Monday, May 28, 2007

Oooh Top Secret!

Recommendation for next trip: Along 南部横贯公路 are some beautiful Hot Springs that we can go to: 利稻温泉 宝来温泉 梅山山庄 one of the cheaper lodgings ~ S$150 Apparently you can meet really native aborigines while you are bathing there. Really beautiful scenery though getting there might pose a problem. No changing rooms so you may need to wear your swim suits under your clothes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A list of Taiwan Hotels I've stayed at on this trip

Day Hotel Name
12th-13th May


Taoyuan Golf & Country Club - Yaward Hotel 

No.39, 23-Lin, Chiu-Long Village,
LongTan Hsiang 03- 480 3388

Telephone + 886 3 480 3388
Sales Office + 886 3 470 1616

13th-14th May


Astar Hotel Hualien
花蓮 - 亞士都飯店





14th-15th May


TZYY Shi Garden Lodge

台东县 鹿野乡 龙田村南二路608号

reservations number: 089-550617
fax number:089-550621

15th-16th May


Howard Beach Resort Kenting

2, Kenting Road, Hengchun Town,
Pingtung Hsien,Taiwan 946, R.O.C.

TEL:+886-(8)886-2323 Fax:(08)886-2359


16th-17th May


Dakeng Recreational Farm 大坑休閒農場
Tel: 06-5941555  Fax:06-5940266
17th-18th May


DEBAO business HOTEL 帝宝大饭店
No. 22, Sec. 3, Liou-chuan West. Rd., Taichung, Taiwan
TEL: 04-22273456  FAX: 04-22270011

18th-19th May


Four Points by Sheraton 福朋喜來登飯店
Chung Ho, Taipei. 631 Chung Cheng Road, Chung Ho City · Taipei 235 · 地址:台北縣中和市中正路 631 號

電話: (886)(2) 2222 9999
傳真: (886)(2) 2222 5299

19th, 21th May
Saturday Sunday


Futurestar Hotel 明日大饭店
地址:臺北市成都路23號7樓 near Ximen MRT
電話:(02)2375-5500, (02)2375-52299

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

21st May 2007 Day Ten: CKS memorial> Presidential Building > Walkabout Ximen > Return Singapore

CKS memorial Took the metro green line from Ximen to CKS (NT$20)to try our luck to see if it is open. Good sunny day. Too bad we didn't plan our YMS trip for today. Lovely pictures taken. Next stop: CKS station to NTU hospital station (the Presidential Building) Walkabout from Presidential Building back to Ximen Using the Shin guang San Yue as a landmark to orientate ourselves, we decided to travel in that direction in search of interesting food. Discovered a marketplace with interesting variety of foods for breakfast during our walkabout. Too bad we only found it on the last day. Return Singapore Trip home was smoother compared to the trip here though we can't see anything outside our window coz it was dark. Strangely, the seats were dirty as if the cleaning crew were skiving. Found bread crumbs scattered on the seats and the disposable headrest was smudged with something tar-like.

20th May 2007 Day Nine: Yangmingshan > Shilin > Taipei Underground Mall > Raohe > Wu fen pu

Que Terriblis! It was rainy and foggy the entire day. Miserable Wet day.

19th May 2007 Day Eight: Longshan Temple > CKS memorial > Shida > Tamshui

No one don't knows where to go to eat on Sunday as the places suggested by the receptionist was closed. Bought a cup of Soy milk from a street hawker near our hotel which I guess was boiled using charcoal as it has a slight sooty taste.

Had a good breakfast in Four Points @ Sheraton before travelling by the cab booked by Hotel the night before for 8am costing NT$190 (independent taxi driver)and $180 (rented taxicar driver)respectively. I don't know if independents were supposed to be more expensive or was it because of the small reverse move the driver did as he overshot FS hotel but from what I gleaned from the conversation with him, there are very few independent cab owners in Taipei and in order to qualify for an independent license, you need at least 6 years experience in driving a cab and a spotless driving record with not traffic offences. I dunno it is means that the independents are a quality assurance or it can simply mean that the traffic police is very slack in catching traffic offenders. Taipei cabs are metered so not to worry about being cheated.

