Friday, 16 October 2015

Taiwan Travelogue September 2015 (Day 7 and we are coming home!)

Final entry for Taiwan Trip: 

It is our last day and no one wakes up until 10 plus in the morning. We missed our breakfast so we just ate some biscuit in the room. 

We haven’t packed yet OMG so we quickly stuff everything into our luggage bag. Finally found the cute specs that Justin bought few days ago that went missing. Phew...luckily found it just before we left... 

We manage to shower and checked out at 11.30am and I went to get a dozen of Mister Donut to bring back to Singapore.

Yesterday night we had requested the hotel to help us book a taxi to bring us to airport as we needed a cab that accept credit card payment (We kinda used up most of our cash). Taxi uncle is pretty chatty along the way and we reached airport at 12.30pm. 

We were early and checked in counter is not even open yet. So, we went for lunch and bought more Vigor Kobo Sun Milk Cake to bring home. 

Note: For those who wanted to eat at the airport, there is more restaurants before the boarding gate on Level 3. After boarding, there are not much choices for food, mainly is for duty free shopping.

Got attracted to this kitty ferris wheel on our way to boarding gate
Can we have a picture with kitty mum?
Of course you can babes. Say "Cheese"

On our way home, kids watched in-flight entertainment on board and manage to doze off for 1-2 hours. 

Once take off, I need to get this window down.. it is definitely too bright for me!
Tea time on board...
Kids meal
Main course for kids meal
Yum... enjoying myself!

We reached KL and transit time is 3 hours so we took train to Terminal C as there are only 2 choices of restaurant in the terminal that we are in.  Had a slow dinner as we needed to pass time. Boarded flight on time and off we go back to home!

Mum, let me help with the doughnut...
Dont I look cute just by standing here...
Lets be serious and take good care of the doughnut..

After trip thoughts/Tips

1.     3G/4G signal coverage for ChungHwa mobile line that we used is good, we did not have any complain with the signal throughout the trip
2.     Left hand drive is challenging for those who are used to right hand drive. It takes 1-2 days to slowly get used to it. What we did is print out a A4 size paper with arrow to remind us to remember about the left hand drive. Need to be vigilance especially when making a turn. 
3.     Toilet is abundance in Taiwan, so far did not have issue looking for toilet. Even some night market have toilet which is super convenient!
4.     Stroller friendliness really depends on where you go. Check it out before bringing stroller out for the day to avoid carrying baby plus stroller up and down staircases!
5.       If you are going to Yilan or Hualien, it is best to drive. I hardly sees any cab in these places especially Yilan, you probably have to drive or get a rental car cum driver for the whole day to bring you around. If you want to go Hualien, take a train there and then rent a car from Hualien. Don't drive there,we did and you have to drive through the winding road for at least 2 hours. 
6.     Money changer rate definitely better in Taiwan Taoyuan Airport. Get your money changed there! Many money changer. But do check out their opening times if you reach at odd timing.
7.     Hualien things are so much cheaper, buy your goodies here (Milk candy, Pineapple tart). We could have spend an additional day here. One day is too short.
8.     Yilan to Taipei road may be jam especially school or public holiday (Tips from one taxi uncle). Usually takes 45 minutes drive, may take up to few hours. Check out PH and school holidays in Taiwan when doing trip planning.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Taiwan Travelogue September 2015 (Day 6)

Today everyone wakes up at 9 plus in the morning again. We rush down for breakfast and manage to get ready by 12pm. We washed our clothes at hotel's self service laundry and went to get some pastry (Sun Milk Cake and Pineapple Egg Yolk Tart) to bring home from Vigor Kobo that is just across the road (Ximen MRT Exit 4). We brought the pastry back to hotel so that we do not need to lag them all the way today. 

Vigor Kobo to bring home
Vigor Kobo:
Also available at Taoyuan Airport just before the departure gate.

On our way back to hotel, kids stop by a stationary store and bought Woody (Toy Story) and Rapunzel doll and they simply adore them. 

