Loving Mother Nature in Taiwan

On March 9, I was set for a 6 days trip to Taiwan. My friend, Kim, is studying Masteral degree in Taipei so Tiffany and I decided to visit her. I needed to get my visa in the Embassy. The approval was very quick. The lady in the counter browsed at my documents and said to come back the next day for the visa stamp. The cost was $65, pretty pricey for 1 time entry. Below is the Singapore address:

Taipei Representative Office in Singapore
460 Alexandra Road, #23-00, PSA Building, (S)119963
Phone: +65-6500-0100

I took Jetstar Airlines for the trip since I had good experience with my previous Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia trip (check out the blog). Flight costed SGD467. Tiffany came from Cebu, Philippines and it took her just 2 hours while my flight took 4 and a half. Kim met us at the arrival gates and we took the bus that heads to the city. It costed NTD145.

At that time, 1 SGD = 22.5 NTD (New Taiwan Dollar)

Our hostel, Taipei East Commercial District Hostel, was located near Fuxing MRT , so it was good location. However, going to the hostel is entirely another matter for there were no elevators and it was on the 4th floor. So we had to carry our luggage in the tiny steps.  The room seemed to be not cleaned after the previous occupants usage. Total cost for 4 nights stay for 2 people was NTD5769, which makes sense of the place we got. There is no reception where you can request for something so we had to make use of what we have.

The weather was cool. Luckily, I brought my scarf and left my sandals at home; unluckily, I underestimated the cold so I had to buy trenchcoat and additional clothing layers to keep myself warm. No, I never been to a 20 degrees Celsius country.

All the places we are aiming to visit are accessible via MRT. We bought the Easy Card similar to Octopus Card in Hong Kong and Ezlink in Singapore for cashless payment for public transportation. Each card cost NTD500. We also traveled by bus, although you must learn how to read the bus signs on the buses as well as when to tap out with your card. Some bus requires you to tap when you board, other when you alight. Whenever in doubt, always ask 1st before boarding and use simple English or learn the Chinese version of the places you are going to. There are bus route map shown on bus stops so make sure you got the correct route and bus to avoid going to the opposite direction.

We head to Wufenpu for some street bargain shopping. Then head to Taipei 101 for night view of Taipei. Entrance was NTD400. It looked amazing from the top. The elevator that took us was said to be the fastest elevator, going up at the 89th floor in less than 40 seconds. To get the feel of night fever, we headed to Luxy club, entrance at NTD300. It was filled with expats and some locals. The beat was good and some drunk people made the night more hilarious.

Taipei 101

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

National Palace Musuem

Next day, we then head to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. It was huge “fat” temple waiting to be explored but unfortunately it was pouring so we had to bail. Next stop was National Palace Museum to get to know about the history. Entrance was NTD160. The last stop of the day was the Taipei Flora Expo, where they showcase flowers around the world and the exhibit is only once a year. We were lucky to be there at its last week. Entrance is NTD200. The flowers were gorgeous. The place had rows and rows of colorful variety. There was even 1 food stall that sold rose ice cream. Sweet

On the 3rd day we head to Yangmingshan Park  to see the sakura flowers. It was near end of the season so we only saw a couple of flowers on the trees and a lot fallen ones on the ground. Beitou Hot Spring was the next exciting stop. I have never been to a hot spring and the water was scalding…at first. Then your body adapts to it and soon the temperature feels good. Your body feels refreshed afterwards…then you head to the shower for a cold drench haha talk about jolt to reality. Hot springs apparently are popular with old people so this is definitely not a place to find bikini girls and hunky men 🙂

Taipei Flora Expo

Yangmingshan Park

Beitou Hot Spring

We were suppose to head north of Taipei to see the see the Lover’s Bridge and take a boat to Bali from the Fisherman’s Wharf but we had received news that Japan was hit by huge earthquake and tsunamis. Since Taiwan is nearby and the next stop was near the sea, we decided to abort the plan and settled to Shilin Food Market where street food rules. I had a huge deep fried chicken which is a meal by itself and dinner was street Teppanyaki, where the chef grills the food in front of you.

I tried the stinky tofu as I was always wondering why its so popular. Yes it is stinky as a garbage truck and do needs an acquired taste to get used to. No, I wont try it again. There had to be at least 3 instances that I tried different milk tea with pearls (aka bubble) 🙂 I’m so addicted to it. I got to try a China pizza 🙂 It was quite interesting to watch it being cooked and it tasted good, not quite your usual Italian pizza. They had their own misua noodle soup version that is sold in the streets. There are a lot of street foods sold everywhere, you need to try each one to explore.

The 4th day, we head to Nantou, which is outside of Taipei. We took the high speed bullet train that costs around NTD900 for an hour ride. Our hostel was Laurel Villa  yet we felt like it was home. The owners were very friendly and cooked for us a nice dinner. The bed was enormous, it felt like we were in a hotel and the bathroom was nice. The price for 1 night was NTD1,500 but it was worth it. The Sun Moon Lake was gorgeous, especially at dawn where everything is quiet, water is still and the sun peeks out from the mountains.

Sun Moon Lake

Laurel Villa

Early morning, we head to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village via bus. We could have gone there via cable car but Tiffany was worried about aftershock from the earthquake.  Entrance fee was NTD550. The place was lovely. This is also a good place to see sakura flowers. The entrance was European style mansion surrounded by massive garden of flowers. Inside was a theme park and the village itself. Each area were surrounded by native tiny huts from ancient times with the daily tools and equipment used. There was even a pottery area where people can take classes on. We had the chance to try their native meals such as taro cake, smoked eggs and bamboo rice. The last stop was the graveyard. This is where they display their enemies skulls and let me tell you, they were a lot. Nearby, there was a shrine of a…giant penis. Yes, you read it right. Apparently it is a symbol of abundance (big surprise).

After the fun filled day, we went back to the hostel and bade the owners goodbye as we made our way back to Taipei. At night, we decided to try dining in with what’s popular with the locals: outdoor food stands where Kim’s friends joined us for a chill night. After that, it has been decided to find the next best club and we ended at Babe 18 for NTD300. Apparently there was more than a couple of drinks and dancing going on and we had an awesome time with them.

Luckily, no hangovers after that night and we were still up in the morning for the last trip to Yehliu GeoPark. A bus takes about 30 mins. Entrance was NTD50. The rock formations were strangely mesmerizing. Its like created from aliens with their unique shapes and formations. Definitely a must go and was a great end to my Taiwan trip. I do hope to come back and explore more of its beauties.

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