Category Archives: Attractions

Taiwan trip 22 Dec – 4 Jan 2014 (Day 5)

Day 5: Taichung – Miyahara – Gaomei Wetland – Fengjia Night Market

We woke up really early to make sure we able to reach Taipei Main Station by 9am.  Thanks to my brother-in-law for waking up early to send us to the Qilian Metro station at 7am. Pai seh pai seh…

We took TRA train and not THSR for money saving.  Well, not really a budget travelling trip but due to the 2 weeks long trip, money should be spend wisely.  This was what we usually eat in our breakfast from 7-Eleven ready made breakfast.  Just heat-up in the microwave.

Usual breakfast bought in 7-Eleven

Usual breakfast bought in 7-Eleven

Hours in the train was pretty bored…

Domo and Norman were bored too...

Domo and Norman were bored too…

In the train

In the train

 

Although it took about 2 hours 15 minutes to arrive Taichung Train Station. The price of the ticket is TWD$375 = S$15.60 (one way). To be safe, if your itinerary is taking train on the peak hour, it is best to purchase the tickets in advanced either through TRA website or to purchase at least the day before departure at the TRA ticket counter.  TRA ticket counters can be found in all the TRA stations.  As for us, we had purchased the tickets before we left Singapore. 😛

We saw MOS Burger Restaurant in the Taichung Train Station, so we gave it a try to check out if there were any differences with the MOS in Singapore.  Well, indeed there were differences.  They do have special festive burger for Christmas season such as Turkey Burger.  But we did not order that, we ordered the Bacon Beef Egg Burger and a cup of green tea with milk.  Both were fairly good… but i feel green tea with  milk was poured too much though. :S

Taiwan MOS Burger Menu
Taiwan MOS Burger Menu
Green Tea Milk -- milky

Green Tea Milk — milky

 

Bacon Beef Egg Burger - Good!
Bacon Beef Egg Burger – Good!

After our so called early lunch, we walked to our hotel.  It took about 7 minutes walk from the train station and we arrived CityInn Hotel.  The hotel was fairly new.  We met only one group of Singaporeans staying in this hotel..  Most of the customers were from Hong Kong.

Check-in City Inn Hotel

Check-in CityInn Hotel

City Inn Hotel Lobby Area

CityInn Hotel Lobby Area

Let’s check out the room…

City Inn Hotel Bed

CityInn Hotel Bed

City Inn Hotel Desk

CityInn Hotel Desk

Mirror & Basin

Mirror & Basin

Bathroom

Bathroom

What?  A condom is available for use?

What? A condom was provided?

The room is indeed small.  The bathroom is pretty large.  We were happy with the room, as we felt even though the room is small but we really satisfied with the cleanliness.  What added point most was the hotel is fairly new.   Moreover, it is a very considerate hotel… complete toiletries set were provided and an additional item also provided such as condom.

If you are planning to visit Taichung,  I strongly recommend you to stay in this hotel only if you do not mind small room.  Check out the hotel for more info by clicking here

As soon we left our luggage in the room, we commenced our Taichung exploration.  If you have the time, there are many things to see and walk in Taichung city.  But for us, our time was  limited.  Here a glance of how Taichung city like….

Taichung

Taichung oh Taichung…. you are too large for us to walk for just two days….

About 15 minutes of walking distance from the hotel, we arrived Miyahara.  A dessert, tea and ice-cream parlour in cool library setting.   We tried the milk tea and the ice-cream.  Milk tea was ok. But the ice-cream was  yummmm…. superb!

Miyahara. From Opthalmology to a cafe..

Miyahara. From Opthalmology to a cafe..

Miyahara

Ice cream, milk tea, pearl drinks … they have it. A hazel nut chocolate ice cream with cheese cake topping! Yum yum!…

If i am not wrong, Miyahara used to be an Ophthalmology (Eye care clinic) Clinic Centre.  It has now converted to a cafe.  For more details, you can click here to go to their website.

We walked back to our hotel for a little break and saw taxis were waiting near to the exit entrance at the back door of Taichung Train Station.  As that time the day was getting late, we were 50%-50% indecisive whether to go to the place we planned to go which was Gaomei Wetland.  This place was recommended by my brother-in-law as it was a must go place.  According to him Gaomei Wetland is located at the seaside and large windmills are in sight as well.  It is a good day trip if kids are to bring along because little crabs were frequently appeared.  And always the sea tide is low all the time hence the water is always shallow.  People can walk really far out to the beach and catching crabs.