After dropping our luggage at FS hotel and paying for the hotel rooms, we headed to the Ximen Station which is practically right at the doorstep of our hotel. Less than 3 minutes walk to the nearest entrance 6.

Bought a Taipei 2 day pass which allows unlimited use of the metro and public bus services for NT$310. If your travels cost more than NT$155/day, it original price NT$450 . 1 day pass NT$250 slashed to NT$210. 3 day pass NT$440 up NT$650

Longshan Temple, Taipei 龙山寺

Longshan Temple (LST)was OK

Alighted there and immediately felt that the air there was much fresher and cleaner than both Ximen and Singapore. Not that the air in Ximen is polluted but you feel more refreshed when you emerge from the Longshan Metro Station. Even outside the confines of the temple, you could not detect the smell of joss stick unlike the heavy scent of sandalwood that hits you a distance before you even reach Guanyin Temple at Sima Road, singapore. In fact, the Temple is much bigger and more crowded on the day we visited.

On our visit, I noticed that the bulk of the visitors were students accompanied by friends, parents and relatives were there to pray for good results for their exams and in their offerings of food, you could see photostated copies of their exam schedule slips.

I deemed that it is almost time for their exams for the school hols starts. Typical offerings in their plates include lots and lots of raw vegetables like white daikon, chinese celery and sprigs of green onion, sugarcane or bottled sugarcane juice. I really wonder at the symbolic meaning of the vegetables. I'm guessing that the chinese celery 芹菜 tsin-chai represents 勤劳 hardworking, 青葱 cong represents 聪明intelligence, 甘蔗 kyu jin can lai meaning 苦尽甘来 that your hard work will pay off in the end. But I fail to understand what has Daikon 白萝卜 got to do with the qualities a student ought to possess during their exams. Perhaps there is some other name the Taiwanese have for the veggie...

On a funny note: some students even offered potato chips and other kinds of junk foods. I wonder if the gods will find favour with them because of these new strange foods they haven't tried before !?!

Aside: No particular feelings about LST and unlike the others we didn't pray. Just paid our respects to the 7 gods/deities housed in the temple. Grandma warned us beforehand that any wishes/promises made to the deities? gods? have to be 'repaid' so if you might not have the opportunity to go back to give thanks if your wish comes true, please don't do it.

Chiang Kai Shiek Memorial

CKS memorial was closed!!! Earlier on the news, we heard that the plaque of the memorial was secretly taken down during the night and replaced with another name due to political reasons.

Longquan Market 龙泉市场 and Shida Night Market 师大夜市

Good and interesting. Longquan market is abit like the wet markets in Singapore, except what they sell are quite different from us. Their ready to eat foods aka hawker fare is certainly interesting!

Technically speaking, we didn't visit the Shida Night Market (its afternoon not night you geddit?) but the area was open and there were lots and lots kinds of food to eat. I ate goose meat noodles and Mei, their Zhajiang Mian. Shared a bowl of their wonton soup. Not as nice as singapore's but very still good and piping hot! The store was doing a brisk business of takeaways. Alots of students from Shida decended on that place during lunch. I dunno its because there isn't any food to be had in their Campus or the canteen food was really bad but I think those hawker centres near our uni didn't manage to get that much custom from uni strudents. The price perhaps...

Tamshui 淡水- Valentine's Bridge 情人桥 & Old Street 淡水老街

See Lover's Bridge At Tamshui Metro Station, Exit and turn right to bus interchange. Took Bus 26

18th May 2007 Day Seven: Miaoli Fruit Picking > 101 Building > National Palace Museum > Martyr's Shrine > PiSiou > Shihlin > Wu Fen Pu

The news last evening and this morning kept reminding us of the approaching typhoon called 玉兔台风 or Jade Rabbit that is expected to pass by Taiwan from Guandao. Therefore some rain and storms are expected. It suddenly connected to me when I wrote this piece of news on my notebook that I had eaten a rabbit bun for breakfast at Debao Hotel and was gushing about how cute the white and pink bunny was. How symbolic was that? This white fury of a bunny isn't atal cute...

