It was a smooth journey to Taiwan, proving simple to navigate ourselves from the airport to the city. However, our hostel (Ximen Wow) was a bit trickier to find. We spotted the sign from the outside but couldn’t figure how to get there (Google maps wasn’t particularly helpful either!) We decided upon a hopeful looking entrance that quickly turned out to be just some back exits for restaurants and circled around the complex before finally finding our way.
The hostel was probably one of my favourites across my travels so far! The facilities are clean and modern, the beds are comfortable little booths and there’s a nice little social space serving breakfast in the morning. We reunited with another friend (hello Joe!) and tried to make some plans for the day despite the heavy downpour that had just begun. Perhaps it was the rain, but Taiwan seemed a little lifeless that morning, a lot of things were closed and just walking the streets we didn’t see as many people as expected. So far we were a little underwhelmed.
So we joined a free walking tour! It’s a great way to get to know about the city’s history and to also orientate yourself within the foreign landscape. It was interesting to learn about the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, which explained why some aspects of the city felt so familiar to me. Although I have to admit, the highlight of the tour/day was stopping off at an old ice-cream parlour, Snow King, offering a HUGE variety of flavours. As a great fan of all things tea, I chose the oolong and green tea flavours (they had ran out of chrysanthemum, boo). My friends got cinnamon (not a fan) and curry (exactly how you’d imagine), and sharing with others in our tour group, I also tried hibiscus (pleasant) and guava (winner).
With our spirits raised, we headed back to the hostel to check-in before meeting Joe’s friend who was studying Mandarin at the National Taiwan University. She took us to Shida night market, which strongly reminded me of the shopping areas around Ewha Women’s University in Seoul! Funnily enough, after roaming about we ended up eating at a Korean restaurant sharing a hot pot between the 5 of us (we picked up a new friend from the hostel, Aline!)
This pretty much wraps up the end of our first day, I was so tired that I fell asleep almost immediately, despite the karaoke session going on downstairs. The hostel does provide earbuds, but I was so sleep deprived, none were needed!