Sunday, March 9, 2014

Taipei - Part 2

The perils of cheap flight tickets...

"If you want to get around cheap, chances are: you will be made to fly at unGodly hours. Yeah, I said about it and my five-day whirlwind tour of Taipei is drawing to an end. I am looking forward to hit Kuala Lumpur, fill my lungs with suspended particles from the burnt peat swamp and endure the sweltering heat.
Truth to be told, I am not a big fan of the cold..." - Samo

Wet, wet, wet...

Taipei experienced constant showers throughout my stay.
Every day is a wet day and the cold temperature that sunk in didn't help.
I took time off to explore downtown Taipei and ended up at its Central Business District near the Taipei 101 tower.
This is a landmark which is a "must see" if you ever hit Taipei!
I made my way to the Taipei Central station to take an MRT ride to Taipei 101.
This was a straight-forward process and takes less than 15-minutes to get there.
I got off at the last station and walked in the rain and all I found was a tower covered with clouds.
Taipei 101 is like how we admire our Petronas Twin Towers. It's an architectural achievement and a symbol of a country's financial might.

Covered in cloud: The Taipei 101

A wet day in Taipei

A clearer day

Taipei's Central Business District
Easy card

If you can get hold of the Taiwan's Easy Card, do make it a point if you want to travel with bus and rail around the city.
This can be topped-up (minimum NT$100, max NT$5,000) at any MRT stations or at 7Eleven outlets.
I get around with the MRT and for the first three days, its from Ximending to Nangang Exhibition hall.
Savings is the key here as it costs much more for taxis.
To sum it up, the route is simple to follow and if you frequently use the subway, Taiwan's tube is a piece of cake.


I had a couple of things to look for.
Unfortunately, they did not appear on my radar.
High on my priority list: was a set of large wristbands for my fitbit flex. Na-da!
Then, Snowpeak camping gear. I wanted a stubby titanium spork. And I found out that the concept store is in Taichung. That's pretty far.
Prior to my visit to Taipei, I had no idea that the island republic is so large!
But, I did find something that caught my fancy.
I have been looking for a pair of New Balance shoes and ended up with a pair of black 990s.
These came in 4E width and is made in the USA.
For foreign customers, one can claim VAT refund (5%) and best of all, the sales person will help you claim.
That's strike one and I guess I'll have to look for the Fitbit stuff when I visit the US.

Walk, walk, walk..

The best way to see parts of Taipei is on foot.
I don't mind this and one of the requirements is having a pair of good footwear. And also make it waterproof!
On the average, I take about 3,000 steps a day. 
Here in Taipei, my daily steps is above 15,000 and my record was 21,000.
I measure with with an apps on my Android phone. Its called "Noom Walk".
If I had my Fitbit fitness monitor, it will do the same and vibrate to tell me that I have achieved my daily goal. 

Ximen's wet market

A variety of Tilapia found at the market
Good street food along Kunming street
Fair weather, at last!

Sunday was my last day in Taipei.
I plan to head off to the downtown area to score my shoes.
Then, the rest of the day was to round up some Chinese Ham for my double-boiled soup project at home.

I took a walk to the Ximen market which was just behind my homestay motel.
Its an interesting place and I spent some time there snapping away with my camera.
Seems that the sea fishes here are the same variety found in tropical waters. Only with the exception of farmed large-mouth bass.
Then, I found a stall and ate their "squid thick soup".
It turned out to be a delicious bowl of Lam Mee with sotong. 
Later, I set out to the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store to round up my gear.
When that was done, I went to the Far East Department store in Ximen and had late lunch at a Beef Noodles shop. 

Spicy chicken feet

Taiwan beer!
It seems that the Beef noodles shop is an award-winning food outlet and the fare was pretty good! 
I was amazed with the starter dishes: spicy chicken feet and smoked pig's ears. Totally awesome.
The beef noodles was tasty and the meat scallions that came with it was cooked to perfection.
After a good meal, I went shopping for some knick-knacks to bring home and made my way back to hotel to pack my stuff.
For a last sweep, I headed by to the Taipei City Mall to look around and ended up treating myself to a nice dinner at a steak house near the motel.
That was the highlight of my stay in Taipei.
Back at the motel, I try to catch some sleep and managed to squeeze in about two hours and how time flies.
By the time I woke up, it was already half-past midnight.
Since I can't get back to sleep, I updated this blog and completed the second and final installment of my Taipei trip.
It's time to head to Taoyuan airport, check-in and wait to board my flight back to Kuala Lumpur.
So, that's it! This Samo, signing off from Taipei...

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