An Introduction to Taiwan- The Heart of Asia

Hello Everyone, pardon my absence from the blogging scene for such a long time as I have been held up by my assignment and work. Thankfully, I have been able to take a week's off from work and I am now typing this blog entry right here in Taipei, Taiwan. The next few entries will be about my trip (with Baby) to Taiwan and I hope that through my sharing, my writing and sharing will inspire you to visit this really beautiful place.

For this blog entry and the ones that follow after this, I will be sharing about Taipei City in Taiwan.

Why Taiwan?

Well, Baby and I initially wanted to travel to Bangkok but because of the severe flooding, we decided to change our travel plan and booked our flight and accommodation to Taiwan instead.

Our Preparations For The Trip

Flight- for this trip, we booked our flight through Misa Travel <-- (click here for more information) and the price was a steal. For a round trip ticket on Cathay Pacific <-- (click here for more information) with one stopover in Hong Kong, the price is SGD$560 nett per person. The last I checked, the price for the same ticket cost SGD$803.30 now.

Insurance- whether you're travelling on a group tour or going on a free & easy trip, it is highly recommended that you purchase a travel insurance plan as you will never know what could go wrong in a foreign place. For our trip, we purchased the Chartis Travel Guard <-- (click here to see what are the benefits & coverage) for SGD$40 nett per person.

Accommodation- Baby and I saw many deals on tons of websites but because we are staying in Taipei for 5 nights and we have a friend whose Uncle owns an entire block of service apartment, we decided to rent the service apartment for NT$8000 (which is equivalent to SGD$347.83) for 5 nights, which works out to be SGD$69.57 per night. (seriously, its really worth it). By the way, the name of our service apartment is Vogue Star <-- (click here for more information) or ????????? (in Chinese).

Currency Exchange- although many people believe that it is better to change the local currency (SGD) to Taiwan currency in Singapore, it is better that you change it in Taiwan as they offer a slightly higher rate.

Itinerary- if you're going on a free & easy trip, it is highly recommended that you plan your trip thoroughly so as to avoid any inconvenience. There are a few websites that you might want to check out so as to plan your trip:

1) http://wikitravel.org/en/Taiwan#b

2) http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/ (official Taiwan tourism website)

3) http://www.lonelyplanet.com/taiwan (recommended website for your travel planning)

Now so much for the preparation part, time for some photographs...

Flight Check-In @ The Airport

From Taipei Day 1

Baby Calling Home Before Our Flight

From Taipei Day 1

Us Waiting for Flight Boarding

From Taipei Day 1

Our Plane to Hong Kong

From Taipei Day 1

The Meal Served On-Board (Quite tasty although it doesn't look appetising)

From Taipei Day 1

Mini Hard Liqueur Bottles

From Taipei Day 1

Baby On the Hong Kong Airport Sky Train

From Taipei Day 1

Macau As Seen From Hong Kong Airport

From Taipei Day 1

Baby Watching Care Bears While Waiting for Our Transit Flight to Taipei

From Taipei Day 1

Me Trying to Imitate Spongebob

From Taipei Day 1

Look Out for These Currency Exchange Counters @ Taipei Airport (the rates they offer are much better than the ones in Singapore)

From Taipei Day 1

The Cloudy Sky at Taipei

From Taipei Day 1

The Bus Terminal Where We Waited for Our Bus to Shuanglian MRT Station (cost us NT$150, approximately SGD $6.52 per person)

From Taipei Day 1

Our Bus to Shuanglian MRT Station

-seriously, if you're on a free and easy trip, it would be more cost efficient for you to take a bus to Town than to take the cab or arrange for a limousine.

From Taipei Day 1

Scooters, a Common form of Transportation in Taipei

From Taipei Day 1

Me Using Public Payphone to Call Home

-Handphone SIM Cards are extremely hard to obtain and if you want to get one, you will need two IDs (passport & 1 other ID- could be driving license/identification card). Without the two, you cannot even purchase a SIM Card. Even after purchasing  the SIM Card, it takes two hours to activate the mobile network.

From Taipei Day 1

The Hot Sunny Weather in Taipei (although its supposed to be the Winter season)

From Taipei Day 1

Our First Meal in Taipei- Dumplings

From Taipei Day 1

The Place We Had Our 1st Meal in Taipei

From Taipei Day 1

Fishball with Seaweed Soup

From Taipei Day 1

Steamed Dumplings

From Taipei Day 1

Pan-Fried Dumplings

From Taipei Day 1

Our First Meal in Taipei

From Taipei Day 1

Me Having Lunch

From Taipei Day 1

The First Bubble Tea Store We Patronised

From Taipei Day 1

The Menu at The Bubble Tea Shop

From Taipei Day 1

The Bubble Tea Shop

From Taipei Day 1

Honey Peach Oolong Tea with Pearls

From Taipei Day 1

Zhongshan Metro Mall

From Taipei Day 1

Taipei Main Station Area Map

From Taipei Day 1

Places of Interest from Zhongshan/Shuang Lian MRT Station

-the underground network of the MRT stations are all well connected. In fact, you could walk from one train station to another train station via the underground passage which has stores around for you to shop and sight-see as well.

From Taipei Day 1

A Group of Ladies Dancing @ Zhongshan Metro Mall (there's even a stage for performance)

From Taipei Day 1

Artwork On The Shutters of A Shop in Zhongshan Metro Mall

From Taipei Day 1

Ladies' Toilet @ Zhongshan Metro Mall

From Taipei Day 1

Mens' Toilet @ Zhongshan Metro Mall

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- Overall Look

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- Steps to the 2nd Level

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- The Living Room

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- the Kitchenette wih Refrigerator, Washing Machine, Microwave, and even a Gas Stove

-Baby and I travelled really light because we had a washing machine available for our use

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- The Bathroom with a Jacuzzi Bath Tub

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- The Bath Room

From Taipei Day 1

Vogue Star Service Apartment- The Bedroom

From Taipei Day 1

Baby Showing Off The MRT Coin/Ticket

-anyway, the MRT do offer a Tourist Day Pass which cost NT$180, but if you are just travelling around the vicinity, you would be better off purchasing single trip tickets because single trip tickets cost only NT$20.

From Taipei Day 1

@ Jiantan MRT Station to Go to Shilin Night Market

-alight at Jiantan MRT Station instead of Shilin MRT Station if you want to go to Shilin Night Market.

From Taipei Day 1

@ Shilin Night Market (crowded with so much people)

From Taipei Day 1

Vibrant and Colourful Billboards around Shilin Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

@ Shilin Night Market

-this is one place you must visit. There are just so many things to eat and shop for and you can even bargain for a good price.

From Taipei Day 1

Interesting Stuff @ Shilin Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

Salmon Sashimi @ Ningxia Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

Pork Hor Fun @ Ningxia Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

Thai Style Fried Rice @ Ningxia Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

Playing with BB Gun @ Shilin Night Market

-cost NT$50 per magazine of 10 rounds. When I tried my hands on this, people watching me thought I was a professional shooter. Fact is, I am a trained soldier so obviously its no big deal that all my 10 rounds landed on the balloons.

From Taipei Day 1

Playing with BB Gun @ Shilin Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

Fried Chicken Fillet @ Shilin Night Market

From Taipei Day 1

Me Posing with the Gigantic Chicken Fillet

From Taipei Day 1

That's all for Day 1 of Taipei and I have about 4-5 upcoming blog entries about my trip to Taipei, hence; stay tuned for more updates coming your way soon! =P