Taiwan 2016 || Taipei 101 + Taipei Zoo

My last day in Taiwan started out with another hefty breakfast from DG Cafe. I didn’t even finish the sandwich because I was just too full!

I literally had no idea what to do in Taiwan when I first booked this trip. Whenever you search for ‘things to do in Taipei’, the first thing that usually pops out is to go visit Taipei 101. This used to be the tallest manmade structure in the world until Burj Khalifa was built.

There’s actually a mall you have to go through from the station to get to the observatory. There were signs everywhere, so it wasn’t really hard to find your way to it.

The entrance fee is 500 TWD, which was the most I spent on entrance fees in Taipei. Come to think of it, sightseeing in Taiwan is cheap. There were so many sights that you can visit for free, and public transportation is affordable as well!

I went there early, and there were only a couple of us in line for the elevator.

I suggest going there early. I decided to get my money’s worth by hanging out at Taipei 101 for an hour. It was peaceful and serene, that I couldn’t help wonder if there really are cosmic beings out there, and if this is what they see on a daily basis. There is always that one moment during a solo trip where I get a bit emotional at the fact that I made it alone. That moment happened here, as I was sitting in the observatory and looking over at the city, where I felt that sense of fulfillment at being able to do the things I never knew I would ever do. 🙂

I like buying snow globes as souvenirs from the countries I’ve been to (ever since I started traveling with my own money). I enjoy thinking about the future glass display I would have custom made for my collection. 🙂 They do have nicer snow globes (none of the weird alien looking things that came with the one from Taipei 101) at one of the bookstores in the airport. It costs less as well!

I knew it was time to leave when tourist groups started arriving. The peace of the observatory was disturbed by all the chattering, and as I’ve said numerous times before, I really am not a big fan of crowds. It suffocates me a little bit. Before you get back to the elevator leading down to the mall, you will have to go through a floor full of jewelry stalls. I didn’t check any of the jewelry they were selling, but the glitzy displays were a sight.

If I had money to burn, this is probably something I would buy. I’m a big fan of florals. Haha!

My next stop was the Maokong Gondola and the Taipei Zoo since both places are accessible from the same station. However, I didn’t check the operating hours of the gondola and just assumed it would be open. Unfortunately, most establishments are closed on Mondays in Taipei, and the gondola is one of them.

The entrance fee to Taipei Zoo is, again, affordable. You can even use your Easy Card to pay for the 60 TWD entrance fee!


The map made it seem like it was a small place, but it was totally not. I wish I had more time to explore the zoo as I ended up just marking the things I wanted to see because I knew I needed to get back to the hotel to pack my things before my flight. Maybe the gondola being closed was a blessing. 🙂

Also, Meteor Garden feels! There was an episode where Dao Ming Xi and San Cai went on a date here. Hehe!


This is where they keep the pandas! There’s also a cafe and a souvenir shop at the top floor.

The pandas they have are by far the most active pandas I have ever seen in my life. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to see pandas and they’re always sleeping! The pandas here are hard to take photos of because they kept moving around.

I personally like zoos and amusement parks. The goal in life is to be a child [at heart] forever. 🙂

I rushed back to the hotel at around 3 PM. This is my last snap of Dihua street. Until we meet again! 🙂

I haven’t eaten anything else yet when I got back to the hotel. The food establishments within the area of the hotel were all closed (because it’s Monday), so I decided to order light snacks from DG Cafe.

Rose Tea

I had their waffles. I swear, their serving sizes are value for money. I couldn’t even finish this whole plate and I was ravenous prior to eating.

Across the street from the hotel is this pastry shop. It has always catched my eye, but I entered it before I went to pack my bags. The displays were so enticing that I bought two bags of their puff pastry – and was disappointed. Ha! It tasted so bland or maybe I’m just used to sweets.

My going home outfit consisted of a thick sweater (the weather forecast while I was packing implied it would be a rainy weekend) and a skirt which made me decide to take a cab to the airport instead of the bus. It was scorching outside, and I didn’t know if I could stand to walk to the station in it. The thing about their cabs is that every time the price increases, the meter beeps. The beeping sound makes me anxious because I was terrified I would look at the meter and see an exorbitant amount. Haha!

I’m in love with their airport. No tanim bala here as you could watch your luggage via a television once you check it in. You are even instructed to make sure you know where your luggage went by doing so.

My sentiments exactly.

There were quite a lot of things to explore within the airport, but my first order of business is food! I realized once I got to the airport is that I was still famished even after all those waffles that I ended up at one of the cafes after immigration. The meal is obviously not going to be cheap, but it wasn’t exorbitant.

After eating, I went around the shops and decided not to buy anything. I usually buy a lipstick or two from Duty Free but there wasn’t really anything that I found interesting (that I could afford at the moment hahaha), so I headed to the boarding gate. I was planning to sleep during the two hour flight back to Manila but couldn’t because my tummy hurt. It may be from all the eating I did at the airport and on the plane. Haha!

I didn’t finish this because it was meh 😛

Taiwan at night.

And that concludes my weekend in Taiwan! 🙂 Admittedly, there were frustrating moments during this trip and times where I would wonder if this trip was more of a hassle than a vacation. I still do not like the fact that my third world passport requires visas to get to amazing countries, but that’s life. Although this trip didn’t run as smoothly as I thought it would, I still fell in love with Taiwan. I’d like to go back and make more wonderful memories, this time with enough cash in hand. Ha!

