My Taipei Itinerary Guide

Hey there!

In this post, I’d like to share the details of my travel itinerary in Taiwan from last year. In my previous post, I’ve shared ย the rough itinerary, budget and tips & tricks on transportation and food in general: read my other post. Right now I want to give a more detailed explanation on the objects we visited in each city and I’m going to start with Taipei.

Places

  1. Hair salon : well, the very first thing I did when I arrived in Taipei was indeed going to salon to get a haircut and perm. There’s no salon in Jakarta that does it as good as they do it in Taiwan. Besides, the service costs very cheap compared to most salons in Jakarta’s shopping malls. You can just walk into any salon in one of the famous night markets like Shida or Gong Guan. They usually have quite similar quality of service and price. If you’re lucky, sometimes they have special promotions too on selected service. I got my hair cut and permed for only NT$ 2,000. The curls are still in pretty shape until now (since May last year!).

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2. Taipei Zoo : ย it’s a good place to visit with the family. Plus, the entrance fee is very cheap. I think it only costs around NT$ 30 for one person. The zoo is very well-maintained and has quite a lot of species including: koala, penguin and Chinese panda.

3. Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall : This is a complex of a few historical buildings. In one of the buildings, the Taiwanese tell their independence story through pictures, old clothing and car. Other buildings are used for musical or art performance, including international artist’s music concerts. The entrance is free of charge.

4. Yang Ming Shan National Park : this national park is located on the outskirts of Taipei in Shilin District. It’s a nice place to do light hiking and just enjoy the view of the mountain. As far as I recall, in the beginning of spring there’s a flower exhibition at one of the entrance. It’s very easy to go to Yang Ming Shan. Just go to Shilin night market or MRT first. Then you can find a few buses that go to Yang Ming Shan.

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Foggy mountain view

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Hiking trail

5. National Palace Museum: this one is also located in Shilin District. From Shilin Night Market, there are one or two buses going through the museum. There’s also a bus stop in front of the museum so you don’t have to walk too far to get into the palace. The palace is enormous and consists of loads and loads of artifacts from ancient China. It is told that the Chinese (mainland) people who took refuge to Taiwan brought them. If you take a guided tour or an audio-guide, you will hear many interesting stories about the Chinese history here. It costs NT$ 250 for general visitors and it’s worth every penny!

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National Palace Museum

Food!!!

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, foods are very easy to find in every corner of the city and cheap! Most of them are delicious too ๐Ÿ˜€ This is one of the many things that make me happy when living in Taipei for 2 awesome years! Here are some food we enjoyed during our stay in Taipei:

  1. Taiwanese beef noodle:

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I’m quite sure we visited one of the most famous beef noodle restaurants in Taipei. The restaurant was very crowded and we had to queue to be seated and only had a few minutes to finish our meals. There are quite a few noodle menus. I ordered the original one with spicy soup while my friend had the dry-style beef noodle (which looked like Korean Jajang Myun). Each menu cost around NT 120-150 with big chunks of meat on it! It was really good so I recommend you to try it too ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Luwei and Taiwanese crispy fried chicken

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Left: fried chicken; right: luwei

OK, the fried chicken actually has been one of my biggest guilty pleasure ever since I tried it in Taiwan! I always had it at least 1-2 a week when I lived there. It was soooo GOOOD!!! I was quite addicted to it! For me, the best fried chicken is the one sold at Shida Night Market. I think the name of the vendor was Shida Fried Chicken, it was run by an uncle and his wife. Fried chicken usually costs around NT$ 50-60. Luwei was also one of my favorite street food but I always had to share it with friends. It is a mix of vegetables with dumplings, pork meatballs, instant noodle and tofu skin. There are still other side dish to mix in Luwei, you get to pick your own mixture and let them dip all the mixture in that special soup and pour it with some ketchup. The cost of luwei varies depend on what you choose and how much you want it. Mine usually cost around NT$ 120 – NT$ 180.

3. Bento at the HSR train station

It is very famous because it’s delicious and easy to carry. I must say that actually most bentos in Taiwan are not bad if not delicious. But when you want to take Taipei HSR, it’s worth to try the bento and eat it while you wait for your train. I think it costs around NT$ 120-130 a box with choice of beef, chicken or pork.

