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 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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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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