Day 2 in Taiwan – massages, night markets, and toilet restaurants Part Two

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.

Renting Bikes

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.

Modern Toilet

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.

Modern Toilet

Modern 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.

Day 2 in Taiwan – Pandas and Gondolas Part One

To read about our first day in Taipei, Taiwan, click here.


On our second day in Taipei, Taiwan, Nicole and I took the subway, or MRT, across town to the Taipei zoo to see pandas, Nicole’s favorite animal. Taipei is one of the few zoos in the world that has pandas so it was a must for our trip. On our way in Nicole bought a really cool panda hat and we also stopped to take this neat picture of Mother Nature having her breast licked by a deer. Nicole was not a fan.

Mother Nature in the background with a deer

Mother Nature in the background with a deer

When you arrive at the zoo, you’re given two things: a ticket for the zoo, and a ticket for the panda viewing area. The panda tickets are scheduled for an hour sometime during the day. Fortunately, we arrived early so our panda ticket was for shortly after we arrived.

We had some breakfast and walked over to the panda pavilion. You wait outside until your number is called, just like at Neuschwanstein. When your number is called, you enter the pavilion and slowly queue past the pandas in their habitat. The pandas were waiting by the back door of their habitats because it was almost feeding time. This meant the first few pictures I could take were only of panda butts. However, after they ate they became a little more sociable and I was able to get pictures of more than just their butts.

The Taipei Zoo

After viewing the panda area, Nicole and I walked around the rest of the zoo. Aside from being ungodly hot, it was a pretty nice experience. Most of the animal habitats were quite spacious. There were lots of plants all over the zoo. For most of our walk, it felt like we were trekking through a jungle rather than walking through a zoo.

Maokong Gondola

We spent a good part of the afternoon at the zoo seeing animals and getting really sweaty from all the heat. I would have liked to stay longer, but we there were more adventures to be had. We left the zoo and walked over to the Maokong Gondola. The gondola leads up through the mountains and passes a number of temples and little villages that you can stop in to. There is great hiking up there as well. The whole gondola project was meant to make nature more accessible to the urban residents of Taipei. I think the project was a smashing success as the gondola is wildly popular.

Upon further inspection of the wikipedia page, it seems the gondola system was riddled with mechanical and structural problems and literally hundreds of people have been stranded on the gondola at one time. However, I had a blast and nothing went wrong when I rode on it.

The top of the world, Maokong

At the end of the gondola ride, we arrived at Maokong, a lively little town at the end of the gondola line. Nicole and I had a ton of different street foods like chicken skewers, coconuts, and iced tea. We also tried some tea in a little shop overlooking the mountainside. We bought some back to Korea to share with out coworkers.

Zhinan Temple

On our way back down from Maokong, we stopped at Zhinan temple, a truely amazing place. It was almost entirely empty when we arrived. The stop is the second to last stop on the gondola line, or the first stop on your way back down the mountain. We hopped off and walked off the platform into a small outdoor plaza. The plaza contained a little pagoda with a dragon statue and a rocky grotto with a waterfall pouring over it. It looked beautiful, and like I said we were the only ones there. We followed signs towards the temple and I began to doubt that this was the right way as no one else was around. Both Maokong and the zoo had been packed with people.

When we finally arrived at the temple we were greeted by just one attendant who offered to give us a tour, for free. She spoke limited English, but enough to give us the general idea. She led us into a room of many golden placards, it looked almost like a bank vault of safety deposit boxes. On the ceiling were several sculpted clouds and a painted night’s sky complete with little fiber optic stars. It was unlike any temple I had ever visited

This post ended up being really long, so I split it into two parts. This concludes part one.