After we went to Yang Ming Shan, we decided to head back to the city to see Xi Men Ding.
It is conveniently located near the Xi Men Station, so walk out and you would be able to see it. It was a bustling place, full of youth wandering around the streets. They were all browsing through the shops, linking hands and taking photos: what the typical youth in Singapore would do at Orchard Road. It is very much like Town, only with more Chinese words, and street stalls. Huge TV screens are blaring away, showing the advertisements at will. Every one is browsing around, entering clothes shops and having fun.
Despite its hyped up activity, Xi Men Ding is quite small. Though it boasts a lot on the brands, expensive clothes and cafes, it is smaller than Shilin. We didn’t get a lot of authentic buys here, since it was mostly catering to the local Taiwanese youths. They ad international brands, and cafes that usually involved fusion food and Western cuisine.
Come to Xi Men for the energy and bustle of the City Life, but not for its buys or traditional food! It is more of a hangout for the young (and young at heart) in Taiwan. You can spend around 1-2 hours there, and you’ll be done!
There was no real authentic Taiwanese food here. The only thing that I managed to get was the deep fried Shilin Chicken. This chicken is really crispy, and they fry it together, bones and all. In Singapore, you would get this treat, but they would cut it up with scissors. In Taiwan, they do not cut it at all. Eunice was unaware of this, and she asked the hawker whether he could cut the chicken up for her. He looked shocked. It was a huge piece, and after a while, the fried taste got a little too overwhelming for our liking.
Food here isn’t all that cheap, and there aren’t many (or at all) vegetarian options here. So we eventually ate at a non-vegan pasta joint. The food didn’t taste all that good. My pasta was a little too creamy, and apparently Say Yian’s one was made out of Campbell soup out of a can.
The clothes here were not cheap, and so we kept walking around aimlessly, looking from accessory shops to branded shoes, and bags. They were nice, but quite beyond our expected budget. I saw a few cute pairs of overalls, but they were too small, and too expensive. Taiwan’s style of clothing is slightly different, and there were some with higher prices and poorer quality. I didn’t see anything in particular that was a ‘Must Grab’ over there. My friends didn’t really buy anything here either.
It started to pour, and so we were heading to the outside of Xi Men Ding. At the edge of Xi Men Ding, lies a really cute outpost shop. These kind of shops are good buys, since they allow owners to rent out these boxes for sales. They have a variety of things, such as notebooks, wallets, cute hand towels, accessories. I bought many things there!! We saw a notebook that was $4, when that same notebook in Singapore could add up to a whopping $12!! As such, it was a good buy.
Apart from a few food miniatures and pouches (haha I purchased a Smelly Tofu Miniature for my foodie friend Xiu Wei), I got a really pretty pair of snowflake earrings. These were nicer than any of the shops we came across in Xi Men Ding! Amanda also discovered a stationary shop nearby, that sold really adorably printed paper and ribbons. A perfect place if you want to look for crafts.
While the rest headed to Daiso, Ya Fan and I decided to visit the Red House of Xi Men! It is an old red building, that is pretty outstanding due to its vintage look, and the bright hue of the building. Entering it is free, so feel free to enter and browse through the history of this place.
It was the centre of Taiwan’s Art Scene. Many famous opera singers used to come here, and musicals were held at these places. We saw the antique posters of the operas held during that time, and it was cool that it was established to be something like the Broadway in the USA.
Many cultures had been embraced here, since the Japanese had taken over it temporarily during the Japanese Occupation in the 2nd World War. As such, there is some Japanese influence on the place.
Over time, it grew to become a theatre, since movies became popular. American films were shown here, but over time it lost its novelty and grew to be an ‘outdated’ place. Thankfully it was restored later, and made into a monument to be remembered and revered for its historical significance to the country.
There are a number of small stalls inside the place, so we browsed through them for a while. It is a place worth seeing and going to, so get away from the night hype and energy of Xi Men, to appreciate this bit of culture here.