Places in Taiwan I will miss after returning to my country, well, is an interesting question, because, Taiwan itself is beautiful and most beautiful are the Taiwanese people; But if I have to describe an specific place 淡水(Danshui) is the one.

Just a train ride away from central Taipei, Danshui is where northern Taiwan meets the water it's a seaside town, named after the Danshui River that was once the region's shipping and commerce center. Taipei locals flee the city to breathe the fresh air along the coast, or hop on a ferry and sail along the river. Strolling the waterfront is a simple pleasure anyone can peruse traditional handicrafts and sample street food in the open-air markets, hang out in the area's riverside parks or fisherman's wharf, or enjoy a meal and a drink at one of the outdoor restaurants. Many flock to the Danshui waterfront to watch the sunset into the Taiwan Strait it's a quaint spot to perch and experience a different, fresher side of Taipei.

Commonly referred to by its’ English name, Tamsui was probably the most tourist-friendly area in Taipei I ever seem. Or at least tourists seeking a “real” Taiwan experience.

 

How to get there, when you exit the last station of the red line, go left and walk along the Tamsui Old Street. It runs parallel to the Dansui River and is filled with cheap and great food, drinks, candy, toys, and souvenirs. My favorite food there is the squid, for me, without the spicy but still really taste, even they give you the option of a couple flavors.

 

The ice cream has several flavors, and is famous in Taiwan for towering up above the cone. Seriously, it’s famous. Try it.

 

Walking around you will find I love Taiwanese temples. They are absolutely beautiful, with exotic colors and gorgeous infrastructure. At the temple, you can buy money for your ancestors (that can be burned, so that you ancestors can spend it in the next life), use special wooden stones to make a wish (which I will write a post about later), burn incense, or get the temple to bless food for your ancestors.

 

Climb 106 rickety stone steps up to the Red Castle. It was a building created in 1899 and the english travel brochure I picked up highly recommended it. Like the name suggests, it was built with bright red bricks and steeping arches.

 

Realize that the Red Castle was bought out by a company a couple years back, and is now a restaurant. If you’re like me, and didn’t even realize that could happen… well… it can. You can awkwardly walk around the restaurant for a while, looking at the historical signs and explanations (and smelling the delicious food) before shuffling away.

 

Stroll along the river for a bit until you reach the next spot in the tourist brochure, Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf. Realize that although pretty, it is famous for coffee shops, restaurants (remember, you’re still full at this point from all the street food), and being the departing spot for cruise ships.

 

Keep walking, Arrive at Hongmao Castle (Fort San Domingo), a fort constructed by a red-haired Dutch man. The sign said that the Taiwanese name “Hongmao” is some reference to the Dutch-man’s weirdly bright red hair. Neat. The fort passed hands between the Dutch, Spanish, and British.

 

Like Red Castle, Fort San Domingo is constructed out of bright red bricks (possibly to match the bright-red hair of the Dutch man). Unlike Red Castle, Fort San Domingo is not a restaurant.

 

The fort is pretty straight-forward. You get to explore the prison, the main house, the grounds, and another large building whose purpose I wasn’t able to determine. At every stop, there is a helpful guide who will point you in the right direction. If you try to “skip” a section of the castle because you’re pressed for time, a guide will most likely assume you’re lost, chase you down, and point you in the “correct” direction. Just go with it. The fort is free to enter and has beautiful colors.

 

As a nature lover, watch the sunset at the fisherman wharf and be thankful for all I have its going to be the thing that I will miss the most of Taiwan.

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