Catching Sunset and Night View at Bishan Temple (Taipei Day 1)

From Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall station, we alight at Nanjing Fuxing Station then transferred to the Brown Line and get off Neihu Station. Since I am fond of catching sunset, we decided to take a cab to Bishan Temple to be able to catch it (the taxi fare costs NTD120). Entrance is free at Bishan Temple.

From the entrance of the temple, you still have to walk upstairs so better bring water with you.

Just like what everyone says, the view is always better at the top.

You could see how mountainous Taiwan is and how they were able to preserve nature even if modernization is calling for transformation.

Little did we know, transportation back to Neihu Station is quite a challenge. It’s beginning to dark and we’re waiting for the local bus in the bus stop just outside the temple but it seems that there’s no bus going in our direction.

After some time of waiting, a bus finally arrived but due to language barrier the bus driver didn’t let us in. That happened twice.

It was dark and we don’t know how will we be able to get to the station. My bestfriend is panicking. I remained calm and I decided to just try to stop the cars passing by.

Luckily, one of the locals offered to bring us to Neihu Station. One of my friends asked if we got scared when he offered a ride. Being scared didn’t occur to me or I did not let it in my system.

I trusted that he won’t do anything bad since he just went to the temple like us. We had few conversations and we found out that he went to the Philippines a long long time ago to play golf.

After a few minutes, we got off Neihu Station safely. We saved NTD120 for taxi ride and we witness the kindness of Taiwanese people.

To cap off our first day in Taiwan, I realized that in every journey unfortunate events might happen. But those unfortunate events will mold you to be courageous and keep calm. It will also teach you how to have faith in God that help will come along and how to trust people you don’t know and believe that there’s still kindness in humanity.

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We Become What We Do (Taipei Day 1)

We live in the present, we dream of the future and we learn eternal truths from the past. Chiang Kai Shek

I’ve only known Chiang Kai Shek in history books. I never did imagine that I would be able to visit his memorial hall. This one is so easy to find as it is directly connected to the MRT (Green Line – alight at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Line). It’s also a plus that this place has no entrance fee.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall has that inviting and freeing vibe. Once you stepped foot on the gate, you’ll feel that you’re secured and yet you’re free.

The National Theatre and the National Concert Hall can also be found inside the CKS Memorial Hall. Both structure has that prominent Chinese decorative details.

Currently, the CKS Memorial Hall is under transformation, which only shows how the people of Taiwan adore Chiang Kai Shek so much.

How We Walked Our Way To The National Palace Museum (Taipei Day 1)

You’ll not enjoy traveling if you don’t get lost once in a while. Getting lost is the fun part. (Ronacris Collado)

Are you ready to get lost? Getting lost is inevitable. Even the most prepared got lost unexpectedly. 😂

Let me tell you how we got lost on our first day in Taipei.

Our first agenda is to buy a 72-hour Metro Pass since we’ll only be spending 3 days in Taipei. We got it at MRT station for NTD380.

This way we could go to popular places in Taipei without booking in Taipei City Tours or such because personally, I don’t like the idea of how limited your time is to explore such tourist destination. Plus it do helped us save a lot.

The National Palace Museum is our first stop. According to my research we just needed to ride on the Red Line or Tamsui Line and get off at NTU Hospital Station. But boy! It was all wrong. There’s no National Palace Museum near NTU Hospital Station. We walked for a bit to check but there’s none. What we found is the National Taiwan Museum.

Thank God we have wifi so I googled National Palace Museum and we rode MRT again and get off at Shilin Station. Since Google says it’s just more than 1 km, we decided to walk our way to the National Palace but before that we decided to eat first at Sad Super Hot Noodles. After chibog time, we started our looonng walk to the National Palace.

What I like about walking is that surprises you with hidden gems along the way.

We passed by Fulin Park where it has that Stone Henge vibe.

After less than an hour of walking under the sun, we finally arrived at our destination.

I instantly felt like being transported back to the era where Taipei is not modern yet. I was in awe when I saw this beautiful National Palace Museum. The entrance is intimidating enough and it boast how detailed and how intricate Chinese architecture is.

If you’re thinking there’s not enough tourist, then better head inside and see it for yourself. Entrance to the National Palace Museum cost NTD250. One of the cashiers is a Filipina who happened to wed a Taiwanese and she’s living for years in Taiwan now. She’s quite surprise to see a lot of Pinoy and we told her that Taiwan is now visa free for Pinoys.

What we found inside the museum are collections of porcelains, calligraphy and paintings that stood the test of time.

Evident of the relics found, Taiwan has huge contribution in the arts department and everyone will agree that Taiwan has a great eye for details.

Note: Here’s a great spot in the National Palace where you could unwind and appreciate nature.

