Monday, March 29, 2010

3.0 Taiwan High Speed Rail heading to Kenting 高铁前往垦丁

Day 2 of our Taiwan Trip, we headed to Kenting(垦丁). It is located at the extreme southern tip of Taiwan and it is famous for beaches and forest.
TheTaiwan High Speed Rail is a high speed railway train that runs up to 300 km/h. As fast as a plane. It can reach Kaohsiung Zuoying station in 90 minutes, compare to normal railway train that needs 4.5 hours reach.

I pre-book my HSR tickets online 2-3 days before I leave Malaysia. HSR tickets are as expensive as an aireoplane tickets. It cost me NT$1490 1 way trip to Kaohsiung Zuoying station. I booked the 6.36am (90 minutes) tickets which have 35% off which is $965. I paid my tickets online via credit card and they give me extra 5% discount which makes my ticket price is only $915.

Due to the earthquake at 4th March, the HSR has stop operation for that day and resume operation at 5th March. Our train at 6.36am has cancel and it has change to 6.30am train which stops at every station. I will take us 2 hours to reach Kaohsiung.

The HSR is quite a comfortable train to ride on. The space between each sit is wide enough that we can put our luaggage in front.

Reach Kaohsiung Zuoying Station after 2 hours later. The ticket counter was so pack!
We headed to the bus station to get our bus tickets to Kenting. Due to our large luaggage, we took the lift down and we are approch with a taxi guy offering trip and transport to Kenting.

According to the driver, the bus to Kenting cost us $385 per person and it will take 3 hours to reach. IF we take taxi, it is only $400 per person and they will sent us straight to our homestay.

We agree as it is just several bucks extra. We waited for half hour and they drive us to Kenting. The car consist around 7 person.

Beautiful trees along the way to Kenting ~
Finally we saw the sea, we are excited and happy, but it was just the beginning ~ we still need to sit at the car for 1 hour before reaching our homestay. It such a long journey to travel to Kenting.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2.2 Shi Lin Night Market 士林夜市

We went to ShiLin Night Market (士林夜市) on the first night and our last night on our stay at Taiwan. Why? There is a lot variety to eat and to shop.

The EasyCard (悠游卡) we got can be use at all MRT, trains and bus in Taipei only. To ShiLin Night Market, we need to change to the RED line at Taipei Main Station (台北车站) MRT to Jiantan Station (劍潭站).

Shi Lin Hawker Stall - very crowded with peoples, the stalls are mostly alike, selling the same food, from Oyster omelet, tempura, sotong soup, drink, chickhen chop....

The original XXL Chicken at Shilin night market (士林豪大大鸡排) NT$50
Very very big piece of chickhen until cannot finish.

Stinky tofu (臭豆腐) - not as smelly compare to Malaysia. I tired some, but I do not like it. TS enjoy it and finish the whole plate.
Oyster omelet(蚵仔煎) - not nice at all. Malaysia's oyster omelet are better.
Big Hotdog wrap Small Hotdog (大肠包小肠) - the outer layer is glutinous rice wrap with the real hotdog in the middle, mix with some vegetables inside.

Squid soup - warm and nice
Opposite the Hawker Stall, here comes the huge shopping area + some small snacks.
Famous Tao Fa(豆花), we can select 3 different extra topping in the tao fa. The tao fa abit burnt taste.

Ah Liang Oyster Mee Sua (阿亮面线) tasted normal. Maybe I eat too much Mee Sua like this back in Malaysia.

Sotong Bakar is another food that is great. Love them alot until we didn't manage to snap pictures on in.
Playing mahjung in public. It's a 1 person game.

Around Shi Lin Night Market, we saw this man dress up as an angle in promoting their products. And even a girl standing on the middle of the street with words on her dress promoting their shop.
The first day wondering around Shi Lin make me start spending money on buying some dress and umbrellas. Oh... I love their umbrella and I brought 3 of them.
Time was getting late and we headed back to Xi Men Ding. We saw this street artist 街头画家 spraying to produce a drawing. So cool! His booth was always crowded with people. We saw him every night when we go back to our homestay. And finally brought 2 piece of art work from him. It is just NT$100 per art work.

That's all for Day 1. Next we will be heading to Kaohsiung and to Kenting in Day 2.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2.1 Red Theater 紅樓劇場 & Tian Hou Gong 西门町天后宫

Next, we visit the Red Theater (紅樓劇場) which is just opposite the Xi Men Ding MRT Exit 6. It was Taiwan's first modern market as well as a theater in Japanese rule before, now there is an exhibition hall and a small playhouse. Lots of vintage stuffs, history and old scences. Great place to snap some pictures.

Artistic dolls. There are several artist selling their craft works behind the Red Theater.