Miaoli Fruit Picking$ 苗栗果园

101 and the national palace was great.

101 Building 101大楼

Not everyone went up to 101. In the end only 7 out of 28 people in our tour group went up. Took the elevator to the 5th Floor to purchase tickets to the 89th floor. Used the student pass we applied on day 1 to get NT$50 off admission fees. They are bundled with discount coupons for souvenir photos on the 89th floor and $15 off ice-cream at the Sky Cafe but we didn't make use of them due to the lack of time. The open air observatory on the 90th floor was initially closed due to bad weather but later on it opened to allow visitors onto the platform. As we had spent most part of the half hour oohaahing over the scenery, the additional NT$100 for 5 mins on top wasn't that worth it so it had to be shelved.*pouts*

Four Points by Sheraton 福朋喜來登飯店 Very lovely hotel with a business center and a fleet of well trained staff; although I did think the PCs there were a mite slow when we transferred 10gigs worth of photos to storage. The staff were conscious of our safety and recorded down the particulars of the cabbies that they booked for us. Excellent buffet breakfast in the Red restaurant. I think it has a theme of some sort going but I can't recall now. It is perfect for people staying in for a late breakfast or a lazy morning after a late night, which unfortunately isn't the case for us :< The only peeve I have of the hotel? I would say none but while we were on the cab, the cabby asked: "为什么你们会住在这鸟不生蛋的地方?(Why did we stay in such an offbeaten place?)" so I guess its location away from the city center might put people off.

The tickets come in 2 designs with the Daytime and Night time view of Taipei 101.

After purchasing the tickets, we queued up in front of a barrier before a special elevator which will take you up to the 89th floor with a travel speed which is supposed to reach up to a max speed of 1010m/min. We didn't notice how fast the lift was but from the pamplet it takes 37s for the elevator to reach the 89th floor and for a fact that the elevator took about 45s to travel down from the 89th floor to the 5th floor. For different people have varying sensations during the ride so it is hard for me to say what is the exact feeling but I only feel a minor compressed feeling when i rode up and a kind of 'my stomach in my lungs' freefall feeling when coming down. Perhaps the dimming of all lights in the elevator helped alleviate the sensations.

To talk about the obvious, look at the exterior. The design concept of that place was the sections of bamboo to mean bu bu gao shen meaning to rise at every step you take. Every 8 level is one section of the bamboo(eight represents fa cai prosperity), there is one Ruyi (jade emblem) and the sign of the the ancient coins with a square hole in the middle.

There was some fog but we could still see into the distance. Noticed the route that we travelled from the tunnels on the right then we tried tracing the roads that we travelled by looking out for landmarks. We could see the muzha incinerator plant and the big and small bridges that we passed as well as the deserted miramar park with the ferris wheel. In the distance were the faint blue roofs of the National palace Museum at the end of a long straight road that we will be going to later.

National Palace Museum 故宫博物馆

It happened to be the open house day where admission is free. It was great.

Pi Siou Arts Centre 汉玉辟邪馆

Martyr's Shrine 忠烈祠

Wu Fen Pu Wholesale 五分埔时尚特区

Shihlin Night Market 仕林夜市

17th May 2007 Day Six: Alishan Forest Recreational Area> Sun Moon Lake, Wen Wu Temple > FengJia Night Market