Taiwan 2016 || Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall + Pingxi + Shilin Night Market

It’s a Monday afternoon while I’m writing this in my brother’ dark room. For some reason, he happens to have the darkest room in our house, and surprisingly, the temperature is a bit cooler – so here I am! I’m not sure when I’m going to publish this post because sometimes I just get into the mood where I can write three consecutive posts in one sitting, and there are days (months, even) where my posts go stale in Draft state while I struggle to finish it. Let me tell you though how my weekend went – I opened up my Facebook newsfeed/Instagram timeline, and saw mostly wedding/engagement/having children posts.. and me? I panicked. I drew up a rough draft of my three-year plan (which does not even include having children) and figured out that at this rate, my income wouldn’t be enough to accomplish all the things I want to achieve in my life. I think I’ll start looking for sidelines because I need more income sources.

Now that the anxiety over the future has somewhat subsided, I’m here writing about my birthday weekend yet again, because even the simple thought of traveling puts me into a happier state. 🙂

One of the things I like the most about DG Hotel is their big breakfast servings! I don’t have a constant speed for eating but with this huge serving, it took me more than 30 minutes to finish it. It also may be the reason why I was running later than usual on Day 3.

Before leaving the hotel, I asked the staff if there was anywhere I could exchange money. Aside from the Japan trip with chicken boy where I already had all my budget exchanged to their local currency even before I boarded the plane (I have a colleague who exchanges money without the extra costs, super sulit), I usually do not exchange all my Philippine Peso at once. But guess what practical travel tip I learned from this trip: research about currency exchange of your destination. Aside from the airport, most tourists exchange their money in banks. Guess what? Banks are closed on weekends. No TWD on a Sunday? I thought, ‘okay, no problem, I have my Mastercard and I could just go to a convenience store to withdraw money from the ATM’.

I headed to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall confidently. I wasn’t worried about the fact that I only had around 500 TWD left in my wallet.

Before I went to Taiwan, I had no idea what one can see in the country. When I think of developed Asian countries, it’s usually Japan, Korea, or Singapore that comes to mind. It turns out that it is as efficient as them, and it is teeming with interesting sites. It may be a small country, but there are cultural sites mixed in with all the modern shopping districts.

Aside from the memorial hall itself, you can also find both the National Concert Hall and the National Theater here.

The memorial hall was erected for the former president of ROC, Chiang Kai-shek.

From CKS Station, I headed back to Taipei Main Station to catch a TSR to Ruifang Station. To be completely honest, the TSR is a bit more confusing than the MRT. There were different lines using the same track, and I kind of just made my decision on which train to get on to based on the timetable they were flashing on the screen and the color on the sides of the train (should match the color that was on the station map). After a forty minute wait, I boarded the train to Ruifang Station.

The train for the Pingxi line is on the same track you get off to. The train has a one-hour interval, so check the timetable if you decide to get out the station. I made the mistake of not checking the timetable and waiting at the station for a full fifty minutes before the train arrived. When it did, I planned to get off at Pingxi first (which was the farthest), before heading to Shifen to see the waterfall. I did take a photo when we passed by.

Getting off the packed train (when I finally drag C back to Taiwan with me, I’m not gonna go here on a weekend) at Pingxi station was such a relief because I was starting to feel claustrophobic. I have never been a big fan of crowds.

You can easily see how different the city and the countryside is. Aside the Pingxi Old Street, the rest of the area was quite peaceful.

Pingxi is known for the sky lanterns where you can write your wishes on, and light up to fly on the train tracks. The old street was lined with souvenir stores, lantern stalls with mostly uniform prices, and local street food.

More people line up for food stalls with long queues, which in turn maintains the long waiting time for food. I hate lining up for anything, so I ended up trying out the food stalls with similar offerings. Haha!

I swear, food in Taiwan is very affordable. Although I don’t really know what I’m eating most of the time. I’ve been seeing this street food for a while now and decided to try it out at Pingxi.

Of course, I didn’t miss out on more bubble tea! Look at those prices, it’s not expensive at all. Bubble tea in the Philippines cost more!

One of the things that I wanted to do in Taiwan, aside from paragliding, was to go to Pingxi to fly my own sky lantern. I haven’t had the best luck with flying sky lanterns because every single time I have attempted to do so in the past failed. Either we get stuck in traffic or we weren’t able to buy our own lantern. Sky lanterns cost 150 TWD upwards (depending on the colors), and given that I had less than 500 TWD with me, I decided to look for an ATM to withdraw money.

I walked past the old street and looked for a convenience store with an ATM sign. My prayers were answered and I found a Family Mart with an English ATM. However, when I went to withdraw, the machine would not spew out any money. I still did not panic and decided to look for somewhere to sit while I try to connect to the internet and do a quick search for my bank’s contact numbers. I went back to the station where there were empty seats available (the train wasn’t arriving anytime soon) and proceeded to turn on my Data Roaming. It was supposed to automatically connect (as advertised by SMART, my service provider) but nothing was happening. I even reset my mobile phone a few times to try to make it work. I called up their toll-free hotline repeatedly as they give me options after options on how to resolve the issue. I remember one of the solutions was “please remove your sim and put it back in again”, and the irate customer in me retorted, “hello, I’m traveling, tingin mo may dala akong pin sa bag ko??” (roughly translated to “who brings a pin for their iPhone while traveling?”). I was then told that they will make a ticket for me which will be resolved in the next 24 hours. Given that I’ll be leaving the following day, I irritably told them to make sure I don’t get charged for this and to not do anything at all because I’ll already be home by then.

