So after chasing the snow for almost 3 months in a row in the New York State and then being baked in the scorching heat of Dubai, both Salman and I yearned for a beach holiday. And just as they say, the Universe conspires to bring you the things that your heart truly desires with every possible cell in your body, we were greeted by a FAM trip mail within two days, to explore the hidden gem – “TAIWAN”. We both gleefully looked at each other with him going – “Could this be any more meant to be?? The Gods themselves are calling us Shif!!!” The trip started on such a positive note and trust me, our entire trip from start to end was an explorer’s dream!! Be it a romantic trip or an adventurous one with friends and family, Taiwan has you covered with so much ease that we both are impressed.
We kick started this trip from Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, with some of the crème blogger squad of our nation. It is such an easy commute to get to Taiwan from anywhere in India. We traveled via Hong Kong and immediately after we landed, we were so warmly received by the Taiwan Tourism Board team members.
Also, since we are in Taiwan, I just had to start the trip by trying the “Boba Tea” also known as “Bubble Tea” from Ikari Coffee at the airport which was so yum!!!
Grand Hyatt Taipei our Home for Night 1
We stayed at the grandest Grand Hyatt Taipei hotel and after we dropped off our luggage we were straight off to LUNGSHAN TEMPLE OF MANKA. Now just imagine where else will you get to walk into the 17th-century historical site (re-built in 1919) and one that also is rated as one of the biggest temples in Taiwan. This temple has rich preserved culture and traditions that will leave you mesmerized.
You will find this golden temple glowing through the day or night as it stands tall right in between the hustle and bustle of old Taipei. People flock here to worship the Gods throughout the year from across the globe and one will never find this place empty. Known for it’s generous nature, worshippers are offered free incense sticks to offer. If you have some spare time, then I suggest you should spend that getting to know the history by walking in a circle from the right point of entrance which is at the extreme right side once you are inside.
Next stop was “TAIPEI 101” which is a super tall skyscraper that represents the modern Taiwan. This iconic building was the tallest one in the entire world in 2004, till Burj Khalifa was constructed in 2009. The structure is 508 meters (1,667 feet) tall all the way up to it’s spire on the top. Here’s what I personally found super cool about it. Did you know, the blue-green glass curtain walls are glazed and are double paned to ensure the external heat is minimized and is UV protected.
The 89th floor is the indoor observatory and the 91st floor is where the outdoor observatory is. You get such crystal clear and 360 degree views of the city from all directions. The night views have their own charm, what do you think? You can also dine on the 85th floor as well by making reservations in their restaurants. Cannot miss out on this when you are in Taipei.
For our first din din in Taipei, “Khana Khazana” was the destination!! They serve some of the best Indian dishes and we were so happy to see so many different Indian food options available all over Taiwan. Right from their mango lassi to their butter chicken and lamb kebabs & the “chicken chaat” I literally had to be carried across the road to Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Day 2 began on a happy high (by just waking up in this beautiful country)!!! It was time to witness in person the bubbling waters of the “BEITOU HOT SPRINGS” situated in the Beitou Thermal Park in Taipei. Beitou has one of the largest concentrations of spas and hot springs in the world and the medicinal and healing properties of sulphur in the water is known to tackle many skin ailments.
You can also book one of the private bath houses for yourselves and enjoy the hot spring dips. The reason you see so much mist or smoke over the valley, is due to the boiling hot water temperatures that reaches around 22 degreed Fahrenheit (100C) and hence it also has been nicknamed as the “Hell Valley”. After you are done exploring, make sure to drop by at the Beitou souvenir shop that have some of the best hot springs soaps!!
Our next stop was; KETAGALAN CULTURE CENTER that is the first attraction you will come across after the 5-minute walk from MRT. The center has been named after the aboriginal people who originally inhabited Beitou region.
You will get to know in depth about the Ketagalan tribe, their culture, way of life, performances and art and much more!! The entry to this exhibition is absolutely free and I loved their colorful and effortless way of dressing up!!
It was lunch time now and we made a quick pit stop at one of the very famous Indian restaurant Mayur Indian Kitchen. They serve one of the best business lunch options where I opted for seafood and yellow sticky rice with fresh salad and yummy kheer.
It was now time to head on to Sungshan Airport and board our UNI AIR Aircraft which is so cute that it felt like it is a special charter for all of us. Such a thrilling ride this was!! After a super quick 45 minutes flight from Sungshan to Magong city, I was so kicked to be heading to the Penghu Islands. The Taiwan Tourism is celebrating the Year Of The Penghu for the whole year in 2018 and we couldn’t be any lucky that we were actually in this heaven. A total of 90 small islands make up the Penghu archipelago which is off the Western coast of mainland Taiwan. Cloudy skies, cool winds and clear blue waters here we comeeeeeee!!!
Also, we stayed at the “Home Stay” facility on the Penghu Island which according to me is one of the best initiatives by the Government since one gets to experience the local culture while staying in these ultra cute and luxurious homes.
You get to use the kitchens, the humongous living rooms, and yummy Taiwanese breakfasts every morning that are ordered from the best local cafes. Every single room had a theme to it, ours was that of a cold snowy region with the Polar bear drawings on the mugs. Some had minions themed rooms as well. Forget the hotels, book a room here and thank me later!!
After relaxing a bit, and trying out the most delish local Penghu delicacy – the custard and radish filled pancakes, we headed out for dinner!!! This has to, has to be a SEAFOOD HEAVEN for anyone who loves fishies as much as I do.
I mean name a fish that we didn’t cover that night and all the dishes are super healthy since they were either boiled or barbequed!! Truly a majestic Penghu Feast to remember the islands by. J The hot pot and the crab sandwiches were my favs amongst many other things.
With this, ladies and gents our day 2 in Taiwan comes to and end!!! I have decided to divide the article up in 2 or 3 parts so that it becomes easier for everyone to read them and also I can go into more details about each and every activity. Hope this works for you all!!!
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF TAIWAN TALES!! XO