Monday, 5 October 2015

More Rainy Day Activities In and Around Taipei

One of the most popular posts on this blog is 10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Taipei. In case I haven't already mentioned it, it rains a lot in Taiwan, and there's clearly a need for wet weather activities. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do and many are cheap or free.

Shrimp Fishing

Shrimp fishing, Taiwan
There are those who say you haven't really experienced the heart of Taiwan unless you've been shrimp fishing. I was reminded of this while watching a wonderful film, A Brilliant Young Mind, where British guests in Taipei are treated to this simple yet very engaging activity. 

Put simply, you dangle a baited fishing rod in some water in a covered area, and wait for the shrimp to bite. Apparently, the water is deliberately made murky to hide the lurking shrimp. When you've (hopefully) caught a few, you can barbecue them. Be warned - the shrimp are still alive when skewered ready for cooking.

Shrimp fishing farms are clustered along Zhishan Road Sections 2 and 3. The nearest MRT Station is Shilin on the red line, but you must also catch a bus or a taxi to reach the farms. According to this report, you can catch a xiao (小) 18 or 19 from Shilin station, and get off at sha lun xia.

Hot Springs

Wulai, Taiwan
When it's cold and wet outside, what better way to warm up than spending an hour or two soaking in a hot spring? Far north and south of Taipei City lie several hot spring areas. Beitou is the most famous, perhaps, but hot springs are also available at Yangminshan, Wulai and other areas. You can use the public springs or rent a private room. 

For an easy, cheap dip, catch the MRT to Xinbeitou (change at Beitou Station), and cross the road in front of the station to reach the Hot Spring Museum. Next to the museum is the Millenium Hot Spring Bathhouse. For about NT$50 you can enjoy a soak in a communal pool. Remember to take along your swimsuit or trunks and a swimming hat.

Indoor Swimming

Continuing the water theme, one of the most easily accessible and healthy activities for a rainy day in Taipei is to go swimming. As I mentioned in this article on living in Taiwan, swimming attire is slightly more restrictive here than in the West. You must wear a hat, and males must wear close-fitting swimming trunks.

One thing I love about indoor swimming pools in Taipei is that some have spa sections, where strong jets of water pummel the tension from your muscles. Our favourite swimming pool is Dahu Park Pool  (where if you're a Neihu resident you get a discount). This is very close to Dahu Park MRT Station and Dahu Park. The indoor section of Dahu Park Pool has hot water soaking areas, a sauna and a spa area as well as a regular lap pool. This swimming centre is very popular, and it has a restaurant upstairs. We also use our local pool at Bojia Sports Park because it's free to residents of Wenshan District.

One thing to be aware of is that Taiwanese swimming pools rarely have deep ends.

Discovery Centre & 101

Taipei 101

A fun inner city rainy day activity for those with children is to combine a visit to the Discovery Centre with a trip to the top of 101. The Discovery Centre is at No. 1, City Hall Road, and it houses interesting, interactive exhibits about Taipei, its past and its cultural heritage. There are plenty of things for children to play with to keep them engaged, and most displays have English translations.

When you've explored all four floors of the Discovery Centre, Taipei 101 is within easy reach to see the most recent incarnation of the city laid out in all its splendour. If the rain clouds block the view, there are still exhibits to see and the giant damping ball at the centre, and if all those fail to impress, the stamping machine and ice-cream shop are on standby.

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry picking, Taipei
Strawberries are grown undercover in Taiwan (something about the regular, heavy rain showers), so you can spend a rainy day keeping relatively dry picking strawberries

Spring is strawberry picking season. To reach a strawberry farm catch the No. 2 minibus from Bihu Elementary School bus stop in Neihu Road Section 2, behind Neihu MRT station. The buses aren't frequent, but they are popular, so arrive early. Special taxis also regularly pick up from the stop.

The strawberry farm is the next stop after Bishanyan Temple, or you can get off at the temple and walk through the park. On your way you'll pass several restaurants you can stop at for something to eat on your way back. The strawberries are no cheaper than they are in the shops, but you do get to pick only the most perfect ones. 

Central Library (Daan)

If you're just looking for somewhere quiet, dry and different from home to spend a few hours, Daan Central Library at No. 125, Jianguo South Road Section 2, is the place for you. A ten-minute walk, mostly under shop awnings, from Technology Building MRT Station on the brown line, this library stocks many books in English, including a whole floor of children's books. To reach this floor (B2), walk downstairs to B1 and into the children's library. On the left is another set of steps leading down to B2. Hundreds of books from the U.S. U.K. Australia, Canada and New Zealand stock the shelves, and you can borrow them if you have an ARC or other long-term resident visa. Just apply at the desk on the first floor.

For older readers, there are foreign language periodicals on floor 2, an intriguing American Corner on floor 3 (I've never been there) and foreign language collections on floor 4. 

There are, of course, libraries in all areas of Taipei, but few have anything approaching the English language resources of the main library in Daan. TPE FREE, the free wifi service for Taipei residents, is available at all libraries and MRT stations. Just register here.

With all these options available, I hope you find something to do the next rainy day in Taipei.

No comments: