Taiwan Trip Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Day 7: It was a tough night resting at the Airbnb place. Not-so-clean beddings aside, the walls between the rooms were thin and everyone’s movements were amplified.

We left after breakfast to check out the Eslite bookstore nearby, did some shopping at the Taipei Main Station (and got lost) and had lunch at one of the food courts as we found a stall selling the vegetarian food that my mother really wanted to try.

Eslite bookstore is a huge lifestyle type of bookstore. We bought some books and wooden puzzle toys. They aren’t cheap but we liked some of the items we can’t find in Singapore.

Initially we had plans to visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall to see the changing of guards or go to the Taipei Children Amusement Park or head to Wu Fen Pu to do some wholesale shopping.

In the end, we did none of the above due to logistics issue and overall fatigue. We decided the easiest place was to go to Daan Park for the kids to run at the playground. Alas, the main playground was undergoing renovation when we where there.

As it was drizzling by dinner time so we decided on dinner at a cafe just downstairs our apartment. It was an non-affair and the food was almost horrible. I had to console myself by going grocery shopping! haha – that’s how “auntie” I can be. Grocery shopping is a must-do in every country I travel too. Food is my strength and weakness! I just had to buy and lug back that 10 boxes of Sunnyhills pineapple tarts even when the husband gave me the blackest face. Confused smile

On hind sight, I will probably suggest skipping Daan Park as it was just another other park/playground you can find in Singapore. Instead, I will opt to go to Jiu Fen or Shi Fen even if the journey is longer and further. Or I will head into Ximending to shop and eat in the novelty restaurants there.

Well.. that’s the whole idea of travelling.. we choose otherwise due to circumstances but as long as the whole family is safe and had a reasonably fun time exploring the country, we are good. Smile

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And that concluded our Taiwan 2015 family trip. It was a different experience from our Melbourne trip the year before as Eizac was still moving around in a stroller. This trip, Eizac is more mobile and understood more stuff but also more clingy. We didn’t get to do everything on our “checklist” but we experienced, we smelt, we ate, we learnt Taiwan. Hoping Xi En and Eizac will remember all their trips through this blog and the videos their father painstakingly edited.

A special mention and thanks to the Hong Tours and the driver (Xiao Lee) who took us around and packed us breakfast due to our early morning flight. Recommended if you need a driver in Taiwan. Smile

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“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
Pat Conroy

Read more on 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 – Hao Wang Jiao Minsu (好望角民宿) > Fruit Picking

Day 4:

I choose a minsu in Maoli as there were very few good and affordable options in Miaoli. We almost went with F Hotel Sanyi but I cancelled the booking after I had good correspondences with the owner – Mary at Hao Wang Jiao ( 好望角民宿). I chanced upon good reviews on Tripadvisor and thought this will be a good alternative to hotels. Wendy, our travel guide, recommended hot springs hotels/accommodations but we are not huge fans of hot springs so decided to go for a mountainside minsu. Smile

Mary and her husband run Hao Wang Jiao minsu together. Their relatives run a camp site just down the hill – more suitable for locals.

We took 2 attic rooms which came with pine wood flooring, walls and stairs. Our room has a real attic room which can sleep a total of 7 to 8 pax; whereas my in-laws took the room next to ours with 2 huge beds good for 4 pax. The rental is very affordable as compared to Flying Cow Ranch and others nearby.

The downside: There is a flight of stairs to climb up to the rooms. And the rooms/bathrooms are a little dated in look and feel. Cleanliness and condition of the place is about 8/10 but still acceptable for a short stay.

The upside: The hospitality of the hosts – Mary and her husband – is superb! They welcomed us warmly when we reached. Helped to carry our luggage up the stairs and invited us downstairs with hot tea and some biscuits. We had home cooked breakfast on 2 mornings and it felt like they are relatives after a while! Their black dog was shy but otherwise all of them were a pleasure to mingle with. After the 2nd day, it felt like home!

There are 2 other rooms on the ground floor, but Mary said the attic rooms are better. Smile Mary’s husband (I can’t remember his name!) did most of the improvement works around the hill which are interesting when you looked closely.

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Mary’s husband and sister-in-law (we needed 2 cars) drove us to the Flying Cow Ranch (more about that on next post) and thereafter we requested to go fruit picking. They kindly picked us up after lunch and drove us to a local fruit picking farm. My mum is a huge fan of fruit picking. I can’t say it’s a proper farm; but more of a random, neighbourhood sort that only the locals might know. We paid a nominal fee to enter the land with plastic bags to pick up to a few kgs each. There were only oranges and persimmons in session; and they were grew on steep slopes. But we had good fun cutting, eating and selecting the best to pack. My two city kids were fighting to be the one to cut the fruits; clearly city kids. ^_^

We picked more than enough and feasted on yummy oranges for the next few days; and had bags to bless our driver and left some for the next guests at Hao Wang Jiao.

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After our fruitful fruit-picking-cum-eating session, we decided to eat in for the night and Mary offered to help us buy local noodles. We ordered a few variety but there weren’t any vegetarian options in the noodle shop (my mum is a vegetarian). Mary kindly offered to go to her sister-in-law’s house down the hill to grab some vegetables to stir-fry for my mum!

Xi En and I tagged along to harvest the greens – it’s a fun adventure for the city kid! And my mum – she simply loves from field-to-plate food produces. Smile

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We had a relaxing evening at Hao Wang Jiao; chatting and sipping tea with the hosts. The kids either ran around the compound or up and down the stairs.

There were nothing much to do, no high-technology cable TV to watch but that’s the whole point – we didn’t want to do much except to laze around and enjoy the fresh air.

Our hosts are really sunny and down-to-earth people and that made the whole minsu experience a pleasant one.

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Will recommend this place if you don’t mind roughing it out a little in a more rustic place. You will need to speak Mandarin as hosts are not proficient in English.

Their website: http://www.8898go.com/hwj/

I communicated with most Taiwanese via WeChat or LINE. Some use whatsapp as well. Will be useful to have those communications apps if you are planning to stay in minsu or Airbnb. Smile

Next up: Day trip to Flying Cow Ranch

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 2: Yilan (whole day tour)

Read more about our first day/night after arrival at Taipei and arrival at Yilan.

Day 2 started with a good hearty breakfast at the minsu we booked for 2 nights. The home cooked breakfast was good especially the pumpkin soya bean milk! I had double glasses!

Thereafter our friendly driver came to pick us up to the first stop of the day:

Happiness 20 Farm (幸福20號農場)

This place was recommended by the travel planner (Hong Tours), Wendy. With young kids, I wanted a place where they can feed some animals and experience some farm activities.

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However, it was a little different from my expectations. There were very few animals to begin with. So don’t come expecting an Australia type of farm where there cows to milk or excited sheep to feed a bottle to.

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BUT there are many backdrops for photography opportunities if you look for the details that the owner had installed around the small farm.

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We also had fun with 2 main things:

1) D.I.Y course

After a quick walk through the farm discovered few animals, we opt to take up the D.I.Y. course – Making of Muah Chee (Glutinous Rice Ball). There are different D.I.Y courses available each day. And for bigger groups, you can pre-book pizza making and etc. The boys had fun using flour and water to make the dough and shape the muah chee together with their grandparents. Thereafter, they steam it for us and we ate it! Open-mouthed smile Xi En actually liked the taste of Muah Chee!

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2) Bubbles

It takes very little to make a kids’ day actually. There was this huge tank of bubble soap mixture which we discovered a little late during our time at the farm. There were big “wands” to make big bubbles which thrilled the kids! It was just that simple as they didn’t get to experience such big bubbles in Singapore.