Alishan Forest Recreational Area 阿里山风景区

Too bad no sunrise at 3am

Nantou Sun Moon Lake 南投日夜谭

Wen Wu Temple 文武庙

Taizhong 台中 & FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

WeeWoo Switched to Taizhong's Five Cent Driftwood House instead of Taipei coz it is nicer and in Taipei there are lots of night market we can visit and try out new foods but the con is no time to walk Fengjia Night Market :( DEBAO business HOTEL 帝宝大饭店 Hotel room was spanking new and clean when I stayed there in 2007. I have no complains on the room and the room provisions whatsoever. The only complain I have is the too thin and too short room door that allows sound through. The soundproofing of the room is fairly good but as the clearance of the door from above the carpeting is high, it allows sound and light in from the corridor which is reflected on the ceiling which makes not for a good sleep; you could hear people walking and opening doors. After hunting down the problem, we decided to stuff the hotel towels tight under the door and went back to sleep. Breakfast was a bustling and interesting experience. The food served. We had no seats when we got down for our meals and we had to hang around the tables and wait for others to finish and the serving staff to clear the tables. I'm not sure if Debao was experiencing full occupancy that day (which explains the masses of people jostling for tables and food) but the scene amusingly reminds me of foodcourts and the good ole tuckshops.

16th May 2007 - Day Five: Fo Guang Shan Monastry > Yen Ping Chun Wang Temple > Anping Fort > Dakeng Recreational Farm

Kaohsiung 高雄

The Industrial city of Pollution. Allan spat it out like it was a BAD word.

Fo Guang Shan Monastry 佛光山

Boring, culture boring The highlight of the trip is to watch Mei saunter in her flip-flops despite the cautionary sign. Very bad karma. They will get you for this!

Yen Ping Chun Wang Temple

Boring, culture boring

Anping Fort 安平老街

Old street in no longer present except for the cobbled streetstones.Dutch Influenced Fort later taken over by Zheng Chenggong Dakeng Recreational Farm 大坑休闲农场 You can see fireflies if you look real hard. especially at the cafe.

15th May 2007 - Day Four: Kenting > Howard Beach Resort

Kenting 垦丁

Howard Beach Resort Kenting 墾丁.福華渡假飯店

Boring. will never visit the hotel again. The indoor waterpark was a joke. Go to the beach, anything but the park.

14th May 2007 - Day Three: Taroko Gorge > Qi Xing Tan > Lingzhi Centre > Bashen Caves > Shanxiantai > Taidong

Wow wee! We are off with a good start; the morning is sunny!!!

Taroko Gorge 太鲁阁国家公园

Starting off from Astar hotel, we rumbled off to Taroko Gorge (actually I thought we intended to go Tianxiang). Along the way, Allan expounded on the purported medicinal properties of the Lingzhi drink in his thermos to all the aunties and uncles while I privately thought he was just trying to prep us tourists to purchase it from the Lingzhi Centre later in the day.

At the main entrance, we stopped to take some pictures before boarding the bus again to travel past a tunnel. Stopped again at the parking lot near the Sakadang Tunnel which has a red-truss bridge leading to it. The weather was sparkling hot that I could feel my hair frying in the sun.

Later at the Eternal Springs Bridge 长春桥 (the original aka OLD one not the new one), all of us alighted at the gates to travel by foot inwards. We heard from Allan that Tianxiang was closed due to falling rocks and that Taiwan Govt is considering closing up the inner parts of Taroko to minimise human disruption of the Nature Reserve which is gradually eroding. In areas, parts od the Mtn is becoming less stable. Not sure if he was joshing us at that time but we heard later from other F&Es that it was accessible!! Perhaps, there is really falling rocks and he felt that as there are too many oldies around, we shouldn't attempt the more dangerous parts of it. The greyish blue waters seemed shallow looking down from the railings. In a distance away is a tiny templelike architecture nestled among the greenery with water gushing out from its mouth. Its eye-catching red walls brings the visitor's attention to it seems to shimmer in the bright sun.

