Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Binge Travellers in Taiwan

*read till the end for my video compilation of the snaps I took in Taiwan*

Before I begin to tell you all about my Taiwan trip, I just wanna let you know that the month of May has been too good to me so far. Besides the lack of sleep, which I totally did not mind, I had way too much fun. My schedules are packed, I always have things to do. I actually enjoy being busy, having plans one after another, especially when it's all fun activities that I look forward to. I haven't been making time for many of my friends, but promise I'll do so after my calendar clears up! 

Pre-Taiwan activities include partying so hard at Hardwell with my girl. We had so much champagne and so much fun dancing. It was one of the best nights I've had. Except we made a wrong decision to head to zouk after that, and we really died there.

Then comes my 20th birthday (11 May)! I didn't really plan much for it, just met up with a few people and hang out. Some things didn't really go the way I envisioned, but still, it's a blessed birthday. 

At Paddington's House of Pancakes

Right after my birthday (12 May), Nessie and I set off to Taiwan which we planned just a month before! I just sat down one day and said, "Let's go Taiwan in May" and we started booking our tickets and hotels. I fucking love how spontaneous and impromptu both of us are when it comes down to crazy decisions like this. I did enough research before the trip online, and with some friends so I had a rough idea where to go to shop and eat and stuffs. Of course, the more responsible out of the two of us (me) planned the itinerary. I saved a map of the MRT stations in Taiwan for reference. It helped me plan the itinerary a lot better.

The flight took about 4-5 hours and by the time we reached Taiwan (there's no time difference between SG and TW) it was about 9pm. Cabs in Taiwan are really expensive. Their meters jump 20 cents every 5 seconds, so we avoid taking the cab unless absolutely necessary. In total I think we only took the cab 4 times in Taiwan, including airport transfers. Once we reached our hotel (located in Banqiao), we were really excited to see our room cos we booked a really nice suite, or at least it looked nice in the photos, but it turns out to be really small. We were so disappointed, we went back to the counter to double check if they got us the right room but it was. We even contemplated getting another bigger room or changing hotel, but we decided to just stick to this cos we won't be able to get a refund for the room. Besides, the location of our hotel is pretty good. We are within walking distance from the MRT (I think they call it metro or something) and we have a night market within the area (too far to walk, but walkable), and Starbucks is just beside us and a few nice looking cafes. After we settled down, we headed out for Nan Ya Night Market to get some food and shopping.

We got there a little late so many stalls were already closing, but there's quite a few that are still opened so we continued walking around. First of all, we tried their Oyster Meesua! It's just a random stall by the side, don't think it's famous at all but it tasted so good. Their oysters are all so fresh, unlike the ones in SG. 

Surprisingly, Taiwan is quite a big fan of One Piece and many other anime shows! I got myself the phone cover on the left. It was actually a really difficult choice for me because we (one piece fans) all know that the one on the right is the famous Luffy pose before fighting, but I didn't really like the background. I got the one on the left in the end and I love it!!! Don't think I'll be changing my phone cover for a long time hahaha.

We bought quite a bit of stuff at the night market but we were quite disappointed at the prices. I think shopping in Bangkok really spoiled us and we expected our shopping in Taiwan will be the same as in Bangkok. But nope, the things are about the same prices as SG. In fact, my phone cover costed about 20$ (400NTD). I got a good buy for the shoes though, got a white platforms and brown boot heels for 25$ (500NTD). We tried really hard to bargain, even made friends with the stall owner, use our charm and all (haha I kid, but yeah we really tried very hard). Then we went to check out Family Mart and Watsons for snacks and beauty products respectively. Taiwan's Family Mart sells One Piece drinks (they're that crazy over one piece ok), and they sell tea eggs omg we bought it every single time hahaha. We totally went crazy at Watsons because they have so many beauty brands that Singapore doesn't have. They are quite famous for their BB cushion foundation or something, but I didn't quite like the idea of the sponge so I didn't get it. Can't quite remember what we spent on but I spent more than 50$ (1000NTD) in Watsons alone. It was barely a day and I spent more than 4000NTD on the first day hahah. As I said, things in Taiwan were not cheap.

