Saturday, January 2, 2010

Taiwan Translated: Two days in Taipei

Happy new year!  Like I've mentioned previously, we're kicking off 2010 by spending 2 weeks exploring Taiwan, and what better way than to do than by driving around the country, soaking in the sights and stuffing ourselves silly with yummy street food?

The first day of the new year was spent flying followed by dinner (ah... home-cooked Taiwanese food!) at hubby's uncle's place, where we are staying for 2 nights.  The plane ride was uneventful, the stewardesses were super nice (baby J received a couple of bibs, as well as a Dexter soft toy), we managed to keep baby J occupied and still could watch a movie between the two of us (We laughed our guts out watching "La Petit Nicolas"... The French really are great storytellers when it comes to films!).  The airport had one of the best baby care rooms we've ever seen: Apart from the usual nappy changing station, sink, hot water dispenser and chair for nursing, it had a two toilet bowls, one adult-sized and the other child-sized.  And there was a flip-down child seat attached to the wall near the toilet, so that parents could sit the child there while using the toilet (Great for a parent with no pram, but not so great for the kid who'll be assaulted by various smells... Hmmm)!  We were too pooped after dinner to do anything else, since baby J had to sleep and the last day of 2009 was a busy one with our bible study group countdown dinner at our place.

Day 2 was spent exploring Yang Ming Shan with hubby's uncle, aunt and 5 year old cousin, C. The place makes me jealous of Taipei-ites.  Imagine having a national park at your doorstep, with rolling mountains and meadows to explore during the weekend!  The locals seem to like to bring their families there along with the family dog (we saw many pooches romping around, all dressed up in coats against the winter cold), and it gets so crowded that they restrict access to the area during weekends, otherwise the roads leading there and back get jammed (We had to spend some time driving around to get a permit to go up!).  However, since it was winter and rainy, it does get a little dreary, but the view and occasional sprays of blossoms make up for it...

The place is fantastic for long hikes, but since we had two kids with us, that was out of the question.  We ended up walking up to this plateau and letting both the boys loose:  C had a great time rolling down the gentle slopes, while baby J crawled around while trying to get used to his new mittens (he tried going downhill twice and knocked his head and got poked by grass, otherwise he was happy to be out of the baby carrier!).

It started raining so we headed off, had dumplings for a snack and had lunch in a nearby restaurant.  Then it was off to Eslite mall as hubby's uncle wanted to bring us to see some children's toys (we don't really shop when on holiday, but couldn't resist checking out the wide range of toys!).  Initially started as a bookstore, Eslite has expanded into a huge bookstore chain as well as a huge shopping mall.  We had an interesting time fiddling with the Lonpos range of logic puzzles that were developed in Taiwan, and I must say the toilets are pretty amazing: Warmed toilet seats, that can flip up and down with a touch of a button!

Then it was back home for dinner: Steamboat prepared by hubby's aunt, who's a really fantastic cook.  They have really good fishballs here, that are stuffed with fish roe and burst with flavour when you chomp into them (it really beats the ones stuffed with minced meat that we have in SG!).  Right, I gotta pack for tomorrow, so have a great week ahead everyone!

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