East Asia 2016, Part 1: Taiwan

It has been a month already since I had my long trip. I can still remember it. Those days were part of my happiest moments of this year. Now I will start my entire story into three parts, each country represents a part. So earlier this year, I planned to travel across East Asia, thru Taiwan, Japan, and China. (Click the link). Thankfully, it was a successful trip. So here the adventure goes…

October 26, Manila: After weeks of planning and packing, my most awaited day had come. I was bound to my first destination: Taipei, Taiwan. I’ve been there too last year so I didn’t plan much for the trip. I just thought that I would go wherever I want, and do whatever comes to my mind. After my work on that day, I went home to get my luggage and headed to the airport. I’ve booked the same red-eye flight at 10PM, and actually, the same hostel too where I’ve stayed on the past.

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Looking Down the Lights of Manila

October 27, Taipei: The plane arrived in Taipei Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1 at midnight. After clearing the immigration gates, I went directly to the booth where I would claim my pocket WiFi that I ordered online at Klook. The booth closes at 1AM so I still had time. The moment I claimed it, I went to the waiting area and looked for a spot to take a nap, because I booked my stay on the hostel that started in the morning of that day.

I woke up at 6AM by some noisy travelers on the arrival area. It was a rough morning because aside from them, the lock on my luggage seemed to malfunction as I wasn’t able to open it easily. After one hour of clicking it with the keys, I finally opened it. Then I groomed myself and had an iced coffee for breakfast. I looked for a money changer and exchanged 1000PHP into NTD. Then I went to the ground floor and booked a 125NTD bus ticket for 7:30AM departure bound for Taipei Station. At around 9AM, we arrived at the terminal and I went to the EasyCard reloading station (I still have the one I used before) and luckily it still had a hundred dollars so I went straight to the train. I alighted at Xinyi Anhe station and walked to the hostel. I’m glad that I still remembered the way to JV’s Hostel in Taipei.

After I checked in, I went outside to re-explore the neighbourhood. I had a noodle for brunch and strolled around the area. I also bought a piece of bread and a tall bottle of milk tea that made me so full that day. I went to the previous tallest skyscraper in the world, Taipei 101, since it is just a station away. It was a hot and foggy morning but I still managed to walk. I didn’t go up again the observation deck but only on the mall area, then I took pictures, and relaxed for a while. After that, I headed to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and checked out what’s new. It’s still amazing together with the other structures within the Liberty Square, namely the National Theatre and National Concert Hall. I went live on Facebook during the hourly changing of the guards, and you can check it on the link.

After that, I went to Longshan Temple and observed the people doing their worship and paying respect beyond the thick incense smoke. I spent most of the afternoon sitting on the bench in Huashan 1915 Creative Park. I watched the people and some dog owners walk their pets, all in a relaxed atmosphere. Aside from skyscrapers, parks are my thing. I enjoy observing people, and this is evident to all introverted people. Before sunset, I went to Elephant Mountain hiking trail to see the Taipei skyline from above. On my way up, I found a fellow Filipino traveler and we climbed up together. After passing the six big rocks, he descended already while I continued to climb up and took a rest. While observing the tall building, I found out that there is also another structure being built beside Taipei 101. Based on my Google search, it will be called as Nanshan Plaza, and will become the third tallest building in Taiwan. I will be glad to see it again when it’s fully constructed. After tiring myself, I went to Raohe Street Night Market to eat out again and as always, I was full from eating a lot of heavy street foods. After dinner, I went back to the hostel and took a rest.

October 28, New Taipei City: I woke up at 10 in the morning, unplanned for the last day in Taiwan. After I checked out of the hostel, I left my luggage there until night and went to New Taipei City. My first destination was Houtong Cat Village. Obviously, with this name, there were a lot of cats in the place, maybe a hundred of them, lazy sleeping but ready to interact with the tourists. There are also a lot of shops and cafes in this area that are designed with cute cats. I spent my afternoon there for a while, and bought souvenirs specifically bookmarks and a pin. I enjoyed the place because I really love cats.

Before sunset, I went to Jiufen by bus. Before I even alighted the bus I was already fascinated by its lights as seen from a distance. This place is jam-packed with tourists, mostly Koreans and Japanese, everyone holding their own cameras and phones. Around the old street are red lanterns and street foods, and further inside are restaurants and shops. The whole place is picturesque. I wasn’t able to try dining there as I needed to go back to the hostel before 9.

I went back to the bus station at 7. It was a long queue, luckily I still had time to wait for it. Funny story, I rode a bus that went straight to Taipei, but I should be going back to Ruifang Train Station since I already pre-booked my ticket. My seatmate that time talked to the bus driver to let me go down and he found a bus stop. It was a little far from the station but I walked until there. And then I rode the train. After going back to the hostel, I went to a bus stop for the airport bus and arrived at the airport just in time to check-in for my flight.

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Taipei Taoyuan International Airport

Overall, my trip to Taipei is short but fun. I was able to revisit some of the places, and I was also able to explore new destinations. Taipei has been one of my favourite cities ever, and this was also the reason why I personally added this to my East Asia trip.

Here is my 2-day itinerary:

Day 1:

  • Taipei 101
  • Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
  • Longshan Temple
  • Huashan 1914 Creative Park
  • Elephant Mountain
  • Raohe Street Night Market

Day 2:

  • Houtong Cat Village
  • Jiufen

————————————

That’s all for my Taiwan adventure. Up next to this story is my trip to Tokyo, Japan!

13 thoughts on “East Asia 2016, Part 1: Taiwan

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