Qi Xing Tan (7 Star Lake) 七星潭

On the bus, we first see the oddly barb-wired fence of a military facility before we even know this is Qixingtan. Turns out this is an airforce facility. The way our guide put it: if we are china chinese, we won't be allowed to see it due to internal security reasons. When the qn was put in another way: what if one of us in the tour group was a china chinese and now a PR what would you all do? That's why china tourists can come to Taiwan in a restricted quantity and under supervision of licenced Taiwan tourguides...not allowed to photograph the facility. Oh should we be so honoured that we are singapore chinese? *rolls eyes*

There are biking trails, footpaths, palm trees, the very necessary restrooms and the obligatory 'works of art' - stone sculptures. My first impression of the lake is: oh, this looks like a new park in East Coast!

One would think that this is a sandy beach not a lake! Strangely, this lake is

Bashen Caves (8 Immortals caves) 八仙洞

Not my kind of place. It reminds me much of Batu caves (minus the bats but add in the flying swallows or birds)

Shanxiantai (The Three Fairies Islet) 三仙台

Strangely, this is one of my favourites. I don't think the others were that enthusiastic about it but I love the rocks and the way the water crashes around it.

Shi Garden Lodge 紫熹樓花园山庄

Purple Lodge is really on top of the mountain! The attendant whom I think is a native seem rather cold at first but slowly warmed to us. Think to a certain extent she is rather amused by the reactions/antics of urbaners. Lots of mosquitoes though. Was initially excited to have upgraded from a 2 person room to a 6 person lodge where everyone of our group can stay together but even with two bathrooms, it was frighfully slow for every decision/move that we made.

Tried our hands at letting off a Kong Lantern where everyone wrote their wishes on and the lady attendent set off two boxes of fire-crackers. Never had that experience in Singapore. Unfortunately, the Lantern didn't manage to rise over a few inches above ground despite the aid given by the tour guide and the lady. I don't know if it can be attributed to the size of the fire lit, the weather (pressure, wind etc) or an ominous sign that the wishes can't be granted or that the wishes are too weighty and numerous to be fulfilled.

Went to the first hot springs spa in the trip in a really off beaten track but luckily the pool was open. after showering, we put on our caps and happily splashed into the hot pool which surprisingly wasn't that hot when i took a peek at their boiler, it indicated 39.6 which is close to our body temperature. I guess the guide must be real careful as there are many inexperienced and elderly users in our group.

After the spa, we tried our hand at making Muah Chee. It is simple really. First you need to cook some glutinous rice in your rice cooker like you cook your normal rice. When it is done and still very very hot, you dump the rice into the huge wooden mortar, take up the uber long pestle that looked like a mutant boat paddle and start pounding!

After sometime, the whole mess start to become mushy then gooey and the pounding becomes very much difficult. Later on in Dakeng farm, the boss gave us a very useful tip: to make chewy Muah Chee, you need to lift up the pounder real high with the gooey substance still clinging on the paddle and to the rest of the goo in the mortar and pound the Muah chee, preferrably hitting the mortar when you land, not on the goo as this will help to grind out the rough bits of the mashed rice and introduce elasticity to the substance when you pull the taffylike goo and pound.

Pound and pound and pound like mad women till your arms ache, check the Muah Chee and flip it a bit and repeat this process till the mix is totally smooth. Then coat your hands or disposable gloved hand with some cooking oil and grab a fistful (not handful) of the Muah Chee and squirt a small round out of the hole at the top of your fisted palms into the plate of mixed ground peanuts, sesame and icing sugar. Drop that lump and squeeze your fists again. Then all the Muah Chee have been squirted into small rounds, not too big or the taste would be good, and you start to roll the small bits of Muah Chee till they are coated with the ground nut mix. Nice! Now you can start munching!

After a full day's activities, I'm ready for a rest....zzzzz

In the area

13th May 2007 - Day Two: Yeliu > Chiufen > Hualien

The actual tour starts


Along the northeast coast are rocky coastal lines with foamy cerulean blue waters. Along these roads and in parts of Hualien and Kenting, you will get to see many types of rubble mound (R-M) structures used in coastal line protection against erosion.

