Tag Archive | "Taipei"

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

When I first traveled solo series: Room #205

Posted on 17 July 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Night bus

Photo taken by Geoff LMV

I was looking at the sleeping streets in the window on my right. A bit dazed, I told myself everyone must be under their sheets by now. The driver pulled over beside a building that looks to be closed already. Then he went down the bus and opened the cargo compartment. Ah this must be our stop.

Everyone started going down and waited for their luggage. I looked around like a confused cat thinking where should I go. Some waited on the side of the road, they must be looking for a cab.  I continued walking with the map to the hotel in my hand. Hmmm where are the signs, where is the bridge. I found myself on the other side of the building, south side I presume so I walked towards the intersection and there I found a bridge. Unsure if it was the right bridge I took my first step then the other and the other. As I was walking I saw a 7eleven at the crossing street but thought that it’s a bit far from how I understood the hotel’s word. I looked on the other side but saw no other so I decided to go down on the 7eleven side of the bridge. I walked towards it but slowly realized that no this couldn’t be it. I turned around, walked around the stairs again and there I found in a not so obvious location the 7eleven I was looking for.

I took a moment with my map again, it said to make a right in an alley then a left. So I went in. An empty alley that has an improvised observation post in the corner inside. Nobody was around only that suspiciously looking man in the post that I didn’t want to deal with at a strangely time. After a few knocks and tries on some random doors I realized there’s still a pathway if I make a turn inside. So that’s why the map said to make a left! And there the hotel’s doorstep was waiting in front of me.

I entered my access code and slowly the door opened. The reception was empty, even the common room empty. It felt strange like someone breaking in but it also felt like going home late to your house while everybody is sleeping.

Room #205 that is my room and when I came in everything was ready.

Comments (0)

Baler Surf & Music Festival

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Long Story – it’s Short!

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Dreidel Regala

When I went to Taiwan some weeks back I knew I had to go back. It was only a week long trip and I was busy running around a couple of cities, jumping on buses, and catching trains. I knew very much it’s considered a big no-no for travelers to do it this way – I mean there’s just no way experiences will be deep more so it ain’t relaxing at all. But for a corporate worker like me, this is the only way I know I can. I know that already, accepted it, and tossed all my complaining at the back… after all I still need to work it so I can make the dreaming into reality even for just a tiny sip of the cup.

In these short trips we are bound to miss some things. Just like me missing Taipei Zoo and seeing the cute Panda bears when I was in Taiwan. Pandas are not native to Taiwan, they came in from China but even so these huggable creatures are definitely an interesting sight.

Another I consider a “miss” are Yehliu and Jiufen Old Street, technically I did not miss these two because I did pay a visit to these places but due to the awful weather the stop was not fun. Rain and cloud hampered my view but these two are a definite must. Yehliu’s unique rock formation is remarkable and picture perfect so next time I’ll make sure the sun is high and winds are kept to a minimum.

Yehliu on upper right corner

Yehliu on upper right corner

While I was able to get a few snapshots of Yehliu, Jiufen on the other hand had none when I was there. I wasn’t aware of the impending Taiwan holiday when I planned my trip to which resulted in an overcrowded Jiufen. It was awful that I could barely enjoy the food because every stall was busy. On other news the overlooking view of Jiufen was caught M.I.A. too due to the heavy cloud… yeah I thought the cool February is perfect but I guess not. My timing was not right but Jiufen’s Old Street looked really nice. Sometimes though it’s the itinerary that’s too busy…. ahhh I remember going to Kamotes Island in Cebu wherein I never got to try the beach when I was there!

Kamotes Island, Cebu

Kamotes Island, Cebu

On a different angle missing out is not all about the not so good first time. Sometimes when something so nice happened you just want to prolong it… well that’s the case when I was in Krabi Thailand. Known for its great beaches (yes “beaches” not just one).

Maya Bay, Krabi

Maya Bay, Krabi

We were able to see the beautiful islands under the good sun but time flies so fast on the good ones. Just like my stay in Bantayan, Cebu where quiet beautiful white beach lies.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Or when you are in a music festival that you never want to stop!