New favourite- Rapunzel
This is my Woody... mine and mine alone!
Next stop is Taiwan Main Station (NT20). There are quite a lot of shops underground just by exiting the MRT. We walked around and the kids bought some puzzle.

MRT route

We lunch at Shin Kuang San Yue and next question is whether we wanna continue to CKS Memorial or go back and nap.

Simple lunch as we couldn't find much things to eat
After much thoughts and Justin looks tired so we decided to nap before dinner. Will be going CKS Memorial after dinner instead. 

While hubby and kids nap, I went down to Ximending streets for some shopping on my own. I manage to buy some mask, face cleanser from Inniskin and DIY bracelet for the kids.

I got back and found all of them still deep in sleep.. I manage to drag the sleepy hubby and kiddos to Ding Wang for dinner at 5.30pm. We booked in the afternoon via telephone but it was the wrong place. When we went in, everything just looked sp different (as we dine in Ding Wang before a few years back). This restaurant does not accept credit card and we are running low on cash, plus we wanted to dine at Ding Wang mostly for memory sake. So we got out from the restaurant, called up the Ding Wang that we wanted. Phew, luckily still got place, so we got into a cab and reach in 10 minutes (NT 100).

Double "Yuan Yang" pot
This is good.. thinly sliced and fresh
I like this too.. scallop and fish paste
Kids love the taro balls

It was a good dinner as we enjoyed the familiar environment; food is pretty good as well. Kids enjoyed purple yam ball and I like the beef slice. As for hubby, he was pretty addicted to this crispy you tiao. It goes well when dip in sour ma la hot pot. Do try the black sauce as it goes really well with ma la hot pot. Rice is free flow and so does the tofu/duck blood in the ma la pot.

After dinner we went for a stroll at CKS Memorial. Jaclyn enjoyed and admired the theatre house architecture very much and Justin says that CKS Memorial looks like castle. I was pretty amazed that Jaclyn actually enjoyed the architecture so much. CKS Memorial is closed already when we reached at 8pm but we walked up the stairs anyway. 

CKS at night
Unwillingly let us took some photos...
Smile for the camera and we will release you guys for ur favourite running about
Okie, just one last one...

View from the memorial
We enjoyed the breeze and the kids enjoy the huge area to run around. Hubby and the kids got a treat of M&M at the vending machine that gave them 3 packets instead of 1. 

We took MRT back to Ximending and the kids played with their new puzzle after shower. While hubby put them to sleep, I went down for shopping once again, last chance before going home tomorrow. Now I understand why Ximending is such an “in” place and popular with teenager. It is not weekend or even Friday night but on a normal weekday and this place is bustling with shops or should I say stalls opening till late (most shops open past 10pm up to 12pm and some store open 24 hours)

I walked around until about 11pm and got a bowl of A Zhong Mian Xian for supper. Do add the sauces available at the sides, it makes the noodle taste much better (according to one of the taxi driver uncle). I went back and shared the noodle with hubby and we came down for another round of walk. 

Still open at wee hours
A bowl of A Zhong Mian Xian for supper

I had a Xiao Mei Ice Cream for dessert and it was yummy. Best ice cream for just NT 20. Chanced upon this uncle selling salted chicken and so long Q, his stall seems to just open at 12pm and lots of business. There are also a lot of temporary store that just open late at night selling clothes, soft toys and bags. We went back and rest at 1pm. Tomorrow will be going home, hence end of holiday!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Taiwan Travelogue September 2015 (Day 5)

Everyone is indeed exhausted from the hectic schedule for the past few days and no one wakes up until almost 10am. I practically jump out of bed, as breakfast is only until 10.30am. We quickly changed out of our pyjamas and went down for breakfast.

Pictures of complimentary breakfast at Westgate Hotel Ximending:

After breakfast, it is time to get ready to go out. Today we did not plan for much as we had been to Taipei several times before so more of just a relax and walk around few days. We only got out of hotel at midday! Seriously OMG, half a day is gone. 

