National Palace Museum and Tamsui

After attaining a cell phone with Internet and using the MRT for the first time, I was scheduled to meet my penpal, Abbie, for our trip to the National Palace Museum and Tamsui. As a bonus, we were going to Shilin Night Market later.

I was looking forward to having a guide to accompany me on my travels because I was still unaccustomed to the transportation, food, and whereabouts. I had no idea which MRT lines went where and how the bus routes worked. Luckily, I was not alone that day.

After grabbing sandwiches at a popular breakfast shop, Abbie and I set off to the National Palace Museum. As soon as I laid eyes on the grandiose structure, inspiration soared within me.

The National Palace Museum housed all manner of artifacts, jewelry, mirrors, jade, and exquisite paintings. The museum was especially crowded as there were many ongoing tours. Abbie and I wandered from one gallery to the next to view cauldrons, figurines, bi discs, and the famous Jadeite Cabbage. I saw a jade bangle featuring brilliant green, white, and orange that surely would cost millions.

I also saw an interesting cauldron carved with the likeness of dragons and deer. I'm told the museum has numerous artifacts from China. Not all of the items are currently on display so they are rotated eventually. There was also a digital gallery with interactive art. There was a touch screen table with a painting and a carved peacock that radiated with an intensity of colors.

Abbie and I stopped at the souvenir shop before we left, where I purchased some postcards modeled after the Chinese painting "Dwelling in the Fuchung Mountains."

After exploring the galleries for a few hours, our voyage took us to the seaside district of Tamsui. Abbie told me it looks funny when I make the peace sign in my photos so the heavy metal "devil's horns" replaced it hereon.

We stopped by the food stalls, where I had my first encounter with "stinky tofu." I knew it was popular in Taiwan and I vowed to try it, but I was not prepared. You can smell stinky tofu before you see it. I could only take two bites before I felt sick and gave up. I'll try it again one day but tofu in general has a weird texture. I tried caramelized fruits (pictured above), which tasted better. Alas, I was not able to try iron eggs. Sorry, Rachel.

I also tried some deep-fried squid, which tasted like chicken.

Abbie and I browsed a few souvenir shops, where I bought some dragon claws for Hassan. I tried my hand at shooting pellets at balloons. Video games prepared me well, as I hit all but one balloon and won some prizes.

Back in the traditional markets, we stopped at a shop that sold soaps and shampoos. I bought some scented oil there called "Purify." I bought a few more baubles, including some lantern keychains, before we visited a local temple.

The stroll along the seaside brought me a sense of peace that is indescribable. Looking at the architecture and immersing myself in the culture was an otherworldly experience. My gaze would often stray to the landmass across the Tamsui River as I wondered what awaited me there. We could have booked a ferry to take us across, but we were intent on catching the sunset.

It was certainly worth it. I sat at the edge while the tide lapped hungrily below and spirited me away to another place. The sun set over the ocean as Abbie and I discussed the differences between Taiwan and America.

Tamsui is one of my favorite places in Taipei. The festive atmosphere, ocean scenery, and fond memories are imprinted on my soul already.