I sat there, trying to think of a way out of this mess, and did something I have never done while traveling solo before. I cried my eyes out. I was so overwhelmed with the fact that I was stuck in a provincial town in Taiwan, alone, with not enough money to even get me to the airport. My Easy Card didn’t even have a lot of credit left, and I was worried I had to top it up to even be able to get back to the hotel. You know that feeling when once you start crying, you could not stop? To make matters worst, there were a couple of people who tried to communicate with me but we couldn’t understand each other. For thirty minutes, I sat there until my hysterical crying subsided, and boarded the train back to Ruifang Station.

I didn’t have a lot of juice left in my mobile phone (I only had 9% battery life left), and when I got off at Taipei Main Station, I decided to try and find a free wifi spot. There should be a wifi spot in the biggest station, right? Luckily, my hunch was right and I headed to Q Square to get my money exchanged. However, they only accept a limited variety of currencies (Philippine Peso not included). Good thing that I had US$28 worth of loose change in my wallet, and was able to exchange it to the local currency. Whew!

Now that I finally had enough money for food, and possibly the bus ride to the airport (if I wouldn’t be able to get any more money the next day), I went to Shilin Night Market. I hopped on the train again and got off at Shilin Station. It’s pretty easy to walk to the night market from there since there were signs everywhere.

I initially thought that the night market would mostly be food, but it’s a mecca for shopaholics. There were so many cheap clothing, and even gadget stores are available in the night market. The photo below does not do justice to how crowded it was in the night market because I snapped this in one of the not so busy streets. But trust me, you better be fine with literally rubbing elbows with strangers because that’s what will happen anyway.

Okay, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I enjoy sausages and I like to try everything that looks like it. Yummers!

I bought a watermelon shake to sip while I roam around and buy more food! Food is layf.

I wasn’t able to take photos of all the street food I ate because my hands were full (with food of course!), and I only got to take a photo of this food stall because there was an obscenely long queue for it and I had to wait long for my chicken! Good thing, I had something to munch on while doing so.

Overall, Day 3 ended up as a learning experience. Ugly crying and frustration aside, it did give me a funny story to tell people when I got home and added to my treasure trove of practical travel tips. 🙂

Taiwan 2016 || Paragliding in Wanli + Ningxia Night Market

I have been asked so many times the variation of the following questions: “do you not love your boyfriend?” (or vice versa), “don’t you have friends?”, and “why on your birthday??”. Often times, I just smile and say nothing and I will be met with the blanket statement of “so brave!”. It’s weird because I’ve interacted with solo male travelers and they don’t get those questions as much as I (and other female travelers as well) do. People also assume that I’m outgoing and friendly, when in fact, I am painfully shy. I don’t even know how to make friends in hostels! People never notice because it seems I have no qualms talking to anyone at work, or even with strangers. What they don’t know is the anxiety I have to battle with every single time I go on a conference call or a board meeting, and the thoughts that run through my head when I talk to a new person. Traveling solo requires talking to strangers, either for help or to make friends, and I like that it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

I treated this solo travel as a birthday gift to myself. The past year has not been the best for me and to be completely honest, I have been living most days on autopilot. When we lost mom to her almost 3-year battle with cancer, I didn’t really have the time to grieve. There was the funeral to plan, the legal documents to file, the house to maintain, and all the things mom used to do fell on my shoulders. I used to live my life for me, and even though I love my siblings, making decisions was harder now that I often take them into account. I was more stressed than sad (gained more weight because I’m an emotional eater). It didn’t even sink in until 3 months later after she was gone. I was on a bus, and I was researching on how to file annual taxes when the first thought that popped into my head was I’ll go ask mom when I get home. Then I realized she wasn’t home, and that I wouldn’t be able to talk to her again. Whatever was keeping me together disappeared, and I literally full on started to ugly cry. On a bus. Headed to Cavite. Yep, not one of my best moments. Now add this to the fact that when I was thinking of what to do on my birthday, I couldn’t help but remember that my mom always threw me an intimate party of some sort. It usually is a surprise. There will be no surprise birthday parties for me this year. None of my mom’s salty birthday carbonara, my room wouldn’t be filled with balloons she inflated herself, and no blowing candles at midnight. The thought of it alone made me want to get away.

I still feel like myself most days, even if circumstances push me to adjust for other people – making sure I work well with teammates/letting go of the ‘cool older sis’ attitude for the ‘proxy mom’ one/compromising with C to get him to fit in perfectly within my world (he does the same with me)/etc. But traveling alone gives me that space to disconnect with people and not care about anyone else but myself. Cliche as it may seem, the silence that it comes with calms my soul and fills me up again. I come home with more to give to the people (and things) I care about. 🙂

THAT WAS SUCH A DRAMATIC INTRO. I was gunning for a short explanation on why I decided to travel alone on my birthday, but I got carried away and it turned into one jumbled mess of thoughts. Haha! I started my birthday with this fabulous breakfast (at 8 AM, no less), from DG Hotel’s DG Cafe. It may not look like a lot, but the serving was huge!

I didn’t really know a lot of tourist spots in Taipei, but I knew that you can go paragliding here. After breakfast, I called Mustang Flying Club in the hopes that whoever answers the phone could communicate in English. There weren’t a lot of resources (by that, I mean blogs) available that was very helpful in how to go about booking the paragliding activity in Taiwan. Tricia Wong’s blog post by far was the best out there so I linked it up (and listed it below as well), in case anyone is interested.

