It has been over 13 months since I first stepped foot in Taiwan, so it is high time for me to revisit the bucket list that I published back in August 2019. Click HERE to read my original bucket list.
I have added comments and bonus items to my original bucket list items using italicized text. Enjoy reading!
General bucket list items:
1. Go to a night market
I’ve been to 3 different night markets in Yunlin County. Night markets in Kaohsiung and Taipei. Night markets in Yilan and Taitung. It’s impossible to be in Taiwan without ever going to one. I don’t have a favorite night market food (maybe Angel Chicken at 瑞豐夜市 in Kaohsiung?) but my favorite night market game is 小白球.
2. Master riding a scooter (Eep!)
Unfortunately, I failed my first scooter test and didn’t have time in my schedule to retake the test later. However, I have mastered the art of being the passenger on the back of scooters. Does that count? I find that being the passenger is probably much more fun than being the driver.
3. Attend a concert by a Taiwanese or Chinese artist
I didn’t attend any concerts in Taiwan 🙁 I am still very salty that Eric Chou 周興哲, my favorite Taiwanese singer, decided to hold his stadium tours in Taipei and Kaohsiung after I left Taiwan. (And yes, Taiwan is allowing large-scale events like concerts in stadiums to happen because they have control over COVID-19.)
4. Eat at a vendor in Chiayi that was featured on Netflix’s Street Food.
I saw daughter of Smart Fish resaturant’s owner at the restaurant! Is it weird that I was slightly starstruck from a distance? The long wait is worth it! (Smart Fish restaurant 林聰明沙鍋魚頭-創始總店)
5. Be able to converse in Mandarin on the phone
Speaking in Mandarin gives me so much anxiety, but I was able to call for taxis by the second month, make reservations, and do other minor tasks on the phone without too much struggle.
6. Show a visiting friend/family member around Yunlin and/or Taiwan
Jennifer and my mentor both visited me in Taiwan in January and February!
7. Go to a Taiwanese baseball game! (even though I know nothing about baseball)
I actually had tickets to go to a baseball game in Douliu, courtesy of Fulbright. It ended up not working with my schedule 🙁
8. OOPS I DIDN‘T HAVE A #8 IN THE ORIGINAL POST
9. Win something at a claw machine (they’re everywhere!)
Sadly, my bad luck streak at claw machines continued. I really wanted a Pinkfong or Baby Shark plushie though. They were so popular.
10. Ride the Taiwan High Speed Rail
I did this so many times that I memorized all the stops, can say “the next stop is” in Taiwanese like the announcement, and even tried out the business car.
11. Visit a hot springs
Thanks Fulbright for taking us to a hot springs resort for our January mid-year conference. I probably would not have gone to a hot spring if Fulbright didn’t pay.
12. Figure out if Din Tai Fung is overrated
Its soup dumplings are not; everything else is. Next.
13. Try not to die while eating stinky tofu (I’ve always smelled it but never tried it!)
I like stinky tofu in hot pot and soup. Not so much deep fried, but I’m honestly willing to try it again.
14. Go see a puppet show
I went to Huwei’s hand puppet museum. It counts.
15. Walk down Taiping Old Street
Architecture is cute, but urban revival of “old streets” in Taiwan is trendy now, making it a little overrated.
16. Visit Beigang Chao Tian Temple
I went there my second week in Taiwan and was able to see the preparations for the Hungry Ghost Festival. The temple is in the center of the town so it was THE central landmark.
17. Yunlin Story House, Huwei
Cute architecture and repurposing of a building built during the colonial era. They host lots of events there aimed at families, although not very English-accessible. #sad
18. Visit Hushan Temple
19. Stroll through Yun Zhong Street Cultural and Creative Area
BONUS: 兔子の窩 Coffee House
One of my favorite pasttimes in Taiwan is to just click on random businesses on Google Maps to discover new places, and I found this coffee shop in Huwei that has cute cats. It’s not a cat cafe, but more like a good coffee shop with cats.
BONUS: 林記蔬果汁 (aka my favorite juice shop)
One of my language exchange partners actually introduced this shop to me, and the shop owner is very knowledgeable on making fruit juice blends. You can customize your own juice! A day before I left Taiwan, the owner even gifted me and Linda surgical masks.
20. Visit the Miniatures Museum of Taipei
Also overrated, sadly. Instead, may I recommend visiting the Postal Museum, a non-touristy museum that has really cool stamps and information on the history of the post office?
21. Read up on Chiang Kai-Shek at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Went there during my April solo trip to Taipei. Felt like no one was there in the memorial hall so I had a good time strolling around and wandering among exhibits.
22. Learn more about Chinese history at the National Palace Museum
One of the museums that I absolutely have to go to my next trip to Taiwan. I didn’t get to go because the museum isn’t very public transit accessible.
