When Taiwan announced last year about their visa free for the selected country (including the Philippines), my ah yi (auntie) was so excited and most especially his son who grew up without her for decades. We are able to go to Taiwan and finally going to visit it her. We booked our ticket a month before our flight because the ticket gets more expensive when you book near your flight date.
This was my first out-of-the-country vacation and my boss approved my vacation leave. I am more than excited. First, I’m such a fan of Taiwan artists. Second, I am a huge fan of Taiwan dramas. Third, I will going to visit not only my ah yi but my high school classmate and friend which I haven’t seen for 20 years!
Before we flew to Taiwan, I prepared myself especially what we are going to wear. It was nearly December and I know it was cold there. For the benefit of my mom who has Osteoarthritis, cold weather is nasty to her painful joints. Thanks to my friends who suggested me to buy HeatTech from Uniqlo Philippines. It did really help a lot!
To make the story short, we went to Taiwan last November, 2017 at almost 2am with 17-18 degrees celcius weather and RAINING!
I’m not the usual traveler who likes to stay in fancy hotels and eat in fancy restaurants with lots of money on hand. We stayed at my auntie’s apartment ni Nei Li District, Taoyuan City and WE DIDN’T HAVE NTs WITH US! I have only 2,000 PhP with me. Taoyuan is already consider as a province and mostly of the residence there live in an apartment style of living.
I know your question will be, are people in Taoyuan know how to speak English? To answer you, I might be in bad luck but no one can understand English around Nei Li. Lucky that I know at least basic Mandarin and I can converse properly in Hokkien. Tai Gi (or Taiwanese) is the province dialect in Taiwan. Mostly of the elders speak Tai Gi. Check the video below. The video is in Tagalog-English.
Basically what I pointed out, you will survive knowing basic Chinese.
We went to Taiwan without a tour guide. We thought that my auntie knew places around Taipei but nope. So I grabbed her phone and Google! Thank God that I can read Chinese characters.
Taipei Main Train Station Underground mall was familiar to me since my uncle told me that there are lots of thrift store here. IT IS HUGE! How big the main train station is as big as the underground mall too.
Outside the underground mall, we looked for a side street eatery and we found one. I ordered Wonton noodle soup, Pig Nose and Cold Tofu. LOVE THEM SO MUCH and VERY CHEAP! Wonton noodle for only 60NT, the beef noodle soup cost 90NT, Pig Nose for 30NT and Cold Tofu for 20NT. Of course I will never forget to try their Pearl Milk Tea and the giant grilled squid for only 100NT!
Following a blog post guide towards other places, we found out that each station of their Metro from the main train station were already station for Taiwan’s tourist spots. A wonderful idea by the government. It is EASY to navigate around Taipei. We reached Taipei 101 and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.
Sad to say, it began to rain when we reached Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and I’m with 2 senior citizens and they would like to go home early.
Taiwan Metro Train
I learned something while I was traveling by train in Taiwan. 3 types of trains: HSR (High Speed Rail) or the bullet train — red cart train, Express Train — the orange train, Regular Metro — blue train.
HSR is the most expensive for obvious reason. As the name speaks for itself.
Express Train is the lesser expensive than HSR that ONLY STOPS at major train stations from Taipei going south to Ping Tung or going to the east side coast of Taiwan. This has a reserve seat number. If you are not in your seat number, whether you are old or young, you need to give that seat number to the rightful person.
Regular Metro is the common train and cheaper but SLOW. It stops in every train station. Here’s the clip of their underground train station.
I also observe how gentleman Taiwanese are when it comes to giving their seats. Either you are a boy or a girl, it’s their courtesy to give their seats to the elders, PWDs and pregnant.
Taichung Tour – Flower Sea Festival
We went to Taichung and had a reunion with my Taiwanese high school classmate and a good friend of mine. It has been 20 years since the last time. She and her husband met us in the Taichung NEW train station. The weather there is so different from Northern Taiwan. Taoyuan and Taipei have a lots of rain while in Taichung and going to south is like Philippines’ weather during those days. 27 to 28 degrees. The heat is not humid but dry.
They brought us to Flower Sea Festival. Few photos to share with you. We also ate fried fresh mushrooms and bought dried mushroom. Seriously, I thought dried mushrooms are cheap in Taiwan, no, it isn’t! It is expensive too. I have to removed my jacket
Xie xie wo de peng you! Wo hen hao xiang ni! (Thanks my friend, I really miss you).
We stayed in Taiwan for a week but we didn’t go to other places because of the cold weather which my mom has difficulties because of her osteoarthritis. My aunt and my uncle are busy with their work and we didn’t have money. I told them that I was going back to Taipei because I missed something but my mom didn’t allowed me. The best experience I had was when we went to the market. I was amazed how big their veggies were and cheap! Video is in Filipino.
Taiwan extended their visa-free entry to PH tourist up to next year but only for 14 days. I am planning to go back again since there are still lots of places to visit, but I’m planning to go for something bigger next year. Thank you, Taiwan for your wonderful experience and my first ever out-of-the-country vacation.