Day 3 we woke up almost late for hotel breakfast. I managed to go downstairs 15 minutes before breakfast ended and were shown the menu for the day which was a selection of Western breakfast. I ordered both Mel’s and my breakfast – waffles with bacon (for Mel) and ham (for me), french fries and scrambled eggs. There was a counter that held salad, plain porridge with an assortment of condiments, bread, biscuits, coffee, tea and juices. Since we were late, the salad, bread and porridge were almost finished and the staff didn’t bother to top up and we were perfectly fine with it. We didn’t like the waffles though but at least they filled us up.
After breakfast, we went for a much-needed massage at the very first massage parlour we saw on our first day. We picked the 1 hour full body massage for NT400 per person, 30 minutes for feet and 30 minutes for shoulder and back. The masseuses were all in their 50s and 60s.
At first there were only an uncle and an aunty with their lady boss in the shop, and I got aunty to work on me while Mel had the uncle. The lady boss was a chatty woman who seemed like a cunning old fox. Her staff seemed barely tolerant of her when she talked to them about her intention to rent another outlet, instructing the man to check it out for her. She told us that she would never let go of an opportunity to make money but would never do any illegal stuff. I imagined her seeing us as $$$ the moment we walked into the shop.
The masseuses were both very good although I almost fainted with the amount of strength the aunty used on me, but then she got the knots ironed out for me and I could feel my muscles more relaxed after the massage. The uncle gave Mel a hot and cold press on her shoulders because he said her muscles there were very tense. He even advised her to walk with her shoulders straightened and not hunched forward. We paid in Singapore dollars since the lady boss said she accepts all sorts of currencies as long as she could make extras from them, and the rates seemed reasonable for us.
During our massage, a family of 4 Korean tourists came into the shop for some foot massage and immediately, the lady boss started calling for backups. Soon, 4 more masseuses appeared from other places one by one, all of them in their 50s or 60s. It was funny listening to the lady boss trying to converse in Korean with the Korean family and Mel was even wondering if she should be their interpreter but somehow they managed to get things sorted out between them.
After our massage, we went to shop for a small pillow for my back. During the flight to Taipei, I had a terrible backache because our seats couldn’t be reclined since we were sitting in front of the row with the emergency door. I figured I could use a small pillow for our flight back to solve the problem and we came to a shop selling all the stuffed cartoon toys and settled on a piggy that opens into a small comforter. The lady seller spoke in such a sugary sweet and high pitch-tone that if we hadn’t been used to the way Taiwanese people speak already, we would’ve gotten goosebumps and possibly wanted to pull our ears out LOL But she was very nice and friendly, a trait of the Taiwanese people which I am very impressed with.
We shopped at 7-Eleven for some tidbits, at Watson’s for Mel’s coloured contact lenses, foot masks and medicated plasters for gong-gong (granddad), at various cosmetic shops like Face Shop, Nature’s Republic, etc, for facial masks and eyebrow pencils, etc.
For lunch, Mel had wanted to try the restaurant that specialises in risotto rice but we just couldn’t find the restaurant. We ended up eating at the Pasta Bar where the pastas were just ok but definitely much cheaper than Pastamania here. The garlic bread though was really nice, soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. And guess what? The risotto rice restaurant was just opposite Pasta Bar! We only saw it when we stepped out of the restaurant LOL!
After leaving our stuff in the hotel, we went out again, this time to buy the famous Taipei sun cakes. They are flaky pancakes that taste milky and are filled with sweet maltose paste inside. There are many different bakeries that make sun cakes but Jamie told us of this bakery called Taipei Leechi, where she ever bought 20 boxes to bring back to Singapore. We took the subway there, alighted at Songjiang Nanjing Station and walked about 5 minutes to get to the shop.
The shop itself is very big and impressive, with shelves of different pastries on display, and many boxes of pineapple cakes and sun cakes in the center of the shop and on the counters. Many staff are on hand to assist customers and if you want to try any of the items, they would try to oblige. We were there for less than 30 minutes and we left with 14 boxes of sun cakes and 2 boxes of pineapple cakes. I also bought 2 buttermilk coconut cake for hubby and 2 macadamia tarts for Lina since Mel said she would like them. Hubby said the buttermilk coconut cakes were nice…must remember to buy them if we have the chance to visit Taipei again.
