Taipei Night Tour: Huaxi, Longshan Temple, Taipei 101 and Din Tai Fung
The last bit of our first day with Edison Tours was the Taipei Night Tour, in which we visited one of the oldest night markets in Taipei, a temple where Buddhist and Taoist deities harmoniously coexist, and the shining-shimmering-splendid Taipei 101, capped by an enormous dinner at Din Tai Fung.
Huaxi Street Night Market
Would you prefer your snake stir fried or in a soup? You can get either (or both) (or a whole lot of other funky food) at Huaxi Street Night Market, home to Taipei’s infamous “snake alley” and the oldest tourist street night market in the city.
Our guide was all blasé about it. “Tastes like chicken,” he said, which is what everyone says about snake meat.
Incidentally, eating poisonous snakes is illegal in Taiwan but eating non-poisonous snakes is not, so you will mostly find just non-poisonous snakes — pythons and the like, and also a few rubber snakes — on display at Huaxi. A word to the right ear, however, and you could have a dish of the poisonous variety (of snake, I mean) if you’re so inclined. None of us were inclined either way and we left snake alley without anyone taking (or sustaining) a single bite.
It turns out that the Taiwanese are refreshingly practical when it comes to their temples. Longshan Temple, for example, houses Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist deities, where the alternative would have been to construct separate temples in an already crowded metropolis. The number of incense burners in the temple have also been reduced from seven to three to just one. The reason: pollution control. Temple-goers are now also restricted to burning just one incense stick per visit, as opposed to, say, one stick for each god or goddess. The idea was initially met with resistance, of course, but temple elders say this eventually encouraged people to worship with their hearts instead of with sticks (which makes sense to me, but then again, I have no horse in that race).
A certain deity at the back of the temple was particularly popular: the god of love and marriage. It’s here that singles take a red thread from a bowl, clasp it between their palms, and pray for the love of their lives to finally actually make an appearance in their lives. Uncle Guide watched us in amusement then exhorted us to come back and make an offering when — if! — our prayers come true.
This was the last stop of our night tour. We didn’t go up to the observatory and we took one look at the shops and were, like, nah, we can’t afford anything here. 😀 It was still interesting though. Actually, scratch that, there’s a whole lot of interesting stuff at Taipei 101 but by the time we got there, we were already kind of tired so we didn’t do much. Otherwise, it would have been really interesting to take a closer look at stuff like the damper, which helps the building withstand strong winds and quakes.
Dinner at Din Tai Fung
My favorite part of the night tour! Dinner was part of the cost of the tour so, honestly, I was expecting just a couple of xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) for each of us, and maybe a little side dish and rice. I did not expect the veritable feast that awaited us at the Taipei 101 branch of Din Tai Fung. And I’m not really even a Chinese food enthusiast but…that dinner was amazing.
Thank you Edison Tours!
- Contact person: Paul Hsieh, Deputy General Manager, Edison Travel Service Co.
- Tel: +886-2-2563-5313 or +886-2-2563-4621 ext 102
- Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
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