I spent two days in Taipei with my friends Rach and Yummy Friend (YF). We got cheap tickets for approximately P3,720 per person from Cebu Pacific. The flight times were all in the middle of the night. If you’re in for slightly less expensive travel, it’s acceptable.
We stayed in Rainbow Hotel at the Ximen area of Taipei. Rach recommended it having been to Taiwan six times before this trip. I like the location being in the middle of many shops and bargain finds and it’s a short walk to the train station, too.
Day 1, January 16
We arrived in Taipei Taoyuan International Airport around 12:30 a.m.. Since it appeared we’re the only flight who came, lines at the immigration and baggage claim took a short time. We lingered a little because we were waiting for YF’s umbrella which never came out; he had to check it in separately when he forgot to remove it from his carry-on bag. Too bad for him; the umbrella’s quite pricey, of a style that’s hard to find, and worse, he hasn’t used it yet. 🙂
The arrangement we had with the hotel did not provide airport transfers* so we took the airport cab to Ximen. It’s around 30 to 45 minutes to get there, depending on traffic. Taipei is much like Manila, although it’s cleaner and the roads are definitely better. Anyway, we paid NT$1,200. It must be a fixed airport rate because if you opt to compute it, you have to add 50% on top of the meter fare plus the toll fee, which you wouldn’t know how much, as the cab was equipped with an e-pass that just beeps when the car passes by the toll booth. Anyway, it must be around the same or a little higher than the actual fare, but at 1 am, who has the energy to compute?
We checked in and settled a little after 2 am. The hotel arrangement did not have free breakfast, too*, so after we freshened up at 10 am, we went down and started exploring Ximending at 8°C! It’s a little cold for our tropical country-born bodies. 🙂 We chose a carinderia-type eatery named 365 where we ordered chicken noodles, seafood noodles, oyster cake, radish cake and two kinds of fried rice. The food’s great. I have to single out the sauce used in the radish cake; it’s just tops! The total bill for our breakfast was NT$290. Not bad!
After eating, we walked around. Taipei stores open at 12 in the afternoon. Some open at 11 am and these shops are few enough, you’re bound to miss a lot when you try to do your shopping at this time. We entered Eslite, a small mall which has a Muji inside. The Muji branch was as big as the one in Rockwell but the items are way, way better. For one, their food shelves are so extensive!