Taipei is finally in Lunar new year mood! Well, not really. Most parts of the city would not give you that impression (our condo still has a big christmas tree at the entrance hall). The best way to experience real pre-new year ambiance is to go to one of Taipei's oldest streets, namely to Dihua Street 迪化街, which located in Tataocheng. My wife and I went there yesterday and it was my first time. I have to say it was very crowded and a bit overwhelming for me (I wasn't feeling that well yesterday). It reminded me of a very crowded night market, the main difference however was the fact, that there wasn't a big variety of xiao chi like you'd find them on most popular night markets, instead there was a lot of candy, a lot of nuts and sausages. There was also a very high number of cute girls selling them - vendors are smart, they hire young students to attract customers to their stall or shop - and from what I saw, it works.
In case you're headed to Dihua Street these days, this is what's awaiting you:
Taiwanese like to guangjie 逛街, which means "walk down the street with the intention of buying something or eating snacks". This can attract a lot of people on special occasions like in the case above. If you're not into squeezing and pushing, then better go during the week before noon or just skip going from the beginning to the end, because it's more or less the same. The best way to visit Dihua Street is to go to Zhongzhan MRT Station Exit 2 and take one of the buses from there. You can also walk from the MRT stations along the Nanjing West Road, it will take you about 15-20 min to reach Dihua Street. Personally I would recommend a cab from your hotel, if you are staying somewhere in Zhongzheng District or Ximending.
[My TAIPEI TRAVEL page][All photos by MKL, 2012]