After another night of too little sleep and another breakfast of the same old stuff; soy milk (warm not hot, with half sugar), and some assorted eats. We were off to do a little sight seeing before it got too terribly hot.
We always take the bus into Taipei from the airport when we come to Taiwan. And it always travels through the north end of town on its way to the Taipei Main Station. And I always notice a couple blocks of interesting temple architecture that it passes by. And I always say we should go check that spot out. So this time we did.
By checking the bus route map I found that the spot I wanted to go to was only a couple blocks down Kulun Rd. from the Yuanshan MRT stop. So off the subway and into the blinding sun we go. Two blocks down we come to the ornamented red brick wall I’ve noticed time and time again. Turns out that this particular wall is the exterior wall to the grounds of the Taipei Confucius Temple. And it is closed on Mondays….Damn.
Maybe next time for that.
However, I’ve learned not to let such things deter from travel experiences. So I walked across the street the the next ornamented red brick wall. Which just happens to surround the front gardens of the Baoan Temple.
The garden portion of the temple is colorful to the point of bordering on gaudy….or perhaps well into the realm of gaudy. But it does give a place for the old folks to come and practice their old timey music and hang out in the shade.
Behind the garden portion is the Dalongdong Baoan Temple (大龍峒保安宮 Dà lóng dòng bǎo’ān gōng), which dates to the early part of the 19th century (c. 1831) and is a UNESCO site. It more than makes up for the Confucius Temple being closed. Incredibly ornate and well maintained it was also not too terribly busy on a Monday morning.
After a good look around the temple we headed back to the MRT to head south a couple stops to Shuanglian station, to reap the rewards of the reconnaissance mission I mentioned in Part 1.
But first I want to grab a quick lunch. Which meant popping into the nearest MOS Burger for one of their rice burgers. The “rice burger” uses discs of pressed rice in place of a bun (they also have burgers with actual buns as well). I would have gone for pretty much anyplace that had air conditioning at this point. But MOS Burger was perfect because it was also not a terribly big lunch. And my next destination was less than a block away and it had dessert.
I can’t tell you the joy I had finding Bing Zan (冰讃 bīng zàn) the day before. We had sort of looked for it the time before when we were in Taipei and couldn’t find it. All I could remember is its general direction from a MRT stop, the color of the signs outside and the tables inside, and the appearance of buildings directly next to it. I couldn’t remember the name or which stop it was near for the life of me. All I could really remember was that on a hot day back in 2011 it had the best mango shaved ice EVER.
The mango milk shaved ice (芒果牛奶冰 máng guǒ niú nǎi bīng) is a classic of the shaved ice desserts. Shaved ice topped with sweet cubes of mango and a drizzling of sweetened condensed milk. Perfect for an extra warm October day.
The other offering of Bing Zan is the latest and greatest in Taiwanese shaved ice desserts. “Shaved snow,” 雪花冰 (xuě huā bīng) is made by shaving a frozen block of a milk water mixture. The result is a velvety, creamy sweet base for the topping of your choice. I chose red bean.
Shaved ice and shaved snow procured we took an empty table next to the window. And after my myopic concentration on my dessert subsided a bit I began to notice that nearly everyone else in Bing Zan was Japanese. Seems they made a hit with one sector of the tourist market.
And so I never forget. Bing Zan is located at
My life feeling complete in every way. There was little to do to top the morning, so we just spent the rest of the afternoon kicking around in bookstores and stuff like that. Until it was dark and we were hungry again.
Wandering around back near the hotel I really had no idea what I wanted to eat. Something inexpensive and maybe something different. I think I was really just too tired to care.
Back on one of the side streets we came across a dumpling place promising “thick corn soup with dumplings.” Well that would certainly be new to me. I was curious. I mean they put corn in seemingly everything in Taiwan, so I might as well try this.
Essentially the 玉米濃湯 (yùmǐ nóng tāng) turns out to be kind of a Taiwanese corn chowder, in this case with dumplings. The sweet smooth soup complemented the savory pork dumplings rather well. Not an altogether bad combination.
So concluded the day, next we head south.