Travel Diaries: Taipei – Okinawa

I don’t usually write about my travels, but I decided I wanted to keep these memories alive by writing about them. And, I also think adding dialogue to my photos would add value to them sooooo here I go! 🙂

Our flight had departed from Manila at 4am, so we arrived in Taipei at 6am, so when we landed, we were groggy, sleep deprived and hungry. There was only one thing that could wake us up: the smell of breakfast.

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It was a Sunday morning so streets were quiet, and when we arrived at this restaurant, it was the total opposite. It was packed. This “dimsum man” instantly did a peace sign when I took this photo. It was a busy restaurant, and we could understand a word the waiters were saying. We were cramped up in a table in the middle, with our elbows almost touching, but it wasn’t unpleasant. It was different.

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I love Asian food. The smell of spices, herbs and specially concocted condiments usually reminds me that I am in a place that is so alive, and so vibrant.  It reminds me to take in everything, with all my senses.

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This was a very different kind of breakfast: We had warm soy milk, vegetable gyoza ( I think), Radish Cake, egg with tuna which was cooked and served with the consistency of Roti, which I personally found very interesting.

With our tummies happy, we set off to a place called Jiufen. But, before that, we had a few stops along the way:

This mountain ,as called by our guide Ivan, is the “King Kong Mountain”.

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It was at a seaside, and we could only get this amazing view by stopping by looking at it from beside a deserted factory structure atop a mountain beside it.

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I walked a few steps away from the view, towards the street, and found this path.

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This path was very steep, and it was in the middle of a mountain, and yet, this traveler walked all the way to the top.

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A typhoon was actually about to hit Taipei when we were here, so skies were a bit dim.

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We progressed to a higher point in the mountain, and found the Golden Waterfall. Beside it, there was a sitting area where people could just watch the mountain. It was a quiet place. (Maybe because it was around 7am, and people were still sleeping :)) )

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We arrived at Jiufen, and the moment we stepped out of the car, I could already smell the different herbs, spices, pastries and delicacies the different vendors were selling. Red lanterns lined the alleys, which is why it is said that Jiufen is better visited at night, but, I still found it quite charming.

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From toys, to tea-soaked eggs, to hand painted fans, to shaved ice, anything yout could possibly think of is sold in this market. ( Even souls. Jk.)

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As I walked in the streets of Jiufen, I observed a pattern: The harder the path, the better the view. :)) I don’t know if this is true, but it was very true for me. We had to walk these steep steps, to find a tea place that was the treasure of Jiufen. It was worth it though!

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Thankfully, my dad had friends in Taipei, who took is to this really good melt-in-your-mouth Teppanyaki place. I wanted to tell the Chef that he was a hero and an artist. But my mouth was stuffed with good food, and also I think that would be really inappropriate, so I just gave him a smile.

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Off to Okinawa we go! We boarded our cruise ship in the afternoon and bid goodbye to Taipei.

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I didn’t really take many pictures in the cruise ship. If I did though, my photos would mostly consist of endless food photos. We were stuffed. I think I gained a few pounds already from the first day alone! (Okay, that was an exaggeration but still. Literally. Food. Everywhere.)

Basically at this point in the trip, the Captain had announced that since Typhoon Meranti had hit the area, we had to stay put in Okinawa for the next 2 days, which didn’t end up to be a bad thing after all.

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Okinawa is a quaint and charming province. The street where we went to (because Don Quijote was there) was beaming with neon lights, and bright colored buildings. It almost felt as if I were in Venice beach in L.A.

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We visited a local market place in this area, and found it to be a lot like the one in Osaka. One thing though, that I particularly love about Japan is the people.

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Picture above: We found these curtains that we liked, and when we went to this stall, I saw a sleeping man. When I went closer, he woke up and immediately laughed and welcomed us inside. He even gave us this sweet candy, and talked to us in Japanese. He kept smiling, and offering us candy.

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Picture above: This lady I took a picture of had trouble seeing. She walked with grace, and elegance and had a smirk on her face as she walked through the market place.

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Picture above: A vendor had a shop in a corner, she was arranging flowers, selling plates, and numerous dainty things. I was going around the shop and found this dog sleeping beside her desk.

Another place we visited was a local fish market. What else can I say except: SUSHI.

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We also went to the Shujiro Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I don’t have many pictures (because photography was prohibited inside) of the castle itself, but I took pictures of humans around the castle :))

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On our last day, we re-visited Don Quijote (aka the the kingdom of quirky finds), and strolled around the streets.

(Say hello to my sister Carla ( her blog: http://somemidnights.com/) and to my very cute parents!)

Before boarding the ship, I took a few photos of the Okinawa cityscape:

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Because there was a Typhoon, our arrival back to Taiwan had been delayed, and we had to stay in Taipei for an extra day. Since we didn’t have much time, we only had time for a few attractions. We went to HuaShan Creative park, which was actually an old beer factory, that turned into a center full of shops, exhibits ( Studio Ghibli exhibit!) , and other interesting things. After having dinner, we had a mandatory late night 7-11 run.

And that was that. I always enjoy being in different cities, and meeting different people. Makes me think that the world is bigger than what I know it to be.

Thank you to my parents for dragging me along, and for my ate who arranged everything. 

‘Till next time!

Gabbie

 

 

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