The next stop on our journey though Taiwan was in Taichung, which is the country’s second largest city with a population of almost three million. The city is located on the west coast of Taiwan, and is just a short train journey from the capital Taipei.
With less than 24 hours in the city we quickly set about exploring. Our first stop was for a bubble tea at Chun Shui Tang. The popular drink is a Taiwanese obsession, with stalls selling it on almost every corner. Also commonly referred to as pearl milk tea, the drink is made by combining iced tea, milk and chewy tapioca balls, and is available in every flavour combination imaginable.
Although Chun Shui Tang now has over 90 stores, we visited the original Taichung store where it is believed the drink was invented in 1987. I tried a mango flavour tea, while Rachael went with the even more unusual Oreo flavour. Both were delicious and also very sweet!
We continued to the cultural heritage park, a former distillery which has been converted into an art and education centre. There were some interesting exhibitions to wander though, although not all were translated into English.
We spent the evening exploring yet another one of Taiwan’s night markets. The Feng Chia market is located to the north of city, and is renowned as being the largest in the country. Our arrival coincided with a huge downpour, meaning the mostly outdoor market was initially relatively quiet.
We wandered through the sprawling market, quickly getting lost in the maze of narrow streets and alleyways.
The market is located next to Feng Chia University, and the streets were soon filled with students shopping and eating at the huge range of different stalls.
As usual we sampled a range of different foods, with some more enjoyable than others. Most stalls did not have an English menu, leaving us to guess exactly what we were eating. This was especially true of some delicious meat skewers which were of unknown origin.
We also decided to try ‘stinky tofu’, the fermented tofu dish that is very popular in Taiwan, despite its overpowering smell which we initially thought was coming from the drains. Given its popularity we assumed it couldn’t possibly taste as bad as it smelt, but we soon realised this was not the case. Despite being covered in a delicious sauce, we managed only a few mouthfuls of tofu before throwing the rest away. Our trip has had many culinary highlights, but this was definitely not one of them!
We woke the following morning to much improved weather, and decided to start the day with the Liuchuan riverside walk. The short trail actually follows a narrow canal, and provides great views of the surrounding city.
We continued our walk to the bustling Taichung fifth market. The covered market is clearly very popular spot for locals to purchase all of the fresh produce, with an incredible variety of meat, fish and vegetables on display.
Just around the corner from here we came across the colourful Painted Animation Wall. The once abandoned alleyway, has been converted into an unlikely tourist attraction, with the walls covered in hand painted murals of popular animated characters. Although we were not familiar with most of these, it is clear that anime is just as popular here as in Japan.
After some breakfast from a nearby cafe we returned to our hotel, before checking out and making our way back to the train station for the next leg of our journey.