Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day One [Singapore -> Taoyuan (桃園) -> Cingjing (清境)]: Taiwan Trip 2014

My virgin journey to Taiwan has to start from somewhere and i guess the best place to begin is right at home where we had to take the plane from Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Oh yes, this man shall be my companion for the next nine days and you can see from the glint in his eyes that he was excited to leave; the last time he took an airplane was over three years ago!

Compared to the budget terminal (i am a sucker for cheap no-frill airfares), Terminal 2 has so much to do!!! There was this little magnificent garden that felt incredibly comfortable with air-conditioning constantly surrounding us!

And i could not help marveling at the terrariums that were teeming with life!

Those who wish to smell the nature and maybe traces of that disgusting cigarette stink can consider the outdoor "Sunflower Garden" on the upper level. I shall make it a point to plan my next air trip in the daytime so that i can take better photographs of the area.

Movie lovers would wish to stay forever in the cinema corner where movies are screened throughout! It's a pity that many airlines only allow an advance check in of at most three hours; hardly sufficient time to go through the entire terminal!

Time to board the plane and it was such a coincidence to bump into one of my ex school mates! By the way, it's my first time on Scoot and friends have been telling me scary stories of how unreliable its flights were! For those who are interested, i paid S$366.71 per person for this trip to Taiwan.

There was a 30-minute delay to the flight that was supposed to depart at 12.45am and it was all because of two passengers who didn't board the plane and had to have their comfortably-placed-in-the-plane luggage removed.

It was once again another tiring overnight journey (similar to what i encountered in my Ipoh trip) and i am slapping myself for allowing this to happen again. Personally, i found the seat to be on the tight side and i am not even tall to begin with!

Geez, we were late in departing yet the pilot managed to land 10 minutes ahead of time! Before the clock struck 6am, we had cleared immigration and collected our baggage! Do note that all overseas visitors are supposed to fill up and submit an immigration card; we didn't get any on the plane as we were sleeping!!!

Follow the directions and it would be no time at all before you reach the counters where bus tickets are sold.

Our target, according to my printed itinerary, would be the UBus counter! Almost everyone was queuing in front of it. Reason? That's the only company that provides a direct bus service to Taoyuan High Speed Rail (HSR) station.

Bus number 705, with one adult ticket that cost NT$30. Traffic was luckily very smooth and it was a short ride of around 15 minutes! Yoohoo!!

As i had already bought my HSR tickets online, it was only a matter of time to collecting my tickets from the designated counter. After which was to check out the 7-11 outlet which was said to have a very different concept from the ones in Singapore!

Eagerly waiting for our HSR train 1505 at the platform.

It's Alex first time taking the high speed train; i had a taste of the bullet train when i was in Beijing back in 2012. You may check out my blog post here.

Here it is, right on time!

This was how the standard carriage looked like; 5 seats in one row with a narrow aisle. As we had only one piece of luggage (which can be placed at the luggage corner near the train doors), this would be sufficient for the relatively short journey of 37 minutes to Taichung HSR station.

View along the way; patches after patches of green farmland that stretch for miles!

You know the destination is near when skyscrapers dotted the sky; Taichung, no matter what, is Taiwan's third largest city! This city served as a transit point for us as our eventual stop would be Cingjing Farm!

I did my research well and it was just mere minutes to get to the Nantou Bus Counter which was located conveniently within the HSR station. While i was queuing up, a man asked if we were willing to share a cab instead.

At NT$900 for the both of us, i figured this would be worth our while as there would not be any need to transit at Puli, a town on the way to Cingjing and this driver would send us right to the entrance of our minsu!

Mr Lin, the driver, was a chatty chap and very willing to answer any query you might have on Taiwan! If you are interested to engage his service (using his Toyota Wish) in Taichung, Cingjing etc, you may find above his name card.

