Sunday, March 23, 2014

Taipei 2014

We took a short vacation to Taipei this March holidays. It was fun because it was a new country for us and surprisingly, the boys really loved it. The most curious thing was that Kieran was so adventurous in his eating habits this trip as he tried almost all the street food that we bought!

Day 1: Arrived in Taipei
Arrived at Taoyuan Airport and from there, it was an easy transfer by bus to our hotel near Taipei Main Station. The ticket booths are just situated right when you walk out of the airport. We took the Kuo Kwang transportation and it was only NT125 per adult all the way to Taipei Main Station.

That evening itself, we headed out to Ximen and tried the street foods there. And Kieran surprised us as he was really adventurous and tried everything that we bought. From the 臭豆腐 to the Oyster Mee Sua!

Day 2: 台北 ⇒  北投⇒ 淡水 ⇒ 士林
We went to the hot springs at 北投. It is the first time that the boys have been to anything like that. It was really fun and it was a little amusing to realise that we were the only "younger" people there. It seems that the hot spring is the hangouts of 啊嬷 and 阿公!

After a good soak at the Millennium Springs, we walked back down the park to a yummy lunch at 满来拉面. I didn't find the la mian really great, but the 温泉蛋 (hot spring soft boiled eggs) were amazing. Also, you could play a little game at the shop to win a free 温泉蛋. There is this zip line that runs across the entire shop where the staff use to send orders into the kitchen. They attach the orders to the zip line with some heavy metal washers and then give it a swing to send the order directly into the kitchen. They give guests a try and if we can also send the orders right into the kitchen with a clink (the washer hitting the other end), we win the egg! However, luck was not on our side (neither did I have the technique). I couldn't get the little metal piece to go all the way to the end.

We went to 淡水 for the afternoon. Spend the afternoon at the Fisherman's Wharf and Tamsui Old Street. It was an afternoon of non-stop eating again. I think the highlight of the afternoon was the ferry ride that we took from Fisherman's Wharf back to Tamsui Old Street.

Day 3: 台北 ⇒ 野柳 ⇒ 九份 ⇒ 十份

Yeh Liu Geopark was really a very interesting place. The landscape is due to sea erosion. Many of the structures seen were due to years and years of erosion by the sea. After the sea level receded, the structures were left standing. Some of the rock formations are really very interesting looking. The famous structures are the Queen's head (a few of them) and other funny ones like the drumstick and the ice cream cone.

After Yeh Liu, we went on to Jiufen. This was another place where we spent the afternoon eating and eating. The streets are lined with traditional buildings. The architecture reflects a Japanese influence. However, when in Jiufen, we had to be careful with where/ which streets we turned into because the streets are narrow and sometimes we do not know if we were actually going in circles!

After Jiufen, we headed on to Shifen. Shifen is where tourists go to 放天灯. It was a very nice experience for the boys. Some of the messages that they wrote on the lantern were really quite funny! We also took a train (old sort of train) from Shifen to Jingtong Station.

Dinner was at Shilin. Again we had hawker fare and cos it was late and we had a long day out, we didn't walk around much.

Day 4: 中正纪念堂五分埔

Day 4 was a pretty free and easy day for us. We decide to go 中正纪念堂 for the morning before popping by 五分埔 for some shopping. I was a little worried that the boys would find Chiang Kai Shek Memorial a little too boring. Surprisingly, they loved the open space to run about and we managed to catch a little of the guard changing ceremony. This place brought back memories of my own military band trip when I was in secondary 2, when we participated in an international band festival here.

We flew off on the 5th day to Hong Kong. Once in Hong Kong, it is the usual Disneyland activities!! :P  Just a note, that there is a new ride at DLHK that was really fun. The boys call it the Grizzly Gulch. It is a roller coaster that drops backwards! Also, the other new ride that we liked is the Mystic Manor. It is a little like the Nightmare before Christmas ride at Anaheim, but it is set in the context of the home of Lord Mystic and his mischievous monkey, Albert. 

This was a pretty fun trip because we did a number of new stuff and I think the boys (especially Kieran) has been quite adventurous. That's the reason why we believe in bringing our boys on holidays with us all the time. We believe that the experience they get from these holidays is priceless.

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