Day 9 – Taichung onward to Taoyuan to Singapore
Finally, our day of departure from Taiwan had arrived. Like the previous day, we didn’t have to wake up early to head to the restaurant for breakfast. We had buns and pastries bought from a bakery the previous night. With coffee and tea facility in our room, beverages were taken care off. Breakfast was simple and just right. We took our time to enjoy our room and watched a little more TV program.
We called reception to request for late check out at 1 pm and was granted. Our bus ride to Taoyuan Airport was scheduled at 1.26 pm. Taxi ride to Chaoma Bus Terminal would take just ten minutes so we were pretty comfortable with our schedule.
Near 11 am, we left Smartcue 52 Hotel and turned left to walk over to Sogo Mall for lunch. We skipped those restaurants at the mall connected with the Splendor Hotel. We entered Sogo Mall in about 15 minutes. Like the first day we arrived Taichung, we went straight to the food court on the 15th floor. The Sogo lift attendant was still manning the lift with the usual politeness and greetings.
At the food court which was still very early, we walked around to check out the food stalls again. We then decided to have Japanese set lunches. The food was presentable and tasted great. The curry wasn’t spicy though.
After lunch, we went to the bakery to buy some bread and buns to bring back to Singapore. We roamed around a little before heading to the customer service counter on the ground floor to request for the shuttle service to go back to Smartcue 52 Hotel. Sogo Mall does have shuttle service that serves Smartcue 52 Hotel. We chose to walk to Sogo Mall from our hotel as we would have to wait for the shuttle service to be arranged with the hotel which would take some time.
So we were told to wait along the road outside Sogo Mall. It was already slightly after noon while we waited for the shuttle service. Soon, a black MPV pulled up. We were a little surprise though. We expected a minibus. This MPV was the same type I used to own in the past. Hence we gladly boarded the car in a nostalgic mood and within five minutes, we were back to the entrance of Smartcue 52 Hotel.
We returned to our room to use the toilet and then brushed up to prepare to check out and leave our spacious room. After a final round of packing, we took our bags and went to lobby and checked out. It was smooth and trouble free.
We enjoyed the friendly and good services at Smartcue 52 Hotel. This hotel would be suitable for those who wish to spend time shopping along the main road near to big shopping malls.
We went back to the business centre for a final drink of coffee and waited a little while as it was still too early to head out to the bus terminal. Nearer to 1 pm, we requested concierge to call us a taxi which arrived within two minutes.
We loaded our bags, boarded the taxi and left Smartcue 52 Hotel for the bus terminal. The hotel staff had already told the taxi driver which bus terminal to head to so we simply relaxed in the cab and were on our way to catch our bus ride back to Taoyuan Airport. We drove past Top City Mall and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall where we visited last night. We went on further and then turned left to head towards the bus terminal.
We arrived Chaoma Bus Terminal in ten minutes and entered the terminal to wait for our bus. There were a number of passengers waiting for their buses. Buses came and left with passengers with more passengers coming into the terminal to wait for buses.
It was still early so I went across the road for a quick look around and took some pictures of the surrounding. Across the road were some apartments with a nice park and a small pond outside the apartments. This place looked quiet and peaceful.
Soon our bus to the airport arrived at the terminal. We left our bags at the storage compartment and then boarded the bus. I informed the driver we wished to alight at the airport hotel and he obliged. The seats configuration was the same as the Kuo-Kuang Bus with a two by one seat arrangement. So we had plenty of space and leg rooms. The bus was clean and comfortable but Kuo-Kuang Bus seemed to be better and newer.
Our bus left the terminal with a number of passengers heading for Taoyuan Airport. It was about the same route heading north and very quickly, we got onto the highway. There was nothing much to report about the scenery along the way.
In under 2 hours, we arrived outside the airport hotel. We collected our bags from the bus storage and walked to the lobby of Novotel Hotel while the bus moved on towards the airport nearby.
Our departure flight was scheduled at 8.20 pm and it was only 3.25 pm when we entered Novotel Hotel. We had plenty of time to rest at the hotel and to have a good dinner before heading to the airport to catch our flight.
We are Accor Plus members so we intend to use our members privileges to enjoy dining discount of 50% at the restaurant. The hotel also has shuttle service to the airport every 30 minutes, so this would be the right place for us to park ourselves before flight.
It was so comfortable to hang around at Novotel Hotel. The hotel is spacious, modern and even classy. Actually, the hotel is rather grand too. There are plenty of space to sit around. Behind the hotel is a very nice park too.
