Taiwan. A vacation that had been a lingering idea for a year. After much contemplation, my colleagues, Sharil and Tan L Y, and I finally decided and planned a 7 days trip.
It had been at the back of my mind ever since my army days…
I had part of my national service training in Taiwan. During my 3 weeks of exercise there, we had 4 days of R&R. ( Rest and Recuperation ) The R&R was at Taipei with visits to tourist hotspots and free time to do what we want. As a young man then, whom only just started to see the world, it was a new experience. The excitement and thrill of being somewhere different and new. The reason I wanted to go there again was that I came down with minor food poisoning then and had to stay in the hotel most of the time while everyone else was out enjoying themselves…
It’s PAYBACK, BABY!!!!
Taking a flight with Jetstar Airlines, we were headed for CKS Airport in Taipei. ( Now known as Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport ) It was a long 4 hours flight. PSP, sleep and idle chatter didn’t cover enough time and soon after, we were anxious and rearing to go!
When the plane landed, it was the usual procedure.
Smile at the custom officer so that the picture on my passport would match my real face.
Get passport stamped.
Try not to do anything stupid.
( Like ducking for cover when security pass by.)
Get the luggage and find transportation to our hotel.
End of procedure.
There are several bus service booths at the bottom floor of the airport that allowed us to travel to different parts of the city, Taipei. They charged a small fee but it is better then taking a cab for 40km! I wonder how much that would have cost…
The journey was a long one. We even had to make a bus transit once we reached the city border. We were headed to the center of the city, a district called Ximenting. I can’t remember how many hours it was but bringing a smalltravel bag would be better then my big luggage as it was easy to go around with, especially on board the bus. When we went home, we bought an even bigger luggage since we overdid it on the shopping, haha!
We checked in at a 3 star hotel, TS Hotel ( Ta Shun Hotel ). It was located near the center of Ximenting. Not difficult to find. Quite affordable and comfortable for me and my colleagues plus, it was about a 5 minutes walk from the MRT station. ( mass rapid transit ) After checking in and freshening up a little, we headed down to Ximenting’s shopping district ( Also a 5 minutes walk from my hotel! ) but not before dropping by the MRT station to buy a transit card, ‘Youyou’ card as it is called there. This allowed us to travel in the MRT without having to queue for a ticket all the time since the card held a certain cash value in it.
Getting a map at the MRT station would be a good idea as we frequently refered to it for directions. Even when it’s all tattered and torn….so get 2 at least. We used the Taipei Tourist Map. It has almost all the places that you would wanna go.
Next on the day’s list was food! We went ‘Dunkin Donuts’ for a so-called dinner. Taiwan has a variety of things to eat but I did not try anything much as I was still weary of my fragile stomach. Second trip there and I do not want the same incident to happen!
The temperature there in summer, seemed to be 3-4 times hotter then Singapore. It was also dry unlike my humid home country. This resulted in my body dehydrating faster and the huge consumption of ‘ Pocari Sweat ‘. ( a Japanese sports drink that quickly replenishes the loss of bodily fluid ) My colleague, Sharil, and I also bought moisturizers as our skin was not used to the dry conditions and it was peeling off. Eew…
We also experienced wet weather there. As our holiday was near the typhoon season ( which usually happens at the last quarter of the year ), we got caught in the rain on several ocassions, but it was simply beautiful. One such ocassion was that we were in a village called Jiufen, in the mountains, and the rain brought a cool and calm atmosphere to the region. I am a big fan of rainy weathers and to experience such a thing was magical. ( it was kind of romantic too but 3 guys on a trip together was not what I had in mind…. )
Our 7 days trip was planned out by my colleague, Mr. Tan. It was an interesting 7 days all thanks to him. Going there free and easy was a good idea as our schedule could be made flexible due to unforeseen weather conditions. We did rearrange our timetable several times by pushing on with outdoor sightseeing during the early part of our stay and doing the shopping and visiting of nearby places later.
Language there was not much of a problem as most of the locals could converse in simple English but having a Chinese guy in my group was a plus factor… Well not really … It was supposed to be that they speak Mandarin. A common and widely accepted Chinese language used throughout Asia but, we found out there that most of the Taiwanese speak a different Chinese dialect called Hokkien. Still, my colleague managed most of our required administrative work… which was good enough.
Places that we went to were : –
Long Shan Temple – A famous temple in Taiwan. Interesting place with a nice indoor waterfall. We spent about 10-20 mins there as Tan did a quick prayer.
CKS Memorial Hall – Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. In honor of their former president, this memorial hall was made. It is a nice place surrounded by parks, the building was white with a blue roof. Beautiful place but the stairs up to the building was a killer…
National Palace Museum – A grand museum, the area was huge and the Asian artifacts display was abundant.
Martyr Shrine – The shrine is where the brave souls of past people who sacrificed their life in several battles are worshiped. This is where the guards are trained to be statue like while in duty at the gates and the ceremony of changing of guards are well-known.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall – This is where their national father, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, is remembered by displaying events of his life and character. Even if you see the Taipei 101 building behind it, these 2 places are quite far apart…
Taipei 101 – The tallest building there. A beautiful centre with high end boutiques. The elevator went up to the 89th floor in 38 seconds! At the top, you can see almost the whole of Taipei. There is also this giant ball that is suspended which is said to help balance the building in case of an earthquake. It is located also at the top floor.
During the day we would go to these places but for the night time fun, we went to the night markets! It seems that they have a lot of night markets there. The used to be famous Xilin night market was not very famous anymore. A lot of shops there or vendors probably moved to another site. Now the best place to shop for anything was Wufenpu Clothes Shopping Area. We went there twice!
I did a whole lot of shopping there. Yes, people did ask me if I went to the clubs there. Nope, did nothing of the sort. Why? Just don’t feel like it….Kinda regret it a little bit though, hehe… And yes, the girls there were quite hot if ya ask me.
To finish off this post, heres a picture of another favourite place of mine. We sat there waiting for sunset cause they say it will be a beautiful sight to behold. It was well worth the wait. Here’s Lover’s Bridge
I didn’t find any lover there though….