Robert Whiting In search of awesome

Taiwan day five


shopping day

I spent a lot of the trip dreaming of moving back to South East Asia in some capacity and trying to imagine ways to accomplish it. In reality, we probably wouldn’t return to Taiwan for at least a couple years, even for an extended visit. With that in mind, we wanted to have some souvenirs for our family and especially for the kids. We didn’t know what belongings they’d have to remember Taiwan by.

After chopping more fruit and consuming my first cup of coffee for the day, I went in search of the famed Taiwanese chive pancake. Instead, I stood in line at the only place in a 2 block radius with a line that early. I ordered 3 steam buns with cabbage and pork (I think).

morning taichi

I saw a small corner eatery with a griddle and an older couple. I typed up my request for chive pancakes on Google Translate and waited for my turn. Neither of them acknowledged my presence. The woman carefully created two breakfast sandwiches with fried chicken and egg between buns before cautiously tucking them into paper bags and handing them to the only other person on our side of the street. The man shuffled back and forth gathering, organizing, or preparing various items in the back. When it seemed they had no other choice but to acknowledge my presence they did it as a united front. I held up my phone, they squinted and shook their heads. I walked away sad. It was one of the more odd experiences because it was the first time I didn’t feel fully welcomed or accepted here. It’s odd how I had taken that for granted so quickly.

Songshan temple underground market

After returning, eating, and suffering through homework for a while, we made our way via metro to the Songshan temple complex and took the escalators down to the daytime market. I suspected it’s more populated during the night, but we wanted to shop local during the day.

morning chill


We looked through souvenirs and selected a few small items to bring back with us. We watched families setup shop on marked floor tiles. They spread out blankets or mats along with their wares. Some of them were themed and practiced, while others looked more like a mini-garage sale. Winding through the (mostly closed) stores, dance studios, and art exhibitions, we found a jade and jewelry shop.

The couple behind the counter were very excited to talk to us. He used to be an elementary school teacher and threw in a bracelet for Than and Jack (though, I suspect he made a killing that day from the other jewelry we purchased).

jade jewler

Back on ground level, we found a road full of food stalls. We bought a bunch of chive pancakes (and didn’t even have to wait) and a bunch of fried pot stickers. The lady in the pot sticker store graciously offered indoor seating and coffee, and we took her offer. The fried dumplings were rich and juicy, filled with cabbage and meat. We also tried a pumpkin bun and mustard greens bun. The coffee was in a sealed refrigerated cup like a bubble tea, and it tasted like Malaysian ice-coffee! A drink and lunch like that would convince anyone to move to Taiwan, but Becca didn’t try the coffee, so she wasn’t fully convinced.


groceries and dinner

We needed to pick up some snacks, so we stopped at RT Mart on the way home. It took a surprisingly long time to find hand sanitizer, and I was tempted to get the spray-style hand sanitizer (I’ve seen a lot of people with the tiny spray bottles spraying their hands in the metro). My backpack was stuffed with the snacks for the next few days and return trip. We had a lot of moments where we though, “this is the last X before we have 4 kids.” The last grocery trip, the last metro trip, the last night in our AirBnB.



For dinner, I walked over to Good Morning to order nuggets for the kids while Becca and I got UberEats. I had forgotten that Good Morning was a breakfast and lunch establishment (advertised plainly in the name), so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find it closed. I walked to my trusty 7-Eleven and wandered around looking for something the kids would eat. In defeat, I settled on a couple popcorn chicken packets from the refrigerated section. I suspected that they’d have to eat them cold, or I’d have to heat them up in a pan on our hotplate. At checkout, the cashier said something to me and gestured to the two industrial microwave ovens behind him. Shocked, I smiled and thanked him as I unpacked this new revelation: in a culture where you don’t store a lot of food in your house, you don’t need a microwave oven, but the corner grocery stores store food, so that’s where the microwave ovens are!

Triumphant, I returned home with hot popcorn chicken in my backpack. On my way back, I saw a man carrying more than 8 eggs! The egg mystery has an answer! Someone in a black market alley is selling eggs by the bag-full!

egg man