Taiwan: The Heart of Asia

Hello everyone! Aaahhh! It’s been a long time since I last updated my blog – I’ve been so busy getting stuff together – but here we are now! This is going to be a long one. I’m currently on the plane back to New York following a month of vacation in the Philippines after not being home for two years. It was a BLAST! But first, let’s talk about my recent travel to Taiwan with one of my best friends, Karla.

You seriously would LOVE traveling with Karla. She has this astonishing eagerness for adventure anywhere she goes and she continues to explore life one day at a time. I met Karla back in college and we didn’t become best friends instantly – it’s a process, you know. But one full semester together later, we both knew that we had the sibling kind of friendship. She’s family to me. I’m so ecstatic to share with you like how she showed me around her new home, Taiwan!

I had a late night flight from Manila and I got there at around midnight. The airport was nice and simple, immigration was fast, and tired people were rushing to get their bus tickets home – hence the long lines. Karla welcomed me with a big hug and it was such a sweet moment. We both missed each other so much but that did not stop us on taking snaps and boomerangs. It’s really just our thing. Shout out to my ex who says I’m really just a big fan of vanity, no matter how much I say that majority of Filipinos, and even non-Filipinos, value photos that serve as memories. #SHADE

The four days, four nights trip all started with a short bus ride and a long, expensive (but very well worth it) Uber ride to Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan and also one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. By the way, it’s officially one of thirteen national scenic areas of Taiwan. We got there at around five in the morning. It was still dark but the sun was soon going to rise. Some stray dogs followed us around causing Karla to freak out. I’m a self-proclaimed dog whisperer, so I constantly told Karla that everything was going to be fine. One of the dogs decided to follow us everywhere we went. Here’s her picture!

The sun eventually rose and the view was too beautiful beyond words! We took so many photos of the sunrise and of course, of ourselves. LOL!

We then rented an electric bike to explore the surroundings of the lake. I thought that the sunrise was the only striking view I’d see there, but I was mistaken! As I drove the bike, we saw so many picturesque scenes that we just had to stopover and take more photos – one of them was this temple with such remarkable architecture.

Since we rented the bike for two hours, we rode around more and saw other marvels!

Time was up and we finally returned the bike. By then we were hungry, so we decided to feast on some authentic Taiwanese food, but not the right kind I was looking for. Karla promised me amazing food when we get to Taipei, though. I had boiled eggs, tofu, some meat, and the rest I honestly forgot, but it was cheap AND good! The right kind, you ask? I’m looking for fresh beef noodles, pungent fried rice, sharp-tasting sweet and sour chicken, and vegetable dumplings eleganza.

We got bus tickets to Taipei and the three-hour bus ride was very productive because I edited our photos and posted them right away, but we slept for the majority of it! When we got back to Taipei, we went on a shopping spree in the Xinyi Night Market and sang our hearts out on a nearby private karaoke room in Party City. We were there until 6am. Haha!

END OF DAY 1

We woke up at around ten in the morning. As promised, Karla took me to a nice restaurant nearby for finally, the right kind of authentic Taiwanese food! It was a very tasty feast. The beef noodles, fried rice, and dumplings I was looking for were finally served right before me.

We then went to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan. It was constructed in honor and memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China, and was opened in 1980 as part of a national park and gathering area. The characters behind Chiang’s statue read “Ethics”, “Democracy”, and “Science”, and the inscriptions on the side read “The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity” and “The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe”. Such pronounced meaning in this astonishing infrastructure.

Our jump shots were epic!

Am I right? That’s Asia’s Next Top Model material right there! The sun was setting so we decided to go have dinner – some veggies, the sweet and sour chicken I wanted, and a Taiwanese-style egg omelet – and then see Taipei 101, the landmark skyscraper in Xinyi District. It was formerly the world’s tallest building in 2004 until the erection of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. Now, it remains as the world’s tallest and largest green building in the world.

After Taipei 101, we went to Karla’s friend, Malene’s place which was a two-hour bus ride away from Taipei as she is taking up her MBA. We got there late but that did not stop us in going to the Night Market. We shopped until everything was closed and all that was left for midnight snacks was a Taiwanese-style sausage.

END OF DAY 2

Karla and Malene left early for their orientation and I had some time to myself so I went to a nearby mall and shopped for some clothes for myself and Hello Kitties for my mom. As I write, I just realized that I’ve spent so much money on shopping in my life. But, no regrets!

I kept seeing this fast food restaurant called Mos Burger and again at the mall, so I decided to try what they had to offer. Boy, it was amazing!

I eventually went back to Malene’s place and Karla and I took the bus back to Taipei. This was the shortest day of my trip, but I guess you need a short day for every trip!

END OF DAY 3

It’s my last day! We were rushing to go to the highest Starbucks in the world, but we had to get some lunch at Taipei 101’s Foodcourt. This meal was amazing, though we rushed through it because we didn’t want to be late for our reservation.

Their Starbucks required a reservation and we made it on time! In fact, we were the last two people to get there. We hopped on the elevator and when we reached the 35th floor, what we saw left us speechless. The view was just to-die-for!

Won’t you look at that! I got a country mug as a souvenir so I won’t forget that I went there. So if you love coffee, this is one of the places you must go to when you’re in Taipei. When we were very nicely asked to leave because our time was up, we went to the LOVE sign in front of Taipei 101 commonly found in many landmarks and tourist spots around the world.

BLOOPERS EXTRAVAGANZA

We set my camera on timer and placed it on top of Karla’s bag, then a friend showed up.

He clearly didn’t care. Haha! We went to a nearby market to buy some souvenirs, then went to meet up with Karla’s boyfriend for three years, Peter, whom I haven’t met. My bags were all packed up in his car because we were going straight to the airport after dinner. He took us to a fancy Taiwanese restaurant where he used to live. He grew up eating there and vouched for it. It didn’t disappoint! Lesson learned: locals know best.

Thanks, Peter! It was nice to finally meet you! Take care of my bestie, please!

#relationshipgoals

The last stop for this trip was one of the highest peaks in Taipei. The view was great and the picture really doesn’t do any justice!

An hour of driving later, it was time to catch my flight back to the Philippines. It was a very bittersweet moment, but I knew that we’d see each other again. Thank you so much, Mami Karla, for hosting and showing me around Taipei! Your Chinese is impeccable and so are you. Nothing will ever compare to our inside jokes. Continue to be a blessing to others and I can’t wait to see you soon! Good luck with your MBA studies. Lablab!

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