Taipei 101 and Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Taiwan

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During my Taiwan trip, I turned exactly a year older on 21st April 2014, a Monday. Being someone who is approaching her mid-20s, you would think that I have gotten over making a big deal of my birthdays.

Nope.

Every year, in some form or way, I will make a big deal out of my birthdays. I will also make other people make a big deal out of my birthdays. Some of whom I love very much will tolerate me, others will think I am insane. Sometimes they are the same people.

Even this trip to Taiwan was undertaken purely because I did not want to spend my birthday in a certain other place which we shall not name.

On my birthday this year, it was a much more low-key and relaxed melding into the day compared to last year. I had Taiwan fruit beer in the minutes after midnight, and then I went to sleep.

Yay.

The next day we woke up bright and early, had breakfast, and then we set off the visit perhaps the most iconic building in Taipei - the Taipei 101.

Once we were walking towards there, we found a good spot and started taking pictures of the building, trying to squeeze both ourselves and all of the building into the picture.

It was also windy.

Here is picture #1 of our attempts.
































Well, I do think I look pretty cool like that, but perhaps it's not my most flattering look (then again, I've had way worse pictures). "I whip my hair back and forth I whip my hair back and forth..." ahem I shall stop now. Really love how the purple ombre hair I did last year is still working for me now.

Here's a slightly better hair picture!
































At least I don't have crazy hair in this, haha. That's Aeryn behind me on the phone, while Poh Nee takes my picture. These pictures are taken in front of Taipei City Hall.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look on how to achieve these sort of pictures.
































1. Squat on the floor and put the camera as low as possible to capture a higher angle.
2. Sometimes lying on the floor is also a good option.
3. Ignore all stares others may give you as you go for the perfect shot.

That is all.

We got into the Taipei 101 mall, and immediately I was overwhelmed by all the branded stores. Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Tiffany, Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana, and etcetera... you name a brand, they were probably there.

Since the three of us had no intention to buy branded goods (because, like, we can TOTALLY afford branded goods... ahem), we headed straight to lunch on the bottommost floor.

We passed by a few stalls selling facial masks - look at this cute mask on my skirt!

It was a sample for a facial mask, and they made it tiny enough to put on your hand to try. So cute! It looks like a mini cousin of No-Face.
































We went to a restaurant so popular, there was a 20 - 40 minute wait for the larger groups. Luckily there were only three of us, so we got into the restaurant about 20 minutes later.

They had already taken our orders, by giving us order slips which we filled in ourselves and handed to the waitresses. By the time we sat down, it was just a matter of waiting for our food to arrive.

I was actually quite impressed with how management and staff executed the whole thing. From the order booth outside, to the numbered queue system for different group sizes, to wait staff assigned different sections, plus trainee interns walking around with hot tea ready to refill yours (free tea!), to the food appearing quickly, the place ran like a well-oiled machine.
































We were at Din Tai Fung Taipei 101, by the way. I love that the Din Tai Fung in Taiwan has TWO Mascots. One is a dumpling head, and the other is a dim sum plate(?) head. They are both pretty cute. Even two Japanese men, who looked like businessmen, took pictures with the larger mascot outside of the restaurant.

The other Din Tai Fungs I have seen in Taiwan often have a long queue outside as well, hence the need for the number queue system.

I've never actually been to Din Tai Fung in Malaysia (have been to the one in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, though), though we have branches here. I must try one one day and see how it compares.

Anyway, let the food pictures commence! We ordered the signature Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai dumplings), as well as a plate of fried rice, and a bowl of noodles similar to jajangmyeon in Korea.
































Oh man, this was so good. I am drooling on the inside just thinking about it. We ordered two plates of Xiao Long Bao, which came up to twenty dumplings. Each dumpling costs about RM2+, which is REALLY expensive, but they were so good it was easy to forget that inconvenient little fact. 

The warm soup inside the dumpling, permeating into the meat and making it juicy and tender, that sensation of drinking delectable pork-flavoured soup before ingesting the meat along with the thin yet firm texture of the dough...

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It is hard to find fault with Din Tai Fung's food, to be honest, at least within Taipei 101. The fried rice was not overdone or underdone, and the taste was such a nice marriage of egg, meat, spring onion, salt, oil and so forth.

