THREE-DAY TRIPPIN IN TAIWAN (Part 3)

The last day of our trip was the most flexible, mainly because we had no clear-cut itinerary. The only concrete part of the plan was to meet with one of my Taiwanese friends by late afternoon. After a few recommendations and internet searches, we decided to head out to Tamsui.

Din Tai Fung

We were on our way to Zhongshan station (the MRT station nearest to our hostel) when I realized it was already 11am. I probably had a silly grin on my face as I turned to my friend so she immediately figured out what I was thinking—Din Tai Fung!😁 A little back story: we actually went here the night before to have dinner but it was  jam packed and the waiting line was really long, so we opted to eat somewhere else. But before leaving, I asked one of the staff what time they open and she said 11 am.  So now that it’s 11am, we shall have our xiaolongbao cravings fulfilled! Good thing we got there a few minutes after they opened because there was no line yet, yey! Plus, we even got to watch how they made their dimsums through their gallery-like kitchen.

Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf

After that sumptuous meal, we went to the Fisherman’s Wharf in Tamsui (or Danshui in other maps). Tamsui, the last station in MRT’s red line, is where we had a nice stroll along the wharf lined with numerous shops for food, clothes, and souvenirs.

When we got tired of walking, we sat in one of the benches under the tree to hyrdate and rest our feet. While sitting under the shade, we also saw a couple of people riding bikes. (Bikes are ubiquitous in Taipei. If you’re up for it you can rent ÜBike using Yoyo card, they’re mostly located near MRT stations–look for bikes with bright yellow and orange paint.)

And since we got hungry, so…

After a few more walks and a bit of window shopping around the old street, we left Tamsui and went to Main Station. While Aye went around the mall to look for some pineapple cake, I sat down to figure out how to contact my friend Weber. With a little help from Taipei’s free wifi, I finally got to contact him and find out where we’ll be meeting. (Note: Free wifi only works within MRT stations and government offices. To connect, go to the Tourist Information Center at Main Station and present your passport. The friendly staff will then log you in and give you your username and password.)

Smoothie House and Daan Park

We met Weber at Dongmen station which is just a few steps away from Smoothie House. Apparently, this is the current craze in Taipei. True enough, lots of people were there to enjoy Smoothie House’s signature snowflake ice which is shaved ice with fruit toppings. We tried their Super Mango Snowflake Ice with Sorbet and Litchi Snowflake Ice with Osmanthus.

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The serving is seriously humongous. There were 3 of us and we all shared 2 orders, but we still weren’t able to finish everything.

Surprisingly, we liked the litchi (or lychee) with ostmanthus more than the mango. Maybe because the super mango had nothing but mangoes in it, which can be a bit overwhelming. Oh and by the way, we were already halfway with our snowflake ice and we still couldn’t figure out where the osmanthus was 😆 Still, anything with ice was great on such a hot day.

A couple of minutes and catching up conversations later, we found our way to Daan Park. However, it was already dark when we got there so we just strolled for a while. Good thing we tumbled upon a free concert in the park featuring an orchestra. But time was running out, Aye and I had be back at the hostel to pick up our bags before going to the airport. And so we said our goodbyes and went our way.

As we waited in the lounge near the airport’s boarding area, I can’t believe our three days are up and now we’re going back to Manila.  The past three days have been great: I got to revisit memorable places in the city, see new sites, get lost, experience new things, eat yummy treats, meet up with friends.

Time does fly when you’re having fun. Thanks Taiwan, you’ve been good to me!😊

THREE-DAY TRIPPIN IN TAIWAN (Part 2)

With our aching feet still recovering from the day before, my friend and I braced ourselves for our second day in Taiwan. We had a quick stop at the bread shop and the nearby Family Mart for brunch before heading to the MRT. And boy was I happy we did that, because we would be needing all the energy we can get for this day’s adventures.

Jiufen

Jiufen is a popular tourist spot in New Taipei City. To get there, we had to take a 40-minute train ride to Ruifang District (from MRT Main Station, look for the ‘TRA’  or railroad sign to lead you to the ticket booths and the entrance to the platforms).

From Ruifang railroad station, we walked a couple of blocks to catch the bus that will take us to Jiufen. Don’t worry about finding the bus stop because it’s just beside the police station (plus you’ll easily spot other tourists waiting in this spot). The bus ride takes only 15 minutes on the way up the mountain.

Aside from the amazing view that it offers, the area also has museums along the way that you can check out (like the tea museum, gold mine museum and kite museum).

So, what else did we do in Jiufen? Well, I think these pictures will pretty much tell the story…

Toucheng

We initially planned to explore some more but the skies were starting to look gloomy, so we decided to head back and took the next bus to Ruifang. We went straight to the station and bought our tickets (this time with reserved seats, yey!). Apparently the train to Taipei was expected to arrive in a few minutes, and true enough a train did arrive shortly. Confident that we were correctly on board, I decided to take a nap. So imagine my surprise, a few stations later, when I could no longer recognize the places we were passing by. We were supposed to be back Taipei by this time already.

