I never expect that I will visit Taipei again so soon.
This is actually a very frightening trip for me. The thought of bringing 3 kids out to the city is already giving me cold sweat not to mention bringing them with me to Taiwan.
We took a Cathay Pacific flight from Singapore to Hong Kong first for transit and then from Hong Kong to Taipei. This will extend the trip by 2 hours but it will save me almost S$1000 for the whole family.
Day 1 – 桃源机场 ~ 西门町
When we reach Taipei at 1620hrs, we are greeted by a rainy weather. When the pilot try to land the plane, I can feel the plane swaying as it approach the runway. I suspect we might have met with cross wind.
We bought tickets from GuoGuang (国光客运） counter. The bus quickly left the terminal but we got stuck at the highway. By the time we reach Taipei Main Station, it is already almost 1800hrs. Feeling tired and still raining, we lug our baggage to our hotel, Keyman Hotel.
The check-in process is fast and we are given a room on the 9th Floor. It is actually the 8th Floor as they have omitted the 4th Floor due to superstitious.
The room is spacious, clean and decent. However, I can see that the room is tired. There is no card key system. It is just a key and the lock. There is no door hole at all and all it has is a door latch. No safe on the room either. The bed is hard and firm. The room have a small little trash bin and I doubt it will be sufficient for the whole family. The front desk staff is polite and will try their means to help us. We actually request a late checkout at 1300hrs and with my experience with Slove hotel, I am prepared to pay a nominal sum. However to my surprise, they allowed me to check out at 1300hrs for free. Room service staff is friendly too but I can’t say for their maintenance staff. I actually reported a fault in the bathroom switch. By the time they arrive which is not long, the switch actually works and they female staff seems unhappy. There is no extra power socket in the room to charge my gadget though there is one in the toilet but will you charge your phone in the toilet? The switch to the light is actually all the way into the room located by the side of the bed. When I open the door for the first time, I can’t find the switch at all! I have to navigate in the dark to turn on the lights. The good things about this hotel is that it has free Wi-Fi and the cable TV selection is pretty good (good if you understand Chinese). Do take note that the Rainbow Channel is not hidden. So if you are staying with your kids, please do be aware of this.
Once we settle down, we decided to go to XimenDing （西门町）. For those who know me, I am not so interested in it. However, I do admit this is a very lively place that is fill with life. It is for youngsters and there are indeed many shops to shop.
I finally tried the 阿宗面线. I was told by my wife the soup is actually consists of pig stomach. I immediately stop eating once hearing it. Guess it is still not my taste after all.
Day 2 – 小人国主题乐园 ~ 绕河夜市
The rain continue. I am actually thinking should I cancel my trip to the World of China. However, I believe this is one of the highlights for the kids so I decided to carry on hoping the rain will stop by then.
We took a train to 景安 MRT station. The rain gets heavier now. From there, we took the bus to World of China. When you board the bus, you need not pay anything yet. The bus will drive to the ticket station to pick up other passengers and you can purchase the bus tickets and the theme park entrance tickets together. The bus will then proceed to the theme park.
I do not have much high hopes for the theme park. This park reminds me of a similar park in Shenzen （深圳）where small replicas of major monuments are displayed. Once we enter the main park, the display of a port and railway track system are just before us. I felt that this is a smart move as these two displays will definitely attract children. My children is so thrilled by it as the see the train speed along. They try to catch up with the train as it speed. Some of the display are not 100% static and some moving display may be involved.
After visiting the first part of the park, we have to take a small train to the other side of the park. They have more display there and also a theme park. The theme park is not that impressive but enough to keep the kids entertain. We actually spend a whole day there and my kids indeed have a great time there.
We then took the bus back to the MRT station and then took the train back to Taipei Main Station. From there, we took a TRA train to SongShan (松山） train station. We manage to board the Taroko class train and it is indeed more comfortable then the usual trains. We then walk to Raohe Night market (饶河夜市). It is still drizzling now and it is very obvious many shops chose not to open their stall today. I did not buy the pepper bun the last time I came so I bought two this time. My wife ate one but I didn’t cause I have to take care of the kids. By the time we settle down, the bun is already cold and I don’t feel like eating it anymore. The night market is easier to walk compared to Shilin Market （士林夜市）. Unfortunately, the temple located outside the market did not hang their famous lanterns. I asked a stall vendor about it and they told me the temple will only hang the lanterns when there are some festival going on. I then told myself I was lucky when I came the last time where I see the spectacular sight.