How to go paragliding in Wanli:

  • First of all, this is the website of Mustang Flying Club. Let me save you the effort – it’s all in Mandarin. Unless you understand Mandarin, then good for you.t
  • Call 0932926289 the day before or prior to leaving Taipei (I suggest that you call around 7 in the morning) to inquire whether flights are available. The guy who answers it has a good command of the English language so no worries.
  • If you’re staying in Taipei, leave early! This is important because they also do not fly beyond 3 PM (I think). Travel time is less than two hours by bus. I left past 10 in the morning and got there around noon. The queue was already two pages long. The advantage though of flying past noon is the wind condition is better and we flew higher than the ones who were there earlier. Morning flights do a beach landing, while the ones flying at noon got to do top landing.
  • Get off at Taipei Main Station and go to exit K12. It’s the one that is directly outside Taipei West Bus Station. I got out at M5 and was lucky enough to ask a local who walked me to the station and pointed out which bus to take. He was so nice because he was originally walking towards the opposite direction!
  • Take Bus 1815 (headed to Yehliu). There’s a sign for it, and it’s pretty near the station entrance.
  • The buses have an LED signboard that flashes the stops in both Mandarin and English (with a voice over announcement as well). Press the bell (it’s near the window) to get off at Wanli Bridge.
  • Once you get off the bus, stay at the bus stop and call 0932926289 again to inform them that you are waiting. A shuttle (or a cab) will pick you up and bring you to the flying site.
  • There is a table over by the tents that has a list of names on the queue. Make sure you write down your name (one name per group since you also write how many people are going to go) on it the moment you get there, or else you’ll have to wait longer. Beware though that some people pay to cut the line. There was a group of two guys who came later than I did, and the last person on the queue after me was already two pages long. They conversed with this beefy guy sitting in the tents, handed him some bills, and he went to the list, crossed out the quantity of another group and added those guys (originally 4, turned it to 6). I gave them the stink eye but didn’t really know how to go about it because I was the only non-Mandarin speaker in the area at the time. I had to wait for almost 2 hours to go paragliding. They waited less than 30 minutes for their turn. Ugh.
  • The price for tandem flights is 1600 TWD. This includes Go Pro rental and the instructor will give you the SD card after you land. 🙂

It was so much fun watching people go paragliding. When I got there, I was so excited for my turn – which came in roughly two hours later.

Wear comfortable clothes when you go paragliding, and make sure your knees are covered. They do lend knee covers if you’re wearing shorts or skirts. But why would you do that when you know you’re going to go paragliding?

The view from the top was very relaxing. It was sweltering, though. Bring lots of water (and food) because you can’t buy any within the site and there aren’t a lot of seats in the ‘waiting area’.

The nerves came in once I started walking to the cliff I was about to run off to. The instructions were to keep your legs straight and just keep running until you’re on the air. Do not bend your knees, or jump. I’ve written about this so many times – but physical activities could literally be the death of me. I am clumsy enough that my friends even made a couple of hashtags just for me, #TumbaTuesdays (Tumba is the local word for ‘to fall down’) and #SemplangSaturdays (Semplang means ‘to slip’). There was a time in my life where I tripped/fell down 4 consecutive Tuesdays. The sibs even tease me that I should name my scars because I always have one as a souvenir lol.

I guess it came as no surprise when my first attempt to paraglide had me falling face down on a hill. I had a sweater on but I gained bruises and cuts all over my arms. The brand new jeans I bought from Uniqlo before the trip got ripped, and I had a brand new set of scars in the making. The video is at the bottom of this post! My sister kept laughing because, in the raw video (my face had this terrified and uncomfortable look 90% of the time while paragliding), you can see the staff even teaching me how to run. Haha!

The harness I had on was pretty uncomfortable, and I thought that was usual for this kind of things. I found out later on that it shouldn’t be the case. It turns out that it was too small for me which is why I couldn’t sit all throughout the flight, and why it was too tight on my legs. The wind was so great for a day where they thought it would rain, and we could go on a longer flight, as per the instructor. He was surprised when I told him that no, I would prefer to land now because I felt too constricted. The harness was in all the wrong places – and after a day, bruises started showing in where the harness was.

It hasn’t turned me off paragliding, though. I would like to try it again, but maybe somewhere else where I can easily communicate. 🙂 Here’s a photo of my jeans and feet while on the bus back to Taiwan. The four women who flew before me was also in the same shuttle back to the bus stop. Two of them started shaking the dirt off me (they’re from Hong Kong) while someone checked me for bruises and generously applied ointment. It closed off my wounds by the end of the day and stopped the stinging immediately. Whatever that is, I think I need one for myself.

I got back at Taipei Main Station around 4 PM. I walked around within the vicinity and entered this really huge H&M. The clothes were cheaper than the ones sold in the Philippines, but my wild guess is it was because the sizes were all in XS and S! The reason why I even went in the first place was because it was a western brand and I needed bigger sizes. Haha! I did find this cute skater skirt that was sold for 150 TWD. Win!

I actually saw PABLO while I was on the bus. C and I weren’t able to try it while we were in Japan and I thought it would be nice to have a cake for my birthday. It was good, but I figured out later that I should have just bought those small tarts because, at the end of my trip, I had to leave half of the cheesecake in the hotel room fridge.

When I got back to the hotel (mostly, I just wanted to store the cheesecake in the fridge), I found out that there weren’t really restaurants that served Taiwanese food at that time. I was told though that Ningxia Night Market opens early and I will be able to find something to eat over there so they called me a cab to bring me to the market. One of the hotel staff did show me instructions on how to get there via public transportation, and I used that to go back to the hotel.

