Day 7 – Taipei to Taichung
New Stay Inn doesn’t have a restaurant as such, no breakfast from the hotel this morning. However, we had instant cup noodles with us and the water dispenser at the hotel lobby was put to good use. Of course we made coffee and tea as well. Taiwanese instant noodles were tasty. We also had buns we bought the previous night so breakfast was settled.
After final packing, we checked out from New Stay Inn. The bed was very nice and comfortable and someday should we need to stay close to Taipei West Bus Station, this hotel would be one of our favorite choices. We also find the staff friendly and helpful.
It was a easy few minutes to cross the main road in front of New Stay Inn and get to the bus terminal. There were some passengers sitting around to wait for buses to their destinations. It was still early around 8.45 am and the terminal building wasn’t very busy.
The ticketing counter was quite empty as well. There is a convenience store inside the terminal as well as vending machines to cater to the needs of commuters. For those who need last minutes items before the bus journey, they would not be left helpless.
Kuo-Kuang Bus Station is pretty well organised. There are separate bus queues for different destinations. The destinations, bus routes, bus line numbers and estimated travel time are clearly displayed above the gates.
Since we had already purchased our bus tickets on Sunday when we arrived Taipei, we had nothing much to do so we sat at our queue to wait for our departure. Our bus line was 1827 and bus fare was NTD 260 per person. Travel time would be 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Around 9.10 am, we were allowed to board our bus to Taichung. We left our bags at the storage bay and took our assigned seats, relaxed and enjoyed our ride. The seats were clean and spacious. The seats configuration is two by one instead of the normal two by two seats so there are plenty of space and leg rooms.
The bus left on time and after spending a little time getting out of Taipei City, we were on the highway heading south towards Taichung. Unlike traveling to Hualien, there was nothing spectacular to report about the scenery going down south. After about two hours on the road, we entered Taichung City.
The bus stopped along the way at a few places and passengers left the bus. Soon, it was our turn to alight when the bus arrived opposite Evergreen Laurel Hotel. We collected our bags from the storage bay and walked ahead towards the traffic junction while the bus carried on its journey further down the road.
There was an underground pass which we didn’t use to cross the road. We crossed at the traffic junction instead to orientate ourselves. Having crossed the road, our hotel Smartcue 52 Hotel was just not far away from the road on the right. It was just a ten minutes walk and we reached the hotel around 11.50 am.
We approached front desk to process our check in and was told it was too early and our room wasn’t ready yet. We were advised to go for lunch and returned after 2 pm to collect our room keys. We asked the staff where we could purchase bus tickets to return to Taoyuan Airport on Friday and was told we could get it at the 7-11 convenience store on the right of the hotel.
So we left our bags with the hotel and walked to 7-11 on the right which was just two minutes away. The staff at the store assisted us to purchase our bus tickets on the self-help machine and printed the tickets for us. This time, we purchased the bus tickets from U Bus departing Chaoma Station at 1.26 pm on Friday to Taoyuan Airport. Cost per tickets was NTD 230.
With our bus tickets settled, we walked back towards our hotel and went back to the main road. We turned left along the main road and walked pass some shops selling traditional Taiwanese pineapple tarts and sun biscuits. We were offered samples to try. We took a little from one of the shops and moved on to look for lunch.
We saw Sogo Mall across the road on our right. We walked on and crossed a road and then went into the shopping mall connected with The Splendor Hotel. This mall was very modern, clean and nice but with no crowd at all. The mall has quite a number of floors with restaurants at almost every level. There are some shops and included a fitness centre as well. After a quick look around, we decided to head over to Sogo Mall.
Sogo Mall is just diagonally across The Splendor Hotel. This mall has 18 floors and the food court is on the 15th floor. The top floor is the cinema. So we went to the lift lobby and waited for the lift. When the lift arrived, a lady lift attendant in Sogo uniform came out to wish passengers a good day and then went back into the lift to operate the floors required by the passengers. She would announce the level of the floor where passengers exit the lift. This was very good service, typical Japanese style.
So we came into the food court on the 15th floor. We walked through the food court where food varieties were aplenty and decided to take up an offer at one of the food stalls. There was a two persons set lunch costing NTD 320 that included rice sets and drinks. The lunch was good and we were not disappointed.
After this nice lunch, we went down every level to explore Sogo Mall. There was a small indoor fountain with changing lights and music to delight children. At some levels, we spent a little more time to browse through while we skipped those levels on products we won’t be able to bring home.
Kinokuniya bookstore is located in the mall as well. You could find all and sundry at Sogo Mall if you find the prices reasonable to make a purchase. Eventually, we were back to ground floor and soon exited Sogo Mall. There were shoppers outside Sogo Mall as well as taxis waiting along the road outside the mall. With lunch over and window shopping done with at Sogo, we crossed the main road to walk back to Smartcue 52 Hotel.
Along the way, we sampled more pineapple tarts and sun biscuits from shops selling these Taiwanese goodies. We didn’t buy any though as we still had another day to shop the next day. So we were back to our hotel around 2.40 pm and we got the keys to our room.
Our room was spacious and bed inviting, clean and comfortable. A nice recliner was next to the bed which was very good for watching TV. A writing desk and wall mounted TV were in front of the bed. TV channels once again were mostly Chinese programs and wifi worked well.
