On a recent trip to Taipei, which for me is largely about eating delicious foods, I scheduled a food tour with the peer to peer activities network Triip. After my research into sharing economy activities in Taiwan I was excited to find that Triip has a few offerings that are free! I selected a tour of the Shilin night market that promised to introduce me to all the best food stalls along with cute shops and other entertainment.
My guide, Sophia (the English name she introduced herself by), has lived near this night market for seven years and is quite familiar with all it has to offer. She had strong opinions about the best stalls for each type of food, often the ones with the long lines. But she also pointed out the stalls that used to be popular and now have no customers as people moved on to the new and better options. I sampled some new dishes, and also learned some interesting history and culinary information about the foods I tried. Among other interesting facts: night markets in Taipei are always near schools. Colleges in particular all have classes that end at 9pm and the students are get out at night hungry and wanting cheap food, so the markets developed naturally around this target audience.
I think for this food tour the best part was just getting to know my guide. She speaks very good English and is quite well traveled for someone still in college. I had the chance to ask lots of questions about Taiwanese culture and she asked me some interesting questions about American culture. We also covered our personal career and travel aspirations, and other interesting topics like why home exchange is not so popular in Taiwan (yet).
I forgot to ask Sophia why her tour is free, but she told me that she is doing it as part of an internship that is for a company working on sharing economy businesses in Taiwan. They encourage their interns to offer tours like this one. And so I wonder if the other free Triip guides are doing the same thing, because I didn’t see any other free tours on Triip in other countries.
Check out my spreadsheet of sharing economy travel businesses to find all the companies offering food tours where ever you’re traveling next.