Hello Again Taiwan! + Just Around The City | TAIWAN WITH AVA PART 1
As you all know, I went to Taiwan a few weeks ago with one of my blogger besties Ava. We've been friends for a long time, but this is our first ever out of country travel together so I was really excited! We often go together in local destinations or when we wanted to see something just within the Metro (exhibits, new restos, film festivals) and I knew we really click and would make great travel buddies for many many reasons!! We have same interests, same food faves, Ava's so G (my kind of girl), and we are very patient with each other, haha! So this trip is a few months in the making. We bought the tickets on sale the moment we saw a good price online (Php 7000 round trip via Cebu Pac, not so mababa pero pwede na). Other than that, I did not really prepare so much for this trip, and just made a rough itinerary a few days before our flight. It's a given na that since Ava's mom is from Taipei, we already have an instant home during our stay (t i p i d!). Other than that, I said to myself to just wing it!
Anyway, this is a 3 or 4 part blog series of this Taiwan trip! Sobrang excited nako to blog about this but time--always time--is the enemy! Haha! Like Ava, I've already been to Taiwan before so you will not be seeing the usual Taiwan itinerary on my posts. But we tried to revisit some places (like the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall) well just because they are must-sees. Anyway, here goes the first part of that cray summer in Taiwan!
Behind the scenes, baby! I just got back from Bali and only had a few hours in NAIA before check-in for Taiwan. It was around 3ish am. My original plan as a strong independent woman (haha) is to bring EVERYTHING for this two-country vacation. I was carrying two luggages in Bali. It was during our last day in Bali when I realized na mag eexcess baggage ako sa Taiwan if I bring all the Bali rattan basket bags I bought. Dilemma! Ayaw ko na sana mang abala, but when I asked my parents in our family's group chat, mom said that she was just waiting for me to ask, ako lang talaga ang stubborn HAHAHA.
So at 3ish am, back in NAIA, my parents were waiting for me in Jollibee to get my Bali stuff. We ate a quick breakfast, I handed them my simple pasalubongs, and had catch-up sesh before nila ako sinundo uli to the airport departure. I don't know what's the description for having the best parents, but I knew I have one and I will forever be grateful for this!!!
I was alone again, zero sleep, and mismatched clothes... And have to deal with NAIA's chaos! Huhuhu.
Skip everything to the plane, pls! Haha! We were so happy to get the row 1 seats for more legroom and faster food service, haha! Ava and I also promised to each other that airplane time will be our sleeping time because we are both team insomniacs / team zero sleep at that time, haha! Kaso lang 1.5 hours lang we were already landing in Taipei! 😂
Happiness is seeing the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport again, and it's still as beautiful as I remembered it from 2014! Just a little trivia, I went to the 2014 trip with my sister ng biglaan. It was supposed to be her solo travel experience, but bilang kaladkarin that I am hinirit ko lang one time "Sama ako!", and the rest as they say was history! Haha!
Every time kasama ko si Ate sa trip, ATE sya talaga so she organized everything from itinerary, transfers, to our accommodations. Sya si Ate Bora of Reply 1988, hahaha! Yan talaga ang travel history ko e, sunod sunod lang ako sa gusto ni Ate hahaha! Pero super OC nya, when she sends our travel itinerary prior our flight, sobrang detailed nyan down to the budget to where we will eat to train directions, haha! I learned from the best! Anyway, you can read more about that Taiwan trip HERE.
After all the airport requirements and finding our "lost luggage" haha because it took us a long time to go to the bag carousel from the immigration, our next step is to look for the place where we can claim our local sim before completely exiting the airport. We were able to book for a discounted Taiwan sim via Klook, and easily navigated the booth through the directions from Klook's email.
THE TAIWAN ESSENTIALS #1: LOCAL SIM CARD
Sim Card vs. Pocket WiFi
I think I've blogged or Instagrammed about this so many times na but people still ask so here you go!
1) I choose sim card padin talaga because, first, it is waaay cheaper than getting the pocket wifi. By cheaper, and I mean Php 521 for 5 days for local sim versus Php 138 PER DAY for Taiwan's router. *Price is based on Klook's offerings
2) Convenience! Klook offers Taipei airport pick up for both sim card and router, but with sim card you can THROW IT AWAY after using it, while with the router you still have to return it. They also usually require DEPOSITS pa when you use routers.
3) Just charge one gadget--YOUR PHONE! Or yeah, maybe also your power bank, but that's about it! With routers, you have to charge it pa at the end of the day. Usually hotels or hostels have limited electric ports so you have to bring an extension pa for that. I know that phones get easily low bat when you have data connection with it, but it's the same thing naman when I use my phone back in Manila so no issue.
