In mid-June 2017, I went for my first “long trip” (I define holidays more than a week as “long trips” :P) after last April’s spring holiday to South Korea. Although this wasn’t my first time to Taiwan, but the 9-day long trip was 1 of my more memorable holidays to date. In fact, it was this trip that I found myself in love again…… with Taiwan. 🙂 What was it about Taiwan that got me so captivated?
1. Mind-Blowing Natural Scenery 撩人的自然风光
Yes, I am a sucker for the marvellous works of Mother Nature. Despite travelling during the unexpected plum rain reason (unfortunately), the scenic east coast of Taiwan has kept me in awe throughout the trip. Even away from Taiwan’s east coast, there was always something intriguing to discover. As I was sorting through the photos while writing, & even up till now, I am still enthralled by the amazing natural scenery seen during the trip.
PS: I had a hard time trying to decide which photos to upload while I was writing on my trip, because there’s just too many to share!
2. Extremely Hospitable Locals 超级亲切友善的在地人
There are many other places in the world that may be home to lots of fascinating works of Mother Nature, but more often than not, it’s the people who live in them that make or break your trip. Generally, Taiwan is a country where its people are known to be warm-hearted & welcoming, & I can attest to this. Throughout the 9 days, I have met some of the most hospitable people I have ever come across. Often, while the service may be great, the people may be nice, there is still this feeling of something missing, like the people are being nice because it’s “part of their job”. However, this time round, I didn’t feel that the locals I encountered were merely paying lip service. They certainly walk the talk & make you feel extremely welcome, as if you were really part of their community.
3. Cost of Living 生活费用
Taiwan is 1 of the Four Asian Dragons together with Hong Kong, Singapore & South Korea, a term coined during the industrialization period between 1960s & 1990s. While all 4 countries are highly developed now, the cost of living in Taiwan is still not as high as the other 3 countries, & definitely not like Singapore. I’m certainly happy to have my purchasing power increased when I visit Taiwan, as it means I can do more with the same amount of money I have in my homeland!
Just to quote some examples, a simple lunch, say a bowl of fish ball noodles + a cup of tea in Singapore at a typical hawker centre will easily cost S$5 or more. But such a meal in a local eatery in Taiwan will definitely cost less than 100 TWD (~S$4.50), & you will likely see more fishballs, vegetables etc in the bowl of noodles. 😛 Cost of public transport is also much more affordable than in Singapore. For instance, a 2-hour comfortable high-speed train journey (about 170 km) from Hualien City to Taipei City only costs 440 TWD (~S$20). At a similar price, you can only take a taxi from Yishun (north of Singapore) to Changi Airport in the east, just a mere 25 km or 22-min ride.
4. Food 美食
Being a true-blue Singaporean, I do enjoy hunting for unique & delicious food. While I am not exactly an adventurous diner, I like the myriad of food options available in Taiwan, as it means I wouldn’t have much difficulty satisfying my tummy.
Feel like going vegan? No problem, there’s a wide selection of vegan-friendly eateries in the country. Can’t live without seafood? The island nation is blessed with an abundance of fresh marine catches in the East China Sea to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the South China Sea to the south & the Taiwan Strait to the west. Feeling carnivorous? There’s plenty of meat dishes available too. Unlike Singapore where traditional food stalls & restaurants find it extremely difficult to survive many generations due to high rents, lack of successors etc, there are many food places in Taiwan where one can still enjoy a taste of traditional goodness. In short, it’s very hard to starve yourself when in Taiwan with so many tantalizing options available. 😉
5. Culture 文化
Taiwan was Japan’s first overseas colony, for 50 years from 1895 to 1945. Hence there are many places in the country where we can still find influences of the Japanese culture in them, be it in tangibles like architecture, food or intangibles like ambience & service standards. It has somehow made Taiwan an interestingly attractive country to explore, with a perfect fusion of 2 predominantly different cultures – Japanese & Chinese.
