It’s the holidays season and what is a holiday without a holiday? (Did I just said that?
Anyway, did one of those stupid crazy idiotic tourisy thing i.e. signed up for a package tour of Taiwan. And so we went on a whirlwind tour of Taiwan in 7 days. 7 different hotels, 7 days of butt freezing bus ride and exorbitant tourist cheating sights and buys and I enjoyed it! Actually didn’t really enjoyed it but after paying so much for it, got to pretend to enjoy otherwise very 心痛.
Here are the highlights and lowlights(sic)
Day 1. Stayed in Taoyuan but went to the night market at Shihlin. The bladdy guide only gave us 2 hours for dinner + shopping there. Where got enough?
Day 2. Woke up at an ugodly hour to take the bullet train to Taipei. What so special about the bullet train? I really don’t know. From there went to this place Hualien to look at some rocks and then went all the way to the top of a mountain in freezing weather and pouring rain to eat and shop at a row of restored houses selling tourisy stuff. What a rip off! But this was forgiven when we saw what our hotel toilet came with; a Hansgrohe lookalike vertical shower!
Day 3. Still raining as we continued to moved in a clockwise direction to Chihpen. Was impressed with the gorges of Taroko. Very nice place if not for the cold.
Some friends did a marathon there recently. How did they run up the mountain? Along the way, witnessed the devastation caused by typhoon Morokot on 8 August this year. All of us on the bus were stunned by the extent of the damages, something which we have only previously seen in movies.
Got conned into buying Linzhi. Hopefully it is the real thing. Ended the day at a hotel which comes with a free hot spring session. But after watching the hordes of mainland Chinese descending on it, decided to pay and use the spa’s hot spring instead.
Day 4. Another early morning and we are off to Kaoshiong where it was temple, temple, temple and more temple. Highlight of the day?
At around 9pm, while in the hotel, experienced first hand an earthquake! In Singapore, the most tremors I had felt in the office were from the Indonesian quakes and it was just some slight vibration but this was different. There we were watching TV when suddenly the door started to rattle. I thought somebody was knocking and then the TV started to jump and all hell broke out. Earthquake! We grabbed our passports and rushed down only to see the bellhop calmly holding the lifts for yet another batch of mainland Chinese. Er what earthquake? To my question whether it was safe, he smiled and said this thing happens, maybe 4 – 5 times a year so no problem! It was only later that we found out that an earthquake measuring 6.8 had occured in Hualien which we were there only 2 nights ago. And by the time the earthquake tremor reached Kaoshiong, it was only about 4. Okay cheap trill but we were safe and what a priceless experience.
Day 5: Enroute to Taichung got another stop for us to be fleeced (this time royal jelly) before going on to the famous Sun Moon lake. Unfortunately, although the rain had sopped after 4 days of continuous rainfall, it was still foggy (misty?) and we really couldn’t see much of the so called 9 Mountains surrounding it.
Highlight for the day. Passed by this group of protesters from the Democratic Progressive Party protesting against some free trade agreement with China.
Day 6. Back to Taipei. Another rip off – some feng shui mumbo jumbo. And a lousy hotel room with no English cable channels and a fake window! All the other hotels had up to 100 channels and this one had only 40+ almost all of which local channel. Highlight: Not Ximendin night market which we went but the underground mall where there was one whole lot of shops selling collectibles. Too bad we ran out of time!