Taipei 2017: Day 3 ~ Exploring Northern Taiwan

Sunday, December 10, 2017

This is the only day in our trip wherein we have a preset itinerary - all because we are joining the KKDay bus tour! (disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, so this serves also as a review of their services). We purchased the Day Tour from Taipei: Jiufen, Yehliu and Shifen because the package already includes the places we wanted to visit. Also, this is waaaay cheaper compared to going there via a private tour.


Meeting Place: 7-Eleven @ Taipei Main Station
So based on the email we received from KKDay, we are supposed to meet them in a 7-eleven inside the Taipei Main station. We were given a map to locate the place. However when we were in the main station, we discovered it was a very big and confusing place. 😕We spent a good 15 minutes running around the station asking strangers and train staff if they recognized the pin on the map. We were getting worried already that the tour has left without us. .

When we finally located the right 7-eleven (there were lots of them inside the station 😐), we were ~10 minutes late from the arranged meeting time. There were a lot of people there already waiting for the other tour joiners. When we arrived (running and panting for breath), several people looked at us. ðŸ˜… (several of them I would learn later as fellow Filipinos also). It was a bit of an embarrassing moment. But well at the end, things were good - we were able to join the tour! Yaaay!

First Stop: Yehliu Geopark
The places that we would be visiting in this tour are at the northern part of Taiwan. It took us at least two hours to arrive at our first stop. The Yehliu Geopark is located at the edge of the country. The view is really great. The body of water that we were seeing is already part of the East China sea.

It was a nice place to walk and look around. There's nothing much to do here actually. We just searched for good spots and snapped photos. During my walk, I met this kind brown dog. He let me pet him. 🐶💓 Because the tour only allotted an hour for this stop, we were not able to reach the end of the park where the Queen's Head is located.


For a split second, I did step one foot across that line, accidentally of course. 😅
It was very windy that day. 
The girls. 👩🙎😎 (📷: Jamm T)
Next Stop: Shifen Old Street
Alongside the railway, this place is famous among tourists for lighting up lanterns. Locals provide large lanterns for tourists to write their wishes, which are flown to the sky via a large fireball inside (Can you imagine it? Did I explain myself well? 😅) I didn't fly a lantern because I didn't want to mock the Universe and write things that I really didn't want. If I would be honest, I fairly well know what my deepest desires were, but to respect life (and I don't want people to think I'm a weirdo), I decided to take a pass. I guess if I return to this place, I'd do it. I'd also prefer to do it at night, as the lanterns would look way better when it flies to the sky. 🏮

While waiting for our friends who were launching their lanterns, I just walked around and checked out other stores there. Well most of them were selling food. Of course I had to dig in!

I bought chicken here (one of that in the far right) sprinkled with chili powder. Yum!
There's an actual train that passes by from time to time.
It started to drizzle while we were exploring the stores.
There's another store at the end of the street where I bought rice-stuffed chicken (which tasted sooo good!) I wasn't able to take photos because my hands were busy holding food, so here's a link to that chicken store on TripAdvisor!

While walking around, I found this store selling all kinds of flavored nougats. Apparently this is a famous delicacy in Taiwan. Well I didn't buy any of the nougats, but instead bought some of their boxed sweets that I gave to people back home.




Next stop: Shifen Waterfall
It was already raining hard when we arrived to our next stop. Most of us were tired already, but I was game to do more. I was the only one from our group who wanted to go down, which was just fine (perfect actually because I wanted to have some me time). It was just a quick walk from the parking (where our bus stopped) to the falls itself. The Shifen Waterfall claims to be a "mini Niagara falls of Asia" which I thought was a pretty accurate description.

Along the path, I saw this Buddha temple (not sure if that's the right way to call it).
There were several people walking along the path. Someone said hi, but I didn't even look at him LOL. Then I saw a girl slip (the ground was a bit slippery because of the rain) and an older guy (I'm assuming he is her grandfather) shouted '천천히!괜찮아?'. I was amused because I actually understood that. 

After reaching the end of the path (I only shot videos of the falls, vlogs coming real soon!), I turned around to return to the bus. I felt I was a bit thirsty so I bought some drink from this restaurant. I again saw a dog, but he was hiding under one table. 😅


Next Stop: Jiufen Old Street
This is the place I was very looking forward to, because rumors said this is the place that inspired the bathhouse in the film Spirited Away. Upon hopping down the bus, that's when we realized that it was going to be an uphill trail! At this point I'll have to say that the KKDay tour guides weren't able to do their job - to guide people! There were at least three groups that were very confused on which direction to start the climb.

Anyway, we just used Google Maps to guide our way around. Good thing we were still able to locate the busy streets where all the stores are located. There are lots of them actually. We only had 1.5 hours to explore here (too bad!!!). We spent it mostly walking and looking at the stores.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to reach the A Mei Tea House, the supposed bathhouse inspiration. 😐 Anyway here's an awesome blog covering lots of places weren't able to visit during our short time there. I need to go back here just to visit that tea house!




Back to Taipei
And that's basically the scope of the tour! As we started to head back to Taipei, I realized that there's never enough time in each tourist stop. Well this is really what you'll get in a tour package. If I'd do a tour like this again, I'll skip the geopark and waterfalls and go straight to the old streets.

I was at the windows side of the bus and I was just looking at the view outside when I saw people biking along the river. I also saw a park with dogs running around. I immediately pulled my phone and checked Google Maps. I saw that the park I saw was Yingfeng Dog Park. I created a mental note to research more about that spot and how to get there via that bike lane. I've set that to be my activity on our last day (which is our free day!).

When we got back to Taipei Main Station, we ate dinner and just walked around searching for that beef jerky (or was it pork paper?) store. We also bought our train tickets for our trip tomorrow to Yilan.

At one hall inside the station, I saw the black & white tiles of the floor and observed the people around. Then something clicked. So that theory I read online was true! I already forgot where I read this, but basically the idea was:

At a place with black&white tiles, most people would sit on the black tiles - because black color makes people feel less vulnerable, less exposed. And just look at the photo below, it's true! If I were to sit on the floor, I'd also pick the black tile.


And that was it! It was another fun-filled day! As usual, my feet are tired again so I didn't have the energy to do night shopping at Ximending (unlike our other friend 😅).

That's day 3 in Taiwan for us!

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