Thursday, September 14, 2017

RTW #9 Taiwan

PEY Upgrade from BR
I got upgraded to Premium Economy and this is my first flight with Eva Air. I scrapped my MNL-HKG-TPE with Cathay Pacific, just because it doesn't jive with my 55kg baggage. Star Alliance gold has its perks for additional baggage. So that's that. More room for my happy feet.

Taipei and the missing Vendome Hotel
First I shall say that the transport system in Taiwan is so awesome. But finding my hotel is really frustrating because normally I stayed in Airbnb for my world tour but this is one of them cities that I decided to book a hotel. Then I realised Vendome Hotel is not like you're typical Sofitel, Shangri-la. It is hiding in a huge building and it occupies levels 11 and 12. So that's why I couldn't find it.

Location was perfect. Starbucks at the lobby next to Zara. Uniqlo is around the corner too. Shops close late at night. Taiwanese chicken popcorn just next to Starbucks. Just perfect.

Hazel Erika's Arrival
My cousin arrived 2am that night. And she was so tired from the trip. She ended up reaching the hotel 4am. I told her not to sleep. Otherwise she will miss one whole day of fun.

The Manic Itinerary
We went to a famous old buddhist temple, Lungshan. Then we realise how hot it is in Taipei. I wish we had an umbrella. But we ended up catching the train all the time. We went to shopping place similar to Shinjuku. The place is called Ximen. We ate a weird bread stick and washed it away with Taiwanese milk tea, tasted like Gong-cha. Then we took a bus to go to the famous Changkai-Shek memorial. Walked through the park and saw Taipei 101. We finally walked to Sun-yat Sen memorial and there we saw Taipei 101 with a nice picturesque view.

We went home because my cousin can feel exhausting creeping in. I told her my batteries are still good. So I went for walk to another temple called Hsing Tian Kong. It was a very quick visit. The water cups they have are literally pieces of folder paper that you shape into a cone then pour water. How cool was that? Then I took a bus and missing my stop, I went all the way to Jiantanshan Park. But its good, the garden was really mesmerizing. But the walk to Martyrs' Shrine took most of the time. Before I know it, it was already closed. So then for my final stop, I went to Shilin Market. It was really nice. I wish I have my cousin with me but she was still busy with her beauty sleep.

She woke up when I was about to return. So I told her to meet her Taiwanese friends and enjoy the rest of the night. I was about to rest anyway and do some quick shopping in the area.

Rain and Fog up in the mountains
The next day's itinerary was about exploring the mountain region of Yangmingshan area. We went to the park through bus and uber. Later realising how massive the park is. It reminded me of Lake Kawaguchiko the way it was setup. We walked through the Erzipping trail. It was all the same for the next 30 minutes. While walking, it was perfect time to talk about our family concerns. Open up every issue we had with the Bonuses. Then we just realised how we are unbreakable and we attested to our closeness and nothing shall make it falter. Reaching the end of the trail, it was a very beautiful garden with pond and scenic view like in the movies. Very authentic Taiwanese rural setting even with the fog. I just realise how beautiful it could have been should it had been a clear nice day.

We then went to Beitou after that and had a more relaxing time in the hot springs. I forgot the time and my cousin paged me for crying out loud. It was past 3 in the afternoon and we haven't had lunch yet. We order heaps of Xiao Long Bao and some fried dumpings. Washed away by Hazel's bitter tea and my awesome Taiwan beer.

Final stop is Maokong
The sun is still hiding even though it was my last day. Hazel is not my lucky charm. It was raining still but not to windy that we were able to ride cable car to Maokong. We walked for so long in search of temples and my ultimate goal was to find the Pothole. Erika was furious, because we descended hundreds of steps from top of the mountain to find that bloody pothole. And after awhile, we found it. She cooled a bit and was happy to see the Maokong Pothole too. The view back to the paved road is interesting. So many nice little falls, I call it little iguacu. And beautiful landscape of rural Taiwan. 

Taipei 101
At night we visited Taipei 101, because we were in search of a nice shopping mall. This was to luxurious though. All the brands you can think of is here. Upscale but we found the basement grocery store so we got our cheap Taiwan chocolates and of course, Pineapple cake for our family and friends back home.

Laurel Class and ANA Business Class
I went ahead and left my cousin enjoying Taipei for couple of hours. I think she met with her friends so I am not feeling guilty. It is hard when you can't offer lounge access to your relative. So I went ahead and enjoyed my pampered treatment at the EVA lounge. This is one is extra special because of the unlimited Movenpick. 

Laurel class was really really nice. I like EVA Air's hard product. ANA on the other hand is good too. I remember my first time with ANA I was bumped to business. And its on Dreamliner so it is extra special. I slept like a baby the whole time and it means I have more energy when I arrive in Tokyo after 6 long hours.

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