Artist Lion??
Chinese Art

Xi Men Ding Tian Hou Gong (西门町天后宫) is just walking distance from the Red Theater. It is squeeze on a row of shop houses.
There are lots of temples in Taiwan, everyone are built in very detail workmanship.
Next we headed to ShiLin Night Market (士林夜市) for our first dinner at Taiwan

2.0 Xi Men Ding 西门町 & Homestay

The bus stop us at Xi Men Ding (西门町) MRT exit 6. Xi Men Deng greet us with Smile Xi Men Ding (微笑西门町)。
On our way to our home stay, we saw some film or maybe mv shooting beside the road.
Xi Men Ding is really crowded with people and alot of shops for shopping.
We stay for 5 nights at this Homestay - 時尚茱屋 Julie House
We live in her small room called Strawberry Garden (草莓園)
Overall the room was ok. Acceptable and cheap for the price we pay. 5 nights for $5019. We have 30% off for continuous stay for the 3rd and 4th day. Downstair have a 7-11 opposite the building. It is quite far for the MRT station, 8 minutes walk. The building is very old and the is corridor to our room torn and old. The toilet bath tub have some small cracks but luckly is was still clean. The door have complicated 2-3 locks and until the day I left , I also don't really know how to use it.
It is actually a building with many rooms on it. Some of them are monthly rental owners and Julie have 4 room at that building to rent out for travelers. One thing bad is that homestay owner isn't staying at the same building which makes us hard to get travel guide from her.

Image grab from Julie House

Public confess to someone he cares??
Some food we got on Xi Men Ding. Pot-stewed meat(卤味) - cold and taste no good.
So much people buy this, but it taste so so only.

1.0 Preparation and Flight to Taiwan

Booked our ticket at August 2009 which is around RM1100++ for 2 person. Start proper research and plan early this year. And fly to Taiwan at 4th March 2010. Here are some books we refer to in our 17 days trip.

Here are the books that I refer to. The 3 small booklet on the left is very handy on traveling especially at Taipei. It contains compact infomation and even transportation information to travel. I got these at Taiwan Visitors Association KL at Wisma GoldHill which is just behind my office. Or try visiting the recent Matta Fair, there will have booths there. Or you can download the booklet from their website.

If you are visiting Taiwan from soon, just print out your flight booking and you can redeem a limited edition of EasyCard (悠游卡) with NT$50 value inside the card at Taiwan Visitors Association KL . We can refund the balance yet keep this card. I would recomend to use this card when travel in Taipei as there are some small discount on the transportation fairs using this card.

Taiwan Visitors Association, Kuala Lumpur Office
Address: WISMA GOLDHILL Suite 25-01, Level 25, Wisma Goldhill, 67 Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Tel: +60-3-2070-6789
Fax: +60-3-2072-3559

I did the web checkin in Air Asia and checkin luaggage itself is just super quick. Within 10 minutes we are done with everything.
As it is a budget flight, the seats were not so comfortable. But with some chat, sleep, music listening, playing games. It wasn't that hard flying for 4 hours 40 minutes to Taiwan.

Surprisingly there is a USB port on below the screen, and TS try to charge his iphone and it works. So no worries on low battery for Iphone and Ipod.There is a small screen in each seat. There are a selection of movies, music, games, but you need to pay RM30 for that. The chatting services and the map is free. Its fun to see how the plane fly and it makes me more excited when we see the plane being more and more near to Taiwan.

Reach Tao Yuan International Airport (台湾桃园国际机场) Terminal 2 at around 2.30pm. I can feel its getting cold at here.

Beautiful handmade paper wedding dress ~ fantastic.
We apply the Youth Travel Card (青年旅遊卡) at Tao Yuan Airport for FREE, as long as you are within 15-30 years old. It provides discount and special offers on admission tickets, transportation, accommodation, and culinary delicacies for free and easy traveler like us. I find it useful for admission tickets.
We also apply the Digital Tour Buddy 寶貝機. I received a handphone with NT$100 phone credit value on it. This promotion starts March 2010 and I apply last minute before my trip. Thank god they approve my application. We need to return the phone back to them when we leave Taiwan.

Initially I thought we need to stop at Taipei Main Station (台北车站) and change MRT to Xi Men Ding. Luckly there is a bus (飞狗巴士) direct stop us at Xi Men Ding (西门町) to check in to our Homestay. Ticket prices is NT$140 per person.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kek Lok Si Visit at CNY

I'm back from Taiwan~ It was fun, exciting, beautiful, cold... And I am currently broke after spending alot there.

I was busy unload, unpack all my things from my luaggage and starting to arrange some of my photos from my trip. Hopefully I can start blogging them soon.

Meanwhile, do enjoy these picture from Kek Lok Si, Penang during Chinese New Year. I been waiting these pictures from my brother until he upload up. We went there at the first night of the Chinese New Year and it is terriblely crowded with peoples. Light and latterns are all over the temple and it is so beautiful.

The newly completed 观音亭 (Goddess of Mercy Pavilion) does attract alot of people to visit. Now Kek Lok Si Temple looks so small beside the Goddess of Mercy Pavilion. I enjoy my Chinese New Year gathering with family and friends this year.


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