Though it’s her mother’s hometown, Taipei was a mystery to London, Ontario-born Jessica J. Lee until she started exploring it as an adult. Now based in Berlin, she visits often, especially as she works on her book, Two Trees Make a Forest: A Story of Memory, Migration, and Taiwan, due out later this year. “I love the vitality of Taipei, the way it surges with plants, mosses and birds, even on the busiest streets.”
An Insider's Guide to Taipei —
Canadian nature writer Jessica J. Lee takes us to her favourite spots in the capital of Taiwan.
1. Qixing Mountain
I do a lot of solo hiking when I’m there, and I love this trail because it leads to the highest point in northern Taiwan. On a clear day, there are views of the city, the whole Taipei Basin to the south and the East China Sea to the north. Because the mountain is a dormant volcano, you can see fumaroles releasing clouds of geothermal steam and sulphur crystal formations on the way up – it’s both scary and fascinating.
2. Cafe LakuLaku
This spot in Songshan has a fantastic neighbourhood vibe with a beautiful old Japanese facade and sliding doors. There’s a little back room where I like to sit and write for hours, drinking coffee and eating their lemon cake. No. 129, Yanshou Street, Songshan District, facebook.com/cafelakulaku
3. Raohe Night Market
This night market filled with food stalls is next to the Songshan rail station. I’m a vegetarian and there are great options like fried mushrooms, barbecued corn and tang yuan – boiled rice dumplings filled with sweet black sesame and served with osmanthus syrup. Raohe Street, Songshan District
4. White Wabbit Records
I met the guys who run this shop at a music festival in Tainan on the west coast. They’re part of a movement of young musicians and activists who are concerned with distinguishing Taiwanese identity. They carry a wonderful selection of Taiwanese music, like that of Wu Zhining, whose father is a famous poet. He has set his dad’s poems about the island and the landscape to music, and it’s so beautiful. No. 1-1, Lane 21, Pucheng Street, Da’an District, wwr.com.tw