Taiwan Trip Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 6: We were driverless from day 6 onwards as we decided to D.I.Y the rest of our Taiwan trip.

Took taxies from La Vida Hotel to Taichung High Speed Rail (HSR) Station to catch a train up north to Taipei again. I bought the tickets online and printed out redemption letters to collect the physical tickets.

More information on the HSR site: https://www.thsrc.com.tw/index_en.html?force=1

We wanted to give Xi En the chance to take a HSR as he was curious about trains when he was younger. One of his dreams is to be an MRT driver/planner. Smile

We bought “railway bento” at the railway station while waiting for our train. Since it looks like a must-do, we bought a few variety of the bentos for lunch. They were a fairly huge portion but tasted quite mediocre. It was good to fill the stomach nonetheless.

Note that the bentos are only sold during specific timings. If you are not after the bentos, there are some cafes , McDonald’s at the station.

HSR train was clean, comfortable and fast of course. We reached Taipei in no time and made our way to the Airbnb I booked for the last leg of our trip.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 IMG_1763

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_1769

IMG_1821

IMG_1823

IMG_1800

The only Airbnb place I booked for this trip turned out to be a disappointment. The photos shown on Airbnb and the actual place were quite different. Furthermore, there were only 1 usable bathroom as the other were too cramped to shower in. All these were not stated in the descriptions. The comments on Airbnb seemed to be positive but I should have been more careful to sieve out the type of travellers and the ambiguity of the photos.

The host was also very mindful of asking us to keep our volume down once we stepped out of the unit. I strongly suspect he might have complains of hosting his place as a Airbnb. Many countries are still not for strangers going in and out of their shared premises.

Anyway, the risk of renting an Airbnb is as such. We had 2 good experiences in Melbourne. Maybe that led to a greater disappointment when Taipei’s turned out differently.

The saving grace was, we found a nice soya bean curb and you tiao (doughstick) breakfast joint nearby – and they tasted really good!

Anyway, it was afternoon after we settled down. We headed out on trains to visit Taipei 101 and did a little shopping. No one was really interested in Taipei 101 so only Kim took Xi En up as he was the curious one. That way, we saved some money too. Open-mouthed smile

Dinner was a non-affair at Ding Tai Feng. The very first time I had Ding Tai Feng was in Taipei 13 years ago; way before their debut to Singapore! It just kind of make sense to have xiao long bao at Ding Tai Feng when you visit Taipei. As usual, I over-ordered and we ate a feast. Smile Standard of the food was good in Taipei and the prices were slightly cheaper than in Singapore.

IMG_1826

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That marked the end of our uneventful 3/4 day in Taipei. Exhaustion was setting in for everyone especially Eizac as we were near the end of the trip.

Next up: Our last full day in Taipei before we head home.

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Taiwan Trip Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 5: Just as we were getting used to our minsu at Miaoli, we had to leave for Taichung. With most of our family trips, we try to have at least 2 nights of stay at each accommodation to allow sufficient exploration and rest. Glad we did that.

After the usual breakfast at the minsu, we bid farewell to our hosts, took the mandatory photos and packed our bags into the driver’s car. A note on the driver – he left us for a day and drove all the way back to Taipei and then back again to pick us up! I felt bad after knowing that’s what he had to do. Most travel companies might charge a night of accommodation for the driver since we didn’t use his service for a day, but Hong Tour didn’t do so. Instead, he went off to do a pick up for other clients and came back 2 nights later to drive us for another day of tour towards Taichung. Very blessed to encounter an honest and accommodating tour company.

First stop was:

1) Xinshe Sea of Flower Festival (新社花海)

This is not a permanent place but one which is seasonal. Normally it takes place from early Nov to early Dec each year. Google the Chinese name to check the season each other or just ask your local accommodation folks; they will know.

We decided to visit because my mother loves flowers. But we kinda of choose the wrong day to visit – on a weekend. Sad smile Going with our itinerary, it was tough to move it around. So we went ahead despite knowing that it will be crowded. Thankfully, we headed in early at the advice of our driver and managed to skip the car-crowd. It is a one way in and one way out road; so strongly advisable to go early or get stuck in the traffic jam.

When we reached there, it was a sea of PEOPLE together with the sea of flowers….. Furthermore, it was a really sunny day; thus making the walk around the exhibits a little uncomfortable.

We rushed through the flowers, took some shots and dashed into the food market next to the festival for some reprise. It is similar to our pasar malam or the Taiwan night markets; except it’s sheltered. We bought some street food, ate and drank and was out of the place by 12-1pm.

Will recommend this place if you are a flower lover but do go on a weekday or head in early to avoid crowds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

P1080567

P1080586

P1080594

P1080597

P1080563

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2) Master of Mushroom Restaurant (菇神)

I was searching for a place nearby Xinshe to have lunch and learnt from our driver that Master of Mushroom is nearby. Saw online that most have good things to say about this mushroom place.

We stopped here for lunch and it was crowded! Thankfully our driver helped to call ahead and make a reservation for us. We took a few hot pot sets and added more mushroom dishes. It was more than enough (as usual). Meal was alright, though I won’t rate it a must-go/must-eat place. The mushroom drink tasted like “bird-nest drink”. It was a convenient stop-over place for lunch as it was near to Xinshe. There was an in-house shop where we bought more mushroom products as souvenirs for friends.

