Thoughts of a Canadian Exchange Student

Danshui (淡水)

Danshui MRT Station

Danshui MRT Station

What to say about Danshui? I’m afraid that I was let down a little bit. I was expecting something like Steveston but what I found at Danshui was far, far from that. This might have had to do with a number of factors:

  1. It was Saturday. Inference: Lots of people.
  2. I went by myself. Inference: More fun with other people.
  3. Taiwan is small. Inference: Everyone has a limited number of places to choose to go to. Hence, inference #1.

Anyways.

I enjoyed the MRT ride out to Danshui a lot. You could feel the excitement from the passengers building as we neared Danshui because they all started to speak more and more loudly. Also, the scenery as we neared Danshui was very lush and green. A stark contrast to all the cement of Taipei, although, Taipei is colourful. My own excitement was also increasing because I started to see something that resembled a blue sky. Blue sky!! Actually, it was a very pale blue, but nevertheless, it was blue!

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Can you spot the McDonald’s?

While I was riding the MRT to Danshui from Gongguan, I was thinking to myself, “surely all these people that got on so early will get off at Taipei Main Station and thus, there will be less people going to Danshui.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. But, I digress.

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When I arrived in Danshui, I proceeded to explore without a plan, really. I just wanted to get a feel for what Danshui was. After a couple of hours of non-stop walking, I came to the conclusion that Danshui is a mix of a few things at home. Danshui is a mix of Playland without the rides and the better Night Market all condensed into a few long and narrow streets.

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There were horses and ponies to ride. There were carnival games to play. There was delicious food to eat. My gosh! The food! It was fantastic! I had stinky tofu, a really tall ice cream thing (more like ice milk, but good nevertheless) and squid. I loved the stinky tofu. It tasted so good. However, the clincher was the squid. If I ever go to Danshui again, I want more squid. I also had some sugar cane drink, but I don’t think it’s to my fancy.

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1) Tall ice cream. Or milk thing. 2) Sugar cane drink.

Also, I’m glad that my Chinese is to a level where I can read enough to pick what sort of basic food I want and good enough to ask for what I want. The best part is that I can just say, “I want this one” when I don’t know what it is. Yay for Chinese! (I’m still bothered by the fact that I’m taken for granted as being Taiwanese.)

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Squid.

Hmm…I forgot to take a picture of the squid splayed out on the stick, but it was so cheap compared to the stuff at home. It was only 50 NT which is approximately $1.60 CDN. And yes, I am trying to make a few people jealous. Haha!

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Looking out to the water.

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A boat tour you can take.

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I have no idea who these people are.

Aside from the food, I actually felt some sun on my face in Danshui. It was glorious. The sun cast shadows over everything and I reveled in it because so far in Taipei, I think that this has only happened once or twice. And the wind! The wind carried a hint of the sea and fresher air. I really liked that. Despite these reminders, I can’t shake the feeling that Danshui, most of all, feels like a tourist trap for the people of Taipei because just outside that little tourist area is just another regular city. I realise that Steveston, too, is a tourist attraction. However, the difference is that Steveston feels like a tourist attraction rather than a tourist trap.

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This picture lies to you.

 

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Sanitized.

 

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Maybe Danshui should look something more like this.

 

Danshui is what, I believe (I must add this to indicate my bias) city people want the “seaside” to be, not what it actually is. Manufactured. Sigh. On the other hand, I was quite happy when I saw some shacks and whatnot. Rundown as they were, it didn’t feel so manufactured as the “park” and the “boardwalk” (it was stone). And, oh, the park. There was more stone and cement than greenery. I’m afraid that my pictures make Danshui look better than it actually is.

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At the end of the day, despite all of these complaints about Danshui, it wasn’t bad. It didn’t conform to my idea of what it should have been but it was okay. For one thing, it was the most greenery I’ve seen outside of Taida’s campus despite being more cement than greenery. Also, I liked observing the crush of people that fit within such a small area. It’s just wow that so many people don’t mind being so close together. I like it. It gives me a sense of security for there’s always someone to help you out if you need it. You just have to ask. So, please enjoy my pictures of Danshui and try out the food! Oh, and go with friends too… on a weekday. Gotta love the MRT!

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Blue sky!

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The seaside.

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View of Danshui from inside the MRT.

P.S. I love how the way I ordered my pictures wash out near the end after starting off so vibrantly. It very nearly mimics how I felt about going to Danshui yesterday. I really liked that MRT ride home (dorms) because it reminds me of the bus rides home (Canada) from school at the end of a long day. Mmm… fresh air.

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Lots of cement.

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3 Responses

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  1. Lin said, on September 9, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    Hello Jennifer,
    Thanks for the note – sure thing you can link to my blog.

    And thanks for blogging – it’s interesting to read about another person’s experience here and learn more about NTU. I had considered going there but thought I might be too Beginner for it.

    Nah, you wouldn’t be, some people here are just starting out.

    Oh, and if you want to play ultimate, there is an expat team here (http://www.renegadeprovince.com) that plays on Sundays. Or if you ever just want to toss around in a park, let me know!

    Sweet! I’ve noticed something here, though. The grass is very different. =)

    Lin

  2. Ruby said, on September 11, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    We used to go to Danshui for fishball soup and also bought at least two lbs to bring home. It’s delicious.

  3. Jonathan said, on November 29, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Hey, i randomly stumbled across your blog when i was looking around for pictures of danshui. I’m at UBC in arts, and was thinking of going to Taida for exchange, how do all the courses transfer and stuff ? Did you do the ‘go global exchange’ program ? What if I just wanted to go on exchange for like 1 term or like just the summer, can that work too ?? Ha ha… sorry for all the questions…. just seems like your pretty knowledgeable on this !!!

    And plzzzz….. danshui is sooo nice ~ danshui >>> steveston fishing village. plz believe. steveston is good, its secluded and relaxing, has the good fish and chips and all. but danshui is sooo chill too…尤其是魚人碼頭… and hey, you ate some xiao chi, but no ‘a-gei’…. go find some a-gei. and how come no pics from 情人橋.. that’s gotta be one of the best parts. They also have a lotta free concerts there …plussss danshui is also featured in all the TW dramas. that’s like +3 ha ha….

    btw. peeps areeee in fact very friendly at taida. i was hanging out there in the summer and if i needed help at the library and stuff students were usually willing to help out. no shaddy motives !

    did you do the maokong gondola ride yet ? issss sooo good, pic a day with nice weather and head up in the afternoon and stay till night…. the night view is amazing…. and there’s a few restaurants where you can get delicious food and drink yummy tea…. its pricey, but soooo worth it… you’ll be like… ‘whoa,….tw sooo relaxing’….for realz….

    oh and if you want to go hunting for guys just hang around the volleyball courts or something… people are pretty friendly…. and they have a lot of coed teams…. its even more cas than drop in at the src…. join some clubs !!! always the best way to meet people….

    anywho… ‘should get back to studying ~

    keep traveling ! there’s lots to see just within the city !

    be sure to go to 春水堂 too…. and 台灣啤酒屋…its da best !


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