6 highlights of the Taiwan trip (and then some)

Because I regret not doing the wonderful trip to Korea any justice by writing a more elaborate post about it, I shall now do a proper one for the Taiwan trip.

On hindsight, the trip wasn’t too bad. There were several enjoyable moments that came in the form of:

1. Lanterns!

There was the sky lantern

on which we wrote our wishes, then lit up and sent to the heavens.

The shop is run by the old lady (left, in the picture below) who lives alone. Her kids come back on weekends to help out. Look at those pretty paper lanterns! ❤

And then there were more lanterns, like these at the place where we had barbequed meat and steamboat for dinner in Hualien:

And these in a temple next to Raohe Street Night Market in Taipei:

And even more lanterns at the Raohe Street night market itself:

Well, it is an Asian country, after all. I went completely shutter crazy. Thanks for satisfying my lantern obsession, Taiwan!

 

2. The scenery

The sea, the sea! The Pacific Ocean was right there before me! If I squint hard enough, I might even see California. Ha.

SO gorgeous. The perfect mood-lifter to start the day.

The beach was filled with pebbles rather than sand, and it’s literally a crime to take them back – well okay, get all precious about your beautiful beach, why don’t you?

 

This is the look of someone in love with the beach

 

Also, the mountains. Taiwan came about when two tectonic plates, the Philippine Sea plate and the Eurasian plate, collided, and a mountain range was formed right in the middle of the island. So everywhere we went, we were treated to the sight of misty mountains

 

and fresh air. Taiwan has been hopping on the green track in recent years, by implementing little things like narrowing down smoking spaces, fining drivers who leave their engine running for longer than 3 minutes and creating wider paths for cyclists.

Finally, there was this:

The view from our hotel room at Fleur de Chine

 

The largest lake in Taiwan, the Sun Moon Lake was so named because it is made up of the Sun Lake (the shape of which resembles the sun’s) and the Moon Lake (which is curved like the crescent moon). It is 27 metres (89 feet!) deep and has a surface area of about 7.93 square kilometres, and that tiny island in the middle of the lake is called Lalu.

We took a boat out to the corners of the lake
 

My attempt at an emo shot. Ha.

 

3. Flowers

Well, of course this would be one of the highlights. Anything is better with flowers in or on it.

SO dreamy

 

What’s that? Petal-crazy, you say? Sorry, can’t hear you over the song of flowers.

 

4. The hotels

Oh, man. THAT was good. We stayed in 7 hotels in all, 2 of which came with a hot spring in the bathroom.

Our room at the Luminous Resort Hot Spring and Spa

 

That area in the left is where the hot spring is
 

At the lobby of Luminous

 

Dining hall of Luminous
 

Our room at Fleur de Chine, which overlooks the Sun Moon Lake

 

Lobby of Fleur de Chine

The view from the dining hall at the Fleur de Chine

 

Our room at Chateau de Chine, not to be confused with Fleur de Chine

 

Aside from the hot springs and the lovely rooms, there’s also the food. Breakfast and dinner buffets – yay!

There was this dinner at Luminous:

And breakfasts of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, fresh fruits … of which I forgot to take a picture of because I was too busy stuffing my face.

There were also some meals provided for that were good, like this one at a cosy little restaurant by Sun Moon Lake:

Bamboo rice

 

 

And the meal we had at the 85th floor of Taipei 101:

And this meal in a Japanese restaurant Dad and I found on one of the nights we were supposed to settle our own dinner:

Their soup came in a teapot! Too cute.

 

All that for less than S$15!

Okay, I’m starting to sound like a glutton now. Moving on!

 

5.  The streets

 

 

6. The amusement park

It was a Greek-themed amusement park. Hence:

The kiddies came out to play after their exams!

This thing spins you around 360 degrees in your seat, and then another 360 degrees in the air. See that huge spinning arm? And believe me when I say it goes fast. Dad and I decided to give it miss since we came straight after breakfast. (Did I mention how awesome hotel breakfasts are?)

And then there’s this fellow:

And his friend:

And THAT wooden horse:

I’ll take you to the candy shop

E-da wasn’t huge like Everland, but man it’s been too long since I stepped into an amusement park. With their cheery music and candy colours, it’s a place of happy things and the safe, comforting memories of childhood. Call it commercialised fun if you want, but amusement parks still hold that special allure for me. Guess that’s why so many of my novels take place in one.

 

Other notable moments of the trip:

 

1. A pretty face!

Well, hello there! ❤

 

Of course I took a photo!

 

I am inordinately in love with this shop

 

2. The subway ride

Taipei was a lot more similar to Singapore than the other cities were. I particularly liked their train station, for some reason. Their trains were a lot spacier, which made me rue our crowded trains where everyone’s packed like sardines in a can.

At Taoyuan station

 

This scene reminds me of some J-drama starring Takuya Kimura

 

Here comes the bullet train!

 

The prerequisite tourist selfie

 

See how orderly and neat everything is in the train? Plenty of leg room, too

 

 

3. Temples

I’m not big on religion, but their temples were pretty postcard-worthy.

The temple overlooking Sun Moon Lake

 

 

3. Views

There. Taiwan wasn’t so bad now, was it?

I’m back! (Or: a quick summary of my Taiwan trip)

Man, I’ve missed home. Home with its wireless network everywhere, home with its palatable food, and home with its clean, familiar environment.

Taiwan wasn’t too bad, but I remember enjoying South Korea more. I guess the Taiwan experience varies with different people, but for me the hotels were the best part of the trip, with their hot springs and breakfast buffets.

Hot spring in our bathroom at Fleur de Chine, which overlooks the Sun Moon Lake

 

 

 

Mmm, sashimi

 

I know a lot of people loooove the street food in Taiwan, but I found it pretty hard to get used to it. My dad and I aren’t really into street snacks from night markets, so we spent most of our time taking photos and chilling in cafes while the rest were going crazy with oyster vermicelli, bubble tea, fried chicken schnitzel and Taiwan sausages.

We survived on Starbucks and 7 Eleven, the latter for snacks like yoghurt and apples and nuts. The only unhealthy street food I tried was the barbequed corn on the cob, which turned out to be drenched in oil and barbeque sauce.

Shopping was okay – I got a pair of shoes, a Kindle sleeve and a trenchcoat (whee!) – but anything from international brands are crazy expensive since Taiwan imposes a 120% import tax, so a pair of Converses costs upwards of S$100. Anything locally made, though, was a steal.

The people were nice – the service they provide is definitely better than that in Singapore, so that’s a plus. I got to practice my rusty Mandarin, chatting with the service staff.

Environment wise, Taipei was the place that came closer to what I was expecting. Halfway through the trip, my dad and I got pretty nostalgic for Jeju Island and Seoul, and started making plans to go back. (YAY!)

I’ll see you again, lovely

 

That’s all for now! I know I promised lots of photos, but I’ve been swamped with emails since this morning. One week away from work, and it’s a mad rush to catch up on everything. So photos will come in a bit, pinky swear!

In the meantime, it’s Monday! I’m still in a holiday mood, so here are some happy things.

by Crosby Newell Bonsall

 

Have a great week, everyone! :0)