So this morning, there was a very, very early alarm going off at 5:45am. This was so Nick could get up and get a taxi to his rendezvous point for his River Tracing tour.
Wait, wait…only Nick? That’s right folks, today we decided to spend a day apart. While Nick would be wading through rivers and jumping off things in a display of testosterone and bravado, I would be spending my day in the Daan region of Taipei, relaxing and getting nothing done. My favourite pastimes.
We’ll have a couple of installments for your enterainment. Mine will no doubt be the most boring but here we go:
As Nick furtively slipped out the door, I didn’t even emerge from bed except to tell him to have fun whilst I snuggled back under the covers. I think I may have been asleep as the door closed ha ha.
Surprisingly I elected to not sleep the entire day away. I got up at around 8am and headed down to the breakfast buffet. Happily, it was tonnes better then the previous hotel’s breakfast attempt and I was well pleased with a plate of salad, fruits and select other items. One of the really nice things I tried was a small savoury egg and cheese tart. One of my fellow diners liked these so much I saw him go back not once, but twice for another of these, bringing his total up to 3 egg tarts. They were nice though so I can’t fault him.
There was actually quite a lot on offer – a selection of western and eastern cuisines. I wasn’t extremely hungry though so I stuck to a relatively light plate and several cups of coffee. I had nerdishly bought the computer down with me so I got a lot of typing done and had several cups of coffee which was quite pleasing as I was clicking away. I almost finished chronicling the previous day (a late instalment for all you readers at home) before deciding I wanted to head out and have a look around the city.
First up though, I had decided to invest a portion of the day on relaxation activities. One of my favourite such activities is getting a massage. Google being my trusty ally, I looked up a reputable place, Villa.Like which was on Re’nai road, an easy 20 minute walk from our hotel.
I set out and arrived at the location where I was able to book a massage for a later time, 1pm. With a couple of hours to kill, I went and did one of those other activities that Nick hates. Shopping. Or, more accurately, browsing. It was very hot outside today so I decided the best refuge would be an air conditioned shopping centre. Amazingly enough though, most things in this area, the shopping centres included, don’t open until 11am. I had to wonder aimlessly around for a while until the Pacific Sogo centre opened.
I wish I had thought to take a photo, but as I entered the centre, there was a weird welcoming line of men and women dressed up as old fashioned maids and butlers. No joke. As I walked in, they all bowed, in union, saying “Hi, we welcome you” as I went by. I was a little surprised by this and almost turned around and walked out as I thought there must be some kind of celebrity event I was walking into by mistake. It was SO weird.
I spent some time here looking around and found a Muji outlet – the Japanese version of Ikea. I wasted a lot of time here looking around. I don’t know what it is about this kind of shop – I want to buy everything! Everything is so cool! I managed to tear myself away and eventually went to wonder around the food court. I decided against eating though because I was worried about feeling too full when I was getting my massage.
I eventually headed back to Villa.Like where I was welcomed by the receptionists. After being given a pair of slippers to wear, I was ushered into a sitting room and given a lovely cup of cold ginger tea. It was sweet and refreshing after having been out in the heat.
Before the massage started, I was ushered into an area where there was a transparent floor exposing an aquarium where little goldfish were flitting about. On the other side of the glass floor there were comfortable seats and with tubs of water where I was given a foot scrub and massage.
‘Dora’, my masseuse was very ruthless and I could really feel it in my calves as she massaged my legs and scrubbed my feet. I think she gave up some of the calluses on my feet as a lost cause. Fair call from her too – I think a month of walking in sandals being constantly on my feet has taken its toll.
After this scrubbing, I was led to a smaller massage room where the treatment would start. I was given a soft linen pair of pants which laced at the back and a linen top to put on with button snaps at the shoulders. Dora gave me some time to change and instructed me to lie face up on the massage ‘table’ (this was a Thai style massage so its actually done on a mattress on the floor). She did have to correct my top as I managed to put it on backwards. In fairness to me, it felt exactly the same the right way around as it did the wrong way. It did make a difference later though as she needed to undo the snaps to access my back for the oil massage.
Following all this was two hours of a pretty gruelling massage. Every time Dora told me to relax, I had to resist tensing up as I knew something painful was about to happen. I enjoyed the oil massage the best as I think my skin was just drinking the oil up – Dora had to stop to reapply the oil a few times. There was also the application of herbal hot balls to my back which is similar to a hot stone massage but the balls are steamy and hot so they don’t let them sit on your skin. Another part I enjoyed was the head and neck massage.
I’ll say it wasn’t the best massage I have ever had, but I did end up feeling like all my achy muscles had been sorted so it was effective if not as enjoyable as I usually find a massage session.
After the massage and I was attired in my own clothes again, I was led out to the waiting area to enjoy another delicious ginger tea (hot this time) and a small plate of biscuit refreshment.
It was around 3:30 and I wasn’t really hungry at all so I just bought a small meal from 7-eleven of sushi and egg for my lunch figuring that I would have a nice dinner with Nick later.
I’d like to say that I filled the rest of my afternoon with exploring and activity but honestly, I had had enough solo adventure for one day so I headed back to the hotel where I read and watched some TV and continued to blog until Nick came back around 7:30pm.
Reunited, we shortly afterwards headed out to dinner at Din Tai Fung, the original restaurant in what is now a chain of shops specialising in xiao long bao – soup filled dumplings.
There are a couple of these restaurants which have recently opened in both Melbourne and Sydney back home, but I think we got a much cheaper meal here in Taiwan then we would have back in Australia so I was glad to try it.
We ordered a set of xiao long bao, a beef noodle soup (half meat, half tendon), chilli pork wontons and a plate of garlicky Chinese spinach. Nick had a beer, and I decided to try Shaoxing wine as, besides the beer, there was nothing else that was alcoholic. I really didn’t like it though ha ha. It was a really strong wine which tasted of port. It was served hot and you could add sugar to ‘enhance the taste’. It really wasn’t my cup of tea though and I afterwards stuck with jasmine tea. This seemed to ruffle some feathers though as when we were leaving we were asked if I wanted to take the wine. My fervent ‘No!’ was met with a little giggling from our servers. Tsk, tsk, shame on me! Ha ha.
Since Nick was pretty exhausted, we didn’t stay out long, instead we headed back to the hotel and turned in for the night.
Sorry for my boring report though everyone! Hope Nick’s accounting is more action packed!