Dec. 17, 2016
Like Thailand, Cambodia and other Asian countries, Taiwan is the kind of country that you can always fall back to when you want culture, nature and food.
We spent the next few minutes queuing up at the immigration counter and as soon as we got out of the airport, a van picked us up and brought us to our hotel.
We actually stayed in Go Sleep Hotel-our home for the next 3 nights. I actually did search about the hotel when I knew where we were staying before the trip and found some undesirable pictures. However, because we were on a tight budget I just prayed that it wouldn’t completely disappoint us when we get there. Surprisingly, the place is good for a budget hotel. It has a great location, there are lots of shops and restaurants right outside and the Metro is just a short walk. We occupied 7 rooms and it was clean and spacious. I also loved the modern-look.
Dec. 18, 2016
We had too little sleep that day since we were expected to be all ready and prepared around 8:00 in the morning. Good thing we were able to wake up early despite the 2-hour sleep. It’s okay, a little sacrifice won’t hurt.
There’s free breakfast in the lobby early in the morning and I must say they serve good food. You can also avail their free drinks 24/7 whether it’s coffee, tea, juice or soft drinks. Just visit their lobby and go straight to their vending machines.
What I notice in Taipei is that the people here follow rules. People will wait for traffic lights, they stand in line and operate strict escalator rules to keep everyone moving along. It’s so sad that we don’t have it here in the Philippines. At the same time, there are elements that are the same with South East Asia. For example, the street food, the scooters and the street snacks and night markets. It’s this blend, which makes Taipei a truly unique city in Asia.
I took off my boots the last minute since I don’t want to feel uncomfortable from all the walking and running for long hours. I just decided to wear my comfortable white Keds shoes.
We took the MRT because it’s the most convenient way to get around the city. Other than that, it’s cheap and easy to use. We bought the 48 hour Taipei pass card for a price of NT$280 because it is valid for unlimited travel in Taipei Metro within 48 hours from the first use. We actually underestimated our stay in Taipei, we should’ve bought the 72 hour Taipei pass.
Just place the card over the sensor of the gate. When you hear the beep sound and the green arrow displayed on the screen, the gate opens.
FIRST STOP: Chiang Kai Shiek Memorial Hall
If you have any interest in the civil war that occurred in China or the creation of Taiwan, this place is a must visit. I never loved history but I learned a lot from it because my dad’s so good with almost about anything! He was just like our tourist guide most of the time while we were walking inside the place.
Taking advantage of the clear, sunny day that morning. I didn’t realize that the entire compound was so big you could easily lose your way!
If you climb all the way to the top you can see the whole view of the place. From afar you can see the beautiful main gate which is the entrance that leads to CKS memorial hall.
Behind us is the statue of Chiang Kai Shiek. If you don’t know him, you better search him up. Hihi. Also, there is an hourly change of guard ceremony that you can witness inside. Whole process takes about 10-15 minutes.
After which, we went inside the museum and learned about the history. Inside the hall there is a permanent display of items relating to CKS–pictures, medals, books, etc. The displays appear not to have been updated for many years, but they remain informative. We found the old pictures especially interesting.
You can wander around shaded paths through the garden and enjoy their beautiful garden where wonderful array of flowers, trees and birds are seen. You can feed the giant koi fishes that live in the garden pond.
And also the pigeons…
NEXT STOP: Taipei 101
From there we boarded the MRT and headed towards Taipei 101. You heard it right. Taipei’s iconic tower. How can one miss this? As soon as we entered the place, I saw a sign that Taipei 101 used to hold the title of “World’s tallest building” from 2004 to 2010. Phew. I never knew that.
The ticket counter is on the 5th floor. After purchasing the ticket costing NT$600 per person, you will be guided to join the queue. Before going to the top, you will experience a pressure-controlled lift which will take you up and if I’m not mistaken it’s the world’s fastest elevator. It will take you 40 seconds to get from the ground level to the 89th floor observation deck.
Check out this YT video if you want to see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi0u03KZlN8 (not my video)
As the elevator door closes, my frustration over the wait taking the lift was gone upon takeoff when all the lights were switched off. It left me dumb-founded when I saw the display of stars and comets on the ceiling.
Once you get bored in the indoor observatory, you can actually go to the 91F outdoor observatory using the stairs.
I took a photo of the tower every New year’s eve. Taipei 101 not only set off a dazzling display but it also features spectacular light show/fireworks display. Huhu! How I wish I get to see it in person.
