Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TRAVEL: Taiwan Day 1 (Part I)

Okay, so the front part of this entry is still pre-Taiwan. Haha. M's nephew, Lucas, went to the airport for the first time to send us off. The photos were taken when he just woke up, hence the grouchy and blur faces. Haha. But once he was all warmed up, he started walking everywhere. He was particularly enthralled by the departure board and the constant flipping of characters and blinking lights.

Ahhh... Little kids. (:

The difference between a boy and a girl (Mine's the heavier one, of course!). Haha. M was a little shocked because we had only purchased 10kg extra baggage allowance on our way back. In the end, we purchased another 15kg. Haha.

And because I'm a beauty junkie, we headed straight to Nuance-Watson upon checking in. Look at all these Revlon goodies!!! I wish they were available outside of the airport. And at these amazing prices. ):

All the lovely sets and deals! Though I do think prices are still higher than what you can get online!

Adorable Shu Uemura's Cleansing Oil travel set!

Swatches of YSL's Touche Éclats! I really, really wanted to get this. I have been wanting it since the last time I saw it, right before I left for Korea with Fel. But Fel was like "WHAT?!?" when she saw the price and kept going how expensive it was, that I shouldn't buy and I have way too much makeup already. Which is very true... Even though it shouldn't count for anything because hello?!? YSL here!

So anyway, I was determined to get it this time round. And just when I was about to take my Touche Éclat and head to the cashier, all of a sudden, I heard a little Fel's voice going on in my head, 'nagging' and 'nagging' me not to buy them, reminding me about the drawers of stuff I have... I swear I grabbed M and told him to take me far, far away!

We spent the rest of our time at the canteen on the 2nd floor, with Maccas and Subway. Yes, even though we were gonna have plane food. Heh. We boarded the plane at 12.55am and left without any delay.

Bye, Singapore!
Hello, Taiwan!

We reached Terminal 2, Taoyuan International Airport at 5.10am! Haha. Just before we exited the arrival area, we collected all the relevant Taiwan maps in English. After exiting, we collected the Youth Travel Cards from the Visitor Centers of Tourism Bureau by showing our passports.

Meant for travelers who are between the ages of 15 and 30, the Youth Travel Cards entitle you to discounts or little gifts... But ummm, they were pretty useless for us. We weren't very interested in the places where discounts were given and Din Tai Fung(鼎泰豐) was supposed to give us little Xiao Long Baos (小笼包) as handphone charms but the promotion ended just before we arrived. )':

For those who reach Taoyuan International Airport at unearthly hours and want to get prepaid cards... Unfortunately, the earliest that you can get one is at 7am. So what we did was to head up to 7-Eleven, which is on level 2, to have some food. Haha!

(Alternatively, you can make your way to Burger King, plug in your laptop and start updating your Facebook status, tweet, Instagram etc. Haha.)

M's very first bowl of cup noodles in Taiwan! The boy is as nutty over cup noodles as I am over beauty products! He said that this was just normal though, nothing special.

I had a Black Sugar Mantou (黑糖饅頭), that was really warm and strange. In the end, I bought the same bowl of cup noodles. Haha!

Taiwan has 3 major telecom operators; Chunghwa Telecom(中華電信), Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大) and Far EasTone. The outlets, however, are all opened at 8am except for the Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) outlet at Terminal 2's Departure Hall, which opens at 7am. Please note that you need to present your passport and identification card in order to buy a prepaid card.

M paid NT$500 for 10 days of unlimited internet usage and was given complimentary 120 minutes of talk time.

After collecting whatever there was to collect and getting whatever there was to get, we took a cab down to our hotel. Our driver was Henry (Tel.: 0936-055-790, if you can SMS in Mandarin. Otherwise, you can SMS in English to his wife, Eva, at 0913-285-200. She drove us to the airport on the last day.).

The above's a really bad shot of the cab but anyway, the cab was luxurious. It was even equipped with Wi-Fi! What on earth right?!? Anyway, when you reach the arrival hall, you will actually be greeted by many cab drivers and most will quote a fare of NT$1000.

As aforementioned, you can take the Airport Bus to Taipei Main Station but do take note that you need to climb down a long flight of stairs to get to the tracks. :\ Unless your luggage's small and light, I would actually advise you to take a cab... Okay, I'm exactly like Dad. I will pay for convenience.

Oh yes! Henry thought M and I were on our honeymoon. Heh. Most people did, which I guess is understandable but whatever. It made me happy! Heh. :DDD

And TADAHHH!!! This is our hotel! :D Being a paranoid person, I was really afraid it would be shoddy or that our room would be like my Sydney one *shudders*, but nuh-uh! It was such a great stay! :D The staff and housekeepers were really friendly and helpful! :D

Diagonally opposite was Family Mart. Just a lane behind it, was 7-Eleven.

Subway and a few other eateries, both Western and Chinese, were opposite.

We deposited our luggage at the front desk and headed down to Taipei Main Station to find Lilin and Jessica, who were leaving Taiwan that afternoon! I think it's really, really awesome to be able to meet friends on trips (OMG! Wait till I tell you a story that happened in the middle of our trip!!!).

Taipei has its own MRT and EZ-link cards, except that they are called EasyCards. We actually collected our complimentary EasyCards, with NT$50 in them, from the Taiwan Visitors Association in Singapore! Apparently, the gifts differ each season. To redeem them, you need to show physical copies of the confirmation of your airplane tickets and hotel accommodations.

30 Raffles Place, #10-01
Chevron House, (S)048622
Tel.: +65 6223 6546/7

Taipei Main Station, as mentioned before, is where all the train lines in Taiwan meet; Taiwan High Speed Rail (Bullet train.), Taiwan Railway and Taipei Metro. The station is also made up of several underground malls that close at 9.30pm.

We walked through the Front Metro Mall (Exit Z) to get to Lilin and Jessica's hotel and TADAHHH!!! Cosmed was there in all of its orange glory!!! Hehehe. For the uninitiated, Cosmed is like Watsons, except ten times better. Haha. Well, Cosmed seemed to have more deals and sets when I was there. I think I only walked into Watsons twice. The rest of the time, I was in Cosmed!

After meeting the 2 ladies, all of us headed down to Maccas to grab breakfast and then, went back to the hotel. M and I were supposed to share the Big Breakfast but I was too zonked out and promptly fell asleep on Lilin's and Jessica's bed. :\ M said the chicken patty tasted different and the scrambled eggs were less milky.

When the 2 ladies left, we walked around a little but the buildings around Exit Z were mostly banks and financial institutions, so there wasn't really much to do. A random shoe shop here and there, a Christian bookstore, some small eateries...

We dropped by Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越), which is a departmental store and everything was really expensive. Most stores were selling winter wear and they had the loveliest coats! It's just too bad that SG is summer all year round! ):

Oh yes! The roads were filled with yellow cabs and bikes! And it was pretty scary crossing roads because there were vehicles zooming past me left and right, directly in front and behind! Even when it was a red light! Like what the... I took so long to cross a road and M was always like "You must just walk!" and rambled on about not being scared of the vehicles and that they should be scared of you or something like that. Haha.

A peek of the hotel room and Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) are up next! :D

P.S.: I know my tenses are really wonky here but I can't be bothered anymore! Been mulling over it for a night; what should be present, what should be past and what sounded right. JH, help me!!!


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