For days, I dilly-dallied about whether I should buy tickets to the Taipei 101 Observatory from Klook.com before flying to Taiwan. It might save us time since we won’t have to join the queues which can get quite long. In the end, I decided against it. What I did buy were vouchers for set meals at the Taipei 101 branch of Din Tai Fung.
After checking in at the hotel (a serviced apartment, actually), we took the escalator to Taipei Main Station. Our EasyCards had been topped up at the airport so all we had to do was find the platform for the train that would bring us to Taipei 101.
It was lunch time and we hadn’t eaten anything since the lousy food on the plane. We located Din Tai Fung and I almost fainted when I saw the lines. Might as well go to the Observatory first and eat after the lunch crowd had dissipated.
On our way to the fifth floor where tickets to the Observatory were sold, we passed the shops in the mall area of the building. If, at the back of my mind, there were some remote thoughts of shopping at Taipei 101, they never had an opportunity to surface.
I’m not exactly a Harry Winston kind of girl. The other options were Cartier and (a heavily gated) De Beers. In short, there was nothing there I could afford.
We reached the fifth floor, located the ticket booth and bought tickets. Along with the tickets came some discount vouchers. I glanced at them then stuffed them in my bag.
The queue to the elevator to the 89th floor was long. LONG. But it wasn’t moving at a snail’s pace. It shouldn’t because it takes only 37 seconds from the 5th floor to the 89th floor. That’s how fast the elevator is.
I tried taking a video of the ride up to the 89th floor but it was crowded and keeping my hand steady was not easy.
Beer mango float from Bigtom Ice Cream
We finally reached the 89th floor Observatory, took photos, checked out what were being sold in the souvenir shops when, finally, our scorched mouths demanded that we find something cold to drink. That was when the discount vouchers that we were given earlier came in handy.
Bigtom Ice Cream. We weren’t interested in ice cream though. We were thirsty and we wanted a drink.
We chose the beer mango float and it was divine. It had only two ingredients: beer and mango sorbet. Even if I had each ingredient separately, I’d still give them superlative marks. The mango sorbet was thick but not too sweet which is how I like my sorbet. The beer was full bodied and bubbly — a far cry from the watery “light” beers that I abhor but, for some reason, have become popular over the past decade.
Din Tai Fung
The food at Din Tai Fung’s Taipei 101 branch was as delectable as the food at its original restaurant where we had lunch twelve years ago.
We had four different kinds of dumpling, soup, rice, dessert… I seriously thought we could go to Kam’s Goose after Din Tai Fung but I knew it would take hours before we started feeling hungry again. So, instead of Kam’s Goose, we decided to check out the food court and the grocery beside it.
I already knew that there was a Jasons Market at Qsquare Mall beside our apartment building. But since we hadn’t explored our neighborhood, what’s the harm in checking out what there was at the Taipei 101 branch, right?
We entered Jasons Market and right there near the entrance, the samplings began. First, the egg rolls…
NOT what Americans know as egg rolls which are really fried spring rolls dipped in egg and flour for extra grease (gosh, why they do that, I cannot comprehend). These egg rolls are like the flakiest wafers stuffed with every imaginable filling — seaweed and pork floss, peanut, sesame seeds, pork floss and sesame seeds…
Those are the four varieties I remember because those were what we bought and brought back home. Oh, right, there was another one — pork floss and cheese — which, according to the sales girl was very popular with Filipino tourists but it was the one we liked the least so we didn’t buy it.
Then, there were samples of Taiwanese sausage (yes, we bought a pack and had them for breakfast the next morning), XO sauce that was spooned over steaming hot rice in tiny paper cups (yes, we bought a jar), peanuts coated with activated charcoal (yes, we bought a pack) and so many other delicious things.
By the time we left Jasons Market, we were carrying two not-so-light shopping bags. There was really no way we could go to Kam’s Goose after that.
Because we were on an early morning flight to Taipei, we didn’t really get any sleep the night before. How we managed to spend an entire day walking, exploring, eating and drinking without feeling exhausted, I have no idea. But we knew we’d be pushing it if we continued sightseeing through the night. Better quit while we were ahead. We decided that, after Jasons Market, it was time to return to the apartment. But the need to rest our feet and relax in the bath tub weren’t the only reasons.
When we checked in at the apartment before noon, we scanned the cable channels before going out. Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, the two hour-documentary, was on and I knew that there would be a replay later that night. Good enough reason to return to the apartment early. We had bathed and changed into fresh clothes by the time the replay began.