Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Taipei 5D/4N Itinerary - Feb 2017

Last February 11, we had our "annual" college family outing. This year we decided to go to Taipei for the lantern festival, cold weather, and street foods. Our party consisted of 17 but 3 people made their own itinerary and separated. All in all, we were 14 people traveling with the same itinerary. My friend booked for us all, she saw a Philippine Airlines promotion and was able to book us P12000+ 2 way with 30 kg luggage and Philippine tax. Our flight was on Feb 11 7 AM and our flight back was on Feb 15 20:10 PM. We exchanged TWD at BDO and had about TWD32000 as our pocket money. Our official hastag was #TaiwanItThatWay.

We met up at the NAIA terminal 2 by 4:30 AM and checked in separately. The flight was overbooked, we were even offered an afternoon flight with a complimentary round trip ticket to Taipei. We declined the offer. We ate breakfast at the mini stores after the immigration gates. We paid around P220 per meal with water. Realized that its better to eat their Beef/Chicken Mami than their rice meals. They are warmer and more filling. At around 6:35 AM, we were boarding the plane. By the time we boarded the plane, it was only a matter of 1 hour 55 minutes to arrive in Taipei. No time difference with Manila.  Around 45 minutes before landing, we were served our in flight meals. We had Chicken Satay, it was actually good and spicy. We only hoped that they served us earlier so that we did not have to rush eating.

Upon landing, we had a really long line at immigration. The whole process of getting cleared, bio breaks, and getting our luggage took us until 11 AM. By 11 AM, we went to wifi pickup to get our 4G wifi rental units. We booked them via Klook. It was really convenient and economical. I just had to present my mobile voucher. No need to pay for anything, but they needed a credit card for documentation. You can use this link for my referral code: https://www.klook.com/invite/GA013. For 5 days, I only paidP375.9This is the cheapest wifi rental I have ever used. Then we went to the transportation kiosk and purchased EasyCard Transporation for TWD100, and loaded TWD300 for the 4 days travel. We took the Kuo-kuang Airport Bus 1819 to Taipei Main Station, we used our EasyCard and was charged TWD125 one way.  It took about an hour. The bus was huge and comfortable, this is a good way to get to and from the airport. From Taipei Main Station, we took the train to Ximen Station which was just 1 station away. From there, we just followed google maps and got to our booked hotel 3 minutes from the station. It was really close from the station such that upon disembarking from Exit 4. We booked our hotel from Expedia and was able to book it at 15% off, its called Hotel Midtown Richardson. For 4 nights, it cost us TWD 13000. R and I were really surprised when we got to the room, it was really cramped for a room worth that much. Our friends who booked earlier paid a lot less than what we did, we were really surprised and saddened. R and I felt ripped off, I thought I was a smart purchaser. We left our luggage at the hotel reception and asked them to bring it to our rooms. We went across the street to Ximen. Its filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and boutiques. We decided to eat Ramen at a japan looking restaurant. R got the concentrated tonkatsu ramen for TWD120 and I got the miso butter corn ramen for TWD120. R's ramen was way better than what I ordered. My friends did not enjoy their order too. R's broth was way richer and yummier than my awkward broth. Afterwards, we had until 3:30 PM to stroll along Ximen stores. I discovered several stores which I liked, the top of which is Ujiemon which serves really good Matcha ice cream. Their matcha sundae cost TWD80. They also have a mix of Milk + Matcha for TWD80 and Chocolate for TWD70. Then we saw a very long line at Ay-chung Flour Rice Noodle since 1975, I got curious and purchased a small bowl for TWD50. The noodle was really flavorful and very soft. It's texture is very much similar to misua but I do not understand the ingredients. Next, we went to Mixing Drink Color Gradient and ordered the Rainforest for TWD80. Its a combination of dragon fruit + guava + mango. We then went to Elephant mountain via train 30 minutes, Ximen Station to Xiangshan Station. The stairs to the mountain was really high that I decided not to proceed, R and I decided to wait at Nola Kitchen instead while we wait for our friends to finish the hike. Nola Kitchen is inspired by New Orleans and their dishes are very colorful. Since its snack time, R and I decided to order some Classic Beignets TWD120 and Goldon Onion Tower TWD220 and ordered a can of their 400yr old heritage brand Cafe Du Monde coffee tin TWD480. Nola Kitchen is the only place in Taipei where you can buy this imported coffee. It only took them around 1 hour to do the hike, they did not complete it to the top since the steps were really small. By 5:30 PM my friends were already at the base and we were ready to go to Taipei 101 to have some Din Tai Fung. From elephant mountain, we walked towards Taipei 101, it took about 10 minutes to reach Taipei 101. We we got to Din Tai Fung, it says it will take about 80 minutes for our number to be called. Since everyone was hungry, we then decided to split up at the food court and just eat what we want. Decided to buy our dinner at Jinan Bou since the line was long. Purchased their best selling beef tower TWD220. Afterwards, our group finalized. Those who were tired went back to the hotel via train to Ximen. While others took the train to Songshan Station 20 minutes to Raohe Night Market. R and I decided to go back to the hotel since I was craving for some LlaoLlao Yogurt. We walked towards a mall that has LlaoLlao and purchased a large yogurt worth TWD149. Their yogurt was sour just the way I like it, but the best part was the perfection of Taiwan strawberries. Afterwards, we took the train back to the hotel. Got our luggage and room keys from the lobby since they forgot to. Washed up and slept. For day 1, R and I spent about TWD2500 excluding hotel.

