The Shibuya of Taipei. Ximending has been called a lot of things; with its plethora of neon-lighted shops, an old-school cinema showing animes, dressed up tourists, cosplayers handing out pamphlets, performance artists, guitar dudes riffing it on the sidewalks and endless food vendors hawking everything from crepes filled with crispy bacons to that horribly amazing stinky tofu. And in the center of all this madness, eight stories above on a non-descript old building, is our home for our first night in Taipei City.
|OUR BREAKFAST, DAN BING WITH CRISPY BACONS!|
Straight from the airport, we went straight to Ximen Wow Hostel to deposit our luggage before embarking on a DIY full day walking tour of Taipei. Ximending was unbelievably deserted at six in the morning except for a few hawkers selling take-away breakfast fares.
|ERR… THE ENTRANCE HALL TO XIMEN WOW HOSTEL|
After gobbling our dan bing Taiwanese egg crepe with added crispy bacons in less than a minute, we entered a building hallway filled with photos of girls. I was having second thoughts then if this was really where we’re gonna be staying. But as if to stifle my hesitation, the elevator door opened and invited us in.
Apparently Ximen Wow is just a floor above four levels of singing clubs, hence the posters at the elevator lobby. The door slid open on the 8th floor and I breathed a sigh of relief as the usual signs of a backpacker hostel came into view. I took a peek at the hostel’s stylish interiors before talking briefly with the receptionist, who speaks really fluent English, by the way. She let us leave our backpacks and suitcases first, check in wasn’t until 3:00PM.
|LOOKS STYLISH ENOUGH|
The baggage area wasn’t really as secured as I wanted it to be, it was just a niche along a corridor, without doors or locks. Plus, they don’t hand out claim tags. So, it was really leave-your-bag-at-your-own-risk type of thing. Well, with really no other choice, we took that thing.
|XIMENDING IS VIBRANT EVEN AT NIGHT|
It wasn’t until later that evening, after a super exhausting full day tour of the city, that we were able to come back to the hostel to check in. We found our bags exactly where we left them, intact and still zipped tight. Good. Finally, we can rest!
|KNICK KNACKS FITTING FOR A BACKPACKER HOSTEL|
Ximen Wow Hostel doesn’t have any private rooms, as far as I can tell, but they do have women dorm rooms. Unfortunately, those were fully booked during our stay, so my cousins and my mom have to endure with a mixed-dorm setup [CHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY].
|NOT EXACTLY AS I SAW IT ON THEIR AGODA PAGE, BUT GOOD ENOUGH|
As expected, the dorm wasn’t as neat and tidy as the ones advertised on Agoda; slippers (provided for by the hostel) and shoes were everywhere, shirts and towers were hanging wherever they can hang, and big-ass luggages that can’t fit on the lockers were all over the place. To be fair, even with these, the room is relatively clean.
|XIMENDING FROM EIGHT STORIES HIGH|
The dorms have double-deck capsule-like beds with its own locker, reading light, charging socket, and most importantly, thick privacy blinds. Most of these are single bed capsules, but there area a few doubles for couples as well. I like the fact that you don’t need to have your own lock and key for the lockers, the electronic key you’re given to enter your dorm room also acts as a key for the lockers. I just find it odd that locker sizes differ from one bed to the next. Some can fit a compact suitcase or backpack, while others cannot. I was one of the unlucky few who got the small locker. Tired from too much walking, I dozed off effortlessly seconds after my head hits the pillow.
|SUNRISE FROM XIMEN WOW HOSTEL’S BALCONY|
|IT CAN GET PRETTY COLD HERE|
I rose early the next day, had two cups coffee at the balcony overlooking Ximending, and watched as the sun peeked across the Taipei skyline. Since the complimentary breakfast isn’t served until seven, I took the time to take a bath first at the hostel’s shared comfort rooms.
|COMMON TOILET & BATH AREA|
As with most backpacker hostels, Ximen Wow’s toilet and shower stalls are separate from each other to avoid queues. They have about four of each, all gender-neutral. A lavatory with hairdryer is available outside of these, but each shower stall has its own smaller lavatory too. I brought my own toiletries, but was surprised that each stall has refillable shampoo and body-wash dispensers.
|FREE COOK-YOUR-OWN-BREAKFAST PLUS LAST NIGHT’S HOT STAR CHICKEN|
I was cooking breakfast before any other guests were up; fried hams, bacons, toast and the left-over Hot Star large fried chicken from the previous evening’s Taipei Night Market outing. These, plus coffee are unlimitedly free. So cook away, I did. The only problem I could see rising here is the kitchen area’s size, which was way too small. A queue can quickly build up for guests, so rise early to avoid this.
|XIMEN WOW HOSTEL’S MAIN HALL|
Ximen Wow’s funky main hall, the focal point of which is a huge table made from raw timber, also serves as the dining area. We wolfed everything down, poured more cups of coffee, washed our dishes, and we’re off into the streets of Taipei once more, this time, revisiting Yehliu Geopark and Jiufen.
Ximen Wow Hostel
Address: 8th Floor, 42 Hanzhong Street, Ximending,
Contact Number: (+886) 2-2331-0530
GPS Coordinates Map: 25.044225, 121.507310
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