The staff were efficient, friendly and helpful. We left our bags with concierge and told them we would be taking the shuttle service to the airport at 6 pm. Our bags were tagged and we were given the other portion of the tag to collect our bags later.
Facilities at the hotel include fitness centre, indoor heated pool, spa, computer station and kids corner. Dining options are restaurants, bar, premier lounge and a deli shop. There is a small duty free shop in the hotel as well.
So we came and used the washroom and explored the hotel. We sat at the sofa sets outside The Square Restaurant and used the free wifi to while away the time. It was great to connect with the children before our flight home.
After 4 pm, a group of staff came into the deli shop inside The Square Restaurant and started to queue and buy bread and stuff. So we likewise went in for a look and found that there was a 40% discount on bread, buns and cakes. As such we bought more bread and buns to bring home for the children. These customers were actually staff from the airline company whose office was just across the hotel. It seems like they make regular purchase from the deli shop here.
After the excitement had died down, we returned to sit outside the restaurant. Near to 5 pm, we entered The Square Restaurant for dinner. The restaurant was empty as it was too early for dinner. Anyway, we were ushered to our seats and we ordered our meals from the a la carte menu. We ordered fried hor fun and noodles. The food was great as well as the service of the staff at the restaurant. With 50% discount for Accor Plus members, this dinner was wonderful indeed.
The Square Restaurant is very modern, warm and cosy. The decoration in the restaurant is nice and pleasing. The ambience is just perfect.
They were having a Japanese theme buffet dinner during our visit. We left The Square Restaurant after our nice dinner and continued to hangout at the hotel for a while more.
Near to 6 pm, we collected our bags from concierge and waited for the shuttle bus at the main entrance. It was already dark during this time and everywhere had lit up. Soon a minibus pulled up with passengers alighting and collecting their bags. This minibus had just returned from the airport.
So we put our bags at the rear storage and boarded the bus. The bus was packed. The bus then left and proceeded to the airport and we alighted at Terminal 1.
We took our bags and went to Jetstar check in counters to queue up and deposit our bags. As we had already done online check in, we went to the shorter queue. Not long after, we were free to roam and explore Taoyuan Airport.
We cleared immigration and soon were inside the secured area of the airport. The airport was so different from the early morning when we first arrived more than a week ago where all the shops were closed. Now the airport resembled more like a high-end shopping mall with shops, cafes, restaurants and even small food courts.
Starbucks Coffee stood out as one of the favourite hangouts with seats even outside the coffee house. Those nice seats outside the café are equipped with socket outlets for charging phones.
Of course there are duty free shops as well. There are many shops selling mostly branded stuff such as watches and bags. Taiwanese goodies are also available in many shops at the airport. It was certainly a nice shopping experience inside the airport.
There is also a big massage outlet in the airport. The ambience from the outside looked nice and comfortable. For those who have the time for some muscle relaxation, this place might be great.
At another section, there is an open section nicely furnished for visitors to rest and charge the phones. The decoration here though quite basic, is very modern and even futuristic projecting a cool image of music entertainment and the IT world. Those light blue colour benches are actually quite comfortable that also come with charging points.
Having roamed and explored the airport, it was time to head to our departure gate. Not long after, we boarded our flight and were on our way home.
It was a very enjoyable and satisfying tour in Taiwan beginning with Jiaoxi experiencing the hot spring bath in our hotel room. We also explored the towns of Yilan as well as Luodong for its famous night market.
We then went down to Hualien for shopping and had dinner at Ziqiang night market. We also went whale watching and had day tour to four different attractions south of Hualien visiting aqua farms, bear forest estate, cultural museum in a forest park as well as a lake in the mountain for boating activities.
Back to Taipei, we enjoyed nights out at Xi Men Ding for dining and shopping. For attractions in Taipei, we visited Yehliu Geopark, Beitou Hot Springs, Danshui Old Street, Taipei Zoo and Maokong Gondola up to the hilltop and also shopping in the district near the main train station.
Down to Taichung, we had a great time at the huge Feng Jia Night Market, dined and shopped at Sogo Mall, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall and Top City Mall. We also visited Taichung Park, explored Taichung Train Station area and Yizhong Shopping District.
So quickly, this Taiwan trip had come to a conclusion after months of planning. All the transfer arrangements from buses to trains went without a hitch. All our hotel accommodations were perfect except the one in Jiaoxi was a bit small. It was really great to visit Taiwan again after our first visit in 2012.
It would be after midnight when we reached home and all our children would be in bed. We looked forward to sharing our spoils of shopping with them in the morning and of course not forgetting the Taiwanese snacks, buns and bread.
Next trip to Taiwan had already been secured for June 2016. More great time in Taiwan would follow.