Mostly for convenience because our flight to Bangkok (and then onward to Hanoi) left very early the next morning, we chose to stay our last night in Taiwan in the city of Taoyuan which is close to the airport. Jesse chose our hotel because it was in town, but also very close to the night market so we figured that would make things easier on us for grabbing dinner on our last night after taking the train in from Hualien.
Much to our surprise, our one day in Taoyuan ended up being so much more fun than expected. Our hotel room was huge, with a lavish bathroom, two incredibly comfortable beds and a crib set up already when we checked in. Right across the street was a giant playground (that our hotel room window actually looked out onto) which Daniel really enjoyed playing at while Jacob took his afternoon nap.As an added bonus, the nearby night market ended up being truly fantastic. We headed out in the early evening just as most of the vendors were getting set up. Luckily there were some carnival-type games that we thought Daniel would enjoy so we were able to keep him occupied for a good while. A few dollars bought us 3 huge boxes of wooden balls that he slowly and carefully rolled down little bumpy slides trying to land them into the holes on an unevenly spaced parade of animal plates sliding along a rickety conveyor belt. After some initial hesitation, Daniel settled into a pretty happy groove and just loved playing the game. When all was said and done, he accumulated enough points to choose himself any prize on the lot and despite all our efforts to coax him into choosing something small, he chose himself a big orange plastic dump truck filled with sand toys. He beamed so happily we just couldn’t say no to him. With Daniel’s shiny new toy in hand, we then went to explore the food offerings. We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of options, with many we hadn’t yet seen before. By this time too, the market was started to getting busy with families and young kids wandering about. After walking around with hungry eyes, we ended up with a huge haul including a trio of hipster steamed bao sandwiches (pork belly and fried egg, fried chicken with kimchi and one more we can’t seem to remember), some delicious Thai fried chicken chopped and mixed with fresh lime, sliced onions, herbs and spices, a random assortment of meats, veggies and tofu boiled in tasty broth, fried noodles and of course fresh fruit juices. We settled into a table and had a really fun last meal in Taiwan together as a family. It was a feast and we all went home happy and full. The kids fell asleep quickly that night, leaving Jesse and I to pack up all our bags in the (thankfully) very large hotel bathroom. I decided that I didn’t want to fly to Hanoi the next day with a suitcase full of dirty laundry so I headed out to the laundromat that night, promising Jesse I’d find us some dessert on my way back. As I walked around that evening, I texted Jesse to tell him how alive the city felt – there were people young and old walking around the streets, biking around on their bikeshare bikes, and the restaurants all seemed packed. It felt pretty great to be walking around by myself that night – sort of reminiscent of our travel experiences before we had kids…I only wished Jesse could have been with me! After getting a stern talking to in Mandarin from the laundromat owners (from what I gathered through hand motions and interpretation of their tone I must have left a few baby socks in the washing machine and they had to search through all the dryers to find out which load was mine…oops!), I returned back to the night market and found some hot and fresh tofu pudding with ginger syrup to bring back home. Jesse and I happily slurped it down in our bathroom fortress before finishing our packing and heading to bed. It was an unexpectedly great last night in Taiwan!
Actual travel dates: April 24-25, 2017