The grand crossing

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DAY 14

(Reading time: 3 minutes)

It was time to return to Taipei, but we approached it optimistically as it meant another ride on HSR high-speed train, this time across the entire country. 358 kilometers in 90 minutes. Fantastic! This means of transportation never fails to amaze us.

We returned to the same hotel where we had begun, and this time (believe it or not!) the bathroom in our room was equipped with a door. Score! Standard amenities included a kettle and regular replenishment of tea bags, coffee, and water bottles. Normal, right? Well, in a drawer, there were also some other intriguingly combined items prepared.

We revisited some places for food and drinks. We enjoy sampling local products and specialties, naturally finding some that we want to indulge in repeatedly.

Bubble tea is quintessentially of Taiwanese origin. You can prepare it in countless ways; with milk or without, with fruit, honey, herbs, you name it, they have it. It’s always delicious, but we fell in love with chewy tapioca pearls the most.

We also enjoy mochi. Rice cake dumplings are a traditional treat in Taiwan, just like in Japan. They’re often filled with sweet red bean paste (our favorite filling), but they can withstand various experiments, including salt. The best we tried was at Ningxia night market (much smaller compared to Shilin and Raohe markets), but we found something new here, including this version of mochi:

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The balls were a little larger than the classic size, pulled straight out of hot water and coated in sesame seeds and crushed peanuts. The dough is slightly slippery, and when you bite into it, it stretches like soft gum. Delightful!

We also tried other variants; skewered, grilled, packaged from the store, basically any grandma on the street will handcraft a filled ball, and believe me, it will be delicious!

-endy-

DONKEY’S SPECIAL:

  • Bubble tea, oddly enough, we first tried in Verona; you can find it elsewhere too, but in Taiwan, it’s considered a common part of the day. Stores even sell fabric shoulder straps for cups so that you can have your regular dose with you at all time.
  • Believe it or not, red bean paste is sweet, and so is the white one. You can make luxurious cakes out of them, and if you don’t tell your guests it’s bean dough, they won’t even know, true story (of course, you must sweeten it, ideally with honey).
  • “Tapioca is a starch extracted from the storage roots of the cassava plant, which is a species native to the northern and northeastern regions of Brazil.”

-mj-

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