Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Taiwan Itinerary 2015 - Day 1

I've been back since 12th November 2015 and so that makes today the 14th day.
I've been dreading to blog as I got so lazy and the number of photos just deter me from blogging.
A friend's call today 'pushed' me into starting! I shall do it in 12 parts. A warning. Part 1 will be long.

Eeyore getting ready to board in the next 1 hour!

Both Mommy & I took the flight via Jetstar and it was a 01:15AM flight. I'll be wiser next time and avoid midnight flights at all costs unless if the boarding time is 11PM or earlier. We arrived Taoyuan Airport at 6AM and we were dead tired. Not being able to sleep on the plane is no fun at all!

We took Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station.
Waiting time for the bus was 0 as we were pretty lucky. The bus was about to leave after purchasing our tickets. Even if we miss it, the next one will come along pretty quickly. They come in intervals of 10 mins I believe... The journey took less than an hour. I didn't time it but the traffic was smooth, it being an early Sunday morning.

Mom was hungry and couldn't wait. She bought a Bao from 7-11 upon reaching Taipei Main Stn

We took the Metro (what we call MRT in Singapore) from Taipei Main Station to Ximen Station.
It was only a stop. Their Metro is pretty easy to navigate. Just make sure you have the map at all times. Even if you don't, you can easily view the map at the Metro Station. If all else fails, just open your mouth and ask. I have come to realize that the Taiwanese are extremely friendly people. It's as if their goal in life is to help. I'm not kidding! They are a bunch of extremely warm and friendly people! Even when we have trouble with our luggage, they just offer help without us asking! Very impressed!
Also, they just queue up at the station while waiting for the train. This is the same for EVERY station that we went. Very orderly people. Even though their trains don't look new, it's very efficient and clean inside. The Taiwanese are also very much into recycling. Recycling bins can be easily found whereas in Singapore, I can only find them in town. They also wear a mask when they are not well. It's a common sight! Lastly, make sure you bring a bag or plastic bag to carry the stuff you buy from 7-11/Family Mart etc. They charge for plastic bags.

We stayed in ECFA Wan Nien which is at the Wan Nien Building for the first 3 nights in Taipei. If you travel alone or have a budget, go for it. It's convenient and cheap. If you are willing to spend a little or want to impress your companion, go for Westgate. Location wise, Westgate is nearer to Ximen Exit 6. You can reach both hotels via Ximen Exit 6. ECFA Wan Nien is like our Hotel 81. Mommy overheard a customer inquiring for hourly rate. Hence why I changed it to Westgate for our last 3 nights in Taipei. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind ECFA at all if travelling alone or with friends but with my Mom? Forget it...

We left our luggage and bags (Mom had a huge luggage & I had a backpack) at the hotel and went out looking for Yong He Dou Jiang. We walked for a bit and realized something not right. Hence, we asked a local for directions. Turned out we were walking in the opposite direction! Ha ha... Something good turned out of this confusion. We got to eat a really delicious wrap from a push cart. It was what looked like our prata. Only that this one has filling in it. When hot, it's really crispy and nice. Mommy enjoyed it! I didn't take a photo of it as Mommy whacked it immediately! #toolateforphoto

Dou Jiang @ Yong He Dou Jiang
Too sweet for my liking. I like my Soya Drink light and just a teeny weeny sweet

Carrot Cake - Not bad. Slight savory, a nice contrast to the Dou Jiang

Disappointing. Some You Tiao wrapped in an omelette?
I later saw some people eating stuff wrapped in glutinous rice. Seems delicious but didn't get the chance to try it as we never visit Yong He Dou Jiang anymore after this...

Can't remember this one. Cong You something.
Taiwan is big on spring onion.
This was forgettable, meaning #notworththecalories

That pretty much sums up our 1st and only visit to Yong He Dou Jiang! Next, we headed back to the hotel, hoping for an early check-in. Lady luck was not on our side. Mom ended up taking a short nap (30 mins or so) at their sitting area. When she finally got up, we headed out to Maokong! I had wanted to visit the Zoo but Mom's not a fan of such things. Bummer! I had wanted to see Pandas, Llamas etc. Besides, their entrance fee is dirt cheap! Pay a visit if you can!

Maokong = Cat Potholes
This kitty here looks like Maokong's ambassador. *laughs*
Throughout our time there, we never once saw a cat.

Since we're there for the 1st time, I decided to take a ride on their Crystal Cabin instead of the normal one. The only difference is that the base is see through for the Crystal Cabin. I was told that the price for both is the same. You see here, I've taken a photo of a Taiwanese young girl. A very adorable and sweet kid. She's going to the Zoo with her Dad and she's a frequent visitor. I asked Mommy to lie there so I can take a photo of her but she's scared. *laughs* The young kid obliged! =) We had a little conversation with her Dad and found out that it's common for Taiwanese to teach their kids from home for a few years. In Singapore, I believe we are allowed to do that till the kid turns 7. For Taiwan, it seems it's allowed even till age 10 or later! Amazing... It also seems like there are no government houses (similar to our HDB). Instead, all houses are privatized. Hence why the apartments or houses in Taipei is at an exorbitant price!

The gondola ride from base till Maokong is around 40 mins. Again, I did not time it. I found out from my research done prior to the trip. Once you alight from the gondola, you'll see an eating area. Buy the Black Pork Sausage from the 1st store. It's just an old lady on the step, cooking some sausages. It doesn't even look like a proper store. Nonetheless, the sausage she sells is delicious! Not much fatty bits and that's why you wouldn't get sick of eating too many. It's reasonably priced too! 

Here's a woman who wants to act 'cute'. Bwah ha ha...

We had a lunch/snack at a sheltered place near to where the old lady sells her sausages.
Some tea leave glutinous rice which is forgettable and sweet potato with sour plum powder which was simply delicious! I would never have thought of eating sweet potato with sour plum powder but the combination is great!

It started raining and so, we headed to a tea house.
When you alight from the gondola, to your left is the eating places. To your right is where all the tea houses are at. We just went into 1 and enjoyed some tea, admiring the view and just relaxing. The air there was really cooling, clean and crisp. I love it there and regret not exploring the area as Mommy was tired from all the walking... Next time I shall do it!
Can you spot Taipei 101 from a distance?

After Maokong, we went back to ECFA Wan Nien to check-in and rest a bit.
My plan was to have steamboat at Mala Steamboat which is pretty near the hotel but there was a staff promoting another place with seafood and Mommy relented after hearing a local saying the seafood is good and fresh. The verdict? Not good and not fresh. A letdown I must say...

Black Pork
Can you spot the black dots?

Even after a heavy meal, we still have room for Muah Chee bought from a push cart nearby.
Tasted slightly better than the Muah Chee back home but still, not good enough.
At that point of eating, I was looking forward to the Mochi in Hualien which I heard nothing but good things about!

Ended the day with a soak and a bath balm from LUSH

My loot for the 1st day!
That purple pastry you see there taste so good... I only found out when I had a taste back home.
There's just so much to eat, I have no room to try it out. I regretted buying only 1 box.
There's a shop near ECFA Wan Nien which sells pineapple tarts etc. You can buy this purple pastry there. It's actually Yam crust with something like cream and mochi at the bottom! Even my step sons love it! That instant noodles there is Man Han Da Can. If you MUST get instant noodles, get the ones from Yi Du Zhan instead.

Stay tuned for Day 2!

Dreamy C

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