Taiwan: To Taipei & Miramar

Travel Period : 30th Oct – 6th Nov 2012

{ Previous Post:  Taiwan: Cingjing Farm Green Green Grassland }

Day 4 Afternoon to Night Itinerary :

  • Nantou (Cingjing 清境農場) –>>
  • Taichung High-Speed Rail Station
  • Taipei High-Speed Rail Station –>>
  • Shin Shih Hotel (Shuanglian) –>>
  • Miramar Entertainment Park (Zhongshan) –>>
  • Shilin Night Market
How We Got There :
To Taipei: From CingJing, booked Cab // Taichung High Speed Rail // Taipei High Speed Rail // Shin Shih Hotel //
To Miramar: Metro from Shuanglien Metro Station to Jiantan Metro Station // Free Shuttle Bus to Miramar in Zhongshan
To Shilin Night Market: Cab from Miramar directly to opposite Shilin Night Market Area.

Taichung HSR to Taipei HSR

201010_TaichungHSR

Mr Zheng drove us from Cingjing to Taichung HSR Station, which was a 90-minute drive. We all fell asleep during the journey and upon waking up, we saw the HSR Station. My first impression of the station was that it reminded me of the exterior of the departure hall of an airport as there were many vehicles and taxis dropping travelers at the entrance with their luggages.

We then bid Mr Zheng goodbye and thanked him for driving us around over the past three days; how time had passed from the moment we landed in Taiwan and we were already leaving Taichung/Chiayi regions and moving on to the next destination of our trip — Taipei.

As we carried our luggages into the station, we knew we were in another phase of our journey, where we no longer had a hired vehicle to our bidding, and from this point onwards, we were all on our own. Felt a little uneasy but we knew everything would go smoothly since we had already done a lot of homework researching before our trip.

The Taichung HSR Station was of a much larger scale than Taoyuan and Chaiyi HSR Stations, and much busier too. No surprise since Taichung is one of Taiwan’s main cities.

We bought ourselves THREE tickets this time (NT$700 each), after our inconvenience during our maiden HSR ride with Dar sitting on our laps. He would also be more comfortable too throughout the 1-hour journey. We then headed to the MacDonalds located within the station (we didn’t see many MacDonalds in Taiwan by the way), planning to have a quick meal before boarding the train, which was arriving in about 30 minutes’ time.

201010_TaichungHSR2

In the end however, both they didn’t want anything while I bought an ala carte McChicken burger (and learnt that ‘單點’ = ala carte ^^|) to bring aboard. We then left MacDonalds and went through the ticket gantry to the waiting area, where we wanted to re-arrange our luggages a little before heading to the platform.

The HSR train arrived reliably on time and we found our seats easily. Dar took the window seat so that he could admire the scenery throughout the ride. I also started munching on my burger while we gave Dar some snacks we had bought from the 7-Eleven at Cingjing.

201010_TaichungHSR3

One of the snacks we bought consisted of small buns made in the shape of Doraemon, one of his favourite cartoon characters when he was younger. What surprised us was that he refused to take and eat any of them, and we soon got to find out why — he felt he was eating up Doraemon and he couldn’t bear to do it. ^^|

201010_TaichungHSR4

In the end, we had to convince him that the buns were fake Doraemon, since they were brown in colour and the real Doraemon should be in blue instead. Well, he accepted that explanation and soon started to munch on the buns, albeit quite hesitant at times still, especially when biting the ‘head’ off. That would be the last time I buy something like this for him. ^^

Other than that, the journey was smooth and we reached Taipei HSR Station as planned. Taipei, here we come!

TAIPEI 

Taipei Railway Station consists of the HSR Station, TRA Station and Metro Station, so it’s one complicated network down there, though one would get used to the directions with the help of the signs in a while.