The ride up the mountains wasn't as bad as i expected and for a person who is prone to motion sickness, the turns weren't as dizzying as Cameron Highlands. Maybe i was too distracted by the beautiful sight next to me.

Misty Villa - Singaporeans' favourite minsu in Cingjing Farm and it was only after i published my review of it on this blog that i realised a lot of personal friends have also stayed there before! For my review, click here.

Had my lunch at 7-11 which was near to the minsu. Its proximity to the Carton King restaurant and the Little Swiss Garden means this convenience store is always filled with customers!

Everything else was unimpressive except for the slices of yummy sesame pork!

Bought tickets to the Little Swiss Garden as we had ample of time before we could check in to Misty Villa. For my full post on this attraction, please click here.

After spending some time in the Garden, it was time to check out the building with MOS Burger and Starbucks known simply as Recreation Center in English. From this photograph, one can actually see the pink room given to us; note the "pink" circle i had aptly drawn out using photoshop.

Next to the recreation centre was a car park reserved for coaches and it was at this place that you can see and identify (using the above information panel) the numerous mountains surrounding cingjing. 

With no bright sunlight to irritate us, we just stood in silence and marvel at the splendid mountain range right in front of us. 

Damn the huge piece of cottony cloud that covered some of the mountain tops! On a clear, cloudless day, you can even spot 3,416-meter Hehuanshan! 

A bed of dandelions! 

It's a pity that there wasn't any outdoor cafe that overlooked the scenery; there was one but it was still undergoing renovation and would likely be operational only a few months later. 

A typical washroom in Taiwan; note that washrooms are known as 化妆室 or make-up rooms although i doubt guys would enter to do any make up. 

On the way back to our minsu, we came upon this roadside stall that was selling highland cabbage! This reminded me of Cameron Highlands where it was the norm to set up stall by the roadside and offer perishables like strawberries, corns, honey etc.

What we didn't expect was to see the many boxes of fireworks!!! Unlike those sold in Bintan, the prices in Taiwan were extremely affordable with none that cost more than S$10! More on the fireworks at the end of this post! 

Cherry Blossoms Trail - i was thrilled to see this even though i was aware that the cherry blossom season in Taiwan was from February to March. Maybe can chance upon some of the late bloomers? 

Absolutely nothing - it's just a boardwalk flanked by boring greenery on both sides. :(

Thank god the trail was just a few hundred meters long and didn't many steps that could further strain our tired feet. Anyway, it was still a refreshing walk where the air was fresh and crisp!!

More greenery and walking await us at Green Green Grassland but we totally enjoyed ourselves! Check out the many pictures i took at a separate blog post here

At the end of 499-step trail (yes, there were quite a number of such trails in Cingjing) was a commercial area where you can have your meals or even buy some local produce. 

In the middle was this venue that marketed itself as the Little France. As we were carrying too many things and our legs were about to murder us, we didn't stay long although i would make a point to eat at this steakhouse if i ever return to Cingjing!

A common Cingjing map.

After putting our things down at the minsu, it's time for dinner! I was in a dilemma on what to have for our first dinner in Taiwan but knowing Alex's picky palate, it's best to choose an eatery that wasn't too extreme (no fast food though). Carton King it shall be! For my review, click here

If you wish to relax after dinner, you may consider buying a cup of tea on the first level (outdoor) and listen to live music performances. 

We chose to enter the retail section of Carton King instead.

Truthfully, i don't see the point of paying such a high price for cardboard materials even though they were pretty well made and unique. 

I did contemplate buying but once you get to my age, you would rationalise if it would become another white elephant in the cabinets, like many knick-knacks currently placed inside. 

Last destination before we retired for the night. Yes, we were back at the recreation centre albeit this time, it was the car park that was needed.

Fireworks!!! p.s. this one cost us only S$5. 



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For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

2 comments:

  1. where can u get the fireworks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. before the start of Cherry Blossoms Trail; if you are staying at misty villa, you would definitely pass by the makeshift stall.

      Delete

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