Vestiges of ancient traditions reflect in the contemporary city of Taipei as one strolls in the slim lanes lined with sky scrapers and museums. Generations of influx from lands far and near make it a pulsating mosaic of varied cultures. Given this heady mix that awaits, 24 hours seem too less in the city.
However, if you find yourself there, here’s how you can plan your day.
A gleaming river dissects the city of Taipei, giving relief to the packed topography. There is no better way to spend the morning other than discovering the Dazhi riverside park on a bicycle. The well-made traffic-free tracks are ideal to breeze down. Get in touch with www.govoyagin.com
From the riverside, head to the busy market which lies in a grid-like manner around the Dihua Street. The famous Xia Hai City God Temple here is especially intriguing to those looking for love.
Of the many Gods here, one is specifically assigned with the task of matchmaking and, one who also stands a symbol of fidelity.
The busiest building in the block, the temple has a steady stream of devotees armed with incense sticks, scrolls of holy paper to burn, fruit, chocolates and more as offerings for the Gods.
The grand Chiang Kai-shek memorial is a tick-off-the-list attraction, which witnesses thousands everyday on its 88-step entrance.
Insiders will tell you that it is often mocked for its politically correct poor taste – a large hall, the so-called palace constructed in neo-classical style, was made to point out the destruction of real classical culture in China. The change of guard ceremony is what gets most eyeballs. Info: www.cksmh.gov.tw
If you have a desire for heights, Taipei 101, a skyscraper in Xinyi District, should not be missed. Zoom up to the 101th floor in the world’s fastest lift, which ascends in one minute. The number 101 has a special significance – it denotes the arrival of the new century during its construction, the tower’s 101 floors and its location in Taipei’s business district with the postcode of 101. The view of the city from here is stunning.
It is never a wonder that the South East Asia culinary experience can be quite something, but this is something that the most valiant connoisseurs of the weird would scrunch their nose at – at least just for a second.
The manga character, Dr Slump on the toilet, inspired the loo-themed restaurant, Modern Toilet, and it was only months before it became a rage with locals and tourists alike. It’s been just over a decade since it started and the excitement around the Taipei restaurant doesn’t seem to wane.
A trip to Taipei without the welcome ‘squirt’ from a western commode or plastic yellow turd replicas and a ‘throne’ for a seat would not be complete. Info: www.moderntoilet.com.tw
WHERE TO EAT
Step into Din Tai Fung’s (194, Hsinyi Road, Section 2; +866223218928) open kitchen, which offers diners an opportunity to witness a real dumpling kitchen in action – that too a Michelin one. Bamboo steamer baskets are stacked one over the other, as chefs stuff small circles of pastry with pork, chicken, scallions and more with minion like enthusiasm. Din Tai Fung’s specialty is soup dumplings: wontons filled with succulent bird’s nest broth. You might have to stand in a long queue to bag a seat. Info: www.dintaifung.com.tw/en
Shopping enthusiasts should pack off to Shihlin, where the biggest of Taipei’s night markets is cramped cheek-by-jowl with stalls and permanent shops selling reasonably priced shoes, clothes and handbags. Aroma from stalls of fried seafood cakes, cuttlefish stew and local favourite Shihlin sausage and other snacks waft through the packed streets.