Sister Liu in Taipei
Updated: Mar 21, 2020
Days 847 - 855
Sometimes on our travels, we come across a gem. And in Taipei, we have found two. One by Jac, a great place to stay, and the other by Tim, introducing us to Sister Liu in Taipei. Well done Team!
I usually research and book our accommodation, but this time, Jac found a gem: Art' Otel Ximending, a fabulously modern, funky hotel, with its black and white theme and delightful staff, especially Mo, who has the patience of a saint! We are loving staying here.
And Tim found our next gem, a little diamond. Xiao Xiao Place (meaning Little Place) is a vegetarian restaurant within a couple of minutes' walk.
The place is owned and run by Sister Liu, in the ground floor of a century-old mansion. It's like sitting in a friend's kitchen, watching them cook while chatting and receiving a delicious meal. We immediately connected with Sister Liu, she is warm and inviting. And, of course, we loved her food so much that we have now visited three times. It really is like being with a friend.
Her restaurant Facebook page describes her ethos as: "We believe that behind the vision of the environment, land and people in harmony, there is respect for life, understanding the smallness of the self, all beings, etc. Therefore, we strive to live in harmony. The way of beings." (I have used google translate, but I am sure you get the gist – very poignant in current times.)
The ingredients that Sister Liu uses include a wide range of seasonal vegetables from friendly or organically grown local small farmers. Jac was thrilled to see that she ferments some; as this is excellent for our gut.
Last year, Jac used the services of Miguel Toribio-Mateas, a Clinical Neuroscientist, as she had heard that he researched in the communication between the gut microbiome and the nervous system. Working with him, Jac adjusted her diet, eating more fermented food, as well as "rainbow" food, and this was one of the major factors which helped her get through her severe depression.
Miguel advocates having a diverse diet, eating at least 30 different ingredients in a week (preferably 50). On our last visit to Xiao Xiao Place, Sister Liu and we calculated that there were 32 ingredients in our meal! And it all tasted fabulous.
On our second visit, we took Angela, a warm and friendly lass from the Gold Coast who was also staying at Art' Otel. She was supposed to be in China, teaching English to young children for the next year or two. But due to the Big C – she has had to stay in Taiwan.
She wanted to send her clothes over to China but discovered that these needed to be boxed up rather than sent in her gigantic suitcase. She offered the case to us. We couldn't believe it! Jac has bought so many presents for family and friends, that she needed an extra bag. How fortunate is that!
We haven't explored Taipei much, we have yet to see the 101 Tower, the night markets and splendid temples. But from what we have seen, it's a mellow mix of the neon lights of Chinatown, scooter infested streets like Hanoi and the neat, aesthetically pleasing décor of Japan.
We do see some weird and wonderful things here, like a giant cartoon character on the back of a truck! We've visited a few other good places to eat and met Vic, a great guy - a fellow traveller, who we hope to catch up with soon.
Last week it was Tim's birthday – we went to a lovely place for brunch where the welcoming staff graciously gave Tim a pudding with a candle in it! Sadly straight after, I felt unwell – a dodgy Ramen meal the night before – so our plans had to change.
I went back to our accommodation, and later Tim and Jac went to the National Museum. By the time they got there, they were so hungry – must have been the sugar spike – they were disappointed to find there was no café there. However, a kind staff member pointed them to the Palaeontology Museum across the road for a bite to eat before seeing the dinosaur exhibition. Yes, most places are still open here in Taiwan.
In the evening, I was feeling better, so we went to TGI Friday, not our usual eatery. During the meal, our son John called to wish Tim a Happy Birthday. Realising that it was a special day, a waitress ran over and gave us hats to wear and sang Happy Birthday in Taiwanese, then Jac and I joined her in the English version. A complimentary pudding was also brought over, and the young lady insisted that Tim had three wishes: the first two he could share and the last one was a secret. I wonder what it was?
We like it here: friendly people, great food, easy travel, diverse scenery, and as I mentioned in my last blog, the government are being sensible and proactive about the big C. As British citizens, we can stay here for 90 days, so that's what Tim and I have decided to do. Jac is returning to the UK, especially as she will become Grannie Jac in a few months. Our three Grown Up Travellers is reverting down to two.