23. See the city from above at Taipei 101
Visited the observatory in April right after Taiwan closed its borders to visitors. There were only 8 other people in the entire observatory, which made my ticket worth every penny.
24. Visit the first cat cafe in the world! (The Kitten Coffee Garden)
Nope. Didn’t go.
25. Hike up Elephant Mountain to see Taipei’s cityscape
Nice view. My non-athletic self really struggled with uneven stone steps.
BONUS: 再睡5分鐘 tea shop
Was able to visit this tea shop before I left Taiwan. This shop is owned by one of my favorite Taiwanese YouTubers, 滴妹.
BONUS: 保護傘 Aegis restaurant
This is a restaurant opened and run by Hong Kongers that support the Umbrella Movement. Their food is a modern take on classic cha chaan teng dishes.
26. Visit the colorful Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村
Super cute and really easy to get to via bus from the Taichung HSR Station. I was surprised that it’s located in a residential area surrounded by new high-rises.
27. Gaze at the blend of architectural styles of Wufeng Lin Family House
28. Walk through CMP Block Museum of Arts 工家美術館
I really liked the contemporary exhibits that they have. When I visited, the museum had an exhibit where the artists redefined social hierarchy by dressing Mazu in traffic/construction worker clothing.
29. Grab boba at Chun Shui Tang Tea House, presumably the origins of pearl milk tea
The original bubble tea is good but honestly not worth the price. I actually prefer their rose salt milk tea more. Pro tip: takeout is cheaper!
30. Learn about the destructive 1999 earthquake at 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan
31. Stroll through Shenji New Village and see the area’s revitalization
BONUS: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts 國立臺灣美術館
I surprisingly spent much more time here than expected. They have such a huge selection of exhibits. They had a cool “smell” exhibit there when I went. I struggled to smell the paintings through my surgical mask though.
BONUS: Uptowner Taichung 雙城美式餐廳
This is a funny one, because this is a branch location of The Uptowner diner found in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Yes, the exact one that’s only blocks away from Macalester. If I remember correctly, the Taichung location was opened by the brother of Saint Paul Uptowner’s owner. Eating here on several occasions satisfied my American diner cravings.
32. Visit the Dragon Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔 & Lianchi (Lotus) Lake 蓮池潭
I’ve been there twice in 2020 to improve the year’s luck. 2020 is still meh. Anyway, the area is really nice for strolling and exercising though.
33. Admire the architecture of Kaohsiung Main Public Library 高雄市立圖書館總館
I was very jealous at the fact that larger cities have really nice public libraries. This library has a rooftop garden where you can see the 85 Tower up close. The library also had this cute program where you can choose a book to borrow by reading someone else’s review instead of looking at the book (they wrapped the book). Before the pandemic, I would spend time at the National Formosa University library, 5 minute walk from my apartment, but they changed their regulations after the pandemic.
34. Appreciate the glasswork at Formosa Boulevard Station 美麗島站
Really cool to see inside a MRT station. They have a piano in the vicinity too, so you could admire the art while listening to live music if you’re lucky.
35. Learn about the eight pagodas at Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum 佛光山佛陀紀念館
Honestly, the 45 minute bus ride up to Fo Guang Shan from the Kaohsiung HSR station was worth it. I went there twice; once during the day and once at night. The architecture and nice landscaping makes the area really pretty for photos. Their museum exhibits is also very well translated into various languages.
36. Explore the former British Consulate At Takao 打狗英國領事館文化園
There isn’t much to look at inside their exhibits but the building exterior and gardens have been kept really well. I recommend going there at sunset to see the Kaohsiung skyline!
37. Take a ferry to Cijin Island (旗津)
The ferry is super cheap, and Cijin is super close to the city. Cijin Island is honestly great for a quick “island getaway.” Just rent an electric side-by-side tourist bike and go nuts. (I might or might not be speaking from experience.)
BONUS: Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway ( 哈瑪星台灣鐵道館 )
Taiwan converted me with its cute branding of trains and HSR and the “nostalgia of 台灣鐵路”. I absolutely love love love trains now, and this museum has the coolest model display of Taiwan’s entire railway system. I went here twice and can stare at this display for HOURS. Probably one of my favorite places in Kaohsiung.
And for my cute cafe/restaurant obsession:
I didn’t go to any of these, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get to eat at cool places!
38. Play with alpacas at Oia Alpaca Cafe
39. Take instagram pics at Rilakkuma Cafe in Taipei
40. Channel my inner lazy egg at Gudetama Chef restaurant
Out of the 39 items on my original bucket list, I checked off 25 items (not including the bonus ones). Besides what I originally listed back in August 2019, there were so many other experiences that I had in Taiwan over the course of 11 months that were bucket list-worthy. I didn’t add them to this list, but I’ll be writing a future post on other notable places and activities to do!