We went back to our hotel and was pretty pleased to learn that we get to watch blockbuster movies on the TV in our hotel room. First night and we watched Big Hero 6!!! Got to love Baymax!

We slept only when the sun was up, which was around 5-6am (pretty early compared to SG), so we only woke up around 2pm in the afternoon the next day. We went to have Yong Kang Beef Noodles (I researched and they said it's one of the best beef noodles in Taiwan so...) and it was really good! We just walked around the area and shopped for a bit. As I mentioned before, things in Taiwan are not cheap, but definitely greater in variety so we shopped anyway. 

Starbucks in Taiwan sells Caramel Javachip! I always avoid javachip because they get stuck in my braces all the time and are a chore to remove, but I couldn't resist this! I would say, it didn't disappoint at all. It tastes as good as it sounds :) I'm sure the baristas in SG Starbucks would gladly customise this for customers who request for it. 

Yong Kang Beef Noodles!

Took this shot while we were waiting for our bubble tea. In case you didn't know, Taiwan is so famous for their bubble tea and I think it's the pearls that makes it so special. Their pearls are all so soft unlike the ones in SG which takes forever for me to chew on and most of the time I just swallow them whole. Their milk tea is also so fresh! Or maybe the minor difference in taste makes it very refreshing.

There's just a lot of things to eat in Taiwan and we're full most of the time. All the street stalls sell amazing food and we can just grab it and go, and eat it on the way while shopping. Super convenient and easy.

Before coming to Taiwan, we asked a few friends if they've been here and one of our friend said this, "Everyone here either has a dog or a child, or both" and I cannot agree more HAHA. It's true! And most stores are pet friendly, even shopping malls! It's amazing.

After walking around Yong Kang street, we went to Shilin Night Market for some food. We were still pretty full when we got there, and we actually couldn't really find the food section so we walked around the night market and kept buying clothes and more clothes hahaha. We tried to refrain from buying clothes that we could get the same price for in SG and only got clothes that looked really nice and are really cheap. We found the food section of the night market at the end and of course we tried the famous big chicken cutlet there. It's also available in SG just way cheaper, and bigger I think? We spent way more than half our money away during the first two days, and walked way too much we were just dying for a massage but they were too expensive. OK, not too expensive but Bangkok has it way cheaper. 

We slept in the morning again, and woke up 2 hours later cos I got insecure and thought there was a bug in the blanket, so I woke Nessie up to shake the blanket with me and insisted we change the sheets HAHAH. I'm usually not that troublesome, but if you read my previous blog post I mentioned something about finding a bee in my blanket in my hall room one day, so I think I got a little paranoid from then on. We were wide awake after shaking the blanket so we decided to just wake up and have breakfast in a cafe nearby provided by the hotel. 

Western (top) and Chinese (bottom) breakfast set. Their tea is amazing, but what's new right. Teas are amazing in Taiwan lol. 

We got changed after breakfast and planned our itinerary really carefully so that we don't spend too much the next few days, so we headed to the zoo! I think it was nice to experience the zoo in Taipei, which is definitely bigger than the one in SG. Animals there live in bigger exhibits, and there are definitely a lot more animals to see that we can't see in Singapore. 

This is how Nessie looks like with no neck HAHAHA

The zoo closes really early at 5pm, so we left after spending about 4-5 hours there and headed to wufenpu for some shopping! Didn't manage to take any photos there but it looks a bit like Bugis street just that it's enclosed and air conditioned. I wished we came to wufenpu earlier cos things there are so bloody cheap. So many clothes were selling at just $5, which is about 100NTD, even shoes!!! 