Day 3 – 九份 ~ 台北101 ~ 鼎泰丰 ~ 永康街 ~ 桂林街 （家乐福）
Wow! Today’s weather is good! Though the sky is filled with dark clouds but it did not rain. This is considered good compared to the last two days and I could not ask for more! We then decide to proceed to Jiufen （九份）. We bought return tickets to Ruifang （瑞芳） as we were told that the train from Ruifang to Taipei may be full at times. I am anticipating the trip to Jiufen as I really like the environment there. When we reach Ruifang train station, it is raining heavily. Damn! We walk towards the bus station across the road and due to the rain, there are many people crammed into the small alley.
All of us are waiting for the bus but not all people are going to Jiufen. When the bus arrive, there is a rush for it but people still try to be civilize there. :p
The bus journey to Jiufen is not too long, maybe about 25 mins. The winding road up the hill is quite scenic. When we reach the bus stop, it is still raining heavily. We brave the rain and walk into the old street. As the alley is not sheltered, we walk in the rain to visit some of the shops we know. We did not stay there more then 60mins and decide to leave.
We decide to take a cab to Ruifang station due to the rain and the kids have start to show signs of fatigue. When we board the cab, the driver offer to bring us back to Taipei for NT1000. After accessing our situation, we decided to take it despite having bought the return train tickets back to Taipei.
The ride to Taipei is about 45mins and smooth. Once we reach the hotel and settled down the kids, I rush to the train station before the train depart from Ruifang station at 1515hrs. I tried to get a refund for the unused portion and I guess I got back about 80% of it.
We took a nap in the room to rest the kids.
I actually wanted to visit Yilan （宜兰） the next day. I called up a number for a cab driver that I found in the forum. I ask what can I see and do in Yilan. He told me I can either visit the farm, Mount Taiping or hot spring. I then said “that’s all?”. He said yes. I then ask him about the rates. This is what shock me. NT1800 per adult including a visit to Mount Taiping. After the conversation, I gave up.
At about 1830hrs, we decided to set off to Taipei 101. We just wanted to walk around the building and yes, it is still raining. We took a MRT train to Taipei City Hall station and took a shuttle service to Taipei 101.
We walk around the shops and found nothing fanciful as it is a upmarket type of shopping. We then walk to the 5th floor and saw the entrance to the observatory tower. I ask my wife does she want to take a look up there. We then decided to ask about the price and weather and told us that it is foggy today and the view will not be good (at the least they are honest). We then decide to come at another day instead.
We then proceed to 鼎泰丰 for our dinner by taxi. We reach there at 2110hrs but we noticed that they actually close at 2100hrs. However, they told us to wait for a table but I still ask are we a bother since they are already close. They assure us that it is alright and I guess we are the last customer to be admitted. Despite we are the last customer, they did not rush us to order our food and still take some effort to accommodate us. They prepared utensils for kids and gave us a big table. The food is pretty good as usual. What impress me more is their level of service. I bet we are one generation behind them in terms of this.
After dinner, the staff bid us goodbye and we just take a quick stroll in Yongkang street. I walk to my favourite store which is a place they sell second hand goods. I walk down to the basement and found a CD that I have always wanted; the Last Samurai OST. It is only going for NT210! I heard a CD that they are playing and ask about it. They show it to me and it is actually by 玉置浩二。 However, they told me it is not for sale. I was quite disappointed but they quickly offer me a duplicate copy for free! Gosh! I never expect such offer or service! I gladly accept it with thanks.
When we took a cab from Taipei 101 to 鼎泰丰, we ask the cab driver about the supermarket here. We told him that we would like to visit one to experience the local feel. He told us the nearest supermarket from our hotel is Carrefour at 桂林 and also suggested quite a number of other hypermart.
After walking along YongKang street, we then decide to visit the Carrefour at 桂林. We took a cab and the journey is not long. However, we did not stay long there as it is pretty late though this branch open 24 hours. It is also a pretty small branch in my opinion. I can also see that Taiwanese seems to have a soft spot for Japanese snacks and food. They have about two rows dedicated to Japanese food and some of it can really wet my mouth just by looking at it. By the time we left, it is almost 2330hrs.
