Day 2: 35,545 Steps

I can do this all day! I can do this all DAY son! — Schmidt

The top of the Xiangshan trail. Apologies for the nipple closeup.

All day. I’ll get to that later.

Dumplings.

That’s all I wanted. (If you didn’t read the previous blog post, go there first!)

Left to right: Top: String beans with pork, Taiwanese Lettuce,\Spicy Pork Wontons
Left to right: Me starving/sweating, POT STICKERS!!, Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)

We’re taking a 2 hour train from Taipei to Taroko National Park today, so I have some time to ramble on about the stuff we did yesterday. Which, as the title of this post un-subtly foreshadowed, was 35,545 steps worth of stuff.

We woke up today at 6:45. That’s 6:45 AM. For those of you who know our sleep patterns, not much more need be said. For those of you who don’t — it’s been unclear to me for the last few years whether the hours of 6–8 AM really happen or whether they are just the most elaborate hoax perpetrated by the U.S. Government since the moon landing.

Anyway, we collectively realized that hunger was more important than jetlag, and a few ‘shups and a shower later, we headed out to find Taipei’s best bakery.

ChiaTe? JiaDe? JiaTe? WhatThe?

This bakery was called, according to a friend, Jia De. How hard could it be to say those 5 letters? Apparently pretty hard. Many blank faced, one-directional conversations with our concierge later, Zach (whose Mandarin has saved the day multiple times) figured out where the hell we were supposed to go, and our adventure was finally underway.

On the way, we stopped at a bank. My debit card doesn’t work, please help, Mom! This was the bank’s mascot:

This is the bank’s mascot, but in utensil form:

I’m wondering what marketing department thought — “You know what would be really good for our bank’s brand? Cats. And cats, but as forks.”


Getting around Taipei has been unbelievably easy. The subway is cheap, clean, and efficient, and the people watching is top notch. Here’s a person rockin’ some sweet streetwear.

It’s a thing here to wear t-shirts with random English words on them, my favorites thusfar are “Taiwan Basketball Never Stops” and “Penny No Loafers”.

We rode the subway from Zhongshan to Nanjing Sanmin, and finally found the bakery, ChiaTe.

The Bay Area homie Jeremy Lin at the bakery

There were a million pastries in this place. And for ever pastry, there was a box. We drew plenty of laughs for asking “we want everything with a picture”, and then even more for putting the pineapple pastries into the box for the wife cakes (I mean, who doesn’t know that?), but eventually:

Din Tai Fong

After incomprehensibly stuffing ourselves, we moved hotels to near the Chang Kai-Shek Memorial. We got hungry again. The pictures up at the top are from Din Tai Fong, arguably the best dumpling place in Taiwan — they have a Michelin Star!

Xiangshan Hike:

We hit the ground running right after lunch, heading to Xiangshan for a hike. I’m not a hiker. But make anything a competition, add a few thousand stairs, turn the humidity up to 100 and yell “STREET WORKOUT” and you know I’m in.

Cool photo of me and the bros shirtless. The view is okay too.

If you’ve been wondering what the video at the beginning of this post was, it’s from a gazebo at the top of the hike with a bunch of random workout equipment. Curls for the girls. All day.

The view from the top

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

Chiang Kai-Shek succeeded party founder Sun Yat-sen as Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) leader,expelled Chinese communists from the party and led a successful unification of China. In 1946, a year after Japan’s surrender in WWII, civil war broke out in China between KMT and Communist forces. With the Communist victory in mainland China in 1949, Mao declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, and Chiang fled with the remnants of his Nationalist government to Taiwan.

Unfortunately, when they got to Taiwan, Chiang imposed martial law and persecuted people critical of his rule in a period known as the “White Terror”. He ruled Taiwan for 30 years until his death in 1975, when they built an memorial for him. The pictures speak for themselves.

Click here for 17 things you WON’T BELIEVE Chiang Kai Shek did!

The Night Market

We skipped dinner(!) and went to the Shilin Night Market to hunt down some late night grub. The Night Market is known for such delicacies as: chicken fried steak, frogs eggs, little bun inside big bun, and some unspeakably large sausages.

Sausages literally the size of my arm

The rest of the night market was an eclectic mix of pop up stands and high end retailers. It felt like we had stepped into the twilight zone — the market was endless, but every store seemed to be selling the same things!

Feelings time and parting thoughts:

We are going to be walking a lot. This is going to be a cool trip. If you’re reading this, let me know if you want anything from Asia, there’s a lot of stuff here and I really want to haggle. Taiwanese people are surprisingly nice. I thought it was quite interesting how they celebrate Chiang Kai-Shek but still acknowledge the White Terror and commemorate the victims.

Reading:

This section is going to be of variable length based on how much time I have, but for the engineer types among you, check out:

Towards intelligent structures : active control of buckling

Totally elegant way of building structures — up to 10x increases in strength just by eliminating vibrational modes!


Write back to me! It would be great to hear feedback or just what you’re up to. arjunb@stanford.edu is best.