4) Lighter bag! Because no extra bitbit na gadget!
5) Your very own internet connection! I know mas matipid ang router when you're in a group tapos hati hati nalang kayo, but imagine on a shopping activity or may time na gusto niyo muna mag hiwa-hiwalay, kanino mapupunta ang router? Haha!
Connection wise, both are comparably good. Even off-skirt, in Taichuch, my LTE sim was great! For the sim card, it is also available for 3 / 7 / 10 days, so book one depending on the duration of your trip. Check this page for Klook's Taiwan sim card options.
THE TAIWAN ESSENTIALS #2: EASY CARD
If Korea has their T Money Card, Hong Kong has their Octopus, then Taiwan has their Easy Card! You can easily get this in train stations and convenience stores for 100 TWD. My sister Cea just came from Taiwan earlier this year, and gave her card to me for my trip so ni-refill ko nalang sya sa mga ticket booths sa train stations. It has a Kerokeropi design, so ang cute! I filled it with 2000 TWD na hindi ko narealize ang laki pala (Php 3400+!) haha! So I used it even when buying from the grocery, in convenience stores, when we took the bus, and even for some pasalubong shopping! Sulit naman, naubos ko din hahaha. :)
THE TAIWAN ESSENTIALS #3: TWD or the New Taiwan Dollars
From my own experience, I only exchanged my money to TWD twice during the trip. First was in the airport in Taiwan na where I had my Philippine Pesos and US Dollars exchanged in one of the reliable airport money exchange booths.. So yey some of them accept Pesos!
Second was during our last night and I thought I needed more cash for shopping (hehehe) so I went to a local ATM machine and just withdrew Taiwan Dollars (it's automatic for Master Card or Visa cards, you will just be charged around Php 200 for the international withdrawal).
THE TAIWAN ESSENTIALS #4: TAIWAN METRO APP
For easy navigation, and since most of the time the mode of transportation in Taipei is the subway, download the Taipei Metro app. If you've been to Japan or South Korea, navigating Taiwan's train system is a piece of cake! Haha! I think they only have 8 lines, all color and number coded. Again, since Ava is taga Taiwan, I just let her do the navigation. It's like Ate all over again, haha! But it's easy, just check your app and follow the signs!
So we took the airport train going to the local train lines which is connected to the Taipei Main Station (red line). Prepare to drag your luggage for the transfers, but again, if you've been to Japan or Korea this will be extra-easy for you, no biggie! Hehe.
My favorite part with our train adventures is seeing this sushi bar, which Ava said was a childhood favorite. "Nag babaon ako nyan before!" So I had to go in the store to check it out. For just TWD 10, or Php 17, you can already get a piece of sushi! I filled up my lalagyan with tamago and the one with corn toppings.
OTHER TAIWAN ESSENTIALS:
So aside from the ones mentioned above, just a little note about visiting Taiwan.
First, weather is unpredictable, and you cannot fully trust weather apps on this! When I searched my app prior this trip so I can plan my outfits well, it says that it's going to be hot and rainy. Ava's mom also mentioned that it's already summer talaga. I packed shirts and skirts and short pants, but when we got there it's Spring in Daegu all over again, haha! Bring a JACKET and a CAP even if you think you won't need them, just in case! If hindi naman lumamig, at least you can still wear the jacket at the airport and the cap para shield from the sun, hehehe. Pag nakaka tamad, well, you can always SHOP like me! Hahaha!! May GU sila in Taipei, akkkk!
Number 2, they use the same power outlet (two flat pins) so yey for one less thing to worry about!
And #3, there is also no time difference between Manila and Taipei so walang kailangang adjustments, hehe.
And with that, welcome to Ava's wonderful neighborhood in Taiwan!
From the train to Ava's house you can either take a cab or ride the bus. Their bus stops have this automated signs nadin so you will know what time to expect your bus to arrive! Galing!
TAIWAN BUS TIP: HOLD ON TO THE RAILS THE MOMENT YOU STEP IN! Hahahah! It can be quite a roller coaster ride anytime anywhere, so KAPIT BES!
WHERE WE STAYED
So sorry if I won't be able to give tips on where to stay when in Taiwan because, as mentioned earlier, we had Ava's house to accommodate us for the 6-day trip. Their neighborhood is a mix of chill and chaos because it has local parks here and there but it is also right next to markets where they sell super interesting stuff from food, dried fruits, ukay ukay, etc. I would have shopped there if madami lang kaming time!
