Post Office Perils.

Monday, 17 February 2014

(With our lovely Leah!)

Having already admitted defeat, we awoke lazily and worked our way to the bank, ready for another battle. I sprawled across the chairs in the seating area, drinking bubble tea and trying to make sense of the nonsensical Taiwanese tv shows, while Livi worked her way through the rigmarole of procuring a ticket (like you do in the cheese counter of Tesco), waiting to be called up, explaining her blocked card situation and emptying the contents of her bag onto the desk in an attempt to show the failed ATM slips. At one point she had about 90% of the bank staff gawping at her bizarre antics, and the majority were being less than helpful. Finally she decided to call it a day, and left...none the wiser.

On the way out of the bank Livi decided (quite daringly, may I add) to give the ATM one last shot. By some stroke of luck her transaction worked, and soon she found herself the perplexed owner of 5000 fine New Taiwan Dollars! Usually people tend to celebrate with champagne... cava at the very least! Not us. We decided to celebrate by spending the next three hours trying to locate a post office, so that we could post all of our purchases home before we moved on to Thailand. Imagine the japes we had! To regale these tales to you would probably induce frenzied hysteria, or perhaps just extreme boredom.

After a two hour walk across central Taipei, using a combination of offline Google Map navigation and postal related hand gestures (in some sort of twisted version of 'gotta run my errands' charades) we located the elusive Taipei Main Station Exit Z10, the furthest exit from the station (which in itself is huge) that is nowhere near anything transport related at all. In fact it's next to some sort of university... I know this because we tried to go there first, only to be quickly shoo'd out of the door; I think they were quite concerned by the prospect of English students and didn't want us getting any funny ideas about studying abroad.

Finally we made it. We strode nonchalantly into Taipei Beimen Post Office, attempting to look as if we'd just happened upon the place and not as if we'd spent the past few hours on the world's worst adventurous cross-city trek. Assuming it'd be as easy as just dumping our items on the counter, pointing at the word 'England' on the glossy poster behind us, and handing over our freshly procured cash... we attempted to do just that.

Oh no no! Don't be're in the wrong queue. What ensued was somewhat of a comedy sketch, with us sidestepping our way around the building trying to decipher the entertainingly written types of postage. Eventually we found the section that appeared to send non-commercial packages to England.

Before we were allowed to purchase boxes for postage, we had to first tip all of our items out onto the counter and try to jam them into various 'dummy' boxes. 

(Everything fits in if you squish it hard enough)

We both settled on size 2, paid our dollars...and set to work packing. I'd been a little too overcautious with my box choosing, and once all of my items were safely nestled in their cardboard house...I still had a fair amount of space to fill. Luckily the post office had a 'paper strip' pool (similar to a ball pool) and I dove in, box in hand, and stuffed my box to the brim with loose paper strands.

(Box contents well and truly trapped!)

Next we ventured to the 'sealing' desk, unfortunately trailing long strips of paper behind us, where we fought with stupidly sticky tape and blunt serrated cutting blades until we'd fashioned our handy-work into things that resembled parcels.

We weighed and stamped our parcels, filled in numerous forms, paid our shipping fees and were finally done. Phew. A quick stop to the 'normal' part of the post office sorted us with stamps for our postcards, and we relieved ourselves of the burden of communication with the outside world too.

(Just a few postcards to send)

With our bags feeling a whole lot lighter we finally clocked the time, and the realisation hit us that we'd actually spent a stupidly long amount of time on our post office hunt, and were now late to meet Leah. We headed back towards Taipei Main Station to catch the MRT to meet her, and attempted to stop in at every Family Mart and 7-11 along the way, in an attempt to stealthily communicate with her online. Luckily Leah was also running a bit late, and was happy to meet us later, and we found her a short while later, perched outside the station.

We took a quick trip to Leah's sister's bag shop to say hi before meeting Mumma Duck. As always, a trek ensued and we soon found ourselves at a food market, where we feasted on oyster omelettes (a food that can easily be instantly rejected by your stomach for sure!) wrapped in the familiar jelly 'shell'.

(Yummy oysters?!)

The problem for me with Taiwanese food is that it often tastes delicious... If you can get past the unusual consistency, smell, look and ingredients! This omelette was actually pretty tasty... But without coaxing there's no way we'd have gone near it! It's not the most appealing looking specimen! 

Next we hit round two of food, and chowed down on sweet pork and rice (which instantly became Livi's favourite Taiwanese dish) and some mystery meat soup! 

(Pork and rice- Before and after) 

(So much mystery!!)

Post-meal we were instantly whisked to the Chinese New Year market. Unfortunately we missed actual new year as we'd planned to be in Thailand, but the girls were keen to give us a preview of the festivities.

(Sweets galore!)

The market was heaving and we muddled along at a snails pace, soaking up the colour, culture and content of the occasion. Food samples were offered in their hundreds and stalls selling every dried fruit imaginable, huge bags of nuts, dried fish, jelly beans, sweets and meats overflowed on to the street. The market was decorated in the traditional gold and red, and preparations were well under way to welcome in the year of the horse! 

(Decorated with traditional red paper lanterns)

(Some sort of vegetable stall)

(Prawn man!)

(Dried squid)

Exhausted, we squeezed our way along the crowd until we found an exit, and headed to the station where we said our tearful goodbyes to lovely Bagel Lin (who is coming to England in the summer to study at Warwick, so it definitely wasn't goodbye forever!).

(With Leah and Mumma Duck!!)

We headed back to the flat and said our goodbyes to our adopted family, who had been ridiculously kind to us. We promised that we'd come back to stay soon and handed over the box of Lindor chocolate that we'd spied in the 'we-sell-all-the-foods' shop, which didn't even come close enough to thanking them for the hospitality and love they'd showed us over the week!

Mumma Duck disappeared and came back with two heart shaped boxes, stuffed to the brim with local Taiwanese snacks for our journey, we were bowled over by her generosity (the snacks were delicious, I'm still working my way through the last of the nougat a month later in Thailand!).

(So many treats!!)

We drank our last Taiwanese bubble tea of the trip (green tea, passion fruit, less ice, 30% sugar, coconut jelly... If you're wondering) with a wave of sadness washing over us. I'd well and truly fallen in love with Taiwan, it had exceeded all expectations and we'd met such wonderful people, been to some amazing places and eaten some interesting and delicious things! I vowed to come back someday soon. 

(Last ever bubble tea in Taiwan!)

We spent the rest of the evening packing our (stupid) rucksacks, and then took some pictures of our lovely family before snoozing, ready for our stupidly early wake up call and the beginning of the next part of our adventure- Thailand!

(Mumma Duck, dad and Amy!)

(Lovely Mumma Duck and Amy!)

(Liv and family :) )

(Me and my family!)

(Amy and I!)


  1. looks fantastic, sounds fantastic. Want to go there. SOON. xxxx

  2. Awwwww it sounds like your having so much fun! That family are so nice .... I love that photo of you with Amy the dog xxx

  3. 1) buy a shrimp hat, NOW.

    2) You loved that dog really, liar! I refuse to believe she was the terrorist you said she was