Arnaud and I headed to Beitou for some nature on our second day in Taipei. Upon getting out of the Xinbeitou train station we could immediately feel the laidback atmosphere.
On our way to the Thermal Valley there were a lot of things to see. The Beitou branch of the Taipei public library is interesting not only because it is eco-friendly but also because of its beauty.
The sound of water is very soothing and because you’ll find streams flowing throughout the area it’s like walking in a zen garden.
The Thermal Valley is certainly a must-see for visitors. The steam rising from the extremely hot spring water makes the scenery magnificent and ethereal. It was my first time to be in a hot springs town so I’ve never seen anything like that before.
The Plum Garden, built around the 1930s was the former summer home of famous Chinese caligrapher Yu You Ren. Tourists can get information brochures here.
We found out there were public foot soak areas so we decided to seek out one of them. It would be good for our tired feet, we thought. After a bit of a walk from the Xinbeitou station we reached a park which, contained a few hot spring pools. There were many enjoying the soak probably because it was a Saturday, and majority of them were old people. We decided against trying it after we saw a woman whose legs were red from the water. 😀 We weren’t sure we were made to take that kind of heat.
We decided to go back to the station instead to explore our late lunch options. We found a bakery which brought Arnaud memories of home. A bonus was a little lone cherry blossom tree which reminded us of our Japan trip two years ago. ❤
It was then on to the Beitou Market to find a braised pork rice eatery which was recommended in the tourist guide. This started an adventure which is one of the most memorable ones in our trip.
We found the market and had a look around before getting to our lunch which, we had yet to find. I also bought a piece of ginger so I could make tea in the evening.
We expected to find the eatery as we walked the side streets but we found nothing. We just followed the map to see if we were on the right street and it seemed we were. What I overlooked was that the eatery was located on the second floor of the Beitou market so it was indoors. And the funny thing was, I bought my ginger at the entrance of that building! 😀
So we entered the almost deserted market. It was already around 2:00 in the afternoon so there weren’t a lot of vendors and customers. It was as gritty as a market could be, and it didn’t look like there were eateries on the second floor. All we could see in the remaining open stalls were raw meat. Oh no! But then when Arnaud asked for help a female vendor pointed us to the right direction which, led to a glimmer of hope. I was starting to think the writer of the Beitou guide was playing some ruthless joke on gullible tourists, trying to see who would fall for it.
And so after a few steps…tada! We found it!
“Is this it?” I thought. There was a cue and that made me think we found the right place. I’m not kidding, friends. That photo right you see above is of the hidden gem we’ve been looking for. It was hidden alright. And what a gem it was. The pot of sticky stew was the additional confirmation I needed.
I know, I know. To the untrained eye the scene looks like a mess but the pot holds a dish that will remain in my dreams…forever! Tender pork, egg, and tofu swirl in a brown, slightly sweet goop which, in my opinion, is liquid gold. The young girl taking orders asks me if I want egg with the braised pork rice. I say yes. She asks if I want soup, I say yes. We sit down and wait in anticipation. And then…
Just by looking at what was laid before us I knew we’d be having a great lunch. The braised pork was so soft and the rice sticky. The soup had tender pieces of pork and a vegetable which tastes like some kind of gourd. The surroundings didn’t look like it, but I was in foodie heaven.
To top it all off, the meal was very affordable. We spent just around 150 NTD for everything. And a bonus as we were leaving was the sight of giant bao. Just look at those buns!
What a way to end our short but sweet Beitou trip. The day wasn’t over for us though. We had some more exploring to do which, you’ll read about here for sure.