Stranded in Taipei Day 0

When you get stranded, the way to start moving again is not to search for an answer but to find a new question to which your life can be the answer. (Jennifer Krause)

“Visa FREE in Taiwan for Filipinos” has been in the headlines for more than 7 months prior to its commencement. Like you I got very very excited! So excited that I got my phone out and started searching for top tourist spots in Google and I also checked Klook for the amazing activities that they have to offer.

Every month before my flight to Taiwan I got to revise our itinerary over and over making sure that the trip is perfect. I read blogs and take note of their experiences, travel itineraries and travel tips.

The day of our trip to Taiwan has finally come. We arrived at 2 am in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1 that has a modern Chinese architectural design.

We rented a wifi device (Php804 for 6 days) via Klook due to most of our trips are DIY. Having a wifi connection is essential to connecting to Google Maps. Unfortunately, wifi can be picked up at 5.30 am, I had to rebook our airport service (also booked via Klook at Php1,356) to 5.30 am as well (it was originally booked at 4.00 am) to be able to pick up the wifi device.

Upon arrival, the immigration process is smooth that it only took less than an hour. We still needed to kill more than 2 hours. We agreed to have a coffee at a nearby coffee shop inside the airport.

At the arrival area, almost all of the shops are closed except for the money changer and the convenient store. We changed our money first and took another round around the arrival area looking for fast food or coffee shop. To our dismay, the convenient store is the only thing that we could grab some food from.

I got ham sandwich that has the best-tasting cheese I’ve eaten by far and carton-packed juice that tasted so good.

After the waiting game, we finally picked up our wifi and rode our airport service. I can’t describe accurately how Taiwan looks in the morning. Just watch this short clip I recorded.

I instantly fell in love with the sunrise in Taiwan. That changing of sky color made me realise how you can always recolour your life from dark to something more vibrant.

Amazing Thailand

Bangkok is my third Asian tour. It’s a very very short vacation that we didn’t notice it only lasted for 3 days. This trip is not thoroughly planned from fares to which tourist destination should be visited. And because of that, we learned a lot of lessons in this trip.



Arriving in Bangkok



March is the start of summer in most tropical countries. Summer in the Philippines is hot but summer in Thailand is hotter.


Lesson #1: 
Pack lightweight clothing when visiting Thailand during summer.

What we wear during arrival in Bangkok is the only clothing we brought because we intend to buy clothing in night markets in Bangkok.
After arriving in Bangkok, we looked for money changer. Most of the money changer inside the airport has low exchange rate. One of my friends told me before the trip to go outside the airport and look for SuperRich money changer because their exchange rate is a lot higher. True enough, their exchange rate is higher than the ones we saw inside the airport.


Lesson #2: Before trip, even if it is domestic or international, ask your friends who have been there for some advices and tips because it will help you a lot.

The next thing we did is look for transportation that will get us to our place in Bangkok. We choose the MRT in Bangkok since it is a lot cheaper and more convenient for us. In the MRT station, we looked for 3-day pass MRT tickets like the ones we got in Hong Kong. They have those kinds of MRT tickets but it can only be use in a Purple Line or Blue Line only, it cannot be used in multiple lines so we opted to purchase single-entry ticket. Their train system is very similar to those in Hong Kong and Singapore that it is so easy to move around the city.

In approximately 30 minutes, we arrived at a train station near our accommodation via Airbnb. We followed the instructions given by the owner of the house and the fun part is that we got lost. It took us an hour roaming around the city before we could actually find our place (Supalai Park).

Lesson #3: Learn some basic native language of the place you’re going because not all can speak English nor understand English.

At the ground level of the condominium that we stayed in, there’s a spa. While waiting for our room to be available, we availed one of the spa services: Thai Massage. It’s a must when you visit Thailand!


Activities in Bangkok

Note: All activities that we had was booked thru Klook.

Snow Town

Since Philippines is a tropical country, visiting a snow town is definitely on the list! Bangkok has a Snow Town. If you’re a kid at heart, go in here. My bestfriend and I enjoyed the costumes that we tried on and we enjoyed the chilly temperature inside as well as some computer games.



A Day in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery made me sad and made me realize a lot of things. I was impressed by the heroism shown by the captive soldiers of Japan. And the positive post card by one of the captive soldiers really caught my heart. It was as if a post card was longing to be read by a loved one, and I felt that the post card was intended for me. I almost cried when I read it. I can feel the optimism behind the letter even if they were in torture 24/7. I can feel the hope that he is holding on that someday he will be out of that unfortunate situation.

After an hour or so at the cemetery we go to a place where one of the James Bond films has once been taken. I forgot the name of the village but if you wanted to have some peace of mind, have picnic by the river with your family, or go out and feed fishes, this is the place to be.