We didn't stay at wufenpu for long (sadly) because we were hungry and we didn't want to spend anymore money HAHA silly reasons but we really spent way too much the first two days, so we headed to Raohe Night Market within walking distance nearby. From my research online, many commented that Raohe Night Market is a lot better and bigger than Shilin Night Market. I kinda understood the reason why when I got there. They sell more variety of food, but I wouldn't say it's bigger or anything. It's just one entire stretch, we actually walked till the end and back, didn't take us very long. We were mainly scouting for food to bring back and enjoy our supper with blockbuster movies on our TV in the hotel room. 

This mango dessert was everywhere and we couldn't give it a miss! We get to sit down comfortably in the middle of Raohe market and enjoy this as well, so why not. Fresh mangoes, softly shaved ice and mango icecream. It will take a lot for a mango lover like me to turn it down. We also got the Oyster Meesua from Raohe Market and it was amazing. Nessie preferred the one we had on the first night, but I liked this one a whole lot better even though it was about twice the price. We also tried the Fried Oyster Omelette? Didn't taste very nice as compared to the ones in SG, or maybe it's just my local taste preference. I was in love with their tutu kueh-ish cake with peanut and sugar filling (sorry I'm not sure what it's called). I had like 4 of them HAHA, ate Nessie's share as well cos it tasted too good. Not to forget their beef cubes was the best thing ever. Taiwan is literally food heaven for me. I would go back there for the food anytime. 

We had quite an early night because we got up so early and lasted the day with only 2 hours of sleep. And of course we started the next day late afternoon. We didn't really have plans for the day except to check out the clubbing scene at night. 

This dress I was wearing costed me only 5$ from wufenpu.

We mainly just walked about Banqiao cos there was a shopping mall here. Settled for Din Tai Fung for lunch/dinner and explored places to take ootd shots before the night falls. We then headed to Zhongxiao Dunhua (if I'm not wrong) to check out Luxy. It's apparently one of the very famous clubs in Taiwan, basically like the Zouk of Singapore, but when we went there it was closed down temporarily. Quite upset, but we found another club to go to within the area. We settled for Roxy99 in the end and got followed by a creepy dude on our way there. I was so freaked out cos we walked into 7-11 hoping he'll just leave us alone, but he actually hid and waited for us outside. We finally managed to shake him off by dashing across the busy road with only 4-5 seconds left for pedestrians to cross. That dude was like the first unfriendly person we met in Taiwan. Other than him, the people in Taiwan are all so friendly and helpful. When asking for directions, they provide super detailed instructions and even tell us the fares we have to pay for buses and trains etc. When taking the railway train on one of the days, the officer on the platform made sure the security on the train tell us when to alight so we won't miss our stop. So nice right?!

Ok back to Roxy99. We reached there way too early but we didn't mind having a few drinks there and just chatting with the bartenders. We paid 500NTD each for the entrance fee but we could get 500NTD worth of drinks inside for free so it's kinda like we paid for the drinks. We got two shots of 151, and 2 housepour + mixer (basic drinks), but chatting with the bartenders got us unlimited trays of shots. I lost count how many trays we had but when we left there were still some drinks left. The bartenders also taught us some games they play in Taiwan and it was so fun!!!

Basically, whoever shakes a dice number 1 have to stack them up and whoever topples the stack have to drink.

The dance floor was really empty and quiet even past midnight, and we later found out it was because the club opens till 7am and their crowd comes in only at around 4pm. We went ahead to the dance floor around 2am and met a few really nice Taiwanese people. We got picked up by girls ok haha, they just pulled us and started chatting us up and dancing with us. Thank god we're chinese, if not it'll be so hard to communicate with the people there. 

This dude is called Lee Kuan Yew and he had to flash his IC cos we didn't believe him.

We left Roxy99 at around 3-4am and took the cab back to our hotel. Surprisingly the cab fare was not too expensive, maybe it was because the roads were clear and there was no traffic that's why. We crashed the minute we got back and woke up late afternoon the next day again.

