Friday, October 11, 2013

The world is ours to explore

After a whopping long wait of 3 months, we finally got on our first plane ride together to Taipei in August. This trip was thoughtfully planned by the boyfriend, for my 22nd birthday. We've actually very much wanted to head to Tokyo but the cheapest flight we found had shitty timing, and we reasoned that it's not worth the price after all and I would rather save up more to head there next year.

I'm a very gan chiong person when it comes to bookings, so when we settled our flight, we almost immediately settled our accomodation without much research online. D is very much into nice looking hotels even if that meant spending more, whereas i really couldn't be bothered because I am just concerned with my shopping experience there. But he found this In-House Hotel at Taipei Ximending and it was apparently the most expensive hotel on Agoda for all the hotels listed in the same region, therefore he said, "it must be good la, it's the most expensive! I want this!" And, we booked it in a heartbeat. It costs about SGD$150/night.

No regrets because it's so pweddddy!  Don't be deceived by the pictures, it's actually really dark which is something I love and hate about the room. It's nice when you are all sleepy and cuddly on the bed but it's bad for photo taking, and it makes it hard for me to find small items in the room.  The bed's real comfy, and the facilities are really well maintained. The staff there are really nice and helpful too!

The bathroom that we LOVE. I don't understand the concept of new hotels whereby the toilets are almost as big as the room itself... But check out the toiletries below! L'OCCITANE PRODUCTS :D

So therefore, we are really happy with the hotel! No regrets. In-house is very conveniently located at the heart of Ximending, making it really easy for you to access the shopping area and it's about a 5 minutes walk to the train station.

After rolling and frolicking around on the bed like a fat whale for about half an hour, we finally headed out onto the streets. It was late noon by then, and I think within the first 15 mins that I stepped foot onto XMD, I have already bought about 7 bottles of sunblock from the Watsons because it's SO MUCH cheaper than in Singapore! If you love Biore's sunblock, do get it when you are in Taiwan! It's so much cheaper and they even have promotions every now and then that makes it even cheaper :D Look how tanned I have become from shoots. At the end of the entire trip, I have spent about SGD$90 on 10 bottles of sunblock. I know right.

So my first round of shopping started while D accompanies me all around while I oooh-ed and ahhh-ed at everything I see on the streets and helped me with my shopping bags. I am a very blessed and lucky girl. Prior to my trip, everyone has been telling me about the famous Ah Zong Mee Sua that is found in XMD so that made it a must-have. (: Well, it was undoubtedly nice and there was a long queue for it but it's not crazy fantastic or anything.

I've always been a pretty fast shopper... Quite decisive I would say. I don't like spending time trying on clothes or pondering if I should get something for long in a shop so the boy loves shopping with me, and I, hate shopping with girls. We combed the entire XMD in a 2hours + (I think), and then we took the train down to Shilin Night Market! Everywhere is really accessible by the train, and their trains are so much less crowded than Sg's.

So here we are, and this is also another place where I went crazy shopping and eating. Everywhere seems like such a mess and I couldn't really remember where I've walked but we bought lots of things nonetheless and headed back to the hotel only when it is closing.

We've heard people say that you barely need to take a proper meal in Taiwan, because all the street food would be enough to fill you up. True that. Everywhere we walked, we find food that we want to try or eat.


Our hotel breakfast! I felt that the variety was a tad bit too little though, but the boy liked it and he says he has all that he wants to eat. The one with all the chicken wings is mine! ^_^

We had actually drafted out our itinerary for the 4 days in Taiwan, but while we were heading to the train station on the morning of Day 2, we were approached by taxi drivers that offer packages to take us up to Jiu Fen and Shi Fen at the rate of NTD2500 for about 5 hours. Jiu Fen and Shi Fen are a little less accessible because it's pretty far out from XMD, and it's up a mountain actually so unless you are really keen to take public transport, I think this is the best alternative you can get. These drivers have different packages and rates so if you'd like you may ask around first. We settled for one nice uncle and the journey took about 45 mins before we arrived at Jiu Fen!

Jiu Fen is an old street, so it looks pretty rustic there. There's nothing much to shop there except handicrafts and souvenirs, but it has a lot a lot of food. The heat was crazy, and I think we spent most of our money buying iced drinks again and again because it was THAT crazy.