One of the most noticeable part of a R-M structure is call riprap. Riprap is a mixed assemblage of rubble, either dumped indiscriminately or deposited on the surface of a mound to protect the mound against erosion by waves and scouring by tidal action and underwater currents.

You would mostly see large cubical or rectilinear blocks of quarried stone of the prevalent types: tetrapods, tribars, and dolosse. No reinforcing steel or steel lifting eyes are used in dolosse and tetrapods; consequently, corrosion is not a problem, and unit cost is minimized. Dolos and tetrapod units are less vulnerable to damage during placement and storms than the various other types of concrete armor units.

From the tremendous amounts of R-M structures seen along the coast, I deem that Taiwan's coast is extremely vulnerable to erosion by strong wave action. On an interesting note I also noticed these concrete armours being placed along rivers even in Taroko Gorge.

At certain parts of the coast approaching Yeliu, you could see large rocks sticking out of the sea; these rocks continue along the sea underwater and you could see water being blown up from the sea as the waves crashes around the rocks.

According to our guide, the waters around Taiwan's coast can reach a depth of 4000m just a short distance from the shore. So, if you are not a strong swimmer, you are not advised to swim in these turbulent waters especially those in the Northeast Coast where the currents can travel at tremendous speeds under the deep waters and gush up and outwards when it hits the rocks creating a vacuum-like vortex called the “疯狗浪”



The story of why Chiufen is called Chiufen or translated in English means: Nine portions.

In the past, that area was sparsely populated by farms. So sparse that there were only nine families living on the mountain. As transportation and road infrastructure were undeveloped at that time, it was terribly inconvenient for the families to get their supplies from the foot of the mountain.

Being a closely knit community, whenever someone went down, they would in goodheartedness order nine portions of everything he/she need for the rest of the families and neighbours living up there. After sometime, the merchants became familiar with them and their odd request for nine portions of everything that they will automatically call out "Chiu-fen" when the person placed his/her orders and the name stuck.

One day one of the 'chiufen' was walking along the river where he found gold. when this piece of news spread, people from everywhere moved to Chiufen to join in the gold rush fever and the population burgeoned to over 4000 people. Even today, after the Japs took off with most of the gold mined in chiufen, the experts invited by the government to survey Chiufen which is located on a volcanic region, are still finding untapped gold resources that was previously technologically unattainable.

During cattail season, the whole mountain is covered with the white down of cattails.

Taiwan is truly blessed for possessing such an abundant supply of resources. According to our guide, Taiwan's climate can be divided into 3 temperate zones with a huge variance. Along the way, he also pointed out to us the 'Pixiu's standing guard at numerous entrances of the tunnels. Pixiu 貔貅 is male and is typically a luckbringer, a fortune bringer and a ward against all things bad for the living. Pixie 辟邪, is female and is typically seen carrying a young. The female animal is used for the dead and is buried together with the bodies. They can be found in ancestral graves. May's Seasonal Flower: 五月雪- 油桐花 Tung Blossom / Paulownia Flower / Princess Tree Blossom

This is a closeup. It is said that in Miaoli, whole mountains will be covered in a sheet of white when the flower is in bloom. When the wind blows through the mountain range, the petals of the Princess tree will be borne aloft from 'snowladen' trees into the air like twirling snowflakes in the cover of white, hence the name 五月雪 or May's Snowfall. Too bad I only got a glimpse of a lone Paulownia Tree while onboard the tourbus :(

Another area where you can find the blossom :

Astar Hotel

Very bad. I don't know if I'm influenced by my room lockout. I was intending to go out to get some water from the heated water cooler along the corridor coz I didn't dare to make use of the heavily scaled airpot and my friend got the same idea to do so but the door slammed on her before she had the opportunity to grab the keys by the door which we stick into the power switch in order to turn it on. Thats a very sticky door!

