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 Β 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 : Β 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 πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚

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.

Β  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. Β 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

Β  Β  Β  Β 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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

Cheers,

Ariesa

 

 

Ariesa’s new blogjourney

Hey there!

Ariesa here. My former blog http://www.dolliechic.blogspot.com is moving to this site for a new start, as I am also moving to Sydney Australia for a new beginning πŸ™‚

A beauty & travel enthusiast, a girl who’s always keen for adventures as I learn lots of things in every journey and challenge I face. I used to live in Taipei, Taiwan for 2 years and now I’m taking another leap to the land down under. I love learning languages to connect with people from different countries and background. So far I speak English and Mandarin Chinese, and actually have previously learned some basic French. Would really love to either continue learning French or start to learn other European language (German/Spanish) in the near future.

In this new site, I will write mostly about my personal experience trying beauty products and of course, TRAVELING! I write everything in English but if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in English, Mandarin or Bahasa Indonesia.

Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram: @ariesalie

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder

Hey guys,

A few months ago when I had some serious breakouts on my face, I thought I needed something to cover up the redness on my cheeks. I usually only have my Lancome BB complete during daytime, which only gives me a light coverage. Then, I looked for a loose powder that has more coverage but is still safe for acne prone skin. Laura Mercier turned out to be one of the best loose powders on the list of a beauty website. Thus, I asked my mum to buy one for me during her travel to Hong Kong. Yes, it’s not available in Jakarta, yet! But you can actually buy it online at some Instagram sellers or local beauty-shop websites.

And finally, I got this! I was excited to try it out and see how it goes on me. Now, let’s take a look at the packaging first!

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder comes in a clear plastic jar with a dark brown cap. For the price of IDR 650,000 (USD $50), you get quite a generous amount of powder, which is 29gr.! There’s no powder sponge/puff provided in the package. I think it’s because they suggests you to use a powder brush instead of sponge/puff. I got mine in translucent color, which I think, is the most popular shade.

The powder is very finely milled and smooth. It glides well on my face and able to set my BB cream perfectly. It creates smooth and matte but not dull finish on my skin. It covers the redness on my face with a natural skin color. It is fragrance-free. The staying power and oil-control are satisfying. I usually apply it in the morning before going to work at 8 AM and it keeps my face looking fresh until evening.
Unfortunately, after removing my makeup, I notice that new pimples or bumps come out on my cheeks area. I think my skin is sensitive to the ingredients of the powder, because it doesn’t happen if I only wear my Lancome or Bobbi Brown BB with Bobbi Brown blush. Unlike my Estee Lauder Perfecting Loose Powder, I found that apparently this product doesn’t claim to be either “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” 😦
I had no choice but to stop using this powder! And I did the right thing. After I stop using this and switch to Estee Lauder, my acne treatment goes better. My skin has improved a lot. All the acne bumps have shrunk and I just need to care for the acne scars and maintain the cleanliness of my skin every day.
I rate this product 3.5 out of 5. I really like the finish it creates, the staying power, and the price makes it even better! I only regret that it’s not suitable for my acne-prone skin 😦

Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum

Repost from: Sat, 1 October 2016

Hey guys,

So, about 2 weeks ago, I ran out of my face serum & creams from my dermatologist. I initially wanted to repurchase the products because my skin had not recovered from acnes entirely yet. But I was too lazy to go to the clinic and decided to look for a new moisturizer instead. Now, this is tricky! My skin now is pretty sensitive to any products applied on it. One thing I keep in mind, I need something that is oil-free, non-acnegenic or non-comedogenic; even better if it states: for sensitive skin.

Long story short, I found the product that I supposed would suit my skin. It is Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum. It’s another French brand that looks a lot like Bioderma. But probably with a higher price range. It claims to be hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and suitable for dehydrated sensitive skin.

It’s actually sold at Guardian (a drugstore shop similar to Watsons), but I purchased this at Sociolla, an online beauty shop that’s been trendy recently. It sells at IDR 448k (around US$ 34) but I got an IDR 50k discount for my first purchase, so it’s a good deal for trial πŸ˜‰

I finally received the package after 2 days from my order! It was packed beautifully in a pale pink box with a card and bubble wrap.

The serum comes in a small transparent plastic bottle (that looks like a nice glass bottle) with a pump.and clear cap. The pump works well and dispose just the right amount of product. I usually use around 1-2 pumps for the whole face. But, I do think the serum is pretty thick for a face serum so I think it would run out pretty quickly!

