Tripping Out in Old Taipei

Last April, my husband and I took advantage of a buy one, take one airfare promo, and booked it around October 13, our wedding anniversary.  We wanted somewhere near, so we picked the nearest capital city, Taipei, which is just 2 hours away from Manila.  Hubby has never been to Taiwan and the last time I was there was in the early 1990s.

On our second day there, as I was researching on how to go to the fabric market, I read about Dihua Street, the oldest street in Taipei, and an important commercial hub for Taiwanese products such as medicinal herbs, teas, specialty food, textiles, etc.  This really piqued my interest, plus the fabric market was in the same area.

Oh boy! I really tripped out when I saw all the goods laid out in abundance inside the shops with more displays spilling out onto the building’s covered walkway. All I could think of were “soapabilities”.  Poor hubby, there really was nothing there of interest to him, but he patiently waited.

Here are snapshots of Dihua Street and its shops:

Dihua Street

Dihua Street

Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.

Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.

Rose Tea

Dried rosebuds for tea

Up-close, simply gorgeous.

Up-close, simply gorgeous.

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Sadly, shark's fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.

Sadly, shark’s fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.

Ta-dah…….my Dihua haul:

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L to R: sweet osmanthus, calendula, mixed floral tea

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Lavender and chamomile

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L to R: powdered black sesame, black bean (but it’s not black), Job’s Tears

Still not satisfied, I had to go back again. This time I came a bit more prepared and researched on the items that I saw but were unfamiliar to me, and looked up the Chinese names of things I wanted to get, like stinging nettle, which I found! I still have to show my haul to my mom to make sure I have what I think I got. She can read and write fluent Chinese, but regrettably I don’t.

Clockwise from top left: mung bean powder, mugwort, roselle, stinging nettle, rose, brown rice powder

Clockwise from top left: mung bean powder, mugwort, roselle, stinging nettle, rose, brown rice powder

In popular stores in the city, I saw a lot of imported French soaps, including the large cube-shaped Marseille soaps that I had previously seen in photos only. Of the local handmade soaps, Monga Soap was the one that stood out and what I kept on seeing. From their brochure, these are some of the medicinal ingredients they use in their soaps: Asian puccoon, roots of Chinese Angelica, leguminosae, ginkgo leaves, pearl powder, polygonum multiflorum, absinthium, pogostemon cablin benth, etc. I still have to research on these things as I am not familiar with most of them.

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Monga: all-natural Taiwanese handmade soap

There would be something amiss if I didn’t make any mention of the fantastic eats in Taiwan. It is truly a foodie’s paradise where you can find practically anything and everything. We stuck to Asian cuisines, mostly Taiwanese, except for European desserts which are very popular there. When traveling, we always try to do as the Romans do. 🙂 Here are a few of the dishes I was able to take photos of:

Din Tai Fung's famous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with "soup" inside)

Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with “soup” inside)

Din Tai Fung's wonton soup

Din Tai Fung’s wonton soup

Du Hsiao Yueh's scallops with silken tofu

Du Hsiao Yueh’s scallops with silken tofu

Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes

Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes

Vanilla panna cotta and green tea millefeuille

Vanilla panna cotta and green tea mille-feuille from Pozzo Bakery

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13 thoughts on “Tripping Out in Old Taipei

  1. DivaSoap

    …And my poor mouth starts watering! Oh gosh, what a collection! Of everything! I don’t know what to look at first, every picture is so eye-catching, I really and seriously envy you! And the soup, what a crazy idea to serve it! I think I would come back home double-sized, with no cent in my pockets and with huge language!
    Looking forward to seeing new, Taiwan inspired creations!

    Reply
    1. soapjam Post author

      Hahaha! You’re really funny, Maja! Dihua was an accidental discovery that really made my day. The good thing about Taiwan is that there’s something for all budgets, transportation is inexpensive and efficient, and people are really nice. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jenny

    Those are great snapshots, Silvia! Thanks for sharing them. It looks like you are finding some wonderful soaping ingredients and eating some great food! Have fun in Taiwan!

    Reply
  3. soapjam Post author

    Di Hua and Ding Tai Fung are enough reasons to go back to Taipei! 🙂 I want to explore Yong Le fabric market next time. I only went to the street level shops and bought some grosgrain ribbons. I missed the heart of the market. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Monica

    I was just reading about Ding Tai Fung and it sounds fabulous! You could moonlight as an official photographer for their restaurants because you certainly make their food look amazing. And the scallops, oh my goodness! I’m like Maja, I’d be 300 lbs if I went on a trip like that.

    Love the way you look at everything and think how you can work it into your soaps, I have to do that more. I also can’t wait to see what you end up creating with your goodies.

    Reply
    1. soapjam Post author

      Hi Monica! I had to resist from writing a full post on Ding Tai Fung, reminding myself that my blog is primarily about soap! They have branches in major cities in Asia (I hope they open in the Philippines!) and they have just opened a couple in North America. You may have one in your area in the near future!
      I see everything in soap terms because I am just so addicted to anything soapy! I have a feeling you will be the same way once you start doing CP. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Gordana

    I enjoyed so much reading your post! Taiwan is so far away from Serbia and I am not sure if I will ever make it to go there… But never say never 🙂 I also experienced similar feeling when I visited Greece recently. I found out one store, near Thessaloniki market, with fantastic offer of herbs, spices and oils. I spent more than hour there and bought so many things which I still did not use in my soap. But the feeling was so fantastic!

    Reply
    1. soapjam Post author

      I am very happy to hear that you enjoyed reading my post, Gordana.
      Yes, never say never! I hope you can visit Taiwan or Asia one day.:-)
      It is indeed a fantastic feeling when you feel like you are discovering something. That is the beauty of travelling. You never know what you will find. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Job’s Tears and Calendula Soaps | SoapJam

  7. Madame Propre

    The food looks gorgeous! It is breakfast time as I am reading your post, and it is making me super hungry! I love the dim sun dishes, they look very fresh. Did you use all your supplies? I have seen some red kidney beans in soap, but the outside of the bean had been crushed too, the colour was therefore present in the soap. I will check all your posts to read about all the Taipei experiments 😉.

    Reply
    1. soapjam Post author

      Taiwan is a foodie haven! I am sure you will enjoy all that they have to offer.

      I still have a lot of the supplies which I’ve stored in the fridge. I use some of them as teas and the seed/grain/bean powders are delicious mixed into hot chocolate! 😄

      Reply

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