Monday, August 22, 2011

A cab tour of cities and towns around Taipei

Our family scheduled this trip taking advantage of a fare sale from Cebu Pacific last year (only PHP2504.61 with 15kg baggage allowance, exclusive of travel tax and security and terminal fee). Because of limitations in the number of seats, we divided ourselves into two groups. My mom, Jairus and his wife Quin went ahead the previous night and I, Roshie and Julie, together with Ethan flew to Taipei late last night.
Roshie, Julie and Ethan
I expected the plane to arrive past midnight so I pre-arranged an airport pickup (TWD1000 from airport to hotel). We are currently staying in Yomi Hotel where we are booked for four nights. Roshie, Julie and I shared a Royal Triple Room consisting of 1 Double Bed and 1 Twin Bed (TWD2862/night inclusive of breakfast and internet access) booked via HotelClub. The room is like a 2-bedroom suite as the Double Bed is separated by a privacy door while the Twin Bed is located just as you enter the room. There were two 37" TVs too and one bathroom en suite.
twin bed
double bed
Ethan started crawling around as soon as he got in the room
The bathroom was quite cramped but still ample sized. Aside from the toilet, there was a Japanese bathtub and a sauna room.
You read it right, a sauna room for up to two persons. Very convenient for travelers who may not have much time to go out after a long day.
They even have most of the toiletries complete. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, razor and shave, comb and the likes were all provided!
Also in room, they provided some crackers, cup noodles, candies, tea and coffee, water and some fresh fruits - all complimentary! I'd say it's a good deal for the price we paid. There's also a self-serve laundry at the ground floor if you wish to use it!
We slept for a few hours but still woke up early for breakfast as we will be having a tour around Taipei County that morning. We took the service of cab driver Mr. Meeky Yang (TWD3000 for a whole day taxi tour), who happily took me and my mom in and out of Taipei two years ago. Our first stop was in Yehliu Geopark. I remember coming here with my mom the first time and didn't know what to expect then. Now I know what to look for this time and that what to see here are not just rock formations. They are famous because some of them are forming into familiar shapes we see in our daily lives.
the whole group, me, Ethan, Roshie, Julie, my mom, Quin and Jairus
rock formations
me and Ethan
me and Roshie
rock wall
picture picture! 
Just being in this place is a blessing on its own. I can't help but be amazed by the wonders of nature and how these rocks formed over years and is continuing to evolve itself as we speak.
The famous of them all is the The Queen's Head, seen center-right on this picture. As there was a line under a hot sunny day, we didn't bother to line up and just took picture from away.
Then after, we proceeded to Jiufen Old Street. Jiufen meant "nine portions" in Chinese and story goes that back then there were nine families living on this village located uphill and that deliveries should always go with nine portions for each of the said family. What it is now is a series of alleys selling food and some items catering to tourists who visit the place.
view nearby from Jiufen
Despite the narrow paths of the alleys, the place is a sure hit to tourists. Inside, a lot of stalls are selling food items of all sorts for eating or for taking home. It was almost lunch time so we decided to eat there.
baked pastries
sweetened peanut cube
candy treats
baked items
drinks, in baby bottles
baked pastries
takoyaki balls
We had lunch at one of the eateries and used "pointing system" in ordering. We couldn't read the characters and just chose based on what we see from other tables.
The following are what we got for lunch: 
Ethan was so happy all throughout the trip and he began to do some exhibitions to entertain us inside the taxi cab in between destinations.
Our next destination was in Gold Ecological Park. The place showcases the remains of what was once a popular mining industry in Reuifang township.
inside the park
Ethan and Roshie
ice cream stick
We stopped by what is fondly called as the "gold waterfall" and Meeky explained to us that due to the mining of gold nearby, water quality is being affected, as seen by the discoloration of water.
family picture!
He also showed us the effect it has on this large body of water. As you can see, there is a portion of gold/brown colored surface over water compared to some other parts.
Meeky has Doraemon videos which kept Ethan entertained too throughout the journey!
Meeky brought us next to Nanya, where more rock formations and eroded coral shore can be found.
rock formations in Nanya
my mom and Ethan, carried by Mr. Meeky Yang
me and Roshie
the family
Then we went to Zhongzheng Park, located in the eastern side of Dashawan Mountain, east of Keelung City.
view from above
The park is famous for the 25 meter statue of the Goddess of Mercy (Kuanyin) overlooking the port of Keelung City.
at the park
wishing well
at the park
Our last tour stop was in Keelung City. It was late afternoon and Meeky brought us to the Keelung Temple Night Market.
Typical of a night market, vendors were selling all sort of stuffs from clothes to toys to gadgets to tools.
You can find, however, that most of the items sold in this market are food, of different types and shapes.
pancakes shaped like cartoon characters
fried chicken
meat buns
fresh seafood cooked to your liking
shrimps and crabs
more food stalls!
squids, octopus and other seafood
Dianji Temple, amidst all the stalls in the night market
mini cakes
My mom remembered buying some fried crabs when we first went here and she loved it so she helped herself to a few pieces to take back and munch on at the hotel. 
Angry Birds toys
Ethan was so happy throughout the day. Perhaps he liked what he had saw and what we all had been through. It was a tiring day for us that we took all the rest we can get as the driver drove us back to our hotel.
We asked Meeky to have us drop our things in the hotel first and then finally drop us off at P.S. Bu Bu. My mom and I ate here 2 years ago as she was fanatic of the Meteor Garden mania years back. This place was featured in one of its episodes where the characters dined, specifically this special pink car. Even up to this date, one has to reserve if you want to dine there, specially if you plan to get the pink car.
We settled on another table. The place is a bit pricey considering the food isn't that special but hey, we're here for the experience right?
Ethan playing with the steering wheel
buffalo wings
beef lasagna
milk tea 
family picture
As we head back to the hotel we realize that we have accomplished a lot for today. The whole day jam-packed itinerary is a sure hit for everyone and is a good start for all of us here in Taiwan. More to follow in the coming days for sure!

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