For day 2, it was a very late meet time. But since I had some medicine to take. R bought me some breakfast from Family mart. A packed meal was TWD65 each. I am very lucky to have such a supporting husband. After breakfast, R and I slept again and woke up at 11 AM. Then together with our couple friend, we went to a nearby Din Tai Fung via taxi. Cost us about TWD120. Upon arriving we have about 45 minutes waiting time, so we went grocery shopping Japan White Strawberries TWD640 and purchased some chocolate ganache desserts TWD145. Afterwards, we ate lunch at Din Tai Fung and spent around TWD1205. We purchased pork dumplings, shrimp dumplings, pork chop rice, veggie dumplings, and peanut noodles. Saw an Oukashigure TWD100 and purchased one. It is not as yummy as I thought it was. R and I went back to the hotel while our friends proceeded to Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall > Llongshang temple > Shilin Night Market. My legs really hurt so I slept once I got back at the hotel, by 6:30 PM R and I went to the lantern festival exhibit at Ximen. It reminded us so much of the lantern festival in Seoul. Then we took the train to Taipei Main Station. We ate at Qmaru for dinner, R got Baked Rice TWD270 and I got Omurice TWD230. Food was typical but their condiment shaker with egg shapes were really adorable. Then we purchased some Swiss Chocolate + Strawberry from Movenpick TWD210. Lastly Large LlaoLlao for TWD145. Before heading back to the hotel, we went the different boutiques and check what we can purchase. We ended up buying a very small umbrella worth TWD1200. Another very interesting thing was the toys created by ugearsmodels. We plan to buy some online. There was even a mini camera that had different casing called Paper Shoot. It was really cool as well. For day 2, R and I spent about TWD3700 excluding hotel.

For day 3, we had an early call time 7:30 am since we booked a private coaster. We booked with www.sc-coach.com.tw. A 20 seats mid bus has a charge fee of NTD 7,000 which is good for 12 hours, for every overtime its NTD 800/per-hour. We also paid separately for meal for driver: NTD150 per meal and parking charge. We paid NTD1020 per person for Day 3 and 4, since we were 14 people. The driver was late and we left around 8:30 am. Our first stop was Yehliu Geopark. Around 1 hour drive. Paid NTD80 for the park admission. We stayed at the park from 9:30 - 11:30 AM. Took lots of photos and enjoyed the cool breeze. We only took photos with the queen and dragon head since we had other places to go to. Then we purchased some souvenirs from the market. Bought some fried fish floss for NTD100 a bag which was good. Then we proceeded to eat fresh fishes at nearby local restaurant, we paid NTD3000 for a meal good for 14 people. Good thing our chinese friend was really fluent to get a good bargain menu. The steamed fish and shrimp was really fresh. Before heading back to the coaster, purchased some Fresh Milk Tea for TWD45. Was curious since the store claimed to be in existince since 1987. Next was when we went to Lover's Lake, where ironically R and I argued. It was a pretty place, took photos with the lake and bridge and left again for Guanyin in Keelung. This was just a temple with a large GuaNiMa statue and 2 pishus. Stayed here for some photos. And went to Keelung Night Market for some snacks. We went around the area and did not find anything yummy since my appetite was ruined by the huge toads on display. huhu. So ended up eating some burgers at Mo's burger, spent about TWD250. By 6 PM, we were back at the hotel. We rested a bit and met at Ximending at 7:30 PM. We decided to eat at Modern Toilet. R ordered chocolate ice shavings for TWD120 and I got the themed meal Thai Pepper Chicken TWD270. The ice shavings were bad but the Thai Pepper Chicken was really good, it came with soup and poop ice cream. We had a good meal. After the meal, we purchased some Almond Pork Paper for TWD150 per box, some green tea moochi, and lychee jelly. For day 3, R and I spent around TWD3500 excluding hotel. 