This was the only picture of food I ate at the night market because it was such a hassle to hold my phone in one hand while I eat with another. I had ordered so many random food items, I don’t even know which ones to recommend!

It was totally safe to put my phone in my backpack (I saw locals do it), but don’t forget to still exercise caution.

This big ass takoyaki’s stall had a line, so I lined up even if I was already full just to try it. I brought it back with me to the hotel and ate it there. I was not disappointed! I honestly wanna go back to Taiwan with either C, the sibs, or friends. There are so many things I did not get to eat because I had no one to share it with and unfortunately, my tummy is not a bottomless pit!

I went and video called C and the sibs so they can sing me a happy birthday while I hold the cake to the camera. Haha! Yes, I’m quirky like that. I made a reservation for TourMeAway’s pub crawl that night and was supposed to go after I freshened up, but I ended up eating cake while going on a Filipino movie marathon. Ahh, turning 25 and becoming a full fledged #TitasOfManila.

That’s it for my 25th! Here’s the video version of Day 2 (unavailable on mobile devices because of copyrighted content) with notable facial expressions while paragliding. Haha!

Taiwan 2016 || DG Hotel (Daodaocheng Garden Hotel)

I don’t think I will ever be the type to be a backpacking traveler. The fact that I have back pains resulting from poor posture and my sudden weight gain (I’m unfortunately an emotional eater and the past year have been a rollercoaster of emotions), I am physically limited to carrying light luggage in order to not strain my upper body. I also rarely manage to get so much bang for my buck, because I make mini splurges here and there, which includes blowing a good portion of my budget on accommodations alone. I really admire those who can do it long term and I have high hopes that there will come a time where I can travel with them and learn their ways. But for now, let me tour you around this shabby chic boutique hotel I stayed in for my long weekend in Taipei.

C always teases me that I have the affinity to book “hipster” rooms. Even when I’m booking via Airbnb, the rooms I book look like it came out of a Pinterest board. When I chanced upon DG Hotel, I already knew it would be the hotel I’m going to stay in. It was fairly new as it just opened a few months ago (June 2016), and didn’t have any English reviews yet. I knew it was risky to book a room that hasn’t been reviewed extensively yet, but I did the same when I booked Cambana d’Angkor Suites and I was not disappointed. So I went ahead and booked it (primarily because even their website is screaming my name haha).

The hotel is located on Dihua Street. Its location is a treat in itself because the old architecture has been preserved by the government. The area is generally quiet, which is something I like, and does not resemble the busy Taipei I often watch on television. It’s a great exposure to how the locals live because I rarely saw tourists while I mulled around the area. However, the downside to this are the limited food choices. The hotel has a cafe which serves Western cuisine, a wine & tea place beside it (Grand mom’s tea house is only open during lunch (11:30-13:30?) and dinner (19:30-21:30?) and I think a restaurant that is only open for lunch (but closed on Mondays) a block away. Yansan Night Market is a 20-minute walk away but it is only open at night. It is quite accessible since one of Daqiaotou Station’s (Line 4, orange line. Also, one station away to get on the Tamsui line/Line 2 where Taipei Main Station is) entrances is a 10-15 minute walk. A bit of a long walk (with stairs) before you get to board the train though (just a note for people with knee problems). For convenience, you can simply take a cab and the staff will call one for you. Keep one of their calling cards with you for when you take a cab ride back. Fare to and from the airport should not cost you more than 1200 TWD.

Their check-in time is at 3:00 PM. I arrived before 11 AM but I was told of their check in time, so I had to avail of their free wifi to do a quick check of my itinerary before I headed out. It kinda sucked that I wasn’t able to freshen up first, but they did let me avail of a late check out (past 4 PM) on my last day – free of charge.

The staff is very helpful. Although there were times that the language barrier is a challenge, they will drag someone over who is great in English to do the translating. Or literally show you their phones with the directions in English. Someone is available at the reception at all hours (I would know, I got back past midnight and still got to chat with Audrey and this girl with glasses whose name I forgot, sorry!). The hotel door would be closed if you arrived a bit late (maybe around 9 PM?), but you can use your key card or ring the door bell. They do have maps of the area available but it’s in Mandarin. I only took one copy to take note of where the station is, as well as the convenience stores. It would be so much better if they have English ones for foreigners like me. 🙂

The thing that really sold me that I really loved about this hotel is it looked so much better in person than in their photos. Even the smallest details are well thought out. Look at the details of the hotel lobby!

It was not named a garden hotel for it to not be filled with flowers. They have a mix of real and fake plants all over, and there were times I couldn’t tell the difference. I’m not gonna lie, I may have occasionally touched the decor to find out if it was real or plastic. Haha!

Ask anyone who knows me really well and they would tell you that this is probably how my dream house would look like once it’s built. Of course, if I put in C in the picture, I’d have someone veto some of my ideas. Haha!

Even the elevator doors are painted on. One question: CAN I LIVE HERE?

This is the hallway leading to my room on the third floor.

I booked the Joy Double Room and got this quaint space. I had a small sitting space, hangers for my clothes, and unfortunately, no English instructions on how to operate the AC. Haha! That may seem to sound so random, but I have the tendency to adjust the temperature to freezing. I literally had to go on Google to search ‘how to adjust Mandarin AC’. And yes, I realize now while writing this that I should have just called the reception for help *facepalm* but a very short instruction manual would have been great.

They do have some guidelines in the bedside table, but again, it’s all in Mandarin. There’s also a big ass TV in front of your bed, and a box of tissue if maybe you managed to go on a channel where they are showing some Hallmark movie.. But it’s not gonna happen so do not even bother turning on the television unless you understand Mandarin.

