Taiwan Trip – Conclusion

We left Taiwan with a heavy baggage. Luggage overflowing with many items and extra luggage around our waist which we gained from all the fantastic food over the days.

It was really a different kind of experience for me in Taiwan. Taiwan is a clean and safe country interconnected by an efficient train network.

The food is great, the people are friendly and there are lot of scenic places to visit. It offers a bit of everything to everyone. You can be a foodie, adventure seeker or even someone who just want to relax by looking at scenic views.

Taiwan offers a bit of everything for everyone. A fantastic place which I will visit if I got a chance again. In short it was a truly satisfying and memorable trip for me.

taiwain_2628003b

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/10204105/Taiwan-the-last-outpost-of-old-China.html

Till my next scribble,

David Webb

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Taiwan – Day 5 till Day 8 (Taipei)

After breakfast, we checked out from our hotel and proceeded to the train station. Our next stop is Taipei which is the capital where there are a lot more places catered to tourists. We will be spending around 3-4 days there before flying back to our home country. It took us around 3 hours from Taichung to reach Taipei.

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As Taipei was further north, we could feel the cooler climate as we reached closer to Taipei. It also has a more international outlook as it is the capital. From the Taipei main train station we took an inner-city train to Ximen. We have pre-booked an apartment in the famous shopping area in Taipei called Ximending. The apartment was cozy but comfortable.

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After settling down, we set out to visit Taipei 101 which is the second tallest building in the world. We didn’t went up to the top because it was pretty crowded as it was a popular tourist spot. We instead take in the grandeur of the building from outside.

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It was almost night, and we set out to visit a popular nightmarket in Taipei. It is called Shida Night Market. As usual, we tried quite a few of their popular food items like Garlic Flavored Fried Chicken, Pan-Fried Dumpling, Grilled Chicken, Beancurd with peanuts and a refreshing Grapefruit + Lemon drink. Some pics below.

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Day 6 began with us having carrot cake (a local dish made from radish) and bubble tea for breakfast before setting off to Ruolin to visit Jiufen Old street.

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Jiufen is a old gold mining town located on the top of the mountain thus having great scenic views. The streets are lined with shops selling items like mochi , handicrafts and pretty much anything that is traditional.

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It was even colder there as it was located high in the mountains. We also had the famous A Gan’s sweet taro balls desert. Piping sweet desert high up in the mountains in a cold weather facing the scenic views. It was truly a surreal experience for all of us.

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On our way back we again visited Shida Night market for dinner and tried those items which we wanted to try again from last night. After dinner, we went back to our apartment tired but satisfied.

We started Day 7 by taking a cab to the famous “Chia Te” shop that sells traditional pineapple and sun biscuits. Believe it or not, it as so crowded that we need to queue up just to enter the shop! When there is a crowd you can be assured that the items there will be good too. It was indeed true as we bought and tasted the biscuits.

After “Chia Te”, we went to Tamsui which is a coastal town with great scenic views. But the first thing we did upon reaching Tamsui was to eat at this famous shop selling mee hoon and other items which is apparently popular among the locals there. True enough it was a light and tasty meal.

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After the meal, we took a ferry to the other side of Tamsui. Apparently there is a “Lover’s Bridge” there which is a popular wedding shoot spot among couples. When we were there we saw a few couples doing their wedding shoots there. Surprisingly even couples from other countries like Malaysia and Singapore goes there for their shoots. We chilled at the Starbucks there and waited for sunset. The place was really captivating and it was a quiet and calm evening for all of us.

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From Tamsui, we took a bus to supposedly the most famous night market in Taiwan. Shilin Night Market.

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True enough the layout of the shops were very different. It was in an enclosed place and there were alot of shops in a compact manner. Even though it was an different kind of experience as here there are tables and chairs for you to have your meals, we preferred the more traditional type night markets where it was in open air and you walk and eat at the same time. In Shilin we tried some new dishes like oyster omelette, spicy dumpling, fishball noddles and lemon jelly drink.

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It was pretty much coming to a end of our trip. Next day evening was our light. We went back to our rooms satisfied but at the same time determined to explore the area we stayed, Ximending to the max before we leave Taiwan.

Day 8 started with a breakfast in Mcdonalds. Then Project Explore Ximending started. Apparently Ximending has a strong Japanese influence and is reported to attract almost 3 million shoppers a month!(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ximending) No wonder it was crowded all the time.

We explored the place and bought many items at a reasonable price.

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We finished the shopping by having braised geese at a shop. When geese is not cooked well it will be very tough but here they have braised it to perfection and it just tastes great. Look at the picture below, it looks gorgeous.

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After the tasty meal, it was back to room to pack our luggage and then to airport to catch our evening flight back home.

Taiwan – Day 3 & Day 4 (Taichung)

We began Day 3 by checking out from our hotel to the train station to catch a train to the next city in our itinerary, Taichung.

It took us around 3 hours to reach Taichung. It was more developed as compared to Kaohsiung. According to the local folks, Taichung is the business city while Kaohsiung can be considered as the port city.

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Our hotel is around 10 minutes walk from the train station. It is called Park City Hotels. The hotel was posh and has all the necessary amenities (like gym, thus could do abit of workout to burn off at least some calories from all the eating previously).