Yes, we finally made the decision to go, but the time was already 3:30pm. The back door of Taichung Train Station which was next to City Inn Hotel (taichung), taxis were often seen there waiting for passengers.  We were trying our luck to ask for flat rate price from the taxi driver.  Apologise that we have forgotten the price of the taxi fare paid.  If you are interested to go, you can ask two or three taxi rates.  The flat rate to Gaomei Wetland won’t cost you a bomb as the taxi rate where we found was quite reasonable.  As for two-way (return trip) price.   Of course, do not call taxi from the hotel, the price for taxi from the hotel are usually higher than you flag your own. Definitely.  In fact there are plenty of taxis in Taichung.

Ok, the journey from Taichung city to Gaomei Wetland was pretty far.  It took about 1.5-2 hours journey.  By the time we reached Gaomei Wetland, the sky was getting dark.. and we quickly jumped out from the taxi and walk out for taking photos.  The taxi driver were waited for us. Oh… make sure your price of the taxi is a return journey so that the taxi driver will wait for you to send you back to Taichung city.  This is because getting a taxi in Gaomei Wetland was hard.  Hardly seen any taxi pass-by though.

Gaomei Wetland should look better than my pictures taken below.  The reason because going to Gaomei in January was not a good month.  So it is best not to go during winter time unless you have no choice just like us.  Travel in January, the wind was so strong, we almost blown away… and no crabs seen.  The sea tide was closed to the bay….  Fortunately, although nothing really experience as what my brother-in-law mentioned, but we still enjoyed ourselves due to  the strong wind and the coldness! Hahaha!

Gaomei Wetland. Large windmills in Taichung

Gaomei Wetland. Large windmills in Taichung

Gaomei Wetland - Lighthouse

Gaomei Wetland – Lighthouse

Gaomei Wetland... well, this kind of weather, the crabs were hidden

Gaomei Wetland… well, this kind of weather, the crabs were hidden

Strong wind In January 2014 at Gaomei Wetland but loved it!

Strong wind In January 2014 at Gaomei Wetland but loved it!

We walked for an hour and went back to our taxi where the driver was waiting for us at a Chinese Temple.  Indeed an experience for us! Best!  If you would like to go to Gaomei Wetland, I would recommend you to go not on winter time at around 3pm.  If you are going during Winter time, please go early.  As you know, during winter time, the sun sets 2 hours early than usual!  You may go in the morning or early afternoon when the sky was bright but not sunny.  For more information about Gaomei Wetland click here 🙂  You may also google Gaomei Wetland images.  There are plenty of nice scenery pics.

Well, instead of dropping us back to City Inn hotel, we asked our taxi driver to drop us at Fengjia Night Market.  So that we can get our dinner and have a night market walk there.

Feng Jia Night Market

Feng Jia Night Market

Food bought in Feng Jia Night Market.  My favourites - Clams in Black Pepper, Variety of Fried Mushrooms, and Pepper large prawns... oh yeahhh...

Food bought in Feng Jia Night Market. My favourites – Clams in Black Pepper, Variety of Fried Mushrooms, and Pepper large prawns… oh yeahhh…

A crowded of patrons Tau Foo Fah specialty shop in Feng Jia Night Market

A crowded of patrons Tau Foo Fah specialty shop in Feng Jia Night Market

Woahhh... Sitting calmly large breed poodles.  Btw, are they twins? Dress-up doggies are norm in Taiwan.

Woahhh… Sitting calmly large breed poodles. Btw, are they twins? Dress-up doggies are norm in Taiwan.

Indeed after all the makan “eating” of food food food in Fengjia Night Market, well it’s time to head back to the hotel.  Feng Jia Night Market to City Inn it’s not convenient though, the taxi fare roughly around S$8-10.

It was indeed an exciting day out on our first day in Taichung…. We stayed for 3 days 2 nights in Taichung, so what’s next for tomorrow in Taichung…?

To be continued….. 

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Taiwan trip 22 Dec – 4 Jan 2014 (Day 4)

Day 4: Danshui

As we a were leaving to our trip on the next day.  We spent a little more time with my sister and family before embarking to cities outside Taipei.

We went to Danshui as it was not far from Beitou.  Danshui is located at the last/first stop of Danshui Line (Red line).  We were out during the day time by taking the Metro train from Qilian to Danshui.  It was indeed an enjoyable outing for us and also for my nieces.  Danshui attraction and shopping are just located at the Metro station.