Day 4 – Book Street ~ 中正纪念堂 ~ 淡水
Good weather. Dark clouds but without rain. We cross our fingers.
We intend to take it slow today. We walk to the book street early in the morning. To my surprise, some of the shops are open as early as 0830hrs. The books they have is amazing in variety and really affordable. In our own country, books are pretty expensive and do not have much variety compared to Taiwan. In the end, we just bought some comics only. Hahahah…
We then have lunch in Yoshinoya. The Yoshinoya here in Taiwan is quite different from here in Singapore. Their servings are better and cheaper. I only spend about S$15 for two sets of meals where I guess I will spend almost S$20 or more for a similar amount of food.
Our next visit is to CKS memorial hall. It start to drizzle. As usual, I like the buildings there and took a brief walk. We left in about an hour.
We continue our journey to Danshui （淡水）. We hope to show the kids the bridge at Fisherman’s Wharf. When we reach there, guess what? Yes, it rained. This time coupled with strong winds. We try to buy time by braving the rain and walk to the old street hoping the rain would stop. We only stop at a few shops to buy some toys for our kids. The toys here are cheaper then the ones in Jiufen. It is still raining. By now we have given up hope on the rain. We took a cab from the old street to the McDonald opposite the MRT station. Why do I choose this branch over the one in the old street? I found that there is a small playground located in the branch. This will provide some entertainment to the kids. While in the restaurant, we can see the banner tied to the lamp post flapping wildly. This shows how strong is the wind. In the end we did not take any pictures in Danshui.
It is such a pity that we did not get to watch sunset and the bridge. 😦
Day 5 – 台北101 ~ 桃源机场
We decided to visit Taipei 101 again. The reason is we wanted to bring our kids to the observatory platform though I know that I will not pay for such a price for myself and my wife.
As usual, the weather is clear where we stay. When we reach Taipei City Hall MRT station, it is drizzling. Sigh…… Since the shuttle bus is not in operation yet, we decide to walk to Taipei 101. Coming out from Exit 3, we walked towards Xinyi （信仪）District. The walk is easier then expected despite the rain. 99% of the route is sheltered. Along the way, we pass by several malls and it looks quite interesting. When we came the other night, the buildings are all light up providing a pleasing view of the area.
We reach Taipei 101 exactly at 1000hrs. When we reach the entrance, there is actually a queue. But we do not need to wait for long. My two younger kids can go up for free. So I just need to purchase 2 adults and 1 child tickets. This save me a lot of money!
The ride up the escalator to the 89th floor is impressive. It only need less then 45 seconds to reach. The weather is misty that day so we can’t see far. But it is still a good experience as this is the first observatory platform I have visited.
After that we left Taipei 101 and rush back to the hotel to do our final packing. We check out at 1300hrs and walk to Taipei Main Station in the rain. We took the High Speed Rail to Taoyuan so to let ourselves experience the thrill of a high speed rail. The ride is a short 30mins. We then transfer to a bus (U bus) to the airport which is about 25mins. Before you book your HSR tickets, check the U bus and HSR schedule because it seems like the timing of the HSR arrival in Taoyuan station will complement the departure of the U Bus from Taoyuan station.
As you can see, most of this trip is a re-visit to those I have been previously. With 3 kids in tow, it is indeed a challenge and I do not want to venture too far away from Taipei. However, Taiwan people is kind enough to make my trip easier. When we enter a crowded train, commuters readily gave up their seats to my kids (try this in Singapore and see what will you get!).
There are many places that I wanted to visit near Taipei like Yilan （宜兰）, 法鼓山 and 观音风力发电厂。I hope that I can visit them in my next visit.
Also, expenses are under control for this trip. I spend about S$3513 that includes airfare, hotel and expenses. Pretty good for me.
In Taiwan, if you are travelling with kids that is age 6 and below or 110cm and below, you need not buy any tickets for them usually. This applies to bus, boat, TRA trains, MRT and even HSR. This means that your child is not entitled to a seat. If the transport is empty, your child can occupy the empty seat. But if the seat is occupied, the child will need to sit on your lap.
Oh, somebody did ask me what have I bought for myself. Well, this is it. 🙂
You can view more pictures here,