Taiwan Trip: Taichung (台中) Leg 28th – 30th June 2013

My Taichung trip was a short one, with the highlight being the tour of Sun Moon Lake and visiting Feng Jia Night Market.

We had a last minute panic at Hualien because we found out the night before that ALL train tickets were sold out to Taichung, and we had to improvise and take TRA to Taipei, and then pray that there were seats on the HSR from Taipei to Taichung at night. Luckily we could book the tickets online using credit card, and HSR is in fact a much faster option, taking just less than an hour to reach.

We stayed at an excellent hotel, Holiday Inn Express Taichung Park Hotel. They gave us a free upgrade to a semi-suite with 2 Queen-sized beds, and this was by far the most spacious and comfortable hotel room for the price we paid.

Holiday Inn Taichung

http://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/taichung/txgsr/hoteldetail

This was godsend for us to fully recharge from the lack of sleep the previous few nights.

My mum managed to crowd-source the best taxi driver from those waiting outside our hotel, to bring us on a guided day trip to Sun Moon Lake! He turned out to be a really friendly (I can’t seem to emphasis how they’re all so affable) cabby as well and he frequently bring tourists around to popular attractions.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002713232544

Again, you may wish to contact him if you’re going to Taichung but message in Chinese only~

Sun Moon Lake

To be honest, I don’t really see the shape of the sun and moon…

It was quite a long ride to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) and once we’ve reached, we got bombarded by the many boat companies trying to sell their package to us. They look like they offer the same stuff, but the cabby brought us to the one near Starbucks and they were wearing pink shirts.

Lake View

The boat company will take us to 3 different destinations and at each point we can disembark and roam around. When we’re done, we can board any of their company’s boat to continue on our tour.

First stop is where you can find the famous 阿嬷香菇茶叶蛋! Everyone comes here to try it, and since it’s so cheap and delicious we bought 3.

Cha Ye Dan

The view here is slightly better once we climbed up some stairs, and I vaguely remember our second stop was more or less the same.

Hot Weather

When the weather starts to get hot, my parents resort to all patterns to keep cool.

Ri Yue Tan

The third stop is the most exiting place! It’s used to be an aboriginal village but it’s now converted to some tourist street selling lots of food and souvenirs! We tried some a lot of their 土产 and also saw many cute doggies chilling.

Cute Dog

The fried fish and shrimps were pretty good! We also tried the 大肠包小肠,阿桑母奶茶 and other random snacks that this became our lunch.

Taiwan Snacks

The cab driver later brought us to 文武庙 to sight-see, and 涵碧樓紀念館 where ex-Taiwan President 蔣中正 (蒋介石) stayed at during some point in time because of its tranquility. [Please correct me if I’m wrong on this]

Wishes

This is a big wooden table where you can pose like a boss.

Wooden Table

I think this was the most beautiful shot of my mum taken that day.

Mother

Followed shortly by a not so glamorous shot at the Winery.

Mother at Winery

After the tour, we told the cabby to drop us off at the biggest mall in Taichung, ShinKong Mitsukoshi (星光三越). This time round we realized it’s way too atas for us because everything there is branded, so we scoot off to Feng Jia Night Market (逢甲夜市) instead!

One of the largest night markets in Taiwan, we smartly went there on a Saturday night and the crowd was NO JOKE.

Feng Jia Night Market

We tried so much food there I stopped taking pictures of them after a while. It’s futile with the massive crowd and bad lighting, and I just wanna eat my food because it looks so good.

One particularly famous stall is the 炒面面包 that’s like pasta sandwich. Quite an interesting idea, but the queue was too long for me to try it out.

That’s about all I did in Taichung. As you can tell, we were pretty rushed for time mainly due to the traveling distance between the places we visited. We didn’t think it would take that long to get around even by car, and were pretty shagged out by end of Day 5.

However, it’s a different matter when we got to Taipei because our itinerary was at a slower pace, hence we got to unwind a bit more.

Next and final post on Taipei-Taiwan hopefully to be up during the weekend!

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Taiwan Trip: Hualien (花莲) Leg 26th – 28th June 2013

Taiwan Trip: Taipei (台北) Leg 30th June – 4th July 2013

 

 

Taiwan Trip: Hualien (花莲) Leg 26th – 28th June 2013

This was my first family vacation in a long time (if you exclude the Malaysia trips), and I am happy to have brought my parents to Taiwan! The reason was because they speak Chinese, and so my parents would have a better time understanding and getting around the cities. This was evident from how well my parents clicked with the taxi drivers we toured around with. Hurhur.

Taiwan with Family

We flew by Tiger Airways to Taoyuan International Airport, and immediately took the TRA (Taiwan Railway Administration) to Hualien County. The Taiwan HSR (High Speed Rail) goes to Taichung but NOT Hualien. Anyway my recommendation before you leave the airport is to buy a data package. I bought mine from ChungHwa – 10 days unlimited data for NT$450, and it also comes with quite a lot of talk-time. It makes searching google and calling cab drivers much more convenient.

