Food has always been one of the staples for attracting tourists and locals in Taiwan. From bubble tea to stinky tofu, the delicacies of Formosa have never failed to impress. This time around, City543 has something a bit less conventional but oddly refreshing for everybody – a tour on snake cuisine. Tagging along we have a very special guest, Stephanie Lin, who won the Miss Asian America pageant in 2015. She is the very first winner of Taiwanese descent to ever hold the prestigious title.
Although uncommon in Western dining, snake fare has been in existence in China for more than 2000 years. Once considered a “high-status” food due to its complex preparation process and ingredient acquisition, snake is now eaten more for its novelty. In folk medicine, snake meat and snake soup are said to have numerous beneficial medicinal effects, such as curing bodily ailments, blood nourishment, improvement of skin quality and increase in one’s qi or life energy levels. It is also said to increase sexual energy levels for men.
Snake meat, bile and blood are available for the curious traveller’s stomach here at Huaxi Street Night Market, better known as Snake Alley. It is eye-opening to see how every single part of a snake can somehow be turned into a dish. Yes, even the snake’s private parts. There are also beverages made from what comes out of the private parts of a snake. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. For those who want something less extreme, snake blood is on the menu too. Those feeling adventurous will certainly get a kick out of this one.
Close by Snake Alley we have Bangka. Bangka, more widely known as Wanhua District, is a place people associate more with gangs, violence and brotherhood than a place on its own due to the movie Monga. Somewhat ironically, Bangka is actually the oldest district in Taipei, and it is home to the Red House Theatre, the first and largest teahouse and playhouse in Taiwan as well as Longshan Temple. Here, one can find classic Taiwanese street food such as oyster omelet and braised pork rice.
Hop over to Zhongzheng District for a walk to calm the stomach and the next tour on the menu.
Often coined the Akihabara of Taipei, Guang Hua Digital Plaza has long garnered the attention and cash of tech geeks all over Taiwan because of its extensive selection of anything hardware/software related. Originally a gathering place for second-hand book stores, Guang Hua Digital Plaza has evolved into a mass congregation of technological gadgets. From cameras, selfie-sticks, wires, computers to games and consoles, this place honestly has it all, not to mention the price is often the best in Taipei (if one has the necessary haggling finesse).
Situated right beside Guang Hua Digital Plaza is a place known as Syntrend, the place you go to for the best, newest technology-related products and designs. Hosting numerous prestigious lines as well as indie brands, Syntend is a place where innovation and user experience merge. Think of Syntrend as Guang Hua Digital Plaza on overdrive, minus the wires and adaptors. The things sold here are a class above, which also demand a slightly larger girth of one’s wallet. A few things one can expect here are 3D printer technology, premium cameras, speakers and computer products. To top the whole thing off, there is an entire floor dedicated to games and figures. Awesome.