TAIPEI 2015

by - 08:19:00

Hey guys,
So I recently came back from my 8 days trip to Taipei and a friend told me to blog about it! I didn't take much pictures on the trip because I wanted to try taking videos. No idea why the titles turned out to be shaky too but oh well, no idea how to fix it!

Enjoy! :)

DAY ONE



I touched down at around 430pm and reached the hotel pretty late in the evening and I guess because it's still winter season in Taipei, the sun sets quite early! It looked/felt like a good 8pm when it was only 6ish?

Since day one was practically spent on the plane, I only went around Xi Men Ding which was just a road across my hotel! I stayed at Green World Hotel - Zhonghua and it's possibly the most convenient hotel ever! Even though if you REALLY want to be at the heart of Xi Men Ding, I saw this hotel right smack in the middle called Rainbow Hotel.

We settled for dinner at this place called Pasta Bar and it was decent but not fantastic and basically just spent some time roaming around and went to the 7-11 to "stock up."

The 7-11 is AMAZING, it's the perfect definition of a convenience store which puts ours to shame. They sell a ridiculous amount of things ranging from the pre-packed stuff to super cool drinks and snacks, books, facial masks, misc products to fresh groceries!

I LOVED it and might have actually went to a 7-11 once a day over my time at Taipei!

TIP:
Xi Men Ding actually closes about 10pm so reach early to get food else 7-11 food is perfectly fine too!

DAY TWO



Was a more exciting day because we were recharged with some quality sleep! Somehow the beds at the hotel were SO COMFORTABLE I fell asleep within 5 minutes when I usually can take up to 30minutes to an hour to fall asleep! Oh, how I miss the hotel bed now...

So anyway, we started off with the hotel breakfast, a typical spread. Nothing fantastic but super cool that they have soy milk available as well which made me super happy! A friend recently came back from Taipei and recommend that I check out the Le Petit Prince exhibition so I did! It was held at a place very much like our Expo, a huge area and there were a couple of other exhibitions going on such as the one which I went as well - The Beatles. The ticket prices were around SGD12 for each exhibition per ticket!





I wasn't the biggest fan of The Beatles, heard one song or two and I thought I should check it out since I'm already there so why not AND it was the best decision ever!

Sure I went there for the Le Petit Exhibition, I actually very much enjoyed The Beatles one more. After spending sometime at the exhibitions, we walked around and got lost on our way to find Dazzling Cafe for a good two hours plus and gave up since we bought a ton of souvenirs from the exhibitions and it was getting quite heavy! We also went to get some money changed at Taipei Main Station in one of the malls from exit Z4 and only found out that we needed our passport for the transaction which pissed me off quite a good deal because NO ONE warned us about it even after asking around six million times! So we had to go back to the hotel again before coming back out and all that jazz.

Headed to check out the highly raved Shi Lin Night Market and it was rather quiet being a weekday so we had quite an easy and slow time navigating our way around. It was good though, got some good food, had embarrassing moments you would have already known about and got some cool buys as well!

We headed back to the hotel at around 10-ish by taxi which costed about SGD9-10 bucks and practically showered and knocked out soon after!

TIP:
Go for more than one exhibition when you are around the area because the exhibitions are pretty small and since you are already there, why not!

DAY THREE



We decided to head to try out the Din Tai Fung flagship store located at Yong Kang Street, it was about 5minutes walk away from the train station exit and with help of the super friendly Taiwanese, we got there pretty quickly!

Since Yong Kang street is a pretty famous street for food and all that cafes check out the map of food stores at ladyironchef, we headed to a super cute dessert cafe La Douceur.

The desserts weren't too bad even though the truffle macaroon did taste slightly funny, looks like we've got to stick to truffle being in pasta/fries and not for the sweets!

After that we headed over to Shi Da Night Market, probably one of my favorite night markets of all even though it's really small, they have really nice things (shout out vern, paca store is here) and I made a new friend there too!

Also, the 24-hour bookstore is pretty highly raved so we head there to find out what the rave was about. We reached the place at around 1130-ish without dinner and was so glad that the cafe was still open! (The cafe has wifi and the password is 12345678 if I remember correctly - same password throughout all the eslite cafes)

Initially i thought i wouldn't be able to get any books since well come on, a book store in Taiwan would probably mean the books would be in chinese but surprise surprise, i spent almost 100SGD there with 4 books and some souvenirs!

Took a cab back to our hotel with a chatty cabby and their midnight charge is SGD1, wow right?

TIP:
At the Din Tai Fung flagship store, go during odd timings like between 2-4pm so you don't have to queue! The crowd comes in around 430pm and even though it's 5 stories high, each floor only has about 10 tables?

DAY FOUR 



We took it pretty chill on day four (Actually the whole trip was crazy chill, we woke up late in the afternoon and all that stuff) so we went to check out the nearby cafe - Sunny Cafe which was a pleasant, pleasant surprise.

It was about a 3 minute walk from our hotel and the interior was so pretty. Even though the food was typical, nothing fantastic, the cafe ambience makes up for it quite well!

We then took our time to head to Wu Fen Pu - the wholesale place which unfortunately was not as cheap as everyone made it out to be. Sure there were clothes that were SGD6 but you wouldn't really wear them or that they are REALLY REALLY REALLY rare, so do keep an eye out if you're roaming around that area. Not to mention, the place is crazy huge, finding the exit was a chore and had to ask up to three different store owners for directions!

Being around the area, we decided to check out Rao He Night Market which was famous mainly for it's food and we were not disappointed. Honestly, none of the night markets were disappointing because Taiwanese street food is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

TIP:
At Wu Fen Pu, you'll only get discount if you buy above 2 pieces of clothing at the store! It's pretty much wholesale and try to chat up the aunties because when they get along well with you, you have it pretty easy! ALSO, mention that you are a student - because student don't get much income and they LOVE students for some reason so discount discount!

DAY FIVE



After days of walking pass the Ah Mao's cafe with the famous golden retriever, we decide to try it out and i loved it! Be sure to order the correct things though because my friend hated the orders! I had pesto chicken and my friend had something tomato based!



The meal was pretty affordable as compared to SG for the amount of food and place, it was about SGD10-12 bucks for a set consisting of a drink, a meal and dessert!

We then headed over to Dan Shui which we took almost an hour train ride for and the weather was SO BAD. It was drizzling like mad that we had to get an umbrella. (only SGD4 so its okay and it is super sturdy an wind resistant - good buy!)




Because it was still winter time, the sunset pretty early and we didn't make it to the fishermen's wharf in time for that which was SO SAD. We did however walk the whole stretch of the pier and crossed the lover's bridge in a 13 degree weather with super strong wind and drizzle though and I have never felt that cold in my entire life even in Shanghai which was a 5 degree weather because I wasn't dressed for it... so my bad

TIP:
Head over to Dan Shui at around 3pm-ish, hang out there and take bus to the fishermen's wharf while it's still bright!
You can get a giant bag for only SGD2 to dump all your things in if you are a hardcore shopper and check it in but be sure to tape the edges
Please get an umbrella there, it's honestly pretty cheap and sturdy (don't get it from the Daiso there)
Take bus number 26 for 15TWD per person to get from Dan Shui station to Fishermen's Wharf

DAY SIX



Day six was more of exploring their "CBD" area, very much like our City Hall/Raffles City Shopping Mall. Even thought here was nothing much to do around that area, I have no idea how we managed to spend the whole day there.

We did however, try the Agnès B cafe and honestly, it's so super overrated. My friend mom's quiche is way better but I guess it's the experience? Plus it was really, really affordable as compared to cafes in SG! Reviews said that the rose latte is a must try but it just tastes like coffee with bundung so if that's what you like, be sure to try it otherwise they have other cool lattes like tiramisu latte which i wish i could have!



There isn't much to check out unless you are into really expensive things like paying twenty bucks for a tea infuser or ten bucks for a stack of post-its. It's more of like a departmental store thing and there is a H&M too if you'd like! We spent most of the time at the eslite departmental store basically just window shopping!

Also chanced upon the Dazzling Cafe which everyone loves and willingly queue up to hours (or even weeks for it, read that someone made a reservation three weeks in advance!) and since we only had to wait an hour by sticking around that area, why not!