The serum has some faint scent that smells like floral and water. The texture, as I said, is a bit thick for serum. But, it glides very nicely on the skin and absorbs well. There’s no heavy feeling, it just feels like water that doesn’t leave any excess oil (probably because it’s oil-free :p ) on my face. It’s such a good base for a BB cream! On the box, it’s says that this serum is to be used after moisturizer, which I think pretty weird. I mean, serum is usually applied after toner and before moisturizer. But anyway, I don’t use any other moisturizer after this since I think I already get the right dose of moisturizer from this alone. Note: I have a normal to dry skin and live in a tropic area that tends to be humid. If I happened to live in drier climate, I would probably need to add one layer of moisturizer on top of it.

I have been using this for a week now and there has been no breakout. I have stopped using skin care from dr. Wong for almost 3 weeks and I am really happy because my skin continues to recover from acnes without looking dehydrated. I highly recommend this product for everyone that only wants to add some hydration to his/her skin since it doesn’t have any additional benefits besides hydration. Price wise, I think it’s a bit expensive for a drugstore brand. But, if you do have sensitive skin, I think it’s worth trying a product with some quality like this one.

Overall, I rate this product 4 out of 5. Almost everything in this product is satisfying: packaging, texture, scent and quality. The only downside is only the price.

Estee Lauder Perfecting Loose Powder

Hey guys,

So, I’ve been changing quite a few makeup products lately. It started when I was tempted to try Kanebo Lunasol Skin Contrast Loose Powder that finally caused me horrible breakout! Then of course that Laneige BB Cushion too! Gosh, my skin has really become sensitive and acne prone now 😦 Having said that those products caused me bad breakouts, doesn’t mean they’d do the same to you. They look really well on my skin, especially that Kanebo Loose Powder. But, I think they contain some ingredients like silicone, that is not suitable for acne-prone skin like mine. Btw, I gave my Laneige BB Cushion to my mum. She’s been wearing it everyday and it really looks good on her. It doesn’t cause any bad impacts on her skin so far.

Before buying this Estee Lauder, I actually had just bought Laura Mercier Loose Powder. But, that one also doesn’t work well on me 😦 I was pretty disappointed since I’ve read good reviews on that. So, I started doing research again and finally found good reviews on Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation. People say that Estee Lauder makeup products are highly recommended for acne-prone skin.

I went to the nearest department store that sells the brand (because the distribution is quite limited to selected stores in Jakarta) and directly asked for the loose powder to the Beauty Advisor (BA). She suggested me to get the lightest color. The service was good, she asked for my phone number to invite me for the upcoming beauty class. Besides the loose powder, I also tried one of the liquid lipsticks they have. I was really tempted (as usual! :p ) but only bought that loose powder at the end, since it’s quite expensive already. It costs IDR 540k (approximately US$ 41) for 10gr.

Now, let’s take a look at the packaging of the product. It’s made of clear plastic jar with purplish blue lid. It has a very simple and chic design, which is perfect for career women image. On the box it says to be applied with powder brush, which is why it doesn’t come with a powder puff. The small holes on the plastic separator inside the jar only spread on half of the circle and are closed with an extra separator to prevent the powder from spilling out and get messy.

The powder itself is very finely milled and unscented. It comes in 4 colors. It doesn’t give a lot coverage to your face. I think it’s just very good to control shine and cover a little bit of the pores. I always wear it on top of my Lancome BB Cream and they work just great together! It doesn’t cover the redness of my acnes but I think it helps to make my skin look a bit better, healthier and also smoother. If you like a ‘no makeup look’, you’re gonna LOVE it, SO MUCH! πŸ™‚ It is most suitable for everyday makeup.

Note:
BB cream : Lancome BB Complete
Loose Powder : Estee Lauder Perfecting Loose Powder
Blush : Bobbi Brown compact powder blush in Pretty Pink (#41)
Lipstick: The Balm Meet Matte Hughes #Devoted
Eyeliner : Kanebo EyelinearΒ 
Eye brow: Viva Eyebrow Pencil

The product claims to be oil-free and non-acnegenic. I’ve been using this for about 2 weeks and my skin keeps improving everyday even though I wear it almost everyday. All my acnes have shrunk now and unlike when I used Kanebo, Laneige or Laura Mercier, new big acnes don’t pop out again.

I rate this product 5 out of 5. I love everything about the product: the packaging, the texture of the powder, the look it creates, and the fact that it doesn’t cause breakout to my skin. The price seems to be quite fair for the quality and brand image. Will totally repurchase and recommend this!