Day 8 – Taichung
This would be the day we had to do our shopping before leaving Taiwan the next day. Since we shelved our plans to visit Cingjing for a day trip, we didn’t have to get up very early, which was very good for us. Our hotel booking didn’t come with breakfast so we didn’t have to go to the restaurant as well. We had actually bought buns from the bakery at Sogo Mall the previous day hence we had a simple breakfast this morning. Of course we made coffee and tea as well.
It was already 10.30 am and a good time to leave the hotel to explore other parts of Taichung. Most shops should be open by the time we hit the streets and the malls. So we left Smartcue 52 Hotel and turned left to walk to the traffic junction along the main road. Zhongming Elementary School was across the road on our right. Having crossed the road to the side of this school, we used the underpass this time to cross the main road and went up to the BRT bus stop. We alighted slightly further down the road opposite Evergreen Laurel Hotel the previous day.
We hadn’t got a chance to try out this free BRT service yet so this day would be our first time taking the bus. Soon a blue colour bus came and we boarded using our Easy card to tap in. So we were on our way downtown towards the railway station where the bus would terminate. We enjoyed the view along the way and tried to recognize street names and buildings. After a number of stops, we arrived at Taichung Train Station where everyone alighted the bus. We tapped our Easy card and it was a free ride with no deduction of bus fare.
It was around 11.15 am when we went into the train station to have a look. The ticketing booths were not as busy as those at Hualien and Taipei train station. Many passengers were sitting outside a convenience store waiting for the green light to enter the train platforms to wait for their train. There were quite a few shops inside the train station selling Taiwanese goodies.
We left the train station to explore the area near the train station. It was quite a hot day near noon. A lady busker was performing outside the train station but unfortunately no one seemed to be interested in her singing.
Kuo-Kuang and U Bus have offices across the train station. We went to the U Bus office to enquire if we could board the bus outside Evergreen Laurel Hotel since the bus route seemed to include this location as a pick up point. We were told we still had to proceed to Chaoma Bus Terminal to wait for our bus the next day going back to Taoyuan Airport.
After that we roamed the streets. There were many shops opposite the train station selling pineapple tarts and sun biscuits and we were offered samples as well. We didn’t buy any as we still had a whole day to go exploring and didn’t want to load up our hands for other activities.
We went through a few streets and found some of them quite filthy and smelly. There were street food stalls where some of them were not open for business during that time. There were some Vietnamese and Filipinos businesses in the vicinity. A complex we went into was practically quite empty and not well lit that also housed some shops catered to foreigners working and living in Taichung.
Eventually we reached a famous restaurant across Taichung Park. We went in and ordered lunch as it was already near to 12.30 pm. The lunch was good and we were glad we came to this restaurant without knowing this was one of the famous Taiwanese restaurants.
After lunch, we crossed the road and entered the park. It was near to 1 pm though sunny, was not extremely hot during this autumn day. Visiting this park was quite pleasant.
The joint hearts feature at the park’s entrance was lovely and with the fountain as its background, this symbolically enhanced the essence of this park. The fountain is a feature in the small lake in the park. This could be a nice place for young couples to hangout.
It was nice to walk along the path with the small lake on our left and the well kept garden in the park. Just ahead is a red colour bridge that connects the park across this small lake.
As we walked further along, when we turned back to view the park, we noticed a building behind the park across the road looked very familiar. A while later, we recalled this was the hotel we stayed during our package tour some years back. This is Forte Orange Business Hotel. We checked in late that night and spent less than 30 minutes in the morning at the park before leaving Taichung.
So this brought back nostalgic moment as we recollected our previous trip to Taiwan. We walked on towards the red bridge and there were only a few other visitors in the park.
We went onto the bridge and stayed at the middle to look around the park. The fountain in the lake was a lovely and refreshing sight in the park. Further into the park was a stone bridge connecting another part of the lake.
We went across the bridge and saw quite a lot of birds in the park. There were some ducks as well. Some of these fowls were resting on the ground under shade.
We observed them for quite some time. There were other species where a lone bird was here and there spending time in solitude. A moment later, a huge flock of birds took to the air. It was a sight to behold in the park with these birds flapping and flying amongst trees. This was really a treat for us spending time in Taichung Park.