The bed is sooo comfortable. The photo below is even taken after I jumped on it – you know, for science. I slept like a baby all three nights of my stay, and I spent the night of my birthday in this bed, eating cheesecake. There’s also an abundance of pillows, because obviously, this room is for two people. Even if I had someone with me, it is guaranteed that we will not be left wanting for pillows. They also have blackout curtains which are great if you plan to nurse hangovers while you’re in Taiwan. Or if you just got out of the shower and do not want to be seen by the neighbors in the apartment building across the street.

Below the sink is the extra towels you can use. The bathroom is probably my favorite part of this room which is weird because I did not even have a tub. But they do have a rain shower head and a detachable shower head. The knobs are pretty easy to figure out. You can also lather as much liquid soap and shampoo on yourself, but for folks with crazy damaged hair like me, bring you own hair products. 😛 You can also adjust the vent in the bathroom. I video called C just to tell him I can click a few buttons and literally dry clothes in the bathroom (thanks to the sun icon in the button, I didn’t need to heed Google for help). But the best part is *drumroll*, the toilet. Aside from the fact that there’s a freaking painting above the toilet, you don’t even have to hold a bidet in your hand! They have a switch with two options: wash your ass or wash your lady parts. Shitting will never be the same again. (Do you guys realize how mind blown I was in Japan and Taiwan? lol)

You can use their safe, water kettle, mini ref, and hair dryer. They also provided a basket of coffee, bottled water, and your usual toiletriesThey replenish this basket every day too. I would know because I hoard hotel toiletries for when I go on vacation where I hoard more toiletries (it’s a vicious cycle). However, what they don’t do is clean the room every day unless you put on a sign at your door. While at home or renting Airbnb rooms I tidy up my things, I don’t really do the same in hotels because hotels got me spoiled, yo. I’m used to getting back to my room at the end of the day with the trash cans empty again and the bed tidied up. My most memorable on was with the staff at Wakeup Copenhagen who were insanely tidy – my already folded up clothes that were stacked in a table was folded up again, albeit more neatly (like how they fold clothes in stores!!). So if you’re like me, do yourself a favor and get that ‘Please clean my room, thank you very much’ sign from your bedside table before you go wander off for the day (they would not tidy your bed, though, but that’s okay).

This is the hallway that leads to the cafe. The hotel has a cafe that opens after breakfast and I’m not sure what time it closes.

But first, let’s discuss, just how adorable this hotel is. I wanted to spend every breakfast just posting photos of it on Instagram (@teeshue, if you’re interested in mine).

I think you can buy those pillows from them? You can ask the staff to confirm. 🙂

They did not miss any details. Whoever did the interior design of this place, all the highest of fives to you. And are you interested in being my friend, and maybe do my future home? (I’m not even kidding at this point)

On Sunday morning, there was this set up where you can toast your own bread and get your own juice/milk/coffee/water/jam/utensils. That was the only time I even had anyone else eat breakfast the same time that I was having my breakfast.

This may seem like it’s open, but there’s a glass wall with that fence. The roof is also made of glass but it’s not unbearably hot inside this air-conditioned area.

Mismatched and floral chairs tied in the look. If there was something disappointing with my stay, it’s the fact that I can’t take all these furniture home with me.

They have huge breakfast servings. It’s big enough that I often eat my lunch late because even with all the walking, I’d still be full. So if you want to go on a food trip in Taiwan, eating breakfast here may not be the best idea. 😛

Overall, I had a great stay over at DG Hotel. Helpful staff, fantastic interiors, and nice rooms. If I’m being honest, it definitely is an expensive choice if you’re planning to just sleep in it (there is another themed hotel I was looking at that was cheaper). However, it’s perfect for a relaxed stay and for special occasions. Have you seen their Exquisite Double Room? If I was honeymoon-ing, I would probably book that! 🙂

DG HotelNo. 334, Section 1, Dihua Street, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103

P.S. Here is Day 1’s vlog! 🙂

Taiwan 2016 || PS Bubu + Ximending + Longshan Temple Tour + Yansan Night Market

It’s that time of the year again! Every year, I would plan a solo trip to go on. So far, last year’s Vietnam+Cambodia trip was the longest I’ve gone solo, and as much as I would like to do a trip that lasted that long again, my vacation leaves are limited lol.

I usually would start a series of travel posts with a travel video but I decided to try and make daily travel vlogs for this trip. Let me know if it’s something you would be interested in seeing me do more often. Personally, I enjoyed doing it but I felt so awkward speaking in front of a camera. Haha! (Video for Day 1 is at the bottom of this post)

A few months ago (even before our trip to Japan), I was casually browsing Philippine Airlines because I knew I wanted to go out of town for my birthday. I wasn’t able to go on a birthday trip last year because I wanted to spend my birthday with mom. My first choice was Batanes because it’s always been a dream to go, but I feared that the rainy season might make for a poor vacation experience. I looked through random destinations until I spontaneously decided to book a trip to Taiwan. YOLO anyone?

Getting a visa to Taiwan though is so much more expensive (it’s priced at Php 2400 for a single entry visa) than getting a Japanese visa.. Hence, I went and applied for a single-entry Japanese visa (Php 800) I could use to get a travel certificate to Taiwan – a few days before my trip because procrastination got the best of me. I got all my fingers crossed that I do not get denied or else this trip will be a bust. Lucky me got a 5-year multiple entry Japan visa! Not only am I able to go to Taiwan, I could also fly to Japan anytime. The sibs and I are already planning to go to Osaka next year, now I just need the money to do it as much as I want to. Hahaha!

