Yesterday my wife and I headed out on our bikes for a nice Sunday afternoon ride. It was the first day that the sun had come out after a week of Typhoon weather. The ride to Xindian from where we live in Shida is a pleasant one on purpose built cycle paths that snake alongside the river. It was a perfect afternoon to spend riding nice and slow with the wife, and enjoy lots of delicious tasting foods along the way.
We stopped first for 'Baozi' - steamed buns on Shida Road - the place makes one of Taipei's best Baozi and we ordered three of them, all different flavours: Pork, Taro and peanut flavored. They are top quality and taste amazing for $20NT or less. My favourite one is now the Taro one while Jennifer likes the Peanut filled Baozi. With renewed energy, we zig-zagged through the Taipei traffic to get to an overhead bridge that went over the riverside wall to the cycle paths. The paths were filled with Taiwanese, lots of families all out enjoying the Sunday afternoon. Xindian is a popular tourist attraction which is lies at the base of kilometres of beautiful mountain ranges. It is very easy to ride your bike there from Taipei City and should take no more than 30-45minutes from the centre of the city. Alternatively you can take the MRT Subway red line to the Xindian Station and stroll around the Xindian Market and take some short hikes up some of the nearby hills. We rolled into the market area on our Orbea road bikes, looking slightly out of place wearing our matching lycra cycle uniforms, and found a nice fruit smoothie stand to enjoy an ice-cold Passionfruit smoothie with honey for $35NT ($1.10USD). This was a good re-charge for the return home.
On the way back, I stopped a few times to take some photographs of the various Taiwanese on the little bikes. There is a cycling boom going on here with more and more Taiwanese realizing the benefits of fitness and health. But most of them ride the folding style bikes that have 14 inch wheels. It is quite funny to see them on these bikes in full-riding gear (as you can see in the photo on the right) and most look grossly mis-fitted. There is the occasional 'roadie' with a full-carbon road bike that zips by, usually with an acknowledgment waved in my direction. During the weekend, these bike paths are not ideal for training on since they are clogged with in-experienced leisure bike riders, sometimes riding four abreast on the paths and zig-zagging. So, its best to leave the 'training' mentality behind and just enjoy the riding (which we were).
Instead of going straight back home, we decided to explore another area of town we had not been before, we exited the cycle path at the Gongguan and found ourselves on busy Ting Zhou Road that was filled with people shopping and eating all kinds of delicious looking street foods. We stopped at one of the alleyways that looked appealing and checked out the foods on offer. Our first snack was a vegetable nutty wrap that was healthy and nutritious ($30NT) followed by little custard buns made by a Deaf-mute vendor (in photo on right), we had five of them for $20NT and we rated the batter to be one of the best around, and you could see that he was popular judging from the lines of people that would line up to order his piping hot food.
The alleyway that we were in was quite interesting looking since it had an interesting combination of old and modern Taipei. I took a picture (shown on the right) of an interesting composition with the red lantern; massive bill-board with non-Taiwanese people depicted; myriad of Chinese signage and the flow of people walking past the food stalls.
We were now ready to eat a proper meal and found a small Thai restaurant tucked away in the same alleyway and ordered two dishes and a Thai Style Milk Tea. The picture on the far left is the Chicken Red-curry that tasted quite authentic and contained some thick noodles at the bottom with carrots, potatoes and spices. The other dish, shown on the right is a dish they call "Yunan Dish" which was a mixture of cold vegetables, thin noodles and some dried type of fish sprinkled on the top. It was actually quite tasty and a good meal to end our cycling excursion with. The Thai Milk Tea was the best 'authentic' style we have had in Taipei since enjoying it during our trip in Thailand. It was so good that we asked if they had the actual tea that we could buy. Surprisingly they said they could sell us a packet of real Thai Tea for $150NT, which was a very good deal since it was a good sized bag and you can make at least 100 cups of tea with it. Our meal (including the Thai Iced Tea) at the Thai restaurant only cost $175NT ($5.40) for both of us. The cycle home, past Da-An Park the largest park in Taipei, took only 15 minutes, it was already dark. This is a nice ride to do if you are looking for an easy, relaxing one and a chance to taste the various street foods that Taipei has to offer.