Second time visiting this country still gives me the same excitement as my first. Why? Besides the fact that I will be on an ‘eating vacation’, I am thrilled to see the places that I have never been to during my first visit.
We started our long journey straight from work, catching a midnight flight. We needed to wait for another friend who was in the next flight from ours and the wifi stand was already closed so we waited as the sun rises in Taoyuan International Airport.
Bursting sunrise brought us to the hospitality of a friend’s friend who was based in Keelung, situated in the Northern part of Taiwan, an hour from the city proper. After freshening up, we went to Yangmingshan Park. Though it is best to go there during spring time to see the garden blossom, if you are a nature lover, it’s worth the end station bus ride.
En routed to one of my favorite place that I would never get tired of going back and the best of the best night markets, the Shilin Night Market. Overwhelmed with so much food, my cravings were dearly satisfied. Limited time though, we went straight to the elephant mountain, which is walking distance from the last stop of the red line, Xiangshan station. Trekking at a multiple steps, the view of the city with the famous Taipei 101, on the top was indeed worth every sweat. Truly, first day was no sleep and tiring yet a worthwile experience.
Second day was supposedly for Sun Moon Lake, but due to some misfortunate events, we were led to the city of Hualien, which is on the Eastern part of Taiwan. Just a tip that train tickets were cheaper if you will be purchasing before riding. We rented two cabs that enabled us to tour the city at 500NT/person driving us to 4 beautiful places.
Taroko National Park is a must see in this place, seeing God’s great wonders of nature, a bit of trekking, a sight of falls with temples on the side and great scenery of the beach. Though things didn’t went as planned, the experience was worthwile for in traveling, great places are discovered by just going even though roads get a little tough.
Third day was quite tough when the temperature starts to drop and drizzles. We started our journey in Yehliu Geopark. I no longer joined the squad as they experienced rock formation at its finest since I have seen them during my first visit. Park entrance is at 50NT/adult. We rented again a cab which can bring us to Jiufen and Shifen at 1000 NT/cab. If you are in big groups, like in our case we are 11, this I think is cost efficient.
Markets in Jiufen are indeed fruitful array of food, products and restaurants. Same way in Shifen, which a growing number of food stalls assembles on the side of an active railway. Wish lanterns is a must when you visit this. It allows you to have your wishes be written on lanterns which is fired and flown afterwards. Ending our day in another night market in Raohe and hotpots are our subject because of the cold weather. To bad, rain is falling that we did not have the chance to explore the market though.
The fourth day was quite compacted as our friends are flying back to Manila in the evening and we need to move out and check in to a near hotel in Ximen. Meeting our friends in Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and preceded to Taipei 101 was the itinerary for this day. As soon as we bid goodbye to our friends, we went straight to my favorite Shilin Market and food trip and shopping starts.
I actually reserved another day for me to maximize my shopping and food trip as these were the main reasons for returning to this country. Last day was basically for me to recharge as I comforted myself on a good hotel bed and wake up just in time for check out. This was the time to have my own walking and biking tour in the cities nearby, searching for a good coffee place to chill and some last minute shopping.
Indeed, going back to this land was an adventure like seeing it again for the first time but reminiscing the same excitement as what your first time was. The company of a big group of friends added so much fun during the journey. Truly, I will not get tired of going back to this country once more.