By the time we checked in at BB Sunrise Minsu, it was already close to 9 p.m.

http://www.bbsunrise.tw/

They are a family-owned minsu that is walking distance from Zi Qiang Night Market (自強夜市) and I guess I would recommend them because they are really friendly, which is a common trait amongst most Taiwanese.

We got them to book the white-water rafting package tomorrow morning for us that costs about NT$700 per person, and then headed off to eat eat eat!

The highlight of the trip probably were the night markets that we visited. The famous ones at Zi Qiang are 棺材板, 第一家烤肉串, and the many fruit juice combinations they have. Basically you won’t go wrong if you see a long queue (So Singaporean).

Di Yi Jia Kao Rou Chuan

I will recommend the 棺材板, but the 第一家烤肉串 has a waiting time of about 1.5 hours even after you queued to select your food. In the end it tasted slightly burnt and was over-rated in my opinion.

Guan Cai Ban

The next morning we woke up at 7a.m. to get ready for 花蓮泛舟! It was my parent’s first experience at such adventurous stuff, and I’m quite happy that they are sporting enough to try these things out. The package included a van that came to pick us up to 秀姑巒溪 where we will enjoy 3 hours of being extremely sunburnt in 38 degrees Celcius weather without any form of protection or sunblock.

It would have been a fun experience but the sunburn was so painful and horrible that my skin was bright red and stinging for the next few days, and peeled like a snake for the subsequent week. One advice to my readers – do not underestimate the sun and protect yourself! Sadly, we couldn’t bring our camera, and hence no pictures of the beautiful route we took. We did take pictures of some famous food we ate that night.

Bao Bing

This is some shaved-ice dessert with gula-malacca syrup and condensed milk on the ice, and some yam balls served on the side. Looks nice but tastes mediocre.

Shaved Ice

Hualien barely has any shopping streets, and they only have ONE shopping centre that we stayed at for just 15 minutes because there really wasn’t much to see. We did what we came to Taiwan for, and Google told us that 三妈臭臭锅 is a fairly famous steamboat place to eat at!

San Ma Chou Chou Guo

We didn’t know the soup base we ordered already includes a fixed set of ingredients, and proceeded to order a hell lot of other stuff until the waitress kindly tore our order forms and told us to fill it in again. In the end, it turned out to be a really cheap meal and contrary to the name of the restaurant, isn’t smelly at all.

Huo Guo

We were however told by the cab drivers that the hot-pots there were considered as 口味很重, which I guess means very flavorful?

I thought waking up at 7a.m. on a vacation was early, but on our 3rd day we woke up at 4.a.m., because my energizer bunny parents wanted to catch the sunrise at 七星潭風景區. This was possible because of our friendly cab driver that Kristian and gang recommended to us. You can contact him via Facebook (In Chinese ONLY).

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004614606488

This sunrise was totally worth waking up for. It’s the most beautiful I’ve seen and it literally rose out of the sea, unblocked by clouds etc.

Sunrise

Beach

He then brought us to 清水断崖, and then to 太鲁阁 where I was amazed at how wonderful nature can be. Taroko Gorge have certain scenic spots, and the experienced cabby drove us to ALL of them and explained them bit by bit on what’s interesting and special.

Taroko Gorge

One of the highlights was 燕子口, where we saw a lot of.. you guessed it right – Swallows. They are too fast and tiny to catch them in photos though.

Swallow

The weather is burning; you can see my mom hiding in the shadows.

Bridge

Another place that we hiked close to 45 minutes for was 白杨瀑布, and a little bit further was 水源洞 where it’s a cave that we can venture into and water drips/falls from the ceiling.

Shui Yuan Dong

These are things that I never got to do before and I was very happy with the memorable day trip to Taroko Gorge!

Me at Waterfalls

My parents enjoying their moment while crossing the suspended bridge.

Parents on Bridge

Next post will be my trip to Taichung!

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Taiwan Trip: Taichung (台中) Leg 28th – 30th June 2013

Taiwan Trip: Taipei (台北) Leg 30th June – 4th July 2013

 

 

Summer Holidays

Hi everyone, just a short update about what I’ve been up to the past few weeks.

I had an awesome vacation with my family in Taiwan for 9 days, during which we tried and did many things that I felt brought us closer together.

I then had to do reservist almost immediately for a week.

This was followed by a short getaway to Bangkok with Michelle, where I tailored some work clothes and ate like a pig.

Coming soon would be my Dad’s Birthday and the long-awaited OSOS vacation to Surabaya!

This (also my last) summer holiday have been awesome and I’m really loving it!

Will try and post photos and do my blog posts soon, after everything settles down.