Day 7 in Taipei: Saying goodbye for the 2nd time

(May 20, 2017) I was here in April, and returned in May. How I wish can visit Taipei every month! Taiwan’s capital never fails to make me happy.

Of course I gotta go back to reality. All travelers must, I suppose.

But hey, I still have like a couple of hours before I go to Taoyuan Airport. So again, I walked around the area of the hotel to take pics.

The Ximending shopping area looks almost deserted on a Saturday morning:

Ximen Station, the Taipei MRT station closest to the hotel:

I’m still here, but I’m already looking forward to seeing you again, Taipei!

Day 6 in Taipei: Basketball on yet another rainy day

Fortunately I had no significant activity planned for today similar to climbing a mountain and going to Taiwan’s northern coast, which I did on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. It’s raining again.

I just played basketball and explored places near the hotel.

The guy I played basketball with at Adidas 101 court:

I usually use the part of the court seen on the left side of the pic below:

The Presidential Office Building at night. It’s walking distance from the hotel. Walking distance for me, at least:

Day 5 in Taipei: Fell in line for the ‘Queen’s Head’ and Shilin Night Market street food

Around lunchtime, a Taiwanese guy in the Adidas 101 basketball court asked me to play a one-on-one game with him. Immediately I realized that the rules were a bit different from the one I’m used to: the player who makes a shot keeps possession of the ball until he misses. In the rules I’m more familiar with, if a player makes a shot, his opponent gets possession next. I won, 6-2. 

Right after that game, I proceeded to the Taipei Main Station to catch the Bus 1815 at M2 that will take me to Yehliu Geopark located on the outskirts of Taipei. It is home to the so-called “Queen’s Head,” a natural rock formation. The entrance fee was 80 NT Dollars for an adult.

There was a line for the Queen’s Head. There’s a precise spot where it looks like it resembles the head of a woman wearing a crown. That precise spot was what people were falling in line for.

In other spots, the Queen’s Head doesn’t look like a human head. In the pic below, the Queen’s Head is at the upper left corner:

Other views at the geopark:

A replica of the Queen’s Head:

From and to Taipei Main Station, the bus ride took a total of around three hours. The one-way fare was 96 NT Dollars. I stayed at the geopark for about an hour.

Next: shopping and dining at Shilin Night Market. I bought a denim jacket for my mom and a pair of pants for myself.

There are so many food choices at the night market. I picked the food stall that had the longest line of customers because I wanted to know what the fuzz was about. And of course, for the experience.

The line for the “blockbuster” street food stall, which is located in front of Cixian Temple:

I think the food is popular because it’s a complete meal in easy-to-eat packaging: pork placed on top of rice. I bought the lemon and honey flavors, which cost 50 NT Dollars each.

I got them after an hour of waiting in line.

Day 4 in Taipei: (Literally) climbed a mountain for the best view of the skyline

Practicing basketball from 10:30 AM until 4 PM ain’t exactly the best activity before climbing a mountain. Your legs would kill you.

I climbed Elephant Mountain because guide books say it offers the best view of the Taipei skyline. They also say that the best time to climb the mountain is late afternoon. You can see the skyline when the Sun’s still up, and only a few hours after, you can see it at nighttime.

Part of the hiking trail:

The Taipei skyline:

Against the light. It’s hard to take a selfie:

Me while waiting for the sunset:

The Sun saying goodbye for now:

The Taipei skyline at night:

My left hand holding a phone for its flashlight, with the other hand holding the selfie stick. I look like an idiot:

Day 3 in Taipei: Free umbrella reminded me of Glenn Close

“Is it made in Taiwan?”

That was the question asked by Alex Forrest, played by Glenn Close, when she saw Dan Gallagher, played by Michael Douglas, struggling to open an umbrella in one of the first scenes of the movie Fatal Attraction.

The umbrella in the pic above isn’t the one used in the film, but it’s most probably made in Taiwan. It’s a so-called “courtesy umbrella,” which Taipei Metro passengers can get for free on a rainy day.

I find this courtesy umbrella feature in Taipei Metro stations impressive: it’s a simple yet useful way of showing passengers that their needs are taken care of.

The rain didn’t prevent me from playing basketball today. I searched online for free indoor basketball courts and found the Adidas 101 court:

The nearest Taipei Metro station is Taipei 101. Head towards Exit 2. You won’t miss it.

Oh, speaking of Taipei 101. There were times when its full towering glory couldn’t be seen totally as clouds partially obscured the view. 

Day 2 in Taipei: When it rains, it sucks

Well it didn’t rain the whole day. I was even able to practice basketball in Daan Park because of the nice weather in the morning.

I wanted to return there in the afternoon, but lo and behold! It was raining. 

Fortunately, the hotel is in the Ximending shopping area. I could still do something without carrying an umbrella… shopping! I bought two pairs of pants.

I hope the weather tomorrow will be nice the entire day. I wanna practice basketball again in the morning and the afternoon, then go to a night market.

Day 1: Flew from Manila to Taipei; dealt with long lines everywhere

I liked Taipei so much that I returned just a month after my very first visit here, in April.

But flying from Manila to Taiwan’s capital was tiring. The flight itself was only about one hour and 40 minutes, but I had to deal with loooooooong lines practically everywhere – from the check-in counter and immigration in Manila, to the immigration in Taipei.

The pic below shows the line to get the boarding pass. Looked like two lines, eh? That was the same line:

Our flight was delayed due to the “immigration congestion” in Manila, something that China Airlines apologized for like three times. It wasn’t the airline’s fault – I saw the long and winding line myself. 

Good thing I hadn’t hired a private car to pick me up at the airport; the driver would have waited too long for me.
I rode the new Taoyuan Airport MRT express instead. The fare was 160 New Taiwan Dollars from the airport to Taipei Main Station – way much cheaper than the 1,500 needed for the private car.

I’m staying at the same hotel, but my room now is much smaller. It was only about three-fourths the size of our room last month.

But at least the bathroom wall isn’t opaque this time around.

Day 6 in Taipei: Trying not to be obtrusive in Longshan Temple

The travel guides I had read before coming to Taipei described Longshan Temple as the most famous Buddhist temple in the Taiwanese capital.

Because of that, I included the temple in my must-see sights in Taipei.

But Longshan Temple is, first and foremost, a place of worship. So when I was there, I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. 

No one seemed to care that I was taking pictures there. They were busy with their rituals and prayers. Besides, most likely they’re also used to seeing tourists doing touristy activities in the temple.

After visiting Longshan Temple, we returned to the hotel to have breakfast.

Then I went to the Taipei Main Station to take pictures and to check out the Taoyuan Airport MRT. I have to be familiar with the station because I’m definitely going back to Taipei someday.

The Taipei Main Station:

Day 5 in Taipei: Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, better Taipei 101 view, Ximending

We started our tour quite late today because we wanted to see Taipei 101 at night. 

Our first destination was the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. 

It’s just one MRT station away from Taipei City Hall, where there’s a better view of Taipei 101. That’s based on my Internet research. 

I wasn’t satisfied with our earlier pictures of Taipei 101, so I felt that another photo opp was necessary. Besides, I wanted to have night view pics of the building.

Our last stop was the Ximending shopping area. It’s not really a destination for us because it’s actually our “home” in Taipei. But it was my first time to actively take pictures of it so I included it in this blog post.