Baler Surf & Music Festival

Baler Surf & Music Festival

So if we can’t have those long trips we’ll just have to keep coming back.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Taking Formosa

Posted on 14 March 2012 by Dreidel Regala

Remember when I said I’m a milk tea fanatic??? well a few weeks ago I came to a place where the drink is really popular – Taiwan. And yeah I wasn’t disappointed, it was like every corner had a kiosk for milk tea. The taste was no stranger to me since we have the milk tea craze in Manila already but of course having it in Taiwan makes it feel more original.

My time in Taiwan wasn’t all about milk tea. There were a lot of things to see there too. While it wasn’t such a popular destination for travelers, I enjoyed it because it means locals are not outnumbered by foreigners which makes the experience more authentic.  And may I elaborate that Taiwanese people are really friendly and approachable. No doubt they are a Chinese speaking nation with only a few people knowing outside language like English but that didn’t stop them from helping me out in directions or anything else.

It was fun though, all those elaborate charade gestures all over the place but in any case it always helps to have some pocket sized notes for instant translations you can show them, after all not everyone understands that when you’re pointing “there” then it means “there”. Anyways Taiwan in general is very tourist friendly in my opinion that’s why I didn’t get lost at all, well except when I read the map upside down and walked to the opposite direction gaaahhh.

The only villain in my trip was the weather. I came in at the end of February, to which I thought it’ll be something dry and cool as I read that’ll be the time Spring enters. It’s true though, Spring entered which is why the ever so famous Cherry Blossoms from Japan was already starting to blossom around the area of Maokong Tea Plantation.  I always wanted to see Sakura, it reminded me of anime scenes or korean dramas. But the entire time I was in Taiwan it was raining or gloomy which made it much colder to the already cold temp. Oh well if I let the weather ruin the trip then it’ll be a waste.

Taiwan's Sakura

Taiwan’s Sakura

After some time of strolling around Taipei I went to the Northeast Coast to see the unusual rock formations in Yehliu. Yehliu is facing the Pacific Ocean and on its coast lies the oddly shaped rocks. Pretty interesting and unique which is why visitors should check it out. Another destination in the Northeast Coast is Jiufen. The Old Street in Jiufen is home to different kinds of food and souvenirs plus the overlooking view is awesome according to what I read… it was just unfortunate that the awful weather brought in massive clouds causing me to not see anything darn. You can of course do both on just a day trip from Taipei, oh did I mention buses are very efficient just don’t sit on designated priority seats for elders and do grab an Easy Card to make commute very convenient.

Taipei and Yehliu

Taipei and Yehliu

Another place I loved in Taiwan is Hualien County. Hualien is the gateway to Taroko Gorge where awesome mountains and cliffs are found. I loved the feel in this place, it’s so chill and relaxed. You can take a bike or scooter around the Taroko park but be careful so you won’t fumble like my friend I met in the hostel who slid through the slippery road, anyways just a little caution will do you fine. Oh by the way Hualien is 2 hours by high speed train so it’s better to stay here rather than doing a day trip, after all the train ride is already a sight – the Pacific on your left and lush mountains on your right.

Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge

I was just a little sad for not seeing the cute Panda bears in Taipei zoo which is why I’ll definitely be back, with a sun of course, to see more of Taiwan – Alishan, Sun Moon Lake just some in my checklist. Til then Formosa :)

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Taiwan a Go?

Posted on 29 August 2011 by Dreidel Regala

As I impulsively booked a round trip ticket for my early 2012 destination, I was quickly drawn to Taiwan. I remember a friend recently mentioned about it being mostly an affordable destination so the name is so fresh in my head that I quickly hit the book button without any further plans in mind. I know of Taipei 101 but that was it. And since I’m doing it alone, I have to make it extra interesting (or try). Check out the tourist spots, take the local commute, meet some locals, figure how to communicate and get lost. So is Taiwan really worth a stopover? Let’s find out.

