Day Three: Taichung

Yoohoo all, after the previous lengthy post, I decided to give you guys a break with a short post…

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NOT. laughs. But yeah, this post will not be as long as the previous one since day three is more on travelling over to Taichung. The thing about travelling from one part of Taiwan to another is that we have to spend quite a bit of time moving from one city to another. We took about 2h 30mins via train to reach Taichung from Kaohsiung! So by the time we reached Taichung, half the day was already gone. We traveled over to Taichung via the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA). As mentioned previously, the two main type of trains available for one to travel from one part of Taiwan to another are the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR). As Taichung ain’t that far from Kaohsiung, we decided to take the former.

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For TRA, they also have different types of train:

1. Tze-Chiang Limited Express: The fastest, more comfortable, but the more expensive train.

However as compared to the HSR, this is definitely cheaper, but it will take a slightly longer traveling time; still the fastest for TRA trains. It is advisable to purchase tickets in advance if you’re traveling on a weekend. The train is crazily packed during the weekends! You can also use the Youyou (ez link card) for the train ride, however it also mean you will not be able to get a seat, since you will not be given a ticket and will not have a seat designated to you.

2. Chu Kuang Express, Fu Hsing and other Local trains

These trains are much slower as it stops at more places within the main cities. It will be a cheaper alternative if you’re traveling between the main cities!

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For us, we managed to buy tickets for Tze-Chiang Limited Express, and also gotten ourselves a seat on the train! If I never remember wrongly, we were rushing for our train as we were supposed to take the trains from R16 Zuoying Station. Checked the timing for the train the night before and we decided to take the 1130am train!

The interesting element of train rides in Taiwan is that you get to purchase Bento boxes (Bian Dan). We were looking forward to the train ride and of course the bento boxes! We didn’t know that the bento will be sold on board, so the guys ran up to the main station to get the bento before our ride which also explains why we were rushing for our train. But yeah, they do sell the bento on board, and you can get it from those bento auntie pushing their bento cart in the trains.

They change their menu of their bento boxes daily, so you don’t have to worry having to eat the same thing all the time. Our bento box for the day was: Braised Pork chop, and it was a pretty good meal, with quite a bit of  dishes in the bento. However, the guys felt the rice was not enough, and they were not full from the meal. The rice was more than enough for me since I’m not a rice-ish person, but I also felt the rice was not enough for normal people. laughs.

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Pretty much enjoyed this train ride since it as I caught up with Shu Wen quite a bit during the entire journey over to Taichung! The pretty scenery was an added bonus to the train ride.

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2 hours 30 minutes passed, and here we are, at the next city of our Taiwan trip: Taichung City. The weather changed as we move upwards Taiwan, it gets colder as we progresses. The weather in Taichung is definitely cooler than Kaohsiung, and the rain made the place even colder. We saw the gradual change in weather when we were on the train: From Sunny to Cloudy to Rainy. Laughs.

And here we are, Taichung City! We managed to ask for directions at the visitor’s information centre to the location of our hotel. Thankfully our hotel is located less than a 15 minutes’ walk from the train station! So we (Shuwen and I) rolled our luggage and braved the storm rain to our hotel, while the two guys happily carried their HUGE bagpack. It’s really more convenient to carry a backpack when you are intending to travel to different cities in a country, but I do not have a backpack big enough for me to contain all my things for 13 days, so resort to bringing the roller luggage. Boohooooooo.

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Tadaaaaaaah, we reached the hotel in one piece! Was lost (again) at first, since we did not know what was the chinese name of our hotel. Our hotel was called Garden Hotel, and while asking for directions, we did a direct translation, and thought the hotel was called Gong Yuan Fan Dian (Garden Hotel). laughs. It was really a joke when an old man we asked suggested for us to go to Taichung National Garden (20 minutes walk) to look for our hotel. And here is where the GPS come in handy, we managed to find the location and found our hotel!

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Only for Taichung, we had two separate rooms, since the hotel do not have a double king/queen size room available for us. The hotel was really small, but cosy! We didn’t have much place to put our luggage, but we were still pretty much satisfied with the room. Took a short break at the hotel and we were off to our short tour in Taichung! By the time we reach Taichung, it was prolly about 3pm? So we set off again at 4ish, with the sun was already setting.

Took the recommendation from the hotel staffs and headed over to the nearest “attraction”: Yi Zhong Shopping Street/Night Market. The thing about Taichung is that traveling within Taichung is not as convenient as Kaohsiung or Taipei, since they do not have an internal train/MRT, hence travelling in Taichung is mainly via buses. Personally I feel that travelling by buses is tougher than trains, as there are SO MANY buses/bus routes available, I get confuse all the time. But thankfully I have my fellow comrades, who are better in directions to lead us around!

Walked to Yi Zhong Street since the hotel staffs suggested that is the fastest method to get over to the street. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the place since it was our first time over, and it was raining. The hotel staff also gave us a map to the place, so it somehow did aid us to get to our destination!

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Yi Zhong Shopping Street/Night Market

Yi Zhong Street is a place where many students and young Taiwanese patronise! It is basically shopping and food paradise for these people. Yizhong street is packed with street vendors that sell delicious street food and boutique shops-that sell everything from bags to shoes to clothes. They shops in Yi Zhong reminded me of shops in Far East Plaza, where they have small shops that sell affordable clothing catering to students and young people.

It was finally shopping time for Shuwen and I, and we were so glad we finally get to shop. hehe. The guys gave us some time for us to shop before meeting them again for dinner. The clothes they are selling in Taiwan are suitable for the current season, mainly knitted wear and thicker clothes. The things they sell at Yi Zhong are definitely more up to date as compared to those in Kaohsiung, but given the thickness of some of their pretty clothing, it was just not suitable for us to bring home.

However, Shuwen and I scored a paired of woolly boots at NTD$190 (S$8)! We thought it would be appropriate for our trip since it will prolly be raining quite a bit during the trip. We were amazed by how comfortable it was and how much it can protect our feet. Definitely one of our best purchase for the entire trip!

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Settled our dinner along Yi Zhong Street! We had this really yummy bowl of dukboki, tempura mixed mushrooms, coffin-style bread, some other warm food, and the street foods were perfect for the chilly night. Head back to the hotel after dinner since it was pretty cold and we were tired from the short shopping session we had. Also, since we will be travelling quite a bit the next day, we had to return to the hotel to get ample rest for the next day!

Dropped by the iconic Taichung National Park/Garden to take our touristy photo!

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Yes, more of the ‘WE ARE HERE” photos!

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Took awhile to get a passer-by for this group shot, since no one will visit the garden at night! Actually, there was this passer-by who walked passed when we were there, but he was dressed sloppily and was pretty unkempt, so I didn’t stop him to help us to take a photo as the guys were saying he might run away with our camera. Laughs.

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As we shared the street foods just nigh, the guys bought back chips and the famous Taiwanese instant noodle for their supper. Those street foods were only their appetizer, insufficient to fill their tummy. laughs. Tried the Taiwan beer too, didn’t thought it was that fantastic, probably because I’m not a fan of alcohol.

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There goes another day in Taiwan, one day down in Taichung. It will be yet another pack day for us the next day, since we only have one full day to cover as many attractions as we could in Taichung. STAY TUNE TO MORE OF MY ADVENTURE IN TAIWAN, TAICHUNG.

Before that, thanks everybody, thanks!

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