Our cruise was supposed to depart around 5 pm, and we had to be on board by 2 pm. So, I had the whole morning to myself to explore Taipei. Well, I actually do have a mission – find a companion for Red. Some five years ago, I bought a red Mizuno glove from Taipei. While Red is still holding strong and doing real well, I also do want to get a back-up, just in case – genius that I am – lose the glove by accident, or break it or something. I was initially planning on trying to find the old sports shop in Ximending that I bought Red from, to buy a sibling for Red, but as there was free wifi in the hotel, I spent the night googling, and chanced upon something – a sports complex with batting cages, and softball/baseball equipment sold on site.
Say hello to Taroko Sports. They have more than 10 locations across Taiwan, and within Taipei itself, they have three locations. The one most accessible for me was within short walking distance of Jiannan station on the Wenhu line. Just look out for the huge ferris wheel that’s attached to the mall Miramar. Walk towards that mall, take a left, follow the road. As you walk on the road, you should see landmarks like Victoria Hotel and a love motel across the road. (you’re kinda following the metro line)
I was definitely psyched when I arrived. It was everything that it promised to be. They have more than 8 batting cages for baseball, with speeds ranging from 80 kmph to 140 kmph. They also had 5 softball batting cages, and 2 pitching cages. Well, they have a bunch of other sports, like a mini bowling alley, and hoops, and an arcade, but I was just there for the softball. In terms of pricing, it’s slightly cheaper than the US. Their most expensive option was 200 TWD for 6 tokens (~1 USD per token), and each token is good for 20 pitches. If you buy more tokens, the prices come down, and they have various promotions. For instance, they have a ladies Wednesday, whereby girls get twice as many tokens. Through a remarkable design, they were able to pack all these into a fairly small area. You won’t get to see your ball fly much, but hey, you’re getting some practice, no?
After some fun in the cages, I headed towards their shop, which was within the premise of the sports complex. Service was amazing, and they had a huge range of gloves. I’d guess they had more than 100 different gloves from 6 different brands. As part of my secret plan is to slowly collect the colours of the rainbow for my fielding gloves, I ended up with a blue one. It’s also serendipitous that it was the best fit amongst the different gloves! So, hello Blue!
After my little morning exercise, I met my parents for lunch at Sweet Dynasty, a Hong Kong dessert/food place that has made in-roads into the Taiwanese culinary world. Previously, they were on the same side of the street of San Want Hotel, but looks like business has been brisk. They have since then moved across the street to much larger premises, just above Zara. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I had one of their famous beancurds, but with walnut paste option. Try a bucket if you have enough fellow diners to share with you!
Post-lunch, we took a half hour cab ride from Taipei to Keelung. Not much to report, as we very quickly boarded the Superstar Aquarius. We had a good three hour before the boat’s departure, so I glanced around Keelung. The warehouses looked pretty old school. I can almost imagine them being in black and white photos!
Taroko Sports at Jiannan
Softball batting cages
Beancurd with Walnut Paste at Sweet Dynasty [糖朝]
Oceanview Stateroom with Window on Superstar Aquarius