Singapore/Taiwan: Day 8 – 3.4.2015
We had to get up ridiculously early in the morning at 3 a.m. and then took a cab, that we had arranged at our hotel in Singapore, the Keong Saik Hotel. Originally we had planned to take the MRT to the airport, but the day before our departure we realised, that the MRT-trains don’t drive that early. After about 40 minutes with the cab, we arrived at the Singapore Changi Airport. Things went smoothly there. We didn’t have to wait long to check in for our flight with the discounter airline Jetstar to Taipei, Taiwan. The disembarkment process also was quite quick, and so we had some time left at the large and pleasant airport, which to my delight even had free foot massage machines!
We set off at 7 a.m. and arrived at around noon at Taoyuan International Airport. Passing through Immigration was quick, and soon we were at the arrivals hall, where we turned left and at the end left again (as we had read online) to get to the telephone companies. We bought a local SIM Card at the Chunghwa Telecom office and uploaded some money on it for cheap international calls. Next, we had to reach the Taoyuan High-Speed Rail Station. While there’s a shuttle bus, we decided for a cab, when a cab driver outside announced, that it cost 350 Taiwanese Dollar (about 10 Euro).
At the High-Speed Rail Station, we purchased tickets at the machine, which also has English service, to Tainan, where we had booked a hotel for three nights. There was still time left, so we wanted to have a snack and coffee. While Jetstar has cheap flights, they don’t serve anything on board for free, so we were ready for something. Unfortunately, the supermarket and the restaurant at the station were filled with loads of people, and we didn’t want to squeeze through and stand in a long queue with our heavy luggage. Luckily, we found a Starbucks right outside and relaxed there for a moment, until we had to go to the train.
We only got non-reserved seats for the train, and while they have wagons for non-reserved seats, it was already full, and I had to stand nearly all the way to Tainan. The High-Speed Rail lives up to its name. It is a really fast and modern train that runs a line from north to south Taiwan on the western side of the island. It actually was just a bit more than an hour until we reached Tainan. Outside of the station, we found the free shuttle bus, that connects the High-Speed Rail Station to the city centre. We could store our luggage on the bus which had English signs before we could get on board. That was great because we don’t speak any Chinese. We exited the bus at Jiang-Sing Junior High School Bus Stop and then walked the rest to our hotel, the Fuward Hotel.
We had decided to start our two-week journey through Taiwan in Tainan because the city is the oldest in Taiwan and has an abundance of temples. It’s also a good base for the excursion in the area. When we arrived at the hotel, it was already late afternoon, and we were a bit exhausted after all the travelling that day. The hotel, however, cheered us up – nice room, a modern hotel, flat screen TV with an abundance of channels, refrigerator and aircon.
You’re not every day arriving in Taiwan. So we wanted to make the most of it and started a little sightseeing tour. The hotel is really close to the Confucius Temple. When we walked there, it was already getting dark, but the more than 300-year-old temple was illuminated – quite a sight.
Just opposite the temple was a food street, so we went there and had dinner at the Hawaii Grill, where the friendly owner – a US American – told us, how much he liked Taiwan and that it’s much easier there to start a business than in other countries.
After dinner – we had chicken and coconut cake – we walked further to the Koxinga Shrine, which unfortunately was already closed, so we could just walk around in the park in front of it.
On the way back to the hotel we walked past the Lady Linshui Temple and stopped at a bakery. They were especially friendly there and told us which filling the different pieces of bread have. We then went back to the hotel and soon fell asleep after a long day of traveling. We were looking forward to two weeks of sightseeing in Taiwan.
Taiwan might not be the obvious choice for non-Chinese travelers, but after some research, we had decided for this holiday, to see ancient temples, modern cities, waterfalls, rainforest, mountains – and all reachable by modern infrastructure, which makes independent travel easy. The next day we planned to really start with sightseeing in Tainan.