One of the reasons we decided to stay at the Grand Hyatt Taipei was for easy access for the New Year’s fireworks at Taipei 101. After going out for lunch and snacks, we returned to rest a bit before going out to the Taipei Civic Plaza, in front of the hotel, to get a good spot to watch the fireworks. It ended up being surprisingly windy and cold but we did get great spot where we had a clear view of the fireworks and were able to sit without anyone directly in front of us!
The weather looked good in the morning when we woke up at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. After breakfast, we went out for an early lunch at 廖家牛肉麵 Liao Jia Beef Noodle. It is located roughly half way in between the 東門 Dongmen and 古亭 Guting MRT stations. We took the MRT from Taipei 101 to Dongmen as it does not require transferring. We got to the restaurant at around 10:20am and had to queue for a bit.
Once we were seated, we got two orders of the beef noodle soup. It had very good flavor but still was relatively light as far as broth goes. Unfortunately, the beef was not as tender as we would have liked.
There was still a queue when we left. It was roughly the same length as when we arrived.
There was an interesting line of shops on the other side of the road. We wanted to get snacks at the 公館 Gongguan neighborhood and also wanted to have time to rest in the afternoon so continued on to the Guting MRT station. From there, we travelled two stops southeast to the Gongguan station.
Unfortunately, 何家甜品鋪 Ho Chia Dessert Shop, the first place we wanted to visit, was closed. Either the hours on Google Maps were not accurate or they were closed for New Year’s Day. Lunar New Year is a bigger holiday here though so it could just be that the hours were incorrect.
Our next stop was 老爺爺葡式蛋撻 Grandpa Portuguese Egg Tarts. Egg tarts, or dan ta, are quite popular in Taiwan and we haven’t had any yet on this trip. We saw some activity in the shop but they wouldn’t be ready until 12:30pm. So, we figured we might drop by later if we were still in the area.
We decided to get a scallion pancake with egg from 豐田早餐店 Fengtian Breakfast Restaurant. This place was pretty big as far as breakfast places go.
We continued on to find Mr. 雪腐 (Mr. Chef), a dessert restaurant that serves ice and tofu dishes. They also were not open.
We backtracked almost to where we started where we finally had some luck! 發發 The Far Far Farm was open! This was a kiwi themed tea shop which sold yogurt teas, which are pretty unique. We got mixed berry and pineapple passion fruit.
We then went back to Grandpa Portuguese Egg Tarts to get a box of six as they were now ready. They were still extremely hot as they just finished baking. We ate some before going back into the MRT station to return to Taipei 101.
New Year’s Eve
We found a map of the area around Taipei City Hall for the New Year’s events, though it was pretty confusing as it was absolutely not to any sort of scale. We had considered various places where we could see the fireworks but decided the area by City Hall was the best due to the proximity to both the Grand Hyatt where we are staying and Taipei 101 where the fireworks would be.
After resting a bit in our room, we went outside to take a look around to see what was going on. There were already people gathered at prime viewing spots at the Taipei Civic Plaza with most of the benches that face Taipei 101 already populated. But, it was otherwise pretty sparse. We passed by this cow which was decorated with various Taipei scenes. It even had a Taipei 101 on its back! Unfortunately, it seems like its seen better days and could use a bit of repair.
We went back for a bit before deciding to stake out a spot at around 6pm. We walked around the plaza a bit checking out various spots, and walked around to the east side of City Hall as well. There weren’t really any good spots free there as much of it was already taken up by photographers with tripods.
So what makes a good spot? One where we can sit comfortably without risk of someone standing right in front of us and blocking our view.
While the festivities hadn’t yet officially begun, they were doing some final preparations at the stage in front of Taipei City Hall. We recorded a few seconds while we were walking by.
There is a small, presumably artificial, rocky stream that runs through the plaza. There is a tiny concrete retaining wall next to the stream. We figured we could sit on this with our feet on the sides of the stream as only the very middle held a bit of water. There was a line a trees on the opposite side that were just tall enough so that while they wouldn’t block our view of the fireworks, no one would want to actually stand in the stream as the trees would be in the way.
Each section of Taipei 101 can be illuminated in a different color. The building cycled through various colors and displayed various messages in the middle. It even lit up in a rainbow!
It was very windy throughout the night and got progressively colder. Luckily, we could walk back to our room to at the Grand Hyatt to get more clothes, use our bathroom, and to bring some snacks that we had in the room. We did that a few times throughout the night! Luckily, we have real winter at home in the US so we had plenty of clothes to wear!
This was the scene at 7:15pm as more people showed up. We were lucky to have a great spot with something to sit on!
This was the view from what probably would have been our second choice of spots. More of Taipei 101 is visible here but there are no fireworks so low to the ground.
Eventually, it got somewhat crowded with all the open space occupied by people. But, it wasn’t nearly as packed as other places during New Year’s Eve like Times Square in Manhattan or London across the Thames from the London Eye. It also wasn’t nearly as packed as we recently experienced in Japan at Kiyomizu-dera in the evening!
The fireworks show at midnight turned out to be pretty short but involved quite a bit of fireworks as they are shot from every section of Taipei 101 and in all directions around the building. We wrote about it in a separate post:
We waited for a few minutes after the fireworks to head back to the Grand Hyatt, mainly for the initial rush of people leaving to clear out a bit. Once we got back in, there were two queues to go up to the room floors. We got on the queue for our floor and slowly advanced to the elevators. Overall, it was well organized and we made it up pretty quickly.