Bottled water, coffee and tea facility were provided and sufficient for our use. Bathroom came with a bathtub and separate shower stall. Toilet also included a bidet as well. Everything was in order so it was time to rest a while before heading out for dinner and shopping at the night market.
It was time to get in touch with the children back home to update them on our location and chat with them for a while. We watched TV during rest time and slept a little in between.
After 5 pm we got ourselves ready and went to lobby to get direction to the famous Feng Jia Night Market. It would be quite a distance to walk and we were advised to take a taxi to the night market. So concierge hailed us a taxi and we were soon on our way to experience this famous night market in Taiwan. We didn’t even visit any traditional night market while we were in Taipei.
In about 15 minutes, we arrived at Feng Jia Night Market. We alighted and walked into the main entrance which was still not busy before 6 pm. However, it was already dark and everywhere was lit up. The traffic junction was rather busy with vehicular traffic as well as human traffic.
There were more people as we walked further into this night market. On both sides were shops and stalls selling clothes and stuff and of course food as well. Certain food stalls attracted sizeable crowd queuing to order their favourite food.
We continued our slow stroll in the night market. It was a cooling evening this autumn night so it was pleasant to be out at night. There were more of the same shops and stalls and queues of people buying food.
Having experience night markets at Luodong and Hualien, we found it not very easy to hold these hot food to eat and shop on the crowded streets. Eating and shopping on the streets might be easy for some, it wasn’t very convenient for us. So we looked for a small local restaurant for dinner instead.
We came across this restaurant with 30 years of history tucked away in a back street. There were other eateries and shops along this street too. So we went in and ordered rice and noodles for our dinner. It was pretty spacious with sufficient tables and chairs and so happened that it wasn’t crowded yet when we arrived.
Our food came and they were good. Prices were pretty reasonable as well. Perhaps this shop also serves students from the nearby university so prices might tend to be more realistic.
After the nice dinner, we hit the night market again. It was getting crowded now. Feng Jia Night Market was really kicking in with crowds everywhere. It was still the same scene of queues at food stalls and shoppers browsing at shops. Mostly, the crowds here were young people.
As we walked around, we saw some stalls selling meat sticks. Dear wife wanted to try their local satay so we bought six sticks of different meats for NTD 100. It was definitely not to my taste and after one stick, I gave up. We had tried satay in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia but we still prefer the satay at our hawker centre in Chong Pang City in Yishun. Our satay back home comes with very tasty peanut sauce and the meats are very tender and perfectly cooked.
So our dinner was so much better than this item of street food at the night market. We bought papaya milk shakes of course and enjoyed our night out nonetheless. Soon we found we had gone one round around the night market. We needed to use the washroom and we found Beacon Hotel along the main road at the night market so we went up to rest our tired legs a while.
We also enquired from the front desk staff on more information around the night market and the popular place to buy pineapple tarts and sun biscuits to bring home. The staff was really friendly and helpful. We were given a very nice and handy small little town map as well.
Beacon Hotel is strategically located at this Feng Jia Night Market. So this would be our hotel of choice should we wish to spend more time to explore the night market in the future. After checking out this hotel and having rested sufficiently, we left the hotel and ventured out to the night market again.
This time we crossed the main road to explore the other side of the night market at ABC Mart. This side of the night market was considerably smaller with shops and stalls and such so we went back over to the other side of the night market which was more happening.
So back to the more exciting and energetic part of the night market, we were making this at least the second round looking at familiar shops and stalls on familiar streets. However, we found we had missed out on a side lane nicely lit up with colourful LED lights overhead. We explored this lane entering one way and exiting on another end.
It was back to the busy streets again. We had been hanging out at the night market for three hours now. So it was about time to walk out to look for a taxi to bring us back to Smartcue 52 Hotel. This night market was the biggest we had visited so far in Taiwan. We walked out and came out near the main entrance of the university. A taxi so happened to have alighted someone and was turning out. So we boarded this taxi and went back to our hotel.
We chatted with the friendly taxi driver during the journey. We were told crime rate in Taichung wasn’t very high. He also told us his experience with tourists from different nationalities. He could roughly tell which country we were from based on our way of talking and manners. Some were plain rude and threw trash in the taxi and out of the windows. So certain tourists were not very welcome.
In about 20 minutes, we were back to our nice hotel. Before going back to our room, we went to the business centre at the front corner of the lobby which was accessible to hotel guests. The business centre was empty with plenty of seats in the room. Drinks and snacks were available for hotel guests. So we made coffee and had some local snacks items to rest a while in the business centre. This place was rather cosy and really nice to park ourselves here for a while.
Having had sufficient enjoyment of the business centre to rest and do some reading, we returned to our room. It was great to be back to our comfortable room. A good dip in the bathtub was even more comfortable to prepare us through the night. So it was time to connect with the children with our phones at the same time watched TV. While we while away the night, it was soon time for bed.
We were contemplating to take a public bus up the mountain to visit Cingjing the next morning. Having checked with the hotel, it wasn’t worth while to rush there early morning and having to come back down to the city in the afternoon. It would be too rush to fully enjoy what Cingjing has to offer. So Cingjing would be another trip where we would stay a night up in the mountain. So the next day would be free and easy for more shopping before our departure back to Singapore on Friday. Hence, we didn’t have to wake up early next morning, which was great.
Continue to Day 8 …