I’ve never eaten airplane food that I liked, to be honest. When I finally win the lottery and start living *~the good life*~, I’ll get myself a first class ticket to Europe and find out if the food is infinitely better.

Our flight landed on time at Taoyuan airport and I took an airport taxi to the hotel. I learned my lesson from Vietnam and approached an airport personnel to make sure I do not get into another terrifying taxi ride. A fellow Filipino went up to me while I was on queue for the airport taxi to ask if I wanted to share a cab ride back to the city. I watched Taken so I know not to go on taxi rides with strangers and become a victim of human trafficking! He was a bit relentless and I did not want to divulge where I was staying while he was within earshot (can’t trust anyone these days), so I held on to the print out of the hotel address in my hand instead of handing it to the cab driver. A female taxi handler (there’s a booth that helps passengers in the taxi stand) asked how many passengers to which I said “just me” and she led me to the taxi while maintaining eye contact with the guy. I’m sorry if I’m paranoid, but better safe than sorry!

I arrived way before check in time, thanks to my 7 AM flight, and the room wasn’t ready yet. Instead of taking a shower which was what I really wanted to do in the first place, I went to the train station and began my journey as a Meteor Garden fan to PS Bubu! Thanks to previous trips to Singapore & Japan, it was fairly easy to acquire single-journey tickets (a coin in this case) and figure out the train system. Transportation in Taipei though is cheaper than the two!

PS Bubu is a vintage car-themed restaurant, and it is famous for being one of the scenes where Barbie Hsu and Jerry Yan went on a date!

ps bubu
I literally searched for this scene on Youtube from Episode 13!

Here’s the famous pink car!

The place was empty when I got there right at opening so I got to take as many photos as I wanted.

I had pasta with salmon, and their PS Bubu milk tea. The milk tea wasn’t anything special and I wondered why they even attached their name to it. The pasta was good though! I didn’t need to season it because it tasted quite right for me. I’ve read mixed reviews regarding this restaurant, but I guess since I was the only customer, they had no reason to not provide good service. The girl who assisted me had good command of English and was very helpful when I asked for directions. She even wrote down the bus numbers I should take in a piece of paper.

This is it!!! My teenage self would be so proud. 🙂

How to get to PS Bubu (金屋藏車P.S.BuBu餐廳, 士林區中山北路七段140巷1號): You can do what I did and I took a cab from Shilin Station (hence, a copy of the local address that you can show to the driver). Haha! But the nearest station is Shipai Station in the Tamsui-Zhongshan line (Line 2, and color on the train station map is red). I think you can board a couple of buses to get there, but on my way back, I boarded a red #19 bus with ‘Shipai Station’ flashing outside it. Fare is 15 TWD and you will have to prepare the exact fare if you do not have an Easy Card with you.

In order to not need exact change for transportation, I got myself an Easy Card. The card itself costs 100 TWD, and it’s pretty convenient because I didn’t need to get a single-journey ticket every time I have to take the train. To get one, just approach the information booths that can be found in every station. My initial top up was 400 TWD, and on my last day, I put in all my loose change since you can also use this to pay for taxi fare. Win!

The hotel I was staying at was nearest to the Daqiaotou Station (Line 4, orange line). Not bad because it was just a 15-minute walk, although I guess would suck for anyone with arthritis because a lot of stairs are involved to get to the actual station.

Dihua Street is also one of those old streets that’s why everything still looks historical. I think they maintained it to look this way which is great because I have seen so many photo walks happen here during my stay!

There was a fancy  restaurant next door to the hotel that I wanted to try, but I couldn’t seem to time it just right and get there while it’s open as it is only open for lunch and dinner.

After checking in, I freshened up and decided to kill some time before the Longshan Temple walking tour. I went to Ximending, Taiwan’s own ‘Harajuku’. You can immediately feel the vibe the moment you get out of the train station. I went out the Red House exit, and there were so many people.

The Red House was closed for renovations when I went.

I have never seen FOUR stories of Watsons before. This is crazy! I literally burned away an hour mindlessly browsing through all the selections. It was so hard to pick from all the cosmetics and skin care products available. Most of the products though were in Mandarin which made it harder. I did buy a couple of items that I can’t find at home.

I stumbled upon this store behind the Red House, and it had a lot of booths of different local artists. There were signs not to take photos inside, but if you like quirky artsy items, this is the place to buy it from. I saw this cute charm bracelet that made me stop browsing because I had to think hard if I wanted to buy it (it was quite expensive). I ended up deciding not to but I’m adding it to the list of reasons why I wanna go back to Taiwan.

There were a lot of bars in this area as well, and I heard later on from the tour guides that this place is busy up until the wee hours of the morning. I am guessing that it is also the reason why in between 2-3 bars, there’s a third wave coffee shop. Haha!

I’ve read that one thing that you shouldn’t miss out on Taiwan is their bubble tea! This is the land where Cha Time was born. When I saw a bubble tea place with a long queue of locals and tourists alike, I went and braved the line.

Their bubble tea tastes better and is much cheaper than the ones available at home. I spent less than 100 TWD for this large cup and it already has grass jelly and sago.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to explore a city is to look for a free walking tour. These organizations are usually ran by locals that are passionate about their city and some support university students in helping them hone their skills. I booked TourMeAway’s Longshan Temple Walking Tour and went to the meeting place 30 minutes early. They do pass around a hat where you can drop in a donation if you enjoyed the tour. 🙂

Let me share with you what I learned during the tour. As usual, I have no notes and all this are just stored inside my head so leave a comment below if you realized I made a mistake. 🙂

The temple was built in this area because the Wanhua district is the oldest one. The Tamsui river brought in a lot of business, hence a lot of traders decided to build their stores here. The area became prosperous and the business men chipped in to make the temple.


