Day 185: Taipei, Taiwan. Our plans to go hiking today were pushed out, due to last night’s heavy rain. Instead, we decided to have a day out by the seaside.
We caught a train north to Tamsui, which sits at the entrance to the Tamsui estuary – the main river through Taipei. In October 1884, Tamsui was the scene of an historic defeat of a French invasion, though nothing of the historic fort remains.
Having left Tamsui train station, we’d only walked 20 metres when Jim spotted a food stall selling all sorts of fish delights. He ordered some small deep-fried crabs, which prompted Lil to do her nose wrinkling thing. He wasn’t sure whether he was supposed to take a ready-cooked box from the display or not, but the girl who runs the stall quickly set him straight. She only speaks a few words of English but apparently is very adept at jumping up and down at speed and shouting “No, No!” while doing so.
While still scoffing the large bag of crabs, Jim spotted another food stall giving out samples of boiled baby squid, so he managed to pile one of those in as well. More nose wrinkling from Lil.
We walked to Fisherman’s Wharf, a 3km walk along the waterfront, with stunning views across the bay to the suburb of Bali. Fisherman’s Wharf is a little touristy but fun; we skipped joining the queue to have our photo taken in front of a large read ‘I love Tamsui’ sculpture.
We retraced our steps, popping in to a couple of historical buildings along the way, including one that had some animated interactive games. Jim queued up with all the little kids to get his photo added to the game, with mixed but hilarious results. It would have been even more awesome, if he was currently sporting a beard. Guess that’s Jim’s five minutes of fame sorted.
As we walked back into the town around 4.30pm, lots of busking musicians started setting up at 100 metre intervals along the seafront.
We reached the town again, and for once it was Lil that was keen to search out a local delicacy. Tamsui is renowned for A-gei – tofu stuffed with glass noodles in a spicy sauce. We found the original restaurant that’s famous for the dish, and it was fabulous (if a little difficult to eat with chopsticks).
Afterwards we walked down ‘Old Street’ – a lively collection of shops and food stalls. We spotted a large queue of people at one stall and went over to see what the fuss was about. Turns out they were queueing for Castella Cake, an egg-heavy sponge cake and a local delicacy. So we did likewise, and bought a piece, which turned out to be huge. We walked off swinging our large red cake box, and sat by the waterside to try out the cake and watch the sun setting.
The sunset was stunning – there were crowds of people by the waterfront snapping the sinking rays across the water.
Before catching our train home, we finished our visit with another walk along the waterfront, where musicians were still playing and people were snapping more pics by a large brightly lit Christmas bauble.
Tomorrow we’re hoping to go hiking at Yangmingshan National Park, assuming the weather is kind to us. And perhaps we’ll find some Stinky Tofu for Jim to sample on the way home.