I just realized that I haven’t left the country, or even the city, in over a year. To make up for that in a small way, I went on a day trip to Tainan with my aunt and brother. We took the high speed rail from Taipei around 10, and arrived in Tainan in two hours and 20 minutes. Then we took the free shuttle from the high speed rail station into the city. Despite the short amount of time that we were there, it turned out to be the most relaxing day, ever. Probably because all we did was meander down the cozy alleyways and eat delicious food.
Our first stop right off the shuttle was for food. Right near the shuttle stop was a place for ba-wan (meatballs wrapped in a glutinous rice wrapper). These are the steamed version. Make sure to douse liberally with the sweet chili sauce!
A lot of restaurants in Tainan offer outdoor seating- usually just tables set up near the sidewalks. My advice is to have someone in your party grab a table first. The menus are attached to clipboards and available at the front counter. Decide what you want, check the boxes next to the item, write down your table number and pay first at the counter.
We ordered three different items: green mango, mango over shaved ice, and a fruit platter. (That was mine… and I just stole scoops of ice from everyone else). Everything was fresh and sweet. Afterwards, we felt sufficiently energetic enough to also ingest some culture.
Our third stop was just across the street: the Confucius Temple. The grounds are quite beautiful and shaded by lots of old trees. This is one of the main rooms, and I only took this one quick photo, because a couple was taking engagement photos here.
If you are needing some extra good luck and fortune in the upcoming months, then make sure to go into this tiny three story building, which is the Wenchang Pavillion. This temple is dedicated to the “God of Education, and students come to pray for good examination outcomes.
The first floor of this temple is square shaped, the second floor is round, the third floor is shaped like an octagon. It’s a steep climb up three flights of stairs. Even with my fear of heights and small spaces, I managed to make my way to the top and say a little prayer for my upcoming projects.
There is also an elementary school nearby, with some seriously gorgeous buildings. Like this one:
After spending an hour or so at the grounds of the Confucius Temple, we decided that we had our fill of culture, and that we were just going to walk around and eat more! Across the street from the Confucius temple is a little side street filled with shops and stalls. We stopped in for a tea break in one of them (more on that in a separate post) and did a quick browse around all the stalls.
We also saw the very first department store in Taiwan, Hayashi Department store, which opened in 1932. It may look quite humble now, especially compared to the shiny new department stores that are all over in Taiwan, but back in its day, it was quite luxurious! Hayashi now sells mostly souvenirs, clothing and crafts that are made in Taiwan.
Close by is Du Hsiao Yeh, a restaurant famous for its Danzai Noodles. You can’t really tell from the English translation, but the name of this restaurant really caught my fancy. The restaurant was started by fishermen in 1895, to supplement family income during the months when it was too dangerous to go out to sea. The name literally means to “get by during the lean months.” There is some controversy over which exact shop is the original one, so you’ll see a few different shops in the area all selling danzai noodles, all claiming to be the original one. Basically it’s a small bowl of noodles, with a meat sauce, topped with grated daikon. You can also choose to add an egg too. The portions are small, just enough to take the edge off of your appetite, and leave you with room in your stomach to keep eating.
After the noodles, my memory started to fade a bit, as I became fuller and fuller. I know we had a stop for stir fried eels. There is something very addictive about the texture of the eels, and it’s even tastier when stirfried in a hot wok with veggies and a sweet sauce.
We also made one last stop for a type of beef soup that is famous in Tainan. A generous portion of sliced beef is placed in a bowl, and a ladle of piping hot broth is poured over the top. Swirl the beef slices around in the soup, then dip into the sauce and eat with a bite of freshly sliced ginger. This beef soup was originally eaten for breakfast, so they are open at the crack of dawn and into the wee hours of the night.
So as you can see, we are a lot during the short time we were in Tainan. And we only touched the tip of the iceberg of all the food that is available. Luckily for us, Tainan is a comfortable train ride away, and I think we will be taking a lot of trips there in near figure.
This was not a sponsored post. We paid for all items consumed, and opinions are based on our own experiences.