We then went towards the stone bridge and went to the middle section to look around the park. The lake was pretty with buildings and Forte Orange Business Hotel as the background across the road. There were some small little boats on the lake.
There were two beautiful buildings on the edge of the lake. We didn’t go over to explore these buildings. We went across this stone bridge and took a look at the smaller section of the lake. Some turtles were resting on a rock in the lake. There were fish in the lake as well.
As we continued walking to the other side of the park towards Yizhong Street, we saw two little squirrels. We saw these lovely creatures early morning a few years back. We were happy to see them this afternoon. Perhaps these were the offspring of those we encountered back then.
When we reached the other end of the park, we crossed the road and walked into Yizhong Street. We were going to do some shopping here after visiting the park. Walking further into Yizhong Street, we came across a queue of customers waiting to buy bubble tea. This stall claimed no chemicals were used and seemed to be popular among the young people here.
When we reached the traffic junction, we looked at some sports shoes on sale but we didn’t buy any. We then crossed the road and entered Net Store where another sale was going on. So we went in for a look. While my wife did her shopping, I sat on the staircase to rest. With shopping done, we walked on into Yizhong shopping area.
This place was much busier than the first stretch of the street. Food stalls were on both sides of the streets and there were more shoppers on the street as well. However, it wasn’t crowded during this afternoon. Maybe at night this place would come alive like Feng Jia Night Market we visited the night before.
We bought fruit juice at one of the stalls and drank as we walked. It was getting hotter now. More young people were on the street over here. We did some more shopping for clothes and soon we had gone one round around this shopping area.
It was also getting tiring. We went into a building with shops inside but was not too appealing for shopping. However, my dear wife saw an advertisement for haircut on a staircase leading to the second floor. We went up and entered the salon to enquire. Hair cut plus washing cost NTD 288. The staff over there were decent and friendly.
This salon has an interesting name Crazy Cut. As long as my wife didn’t end up with a crazy hairstyle it would be fine. So my wife settled down to have her hair cut and washed. I took advantage of this time to sit down and rest in one of their comfortable salon seats and used their free wifi to connect with the world outside of Taiwan.
The salon wasn’t busy. The ambience of the salon was quite conducive where the place was bright and clean. I enjoyed myself during this break while my wife had a great time having her hair done. She had her hair washed twice before her hair cut. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and was very pleased with her new hairstyle. The whole process was about 45 minutes and the cost was just a fraction of what we would have to pay back home. I was very happy for the break to rest my tired legs too.
We hit the streets again but not shopping in the same area again. We walked to a main road outside the university and headed back to the train station. We were hunting for pineapple tarts and sun biscuits seriously now before going back to Smartcue 52 Hotel. Along the way, we went into a supermarket. We bought some drinks and quite a number of instant cup noodles to bring home.
We continued to trace our way back to the train station and we came across this shop selling pineapple tarts. We went in for a look and the staff kindly offered us samples to try and we bought a number of boxes from her. She also directed us further down the road at another corner to buy the famous sun biscuits the locals would patronize.
So we took her advice and walked further down the road and found this shop at a traffic junction. There were many other shops selling about the same thing along the road. This shop seemed to be the popular shop and they were very generous in offering an entire sun biscuit for us to try out before buying. So we bought sun biscuits from this shop and some other goodies as well.
With our shopping done, we continued to find our way back to the train station. After walking along a few more streets we reached the train station. We went into a waiting BRT bus and waited for the bus to depart. Soon the bus left and we were on our way retracing the same route we came this morning. After passing Splendor Hotel on our right and Sogo Mall on our left, we alighted at the next bus stop. We didn’t have to cross the main road now and it was an easy 5 minutes walk back to Smartcue 52 Hotel.
It was near to 4 pm when we entered the hotel. We went to the business centre for a drink and rested a while before going back to our room. The drinks and snacks were good. After having sufficient drinks, we went back to our room.
It was good to be back to rest for a while before dinner time. We had spent a good number of hours outdoor. A good shower was in order and we could finally stretch on bed to watch TV for a while.
