Weather was generally crappy today, but we managed to find an hour or so in the morning when it wasn’t coming down too hard to sneak across the road and check out the gardens at the National Palace Museum. Nothing is really in bloom this time of year, but it was still enjoyable to walk around and look at the architecture and animals. Of particular note was the pair of black swans sharing the main pond with huge koi.

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Plenty of other good scenery was to be found though, too.

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From there we headed to the wholesale district to visit Dawin’s cousin. She lives above a wholesale shop that Dawin’s grandfather used to use for his business. Now they rent it out to others and Dawin’s uncle runs his business out of the third floor of the building. The trip was a real treat for Dawin’s mom, as she was able to walk through the house she grew up in. We went out on the roof to get a shot of the wholesale district, and it was a perfect time to pull out the iPhone and take a panorama. Click the photo to embiggen.

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The shops are on the first floor and people generally live above them. Each shop has a specialty, whether it’s pots and pans, luggage, phone accessories, or candy, and you can usually find a better deal at these than at a traditional store. This street is pretty straight, but heading down an alley leads into a tangle of streets all hawking their wares.

Afterwards, we headed to another shopping area where we poked around for a bit before grabbing dinner. As usual, the fast food here in Taipei is spectacular, and we each found a massive tray of food for around five US dollars. Afterward, Dawin’s brother got a shaved ice dessert that was about as big as my head, covered in tapioca and red beans (a sweet bean used in many traditional desserts here). Here’s a pic next to a regular size drink, for comparison.

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’twas delicious.

Tomorrow, we hop on a bullet train and head to the very southern tip of the island for two days. Looking forward to my first taste of high speed rail.