Saturday, December 26, 2009

25 Dec 2009 Day 14 CKS YongKang St Memorial Taipei Singapore

We leave for Singapore on Christmas day. This is the first time it has rained since we are in Taipei.

We checked out of Keymans and confirmed Jetstar's flight out of Taipei on their lobby computer. Keymans has internet access problem after midnight and this bugbear, rather than its hard bed, will make me consider CityInn next door next time ( comes with laundry facility ).

Military contingents (land,air and sea) were rehearsing foot drill formations in front of CKS Memorial ( called 自由广场 ), unexpected but totally entertaining to watch. Then we went eastward to 永康街 ( 20 minutes walk )intending to try Dingtaifung Dimsum. Hubby spotted 高记 from Yongkang St and since I am not particular about food, made a line for the closest source of food.

We had 小龙包, 叉烧酥, 肉包, 虾角, 烧卖 and a couple of other dishes, all for 1000NT! Everything is wonderful, except for the meat bun. The meat is so little, after dividing it into 2, you have to decided which half the meat should go to. The dough is thick and too yeastly.

( Footdrill by military men at CKS memorial hall / freedom square )

( GaoJi's food is excellent except for the meat bun. Chestnut paste pancake was so good we packed some back to Singapore for supper ! )

Now noon, it was an MRT ride from Guting, southwest of the restaurant ( 20 min walk ). Along the way, be tempted by more dim sum shops, clothing stores and craft stores. We ended up with 3 key pouches ( CARA cat original ) for 1000NT at the end of Yong Kang.

At Taipei MRT, we surrendered our EasyCards and got a full refund of our 100NT deposit and balance, a breeze.

Back at Keymans, we took a cab ( 1000 NT ) for a 40 minutes ride to Taoyuan Airport. It would have been cheaper to take the Kuo Kuang Bus opposite the road, but I have no idea what to do with the New Taiwan dollars . Anyway, my feet was protesting at the now much heavier luggage.

We redeemed our freebies after immigration at A1 area of departure hall. Limited items were available for redemption, a disappointment. Flight out of Taipei was on time but extremely bumpy until the last half hour to Singapore.

All in all, a wonderful trip. There are many firsts for me: meteor showers, encounter with snow in Hehuanshan, 5 ML earthquake in Hualien city, hitchhiking at Cisingtan.

If I can redo the trip, I will depart from Cingjing with a local driver/guide, easily available there. Lu was 2 hours late and talked on the phone from Taroko to Hualien thus no commentary.

Most hotels are within expectation, all excellent in their own ways.

Zaw Jung Taichung is near the train station ( via underground pass ) but breakfast a non event. Excellent internet connection but then everything else is reflected in its price. Poor sound proofing, you can hear conversation in the bath room next door!

云蒙仙境 offers sunset from the bedroom ( level 4 ), which means precious sleep after sunrise, good internet connection, easily accessible but a very steep climb to your room,not sheltered. My other grouse is that there's no heating (portable or not ) in winter nor bathtub ( shown in their website ).

不老的海洋 is good in all aspects ( free laundry, incredible breakfast ) except for the long walk to the major thoroughfare and flaky internet connection. For those with kids who must practice their piano, they have a Kawai in the living room. Sound proofing is good.

Keymans is steps from the MRT and offers many TV channels included x-rated ones, folks with kids beware. However, it offers zero views and poor internet connection after midnight.

Except for not being to see Taroko, a waste since we traveled through the gorge in the dusk, it's a trip worth doing again. A's family caught a cab at Taipei bus terminus to Taoyuan Airport for 500NT (5 people) on a Mercedes, cheaper than taking the airport bus! The thing is to leave some leeway for changes in the plan because something cheaper and better invariably comes along the way.

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