‘Escape’: a word near and dear to my heart. As soon as I learned I could, it grew into an ever-present life motto. My newest addition is finding small escapes, maybe an hour or a half-day if I’m lucky. Even challenging myself to appear there, but be completely hidden away in my own presence. I’m secretly hoping that one day I’ll achieve the talent of being in two places at once. A girl can dream. Imagine a world in which my decoy can stay and work while the real me frolics away! Until then, of course, these are my recommended places to escape to when in Taipei.
The Mandarin Cake Shop (Mandarin Oriental Taipei)
If you’ve read the article describing my sweet experience at Café Un Deux Trois, then you remember my obsession with this (massive) hidden oasis: Mandarin Oriental Taipei. While anything on the complex is an excellent hideaway choice, today I am spotlighting The Mandarin Cake Shop.
With beautifully crafted pastries and a wide array of beverages to pair, this cake shop looks something out of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’ The Libra in me swooned just as much over the various assortments of detail-oriented boxes as to the pastry collection. Add funky shaped glassware, outdoor and indoor seating, fresh cut flowers (plus a serving or three of ice cream), and suddenly I’m in Europe, not Taipei.
Having just celebrated their first year, I’m not sure this gem will stay hidden forever. But you can bet I will be escaping and indulging here for as long as possible.
The Lounge (Eslite Hotel)
Despite feeling as if I was back in Myanmar where I showed up dripping in sweat all over the place (Taipei is scorching lately), I instantly knew walking into the lobby that the Eslite Hotel and I would be great friends. It’s hard to go wrong with a location completely at the center of everything. Scratching your head as to why hiding in the middle of everything is just what you need?
Well maybe it’s due to my fondness for a mad-dash followed by the ability to burrow again. Hiding in the middle of it all gives you so many options for a quick there-and-back again if you find yourself desiring something else.
Consider The Lounge, a giant, yet quiet lobby. Surrounding it, there’s the Songshan Cultural Park (the old tobacco company turned into creative venue), the lush grounds speckled with whimsical art pieces, the Eslite Spectrum, The Chapter (Eslite’s fine dining space), and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall not too far off. Although, take it from me, it’s still quite a lengthy walk when temperatures reach into the 80s or higher.
The Lounge itself is a mix of couches, armchairs, and long wooden tables. Their library collection spans the length of the room. Would you expect anything less from a company with the most popular bookstores in Taipei? The décor blends art, modern design, and home furnishings such as flowers and coffee table books. Large windows and table lamps provide great reading space. I could hardly believe how empty the place was on a Saturday after lunch. Not that I was complaining as my new best friend was a worthy (half) secret.
Kishu An Forest of Literature
I really could kick myself for not finding this place sooner. The walk to Kishu An alone was a nestled treasure-lined find. If streets were forgotten rows at antique shops, Tong’an would be one of them. Just outside MRT Guting Exit 2, wind your way down Tong’an Street. I can’t quite explain the feeling, but it was the same as when I was exploring Hualien or Yehliu. Small coastal townships that bring out Taiwanese lifestyle from behind the Japanese and Chinese influences.
Kishu An Forest of Literature is actually an old Japanese restaurant, now preserved and accompanying a new building designed to honor the advancements of literature in the modern world. The new building has a small café and a limited exhibition and event space. It is warm and inviting to its guests.
But the real star is the preserved restaurant. Take off your shoes, sit on a tatami mat, or leave your legs hanging out of the open paneling that overlooks the small surrounding park. Mostly quiet, even when I went and a traditional fan dance was being taught, I was able to absorb myself into my own thoughts and let loose those tight city springs.
A few weeks back, I wrote about my experiences going to Ounce. This week, it makes the list as the perfect evening hideaway because not all hidden adventures happen during work hours (although hiding from work is what I do best). If you need an excuse to explore, the answer is handcrafted-custom cocktails. Read more about Ounce here!
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
When I read the reviews for the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, I was skeptical about how many art pieces I would actually find once there. All the reviews slammed the museum for having lots of unfilled space, but it’s the spacey and airy nature of this museum that I gravitate towards. As a Westerner walking around Taipei, I have to navigate storefronts and MRT stations, and as such, Eastern “art” seems to be around me constantly. At the museum, I feel no pressure to be or see or feel anything I don’t want to be. Lots of light and seating make for a perfect rainy day hideaway where I can simply exist in a state without forced overlap. Sometimes, we just need spaces to be our own work of art, uninterrupted or challenged by others.
Never miss a thing here at B&B. Sign up to receive the weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with all the latest finds.