We then moved to the bridge built 24/7 manually by the captive soldiers. It is here that I realized that every beautiful and masterfully done creation (be it a building, bridge, dress, etc) is a product of hard work. Most of the times what we see is the end result, and what we didn’t see is the hard and long process they endured to achieve it.

Elephant is the national animal of Thailand. We asked our guide why is it elephant and he said that during a war in Thailand, the King rode in an elephant because elephants are considered mighty creatures. Too sad that elephants nowadays are being used for tourist attraction purposes. We also got so guilty and felt so sorry when we rode an elephant because we didn’t know beforehand that they were in chain and they are being hit when you rode them.

The next thing we did is bamboo rafting. It feels like you’re cruising in an Amazon river. It’s so peaceful that all you can hear are sounds from crickets.


Night Market in Bangkok

There are a lot of night markets in Bangkok and the selection of clothing are wide. The only problem is that you will not be able to fit the clothes. There’s also a lot of cool items that you may see in the night market.



Khao Yai Winery

Who would have thought that grapes would grow in a tropical country? PB Valley is one of the top producers of locally made wine and the taste is at par with those produced overseas. The tour at PB Valley includes introducing the different types of grapes being used for their wine, grape picking, wine making and wine tasting.


Little Italy

Little Italy in Thailand is Instagram worthy. This place is for those people who loves taking pictures while savoring the serenity of the place.


Fun Facts in Thailand

You’ll see weighing scales in most 7-11 stores in Thailand.


 

 

International Travel Tips

Where to book tours?

Last 2015, my bestfriend and I went to Hong Kong. Months before our trip, we wanted to experience almost all of the things Hong Kong has to offer with the exception that it has to be on a budget. I searched for cheap deals online and one of the amazing things that I found is Klook.

Why Klook?

a. The tickets for attractions are cheaper.

b. You’ll have an express pass in ticketing booths. There’s no need to wait in long lines.

c. They offer the best tours and attractions the city that you wanted to go to has to offer.

d. They offer off-the-beaten path tours, which gives you more options of tours and entitles you to explore the place in a different perspective.

Travel Tips

 

1. On booking a flight

Most of the people around me often ask how do I manage to purchase a low-cost flight. My secret is simple:

A. Sign up in an airline’s website. One of the perks of this is that you’ll be given advance notification via e-mail with regard to their seat sale and, in some airline, they even give a 24-hour priority booking prior to the actual seat sale release date.

B. If you’re not always checking your e-mail for “seat sale alert”, at least always check the website’s promo page. Most of the time, seat sale is released at 12 midnight or 12 noon, which runs for 3 or more days.

C. Book only one-way ticket per seat sale. For example, last April 16, 2017 Cebu Pacific released a seat sale going to Taiwan, which costs Php899 per way. I opted to travel on the month of November. My departure date from Manila to Taiwan is November 6. Luckily, the fare for this date is Php899. Unfortunately, the return flight fare costs Php2500+ on my return date of choice. Php2500+ fare from Taiwan to Manila is relatively cheap compared to its regular price but I wanted cheaper flights. So, I decided not to book any return flight and wait for another seat sale. Come May 1, Cebu Pacific released another seat sale. I searched for Nov 13 flight from Taiwan to Manila and guess what, the fare is only TWD888! When you convert it to peso it would cost you approximately Php1500. My roundtrip ticket to Taiwan costs only Php2399 and it’s a double yay!

2. On booking accommodation

There’s one question for this: Are you looking for a place to stay in luxury or a place just to put your luggage in, sleep in and eat at? If your choice is luxury, then go ahead and book at a hotel. If your choice is the other one, Airbnb is the answer or any other hostels.

I’ve booked at Airbnb twice. The first one is for a stay in Boracay and the other one is for a stay in Bangkok.

Pros

a. The space is all yours at a low-cost fee. Just imagine a presidential suite-sized hotel room or a 1-bedroom condo unit all for yourself.

b. You may cook and do laundry. Yes! You read it right! I did cook when in Boracay and Bangkok and even do laundry, too.

c. You’ll get that feeling of home away from home because you’re really staying at a house of a native from that place. In addition, you’ll get some travel tips from the house owner.

Cons

a. Some of the cheap places to stay at in Airbnb is far from where do you intended to go to. This depends on how much you research the place before booking. Therefore I suggest to check the place if it is near the beach or near the city center before booking.

b. If you book it, don’t you ever change your mind because you’ll not be able to get a full refund. There’s a certain fee that will be charged upon cancellation of booking.

c. If you booked for tours in a foreign country and it do include hotel pickup and drop off, you might add some fee for this depending on your location.