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:
Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.
Dried rosebuds for tea
Up-close, simply gorgeous.
Dried shiitake mushrooms
Sadly, shark’s fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.
Ta-dah…….my Dihua haul:
L to R: sweet osmanthus, calendula, mixed floral tea
Lavender and chamomile
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
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.
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 wonton soup
Du Hsiao Yueh’s scallops with silken tofu
Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes
Vanilla panna cotta and green tea mille-feuille from Pozzo Bakery