The next day, we had plans to head to jiufen, but the journey there was really long so by the time we got there, the sky was already dark. We still managed to catch a few open stores and ate the very famous peanut popiah icecream (SO GOOD). We didn't do much on this day either, just got to check our jiufen, the night scenery and some food. Then we took the railway train back to Banqiao (where we were staying) and decided to check out the Nan Ya Night Market again for some food for supper. 

I got this cute checkered pinafore for $10 in one of the stores at the MRT station lol good buy or what

Back to our favourite store in Taiwan, we actually try to get the stall owner to give us a few more beef cubes lol it makes a difference ok

Food in this photo includes quail eggs, beef cubes with sea salt, baked potato with lots of cheese and sausage bits, some vege pancake (not nice but the little boy selling it was so cute I couldn't say no), ice jelly with fresh milk, and 1.3 litres cup of large milk tea with pearls. People in Taiwan call the black pearls frog eggs, lol I have no idea why they made it sound so gross and inedible but it didn't deter me from eating them anyway.

Woke up early the next day because it was our last day in Taiwan! Our plans for the last day is just to check our the One Piece exhibition located at the astronomical museum in Shilin. It wasn't exactly like how I expected it to be, it's just a show about astronomy with the One Piece casts explaining and all. The One Piece characters spoke in Chinese which was super weird and uncomfortable for me, I prefer them speaking in Japanese and I just read the subtitles. But well, we got to wear the One Piece character's costumes and it was thrilling enough for me HAHA. I was so excited omg. I honestly never thought I will one day become a fan of an anime show, that my sister took so long to convince me to watch. I must say, One Piece is one of the best shows I've ever watched and no regrets. I'm a proud One Piece fan right here. 

After we were done with the One Piece show, we looked around the area for cat cafes that we could sit in and chill. Hmm, I really like cats but I think cats at cat cafes have really bad attitude, maybe because they're used to people wanting their attention and dying to pet or touch them whatever. But still, we stayed there for a good 2-3 hours doing just that HAHA. 

Cat cafes are basically just cat brothels, and in that case, this was our hooker for the day. 

We walked around the Shilin area for a bit after that. They have lots of cafes there and we settled for one of the many cute ones along the streets. The meal turned out to be quite pricey but at least their toilet bowl was really cool. HAHA

That basically summed up our Taiwan trip. We had too little money on the last day so Nessie just paid using her card and I returned her in SG dollars. In case anyone was wondering about the weather there, the first night we got there was pretty chilly and nice. But following days, it was really hot (not as hot as SG but yeah hot) because they were entering the summer season. Thankfully it didn't rain on any of the days while we were there. 

Also, we got a SIM card for internet upon reaching Taoyuan Airport cos we know we can't live without it. And if you're wondering why we didn't just get one and use each other's hotspot so we could save a bit of money, I thank god we didn't do that cos we actually lost each other while boarding the MRT on one of the days wtf. We were right beside each other but as the doors were closing we went through different train doors and lost each other omg. How right? I have no fucking idea HAHA. I panicked at that moment, but looking back now it was pretty hilarious how we didn't notice we went different directions despite just being next to each other. The internet also helped us a lot in finding nice places near where we are by using GPS, which we rely a lot on. 

A very true representation of our entire trip, but I didn't like the fact that the stoppers behind my front teeth could be seen. 

Here is a very quick summary of our Taiwan trip, which basically consists of all the snaps we took while we were there. Nothing fancy, we didn't make any effort to take photos of our food or store names whatever. 

I have many things going on this month so I'll probably have another blog entry up in a week or two. Sports Pre-camp just ended for me a few days back, and I am anticipating Pan's arrival tomorrow at midnight, and then it'll be Nessie's big 21st birthday party, followed by the actual Sports Camp! 

I can't wait!!!

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