2 young men from the shop wanted to help us carry the 3 heavy bags of cakes out of the shop, probably thinking we drove there. Yeah, we wish! Instead, we had to trudge back to the MRT station with those 3 heavy bags on our own to get back to our hotel.
We rested awhile back in the hotel and also tried to pack. Since Mel had accumulated enough stamps to redeem a cabin-sized Elite Banana BANAO (a Japanese banana icon with human characteristics) luggage for just S$40 at Watson’s, she decided to go down to the shop to redeem it but all the Watsons’ shops around XMD had run out of stock 😦 Never mind, we could probably get it elsewhere.
We left the room about 5 or 6pm and took the subway once again, this time to Shilin Night Market. Before we left the hotel, we asked the staff to book a taxi for us for our trip to the airport following morning at 11.30am. The cost was NT1000 (about S$44).
We took the train to Taipei Main Station and switched to the Red line and alighted at Jiantan Station. From the station, there is a sign that indicates the direction to Shilin Night Market just across the street so it’s not very difficult to find the place, although we did take the wrong escalator down to the wrong exit having missed the sign and had to u-turn back again to the other exit.
Shilin Night Market is definitely bigger than Raohe Street Night Market, and the shops there are definitely bigger, the walkway wider and much more easier to walk in. The stores and makeshift stalls stretch to the alleys and side streets. Not only are there food stalls, fashion and accessories shops, there are also game stalls which include mahjong tile games and balloon shooting games.
We found a Watson store there and they had the BANAO luggage that Mel wanted to redeem but it wasn’t convenient dragging the luggage along as we shop so we decided to leave it till the end despite my worry that the stock could run out too. I seemed more anxious than her to redeem the luggage LOL
We managed to buy a top and shorts set for Nick’s girlfriend from the first shop we came to. After browsing around in the market, we came to the food court which is in the basement. Entering the food court, I was almost knocked unconscious by the unpleasant aroma of stinky toufu. I felt like gagging because the food court is air-conditioned and there seems to be no proper ventilation for the smell to escape.
– Seafood and stinky toufu…
It took awhile for us to escape the smell as we walked further into the food court and we finally settled down at a teppanyaki stall to have dinner. We shared a set of prawns, codfish and steak with bean sprouts and cabbage as sides for NT500. The steak was tender, the codfish was smooth and the prawns very fresh. You can’t have all these for the price of just S$22 in Singapore!
We walked around the market and saw a temple with a film crew filming in it. Seems like in every night market there is a temple.
There is a store selling freshly baked cake and it smelled heavenly. The queue quickly built up when the cake was brought out. Too bad we were leaving the next day otherwise we would’ve tried it, even though they sold it in very big pieces. They won’t slice it for you so you’ll have to slice it yourself.
When we returned to the Watson’s store to redeem the luggage, Mel decided that it wasn’t worthwhile spending S$40 on a luggage she probably won’t use much so we left without it.
Back in the hotel we started really packing since the next day was departure day. We had brought 2 hand-carry luggage with us and bought 30kg of check-in luggage. So the plan was to put all the cakes into the hand-carry since we couldn’t check them in or they could all be mashed up by the time we got back to Singapore. It turned out easier said than done. The two pieces of hand-carry luggage were too heavy to for us to be able to hoist them up into the overhead compartment of the plane. In the end, we had to stuff 4 or 5 boxes into our check-in luggage, hoping that they wouldn’t be mashed up. Good thing they survived! Maybe next time we could check them in 😛
We brought along a portable weighing scale to weigh our luggage. We had to strap the scale around the luggage and hold up the luggage by the hand strap. Imagine us doing this to a 27 kg luggage a few times just to be sure of the reading? I suffered a terrible backache after that and my arms were almost detached at the joint from trying to lift the heavy luggage by the strap. Thank goodness all the luggage managed to stay within the weight limit! Phew!
After packing and showering, Mel stuck two relaxing foot masks for tired feet onto my feet and on my shoulders (they never said you can’t use foot mask on your shoulder!) and I went to la la land with my aching body. Departure day loomed ahead…