Yongkang Beef Noodle, Taipei

Spring Festival Ends

So much has been happening in my life that not blogging for a couple days means a shitton of blog posts to come.

I’ve also developed a habit of taking notes throughout my days on my phone of random observations to record officially on my upcoming #GZBuzz posts. I’ve compiled so many that if they don’t end up making it on here, I’ll inevitably use them for a novel or memoir that I’m sure I’ll end up writing after spending more time here.

Anyway, if you remember, I haven’t concluded my Taipei trip from about a week ago, so it’s time to finish that up before filling you in on what happened just within this past week: my best high school friend coming, my one-night trip to HK for a Madonna concert, finding out that I could be interviewing WeChat’s product manager on TV, and my boyfriend coming from Paris. …what a fucking week.

***

Continued from day six…

By the time my foot massage ended and I paid the just 1,000 TWD for both the ear cleaning and the best massage I’ve ever gotten, the sun was beginning to set. The thing is, I had two more things I wanted to do: try the fried taro balls at the Ningxia Night Market down the street, and catch the sunset atop Elephant Mountain.

I figured since the night market was on the way to the metro station and that lines probably haven’t formed yet given the daylight, I would make a quick stop before taking the metro to the mountain.

Ningxia Night Market, Taipei

Luckily, I was right. The line was only just starting to form for the stand that I managed to spot among the many under the tent covering the market. Within minutes, I got one fried taro ball and another filled with egg yolk. They were mini. And quite disappointing.

Anyway, it served as a nice snack before racing up a mountain before sunset, which is literally what I ended up doing upon exiting the metro station and realizing that the sun was setting quicker than I’d wanted.

If you followed my Snapchat story, you would’ve seen my photos with captions on how I was “omg dying.” As people descended to escape before night fell, I hiked every other step in a frantic rush that made me breathe harder than I’ve had in a while by the time I reached the first viewpoint—where I found that almost everyone ends up staying and just chilling. It looked like a lot of young people just sat atop boulders, chatting and looking at the skyline. It sounded nice, until I thought about all the reviews I saw about the mosquitoes, which I didn’t notice at all but still didn’t want to risk it. Plus, chilling atop a mountain at night alone didn’t sound that attractive, especially after heaving up a mountain. So much for that foot massage.

In typical #adventurer fashion, I kept walking up the steps, wondering if there happened to be a better view. I seriously had doubts and again kept telling myself to just turn back, but despite the darkness and much fewer people, I kept going.

Tip if you ever find yourself in my situation: Don’t bother stopping at the first viewpoint, where you’ll inevitably be fighting for a spot to take photos. Keep walking up, and there will be no one to block your view to take photos higher up.

Real photographers with tripods came and went, which signaled to me that this was definitely a good time to come. I like being in places with “real photographers.”

I admit the hike back down was a bit scary, as I had made it to the point where it didn’t look like anyone else went any further at this time of night, so once I started descending, I literally walked off the beaten path and on a nearly deserted path down.

By the time I made it down, I checked the time, realizing it had been just under an hour that I spent climbing, taking pictures, and descending the mountain. Talk about efficiency. I spent more time inside the small MOCA!

I showered immediately upon returning and then decided to not be a hermit in my double room in the hostel, going down to sit at the kitchen and edit all my photos. Just as I was thinking of leaving after editing, a man carrying some bagged street food walked in and took a seat across from me and the girl next to me watching something on her iPad.

He and the girl started chatting, and it became clear that they had talked before. Soon, I decided to join the conversation with the typical, “Where are you from?”

From then on, the three of us started talking, drawing a couple others to join in on what probably looked like a nice group chat forming in this corner of the large first-floor common area.

Soon, I realized the man is a freelance photographer for BBC and is “a pretty big deal,” he said. He told me there was another journalist in the hostel, pointing at the girl seated near the couches. He’s from Texas and seems to have also fallen in love with traveling in Asia, with no intention to return to the States. We’ve added each other on Facebook and I follow his YouTube channel, which he apparently only recently started. And although I haven’t yet watched his shows, based on the notifications I get, I can tell he lives for these videos. I feel like the more you make your life public, the more you end up doing so that you have something to show for. I like it. Being in the spotlight, no matter how small it may be, serves as motivation for you to do more with your life.

One of those who joined our table was an Australian-born Chinese whose parents are from Hong Kong and who had just finished up his half-year banking internship in Singapore. As I learned later, his work perks—flying business on Singapore Airlines and amazingly spacious apartment—are definitely enviable.

I took up his offer to play drunk Jenga, which reminded me how much I fail at social games, especially drinking ones (I literally drank from my water bottle, not wanting to buy beer or drink). As the night winded down and the two others at the table left, he and I realized we had flights out of Taipei around the same time the next day and needed to figure out our #lastmeal.

Since I somehow managed to miss trying beef noodle soup during my week in the city of beef noodle soup, he and I decided on the most popular one in Yongkang. And so the next morning, after having more nice conversations with the other people at the hostel, we both headed out for some 牛肉面.

Even though it didn’t officially open until 11 a.m., even being about 10 minutes early, we still had to wait in line. We soon found out we were lucky to be among the first few in line, because a long line quickly formed behind us outside this small, already-packed shop. We stood out under the warm sun, and I couldn’t imagine eating a big bowl of beef noodle soup for breakfast. But I managed to finish most of it anyway, because #TAIPEI.

After stopping by the hostel to pick up our luggage, we both headed to the airport, taking the hour-long scenic bus, on which I learned a lot about this fellow ABC.

As we said our goodbyes, me back to Guangzhou and he off to Singapore before spending a week in Vietnam, we added each other on Facebook and then messaged each other on the lines we found ourselves in even at different terminals.

It felt nice to be able to explore a new city on my own and meet so many cool people on this trip thanks to Meander. Especially after having such a nice last night, I definitely felt slightly regretful for being such a hermit the other nights, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change a thing about my first solo international trip.

More soon.

 

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