Sunday, May 9, 2010

Taipei Trip

We've never been to Taipei before this & the only things we knew about Taipei were these.

 And not as pleasantly, this, as well.

So we didn't really know where to start plus it was going to be a Chinese New Year trip, & that felt like a scary experience. But I was fortunate enough to bump into this blog by Kampung Boy & City Gal who gave pretty good advice about where to go & where to stay.

Contrary to what some people may tell you about Taipei during Chinese New Year, we'd like to set the record straight:

1) All shops are closed. NOT ENTIRELY TRUE. 
We got there on the second day of CNY, some were open, even more opened from the 3rd day onwards. The night markets were opened throughout. We had no problem finding food at all . And we're talking about GOOD FOOD.

2) Everything is expensive during CNY. NOT TRUE. 
In fact, you might be able to find better deals during that time, even with hotels. I don't know why that happens but I think businesses think differently over there. It probably has something to do the significance of ensuring brisk business in the first few crucial days of business in the new year.

3) The whole place is empty. NOT ENTIRELY TRUE. The night markets & museums are CRAZY PACKED with people, mostly mainland Chinese, some from Hong Kong.
But when we were there, there was some kind of typhoon somewhere in Asia, & that came with a rainy spell. That brought down the temperature to about 11 degrees plus rain the whole time we were there, which made sitting down for hot food a heavenly experience.

Unlike our Korean trip, I did a lot of research for this one. The hotel rates were surprisingly reasonable during this gargantuan Chinese holiday period. However, a lot of the good hotels including City Inn were fully booked. These were hotels near the Taipei Main Station. You'd want to stay near the main station cos it makes all your travels easier.

Now the great thing with the internet nowadays is the availability of Google Maps & Street View.

I found a hotel called See You Hotel, which was about 4 blocks away from the Main Station (Click on the map & you'll see what I mean). I didn't realise how close it was, cos it wasn't really possible to imagine from the map, until I went down into the Street View.

It was amazing. It felt like being there without really being there. And that helped a lot with the navigation once I got to the actual place. 

See You Hotel was even closer to the Bus Station where you could take a bus ride straight to/from the airport for only RM15, luggage & all. Alright. You can pick up your jaw now.

One thing I learnt about picking hotels. It's not about the number of stars. It's about how new the hotel is.

An international 5-star hotel with big, dark-lit  rooms, smelly old beds & expensive old furniture cannot compare with a small inn with a squeeky clean, minimally furnished, spanking new room.

This baby only cost us about RM267 per night during the Chinese New Year, & it comes with a mini bar, daily complimetary bottled water & cookie.

Even the bathroom passed Nee's almost impossible approval standards.
See You Hotel is located right amongst convenience stores & 3 of Taipei's top 5 beef noodle shops are just downstairs within shouting distance.

We didn't really have much time to look for food on our first night in Taipei cos when we got into our hotel, it was almost 10pm already, and we didn't want to go anywhere else, and the closest thing was this Family Mart/7-Eleven store (I can't remember which) which served hot soupy meat balls & stuff.

And noodles & meat buns.

Next to the hotel, like immediately next door,  was a dessert place which opens late into the night.

Little did we know that this was going to be our usual stop to cap the night off for the next few days. Our days would soon start off by eating our way to the MRT, to get to some other place to eat, & then eating our way back to the hotel.

Hot tofu fa with yam balls.

Sweet potato with yam balls.

And these were really good, for a franchise store like this that probably started from a grandpa & grandma's recipe.

Nuffnang Ad