Here's D, buying his favourite peanut ice cream sorta thing! It's like a scoop of ice cream wrapped with a layer of Popiah skin and layered with peanuts.

And oooh the very yummy xiang chang and my favouriteeeeeee below! Those snails :D :D :D I had two bowls of them and I cannot get enough. It's a pity because I cannot find them anywhere else in Taipei after I left Jiufen.

OMG my bowl of heaven!

After some sort of treacherous hiking we arrived at the end/ top of Jiu Fen and was awarded with a view! Who am I kidding. No hiking was required, but it sure felt like it. We stood there and took some pictures and I wanted to just give up and curl myself up and roll all the way back down when I think of how we needed to return back to the entrance because our cab uncle was still waiting for us. I've been to Jiufen when I was 15, and it's still pretty much the same anyway. I just can't get over the food.

We got back on the cab, and the driver whisked us over to Shi Fen where...... there's nothing for you to do but to write your wishes on a sky lantern and then release it into the sky. D has been extremely excited about this because he was never had the chance to do this before whereas I get to do this every year when I go to M'sia for CNY but it's exciting still cause it's the very first time we get to write our wishes on a lantern together. Fully aware that it's all a marketing gimmick, we went ahead and got duped willingly for the fun of it. Haha and yes we had a lot of fun writing our wishes on the lantern and giggling at what each other has written. He even wrote a surprise birthday message for me on it (,:

When we were done, we brought it over to the tracks where everyone would release their lanterns and handed my camera to the guy because he insisted on taking pictures for us and oh god the amount of pictures he made us take and the weird funny cheesy poses he made us do. I am sparing all of y'all from it so here's just a decent one of us with it before releasing. The rest of the photos were all badly overexposed anyway. ): What a pity.

We could request where we would like to be dropped off and we asked to go to Wufenpu and Raohe Night Market  and our driver dropped us at Raohe, because Wufenpu is just a short 5-10mins walk from the night market. After having walked so many shopping areas, you will realise the shops sell the same stuffs more or less. There's nothing much to purchase in Raohe as well, but I loveeeeeeeeee x 10000 the amount of things you could eat there!

You really wouldn't want to imagine how many of these oysters I had, I just kept buying because it's SO GOOD and SO CHEAP and I ate to the extent that D flared up and scolded me because he thinks it's really unhealthy that I'm indulging in this manner. /: But how to resist....?

No more pictures for the rest of the night because I was concentrating really hard on shopping at Wufenpu. Contrary to what all my friends said, I had so much to buy there! Thank God 2 days before my trip I heeded the advice of my blogshop owner friend who just went a week before I did and brought more cash there. I think I spent the bulk of my money there, and we had to lug sooooo many stuffs back to the hotel. My knees were giving way and my arms were numbed from carrying my shopping loots. It was mad.

But we rushed back to put the stuffs back in the room because it was about half an hour more before the clock strikes midnight to my birthday and D wanted to get me a cake. I won't go into the details but it was a whole lot of running round but we found no cake because XMD's streets were closed so early! But it was fine, I was hungry and I asked to eat the cup noodles we bought beforehand in the room while counting down to my birthday. When the clock struck 12, the boy sent me a whatsapp to wish me and leaned forward to kiss me. (,: And then, he whipped out this handmade card which he has spent an entire painstaking week to do. He said he could only do it after I've slept at night so I wouldn't know at all, and he actually went to shop for the scrapbook materials on his own. I'm really really impressed and very touched. He has also bought me a pair of Chanel slippers which he wanted to bring over to Taiwan and pass to me on the day of my birthday but I ruined the surprise in Singapore so he gave it to me days before we flew over here.

We spent the midnight going for massage at a parlour really near our hotel.

Just two pages of this card he has made for me (,:


I hadn't made any special plan just cause it was my birthday or anything, because I knew whatever it is we would have a lot of fun together and I can't ask for more because I am contented that I am able to spend my birthday overseas with the person that meant the world to me.

Showered, and all ready to head out!

First stop for the day- TAIPEI 1O1 for it's Din Tai Fung which everyone said is a must-try because DTF originated from Taiwan. We didn't go to the first outlet of DTF in the end so we went to the one at 101. The queue was mad, but so worth it! The service is impeccable, Singapore's should be ashamed really. Despite the consistent flow of crowd and it being full house, every single waitress was so well mannered and composed and really really thoughtful.