201010_TaipeiRailwayStation

While Cat and the boy waited at a safe corner, I headed to the TRA Ticket Counter to collect the return tickets to Hualien (花蓮), which was meant for our itinerary planned for Day 7 and 8. We had booked these tickets two weeks in advanced on their website as we had read that these tickets were high in demand and would be taken up quickly. It seemed that TRA train tickets run out quickly in general, since I noticed that even all train tickets departing on that very day to all destinations had already been sold out (it was only around 3pm that time). o_0|

I then proceeded to purchase two EasyCards (悠遊卡) from the Metro’s Station Control. These are like the Ezlink cards we have in Singapore, and we could use it for a variety of transports in Taipei, such as the Metro train rides and other bus rides. We chose this over those allowing unlimited rides since we knew we weren’t going to travel that much and those tickets wouldn’t be worth it for our case.

We then headed out of the station (took us a while to find an exit) and flagged a cab by the roadside, so that we could get to our hotel for our stay in Taipei for those four days — Shin Shih Hotel (新仕商務飯店).

Knowing we were not locals, the driver shared with us that there were too many cabs in Taipei and so competition is very stiff among drivers. That was why he was so eager to drive over to where we were earlier to pick us up, even though it looked like it was illegal to pick up passengers there. When he knew we were Singaporeans, he was also in praise of our country and government, which I could only respond with ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’.

After some interesting turns (into alleys even) and navigation, we reached our hotel and our meter was only NT$100, about SGD$4.00.

Our check-in was hassle-free and we took a short rest in our room before heading out to explore Taipei.

no images were found

 

Miramar Entertainment Park 美麗華百樂園

<<Visited>> Shuanglian Metro Station > Jiantan Station > Dinner at Basement of Miramar 美麗華百樂園(Zhongshan District)

#1: Shuanglian Metro Station

201010_Taipei04

The nearest Metro station to the hotel is Shuanglian Station (雙連), which was only a 7-minutes walk away. This convenience is one of the main reasons behind our hotel choice.

To get to Miramar, we could either: (1) Take metro to JiannanRd Station (剑南路), which required us to transfer two times and travel through many stations, or (2) Take metro to Jiantan Station (劍潭), which was only three stations away, and wait for the free shuttle bus which would take us to Miramar.

We opted for the second option and hopped on the metro to head Northwards, and soon reached Jiantan Station, which was also near where the famous Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) is located. The shuttle bus stop was located near the exit of the station, where a short queue was already formed up. The shuttle bus frequency wasn’t short (15-20 minutes interval) so we waited quite a while before the bus finally arrived. We were getting increasingly tired and hungry every moment. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to have chosen Option (2) after all?

201010_Taipei05

The journey to Miramar Entertainment Park took quite a while too, as it was further than we had expected. We might not have gone there if we knew the journey would be so long. Anyway, our main motive for going there was for the toy level which Cat had read about, where we could find nice toys for Dar which we could not find in Singapore, like replicates of Taiwan’s trains.

When we alighted from the bus after it arrived, the first impression I got from Miramar was that it was pretty deserted and quiet, not exactly what I had expected, especially when it was a Friday night. Skeptical, we headed into the big departmental store there and made our way to the floor where the toys should be.

We were disappointed with what we saw however, as there was only a small section selling toys and most of which could be found in Singapore. The prices were comparable to ours too. We soon left the place to see what else we could find in Miramar which is just like a typical shopping mall in Singapore.

201010_Taipei06

We arrived at the foot of the enormous ferris wheel, a landmark that is hard to miss in Taipei. It did cross our mind to buy the tickets for the ride but looking at the limited time we had (we still need to go Shilin Night Market after this), we decided to skip it (since Dar didn’t look keen either) and headed for our dinner instead.

201010_Taipei07
If we have more time, we might have gone on it…

Although we had planned to have snacks at Shilin later, we knew we still had to eat some ‘proper meal’ first, especially for Dar, as we were worried the street food there might not go well with his stomach.

We came across some food stalls in the basement of Miramar and decided to dine at a Japanese stall (there was also a food court but we only noticed it after our dinner). The food was of large portion, delicious and reasonably priced. (Read the ‘food‘ post)

Thereafter, we decided to head for Shilin since there was hardly anything else interesting at Miramar. Instead of waiting for the shuttle bus, we flagged a cab and off we went to Shilin Night Market.

{ Next Post : [Food] Taipei / Miramar / Shilin Night Market }