Taipei – CityInn Hotel II and Modern Toilet Restaurant | Taiwan Day 1
Flying with Jetstar
For the outbound trip, my travel partner and I both had 15 kg of checked baggage allowance. We were well within limits! We went with half filled enormous luggages so that we would have space for shopping.
It was a near five hour flight and despite having less than three hours of sleep due to our last minute packing frenzy, it was difficult to catch a wink. And so… photo taking to kill time…
The clouds, sun and sky are always so beautiful. Don’t you think so? Absolutely no filter needed. The colours turn out amazing even with my basic iPhone 5 camera.
Upon arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, we picked up our luggages at the baggage claim area. To our dismay, the top handle of my luggage has broken off! We did purchase travel insurance for this trip but unfortunately (and stupidly!), we did not do any homework on what to do when our baggage is damaged. I thought probably we could simply submit photos of the damaged baggage and make a claim when we are back in Singapore. Boy, was I so so wrong!
TIP: If your baggage is damaged upon arrival at the destination airport, you will need to find a staff at the carrier’s baggage counter or service desk. Present the baggage to the staff for the damage to be assessed. This should also be done if you are intending to make an insurance claim. The insurance company would need a report from the carrier regarding the damage. Each insurance company has its own protocol, so please don’t be like me and do your research prior. It would be good to snap a few photos of the damage as proof, just in case!
Prepaid SIM Card
I purchased a prepaid SIM card at the Taiwan Da Ge Da (台湾大哥大) counter at the airport. After you step out of the arrival area, turn right and you will see the counter. There are other companies as well, but I chose Taiwan Da Ge Da as they have a 10 day unlimited data usage prepaid card at NT$800 (≈S$35), which fits my trip nicely. This package is available only at the airport’s counter.
TIP: I would strongly recommend you to have access to mobile data usage, as you can use GPS or Google for directions when you are lost, and read up when you need recommendations on what to eat, etc. You can always bring an extra phone for your Singapore SIM card.
Taiwan Youth Travel Card
If you are aged 15 to 30 years old, you can apply for the Youth Travel Card at the airport. The counter is just opposite the Taiwan Da Ge Da counter. It is free. Just present your passport and fill in a form. Simply flash the card and you’ll get to enjoy discounts at some tourist attractions!
Bus to Taipei Main Station
From the airport to Taipei Main Station, you can take Kuo Kuang bus 1819. Follow the directions “Bus to city (客运巴士)” to the bus terminal and purchase the tickets at NT$125 per pax. The buses come at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes and the trip takes about 55 minutes. You may have to wait for the next bus if the luggage compartment is full, so be sure to join the queue early. The bus will terminate at TRA (Railway) Taipei Station East 3rd Exit, which is connected to Taipei Main Station.
TIP: Taipei Main Station is HUGE. The MRT, HSR (High Speed Rail), TRA (Railway) and bus stations are all connected. You can walk, but it can be quite a bit of exercise. You can refer to the station maps along the way to guide yourself in the right direction and determine which exit is nearest to your destination. Once you get the big picture, you’ll have no problem navigating.
First Meal in Taipei
We were famished by the time we alighted the bus at Taipei Main Station. While on the way to our hotel, we passed by this eatery, 八方云集 and decided to have a quick lunch there. They have a few branches and the food was good! I had the 红烧牛肉面 and the soup broth was so flavourful. After this meal, I had such high expectations for Taiwanese food!
CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch II
CityInn has three hotels in Taipei. Hotels II and III are actually just beside each other. CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch II is about a 10 minute walk from Taipei Main Station. There’s McDonald’s, KFC, a bubble tea and 24 hour convenience store just across the street. No worries about being hungry in the middle of the night!
Checked in and we were happy with the room. It was simple, yet has everything you’ll need. From an emergency torch, retractable LAN cable, to a sleek master switch with red and blue backlight located by the bed, they have it all. The only thing I can pick on is the lack of a wardrobe. You can only hang your clothes on the hangers beside the mirror, but it’s no biggie.
At CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch II, there is a public computer at the lobby area for guests’ usage. As Marcus brought his laptop along (workaholic!), we didn’t use the public computer.
There is also a dining lounge area where you can watch the television or have your late night supper takeaways from the night markets. A weighing machine for your luggage is also placed there so you can check that your baggage is not overweight before departing for the airport – so thoughtful!
There is also a kitchen self service kiosk where you can cook your cup noodles with the water dispenser, enjoy a cup of piping hot coffee from the coffee machine, or microwave/toast your snacks. A communal refrigerator is provided for you to keep your food fresh in there. Just write your name and room number on a post-it note provided and stick it onto your items.
Last but not least, there’s even a self service laundromat! Help yourselves to the washing machines, tumble dryers and ironing facilities. No worries, washing powder is also provided. Can you see how considerate they are for their guests’ needs?
The service at CityInn was also impeccable. Everytime we walked past the reception, the receptionists would definitely stand up and greet us. Anyway, the six images above are from CityInn’s website as I didn’t take photos of the above-mentioned facilities.
Ximending Night Market
Ah Zhong Mee Sua
No. 8-1, Emei St., Wanhua District, Taipei City
Looked for the famous Ah Zhong Mee Sua and we found it pretty easily. The queue was very short and we got our bowl of the much coveted mee sua in no time. I was not blown away by it though, probably because I’m not a fan of pig intestines and parsley. Maybe the hype has raised my expectations by too high a notch. Oh well…
No. 49, Emei St., Wanhua District, Taipei City
Must try! As seen from above, this grilled mochi stall is just beside Nature Republic. There’s a queue for it. The grilled mochi comes in many flavours (both sweet and savory), such as cheese, chocolate, peanut and matcha. Please try this stall when you are in Ximending as I tried it in other areas as well and they can’t be compared to this stall. It was so good that I queued again for a second mochi!
Modern Toilet Restaurant
Address: 2F, No. 7, Lane 50, Xi-Ning South Road, Taipei City
You can make reservations here.
Passed by this toilet themed restaurant and we decided to give it a try. Precisely because it’s a themed restaurant, I dared not have much expectations for the food. I ordered a tomato based hotpot and not surprisingly, it was served in a toilet bowl. Most of the ingredients in the hotpot seemed to be frozen steamboat stuff and hence, not worth the price. Marcus had chicken curry and it was mediocre. Unfortunately, nothing left me wanting to come back a second time. My verdict for this Modern Toilet Restaurant is to try it once for an experience will do. And with this, marks the end of our first day in Taiwan with erm… some poo for you? Haha! 🙂