A Quick Update

Hi again! It’s been a while since our last post, we’re still here, still blogging, and busier than ever.

Since the end of the art festival we’ve been working hard at our schoolwork, hunting down a new apartment, spending time with friends, and in my case, doing some official writing for Yulun and Ren Hong’s business. We’ve hardly had time to catch our breath, much less keep up with blogging!

But this was our final week of the semester and hopefully things will be settling into a more leisurely pace soon. We’ll be jetting off to Japan in a few days to celebrate the end of a successful summer of study, but when we get back, we should be settled in Taipei and ready for three more months of adventure.

We’ll have plenty to talk about during our week in Osaka and Kyoto, so I thought I’d give you all a quick primer on some of the best stuff we’ve gotten up to the past few weeks before our big trip.

A Life Aquatic

Some of you may know that my birthday was at the end of last month! We might be far from friends and family, and gifts aren’t practical living on-the-go like we do, but we still wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. For us, “something special” usually means “extra delicious food.”

Anyone who knows me knows that my two greatest weaknesses are chocolate cake and sushi, so the basics of our evening plans were easy enough to come up with. We stopped by this incredible bakery in Taipei called Black as Chocolate. Ryan had done some research on where to find the best chocolate cakes in the city, and this one came up over and over. Once we tried it, we could definitely see why!

It’s one of those fancy places, where they wrap up your cake in a box with a ribbon, and even gave us a candle. Seriously one of the most incredible cakes I’ve ever had, in this or any other country!

With dessert safely tucked away for later, we headed to the main event of the night: Addiction Aquatic Development.

One part fishmonger, one part farmers’ market, and two parts hip, downtown sushi bar, Addiction Aquatic Development is known far and wide as a must-visit spot for seafood lovers. You enter through a room full of tanks brimming with live crustaceans and fish. Casual visitors and ambitious cooks could stop there, picking out their favorite crab or eel or flounder and bringing it home for dinner. But if you wander further, the vibe ranges from chic gastropub to upscale eatery.

There are fridges full of ready-made seafood meals, at least four distinct “restaurants” (that mostly consist of an open ordering window for you to holler requests to the chefs) and an incredible, standing-room-only sushi bar. There were fancier restaurants upstairs and outside, but we made a beeline right for the sushi bar, where we chowed down on shrimp soup, sashimi, and crab legs.

During our whole evening there, we only covered maybe half of the marketplace, so we’ll definitely be back for more. By the end of our time in Taipei, we hope to try every restaurant in the building! Fingers crossed…

Fun in Jiufen

Our second most notable outing this past month was an afternoon spent in Jiufen, a town in the north of New Taipei City.

The name might not sound familiar, but photos of Jiufen are plastered all over the internet, and you’ve probably come across them sometime or another. Its claim to fame is being the inspiration for the classic Studio Ghibli film “Spirited Away,” and of course, being a huge Ghibli geek, I’ve been dying to go since we got here.

Some friends from school planned the trip (the same ones who came out for the art festival!) so we got up bright and early(ish) to meet everyone in town. Luckily, a few of them had been to Jiufen before, and were able to point out the best spots—not to mention the best snacks!

Pictures can’t really do justice to this place. Partially because if its otherworldly views, but also because the streets are so packed, it’s next to impossible to stop and get a good picture! Luckily just about every part of it was photo-worthy, and we were so busy enjoying grilled mushroom and peanut ice cream burritos (!!) that we weren’t worried about taking too many pictures anyway.

The town is beautiful all day long, but it really comes to life at night. The red lanterns lining the streets turn on and the whole place glows red and gold. It’s supposed to be even more incredible once the last tour bus of the night leaves and the streets are empty, just the moon and the lantern light. We had an incredible afternoon, but we definitely hope to head back soon for more exploring, and maybe even to spend the night! We’re almost halfway through our six months here, and with the festival over and our classes less fast-paced, hopefully we’ll have more time for day trips to spots like this during the second half of our trip.

Our flight to Osaka is on Monday, so we’ll be spending the rest of the weekend packing, planning, and preparing for our move from Toucheng to Taipei once we get back. It’s hard to believe the first half of our trip is nearly over already, but our focus now is going to be making the most of the time we have left. Ryan will be heading back to class on September 2 and I’ll be settling in to do some more writing, including more blogging for you all! Thanks for sticking around everyone, until next time!

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