When you think "freeway rest stop" like in California on the interstates, "pit stop", "free willy", "shaking the weasel", "taking a slash", or even "taking a dump", as well as America's favorite corporate fast food and restaurant chains, all come to mind. Of course some pull off the freeway at such rest stops to sleep/nap, stretch out, before going back on the long haul.
So what do they do in Taiwan (and apparently in Japan?) They kick it up a notch. Some even make it a DESTINATION STOP. Yes... drive something like an hour or more outside of Taipei, just to come to a place like Guansi rest stop 關西休息站 near Hsin Chu. Not only is it a rest stop/pit stop, but it is also a pseudo one stop shop. In fact, savvy business types have decided to set up shop at places like these to offer interesting regional delicacies. Of course you can also get your latte's and supermarket snacks.
Some parts on the inside look like a shopping mall. Does your typical American rest stop or vista point have something like this?
Japanese style and influenced dessert cakes, kind of like a mix between a Cantonese egg puff and a Japanese sponge cake. This was the only photo I was able to take before the vendor kindly requested that I didn't (wow even in the middle of nowhere??)
Don't miss the pickled peanuts, snacks, and interesting delicacies (including spicy dried shrimp snack).
The supermarket offers hot bien dang/bentos, including stir fried rice noodles (mifen) and oden.
Don't miss regional delicacies like Danshui's fish puff chips (previously only available in Danshui), which you cannot buy at Welcome/Ding Hao or the bigger chains, insanely good (even with a lil' MSG). Good stuff this is.