The area where their stalls used to be, have now been renovated and maintained, and it is available for use for free by locals if they want to exhibit their art. Going through the brick alley at night was a creepy experience, but I could imagine how picturesque it must be during day time. This is also where a popular gangster period movie was filmed (Note: I couldn’t remember the title so I researched and found out).

The theater/cinema area.

We also went to the herb market near the temple. When modern medicine have not yet reached the shores of Taiwan, what the locals do is consult the temple and get a prescription for herbs. They then go here to buy it and go back to the temple to make sure they have the right ingredients. Up until now these herb shops are alive – it seems it is effective. 😛

We tried out a cold herbal drink that was said to cool off the body.

Honestly, even though the temple is an imposing structure, the first thing that caught my eye upon entering the temple gates is this fountain/waterfall. It is huge!

I have no photos inside beyond this point because I had a couple of incense in my hand as they taught as how to properly give our respects. I could try to write it out but there’s an order on how to do things and I’m pretty sure I will make a mess out of it.




After the temple, we headed to the red light district. We were given instructions to stay close together and not make eye contact with anyone.

We went into this establishment where there were a lot of nail salons, massage chairs, clothing stores, and weirdly, snake delicacies.

The tour ended at the Guangzhou Street Night Market. However, I was already dead tired and there was nothing more I wanted than to go back to my hotel bed and sleep the day away. So I said my thank yous and goodbyes before heading back. 🙂

As it turns out, the dining establishments near the hotel are already closed. Fortunately, the Yansan Night Market is right across the road from the train station exit I always get in to. It does not look like your typical night market because it wasn’t as busy as the other night markets I have visited and will come to visit in Taiwan. I found a packed hot pot place that was open until 1 in the morning. There was a menu I couldn’t understand outside, and I based my order on what looked like a pot with mostly edible items (not a fan of innards). What’s nice about this is after you order outside, there’s unlimited rice, drinks, and even ice cream inside that you can choose from!

I paid 130 TWD for this big ass bowl of hot pot. I went ahead and ate like a..hungry person. Not a nice sight, I tell you. I was so full that the 20 minute walk back to the hotel was not enough to lose that feeling of being bloated.

So that’s it for my first day in Taiwan! Here’s a quick recap in vlog form just in case any of you are interested in watching awkward me in action. Haha! (Note: I got inspired by AC’s trip to Taiwan!)

Solo Travel for the Female Foodie

There are different kinds of travelers out there with varying takes on how to really ‘see the sights’. Some prefer to go backpacking and roughing it up, quite a lot likes to go shopping at flea markets for great finds, there are people who adore exploring a city by biking, and talented photographers go on photo walks. Then there’s us, the ones who yearn to try the local cuisine for the authentic experience. Eating is a common experience for everyone! Although it sounds lonely to eat out when traveling alone, it’s easy to make it a fun venture. Here are a few tips on how I enjoy eating solo while traveling.

Always bring bottled water. Tap water is generally harmless to locals since their tummies are already accustomed to it, but it’s different everywhere. Go down the safer route (no one’s going to take care of you when you get sick traveling solo) and bring bottled water with you. You also get to save a few extra bucks by not paying inflated prices for it in tourist spots.

Ask the locals for recommendations. Or better yet, eat with them!

l used to print out lists I found online of food to try in a specific place, but the best tasting ones are usually suggestions from the locals. I usually ask them to write the address and the name of the dish for me, but a lot of friendly locals will even volunteer to go eat with you. It’s pretty easy to bridge cultural gaps through dining together (it’s important to note that you still have to take necessary safety precautions when eating with strangers).

I asked for recommendations regarding Khmer cuisine and was treated free lunch!

Line up for street food.

At the Dong Xuan night market in Vietnam

I find street food interesting because it’s diverse in a way. Copenhagen has their crepe bikes, waffles on a stick, and hot dog stands. Orange quail eggs, chicken innards, and blood cubes can be found in the streets of Manila. They sell coffee and soy pudding with ginger sauce in Hanoi, while you can find $1 fresh fruit shakes at Pub Street in Siem Reap. The concern people usually have about street food is its cleanliness. While there is no way for you to know that everything you eat on the streets is clean, stalls that have the longest queues usually means that they have high ingredient turnover.

Lined up for one of the food stalls in Nyhavn, Copenhagen for waffles on a stick

Try something at least once. You know what they say – when in Rome do as the Romans do. Unless it violates your personal dietary restrictions, go try it out before giving judgment. It may not be as bad as you think it is and it ends up being your favorite, or it could be worse.. but you’ll never know until you try.

Late night dinner of grilled frog and cold Saigon beer in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Join food tours! The downside of eating solo is that you can only eat for one person, and ordering everything is not practical at all. This may be cliché already, but joining food tours is the easiest way to get around to trying a lot of food and sharing it with like-minded people. Now, isn’t that fun?

Saigon food tour

Enjoy exploring the world through eating, female foodies! 🙂

*As published in MAGPIE, the world’s first private membership club for female travelers. I was so excited when Cathy asked if I can write a quick article for them about solo female travel. So I thought, hmmm, why not write about eating solo? Thank you Cathy and MAGPIE for the opportunity. 🙂