This is a continuation of the very long second day in Taiwan. Part one is about Zhinan temple and pandas. Read it first.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
From the Zhinan temple, Nicole and I took the gondola back down the mountain and transferred to the MRT. We rode it all the way back into central Taipei and visited the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, National Theater, and the National Concert Hall. The three of them form a beautiful plaza in central Taipei and are definitely worth a visit while you are in Taiwan. Chiang Kai Shek was a military leader closely allied with Sun Yat Sen and was an influential member of the Chinese national party. We arrived on the hour so we were just in time to see the changing of the guard. It was a big production and took close to 15 minutes.
From just outside the plaza, we rented bikes for only about 30 cents and rode through town like a band of hoodlums recruiting members into our underground bike gang. Just kidding. We rode to Xiemending, Taipei’s hip downtown area home to massages and toilet restaurants. That’s right, restaurants themed like toilets.
We returned our bikes in central Xiemending and wandered around for a bit before our reservation at Modern toilet. We got massages, I played around with some vintage lenses at an outdoor market, and we soaked up the downtown atmosphere. It’s interesting, based on my limited experiences in Japan, China, and Thailand, I feel like Taiwan is a perfect mashup of all three. It has China’s commerce and availability of products. It’s still somewhat conservative and bizarre in unexpected ways like Korea and Japan, and its a bit tropical like Thailand.
Now to the part that you’ve all been waiting for, Modern Toilet. If you visit one toilet themed restaurant, I encourage you to visit this one. It’s apparently part of a chain and there are several around Asia so you’ll have a few opportunities. The restaurant is off the beaten path and up on the second story off the main road. You really have to search for it to find it.
Inside you’re greeted at a small counter and led to your table. All the tables are bathtubs filled with plastic balls (think McDonalds ball pit) and covered with a sheet of glass. The seats are toilets, with the lid closed. They are not to be used as real toilets. The food is pretty good. Not fantastic, just good, but then again, you’re not going for the food. I ordered the chicken curry, Nicole ordered something else. Both entrees came in small ceramic toilets. Dessert was chocolate ice cream, of course. It was served in a traditional squat toilet.
Longshan Temple Night Market
After diner we visited some shops in the Longshan Temple Night Market. We bought some incense and an incense holder which I am convinced is actually a back scratcher but we are using it as an incense holder anyways.
It was an amazing, yet incredibly tiring day. We saw pandas and rode gondolas. We ate at toilet restaurants and rented bikes. We did everything.