Then again, it should be pretty hard for a restaurant of Din Tai Fung's calibre to mess up a dish like fried rice, when they have already mastered the art of Shanghai dumplings (infinitely a harder task, what with the kneading and all).
































No major faults to be found with the noodles, either. However, would recommend just eating the Shanghai dumplings next time until you're full. While other restaurants may be good at fried rice and noodles, most restaurants (in Malaysia, at least) cannot master the art of Shanghai dumplings. They usually come out too dry, too soft, too chewy, or too something. The ones at Din Tai Fung Taiwan are definitely the most perfect ones I have had so far.

Although, I was informed by a local that the dumplings at Din Tai Fung were not the best dumplings that places in Taiwan have to offer. They described the dumplings at Din Tai Fung as "perfectly mastered and cannot be faulted, but lacking in soul/ je ne sais quoi".

Well, I guess it is up to your tastebuds. I definitely did not find fault with it.

I shouldn't, anyway. Lunch at Din Tai Fung was my birthday present from Poh Nee and Aeryn! I'm glad to say I loved it.

We explored the rest of the mall by going up more and more floors (without stepping into the stores), in an attempt to burn off the calories. We did not even debate going into the observatory. At 500TWD a person, that is a view with too steep a price for us Malaysian wage workers.

This is what the parts of the mall looked like on the topmost floor we could reach,  by the way.

































It was pretty shiny there in the mall. I'd say it sparkles on the same level as Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Also, here's an 'artistic' shot of Poh Nee on a mall bench. :P
































On the floor of that level, there were some black tiles showcasing names of the popular cities around the world. We found Kuala Lumpur on it too, yay!


































The capital city of the country where we hail from. It is noisy and under construction and always growing and prone to crime and heat, but it is... our city. We are the only ones who get to complain about it.

Later on we went all the way back down to the bottommost section of the mall again, this time to...


































The Agnes B. cafe! We have Agnes B. in Malaysia, but sadly no cafe equivalent. That's a pity, because the drinks were good. My chocolate was a bit too rich for me after Din Tai Fung, though. >_<


































Tadah, our cakes. Mine is the pyramid one. It was sinfully rich with chocolate, and the heavy lunch of stuffing my face with Shanghai dumplings did not help.

Just call me glutton.

All in all, Taipei 101 was a nice place to chill mainly for the ambiance and the food. As for the shops, however, it MAY take a couple or more so of years before I will actually want to buy anything from there. Ahem.

In the evening we went off to Huashan 1914 Creative Park. According to Keiko, it was a place where many people bring their dogs to to walk. Her boyfriend said more cynically that it was a place where uncles brought cute dogs to hit on girls.

...Haha.

It was a lovely park to visit, though, with vintage cafes and bookstores. I am sorry to say, however, that these buildings in the park were completely overshadowed...

BY ALL THE CUTE DOGS.
































LOVE!
































The main purpose of this picture are the two DOGS behind me. Oh, and the lawn is pretty nice, I guess.
































This was probably after someone said "Be careful that you are not standing on dog poo."

Thanks.

I also made friends with an overly enthusiastic big golden retriever. Behold, pictures of our one-minute friendship!

Or rather, the one-minute friendship where Shadow (I can call you Shadow right? Right) keeps trying to bite my Kumamon pouch.
































He notices Kumamon.
































He is irritated that I am keeping Kumamon out of reach, hence the glaring at me.
































 "I'll get it even if you keep it out of reach!"

"Stupid human, stop moving and let me at that thing!"

I still love you, Shadow.

Points for whoever gets why I am calling the golden retriever Shadow.

After walking around the park and cooing over other dogs (and yes, talking to a middle-aged man about HIS dog...), we went off to have dinner.
































Which was shabu-shabu. Oh man I could not eat much, after Din Tai Fung and Agnes b. We tried out best to eat anyway, because this was our last dinner with our hosts before we moved on to Taichung from Taipei.

Thank you both for hosting us!


Healthy food for the night.

All in all, it was a pretty relaxing birthday. At least no one ended up blaming each other for something, or myself getting pissed at people for making my birthday worse when I worked so hard to plan it.

That's a long story, so I won't bore you with it. ^_^

Not a bad way to spend a birthday, but I've already thought of what I'll do next year to mark the occasion.

Next year, I'm going Frozen-themed ballroom birthday.

Or maybe a masquerade ball.

OR A TRIP TO DISNEYLAND.

Nope. Not growing out of this.

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