Date: 4 October 2013
Location: Changi Airport
Our flight was scheduled to fly on 5 October, 12:55am, so we arranged to meet at the airport at 10.30pm the night before.
By 5.30am, we arrived in TAIWAN!
And the plan for Day 1 was…
We took a Singapore budget airline, Scoot, and the flight landed in Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1. Flying by a budget airline means that there will be no F&B and inflight entertainment provided. So, upon arrival in Taipei, we just had to grab a quick breakfast before we even step out of the airport.
My friend told me, that the shop to purchase a 3G Datacard is Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) and is located at Terminal 2. It opens only at 8am, hence, having breakfast in the airport is a good plan.
Doing a quick search on Google now, it’s stated that the Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) shop is available at both Terminal 1 and 2. You may click here to get more information, or just ask the airport staff for assistance :)
For this leg of the trip at Taipei, we booked an apartment, commonly known as 民俗 (min su). It’s similar to a hotel, only without a 24hrs front counter/conceierge, breakfast/restaurant area/daily housekeeping services. However, these apartments are usually cheaper than hotels, and can be as comfortable! We decided to try out apartments for this trip as we wanted to work within a tight budget and experience something different.
[[ We moved around 6 hotels/apartments during this trip and observed that the check-in timings in Taiwan are mostly at 3pm. ]]
However, we managed to arranged with the owner to meet us at 11am to at least leave our luggage in our rented room first.
The apartment we booked with is Island, 南島‧嶼. The owners were friendly and accommodating, and the room was great! It was located inside one of the buildings in Wan Hua District (萬華區), which is very near to Xi Men Ding (西门町). You will literally feel like a Taiwanese whilst staying in their apartments ;) There’s also a 7-11 store below the apartment so it’s very convenient if you wish to get something in the late hours.
Disclaimer: Please pardon if the photos hue is not nice. I don’t do photoshop.
The room is clean, big and comfy. With the washing machine-cum-dryer, it was very convenient for us to do our own laundry, although dryers usually take like 2 hours or more to dry the clothes.
We did our laundry almost everyday, hehe.
So, after putting down our luggage after lugging them around for like 5 hours, we searched for food again. (ya, I don’t know why we were constantly hungry :/ )
We turned some corners randomly and found a traditional-looking food store tucked away from the main streets, and we decided to give it a try. It’s called Wang Ji Rice Dumpling 王记府城肉粽.
Address: No.84 Xining South Road,Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan [Map]
Entering the shop, you’ll see their menu on their shop’s wall, and basically that’s what they sell (only).
I personally love the Taiwanese style Thin Noodles (mee sua) that comes with pork and pig intestines, as well as the Bowl Rice Cake, while my travelling partner loves the Fish Ball Soup with Radish and Pork Rice Dumpling.
Amazingly, when we googled about some place in Taiwan after that, we found out from a blog that this food stall is featured in a Taipei travel guidebook, which means, it’s a not-bad food stall!
You can also find reviews on this food outlet here @ TripAdvisor :)
After lunch, we strolled and shopped around Xi Men Ding (西门町) and we saw this group of strangely attired people at the central square area outside of Xi Men (西门) Station. We guessed that there was some kind of campaign going on. Poor fellas gotta continue with the campaign even under the rain!
Crossing the road, we made our way into Xi Men Red House (西门红楼), a famous octagonal red-bricked landmark of Taipei. There are activities going on inside and outside of the Red House.
Despite the rain, the stall owners continue to do their set up. On the day we went, the stalls were selling handicrafts that the stall owners made on their own, ranging from accessories like earrings to bags and clothes.
Walking into the building itself, there are some permanent exhibits and there was also an art exhibition happening inside.
My travel buddy says, we need to taste our favourite food on our first day here! So, after some shopping, exploration around Xi Men Ding (西门町) and a nap back at the apartment, we went to Ningxia Night Market (宁夏夜市) for dinner.
Other than the normal night markets food stalls (that only opens from evening onwards), they have a not-to-be-missed food outlet is Formosa Chang (Hu Xu Chang – 鬍鬚張). They have several outlets, but the ones I know of is at Ningxia Night Market (宁夏夜市) and Wu Fen Pu (五分埔).
So, so, so, they sell yummilicious braised meat rice (卤肉饭) and they’re famous for that. Other than that, they also have meat, soup and vege dishes. We tried their braised meat rice (卤肉饭) – a definite must, fishball with radish soup, (巩丸汤), and beansprouts in oyster sauce.
After dinner, my travel buddy brought me to a dessert stall that she has been to before. It’s located a few stalls ahead of Formosa Chang.
It really looks like a normal dessert stall you will see everywhere. BUT, the desserts are SUPERBLY NICE! We ordered red bean beancurd (her fave) and shaved ice with ingredients of your choice (my fave). We picked taro balls, yam balls, jellies, etc for the shaved ice.
The texture (口感）of the beancurd is unlike that of the beancurds we find in Singapore (be it the old traditional kind or the Lao Ban kind). We believe it’s rough because their beancurds are traditionally and manually grind to make this beancurd that they sell. (We say we believe because we didn’t ask.) And my travel buddy loves the red bean a lot cause it’s not too soft nor too hard. It’s an amazing combination! Trust us!
Now, this is my favourite! It’s not too sweet or too bland. The taro balls and yam balls are not too chewy. It’s like the balls are at the accurate chewy-ness! In Singlish, it basically means, “WAH LAU EH! Not too chewy, JUST NICE LEH!”
And let me tell you how important this is! I’m not a fan of glutinous food stuff, mind you, I hate it and I will vomit each time I chew on one for too long. This dessert is very similar to the ones we see in Black Balls in Singapore. I can’t finish a bowl of Black Balls dessert on my own. BUT THIS! This is like heaven, I can have as many as I want, I can even finish the whole bowl of this dessert on my own! This is NOTHING compared to Black Balls in Singapore. Black Balls gotta bow down to this dessert stall, hehe.
Okay, enough with the ravings. Well, at Ningxia Night Market (宁夏夜市), the food stalls are set up in 2 rows, so you just need to walk in the middle and you can buy food from 2 sides.
Due to the rain, we decided to purchase a few food items and took a cab back to our apartment to savour the food slowly.
Day 1 isn’t very adventurous but we took it slow in order not to tire ourselves out just on the first day.
Look out for Day 2’s adventure!
p.s. it took me weeks to write this entry, so let’s hope Day 2’s entry wouldn’t take too long, hehe imma busy woman :P