So what happens when you find out that there are fake vaccines being sold in China? Well, you jump on a plane and get your boy vaccinated in Taiwan! Luckily we had this trip planned ahead of the news breaking about the latest vaccine scandal and managed to fit in some sightseeing as well!
First Solo Parent Flight
Since the entire purpose of my trip to Taipei was to get Charlie his next round of vaccines thankfully we were able to sync up with one of Sam’s work trips and make a weekend of it. However, this meant that it would be the first time I flew solo with Charlie. So Thursday after work, I headed home to pick up the kid and took a Didi to the airport. Thankfully we were flying out of Shanghai’s second & much smaller airport so we were able to make it through security without much hassle and I didn’t have to break down the stroller to put it through the x-ray machine. The only “loss” was that I couldn’t take a bottle of water with me even though i had formula – but they let me mix a bottle of formula up and then toss the rest. Super easy! Thankfully, we were put in a row with extra leg room, had an extra open seat and a very kind gentleman who gave Charlie lots of smiles. Sam met us at the airport and whisked us off to the hotel. All in all a successful first solo parent flight!
Visit to Taiwan Adventist Hospital
The next morning we took the short walk to Taiwan Adventist Hospital International Priority Care Center for our 9 AM appointment. Since this was our second visit to the Center, check in was super easy as I had Charlie’s patient card in hand. First was a quick pediatrician health check then a short wait with an entertaining multi-lingual robot and then it was vaccine time! We primarily follow the CDC vaccine schedule but on a slightly different timing due to vaccine trip timing and the fact that we plan to add a few others (Japanese Encephalitis) that are more specific to Asia.
This visit was the first round of MMR, Hep A, & the final round of Prevnar 13. While painful for parents & baby it sure does feel better knowing that Charlie is more protected than before. And we are mostly caught up with the CDC schedule! I can’t say enough good things about the International Center of Taiwan Adventist hospital; the staff speak English, Japanese and Chinese and the appointment process is easy and the care that we’ve received has been great. It’s an added bonus that they direct bill to our health insurance so it’s a great regional option for safe, effective vaccines. After the shots, we had to wait 30 minutes to ensure Charlie didn’t have any immediate adverse effects & sure enough he fell asleep in Sam’s lap and was still asleep when it was time to head back to the hotel for us and off to work for Sam.
Taipei’s Daan Park
After the vaccine appointment and a long nap for Charlie, it was time to get out of the hotel room and explore Taipei until Sam finished up his work day. Even though it was warm, I wanted to take advantage of the clean air and get Charlie outside. So, I googled “Parks for kids in taipei” and came across a great blog post that had loads of suggestions. After reviewing a few maps, I decided that Daan Park was the perfect place to spend the afternoon. It was a short subway ride and then a 10ish minute walk to the massive park. Playscapes to acomodate all age, a massive sandbox with a kid-friendly hand + feet washing station, children’s songs (in English) being played over a loudspeaker and lots of open green space for play which made me happy.
In many Shanghai parks you are forbidden from getting on the grass – so it was a nice change to be able to lay a blanket down under a large tree and let Charlie play, explore and then eat a snack. After some solid play time I loaded him back into the stroller and we went to check out the baby/toddler play area. Thankfully the swing seats weren’t too warm so I got Charlie all settled and he had a blast. Taiwan is the MOST child-friendly country I have ever visited and these little swings were low enough that his feet could touch the ground so he had lots of fun! Knowing that rain was coming & Charlie needed an afternoon nap, I decided to pack us up and head back to the hotel.
Les Suites Taipei
Our love for Les Suites Taipei is well documented in our first Taiwan post, so upon return to the hotel since Charlie was still asleep so I chilled in the lounge and had a delicious cup of tea and a few sweets while paging through the Taiwan Lonely Planet and enjoying the calm & relaxing atmosphere. After a while Charlie woke up so I took him to explore a large couch in another common room then headed back up to the room for a diaper change and some fruit. After a while, Sam texted that he was finished with work and headed back to the hotel in time for the free happy hour. Over complimentary gin martinis & a small snack plate we plotted our plan for the night! We had intentionally not made any plans with any of our Taipei-based friends since we weren’t sure how Charlie would react to the vaccines, but he seemed to be feeling great so we decided to hit up two night markets for dinner.
Taipei Night Market Adventures
We called a taxi and headed over to the Shilin night market that Sam had visited previously but I never had. We both love street food markets and Taipei’s do not disappoint. After exploring the beautiful temple and surveying vendors we decided to hit up a stand that looked popular (aka long line). We ended up with some kind of sausage within a sausage which was pretty good but a little fatty for me. We continued our exploration by taxiing over to the Ningxia night market number 2 and getting a scallion pancake filled with corn and basil – a combo that totally worked. After two very busy night markets we decided to head back towards the hotel area to eat a proper dinner and get a break from the crowds. We found an open-air restaurant that looked busy, so we grabbed an open table and sat down to a Chinese-only menu where you check a box for what you want to eat. Now Sam speaks Mandarin but can’t read or write & my limited Japanese reading ability got me to narrow things down to “beef, pork, rice” but that wasn’t cutting it. Luckily, we saw a group of guys who had a great spread so Sam got up explained he couldn’t read and asked them to recommend some options, they happily took the menu and enthusiastically filled it out for us. After they finished, I took over a bottle of beer as a small “thank you” so it was a win-win all around and and adventurous & delicious eating experience for us.
Last Day in Taipei
After securing a late check out- we started the day with a leisurely & delicious breakfast and then headed out to walk to visit the Longshan Temple. This has to be my favorite place in Taipei; it’s a calm, peaceful place full of worshippers praying and giving gifts and if you are lucky you can catch a group prayer/chanting and it is a really moving experience. We explored the grounds, burned some incense and kept Charlie in the shade as even though it was morning it was already getting quite hot. I picked up a wooden bead bracelet meant to bring calm & health and asked Sam to figure out what the other bracelets meant…but they apparently all mean the same thing. Given the heat, we decided to nix our next planned destination (a park) to instead hit up the local Carrefour and load up on formula/powdered milk to take back with us to Shanghai. Then we taxied to the hotel to pack up, check out and take the subway to the airport. So while a super short trip, we checked all of our “had to” boxes and even got to add in some solid sightseeing. Taipei is a wonderfully kid-friendly & accessible (tons of stroller-friendly ramps) city with a great food scene, lots of interesting historical and religious sites as well as top-notch medical care.