Furthermore, as the official language in Taiwan is Mandarin (post World War II), it somehow made me feel more comfortable when touring around, since it’s a language I’m familiar with. In fact, I used to dream of working in the Chinese media line in my school days given my forte in the language then. The dream may have been abandoned long ago, but the 9-day immersion allowed me to witness the power of this language once again. I love how a short Chinese phrase or sentence can bring out the essence of what the speaker/ writer is trying to express, compared to say, the English language. (Or maybe it’s because I’m not that proficient in English lol.) This trip has reignited my interest to try writing in Chinese again, before the skill gets rustier. 😛 That’s why you now see all the Taiwan posts being written in both English & Chinese. 😉
Because Taiwan has so much to offer, our 9-day Taiwan summer holidays was activity-packed & it took me almost 3 months to complete blogging all about it, 1 of the longest period I have taken to write on a long trip. 😛 Here’s a recap of our adventure from the time we flew into Kaohsiung down south, to the time we departed from Taoyuan International Airport up north. 😉
Day 1 Singapore – Kaohsiung – Fangliao:
第一天 新加坡 – 高雄 – 枋寮：
Arrived at Kaohsiung International Airport around 10 am. Took the 1-hour train from Kaohsiung Railway Station to Fangliao where we stayed for a night in a cosy minsu. Explored the small fishing town off the usual tourist path on our own.
Day 2 Fangliao – Taitung:
第二天 枋寮 – 台东：
First highlight of the trip was to take a joyful 2-hour ride on Taiwan’s last ordinary train from Fangliao to Taitung City. Free pick-up service at Taitung Station to Inn By The Village hotel where we checked in for 3 nights. As we only arrived in the afternoon, we didn’t arrange for a private tour today. Instead, we roamed around Taitung city centre on our own, & enjoyed a complimentary sumptuous dinner at Jenny’s Bar & Grill in the hotel.
Day 3 Taitung:
Today, it was the start of our 3-day private tour in Taitung County. First, we checked out some sights in the neighbouring Beinan Township. In the afternoon, we made our way to Taiwan’s hometown of rice – Chishang. Before we called it a day, we proceeded to discover hidden gems in Yanping & Luye townships.
Day 4 Taitung:
Started the day visiting 2 of Taiwan’s most beautiful schools in Taitung City. Thereafter, we ventured to Taimali Township to check out its lovely sights. Before bidding goodbye to our first driver of the trip, we headed to Dingyanwan-Sige Mountain for a panoramic view of the beautiful county. As the tour ended earlier today, we had more time to check out tantalizing local flavours in Taitung City as well as the weekend Slow Market.
Day 5 Taitung – Hualien:
第五天 台东 – 花莲：
Checked out of Taitung City hotel as we were going up north to Hualien today. Enroute, we fed the cute fishes at Fushan Fish Recovery Area before proceeding to Chenggong Township. The coastal urban township boasts many wonderful sights, so we spent time admiring the coastal scenery in the morning till lunch, before checking out the artistic side of the town in the afternoon. Thereafter, we headed to Changbin Township, our last stop in Taitung County before making our way into Hualien County’s southernmost Fengbin Township. In the evening, as we bidded goodbye to our guide for the day, we checked in to 500KM Home in Hualien City for 2 nights.
Day 6 Hualien:
Fulfilled my wish to see the wild dolphins with the Turumoan Dolphin Cruise at Hualien Port. After that, it was time to hike through 1 of Taiwan’s amazing 8 wonders – Taroko National Park. In the evening, we spent some time shopping & hunting for local delights in Hualien City.
Day 7 Hualien – Taipei:
第七天 花莲 – 台北：
Thanks to our awesome homestay hosts, we managed to take a quick tour of some beautiful sights in Hualien City before leaving for Taipei. Upon arrival in Taipei City, we had a wholesome Italian lunch at Tutto Fresco, compliments from the hotel, before checking into the comfortable Hotel Relax 3 for 2 nights. Thereafter, we spent the evening hiking up Hushan, before visiting Linjiang Street Night Market to tuck into some good food.
Day 8 Taipei:
Cafe-hopped to 1 of Taipei’s oldest districts – Dadaocheng after a filling breakfast in the hotel. In the evening, we visited 2 night markets in Taipei city to continue searching for more yummy eats, as well as to do some shopping before leaving tomorrow.
Day 9 Taipei – Singapore:
第九天 台北 – 新加坡：
After breakfast, we didn’t do much except some last-minute shopping at the Taipei Main Station underground mall. Good time always flies & it was time to leave charming Taiwan for home.
I’m definitely planning for future trips to meet & get to know my new-found love, Taiwan better. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading on my adventure so far. Till my next holiday then! 😉
You may also like these Trip101 articles: