Monday, July 2, 2018

5D4N Taipei Trip Part 1

Headed to Taipei after finals for a super short trip last May. Since it was only 5 days and 4 nights long, my parents and I decided to just explore Taipei and leave the rest of taiwan till the next trip.

I didn't have much time to plan my itinerary this time as the trip was really soon after finals so I asked for advice on insta and a few of my friends sent me their itineraries which I combined to visit in this trip. (Will post the compiled one at the end of this post).

As we had a rather early flight, we reached Taiwan at around 12noon! Our hotel was located right at XiMen station so we took the airport express which I purchased from Klook (sign up through the Klookl link to receive $4.30 if you don't have an account yet!) I purchased the tickets through Shopback and got $3.19 cash back on top of the railway discount!

Taiwan has a few modes of transport which I was really confused about when I did my research so I shall summarize in these few points:
1. 台铁 (Something like train)
2. 捷运 (Taiwan's version of MRT)
3. 桃园机场捷运 (Taiwan's MRT that leads to airport; purple for the express service which only stops at airport and a few other stops and blue for the normal service which stops at every single stop)

Day 1

Once we checked into our hotel in XiMen, we headed to 红楼市集 (Hong lou flea market) because it is only there outside 红楼 (The Red House) during weekends and it was a Sunday that we visited.
红楼 (The Red House; photo taken another night when we passed by it again)

We were rather hungry since it was already late noon; hence, we settled in some random hotpot shop for our very first meal in Taipei. To be honest, the taste was really meh so I'll just leave the shop name out of this post.

We passed by a really nice BBQ squid store and it smelt really good so we tried a pack (NT$200; about SGD$9); a little on the pricey side but the squid was really delicious!

After our hotpot, it was about 6pm so we took the MRT to 象山 (Xiangshan; R02) station to climb Xiang Shan to enjoy the nightview of TaiPei 101.

The mountain was about 15 minutes of walking distance from Exit 2 of station and the climb itself was rather torturous. Before I climbed, I saw this lady coming down and wiped her tears of relief LOL. Along the way, there was a shiba being carried down by its owner and it looked really exhausted and drained too. We climbed for about 20-30 minutes and completed about 80-90% of the climb to this view.

View from XiangShan
It was really worth it but should you be interested to have this in your itinerary, do wear comfortable shoes and bring insect repellent because there are quite a lot of mosquitoes there.

After the climb, we took the MRT to Taipei 101/World trade center (R03; one stop away) to visit Taipei 101 itself!

That sums up our first afternoon and evening in Taipei!

Day 2
We started the day at 9am and it was a rather eventful day because we squeezed in 3 places which are rather far away in that day.
1st stop was YehLiu GeoPark; 2nd stop was ShiFen, followed by JiuFen. It was a rather eventful day because we sort of covered more than our planned itinerary.

We started our day by having breakfast around XiMending area!
There were many stalls set up on trolleys and it was kind of interesting to watch them move their trolleys to one corner when the police comes and return back to the original spot just 5 minutes later.


I dabao-ed a Tauhuey from one of the trolley stalls but since I just had breakfast, I couldn't eat it yet so I decided to bring it to YehLiu to eat.

First stop: YehLiu GeoPark
Bus 1815

We took the express bus 1815 from East Gate 3 exit of TaiPei Main Station to YehLiu Stop. The East Gate 3 was quite confusing to find so just follow the sign to “台北转运站 TaiPei Bus Station”. 

Bus journey was more than an hour and cost NT98. Sadly, I left my TauHuey on the bus and never got to try it :( The subsequent days the seller was not there anymore so I still didn't get my TauHuey lol.

After alighting from YehLiu Station, we took about 15 minutes walk to the entrance of YehLiu GeoPark. Along the way, we passed by many seafood restaurants and YehLiu Fishing Port.

Entry: NT80

At the front of the geopark, there were man made sculptures for the iconic "Cute Princess" and "Queen's Head" and further into the geopark were the natural scultures.

We managed to take a photo of the real "Cute Princess" sculpture but did not manage to capture "Queen's Head" due to the sudden downpour.

Cute Princess 俏皮公主

After YehLiu Geopark, we headed to ShiFen!
The locals recommended for us to take T99 to Keelung to change bus to ShiFen. The jouney was about an hour to KeeLung and took another 40 minutes from KeeLung to RuiFang Station via bus 788. From RuiFang station, we took the railway train to ShiFen. It was a horribly long jouney by public transport so I would recommend you to go out early if you plan these few places in the same day.
Oh, and on bus 788, you have to look out for RuiFang Railway station and alight right after as the bus does not stop directly at the station.
Of course, there were other ways to get from places to places but this route was what we decided to take that day due to convenience.
T99 Bus stop
RuiFang Railway Station
Only NT19 to take the railway!

 Of course, at ShiFen, we get to put sky lanterns for NT$200! They had NT$100 sky lantern options but we did not opt for that because it was just one color. Each colour has different meaning and we chose the one with red, yellow, blue and pink!

still not giving up on the CAP 5.0 dream
After releasing the sky lanterns, we headed to see the Shifen waterfalls but unfortunately, it closed at 4.30pm and it was already 6+pm when we were there. Well, I guess this means that we'll have excuses to come back next time yay!
Walking journey to Shifen waterfalls
Our next destination was JiuFen and we had to take the railway back to Ruifang station and change to another bus. One tip here is to check the return railway timing before exploring Shifen station so you won't waste too much time waiting for the train!

Unfortunately again, it was already dark when we went up to JiuFen and hence, we took a detour on the bus and did not alight at JiuFen. (The bus was a loop journey from Ruifang --> JiuFen --> Jin Gua Shi --> Jiu Fen --> City) The bus driver was really cute and gave us a tour up the mountain and even stopped at JinGuaShi 金瓜石 for us to take photos of the night view.

View from Jin Gua Shi, the view was great irl but there were fences so it was really hard for me to take a proper photo. However, I would say that the view from JiuFen would be nicer.

 Then, we boarded the bus again (Service 1062) and alighted at Exit 1 of SongShan Station after about an hour journey.

Our forth day itinerary was at SongShan Station and hence, we decided to change our itinerary a little and extended day 2 so we could decide whether to revisit here on day 4 or free up day 4 to visit other places.

At SongShan Station, we had 2 places in mind: RaoHe Night market (饶河夜市) and WuFen Pu (五分谱).

The night market was rather small and we spent about an hour in it. It was not that impressive and there were many Japan/Korean street food and had little local delights. 
Pink Guava Juice

Fried Corn

Shrimp Balls

After RaoHe Night Market, we went to explore 五分谱. It was a place which many of my friends mentioned to be a shopping heaven. Perhaps I wasn't really in the shopping mood, I left with only a few shirts and it was just like an expanded Bugis street to me. It could also be that I went at around 10pm and the shops were restocking so there were many trucks bringing the stocks in so it was rather  hard to walk around the area.

Our verdict was that these two places were not really worth us visiting again on Day 4 so we changed our itinerary from there. 

Hence, this marks the end of our really busy day 2! 

Will upload days 3-5 of my trip in another post soon!

Thanks for reading!

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