Around 7:30 pm in the evening, we decided to have our late dinner at Din Tai Fung. There was a huge crowd outside the restaurant and we were wondering whether to wait or leave. However, since the restaurant is certainly most well-known, having been named one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the world, we should expect the long queues. In the end, we made the decision to wait and it was a good choice! I admit I was kind of upset waiting for about… 45 minutes before we finally got ourselves a table. But I was at the same time satisfied because the food they served tasted great!
I wasn’t able to take a picture of the other meals that we ordered because I was already really hungry at the time. Haha! But I really loved their Xiao Long Bao, Pork chop, Braised Beef Noodle Soup with Beef Brisket especially the fried rice. Best fried rice ever or was I just that hungry? Haha.
Dec. 19, 2016
FIRST STOP: Botanical Gardens and National Museum of history
The next day was less hectic. We were just walking around the streets of Xi Men Ding as we were on our way to get to the subway station to go to Botanical Gardens and National Museum of history. We were supposed to travel to National Palace Museum but since it was a Monday- all museums are closed because it’s clean up day.
Not sure but the lady from the lobby of our hotel said that Ximending area is one of the most popular destination for tourists. Beside, you can see malls, small clothing shops, restaurants, also people hosting street performances and exhibitions.
While we were on our way to our destination, we also had a few pictorial sessions. Why not? Photographs are the best souvenirs. It’s free, it lasts forever and you get so share it! It takes you back to memories. We don’t always get to visit to certain countries all the time so might as well take lots of photos!
It was a beautiful weather that time so we decided to wear denims. It was indeed a denim kind of day.
Like I said earlier, instead of visiting the National Palace Museum. We went directly to National Museum of History. The museum is the site of frequent exhibitions of foreign art, which have included works by Picasso and Michelangelo. After that, we were able to buy affordable and nice souvenirs for our friends!
If you want to get out from the hectic urban center of the city then Taipei Botanical Gardens is the right place for you. You can roam around the place and see many beautiful trees, flowers and ponds.
After the Botanical gardens, some people suggested that we eat at the famous modern toilet restaurant but many of the group found the idea of eating there quite disturbing and gross (no offense!) so we just decided to eat a random restaurant.
Pork stew is just like Humba in Filipino. It was thus far the most cheapest food that we have since the first day we arrived in Taipei. Not only was it cheap but their serving was very big and delicious.
NEXT STOP: Taipei Zoo
Taipei Zoo was next in our itinerary. You can just take the MRT or ride the cable car from Maokong Gondola to the Taipei zoo. We took the MRT because Maokong Gondola was close every Monday. You might want to avoid this if you want to take the Gondola in the morning and zoo in the afternoon. We just decided to visit Maokong the next day.
The Taipei Zoo, sometimes referred to as the “Muzha Zoo“, is a public zoological garden. It is the most famous zoological garden in Taiwan,
The entrance fee for Taipei Zoo was NTD 60 per adult. Unbelievably cheap for a zoo that maintains a large diversity of animals, including giant panda and koala bear. The zoo opens from 9 am to 5 pm (ticket counter closes at 4 pm).
We were all Panda lovers so we visited the Panda house first. The place usually has long queues but we were blessed enough to arrive in the place with less crowd.
I wasn’t able to get a photo of the other Panda bear outside the exhibit hall because there were too many people gathering outside but both are fat and adorablee! It was probably their dinner time since they were munching on their bamboo leaves.
In all its fairness, considering the size of this zoo as well as how well the place is taken care of, it’s quite surprising that the entrance ticket is relatively cheap.
It was a great experience for us to walk and see different kinds of animals from African elephants in close distance, pod of hippos munching their food, etc.
Though a few exhibits were empty (or maybe we could’t find the animals) but I think it was just because we went to the zoo a bit late. I was a bit sad because I wasn’t able to see some of the animals that I really wanted to see just like the lions, tigers, giraffes, the big tortoise, etc.
We left the place around 5:30 pm and this view by far is my favorite that very day. ❤
NEXT STOP: Christmas Land
Our Christmas vacation won’t be complete if we won’t visit the happy and joyful Christmas Land in New Taipei City. Christmasland is a “realm
of merry Christmas” in the urban setting of Xinban Special District, a
sprawling playground intended for people of all ages, and also an effort to
enhance New Taipei City’s global profile.
The place was gorgeously illuminated and indeed happiness-evoking!
For a country which doesn’t have a tradition of celebrating Christmas, we should give thanks for Christmas land. I really enjoyed the overload of lights and the Christmas spirit!
At 118 feet high, the LED tree behind us is the largest public Christmas decoration in Taiwan.
Every sundown, there’s always a 5-minute light show every 30 minutes.