Worst of all the bus driver & the tour guide were settling up the bills at the reception when I went down to ask for help. The concierge used the master key to open the door for us. One Lesson Learnt: Always separate the hotel room key from the power switch on the keychain when possible and keep it on you at all times!! Room Number:5flr lastnumberA?

Toilet: found a hair inside the sealed comb package before I actually opened it for use. Didn't dare to use any of the complimentaries there. Only good thing was the hairdryer which was better than Yaward's which worked in one minute intervals then short circuited after a few blasts at our wet clothes.. Room

Can see the running track straight on and the Breakfast Room is on 2nd Floor, Right. can see ppl eating while I was brushing teeth.

At Yaward Directly opposite Breakfast Room Just walk straight down the corridor 203.

There is minor earthquake on 13th May 2007. Ade and Lp's sensations were true. The following is copied from Central Weather Bureau "5月13日01時50分 4.9 宜蘭牛鬥地震站東偏南方 13.3 公里"

Kenting 457, Debao , FourPoints 711, Futurestar 713

12th May 2007 - Day One: Singapore > Taipei Ximenting

Set off at 9.30am to the airport. Shared a cab with J. Every other persons were late. First time tried the auto gates where you insert the passport with the page turned to the one with your dets. gate opens, place thumb on screen for scanning and the second gate opens.

SQ876 took off after queuing for quite sometime under the good sun. I had a feeling that the climate control system was non-existent. We were squeezed so close behind a Tiger Airways plane and in front of an SQ plane like people jostling for positions. I don't know if 12.40 noontime was peak hour @ runway but isn't Changi Airport supposed to be efficient? Not allowed to carry water, no drinks before takeoff, I was parched!

Having learnt my earpopping lesson on MA, I took along some chewy bonbons to masticate during the takeoff.

Lunch on board was chicken w broccoli, salad and broiled prawns with chilled chinese noodles, a bread roll, wrapped up lunch with a magnum ice-cream cone.

2 days earlier we did online check-in to change our seats from the back to the middle section of the plane. It was a hassle and we ran into some problems we still had to queue the same amount of time for our boarding pass at the check in counter that I wondered what is the point of online check in. However, it was a good thing we did secure mid-section seats becos the plane did run into quite a bit of turbulence halfway through even though the pilots did their best to get around the turbulence.

Although there was turbulence, there weren't alot of clouds blocking our view of Taiwan.

[insert picture here][insert picture here]

In the light of sunset, the endless mountains, long grey stretches of roads snaking though the land, small dense huddle of building in cities versus the light sprinkling of houses smaller than a grain of rice amidst the neatly planted rows of crops, running rivers versus heavily sedimented and dried out rivers provided an unforgettable view of Taiwan as the shadow of our plane glided past green and gold fields on the slanted beams of the setting sun.

Had a feeling that we reach there after 5.20pm.

On the way to baggage claim was a quarantine post. Hl was stopped by an official as the thermal sensor indicated that her entire forehead was red. The rest of us decided to go to the loo while she filled out forms. While waiting for my turn, I was secretly tickled that they actually thought to change the name of the airport from CKS Airport to Taoyuan Airport even on a small thing such as the toilet air freshener. If it was up to me, I'd wait for the sprayer to be spoilt before I'd decide to change it, from a pragmatic economical viewpoint.

In the cubicle wall behind the loo was a sign telling users to please throw their used toilet paper in dustbin and not bowl and provided an inkling of the sanitary system of Taiwan for days to come. It was the first time I did not throw it straight into the bowl as it would strain the sewage system.

After Hl filled out her contact details, we left for get our baggage. As we still had much time on our hands before travelling to Terminal 1 to meet our landtour group at 7+pm, we decided to raid the tourist information counter for pamplets, maps and brochures. Signed up for the free international student pass that allows us to have student discounts in certain places.

The pass is a rubbery bookmark-like keychain that can be hanged on bags and it is accompanied by a cute pin with a note that enlighened me on the Naruwan Taiwan logo.