On my first Taiwan trip, my sister and I stayed in Ximending area which is comparable to Myeongdong because they have all sorts of shops and restaurants, and a dedicated train station. Other than Ximending, Taipei 101's area is also a good place to stay when you visit Taiwan. Just search for these areas on Airbnb and Agoda, I am sure they have a lot of options according to your budget!
My gosh, I cannot and will never ever stress enough how much SPOILED we were during this Taiwan trip, hindi ako sanay as a strong independent woman, haha! Before our trip, Tita (or Ava's mom) already shopped for our snacks and drinks-- and the quantity of what tita bought will make you think that we're staying there for a MONTH or about to open our mini kombini. Haha!
Here's my view in Ava's home every morning. I love the natural light coming from their kitchen's windows. Nakakarelax. I am the early riser in the household so I drink my coffee in advance before prepping for the day. Again, canned coffee is from our "Home-based Convenience Store" hahaha! See photos below!
Ang dami diba!!!
Mr. Brown canned coffee:
When we went out, my first meal in Taiwan is CoCo Curry! I know we already have this in Manila, but my first taste from this resto was in 2014 with Ate and it has nothing but good memories attached to it. So for good times' sake... veggie CoCo Curry for Day 1 in Taiwan, it is!
Since we've spent the whole morning in transit, our Day 1 is really just dedicated to nearby tourist attractions.....
CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL
If you have to go to just one historical or cultural landmark in Taiwan, then it has to be the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. It was created in honor of political and military leader Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China. Other than the huge CKS statue, the compound also has museums and gardens. I enjoyed going around here the second time around, with the cool weather and just to play with the camera! Quotang quota kami sa OOTD dito, hehehe.
How to go: Just go down the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station, red or green line. Entrance is FREE.
Kape pa for team no sleep! Haha!
Hello again, sir!
When self-timer is life, but photo bombers are lifeu! Haha!
We spent about an hour in the vast area, and even saw another Taiwan icon at a distance, which leads us to our next stop....
Known as the world's tallest building in 2004 to 2010 (defeated by Dubai's Burj Khalifa), the Taipei 101 is so beautiful to look at from afar with its modern architecture going on. Inside, we saw luxury shops, restaurants (1st Din Tai Fung), and the observatory. It was a quick detour before deciding to cross the street to its more budget-friendly neighbouring malls, hahaha.
How to go: Taipei 101 also has its own station called Taipei 101 Station, haha, also in Red Line about five stops away from CKS. Again, it's super easy to go around Taiwan!
ATT 4 FUN (MALL)
Just across Taipei 101 is my recommended mall if ever you're in the city. ATT 4 FUN has a ZARA HOME, a legit STUDIO GHIBLI STORE, an ABC MART (sneakers heaven), and a GU branch!
Aside from shopping, you will also enjoy their food section as it proves that Taiwan is home to quirky cafes and restaurants! Photos below.....
Thanks Ava for letting me take your pic by this lighted street hahaha!
Why I call Taiwan the mini Japan: Tokyu Hands and an authentic Ghibli store!
This is just inside the mall, in a small store! Beats my Studio Ghibli Tokyo visit because of the photo ops, haha joke lang of course haha! :D But it's nice to finally have a photo inside the cat bus coz taking pics is allowed!!!
ATT 4 FUN's food floor is aesthetics heaven! Ava and I went around while waiting for her mom so we can have dinner together....
Disco balls and clear lamps:
Old TVs and radios:
Barkadas hanging out in teacups:
As dainty as Alice in Wonderland:
Like dining in streets of an Asian country:
We decided to try out this "Say Juice" juice bar with shower room interiors! Ang creative lang, haha!
It is smaller in actual, but buti nalang walang tao that time kami lang! So we took "for the gram" photos just because! Haha! Thanks Ava for also treating me with a fruit shake!
Spotted: an EXO cup by the counter!
Aura sa showeran when we got our drinks! Hehe! It kind of reminds me of Pink Pool Cafe of Seoul, but smaller. You really dine because of how creative the store is, but forgot na if the food / drink is really yummy HAHAHA! No ragrets, ang cute naman e!
And finally, when tita arrived, we had dinner also in the same mall. It looks very fancy for a normal night, but tita treated us with pizza and pasta and they are all SO GOOD! If there's a summary line for this whole trip siguro isa dun is ANG SARAP NG LAHAT NG DINNER NAMIN WITH TITA WALANG TAPON! Hahaha!
This was just the start of the end of my diet, hehehe:
Thanks tita for also taking my photo! And for treating me like Ava's sister for the entire trip! Hehehe! ❤
To be continued.....
Watch my Summer in Taiwan Day 1 Instagram Stories: