Back in Taipei for the last leg of my Taiwan trip! Before I set off to hunt down money changers in Taipei city to save my dwindling funds, I used the remaining dimes to treat myself to some economical Taiwanese breakfast fare.
Ximending streets are really quiet in the mornings by the way.
Just across the street from my hotel are two popular breakfast stores.
The breakfast shops are also located on the same street as the Taipei City Police Department. I went for Mai Wen Deng (麦味登), the regular breakfast place on my previous trip (because of the most miserable hotel breakfast menu at the hotel I stayed at just across the street – Ta Shune Hotel).
I haven’t yet seen it elsewhere so you won’t want to miss it when you are there. I also ordered a simple bacon burger which was equally good.
Hunting down Money Changers in Taipei
Feeling extremely satisfied with my breakfast choices now, I set out to get some Taiwan currency at their money changers. My first stop was at SOGO at Zhongxiao Fuxing station and to my dismay, you needed your passport to exchange currencies and the rates were extremely unfavourable.
Through some intensive googling, I figured that my next best bet would be a few stops away at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Exit from the station and behold, the familiar red and black logo!
Of course I’m not referring to Pizza Hut..it’s DBS!
All hail, DBS!
You can withdraw Taiwan currency using your ATM card. The exchange rate is so much better than at SOGO and I believe there wasn’t any administrative fee (correct me if I’m wrong). However, do note that while there are many DBS branches in Taiwan, it may be difficult to find out which is the nearest/most convenient to you. Try checking with the hotel reception to narrow down the nearer branches.
Midstop – Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Though never part of the plan, I figured I’d just visit the Sun Yat-sen memorial hall which was less than five minutes walk away from DBS.
More of a visual person than the scholarly tourist, I had to force myself into the exhibitions to kind-of make the trip more worth it, only to give up a couple minutes later.
Didn’t help that the place was thronged with tourists.
You could also see (or rather, not quite see) Taipei 101 in a distance. The weather was so foggy that almost the entire building was engulfed. Hopefully no one paid to go up to the observatory level.
Wufenpu – shopping paradise not!
After leaving the memorial hall, I joined the cousin at Wufenpu, a couple of stations away on the same line. The shopping district, helmed by many to be the shopaholics paradise, is just across the junction when you exit from Houshanpi station, next to the bright orange Cosmed. Look out for the exit that will bring you to Yongji road.
Also, avoid Mondays as it’s reserved for wholesale buyers.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly empty streets; the crowds were mostly in the narrow alleys. Once in a while, you even have to give way to motorbikes ferrying goods in this maze-like shopping district.
The prices were significantly higher than I remembered two years back. There hardly were any interesting designs; most of the apparels felt repeated from Fengjia night market in Taichung. I did score a SGD20 winter jacket with a romantic circle of fur around the hood but wasn’t too happy when I paid 25 bucks for dry cleaning after my trip.
Dinner at Formosa Zhang and dessert at Tea Magic Hand
We hit Formosa Zhang to comfort our empty stomachs with their warm Lu Rou rice and radish soup.
Feeling slightly adventurous and inquisitive still, we decided to hunt down Tea Magic Hand (茶之魔手), recommended by a Singaporean we met in Cingjing who stayed in Taiwan for a couple of years. In her words, this is the only bubble tea shop selling tea.
After a crazy amount of walking and intensive GPS-ing in the drizzle, we finally located the Zhongxiao East Road branch. Price was slightly lower compared to the more commercialized chains such as 50 Lan, but the teas were really good. I opted for good ol’ milk tea and liked that it has a roasty taste.
Surprisingly still not out of energy, we hopped on a cab to Gongguan Night market…only to find out that it was closed on Wednesdays. Bummer.
- Most tourists head to Raohe Night Market after Wufenpu. Read Alec Travel Guide’s post to get the directions.
- Want to know what to expect at Wufenpu? Check out this informative, picture-heavy post by Celine Chiam.