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I will recommend Happiness 20 Farm if you are travelling with young kids. Also just spend the money to do the D.I.Y courses (worth it!) and eat something at the cafe. French fries with kids and even older grandmother works any time. Smile

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Entrance Fee: NTD100 per person (that’s about S$4.50) – can be offset with spending in the farm/food options

Website: http://www.20happy.com/English/about.html

The good thing about all these little farms/tourist places in Taiwan is that most of the places charge a nominal entrance fee which you can offset with spending. Essentially, that means you don’t actually pay any entrance fee when you redeem it with items/activities.

Lucky Art Crayon Factory (Yilan)

Our 2nd stop was the Lucky Art Crayon Factory. I requested for this place as I heard good reviews from friends.

Here, we moved from one station to another systemically. First we used the crayons to draw and color. Next, check out the erasable crayons.

Thereafter we went on to hammering together marker pens and making some crayons. All of which you can bring home.

I have 7 pax and so you can imagine how many we made and brought home! In the end, we gifted some to friends when we reached home.

There is also a “coloring tattoo” corner for the kids to choose stencils and color them. Those who do not like face/hand painting can busy themselves at the dress-up rooms where there are costumes and masks.

Eizac was extremely tired and uncooperative when we are at the factory and thus half of my time was spent pacifying him and carrying him around.

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Conclusion: Once again, if you have kids who might enjoy D.I.Y , understand how crayons are made or like doodling/painting, this will be a good stop.

Entrance Fee: NTD200 per person – can be offset with spending

National Arts Center (傳統藝術中心)

This is a cultural place with the surroundings set in traditional bricks shop houses building. It is a very touristy place with some shops, eateries, souvenirs shops and some payable courses you are take part in. There are also some operas and artists roaming the streets with performance from time to time.

There is a “foodcourt” in this place in which we settled our lunch. The food isn’t anything to shout about here but they fill the stomach with average standard.

There is also a big field with some kiddy cartoon characters on display for photography opportunity.

You can possibly spend 2 to 3 hours here if you eat, shop and walk around the entire premise.

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If you are not a history buff or not keen in traditional arts, I won’t recommend coming here. It is a little too commercialized in my opinion. Perhaps Jiu Fen or Shi Fen near Taipei will be a better option to sample local foods while walking through the bricks steps.

Entrance Fee: NT150 per person or less for seniors (no offsetting here)

I found this chinese blog site with photos and explanation of this place. I accidentally deleted most of my photos for the first leg so can’t share much photos. If you can read Mandarin: http://viablog.okmall.tw/blogview.php?blogid=221. If you can only read English, just type in National Center for Traditional Arts in Tripadvisor.

After lunch here, it was around 3pm and we headed back to the minsu for a rest and break. Eizac was especially exhausted with the travelling and lack of afternoon nap. Our driver kindly waited at the minsu for us till it was time to head out to Luodong night market. The plus point of hiring a driver is that you can change the itinerary according to your family’s needs.

Luodong night market (羅東夜市)

This is the biggest night market in Luodong/Yilan area. Some people will choose to live around this night market so that they can walk here. Initially we wanted to do so but glad we opt to live 10 mins drive to the market instead. It was quieter to live a bit further away and turned out the kids weren’t a huge fan of Taiwan night markets. They didn’t like the smoke from the BBQ food eateries and generally didn’t like being shorter than the stalls! It was physically tiring for us to carry the kids and so that made the experience quite uncomfortable and tiring.

We ended up eating at a fast food place with aircon and seats! haha..

I love night markets if I were with friends or doing a couple trip. But with kids and older grandparents in the group, I will think twice before doing another night market trip.

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That pretty much ended our tiring 2nd day in Yilan.

For reference, our travel planner, Wendy, initially planned the following:

亞典蛋糕及橘之鄉–幸福二十農場DIY–幾米公園–蠟筆工廠DIY –傳統藝術中心–羅東夜市

Yiadian cake and orange county–happiness 20 DIY—Jimmy Park– Crayon Factory — Traditional Art Center –Luodong market (night)

But we skipped 2 of the places as it’s exhausting enough for the kids.

Read more on our Taiwan trip:

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

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