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Friday, October 24, 2014

Florence, Italy (Day 1)

Photo diary of my first day at Florence!
Photos after the text below.


Caught the train at noon to Florence! What can I say about Florence, well it was a little confusing there. But after 1 day, you'll get the hang of things here! The tourist information center is located across the street of the main station. And it's really helpful. There's a map you can get and then practically just walk the whole of Florence. However because we only reached Florence at 3pm we headed to the Piazza Michelangelo. The awesome scenic spot to see the whole of Florence! *catch bus 12/13 in between the station and info center. You can buy the 90mins ticket at 1.20euros at newsstands etc. I love the Piazza! Sunny and all. Okay maybe too sunny. I suggest visiting around 8plus whereby the sun starts to set! You can check out the San Miniato Church first. Albeit gothic but it's lovely. You can have another view of the whole of Florence too! Do note, wear clothes that cover your chest, shoulders and knees. Unless you want to pay for some disposable poncho like stuff to cover your modesty.

Till the next post!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Taiwan Travelogue: Singapore Edition

So, I've decided to go for an elaborated travelogue in Singlish.
Rather than my usual one sentence, almost-proper-english post. Hope you like it!
*In case you are wondering, I'm holding off my Europe trip post because there's just too many photos.
This round's Taiwan trip was rather short, hence very fast to churn out!

Super cute design! I love this too much.

Day 1

Arrived at Taoyuan Airport at 0530. Went to the convenient store to get food while waiting for the telecom store to open at 0700 (Chunghwa) at Terminal 1! Their unlimited data sim card is only 300NT/S$13 for 5 days! Throughout the trip there wasn't any disruption in the connection. We got the Easycard (equivalent of EZlink card) from the Taiwan Visitors Association Office in Singapore. It's a limited edition card with 50NT credit inside! Super awesome. So remember to go collect your freebies before heading to Taiwan okay!

Erm yeah, maggie noodles first thing in the morning.

It got kinda strange when we were the only one on the sky train. Early morning, no one!

Hello, I love all the deco in here. 

Next, we bought the U-go Bus to Taichung. Look out for their counter at the basement ticketing counter. It cost 240NT/S$10 each way/ per pax. It takes about 2.5hours to the Taichung Station. The bus dropped us at the back of the Taichung Station. You can find your way around easily with the Google app.

Booked 1night at Taichung City Inn Plus hotel. It's really good! The deco in the lobby is funky and their toilets have everything! Definitely one of the best "small" hotel I'm been to. Rooms are white and clean with full length mirrors etc. I love it! It was just S$90/night.

Yum yum!

Our delicious lunch was recommended by the hotel stuff. It's called 台中肉圓. About 10mins walk down the street. It's pretty famous and I love the vermicelli soup most while their popular dish is the gigantic meatball. Cheap too! About 30-40NT per each sample dish. You can ask for a sample size of all of their dish.

Already perspiring like crazy at the first stop. But the food is too good!

Next we went to Yizhong Night Market. Just 3/4 stops from Taichung Bus Station. There's so much food here! Fried chicken, bubble tea, dumplings, cheese potato etc. Not much shopping I'd say.

Afterwards, we checked out the gorgeous packaging from Miyahara 宮原眼科. It's just opposite the Taichung Bus Station with a little walk. Basically a souvenir boutique shop selling to die for visuals wrapped snacks. It's cheap though. Like maybe less than 400NT for a box of 8 sun cakes?! Their famous ice cream stall is quite disappointing. I didn't like the ice cream and the toppings much. It just doesn't go! Like 100% choco icecream with red bean cookies or almond cookies etc? Nah, never again.

Our final destination was FengJia Night Market. This was the reason why I wanted to head to Taichung for a day. I just got to check out the biggest Night Market at Taiwan. Needless to say, the food was awesome. Love the demon chicken, scallops with no.1 flavouring, fried ultra crispy sweet potato, fresh oysters, sliced steak. It's about an hour bus ride from the station.

Cabbed back to hotel and it's about 200+NT. Cheap!

Day 2

Went to Chun Shui Tang to check out it's fabulous food. Spotted long snaking queues on Day 1 when we went there. So they opens at 9am. And when we were there before 10am, it was already full house. But thank god we are first in line. Their menu in the morning consist of filling choices like their beef noodles which I ordered. The dim sums were yummy and so was the bubble milk tea! Read that the latter was one of their signature item.

Later on we got our tickets towards Taipei from the train station. Right at the back of the hotel. We left for Taichung almost immediately because the tickets were sold out for the early afternoon ones. Like whuttttt. So yes, if you are taking transport in Taiwan during holidays or weekends, please go purchase your tickets beforehand.

The train ride is about 2hours and will reach Taipei Main Station. From there it is a stop away from our Airbnb at Ximen.

The place where we stayed at "Freebird Apt" was right smack in the middle of Ximending. But I'm not 100% pleased because the vicinity was pretty scary and the bed was too soft to my liking, a little small too the room. So yeah. But we paid S$226 for 3nights. So I guess I can't complain much because the room was rather clean.

Early morning at Ximending.

Almost dangerous.

Poodles aint my favourite breed but this one poses like a star.

