After the temple we went to a big shopping district that's similar to Seoul's Myeongdong area.
While we were there we stopped at a Cold Stone's for ice cream. I know, I know! I went all the way to Taiwan and got American ice cream but in my defense this particular Cold Stone's offered a Peanut Butter Cup concoction that I just couldn't say no to. You can find Snickers and Twix bars in Korea but not Reese's Peanut Butter Cups which is a sad affair. Hey, when you're away for a while you learn to indulge in the bits of home wherever you can find them.
That first day out wandering, and really the whole time we were there, I snapped a lot of pictures of Taipei's favored mode of transport: the scooter.
We ate our first dinner in Taiwan at this delicious little restaurant called Kiwi Gourmet Burgers.
The Wiki Travel guide for Taipei recommended it and if you ever go to Taipei and are hungry this is absolutely where you should go! The guys who run the place are from New Zealand and they serve up beef, lamb, chicken, and veggie burgers with a variety of toppings to choose from. I had the blue cheese burger with beef and a side of garlic fries and it was fantastic. They also had beers and ciders to choose from which made Heather and I happy because you can't find hard ciders in Korea.
It had a really cool atmosphere too. It's funny because you wander along this busy street then turn down an alley and suddenly there's this bright little restaurant packed with foreigners. We were able to snag one of the two outside tables and it was such a good night for outdoor eating. In fact our entire trip we had amazing weather. This time of year it rains a lot in Taipei and all through the northern parts of Taiwan but we didn't see a single drop. The temp was consistently in the 60's and even when it was overcast we were still comfortable in just sweatshirts. After the freezing cold January here in Korea (my utilities bill was much higher this month) it was a really nice reprieve.
Thursday we spent our whole day at what was probably my favorite place in Taipei:
I love zoos and Taipei has a beautiful one. The animals looked well taken care of and they had a huge variety of animals from all over. Ticket prices were amazing too, only 60 TWD which is about 2 US dollars. And it's super convenient to travel to because it has its own stop on the subway which luckily was only six stops from the station closest to us. At least three hundred of my pictures are just from the zoo. I'll try to restrain myself.
And the best part was that Taiwanese parents loved getting compliments on their kids. I'm telling you, our trip turned into a "point out the cutest kid" game, they were all so adorable. If the parents even noticed us looking in their direction they would beam and say thank you and tell their kids to wave and say hi. We were riding the subway once and all the seats were full so this kid, probably eight or nine years old, got up and went to stand with his parents so that Heather could sit down. It was too cute.
After the zoo we nipped back to the hostel for a pre-dinner nap and then headed out again for food. The restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed though and since Kiwi Gourmet Burgers was conveniently located just down the street we ended up back there again for dinner, heh. But it was more than worth it to eat there two nights in a row. And even though it wasn't Taiwanese food, the burgers were New Zealand burgers so technically we did eat some foreign cuisine. And I will jump through any loop hole that puts delicious food on a plate in front of me.
Part III to come!
Trivia of the Day: Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the decades after World War II has transformed it into an industrialized developed country and one of the Four Asian Tigers. This economic rise is known as the Taiwan Miracle. It is categorized as an advanced economy by the IMF and as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Its advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwanese companies manufacture a large portion of the world's consumer electronics, although most of them are now made in their factories in mainland China.