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My bento box with pork

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Inside Taiwan HSR

 

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My friend and me on Taiwan HSR

There are actually still many kinds of good food and drinks around Taipei. Not to mention my all time favorite Ice Caramel Latte from City Cafe 7-11. It’s the BEST latte in Taiwan with the BEST price too! But I think trying lots of food in Taiwan is no guilty since most of them are good and cheap. So, try your luck and tell me what you think =)

Cheers,

Ariesa

 

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A New Life in Sydney

Hey there,

I’ve been having a super hectic-but-exciting week as I just moved to Sydney, Australia. I’ll be living in Australia for at least 1 year on a work and holiday visa. Some of you might already know what kind of visa it is, so I’m not going to explain again in here. However, in this post, I’d like to share some surprising experience that I’ve had during my pre-arrival preparations and first few days in Sydney. By sharing these, I don’t mean to compare between cities or anything. Every city and country has its own specialties, cultures and way of living. I just hope to help people who wish to come visit Sydney for vacation or probably working holiday like I do ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Finding a private room is actually tricky if you’re not in the city yet

OK, maybe I was too early to start my room search. I started looking around the websites such as: Gumtree and Flatmates 3 weeks before I actually arrived in Sydney. Nobody on Gumtree bothered to reply my message AT ALL! 1 or 2 people on Flatmates replied only to say that they could not wait for 3 weeks. So, I waited until it was less than 2 weeks left before my arrival. Still only a few more people responded to my message. My friend who lives here also helped me texting some other people on Gumtree (via SMS). There was more response but still not more than 60% response rate. She also helped me do the inspection, but at the end, the landlord gave it to the person who’d move in sooner.

It is totally understandable why people don’t like to wait for the next tenant to move in. Room rent here is very expensive (the rate is per-week, not per-month!), less tenant in the unit means more costs (sharing bills and full-house rent) to existing tenants. More information on accommodation costs can be found on the websites that advertise them: Gumtree/Flatmates.

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view from my private balcony ๐Ÿ™‚

After a lot of drama (read: almost got scammed 2x!) and anxiety, I finally found an ad on FB group. The ad was posted by an Indonesian male that looked like student.It was already 2 days before my arrival to Sydney. My friend helped me text the number on the ad and the landlord finally skyped me later that day to show me around the house and room. I immediately liked it and decided to book the room. FYI, the landlord is also an Indonesian. Coming from similar home country of course helps a lot in finding a room here!

2. Getting around by bus can be confusing

Well, actually the most confusing transportation system that I know by far is in Indonesia (read: Kopaja/Metro Mini/Mikrolet). In Jakarta, there’s no bus stop (except for busway), no schedule and no fixed route (sometimes bus drivers will skip some area just to make a shortcut).

However, bus system in Sydney is also challenging if you don’t have a smartphone with GMaps with you. The bus stops are nicely maintained. There is sign what stop it is and which bus stops there and there’s also timetable too (which I think is pretty reliable). But once you’re in the bus, you don’t know where you are right now and what the next stop is. There is no digital sign nor driver calls the name of the stop. In Taiwan, you’re not going to lose it since there’s at least a digital sign showing current and next stop in Mandarin Chinese and English.

ย  3. The city looks a bit like Singapore

There are some factors that make it look and feel like Singapore, except for the fact that people here are much more friendly. ย First of all, it is a melting spot of people from many different races, cultures and countries. I hear a lot of languages spoken in the city and see varieties of food is sold in food courts and restaurants.

Second, the most famous tourist spot is located in the heart of the city, just like Merlion in Singapore. And there is also a restaurant/cafe by the quay that views the Harbour Bridge.

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Sydney Opera House

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CNY lantern in Circular Quay

Third, the city is very metropolitan with modern style buildings. Though there are also several old-style buildings that remind me of Europe, like the State Library, St. Mary’s Cathedral and a few hotels.

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Royal Botanic Gardens

ย  ย  ย  ย 4. Fruits and veggies are pretty cheap super fresh!

I’ve done grocery shopping at Woolworths (or Woolies) twice and am satisfied! The veggies and fruits are fresh and actually cheap!! I bought 1kg of bananas for only AU$ 1,97 and mixed salad veggies (300gr or approx. 4 meals) for only AU$ 3! So, unlike in Jakarta, healthy food is not a luxurious thing in Australia ๐Ÿ™‚

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Well, since I have been here only for 4 days, I think that’s all I’m going to share for now. I am thrilled to see what I’m going to discover next. So, make sure you follow my blog and my instagram: @ariesalie to wait for my stories ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers,

Ariesa