Guest Traveler: Traverse Taiwan (part 1)

By Camille Conopio
with select photos by Othie Maninang

Day 1
This trip to Taiwan was my first journey outside of the country with my co-workers. We flew to Taiwan via Cebu Pacific (which we got for a fairly awesome deal) and arrived at Taoyuan International Airport around past midnight. We were met by our transfer service and continued our travel of about an hour to Ximending, a shopping hub in the Wanhua district of Taipei, where we had our hotel booked for 3 days. Despite being the wee hours of twilight, the bright lights, tall buildings, and hush was indeed a beautiful welcome.

With our first tour starting at 8 am, we had a chance to snooze for a few hours. Few weeks prior the trip, we were able to book a private sightseeing car charter with an English-speaking driver. While they also offered several tour options my friends and I are quite particular about seeing certain places so we opted for a DIY or customized tour which they offered! We were picked up on time and Alvin, our designated tour guide and driver, was kind and patient enough to brief us throughout the trip.

With our tour guide and driver, Alvin. Photo by Othie Maninang

On our list was the 30-minute around the outskirts of the capital, to Yangmingshan National Park. It was said that the elevations of the mountains that cover the park are about 200-1200 metres above level. The drive to the tourists' entrance, at the top of one of the mountain, was a bit of a challenge with the foggy condition. This park is one of Taiwan's nine national parks, featuring a vast mountain landscape, verdant forests, and wide fields.

Next on our list was Shifen Old Street, located in the Pingxi area. Light rain started to shower when we left Yangmingshan and it continued unabated during the one-hour drive to our second stop. Before we got settled in the parking area, the dark clouds started to move slowly past us, which lessened the strength of the downpour. 

The food places and various stores which mostly sell souvenirs dot the lanes and alley within the area of Shifen railway station. 

Tourists are drawn primarily to this place for one popular activity - the releasing of sky lanterns. We were also able to buy local goodies such as Taiwanese mochi, fruit jellies, and pineapple cakes. Since it was also lunch time, this was a great opportunity for us to go on a food adventure.

 Photo credits to Othie Maninang

Our third and last stop, which was half an hour away, was Jiufen Village. It is a former gold mining town built during the Japanese occupation in the late 1800's. Since the raining continued during our visit, we weren't able to take good photos of this popular tourist destination. 

Photo credits to Othie Maninang

We capped off our day with a night stroll in the pulsating heart of Ximending.


Day 2
It was important for us to be at the Taipei Main Station at 6 in the morning for our two-hour ride to Hualien County, where the popular Taroko National Park is located. I enjoy train rides, and the taking the Taiwan High-speed Rail which traversed along the Western Corridor of Taiwan was indeed an interesting experience for me. We arrived an hour prior our tour pick up which gave us time to explore the area for a bit while in search of our breakfast.

We had few stops before we continued to our main destination of the day.

Ching-Shui Cliff

Qixingtan Beach and lunch at Greenhills Hub

The Guest Traveler: Traverse Taiwan journey continues on next week's Part 2 travel blog.

Camille is a nature lover and an animal advocate. She loves to eat, travel, dance, and hangout with her brothers. She also enjoys spending time with her two adorable Retrievers.

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