IMG_1672

IMG_1671

IMG_1662

Website: http://0425822585.tai-chung.com.tw/

3) Xinshe / Taichung Go-Karting (新社卡丁車)

I first read about Go-karting in Taichung from one of my blogger’s friend’s (Miracule) blog. She used the same Tour Taiwan company. I thought my thrill-seeking boy will love that. So I requested Wendy from Hong Tour to add in Go-Karting in our schedule. There was one such track in Xinshe and we went there after lunch. It is a small track but great that they allowed younger children to ride with one adult. I didn’t take note of the age limit, but recalled that there were kids who looked as young as 5 to 6 years old. Xi En was 6 years old when he took the ride next to me.

This has to be one of the highlights of the trip for both of us. Only we took the go-kart while the the rest waited around and entertained Eizac with some arcade-like games. My memory failed me – but I remember the price for go-karting in Taiwan was way cheaper than in Singapore. So it is worth a go if you have children who will enjoy such activities. Mine do. Smile

It is quite safe as the adult has the control of the pedal and the steering wheel. The child has a dummy steering wheel. Open-mouthed smile

Xi En kept asking me to accelerate but I was too good a driver to do so! haha. There were other sole adult drivers who were there for the speed and thrill. I was just a mother trying to protect my son by letting them go ahead of me and keeping Xi En at the safer edges. Too scarily-cat!

P1080645

P1080660

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A raw unedited short video of our go-karting experience:

https://youtu.be/k9YwWaMAFmw

4) Carton King (纸箱王 – 台中.大坑店)

There are actually a few Carton King outlets in Taiwan. The one in Taichung is one of their main shop and thus is bigger than the rest. I misread some reviews online that it isn’t worth going and asked the tour company to drop this place. But our driver encourage us to go as the one in Taichung have good reviews. We are glad we changed our mind and went in the end.

This was the most expensive entrance fee of all the tourist places we went to. Entrance fee is NTD200. You can only redeem NTD100 for products.

Nonetheless, we had a good afternoon exploring all the huge structures made from cartons. The kids could collect stamps from various “stations” around the premise and redeem a small gift after collecting all the stamps.

We bought yummy honey biscuits from the honey shop and had fun eating and drinking out of cardboard trays/holders. It is a novelty place and recommended for first timers. If you have time, you might like to try out their steamboat meals served out of cardboard. We were full from lunch and thus only tried out their tea sets which were good too!

IMG_1725

P1080670

P1080709

P1080714

P1080677

P1080744

P1080728

P1080730

IMG_1716

P1080738

P1080742

P1080764

IMG_1712

P1080737

Website: http://www.cartonking.com.tw/

5) La Vida Hotel (Taichung) + Feng Chia Night Market

We ended the day by checking into La Vida Taichung hotel and walking through the night market. This hotel was undisputable the best stay in our Taiwan trip. The regret is we only stayed one night!!!

Hotel was strategically located just 2 mins walk from the famous Feng Chia Night Market  – managed to do some shopping here. We took turns to visit the night market – Edwin and I went down 3 times! – because we could take turns to watch the kids since the hotel is just next door to the night market. This is the only night market we could walk properly without the kids….

For the food – we queued wherever there was a Q! Tried a bit of everything; street food is best eaten piping hot! Smile with tongue out

We also had the best sleep here with cosy big beds and clean toilets with a huge bathtub! The breakfast buffet was a decent good spread and it was about 20 mins taxi ride to Taichung High Speed Rail.

Highly recommended to stay here if you are visiting Taichung.

P1080785

P1080792

P1080793

IMG_1730

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ended exhausting Day 5 with a hot tub bubble bath while watching TV – a luxury especially for Xi En! Smile

IMG_4537

Read more about our Taiwan trip below:

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Taiwan Trip Day 4 (Miaoli : Flying Cow Ranch)

After a really cold night at Miaoli minsu, we woke up to sunshine which was really welcoming.

We didn’t go with our driver today as we intend to spend the whole day at Flying Cow Ranch. Instead we paid a transport fee to our minsu owners to ferry us to and fro and thereafter to a fruit picking farm as well.

Flying Cow Ranch (飛牛牧場)

This is one of the most visited place in Miaoli area. It is designed for tourists.

You can choose to stay at the premise or do a day trip which is what we did.

We didn’t managed to take part in the D.I.Y classes because we didn’t plan properly and missed the timings. Confused smile If you are staying there, chances are you can have more time to explore the farm and register in the D.I.Y classes at a more timely fashion. And if the kids are tired, there is the option to head back to the accommodation for a breather before continuing with the activities.

But of course, we tried to save money by staying at a minsu nearby.

Eizac was really tired by mid day and the 2 grandmothers took turn to watch him nap while the rest of us walked the farm. Thank God for grandmothers. Smile

Still, it was a fun day (for some of us) out at the farm; slipping F.O.C fresh milk (it’s really good!), eating take-outs, feeding sheep, taking the train, playing at the playground, chasing butterflies and many more.

If we do head back here, I am likely to choose a night of accommodation in-house so we have more time and a resting place in between.

IMG_1529

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Official website of Flying Cow Ranch: http://www.flyingcow.com.tw/

Read more about our Taiwan trip below:

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei