in meat juices. But my friends who bravely tried it said that it tastes like how it smells. We all agreed that it smells like a rubbish dump LOL. You can smell it from far away, but strangely, when you stand in front of the store, you don't smell anything o_o

Redbean-filled, peanut-coated mochi.

Candied sweet potato. I wish that I'd tried this too! Haha I think I was still trying to be healthy on the first day.

It's a good place for clothes shopping. Quite a lot of items can be found at a range of NT100-200. I bought a pair of kitty shoes for NT200!

There was also an underground food street. We didn't eat anything there though. 

The toilet here is surprisingly clean!! In many places, the cleanliness surprised me haha. According to mum, Singapore has the dirtiest toilets; I kinda agree with her. ._.

There were game stalls by the roadside too!

Overall, Shilin is my favourite night market. In my opinion, Shilin is the best place for street food - there's a wide variety and it's not overpriced. It's also good for clothes shopping - compared to the other night markets we went to, this has the best fashion and the lowest prices. Wow I wish that I'd bought more!

We then settled for bread for dinner lols. :x Dinner on most days was weird and junk-y. Good thing I spammed myself with veggies and fruits a couple of days before the trip.

I think that this was the most vegan bread sold at the convenience store near our apartment. I didn't find dairy or eggs when I skimmed through the ingredient list - but I might have missed it out since it's all in Chinese and my grasp on the language is weakening. It was SO SUGARY.

Lols this is an abrupt ending. I'll probably post about Day 2 later in the evening. ^^

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