There are two stretch of road.  One is facing the sea where many game stalls were available.  My nieces love to play these.  Dart game.  Hitting the balloons are easy.

Dart game stall

Dart game stall

Along the road  there are a few stalls sell ice-cream.  Similar with the Hokkaido ice-cream we had but of course the taste was not as good as the real hokkaido ice-cream 😐

Danshui ice-cream

Danshui ice-cream

We did not hang out at the Danshui for long because it was a rainy shower in Taiwan.  Moreover, it was hard to shop in the rainy day and kids were tagging along.

Rainy day

Rainy day

Rainy day

Rainy day

We did shop a few things there.  I bought a Skecher shoes which was indeed cheap!  In Singapore, you could never find shoes selling range from S$50-80.  They do have varieties of design – Sports and casual.  Phone covers, phone plugs, cute hats, peanuts (famous), steel eggs, clothings are only some delicacy items in Danshui.

As tomorrow we are leaving Taipei for Taichung… guess it was better to spend abit more time at home with my sis and family 😛

Dinner Hot Pot!  Hot Pot is a popular dish in Taipei.  My sis brought us to a Hot Pot restaurant called Sky Soup.  Literally translated from 天汤 .

Hot pot

Sky Soup Hot Pot Restaurant – Menu

Individual Bowl

Hot Pot on Individual Bowl

Is good to eat when the weather is cold. The restaurant is similar with Shabu Shabu in Singapore.

天汤 address and location of the restaurant:

111台湾台北市士林區 (忠誠路二段188號B1), 士林區, 111

What’s next in our Day 5 in Taiwan???  Click here to find out… 😀

Dry weather…

The weather is so dry in Singapore. It has been in this weather since early January. First time Singapore experiences this weather.

Feels like autumn season. How I wish. Unfortunately not.  I can feel my skin is drying such as face and hands.

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What is happening to the earth?

Bangkok, Thailand 3 Days 2 Night (21 – 23 Feb 2014)

This is my third time travelling to Bangkok.  Although it was a short vacation however, it was a fulfilling trip as I went to a few places that not many tourists had gone to.  We went to explore the inner Bangkok for 3 days 2 nights between 21 and 23 Feb 2014.

It was a planned trip since Dec 2013. We booked the Jetstar air tickets and accommodation as well which is located at the central Bangkok.  But we were indecisive of whether should we proceed our plans to Bangkok when the protests were started in many areas in Bangkok since January 2014. Change of flight tickets was a problem because Jetstar would incur S$100 two ways for postpone flight details.  Hence two persons would incur charges of S$200!  We decided to go on as planned as the penalty by Jetstar was too expensive, we might as well use the money on accommodation and to stay further away from the protest areas.

We monitored the situation in Bangkok every day.  The situation became bad to worse.  There were bombings happened in many parts in Bangkok.  Due to this we stayed further from Bangkok central still with easy access via BTS station. We booked 31 Suite Boutique hotel near Phrom Pong BTS which is one station away from the protest site, Asok.

We are happy with the hotel. The hotel is considered a budget hotel with essential room and hotel facilities. It was a pleasant comfortable stay for two nights.

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Deluxe twin 31 Suite Boutique Hotel

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Comfortable and cosy

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Closure of Central World. Protesters camps in the middle of the road

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Road closure

This itinerary trip was to stay away from the Bangkok city.

Day 1: Chatuchak Market & Chocolate Ville

This was our 3rd trip to Bangkok within 2 years.  Our last trip, we did not visit Chatuchak market.  As soon we arrived Bangkok at 11am, we immediately leave our luggage in the hotel and went to the market which every Friday is wholesale day.  There are good and bad to go on the wholesale day.  The good side, there were so much less people especially tourists.  The down side was most of the garment shops were closed.  There are two MRT stations or known as BTS stations to reach Chatuchak Market.  You may alight at Mo Chit BTS station and take about 5 minutes walking distance.  Another option is you can change train at Mo Chit BTS to Kamphaeng Phet BTS station.  Kamphaeng Phet BTS lead you to direct entrance of Chatuchak Market.

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Chatuchak Market Pottery

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Chatuchak Market Pottery 2

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Chatuchak Market Bags

If its your first time visiting Chatuchak Market, it would be best for you to go on weekends as all shops open.  Although the market opens at 6am-6pm but I would advise you to arrive at around 8-9am so that most shops open at that time.