Written on the note: "T" represents the sheltering eaves of Taiwan in a symbol of the island as a warm home. The "a" represents the host of this home, ardently welcoming travelors to Taiwan. "i" is the traveller who has come to visit and is being received by the host and "w" is the host and visitor shaking hands and greeting each other happily. "an" represents the two sitting together drinking tea and chatting casually. On the upper right corner of the logo is an image of the island that expresses Taiwan's earnest and sincere desire to "Touch your Heart".

Took the shuttle bus to Terminal 1 and stopped at a little cafe near the bus ticketing counters for a rest while we check out the buses available and if necessary make transport arrangements to take us back to the Airport on the last day. Decided on Free Go cos unlike other buses it stops directly infront of FS hotel that we are staying on the last day. Bus fare: NT$135.

During the rest time, we tried out our phones and discovered that those using prepaid cards could receive calls from subscription plan mobiles but could not call out to other s'pore mobiles and each sms cost S$1 to $2+ for S'pore mobiles to S'pore phones *gasps*.

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In case we need to contact hotels or each other during the free and easy part of our stay and we need to call back to singapore to our families, we signed up for 2 sets of the cheapest local prepaid IF for NT$300 with NT$400 talktime at the Far East Tone telecom counter situated at the right of the arrival gate which is so much cheaper. Calling to Singapore costs NT$0.075/min on weekends and NT$0.085 on weekdays. To call, simply dial +65 followed by the singapore telephone number will do. To call a taiwan landline, you will need to add area code e.g 02 for Taipei in front of the telephone number. To call a taiwan mobile number, dial 09 blahblahblah whichever number it is will do. The telcom have service licenses for GSM1800 (islandwide) and GSM900 (northern region) . To check value of card, dial "777" They will need to photostat your passport in order to sign you up. You can visit for more details.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rules, Weather and what to bring?


Today the new Changi Airport Rule is formally in place. Carry-ons should not contain liquids, aerosols & gels in containers more than 100ml and the total of such content shouldn't exceed 1 Litre.


Looking good. 90% of the areas are sunny and in the region of 22-32deg oC. But still must bring Torch and raincoat/brolly if wish to visit caves.

When To Go to Taiwan?

Spring can be clear and dry, or wet and grey, or even blighted by a sandstorm from China. Sometimes you get all three conditions in one day.
Summer (June to August) is a great time to visit the east coast, especially for outdoor activities, but be aware of typhoons, which can hit the island from June to October. Summer is not a good time for travel to the outer islands as they are crowded with tourists, and flights and hotels are difficult to secure. Try October to November when rates have dropped but the weather is still great. The cities are always hot and sticky in summer.
Autumn (September to November) is best, as conditions tend to be warm and dry, air pollution is at a minimum, and prices lower.
Avoid travelling during the Chinese New Year holiday as the entire country pretty much shuts down. Some good holidays not to avoid, however, include Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and the Matsu Pilgrimage.
In general, July and August, Chinese New Year, and Saturday nights are considered high season and accommodation prices are often double the off-season rates. Outside touristy areas, however, there is little change in price from month to month (only perhaps weekday and weekend).


Taiwan is sub-tropical:
> the mountains can be chilly in summer (June to August)
> snowy in winter (December to February)

The dry season lasts from November to January in the north but extends to April in the south.
Summer is hot and sticky all over the low parts of the island, with drenching rains in the mountains.
Daytime temperatures in Taipei are around 33°C in summer and 19°C in winter, while the southern regions experience warmer winters with daytime highs of around 24°C (75°F).
In winter monsoon winds can sweep across the island from Central Asia and cool the air by 10°C or more in a few hours.

the above section is extracted from:

Currency Rates

Tried posting this yesterday but there were some probs with google and blogger. Rate: SingDollar $1 to New Taiwan Dollar $21.70 Where: Crante Money Changer 1 Park Rd #01-28 Singapore 059108 Tel : 6532-5929