26 April 2009

Taiwan Trip 2009. Day 1.

Strangely, 2009 has been opening many doors for me. After almost five years, I have once again been given a chance to leave the Philippine Islands to visit to another country. My last trip to Taiwan was still back in December 2000 - it has already been 9 years since and I don't have a single recollection of what Taiwan used to be then.

As a keepsake, I am writing this long overdue blog post to detail my adventures in that foreign land. So as a forewarning, this is likely to be a very long series of posts. I decided to divide my posts by the days (depending also on the number of items in our itinerary as we did have rather lazy days).

DAY ONE, April 17
Our flight to Taiwan was at 7 in the morning and preparing all the must-do notes for all the folks I've requested to take charge of particular tasks while I wasn't around has left me.. well, sleepless and tired.

We were at the airport as early as 5.30 in the morning and proceeded with the necessary stations until we finally boarded our plane. There were only a few people flying to Taiwan so many of the seats were vacant - for those who aren't very experienced, this means you can opt to switch to more comfortable chairs once the plane has taken flight.

We arrived in Taiwan soil at 9 in the morning. From the airport, we hired a bus to drive us to our hotel, the First Hotel in the heart of Taipei. You can find it at 63 Nanking E. Rd. Sec 2, Taipei. My grandfather attests that it used to be so much bigger, but the hotel seems to have "shrunk". Thanks to Google Maps, this is where you can find the First Hotel in the Taipei map.

After settling in, my grandfather gave me a card prepaid to pay for most of travels in Taiwan (especially the MRT and buses). According to him, the card can also pay for purchases in stores.

Gramps then took us to our first destination - the Jen Dow International, where there is a stupendous vegetarian buffet. It was a vegetarian's delight. The food were amazingly delicious despite being meat free - with such an awesome variety that it was completely mind blowing. Who knew vegetarian dishes could be so delectable - they try to mimic meat products and have succeeded where many have failed.

This is my plate for the first round

The table's favorite. Best eaten when freshly made.

A popular Taiwan delicacy is the fermented tofu, which is also known as the stinky tofu. From a distance you can already tell its nearby with its distinct and pungent aroma - one that I would often associate with the public toilet and one that my aunt associates with body odor. In the entirety of the trip, I encountered this specialty many times and I was sane enough to decline after trying it at this particular restaurant. Perhaps its an acquired taste, but surely it brought my tongue nightmares that I had to wash it down (without a trace of disgust on my face) with a good gulp of almond milk.


After stuffing ourselves full, we returned to our hotel for some good rest before heading off to Taipei 101, the world's tallest building.

This is a photograph of Taipei 101, taken by my uncle, Keith Fuller

Taipei 101 is known for many things, including boasting rights for the fastest ascending elevator with the speed of 1010m per minute. It also has the largest super wind damper sphere in the world weighing 660tons and measuring up to 5.5 meters. Being an specialist of earthquake-resistant infrastructures, my uncle really seems to have taken a particular interest in this building.

In addition to being tall, this building also has a mall. Below are pictures of the interior of Taipei 101.

We did some groceries at their supermarket. There were a lot of interesting stuff we found there like.. Honey Grains for better skin, good wines, pork floss and my favorite, Black Squid Ink Bread. (It's literally black! Too bad I wasn't able to take a photo of this). For those shopping, please be advised that you'd have to pay for the plastic bags if you want the sales lady to put your purchases in them - it's best to bring a big bag or an extra one to put your buys in.

We weren't able to go to the balcony of the Taipei 101 because it was raining on the day we visited, but my uncle returned a few days later and below is one of the pictures of the view he managed to capture from up there.


Being young, I wanted to check out the night market in Taipei. From Taipei 101, there is a complimentary bus that brings passengers to the nearest MRT station. There my grandfather, uncle and I took the train all the way to JianTan where the biggest night market can be found. Posted below is the map of the MRT of Taipei, which I found lying in the vast cyber space.

It is nice to note that while riding escalators, it is best to keep to the right if you are not in a hurry. The left side of the escalator is reserved for passengers who would like to climb or run up or down the stairs of the escalator than just ride at its slow, steady pace.

The night market, although is very fun to look with all its varied offers, I couldn't help but feel that the items can easily be purchased here in the Philippines. Not to mention, I did feel a bit awkward shopping with my uncle and grandfather. Hehe..

We returned to our hotel room without making any purchases. Completely exhausted. Thus ends Day 1 of our Taiwan trip.

To check out other hotels in Taipei, click here.


Michelle Ngo said...

What!! Pumunta ka din ng Taiwan?? Kami din... nung Holy Week. Though your food looks way better than what we ate...sigh!

Kwagoo said...

Yup. Pero after Holy Week kami pumunta. Waaah! Sarap naman ng buhay mo, parang ang dalas nyo mag out of town and out of the country ah!

Did you eat at the vegetarian resto too? The food is never the same there daw eh. :D