Formerly known as Formosa, the island is found on the east of Asia somewhere between Shanghai, China – Batanes, Philippines – Hong Kong. Upon searching for budget flights I found a couple: AirAsia from Kota Kinabalu & Kuala Lumpur, Cebu Pacific & Philippine Airlines from Manila, Zest Airways from Kalibo(PHL), Dragonair from Hong Kong, Jetstar from Osaka & Singapore, and Tiger from Singapore. Great! Finding a budget line is a good plus already. Now let’s see visas. As per TECO’s website, entry to Taiwan as a tourist requires a visa but you must be aware that some countries are exempted (30 or 90 days) like most European countries, Canada, S. Korea, Malaysia, US and many more. Better check this website for further details so you can start getting your visa requirements too.

What about weather? Well I found that Taiwan’s got 4 seasons – spring happens March to May, summer on June to August, autumn from September to November and winter during December to February with typhoons coming between summer and autumn. This should be perfect since I’m set for late February so it will be nice to experience winter a little for someone coming from a tropical country.

Taipei streets during winter

For sights these are the ones I particularly grew interest in then included some that might interest others, check them out. The National Palace Museum, dubbed as the holder of some fine Chinese art though some say it’s particularly focused on China rather than Taiwan. And for a free tour (10am & 3pm) I’ll definitely take my chance to see some cool caligraphies or jades. The Maokong Gondola, a good way to get a good view of Taipei from aboard a gondola (cable car) then make a stop to grab a cup of tea. Better plan this on a weekend though as I heard queues are quite long and could get horridly hot especially inside the gondola. Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, if you heard of the name then this is a great place to know more about the man and the history of China and Taiwan. Yangmingshan National Park, this is a must for some relaxing down time and picture taking with nature. It is a bit of a travel though but commute seems to be easy from what I heard. And oh yeah, end of february is supposedly the start of cherry blossoms!

Cherry blossom in Yangmingshan park

Long Shan Temple, Taiwan has got a lot of temple but this is one of the favorites because of the interiors and craftmanships of the place. And of course Taipei 101, hi-speed elevators can take you up the observation deck for a good panoramic view of Taipei but I heard that it could get expensive, you can check the mall in the building though.

Well judging by the list of sights above (and many more I am undecided of), Taiwan does look worthy of checking out. Add the culture and authentic food, this could very well be an interesting destination. But can I afford it? How much do I need for the essentials?

First of, let’s check the currency. Taiwan uses New Taiwanese (NT) dollar nationwide which means we have to exchange any other we have on our pockets to be able to use them. As of this writing (8/29/11) the fx rates are NT$1 = US$0.034, and for me it’s NT$1 = Php1.45. For a place to stay, I checked hostelworld.com and found that there are several good & cheap hostels in Taipei. Judging from online reviews these are some of the favorites: Flip Flop, Star, Homey and Eight Elephants with prices averaging to NT$400-550/night. Not bad I say but let’s see when we actually get to stay there.  As for food based on LonelyPlanet’s estimates food costs should be around NT$200-300/day. And lastly transportation, taking the public transport (ie. bus, mrt) should be the most convenient & cheapest way according to someone from Taipei that I met before. Fares look relatively cheap so my estimate if just going around Taipei would probably be around NT$50-100/day. Other miscellaneous costs to keep in mind are entrance fees, shopping expense and maybe a mobile service provider.

That’s it. All in all I believe Taiwan is doable based on my budget and there are plenty of interesting places to visit. My verdict – yeah it’s worth a stop so I’m going for it in february! Now I just need to figure out how to brave the language gap as Taiwan generally doesn’t speak English. Thinking of taking some Mandarin classes or maybe not haha.

Taiwan here we come!

[Updated: I took on the trip and this is what happened – Taking Formosa]

Comments (0)

    Booking.com Booking.com
    Are you on twitter?
    Join #TTOT the biggest gathering of travelers.
    Got any comments or suggestions? Lemme hear them, send to info@whystopover.com

    Follow me

    Enter your email address below to subscribe to this blog.

    %d bloggers like this: