Scenes from Danshui
I had a nice little Sunday. The weather was quite delightful – temperature only in the low 90s, and humidity somewhere in the low 60s. If you enjoy sweating a lot, but not collapsing dead, this is your weather. But hey, that’s what it’s like in Taiwan in the summer. Granted my test sample is quite small, but from what I’ve read and heard, this isn’t some freak heat wave. This is normal. My hostel, and many other homes and businesses, choose not to have a/c on during the day (or in my room ever). But I’m getting off-point here. I really did have a nice little Sunday.
Luckily, the subway line here (we call it the MRT) does have air conditioned cars, and I took advantage of that and went out to Danshui, a little suburb north of Taipei. It’s the last north stop on the main north/south line, so it’s about 40 minutes from the heart of town. Why would I go here, you ask? Well, because of what my Lonely Planet guidebook told me, of course:
Start with a charming Taipei-river suburb as your soup base, add equal parts college-town youth vibe and oceanside-boardwalk festivity. Toss in a healthy sea breeze and a hefty dash of old-world colonial architecture and you’ve got Danshui (Dànshuǐ), possibly among the coolest, and most unique, hangout spots in Taipei.
Fantastic. It was pretty cool. The town’s located along the banks of the Danshui River as it empties into the Taiwan Strait. Along those banks is a long promenade – on the left I had the river, with a gorgeous mountain across the way. And on the right there was commerce – shops, carnival games, drink stands, a few people singing karaoke to the passing masses of people, a lot more with megaphones shouting from one business or another, and tons and tons of food stands. I wish I could tell you what all the food was, but I really couldn’t tell. Some of it looked really good – I got a kabob type thing for about $1 (40 NTD), and the tallest frozen yogurt cone ever for 30 cents (10 NTD):
Some of it didn’t look so great – I saw a few stands with gelatinous blob discs waiting to be gobbled up ( I forgot to take pics of those). And then there was the stuff you’d only see on this side of the world. I saw not one, not two, but like 10 or 11 different stands selling squid. Not like calamari squid, or even fried squid (where you have the tentacles battered and cooked up), but this was just like flattened squid on a stick.
Here, have a look:
Sadly, I wasn’t brave enough to try this, but I hardly think it’ll be my last opportunity.
All in all, I didn’t mind the heat, and it was really neat to just walk around and soak in the local flavor. I’d read that it’s best to go to Danshui at sunset, and so I got there about an hour before. And it really was gorgeous – the prettiest sunset I’ve seen since I’ve been here.
All in all, I hung out on this boardwalk for quite awhile. Upon reaching its end, I walked around Danshui for bit. I saw a couple more temples, though nothing nearly as impressive as from the day before. These were smaller temples, and both right in the middle of city blocks – you’ll be walking along and see like: shoe store, eatery, temple, convenience store. It’s really cool.
In fact, later that evening, as I was winding my way to the Yingchaun Rd. night market, I was walking through some back allyways (they’re all over the place here, and I find them to be just as interesting or moreso than the main streets), and I came across another tiny little beautiful temple.
Here, ya know what? Why don’t I just show you all my pics from my evening in Danshui:
Follow me inside, won’t you?