Uhm, yeah I definitely did not see this earlier
Is that an island?!? Uhm, yeah I definitely did not see this earlier 😳

At first, my friend thought that the train might have used another track going back… but, buttttt, butttttt we could already see the coastline!😱 Scared that we might end up totally lost, we decided to get off at the next station (which was in Toucheng… in Yilan District… in northeastern Taiwan!). Thankfully, the TRA staff were so gracious to us and did not ask us for any additional fee for our tickets. They simply instructed us to go to the other platform and wait for the train there.

Waiting for the train in Toucheng
See that guy near the yellow line? He’s one of the TRA staff who helped us board the correct train this time 😊

Despite what could have been a dramatic disaster, my friend and I just laughed it off and thanked God for this surprise adventure 😄 And besides, the view of the coastline and the towns we passed by gave us more than we initially hoped for.

Taipei 101

Upon our return to Taipei, we were still unsure what we wanted to do next so we just walked around the underground mall in Main Station where we tumbled upon an Eslite Bookstore branch. It was only after a few minutes of browsing and window shopping that we decided to go to Taipei 101. We just took a few shots from the outside since we both didn’t want to go up anymore, to save both time and money. I’ve tried it on my first trip, and from what I can remember it’s quite costly to go to the observation deck. But if you want to maximize your tourist experience, make sure to go there by late afternoon so you can enjoy both the day and night view of the city 😉 (The fee is inclusive of the access to the deck, the musem and the exhibits).

So there you go, our 2nd day in Taiwan! Final installment of our three-day trippin will be on the next post 😉

THREE-DAY TRIPPIN IN TAIWAN (Part 1)

They say that three time’s the charm. Well, my third trip to Taiwan was definitely charming. My friend Aye Reece and I were only there for three days but it was fun-filled. For the first part of this series, I’ll be sharing the places we visited on our first day 🙂

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

For first time visitors like my friend, this one is on the must-visit list. It is after all, a great way to get acquainted with Taiwan. Inside, you can explore the museum on the lower level for free (yey!)

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Here are some of the things you can see inside…

Aside from the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, the compound is also home to the National Theater and the Memorial Gates. All of which serve as great backdrops for your souvenir photos. (True enough, a group of Korean tourists were doing jumpshots when we were there)

NTU

We arrived in NTU (National Taiwan University) right before lunch to meet a couple of Filipino friends. This place is nostalgic to me as brings back happy memories of meeting new friends, eating budget food at the cafeteria, and strolling around the campus.

One of the things you shouldn’t miss when you’re in NTU is their waffle. It is delicious!!! To get this yummy treat, look for the little wood cabin in front of the park beside the Life Sciences Building. It’s not hard to find, just follow the sweet aroma of freshly made waffles. You’ll usually see a line of hungry students but don’t give up, it’s worth it. I highly recommend the chocolate banana waffle (I get hungry just thinking about it now…)

Gongguan, the area where NTU is located, has a lot of budget-friendly food stalls nearby. There are also fashion shops and bubble milk tea stalls in almost every corner. Plus, there’s a bank and a post office nearby as well.

Maokong

After a few more minutes of catching up with our friends, Aye and I headed to Maokong. To get there, take the MRT line going to Taipei Zoo. Actually, if you have the time you can visit the zoo first before going up to Maokong (they have penguins, pandas and koalas!). The MRT station is quite a long walk to the gondola station so make sure to wear ultra comfy shoes.

The gondola ride which will take you up to Maokong gives scenic view of downtown Taipei. Word of caution though: if you’re scared of heights, this might not be the ideal ride for you. But worry not, there are other ways to reach it (bus, taxi, or car). Maokong is a mountainous area known for its tea houses. So if you’re a fan of tea, you’ll definitely have a grand time here.

We got there when the sun was at its peak and we were melting and sweating. Good thing we found this air conditioned café so we can sit down and rest for a while. Apparently, this café is known for serving tea-flavored ice cream. They also have savory meals available for those who are bit more hungry.

Here a couple of interesting finds we saw in Maokong…

Shilin Night Market

After Maokong, we decided to cap off our first day in Taiwan in Shilin Night Market. Here, you’ll find stall after stall of merchandise that will bring out the shopaholic in you. But if you’re not the shopping type, you can still enjoy Shilin with its variety of street food such as chicken chops, fresh fruits, juices, squid balls, grilled sausages, and more.

 

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Too tired from walking. Thus, this is the only photo I got in Shilin. And yes, it’s food (chicken chops to be exact).

And that was our first day! Look out for the second installment of out three-day trippin in Taiwan 🙂