Went to Wufenpu and hands down, that is the place to go for shopping. Things are so much cheaper there than at Shilin Night Market or stuff at XMD.

The Formosa Chang braised pork rice is supposedly famous but I didn't like it.

Headed down to my favourite night market, Shida Night Market. But I didn't have time to check out all the boutique shops. They sell mostly clothes there rather than food. And the stores really do stock pretty stuff! But pretty expensive. Still, worth taking a look. Had the famous Ru Wei there. Only their meatballs I love!

Day 3

To Jiu Fen and Shi Fen by train and bus!

Directions: Buy tickets from the Tai Tei to guarantee a seat reservation. Do not use your Easycard. Unless you want to stand for 45mins on the train like we did. Reach Ruifang and I immediately got a 7pm ticket back to Taipei. There's no way I'm not learning my lesson okay.

From Ruifang station, exit and turn left and walk straight down. You will see a 50lan bubble tea shop. Just walk straight for another 100m or so, you'll see a bus stand, just ask any bus if they go to Jiufen! It takes about 15-20mins up.

Trust me to say this. The cutest one alive and seen by me. Totally just randomly flopped to the ground in front of me with it's belly facing up. Then proceed to lick its paw and rubbing its head. Really cat? How are you so cute!

Ate yummy sausages, beef noodles, peanut ice cream and my favourite chewy dessert (ala Blackball in Singapore). There's a famous Sun Cake store right opposite of the 7-11! The bus stop back to Ruifang station is just a 50m walk up from Jiu Fen. Just walk on opposite side of the road up.

Le handwriting is better than his. *smug smile* hehe

And, I'm super cheesy. Yupp, that's right.

From Ruifang to Shifen it's a 30mins colourful train ride. I assume the train comes every hourly. So check ya. Once there, we rushed to get our sky lanterns up and fireworks going. Sky Lanterns or 天灯 are huge lanterns you write wishes on and afterwards, release it off into the sky. Cost 200NT/S$8 for a 4-coloured lantern plus pictures taken by the store assistant! Cheap thrill okay. I enjoyed it much this time round too! Be prepared with a string of  Chinese well-wishes phrases to write on them. My boyfriend took forever to search online and write it on there and then. Lol.

Oh yeah baby, I love standing on the railways.

You are as pretty as the stars in the night sky.

Literally sparkles. Not fireworks leh. Hilarious please.

We bought a box of fireworks to light! It's called Jiu Lian Fa. 250NT only! Went on the Jingan Bridge and lit the shit out of it. I think it was lame because it was like 5pm only. Still bright, see what fireworks. And I lit it on a bridge with people on it. So thank god no one stopped me. Hilarious much.

And... we rushed for the train back. Secretly glad we had seats from Ruifang back to Taipei. You don't know how many people were left standing on the train because there was no seats. Awesome feeling okay.

Head to Shilin Night Market and had their yummy Wang Zi Cheese Potato! Really yummy. Only 60/70NT. And as usual I had my scallops stick with the only yummy flavouring I like. (choose No. 1, a mixture of seasonings)

Day 4

Hi there, Bob.

There's Typhoon so we totally skipped Tamshui and Beitou, because we are lazy like that. So we just went to Taipei 101 and eat Ding Tai Feng. Because typhoon leh, how to pay 500NT to go up and see nothing?! Had to get a queue no. and the waiting time is 90mins. Technically we waited only 60mins. Maybe cause some people weren't there when their no. was called. So you got 30-40mins to roam around the building! We over-ordered as usual. I prefer Singapore's version of fried rice but their noodles in Taiwan was much more awesome! The guo tie at the Taiwan branch is good too! Don't thing Singapore has them.

Later on we went to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station's SOGO to change currency! It was a Sunday, there was only this place to go to change Singapore dollars. The rate was so bad though. Like S$1 is 22.13NT. But whatever I need money. LOL. I spent too much on food! Like I brought S$500 there for expenses because I wasn't gonna shop much. And... it's not enough. Maybe S$600-$700 is a good amount for those who don't shop a lot BUT eat a lot.

There's 2 branch of SOGO at ZXFX station. The Zhongxiao side and the Fuxing side. If you are looking for PORTER bags, go to the Zhongxiao side SOGO. Level 3! Honestly, there stuff is considerably cheaper than in Sg. Also you can get immediate tax refund (5%). I bought a bag and wallet there for about 6000NT/S$251! Probably will cost like at least S$350++ if I got it here.

Day 5

Went to like 6/7 Family-Mart and 7-11 in the morning to stock up on food to bring back to Sg! I love their snacks there. And the 7-11 tea eggs!?!?!?! I love so much! I ate 5 of them in the morning. Like what, 8NT each? I can't be bothered with the price because very cheap la.

Bought their yummy brand of instant noodles. Each about 53NT!

Got a taxi at Ximending to send us to airport. Flat rate is 900NT. Cheap for a no-fuss transport to the airport.

At airport, after you check-in your luggage. Go up the escalators and there's more Taiwan souvenir stores to shop! And after passport control, there's international brands in there and PORTER bags too. So don't need to loiter at the Departure hall. Just go in already! We didn't know that. I wish I did. So I have more time to shop. Lol.

That's the end!
Will try to get my Europe trip post up when I can.