We took the night flight from KLIA and arrived Taipei Taoyuan International Airport at 5.20am local time. We had a smooth and speedy clearance. Taiwan is a family friendly country that special lanes were designated for family with young children or elderly. The ground crew would invite you over even if you missed or did not notice the sign of the special lanes. It was really first class service that even the immigration officers were friendly.
We arrived our hotel in Ximending at 6.40am. We checked in and all of us fell asleep almost immediately, upon lying on the comfortable bed and snugging in the thick comforter, as we were all too tired from the travelling. We woke up around 10.30am and we were ready to explore Taipei.
We walked around Ximending and had our brunch at one of the eateries serving local dishes. We continued walking around Ximending after meal. It was a fun shopping district with a variety of youth-oriented items such as fashions, shoes, gadgets, etc for sale. Kids were excited to see some small fun stuffs on display.
The corner of Ximending near our hotel.
While crossing the street, we saw the Tian Hou Temple (天后宮) afar across the road, which was wedged between shops and cafes. It was interesting to see the remarkable contrast of having an old atmospheric temple against the chaotic surroundings in Ximending. Once we stepped into the temple, we were even more surprised to see that it was very spacious and there was some nice sculptured rock foundations and small ponds.
Tian Hou Temple Ximending
After visited the temple, we hired a taxi from the street. The taxi driver was so friendly that we decided to use his service for half day city tour. We headed to National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine (國民革命忠烈祠) at Zhongsan District. The shrine was built in 1967 to honor those who died fighting for the KMT (Chinese Nationalist) cause against the Qing Empire, the Japanese and the Chinese Communist Party. It's a famous tourist spot because of its changing of the guard ceremony at the top of the hour. The slow-motion and precise marching while twirling and tossing the gun would surely grab anyone's attention. We were told that these young men who do this must be tall (180cm and up) and to keep their body weight in the 65kg range.
We were at the right timing. :)
We moved on to Shilin Guandi Park (士林官邸) which is located at the triangle of Fulin Road and Zhongshan North Road, is the former residence of late Republic of China President Chiang Kai-shek. This residence is famous for the European style of its architecture and gardens. We spent almost 2 hours here, simply relaxing, walking around the beautiful garden and enjoying the very popular local ice cream which came in cutie flower shape in various flavours. Papa Bear and I felt so good holding each other hands, watching the kids play. If it did not start drizzling, we would have stay longer.
The booming flowers at Shilin Guandi Park.
Strolling along the cosy path of Shilin Guandi Park.
Buying ice cream - the highlight of the cubs' trip. LOL
The driver then drove us to the National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院), an antique museum in Shilin. It is one of the national museums of the Republic of China, and has a permanent collection of more than 696,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest in the world. The collection encompasses over 8,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty. Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China's ancient emperors. It was raining when we arrived, which Papa Bear and I decided to give it a miss. We were also worried if any of our kids might accidentally break any of the valuable antics and we would end up really broke then. LOL
We detoured to Taipei 101, the world's tallest tower - 509m. It has a multi-level shopping mall adjoining the tower houses hundreds of prestige stores, restaurants and clubs. We had our sumptuous afternoon tea at the food court, which served reasonably priced and yet very delicious local food, in a clean and cosy environment.
Set meal of ru-lou rice, soup, vegetable and taufufah for around RM25.
We did not take the tour up to the observation deck, as we planned to ride Eye of Taipei at Miramar in our next few days in Taiwan. We went back to our hotel after some window shopping. Papa Bear went to pack some street food for dinner and we called it a night, recharging our battery for a full day fun the next day to Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen.
Our accommodation in Taipei was Westgate Hotel. I rated it as 5/5. It's strategically located at the corner of Ximending, within walking distance to restaurants and shops, you can start shopping the moment you step out of the hotel. I bought some dress, blouse and skirt from a shop which is 2 doors away from the hotel, the price could beat those at Wufenpu. Watson is within 100m if you need to get some toiletries or light snacks, etc... Cleanliness, service level and breakfast was superb. :)