Near to 6 pm, we left Smartcue 52 Hotel again. We went back to the bus stop we had alighted coming back from the train station. We were heading to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall to explore and have dinner. This shopping mall would be just three bus stops away.
In under 5 minutes, we reached the bus stop. Another 5 minutes later, the bus came and we managed to get in even though it was quite crowded during peak hours. We soon alighted and crossed the main road and walked into Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall.
This is another big mall like Sogo Mall with many floors and cinemas within the building. We went straight to the food court and did a quick survey of the food options available for dinner. We finally settled down for rice and noodle sets again. The food was pretty good and we had a satisfying dinner. The food court was quite busy during dinner time as well.
After that we went to the bakery and bought some buns and pastry for the next day’s breakfast. Next we did some window shopping and check out the supermarket. We had already done enough of shopping during the day so this evening was simply to browse around and enjoyed the night out. It was good to be in the comfort of air-conditioned environment and shop under bright lighting.
We then left Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall. There is another big mall next door where we would walk over to explore. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall was beautifully lit up at night. It was very pleasant to stroll outside and enjoy the nice view of this mall.
We walked over to Top City Mall next door. This mall is part of the Far Eastern Departmental Store. It is modern and clean and this mall also houses many other stores, restaurants and cinemas.
H&M Store has a shop there. We went in for a quick look and then left without buying anything. We also looked around Far Eastern Departmental Store and left.
Next we went down to the basement to check out the theme restaurants, supermarket and food court. This level was a busy place. The Michelin Star rated Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong dim sum restaurant was attracting huge crowd where diners were required to take a queue number and wait to be called.
After this we went up to the 11th and 12th floor to check out more restaurants. This level was rather quiet and the place very clean and pleasant with many restaurants but not many diners.
Food Republic is on the 12th floor. This food court was bright and clean and very modern as well. There were some diners there during our visit. Had we known there was a food court here, we could have dined here in the first place. There are fast food restaurants up here as well so diners would be really spoilt for choice for both western and eastern meals.
Having done checking out these two floors, we went further up and took a look at the cinemas. This was another very clean and modern floor. It was so spacious and having so few patrons that made this place a little sad even among the nice warm lighting. Had we more time, we would definitely spend some time here to watch a movie or two.
We looked out at the glass panels from this level and enjoyed the night view of the surrounding on this part of Taichung City. Finally, it was time to leave. It was an eye-opener visiting these malls here in Taichung. The malls were big and nice but crowds were few and far between. Perhaps young people were more interested in the lively and dynamic night markets scene rather than spending time at clinically clean shopping malls. By the way, this Top City Mall was much bigger and with better shops, restaurants and facilities than the Far Eastern Mall we visited in Hualien.
So we were back to ground floor and went outdoor and enjoyed the night view of the area. We took a slow walk back to the bus stop and then waited for the next BRT bus. Soon we boarded a bus and made our way back to Smartcue 52 Hotel. We were grateful for the free bus rides the whole day in Taichung. They were nice, clean and comfortable.
It was around 8.30 pm when we returned to our hotel. Again the first thing was to head for the business centre to relax and have something to eat and drink. We also used the computer to make our online check in for our flight for the next day. We could also print out our online check-in itinerary.
The cold drinks and coffee as well as the local snacks were good. We really like this place where we could park ourselves at our convenience. This place seemed to be under utilized. So far we always found ourselves using this business centre. After getting our business settled at the business centre, we returned to our clean and spacious room.
Even though we were departing early afternoon the next day, we did some packing to prepare for our departure. Again we enjoyed the comfort of our nice and firm bed after shower and watched TV and chat with the children back home. There were no regrets not having made a day trip up to Cingjing. We can always plan a night stay up the mountain in the future to enjoy Cingjing more thoroughly.
As our Taiwan tour was coming to an end, we recollected the times we spent here and thought about going home the next day to see our children again. Going back home sounded more exciting now than visiting more attractions in Taiwan. Soon it was time to go to bed and prepare to leave this beautiful island country only to return to cover other areas in the near future. With that we closed our eyes and looked forward to be home with the children again.
Continue to Day 9 …