Travelogue: Taiwan - Day One

Hello everyone! It's time for me to get started on my Taiwan travelogue! I went there for 5 days last week with my mother, and I had a great time there! Missing the food and shopping there already, haha, and I'm so gonna go back again!

In this travelogue I'll also include miscellaneous stuff like transport tips, so skip those parts if it doesn't interest you ahha.

Okay, off we go!! :D

Posing in front of the Departure gates with our new luggage which I like! (:

I was lucky to get the window seat so I could take pictures of the pretty atmosphere + clouds! The above picture makes me feel like I'm going to space because of the darker layer above haha.

The clouds look so cute and fluffy~

And we've arrived! Welcome to Taoyuan International Airport!

Travel tips
First thing we did after clearing immigration is to purchase the local SIM card. Turn right after you leave the arrival gates and the telecommunications booth will be there. There were a few networks, namely 台湾大哥大 (Taiwan Mobile), 中華 (Chunghwa) and Far East something. I've read many reviews and usually people choose the first two, but between the first two there's not much difference. All prices and packages offered among the 3 are the same. I went for Chunghwa since there was a shorter queue and we got Plan B. NT300 is around S$12.70.

Next we went to buy our bus tickets to take us to Taipei Main Station, the heart of Taipei City. There are actually two ways to get to Taipei city from Taoyuan Airport. One is by the High Speed Rail (HSR) and second is by bus. Taking the HSR requires you to take an airport shuttle bus to Taoyuan HSR Station first, then you board the HSR to Taipei. The total journey is about 50min - 1h, and it costs NT175 one-way.

The bus is less troublesome in a way, because you just have to board the bus at the airport and it'll take you to Taipei Main Station. The bus will make 4 stops along the journey at certain places, with Taipei Main Station as the fifth and last stop. Nevertheless, the journey wasn't that long: one hour too. Since it was also cheaper at NT125, we decided to take the bus. (:

Follow the signs at the airport that says 'HSR/Bus transport' and it'll lead you to the basement level, where both the counters and waiting area are at. Proceed to counter 7 國光客運 (Kuo-kuang) to buy your tickets. Buses leave every 15 minutes.

Upon reaching Taipei Main Station, we bought our 悠游卡 (Easycard) which is like our ez-link card. A deposit of NT100 and a minimum top up of NT100. You can return the card and get back your deposit at the end of your stay in Taiwan.

Whoa their transport system is so, so similar to us! Be it the card, the train carriages, the lines, the platforms... Yeah you get it haha.

Our hotel is in Ximending so we took the train one stop to Ximen station. Ximending is dubbed the Shibuya/Harajuku of Taiwan, and when we exited from the station, we were indeed greeted by a sea of crowds!

It was a Sunday afternoon too, so I guess naturally there'll be a lot of people.

Travel review
It was easy to locate our hotel, Hotel Puri, because it's very, very near to the MRT exit 6. Even though it's located in a small lane, it's not ulu or creepy or dangerous because it's surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the shopping district. Here are some photos of our hotel!

As you can see, the room is clean and neat and I like the wallpaper because it brightens up the room with the black furniture. It's smaller than others I've stayed on my other holidays but it has everything you need. There are no windows, but I didn't even realise that until my mum pointed it out at night. So that didn't bother me. The best thing I like about this hotel is its location! It's right in the heart of Ximending so you can do shopping any time you want (afternoon or night) and it's seriously just a 3-minute walk from the MRT exit! Super duper convenient and it helped us save a lot of time. (:

It was almost 5 when we checked into our hotel so after settling the necessary stuff we headed out for an early dinner to the all-famous Din Tai Fung (DTF)! :D We went to the very first and original branch at Xinyi Road.

Here in Singapore, besides being known for its Xiao Long Baos, DTF is also known for its long queues. And it's also not an exception in Taiwan. Queues are the norm no matter what time you go, even at 1 plus 2 or 5 plus before dinner.

SOP: Get a queue number and order your dishes first. They have a TV to show the queue numbers for the respective number of diners, which I think is not bad!

We arrived slightly past 5.30 and you can see the crowd in the above pictures. Hahaha already so many people when it's not yet 6. Anyway to my surprise we waited around 15 minutes for a table, and we were ushered to the 2nd storey.

This section that you see above is 1/3 of the seating space on each level. There's a level 2 and 3, not sure about a fourth one.

The menu is about the same as that in Singapore.

Ok now onto the food!!

小龍包 Xiao Long Bao (5 for NT100)

Whee was so excited to eat these cute dumplings! Haha they tasted just like the ones in Singapore, with the hot broth inside. Perhaps it's a little less salty, which is even better haha.

蝦肉蒸餃 Pork and Shrimp Dumplings (5 for NT115)

This is another of their specialty, and it was good too!

蕃茄豆腐蛋花湯 (NT160)

肉絲蛋炒飯 (NT120)

Yum yum it was a warm and hearty first meal we had in Taiwan! Plus when we left the hotel it suddenly poured very heavily so our feet were wet, so it was really nice to have such warm comfort food hehe.

Then we walked around Yongkang St area for a while before returning to our hotel to rest for the long day the next day.

Snapped some shots of Ximending at night. It really looks so Shibuya-ish haha.