Taiwan: Dalongdong Baoan Temple & National Palace Museum

This morning saw us having a lazy lie-in as we had slept poorly the night before. We weren’t in much of a mood to rise early and get out and about, so we decided, hey, we’re on our honeymoon!

I did the good wife thing and made my husband a cup of coffee to lure him out of bed eventually.  Once we were up, we headed off for our first stop: breakfast.

Today’s selection was another sandwich shop, Mr.Lin’s.  They served up sandwiches and french toast.  Nick had a pork, salad and egg toasted sandwich and I had a honey french toast. These were quite good!  Nick’s opinion of his breakfast was that it was very hearty and the egg was perfectly soft in the centre.  My french toast was also lovely – the honey seemed to have a rose or blossom scent of some sort so that made it extra good!

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As we were leaving, Nick proved that I married the right man when he said “Actually, I have a surprise for you” – in my experience, these words never mean I am about to be underwhelmed. He guided us through some alleyways where vendors were mostly shut still and we suddenly could smell the most delicious aroma.

Two words for you to remember if you ever travel to Taiwan: chēlún bǐng. The vendor, Red Bean Cake was just setting up for the day and there was already a line 6 people deep. We quickly joined the line to watch (and continue to salivate) as the expert made the first batch of the morning of chēlún bǐng – Taiwanese ‘wheel cakes’.  These are small cakes with a thin crisp pancake batter exterior, filled to the brim with either red bean paste or custard.  We anxiously waited, watching the people in front of us buy dozens at a time (no joke – we just wanted two!!) but we finally made it to the front of the line and secured two custard chēlún bǐng.  And man-o-man, they were WORTH the wait. The exterior was perfectly light and crispy and the filling was a semi-sweet smooth custard.  Yum, yum, yum!

We ate these as we walked to the MRT so we could head to our next destination – the Dalongdong Baoan Temple. This temple was apparently built on a wooden shrine that had been in existence since 1742.  The construction of the temple we saw today began in 1804. In 2003, the temple was inducted into the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

Our timing again, was really lucky.  When we arrived we were able to observe an actual ceremony happening at the temple.  We were very respectful of course and did nothing to interrupt or otherwise get in the way.  There was some amazing drum music with chanting and small symbols – I could feel the bass of the drums right through my breastplate. The temple itself was quite gorgeous.  It was decorated with extremely colourful dragon guardians and the lanterns were either ornate box shapes or even pineapple-like fruit. Speaking of fruit, there were vendors selling gift boxes of colourful tropical fruit that worshippers could purchase to offer to the gods.

It was a very lucky and beautiful thing that we were able to see the temple in use.

After this, we decided to go and check out the National Palace Museum.  This was accessible via a bus line which took about 15 minutes from the station.  The museum itself was nice but it was honestly more a gallery then a museum. Not a lot of information on the history or culture of the country was available. There were a lot of artwork displays though (calligraphy, paintings, ceramics etc) and some historical exhibits of bronze age implements and items.

As we left the museum at about 2:30pm, it had started pouring with rain. This has actually been the first real rainfall we have seen since we have been on holiday.  It did make us decide to curtail further outdoor activity though so we got some lunch from a shopping strip near the station consisting of a green onion pancake and Nick purchased a few items from a bakery called ‘Red Riding Hood’ – a tuna filled bun topped with cheese and spring onions, a bread bun filled with red bean paste and a yummy custard tart. We didn’t take pictures of these ones as we had to eat these while shivering in the rain so we weren’t able to balance the food AND keep dry at the same time ha ha.

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After this, we headed back to the hotel so Nick could make a few travel plans and we could relax a little for our last day in this comfortable hotel. As we hadn’t slept well the night before, a low key afternoon was also well received.

We stopped at a 7-eleven to pick up the train tickets that Nick had organised and purchased online previously.  He had googled how to get it done.  Trickily. the screens on the machine at 7-eleven that we needed to print a receipt for the cashier were all in Mandarin so it was a little difficult to know what to do. However, Nick navigated the screens like a boss and we managed to get our tickets with no worries for the train journey tomorrow.

We rallied to go out for dinner and decided to throw planning and caution to the wind and just walk into a restaurant that looked well patronised.  The place we chose turned out to be a sushi train.  It was not as grand as the last sushi train we visited but it was tasty enough and the bill came to about AUD$15 for the both of us – you can’t really be upset at that!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to pack up in readiness for check-out tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s update may be a tad on the boring side as it will be mostly travel but we will try to get a little excitement in for you readers.  Stay tuned!

 

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