We took the Scoot airline at 1am and reach Taoyuan Airport at 6am in the morning. I love this timing as it saved us a lot of time for sightseeing and shopping. The air tickets cost SGD $350 per pax during a promotion in September 2012.
The moment we arrived in Taoyuan airport, we headed over to the 7-11 to get our first meal of the day. I think it's a must to eat their instant noodles (with pre-packed meat) in it and drink the bottled milk tea/green tea. I loved everything in their 7-11 as it is really nice!
|The 关东煮 is my favorite too!|
After breakfast, we went to the departure level to get the data sim card for our mobile phone. It normally have a 3days, 5days, 7days, 11days kind of plan and it is not expensive (fyi you need to provide 2 types of identification documents, either passport and driving license/IC). In that case, I have whatsapp all the time no matter which part of Taiwan I am in. Another additional information - if you are below 31 years old, kindly please produce your passport at a counter at the arrival hall where you can exchange for a Youth card. Youth card entitles you to discount/freebies at most of the attraction in Taiwan. See more details here.
Another information for you - you can visit the Taiwan Visitors Association at Chevron House at Raffles place to redeem freebies (MRT card) before your trip. All you need is to produce your air ticket confirmation letter and accomodation confirmation letter to the counter staff. I redeemed a MRT card worth NT50 that time.
Most people will take the Freego bus from airport but I will not take that because it required me to transfer to another bus again when I first went there in 2010. I took the Kuo Kwang Bus which cost only NT230 for 2 pax and it took an hour journey to reach Taipei Main Station.
When we reached Taipei Main Station, we went to buy the TRA tickets for Taroko Express to Hualien. Normal TRA train takes 3 hours to Hualien from Taipei, but Taroko Express takes only 2 hours and cost slightly more. It costs NT418 per pax. We booked the tickets for 10.50am train. Since it was only 9.30am, we took the MRT to Ximending to Cityinn Plus Ximending hotel to leave our luggage there first before coming back to Taipei in a week time.
|I finally get to try the bento on the train :)|
We arrived Hualien at 12.55pm and we had hired Ms Gu as our Guide for Hualien. Ms Gu Hui Zhen is highly recommended in the Tripadvisor forum. You can contact her at +886 935-083682 or drop her an email firstname.lastname@example.org
My first stop is to try the 花莲炸蛋葱油饼, i heard there are 2 lorries selling it and the yellow lorry's one is nicer! But too bad, it was not open when we were there so we tried the blue lorry's one instead. Address is 花蓮市復興街102號, open from 1.10pm onwards till sold out.
|Egg yolk burst when you bite into it|
|Blue Lorry selling 炸蛋葱油饼|
We went to 公正街包子店 & 周家蒸餃 next which is famous in Hualien too!
|eat till I scared|
Ms Gu has planned the following itinerary for us:
花蓮火車站接→慶修院→鯉魚潭→立川漁場→雲山水生態農莊→回市區民宿 (NT1800 for 2 pax, in fact should be the whole car for 4 pax)
While on the way to 慶修院, she brought us to a place full of flowers! It was a beautiful sight!
慶修院 - it is actually a Japanese Temple.
Next, we went to 鯉魚潭 & 立川漁場 where it is the harvesting of clams.
We proceeded to hot spring after that because the weather is freezing cold!
After hot spring, it is finally time to go check in the Bayview hotel which I booked facing the Pacific Ocean. We paid NT2900 for the room.
After resting a while, we head out to 自强夜市 which is one of the famous night market in Hualien! The hotel arranged a cab (NT350) to send us to and back from the night market.
The followings are famous in the night market:
Actually I had much expectations of this night market, but there were not much stalls (not sure if it is because it is a Thursday night?). We went back to the hotel after that as we had a long day and I needed to sleep badly.
I will update again soon on Day 2 of Taiwan~~~