After the Chatuchak Market, we scheduled to go to Chocolate Ville (CV).  CV is a theme park, No not the theme parks that there are rides available.   The uniqueness of CV is it has got nothing to do with Chocolate ingredients at all.  The buildings and architectures are in the oldies of American and British themes.   CV operates at 4pm to 12am every day where there are many picturesque scenes for photo shooting and also a high end of dining experience (Western & Thai food).  There is only one restaurant there.  The restaurant tends to be very crowded, so to ensure you get a table, make sure you reserve a table one or two days before you plan to dine there.  You may make reservation at CV’s facebook page.  So how to get there?

For us, we travelled to CV by taxi as it is the only means of transport.  Outside the Mo Chit BTS there are many taxis on queue to pick up passengers.  We took one of the taxis to Chocolate Ville.   Make sure you have a printed Chocolate Ville map with you to show to the taxi driver.  Even though they are Taxi Drivers but does not mean they know the place as the place is pretty outskirt.

Also ensure when taking a taxi, ask the driver if he use meter or flat rate.  Leave the taxi if he charge on flat rate.   Meter charges are always cheaper than the flat rate.  Our meter transport to CV cost only THB145 with 45 minutes journey include traffic jam.  Of course, travelling from city centre may cost more as the location is further than Mo Chit BTS.  Returning from CV may have trouble due to limited taxis available.  However, not to worry, if you leave early, there shouldn’t be any problem getting a taxi.  We arrived about 4:30pm and left at 8pm.  We walked out to the main road and there were already 3 taxis waiting, unfortunately all charges us flat rate.  A taxi driver charged us THB400 going back to Mo Chit BTS.  We managed to bargain and reduce the price to THB350 which was still double rate than the meter fare. Darn!  The taxi driver was quite reluctantly to reduce the price claiming there were traffic congestion which we found it was not bad after all. Therefore I would advise you to go early and leave early taxis from CV are limited.  CV is not a touristic place but for locals where most of the locals travel by car.

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Tom yam soup and soft shell crab salad

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Spare ribs, restaurant recommended dish

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Chocolate Ville at Night

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Chocolate Ville at night

So if you are also planning to go to Chatuchak Market and Chocolate Ville, just like us, you may consider to go to Chatuchak Market in the late morning.  But beware that Bangkok can be really hot in the afternoon.  Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and stay hydrated.

Day 2: Chinatown, Sampeng Lane, Pak Khlong Talat, Asiatique and Terminal 21

Chinatown is our next place in our itinerary.  We had been to Chinatown before, it’s just that in order to go to Sampeng Lane, we need to bypass Chinatown which is along Yaowarat Road.  Sampeng Lane is another wholesale market.  The nearest BTS station to Chinatown is Hua Lamphong.  However, we encountered “helpful” by passer twice. Once was in my first trip and now again.  They volunteered to be helpful to guide lady travellers for direction even they were not been approached.  Lady travellers travelling alone or two are best to ignore them as we do not know their motives.  Thailand is well known with black magic.  On this trip, we were approached by a security uniform man who speaks English.  Though we were not harm but better be safe than sorry.  If we want to ask questions, the best people to ask are staff working in 7-Eleven, those working in cafes or by passers who are youngsters.  Although these people may have the difficulty to converse in English at least they do not have motives and they are genuine.

Along Yaowarat road we saw they were market with crowded of people.  We took a left turn.  The road led us to Soi Wanit 1 Road.  Retails and stalls, and fruit stalls are often seen.

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Soi Wanit 1 market

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Soi Wanit 1 Market

Walking straight along Soi Wanit 1, we finally arrived Sampeng Lane.  The lane is very narrow and the retails are very near to each other.  Sampeng Lane has very big crowds of locals.  Human congestion!  You can find many wholesale items.  Make sure your belongings are safe at all times as you know pickpockets appear at crowded places.  We just walked half of Sampeng Lane due to the crowd. 

We continued to the Yaowarat Road which already the end of the Chinatown Road to have a break at KFC restaurant.

Walking further about 10 minutes from KFC, we finally arrived Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market). We had never seen so many flowers before. And more over the red roses were so cheap. Only THB50 for two dozens of roses or maybe more. There are other flowers such as carnations, orchids and flowers for prayers. It was a great experience eventhough we did not buy any flowers.

