Danshui (Tamsui), Fisherman’s Wharf, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and Nightlife at Woobar.
Danshui (Tamsui 淡水) Old Street
Since I was living right in Danshui it was only natural that I wanted to visit the popular weekend town. My friend joined to show me around. Starting at the Metro station, I immediately realized how commercialized the area was. There were coffee shops with trains roaring overhead, 7-Elevens dishing out drinks and snacks and plenty of other eateries. I was surprised by the immense amounts of promotional activities in the area. I was offered orange juice, Oreos, face cream, among other things. In fact you could consider this area to be the ultimate homeless person’s paradise. Free food and drink, a beautiful river view and soft skin… what more could you ask for?
Unfortunately there were no homeless people in sight but many couples walking hand-in-hand having a romantic stroll through the streets. The stalls and shops offered interesting selections of snacks, fruit, shopping, milk teas, and souvenirs. There was even a shop offering big penis biscuits! Fun for the whole family 🙂
Danshui Fuyou Temple
On the walk I stumbled upon the oldest temple in Danshui. Built in 1796, this temple was the prayer grounds for the local fishermen praying to the sea goddess Matsu. It was very small but had some intricate designs inside.
For lunch we stopped by a crowded eatery serving the local specialties on the riverside. I tried A-Gei (阿給) a type of tofu stuffed with noodles in a mildly spicy sauce, as well as meatballs and different types of noodles. Cheap and delicious, the ten minute wait for a seat was well worth it!
Mackay clinic and Presbyterian Church
The clinic and church not far from the road had an interesting history. Dr. George Leslie Mackay, a Canadian missionary, moved to Taiwan in 1871 and started the clinic in 1882. Later Mackay built churches and taught religion as well as schools and hospitals. He spent the rest of his life in Danshui and is one of the more well known foreigners having lived in Taiwan. I wonder what the expat community was like back in his time. The Church we saw was rebuilt in 1932 but at the site of the original. The clinic was very small and contained a cafe inside along with some explanations of the history.
Red House 1899
The nearby wharf is a short drive away. After arriving at a large parking lot you find yourself at a large “love” sign. This is “lover’s bridge”, a cable bridge overlooking the marina. The other side of the bridge is lined with boutiques and restaurants. This seems to be a popular dating location, as there were many couples on the bridge taking pictures, and I heard that many Taiwanese dramas were also filmed here.
I was enjoying some sun, though most of the couples had umbrellas to avoid exactly that. The wind on the bridge made for some fun to watch my-umbrella-is-blown-inside-out-and-i-don’t-know-what-to-do scenes. After the wharf, it was time to head back to the city center.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
The father of Taiwan, Dr. Sun Yat-sen is honored and remembered here. His fatherly statues are found in the park surrounding the prominent memorial building in the center. The park seems to be a popular spot for locals to walk their dogs, take their dates, dance hip-hop, or just go for a walk. The views of Taipei 101 were also nice especially in the sunset.
One of the snacks that I had to try was the famous Taiwanese shaved ice. We went to a popular joint with an air-conditioned seating area so the patrons could be cooled from the inside and out. The shaved ice definitely hit the spot especially on a day so humid and hot. The favors were mild and I was mostly eating ice, but still good!
Then it was time for dinner with friends at a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant, which was very similar to the Beijing style that I was accustomed to. The dipping sauce was special and there were some vegetables that I haven’t tried before.
As I was traveling by car and cab the whole trip, I didn’t yet get a chance to take the metro, so even though it was walking distance, we went underground! The metro was very clean and the platforms were very open like large train stations. It was fast and efficient!
We headed to the recently opened W hotel to hang out at the terrace bar, Woobar. They had a pink-lit outdoor pool which guests took advantage of later on. The lounge was very trendy and chic and a perfect place to unwind over fruity wine cocktails and chat with good friends.
Overall I was very impressed by Taiwan. The general population is very friendly and relaxed with a calm pace in daily life. Service is polite and helpful for the most part. Taipei was generally clean and orderly. I’d like the chance to visit again one day.
Tomorrow I’m heading back to Beijing. Thank you Taiwan!