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After checking in, we immediately set off to explore Taichung. Our first stop is SOGO shopping centre. It is 18 stories high!! Thus you have multi-level of clothing, grooming accessories, home items and basically everything under the sun. Best place for ladies and guys if you like shopping.

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By the time we finished, it was almost night. So what does one do in Taiwan at night? Of course visit night market! So we visited the Feng-Chia night market. The key difference between this night market and the ones we went in Kaohsiung was that it also has shops selling other apparels like clothing and shoes unlike in Kaohsiung where only foods were sold.

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Here too, there was a long list of special food items we ate. Some of the items are Crispy Chicken, Tea in the Box, Long sausage in Short Sausage (basically sausage wrapped in glutinous rice) and hot mochi covered with peanut.

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With a filled stomach, we retreated back to our hotel room for the night.

The next day, after breakfast in the hotel, we headed out to Miyaharu (former eye hospital). Now it has been converted to a upscale shop selling freshly made Taiwanese delicacies like pineapple tarts, honey and Taiwanese tea leaves. These are sold in nice packaging thus ideal as souvenirs.

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After buying some, we headed out to Yizhong street. It has been elected as the most popular shopping area in Taichung. It consists of both a shopping area and a night market which becomes active at night. It is located just next to couple of high schools and universities. Thus it is catered to attract the young crowd. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yizhong_Street)

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It has many solo shops like Nike, Adidas, Levis etc. Some of these shops are multi stories high. There are also quite a few shops selling IT items. In general the pricing are like 20% cheaper as compared to the prices elsewhere (international pricing). We shopped around and bought items like shoes and hoodies. And subsequently we got ourselves stuffed again with the good food available in the night market. The food items were similar as the the one we visited the previous night. Then we proceeded back to the hotels.

The next day we will be checking out and heading to the capital, Taipei.

Stay Tuned!!

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan – Day 2 (Kaohsiung)

We started day 2 by making a trip to Qijin Beach Park. Qijin (aka. Cijin) is like a small island from Kaohsiung City and is accessible by a ferry ride. We took a ferry from Gushan Ferry Pier. The ferry ride took us around 10 – 15 minutes to reach Qijin.

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The ferry is huge and the first level is open space for scooters and motobikes and the top level is for walking passengers.

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The island itself has a huge chinese temple. The day we went was apparently some festive day so we were greeted with rows and rows of firecrackers set off simultaneously.

We proceeded to our agenda is to sample the fresh seafood available there. We went to a well known seafood restaurant there as shown in the picture below. We had a wide variety of fresh seafood (fish, prawns etc) at a cheap price there. It was truly a satisfying trip.

After lunch we walked along the scenic walkway facing the South China Sea. It was a surreal experience just facing the sea and knowing that there is nothing beyond. The vastness of the ocean makes you realise that we humankind are just minutes in this world.

As you can see from the Taiwan map below, Kaohsiung is at the extreme left of Taiwan and beyond there is only South China Sea.

http://www.orientaltravel.com/Taiwan_map.htm

After the walk, we decided to get ourselves some deserts famous in Taiwan. We had fruits and shaved ice desert. It was very refreshing after a long walk along South China Sea.

After desert we took the ferry back and subsequently train back to Farmosa station back to our hotel. Today we decided to visit the night market just beside our hotel It is called Liouhe Tourist Night Market. We tried the following food:

Seafood Porridge

-A concoction of porridge and alot of seafood boiled together. It was light, fresh and tasty.

Sticky Rice Ball

-Sticky rice ball with a salty peanut mixture as the filling.

 

Pan-Fried Dumpling

-What can I say!! Juicy meat filling.

Big Sausage in Small Sausage

-Sausage wrapped in glutinous rice with spicy sauce.

 

Smelly Tofu

– The smelly tofu here is not very smelly after being fried as it was eaten with mustard to mask the smell.

The night market is not as big as the Jin-Zuan and Kaisyuan Night market we visited the previous night. But nevertheless in terms of food it has a wide variety. With our stomachs filled, we retreated back to our hotel room.

Stay tuned for Day 3 scribbles.

Taiwan – Day 1 (Kaohsiung)

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.

 

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http://goo.gl/oqWVmy

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.

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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.

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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.

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_Railways_Administration

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Taiwan – Pre Trip

My next few posts will be on my recent trip!!! Travelling always excites me. It is an opportunity to explore new places, new people, taste new food and immerse into that country’s culture and tradition.

My last trip was to Sri Lanka. I wanted to go to a new place next that is vastly different from Sri Lanka and at the same time will give the equal amount of holistic experience.

Same as the Sri Lanka trip during one of those random chit-chats, this time with colleagues cum friends we decided on a trip to Taiwan.

Taiwan was always intriguing to me. We have always heard about its history with China and at the same time how different it is culturally and traditions wise from China. And of course the first thing I could recall at the mention of Taiwan is Shu Qi. IMHO, I think she is the one of the most beautiful (and hottest) actress in the world. The picture below is the testimony to my previous statement.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shu_Qi

Ok she alone didn’t influenced my decision (Lol!!). So we finalised on Taiwan and proceeded to book the flight in Jetstar Airways and the necessary hotels. We are going free and easy so that we could go to the lesser known local places on top of the tourists’ explored places and at the same time explore Taiwan at our own pace.

Our itinerary includes visiting 3 major cities. Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei. Stay tuned for my next few scribbles detailing my experiences in Taiwan 🙂