We decided to lunch at Din Tai Feng branch @ Taipei 101 as we heard much raved about the food, how it tasted so much nicer than their branch overseas bla bla bla. We took MRT there for NT25 per person. 

As we exit the MRT to Taipei 101, we saw Din Tai Feng just at its doorstep. Manage to snap this cool looking model as we walked pass the restaurant! :)

Nice pose young man!
There is a queue to get a number so we got ours and the wait time is about 30 minutes. We were given a piece of paper menu to order while we wait. Menu is somewhat similar to its branch in Singapore. 

These are what we had: 

Appetitiser- black fungus
Stir fry vegetable
Fried rice for the kids
Xiao Long Bao (Steamed dumpling with meat)
My wonderfully executed beef noodle!
Beef tendon is so good!
My MUST order dessert at all time (Song Gao)!

VERDICT:  I LIKE the beef noodle in Singapore but I SUPER LIKE the beef in Taiwan! The meat is so much more tender and flavorful. After trying beef in Singapore once, I had always ordered the noodle without the beef as the beef in Singapore is very hard. In Taipei, you must always order the beef, no regrets! Thumbs up for the beef noodle! 

Xiao Long Bao and Song Gao is very good as well. It is a hit with the kids. Hubs love the dumpling. Other dishes were just all right. Overall, I would still be back if I ever go to Taipei again for the beef noodle, plus the price is pretty reasonable for Taipei restaurant standard. The only downside is the queue as they do not accept any reservation.

There are a number of branches of Din Tai Fung in Taiwan so you could check this out and plan our your itinerary :)

After lunch, we walked around 101 for a bit but nothing much to buy as it is all very high end items. I got lots of free sample though (sunblock, eye mask etc), so I am a happy girl.

Our next stop will be pretty shocking as we will be heading back to hotel to rest. OMG!!! Seriously, I thought we just got out at 12pm. Well, I guess my sleeping gene is inherited by my kids. So yes, by 2 plus we are back in hotel and all of us fall asleep in no time. 

Heading back to nap! OMG seriously!

We only woke up at 6pm (actually initial plan is to wake up at 4.30pm and even though someone came and repair the toilet door, no one wakes up and I just slept back too after attending to the staff). So we are late for our evening plan but we go ahead anyway. 

We took MRT to Danshui (Cost: NT50 per person) and only reach at 7.30pm. Bought my favorite Mister Donut’s chewy doughnut to munch. Mister Donut is one of my favourite snack during my previous trip and it did not disappoint. Love its chewy texture which is so much different from conventional doughnut. Try the double chocolate as it is my favourite!

Mister Donut craze!

Jaclyn and Justin saw this bubble electric toy gun spurting out lots of bubble and they just happily jumped around. I love to see them enjoying themselves without any worries of the world, galloping instead of walking, doing things they love. 

We walked around the old streets, bought black quail egg for my sister-in-law and some tidbits that I thought were not too bad. Lots of food to sample along the way. There is this ancient toy store that is quite cute and kiddos bought some mini toys to play. Price is really reasonable too.

We were looking for ferry to go to Lover’s Bridge but it seems to have closed for the day. So, we took a cab over instead and cost about NT150.

TIPS: So, for the benefit of future travellers, I found this information online.

Operating hours for ferry to Fisherman's Wharf (Lover's Bridge area)
11:00~20:00 on weekdays
11:00~21:00 on weekends

So we kinda missed the ferry for a bit only, if we woke up like an hour earlier we could have caught the ferry :(

We dine at this café that hubby and me went before in 2008 before we have the kids. No one is singing today as it is late already. Upon checking with the staff, the singing stops at 8.30pm and we are just 15 minutes late and we missed the live band. Oh well....

Jaclyn: Mummy, since no one is singing so let me entertain you!

After dinner around 10pm, we went back to Danshui Old Street and most shops closed already. We took MRT  back and after shower, kids played for a bit and went to sleep.

Night and sweet dreams....Enjoying this nice night scene photo before popping into bed!

Pretty night view @ Lover's Bridge!