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Beautiful roses

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Carnation flowers

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Flower Market

The flower market is very near to Victory Monument Pier, where we took Chao Phraya ferry ride to Sathorn Taksin Pier for to transfer to a free shuttle ferry boat to Asiatique. Public ferry ride on Chao Phraya river is a very convenient transportation for the tourists and as well for the locals. You may make any stops however, please beware in order to differentiate which ferry to take, people identify them on the flag colour of the ferry boat and the directions.  There are green, blue, yellow and orange maybe more others.  

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Chao Phraya ferry boat charges

Some are tourist ferry boats.  The lowest cost where the ferry stops at each Pier would be the Orange flag.  Orange flag cost only THB15 per person.   Just enter the ferry boat, probably you may see many people enters the boat.

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Arrival of the orange flag ferry boat.

 No worries although you do not have tickets with you.  Soon you will hear a lady ferry conductor came from nowehere. She will shake her collected coins in the metal container to get your attention that she is here to collect money for tickets. The conductor could not identify whether you had already paid for tickets but this is based on thrust.  Just ask how much for a ticket.  Other colours of flag may skip on certain piers as some are express ferry boats.

Coincidently once we arrived Sathorn Taksin Pier, the Asiatique ferry boat arrived.  Need not to wait.  Asiatique is a shopping mall converted from warehouses.  It is a very interesting mall that it has got the similarity with the Red Brick Warehouse in Hakodate, Hokkaido where originally the buildings were used for trading but now it has converted to shopping centre.

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We finally arrived!

 I guess Asiatique imitated the idea from Red Brick Warehouse.  Do not go early because the Asiatique opens at 5pm to midnight.

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Asiatique Back Entrance

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Large ferry wheel

Asiatique have various shops available such as clothings, home decor items, jewellery accessories, accessories for doggies, eyewears, arts and more.

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Interesting bottle opener

There are also many restaurants there such as Western, Thai, and Japanese cuisine. After walking and shopping for some time, since we in Thailand, we always chose Thai food – we selected a restaurant called Yum Saap. I often see this restaurant in other malls.  We tried and the food was good plus the price were reasonable.

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Crispy Salad

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Green Curry Chicken Noodle

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Rice noodle seafood soup

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Tom yam creamy soup

To get back to the city centre, just take a return Asiatique ferry boat and back to Sathorn Taksin Pier.  The Saphan Taksin BTS station is just right infront the pier.

As this was our last evening to spend in Bangkok, eventhough our foots were breaking apart.. and since my watch says 8:30pm, we made a one last stop at Terminal 21.  When we arrived at BTS Asok, there were big crowd of protesters seen gathering at road junction and they were watching big screen projector.  Large Thailand flags were seen waving. Speech were given by one of the protester leaders.  Anyway, as long they guai guai sat there and don’t make any mess,.. Bangkok is still peaceful for tourists to visit.  

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Bangkok protest site (Asok main junction)

We took  an hour brief walk around the mall and we went to Gourmet Market (Lower Ground Floor) to get some snacks and also for our tomorrow’s breakfast.  We bought salad for tomorrow’s breakfast.  Well, gotta eat healthy after many heavy eatings in Bangkok. The unique of the salad, you can pick any dishes available.  Once you picked the selections into a bowl, give it to a staff near the salad counter.  She will weight and pack for you.  If I’m not wrong, my bowl of salad was around THB100.

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Salad for breakfast

Day 3: Benjasiri Park and Au Bon Pain cafe

We woke up early so we still have a bit of time to take a short walk nearby our hotel before we head to the airport.  The nearest shopping mall is Emporium which that time it was yet to open.  Beside the Emporium there is a park called Benjasiri Park.  There were many Japanese expatriates exercise at the park.  All of a sudden at that moment I felt i was in Sapporo Park. There was a large pond and the pond has got many tortoises.  If you have children, do bring some breads along to feed the hungry tortoises.

Just opposite the Benjasiri Park there is an American cafe called Au Bon Pain.  Too bad this cafe chain is not available in Singapore and Malaysia.   We ordered Caramel Latte and Ice Blended Green Tea.  The ice-blended was good but not the Caramel Latte as it was tasteless.  Anyway, you can give a try on other drinks.

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Au bon pain cafe

It was a full filling trip as this trip we explored some new places such as Chocolate Ville, Sampeng Lane, Soi Wanit 1 and Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market).