Being with the boy has taught me a really bad habit of over-ordering because he likes to have a huge variety for his meal, and he likes to tell me to "Just order both la!" when I asks him should I get Dish A or Dish B and the waitress actually told us nicely and said she doubt we could finish and asked if we would like to have half a portion of a certain dish instead. They even went around teaching everyone the proper way to eat XLB and to mix the sauces together.

After our meal, we took the train all the way down to Xing Bei Tou station to try the hot spring! I've tried it before when I came to Taiwan with my family 7 years ago. It was a bit of a bad idea because the weather was already sweltering, and we totally underestimated the aftermath of a hot spring. Thank God we settled for a private pool with an air conditioned room. Waiting for the pool to fill up was a torture because the hot spring water's flow was pretty small, and it took about half an hour or more and we FORGOT to mix in the cold water initially.

I stuck my feet in and I think my feet became well-done in an instant. After what seemed like an eternity of mixing of cold water in and dipping our feet in to test water, I finally submerged in for about ten mins but it was still so hot I felt giddy and nauseous and had to run out to the air-con room to rest. ): It was fun doing this together for the first time but we've decided we are never doing this again unless it's with a big group of friends for the fun of it.

Ours cost about SGD$70-80 for the both of us, which we felt was pretty cheap.

Because we were running late, we took a cab and rushed all the way down to the Fisherman Wharf. I wanted to catch the sunset but when we reached, we were already greeted by this view:

It was nice, but we were a little too late for it. ): It's not as romantic as it seemed because there were lots of people anyway, so we stood on the bridge to take some photos and just taking in the moment and the breeze before we took the cab down to Dan Shui Lao Jie since it's nearby.

Dan Shui Lao Jie is the most boring night market of all that we have been to. I think I bought a few more sunblocks cause I saw that there were further discounts and I bought even more masks!

Oh yes you probably already knew that masks are really cheap in Taiwan. I bought a total of ten sunblocks and about 60 pieces of masks back to Singapore. Hehe. We ate a little street food for dinner, and then we rushed back to the hotel to take a quick shower and went out to bask in the night life!

It's been a long long while since we have both steered clear of clubs and such, because we have been too caught up with work and it's starting to come to a point whereby we feel that too much night life wastes our life and money away, and there are really better things to do than to spend our time partying the nights away. #wearesooldandboringiknow

But we were completely blown away by the night life in Taipei. The girls are ridiculously hot, and the people in there are so much less douchy as compared to Singapore. It was a lot of fun dancing and mingling in the crowd. Here's two photos of us taken with the boy's iphone. When we stepped in, we were greeted by these green laser beams resembling the Matrix movie and I was so fascinated so I wanted a picture with it. The second picture was a random moment on the dance floor after we had a few shots and were really high. You should totally pay the club a visit if you visit Taipei. Initial plan was to club hop but I was too tired by then so we retired around 3am.


We woke up feeling all sluggish and nua because we really couldn't bear to leave. It's like my only agenda of the 4 days was to wake up to eat and shop and eat and shop. Our flight was in the evening, so we spent the last day walking around XMD again to get some last minute necessities and food before we chartered a ride back to the airport. 3 big bags of my loots, and I'm not kidding. Even though one of the bags was D's, most of the things found in there were mine. I came back a broke bird, but extremely happy and recharged for the new month of August ahead of us.

That sums up my birthday trip! (:

"But once in awhile, you find someone who is iridescent and when you do, nothing will ever compare."

I am incredibly blessed to have the boy with me, someone who gives in to me without a word of complaint and does all that he can to keep me happy and he is someone who shares my joy and immense love for travelling. There are just so many places that we want to explore together, and so many things that we want to do together. It's only October, and we have already confirmed our plans for Christmas and I'm so excited cause it's our first Christmas together and we are going to a do a little gift exchange! I love things like this, it makes the rest of the tough days easier to go through knowing we have things to look forward to. Come November, we are going on another trip on our own and one short trip with his friends! -rubs hands in glee- I can't wait for November's arrival, to finally head to this beautiful beach location I've been wanting to go for years. (: I've already packed my luggage in September for it hehe.

Omg, I can't wait already! (: We work hard, and we play even harder.


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