In my previous post on Nonstop Eating in Taipei, I again talked about all the different types of restaurants, food stalls, and nightlife places you could check out within the vicinity of the main areas of Taipei. But the real fun from this trip were during my moments when I was exploring the outskirts of Taipei – Keelung for the Keelung Squid Festival, Jiufen Old Street, Houtong Cat Village, Tamsui, and briefly Ruifang when coming back from Jiufen.
It’s quite nice to visit these areas, just because they offer a glimpse of a different side of Taipei that you don’t really get to see. Anyway, this post will be broken down into different sections by each area that I visited.
Jiufen Old Street
What’s popular about this place was that it inadvertently was an inspiration for some of the scenes in Spirited Away for Hayao Miyazaki, where you can see from the movie the imitation of the red lanterns and street filled with food stalls along the path.
I have to say this about Jiufen Old Street though… I was not impressed. If anything, this area felt more like a tourist trap. If any of you have been to Stanley Market in Hong Kong, the feeling is the same – a lot of handmade goods and products that are of adequate quality with no brands piled up in different shops and a lot of food stalls, not restaurants, with shopkeepers asking you to buy their snacks and food products, usually they are famous for one type of food item. The prices felt slightly more expensive than what you would pay for within the city itself. The red lanterns and its inspiration on the famous Japanese anime were the gimmicks of the place, which I guess succeeded as lots of tourists were on the streets.
If I remember correctly, I took a bus from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station and it took about 1.5 hours to get there. Actually, I think it would be better if you stopped by Ruifang station and change to a bus there. The method I used, it took around 30 minutes before the bus actually came, so all in all it was a 2 hour trip. I think if you changed to Ruifang station, there are way more buses from there to get to Jiufen, and I think you would have had a shorter travel duration than me. Anyway just google how to get to Jiufen Old Street and you’ll get a ton of suggestions.
Houtong Cat Village
Situated about a 15 minute car ride from Jiufen Old Street, I decided to check it out because supposedly there were a lot of cats!
From Jiufen Old Street, I asked the cab driver to take me to Houtong Cat Village. I asked him the price, to which he quoted NWT 390. I felt that was expensive in Taiwanese standards, so I asked if it could be cheaper, and he said this is a fixed rate cannot be cheaper and he said it’s also a 20 minute ride. So I hopped on to his taxi and not even 15 minutes, we are already at the destination. I paid him NWT 400 and he didn’t even give the change back. All in all, I felt that he was scamming me, and I think he did scam me!! He asked if I wanted him to wait for me, he said 30 mins should be enough to see everything, and there really was no other transportation and trains were so infrequent, about 1.5 hours every train, so I acquiesced and said fine, and that we will meet back at 6pm.
I managed to finish seeing the village by 5:56pm, and I came back down I still didn’t see the taxi. Even by 6pm I didn’t see back my taxi driver. So at 6:05pm there was a bus coming, I decided to hop on it anyway because what if my taxi driver never came back? As the bus was heading towards the Ruifang Train station, I think I recognised the first three letters of this scammy taxi driver.
Anyway, enough about the taxi driver, here are the photos:
Ruifang Food Court
The sketchier the better. Upon landing at the bus stop outside Ruifang Train Station, I noticed to my left that there was a Ruifang Food Court. The curiosity cat + foodie in me decided that I at least had to check it out, so in I went discovering the many different foods that locals enjoyed.
Keelung Squid Festival (Facebook)
I scoured over many pages of Google to finally be able to find more information about this Keelung Squid Festival. Most of the information directed you to Keelung’s Ghost Festival, which wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to eat squid! Now you can save half an hour now that I have linked up the Facebook page just right above.
The reason I even found out about this festival in the first place was because I turned on the television and was watching some local Taiwanese news when the advertisement for this Keelung Squid Festival appeared, and I was like why not? Especially the less information there was about it, the more I wanted to go so that I could really be on the path less taken as a tourist.
Getting to the Keelung Station was rather easy for me. There was a bus right from Shoudu Bus Shi Fu Zhuanyun Station, which was literally right next to the Taipei City Hall Station, that directly goes to Keelung Station. Easy peasy.
The difficulty and surprise I was faced with was that after getting to Keelung Station, realising that the Keelung Squid Festival wasn’t actually near Keelung Station, but Badouzi Fishing Harbor, which required a bus transit. So if I remembered correctly, I took the 103 bus from near the Keelung Station to get there, and that itself took about another 40 minutes. You can also take the 101 bus as well.
I’m not exactly sure how often they have this festival, so if anyone does know please let me know, but you can always look at their Facebook page for the latest update.
Most of these stalls aren’t even food stalls by the way. They are all like stalls promoting different community services and social services of the Keelung community. I’d say only about 25% of these stalls were related to food
Taipei Ale Brewery (their Facebook)
I had a few bites of these and I was done. I don’t like eating the bony part of the squid. And I think eating its eyeballs tasted so… gooey and rubbery yeah I didn’t like it, ate a bit and threw out the rest.
Badouzi Weekend Night Market
While trying to find a bus stop to get back to Keelung Station, I saw that this place was filled with lights and people. Upon further inspection, I realised that I inadvertently arrived at the Badouzi Weekend Night Market.
However, just like other night markets in Taipei, the night market in Badouzi was filled with energy and optimism but in the end, it always ended in disappointment in terms of the food quality.
At the furthest spot on the red line sits the Tamsui station, what my friend calls the “Santa Monica of Taipei.” It’s situated on the most northern west part of Taipei. Although Google Maps has said that it will take about 1.5 hours for me to get there, I ended up getting there within 1 hour just by MRT.
Tamsui is a great district to explore for both locals and tourists alike. There are many food stalls, cafes, and it’s again close to the seaside so it’s a great place to catch sunsets.
If you have enough time, I highly recommend coming here for at least half a day, especially if you are coming with your girlfriend or boyfriend.
This was actually good and lots of people. I had a fishball soup. Coincidentally, once we went in, it started pouring. Funny fact – it was raining heavily from 3:30pm to 5pm for the past few days I was there. It wouldn’t rain in the morning or night, only specifically during those hours.
My friend found this on Google Maps. High rating! Lots of kids so we felt a bit out of place as this place also provided crayons and arts and crafts for the children to play. This place is called Xiao Chu is flying!
It’s really cool concept. Their “menu” is actually you select the food item you want then you take the postcard for that food menu and give it to the cashier. After paying, you actually get to keep the postcard!
Arrived at the Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf. This bridge is the notable Lover’s Bridge, but its name is probably just a gimmick as the bridge itself doesn’t resemble lovers in any way. Correct me if there’s a backstory behind this.
We decided it’d be fun to bike back to Tamsui station, so we unlocked these bike sharing bikes from YouBike. You don’t need the app or Taiwanese number to do this, there is a machine next to these bikes where you just have to give your credit card and make a deposit.
So that’s all the outskirt parts of Taipei I visited! Amongst all of them, which one intrigued you the most, or made you compelled the most to visit it? Keelung? Tamsui? Jiufen/Ruifang? Let me know!
And if you haven’t done so already, you can also read my Nonstop Eating in Taipei which were things I did on the same trip.