Our flight JetStar Airways landed in Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport. It was early morning (around 5+ am Taipei time) when we landed. The airport was very spacious with excellent service. As we planned, we have booked train tickets to Kaohsiung City. From the airport there many private buses plying the routes to various destinations. We didn’t check out the actual destinations as we have already booked train tickets to Kaohsiung.
We bought the bus tickets to Taipei Train station. The bus ride took us around 45 minutes to reach the train station from the airport. The seats in the bus was so comfortable that most of us slept throughout the full journey.
We reached the Taipei train station. From the picture below one could see how vast the station was. Probably to cater to a large crowd during festive season. We collected our train tickets and there was still 1 hour to our train. The train station was part of an integrated shopping centre. There are underground passageways to access the shopping centre. As we were starving, we decided to grab some breakfast before our train ride. However we realized that it is too early (6+ am), thus most shops are not opened yet. But there is always McDonalds!!! Our first meal in Taiwan was McDonalds big breakfast set.
McDonald’s as always tastes great and ensured that we don’t miss home much. The train arrived on time and we boarded the train to Kaohsiung. It was a 6 hours journey. But at least we have allocated seats. The seats were comfortable and the train ride was relatively smooth. There are 3 types of trains for which one could purchase the tickets for. The cheapest train ride to Kaohsiung comes with no seats allocated. Meaning first to board the train and spot an empty seat and it is yours. Therefore if it is crowded you will be standing for the full journey which may take few hours.
It will also stop at more stations and thus will take a longer time to reach our destination, Kaohsiung. The train we took is considered mid-range. We got dedicated seats and the train will only stop at some stations in between before our destination and the train ride will take us 6 hours. The pricey train is also the fastest and is touted to reach Kaohsiung in 2 hours! Similar to bullet trains from Japan. So in short you get what you pay for. You are allowed to eat in the train, but I noticed that the train we travelled was actually clean and pleasant. In the middle of the train ride there was actually a person who pushed a pushcart to sell packaged food, as it was near lunchtime we bought and ate the packed cooked food. It was reasonable, rice with meat cutlet, boiled egg and pickled vegetables. It was tasty and decent. Similar to the one shown in the pic below.
After a 6 hours train ride, we reached Kaohsiung train station. We walked to Kindness Hotel which is like a 15 minutes walk from Kaohsiung train station. The rooms at the Kindness Hotel was cozy and functional. We settled down and we set out to a upscale shopping centre called Dream mall.
Kaohsiung is well connected by the train system. Single journey costs between 20 to 50 Taiwanese dollars for each person. The train station nearest to our hotel is Farmosa train station. The station has the Dome of lights display. Below are some of the pictures. It was beautiful and I noticed a lot of locals were taking pictures too.
Dream mall which we visited is a upscale shopping centre that have multiple stories of international brands. Like Toy R Us etc. As these are international brands, the products’ price is similar to what is sold in other countries. We walked around the shops and proceeded to take train to visit the highlight of our trip. Night Markets!! We went to both the Jin-Zuan and Kaisyuan Night Market. Both are near the Kaisyan MRT station.
Night Markets are like street stalls which are sometimes setup on streets which functions as roads in the morning!! Apparently throughout Taiwan there are many Night markets. These are greatly patronized by locals. The stalls usually sells street foods and other items like clothing, accessories etc at affordable prices. I also noticed that usually the food shops specializes and only sells one food item. Of course they specializes in it. We tasted the following list of food on our first day:
– Smelly Tofu
– Fried Dumplings
– Steam Dumplings
– Chicken Drumstick wrapped in own skin
– Fresh Guava fruit
– Sour Plum Tea
Smelly tofu has a strong pungent smell which maybe nauseous and has an acquired taste. And from the first day till the last day you will notice that I ate something everyday. That is dumplings!! I simply love them. Fried, Steam and Pan-Fried dumplings. There are juicy and tasty.
It was a very eventful first day. We arrived in Taipei, took a 6 hours train ride to a inner city and have explored the night markets and most importantly have tasted the great variety of food that were sold there.
Stay tuned for more of my scribbles on Day 2.