It was well worth the wait, the food was really good and the toast is amazing so be sure to check it out if you are around the area! The Dazzling Cafe at Xinyi isn't the original cafe, I got lost trying to find the original cafe so it was a really nice surprise to see it around this area. It's located in one of the malls which has Starbucks on the first floor, enter from the Starbucks door and get up to second floor via the nearest escalator to Starbucks!

TIP:
If you are not into really expensive things, you can actually give this place a miss unless you are there for Taipei 101 or the Dazzling Cafe!

DAY SEVEN/DAY EIGHT

Because we checked out everything we wanted to do so in Taipei, the last two days were spent around Xi Men Ding and Shi Lin Night Market to grab some things which we missed out on hence I didn't film much! The streets were definitely a lot more crowded and lively during the weekends and more pushcart stores as well!

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So for this trip, I spent about SGD600 for the airtickets - Singapore Airlines and about SGD500 per person for 7 nights at Green World Hotel - Zhong Hua. I brought about SGD1k over and spent almost all of it! I didn't shop much though, more of spending it on food and what not like snacks and UFO machine catches!




MUST TRY NIGHT MARKET FOOD:
I guess all the Night Markets at Taipei sells really similar kind of street food so you can basically find any food you want from the previous night market you visited at the next one you will visit. I been to several night markets and here are some of my favorite Taiwanese night market food which you should totally try!

1) Grilled Oysters - goodness, it's cheap and good! They sell about 4-5 oysters for TWD100 (SGD4) the best one I had was at Rao He and the smallest and saddest one  i had was at Ning Xia so you know where to go!

2) Grilled Steak - my ultimate favorite, they sell in portions as well and they come in different flavours. I tried seasalt and black pepper and I actually like both! The biggest portion i got was fro Shi Lin and the smallest one was from Ning Xia if i'm not wrong!

3) Chicken Thigh - it actually looks like a hot dog but it's not, it's chicken thigh meat wrapped with a later of chicken skin and it's SO GOOD. You can pick your flavours and i always went for the garlic one!

4) Lu Rou Fan - It is magical, so so so good. I guess you can get a good bowl of lu rou fan at literally anywhere in Taipei? SO GO FOR IT

5) Mini fried dumplings - they look like gyoza but taste about six thousand times better! We found out the existence of it from the chatty cab driver and got it from Rao He Night Market!

6) FRUITS - okay, disclaimer and warning, DO NOT GET YOUR FRUITS FROM THE FIRST STORE YOU SEE AT SHI LIN NIGHT MARKET ENTRANCE. They apparently sell by weight and you can't exactly have a say because they just stuff fruits in your mouth while they weigh your chosen fruit. We didn't know how it roll because they were displayed in cups so we thought that we were going to get a cup of certain fruits of our choice but nooooo, we ended up paying almost thirty bucks for jambu, guava and other nonsense which lasted us a good six days of fruit supplies. But nonetheless, try out their strawberries and cherries when you see them selling in BOXES which will probably cost about 100TWD each!

7) Starbucks - LOL simply because it's cheaper there and the service is SO GOOD?

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TIPS:
1) You don't have to get a sim-card because there is a way to get wifi literally everywhere in Taipei! Check this website out and follow the steps BEFORE you go to Taipei because you need an activation code sent via sms else you can always email them but that will take at least one working day for them to get back to you.

2) If you're lost/need directions don't be afraid to ask the Taiwanese, they are SUPER friendly and are more than happy to help you! I survived without wifi throughout my time there and got lost like six million times but the locals there helped A LOT. They googled, explained thoroughly (sometimes even tried to do it in English) and some even brought us there so it was amazing!

3) Don't rush for the seat in the train because no one does that, everyone takes their time to get on it and there is seriously no need to rush. You'll be super embarrassing if you unleash your aunty-spirit on the public transport. Speaking of which, don't sit on the reserved seat as well! Even when the train is packed, no one seats on it because they really, really respect the elderly and it's really for those with white hair and walking stick-ish. Not those who "appear" to be frail and weak but can probably outrun you in a race for a seat kind.

4) Bring your passport along with you everywhere especially if you constantly need to change money! The rates at banks are better than the ones in your hotel/the mall at Taipei Main Station.

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That's all for my Taipei post, look out for my upcoming ones!



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