Day 5-

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Taiwan Travelogue September 2015 (Day 4)

Today morning everyone is really tired. Even Jaclyn who usually wakes up early only woke up at 9am today. We had breakfast, packed up our stuff and checked out at 10.45am. It was drizzling today in Yilan and we are glad that we have decided to head to Shifen Waterfall instead of exploring Yilan. 

Shifen Waterfall- a mini one near the hanging bridge before heading to the actual one
It is an hour drive to Shifen Waterfall and we reached at about 12pm. We parked and walk down to the hanging bridge, passed by a small waterfall and to the Shifen Waterfall Park (Open 9-5.30pm daily). It is indeed a majestic waterfall and one could feel the water droplet kissing their face. I read online about a NT80 entrance fees but we didn’t see any place for ticket. It is probably another entrance from the Shifen Visitor Centre or they have omitted the charges? 

Passing by the Shifen Waterfall Park before the majestic fall
A duckie that entertained the kids while we take turns to visit the washroom
The huge falls. The water practically sprinkle on you so it is hard to take photograph
The staircase leading to the observation deck was pretty steep and wet so if you are bringing kids, make sure grab on to them tightly. Forget the stroller at this place, totally useless as mostly it is steps and no flat road.

For parents with young children, you can consider having some drinks at the café and take turn to go down to the waterfall observation deck so that the kids no need to go down. It is quite windy and cold as the water droplets splashes onto you plus stairs are wet and steep. So, only I head down while hubby take cares of the kids.

There are toilets at parking area (free parking) and waterfall park so it is convenient.

My pictures of the waterfall definitely did not do justice to them- check out professional photographs of the majestic waterfall here:

Jaclyn was having some rashes on her face and neck. I am not sure if it is because of the insect bite that she gotten yesterday at Taroko National Park. She wasn’t itchy or uncomfortable so I gave her an antihistamine, hopefully will subside in no time.

 We are already quite late to return the car so we had a quick lunch at Pingxi Old Street. Lunch is super yummy- braised meat, stir fry vegetable and clam. One of the best meal I had in Taiwan I must say.

Lunch of the day. They look normal but tasted fantastic.

Cost: NT590 including 2 bowl of rice and a bottle of apple juice. 

Wooden Postcard
Cute Postbox just outside the shop!
While waiting for lunch to arrived, I grab the chance to buy some postcard (Wooden type-NT60 each) and stickers (NT20 each) for the kids. Manage to send the postcard too, it is NT20 for stamp back to Singapore. Hopefully will receive the postcard when I am back home J

Train running above the houses at Pingxi Old Street
Pingxi train station is famous for its railway which runs above the houses and shops as the shops are all at a lower ground area so one could basically see the train going on top of them which is cool. We manage to catch a glimpse of a train passing while strolling the streets. 

We are really late now so quickly drive to Ximending (30 minutes drive) and check in our hotel. There is no parking on site so we had to park at roadside and then unload our stuff. As kiddos and me go to the room, hubby went and return the car at the airport.

Reach hotel.. time to check in and rest
But before that, let's try out our left hand driving skill...
I cleaned the kids up and tuck them for nap. Today is the first day they can nap on bed after sleeping in the car for the past few days. 

Finally, we get a proper bed for nap today...
As usual, they played around and only nap about an hour later. I then went down to Level 2 to get our laundry done. It is NT50 for 30 minutes wash and NT for every 10 minutes dryer (we dry the clothes for an hour). Washing powder is complimentary can be obtained from the reception at Level 1. 

Laundry time
Full review of the hotel :

Hubby came back about 5 plus and I went down to walk around while he rests. It is really happening at Ximending with lots of food stall, restaurant and shops selling little cute things. I went back to the hotel at 6 plus and woke kiddos up for dinner. All are very tired and reluctant to wake up, but eventually manage to wake them up. 

Happening Ximending
Dinner is at Watami Casual Restaurant, food is similar to the outlet in Singapore. We had a pleasant dinner. Leisurely walk around Ximending, watch street shows and got back to hotel. 

Cute specs we bought
Shower and rest for the day.