Day 4, another early call time. Driver arrived at 8:30 am again. We first went to Yangmingshan National Park but it was a struggle since the driver did not know where to go. So when we saw a visitor center, we stopped by to look. We stopped at Siaoyoukeng Recreation Area. It was cool since it had a sulfuric viewing area for visitors to see and even touch a sulfuric pool. Since it smelled really bad, I was not allowed to go outside the visitor center. Only my friends went out. Then we saw another Yangmingshan Park, we took some group shots on the park. We then went towards Jiufen Old Street, but before that we stopped at Mcdonalds for lunch. We spent around TWD300 for 2 burgers and fries. Upon arrival at Jiufen, we saw a strawberry stall we purchased a cup for TWD75. It was so good!! The only reason I did not buy a lot since I did not know if it was cleaned well. After that we went to the old street to see what they were selling. Purchased some peanut wrap with ice cream for TWD40. It was yummy! Leather goods were also very cheap. But we did not buy anything else. Afterwards we went to Shifen Waterfalls, good thing we arrived before 4:30 PM. We arrived about 4:20 PM, we only had 10 minutes to reach the gate before the close it. It was really worth it, the falls was very picturesque and we had a lot of photos with the falls and bridge. Then we went to Pingxi for some lantern lighting. Before doing the lanterns, we went towards the food stalls to buy snacks. We purchased fried squid at the What's Run for TWD150 per order, it was really good so we purchased 2. Then some fried chicken with baked cheese for TWD120, but since the chicken did not appear to be thoroughly cooked I did not eat it. Afterwards, we proceeded to purchase our paper lantern and write on them using a chinese brush for TWD150. We took photos with them before flying them out. We were told that the lanterns were properly retrieved and disposed of. We were dropped of at Carrefour Grocery near our hotel. We went for dinner first at a chinese restaurant, R ordered Beef noodles TWD180 while I ordered Shrimp Wonton noodles TWD120. Again the beef noodles were better. Then we purchased some groceries for gifts back at home. Purchased some snacks, pudding, milk tea, and mochi, spent about TWD600. Walked back to our hotel and slept. For day 4, spent 2700 excluding hotel.

Day 5, it was our flight back day and we had a itinerary free day. R and I woke up late and packed our stuff. By 8:30 AM I was washing the white strawberries and eating them. By 11 AM, R and I was at Saizeriya at Ximending to eat lunch. I had some pumpkin soup and penne arabiata, while R had some risotto, spent around TWD300. Went to Ujiemon to buy ice cream again TWD150. Then went to Saizeriya to buy pizza and black ink risotto TWD300. R then bought some chocolate gelato for TWD90. Purchased some Small Milk Tea from 50 for TWD50. Purchased some ChiaTe crispy pies for TWD180. Met with the whole crew at the hotel lobby by 2 PM. Rode the train to taipei main station by 4PM, Rode the Bus 1819 at 4:50 PM. Got to the airport by 5:45 PM. Checked in, returned our wifi rentals, and ate dinner at Homee Kitchen spent about TWD150 for garlic pork rice TWD70 for water. Upon riding the plane, our in flight meal was beef with broccoli. The flight was really long and uncomfortable since the people at my back were too noisy. :( No consideration for people who want to sleep. For day 5, spent 1800 excluding hotel.

This trip was definitely one that I will forever treasure. It did not have so much unique thrilling experiences but the memories and company is the best. I loved my college family and I cannot wait for us all to grow old together.