Lil’s second faux pas in two days, a spot of nerdy plane spotting, and Jim tracks down the elusive stinky tofu.

Day 188: Taipei, Taiwan. We mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post that it was unlikely we’d climb any steps today. Turns out we were oh so wrong.

We had a catch up morning at home, working through admin, plotting and planning. Around lunchtime Lil suggested heading out for a walk; she’d already picked out a nice short hike that was doable in an afternoon – Jiantanshan Trail. The trail is set on Jiantan hill, previously a restricted army base, but now open to everyone as a popular walking area.

We caught the train to Jiantan, and found the start of the hiking trail. And right in front of us was a very large flight of steps, that went on and on through the forest. So steps were a big thing today too.

Before heading up the trail, Lil popped over to a nearby shop to buy some cookies. As she walked off with a box of unusual strawberry crackers, Jim pointed out that the shop was part of a small temple, and she probably should have been buying the cookies to place on the shrine as an offering. So that’s her second faux pas in two days.

We set off on the trail, bracing ourselves for the climb ahead. The weather was cloudy and cool, making it perfect hiking weather. Large signs along the trail warned of venomous snakes and wasps – hopefully they’re not so active during the cooler months. Though having said that, we saw a wasp the other day at Yangmingshan, which resembled a small drone as it tore past our heads – pretty huge and very scary.

A few kilometres along the trail, we reached the main lookout point, the Old Place Viewing Platform. The views over Songshan airport (the smaller inner-city domestic airport) and the surrounding city and hills were outstanding. We spent a while on the lookout deck watching planes taking off and landing, nerdy plane spotters that we are.

When we’d had our fill of take offs and landings, we continued along the trail, past lots of old military checkpoints and pillboxes and a cemetery with many semi-ruined graves of early Taiwanese settlers.

The trail turned from paved path to a muddy path through the forest for a while, then we emerged again on a small road, which wound down to Jiannan MRT station.

We stopped at Ningxia night market on the way home – and hallelujah – we at last found Stinky Tofu.

We smelled it before we saw it – it smells pretty bad while it’s cooking, which didn’t stop Jim ordering a sizeable dish of the stuff. Lil sniffed it, wrinkled her nose, tried a small piece and said the rest was all Jim’s. And Jim reckons it’s tasty – not something he’d order regularly but pretty good even so. So that puts a tick in that box.

We had more food in a nearby restaurant – oyster omelette for Jim, meatball soup for Lil (she drank the clear soup and left the meatballs, saying they were ‘unidentifiable meat’ – and Jim happily scoffed them).

Then we headed home for another quiet night in, and to do some more travel planning. Tomorrow we’ll likely head to the north coast to the Yehliu Geopark, assuming the weather is reasonable. And hopefully we really will avoid climbing steps for one day.

More then.

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