Keelung Walks : Heping (Peace) Island, Shen’ao Fishing Port and Port of Keelung

Second day was spent in Northern Taiwan, in Keelung City. Since Keelung is not far from Taipei, I traveled to the city with regular train which is TRA train. I used the EasyCard that I bought and previously used from my first trip in Taiwan, I made sure that it has more than enough cash loaded into it for my round trip to Keelung. I checked the amount of train fare to the city and I knew that I am safe to travel without worries regarding the ticket fare.

I traveled from Taipei Main Station to Keelung Station. Then, arrived at Keelung City almost 10AM. I got off at North Exit, and returned. Next, I went out at South Exit of the station where the Visitor Center is located. Before I reached the Visitor Centre, a shuttle tourist bus arrived and I quickly inquired to tourism officers about the shuttle day pass available.


At Keelung Station

I bought a tour bus pass for TWD50 and has complimentary small brochure as guide to Keelung Tourist Spots where the touris shuttle bus will stop. One of the tourism officers explained to me that there are two zone options to choose when taking the tourist shuttle bus day pass in the city. The Keelung Shuttle Bus West Line route goes to Yehliu Geopark and the Keelung Shuttle Bus East Line route goes to Heping Island. I knew that Yehliu Geopark is famous tourist spot, therefore I chose another route which is the West Line Route. At that time, I was more curious to see Heping Island Park. I also learned that the tourism shuttle bus system in Keelung Station operates in one zone option. This means that, when you choose East Line Route, that means visitors can enjoy all tourist spots in the said route. If the visitor wanted to take the West Line Route, the same rules applies. But before buying tickets for both lines. Make sure you will be able to visit all the places in both zones as the ticket is only valid for the day. There is a schedule that the bus is following. It is operating like hop-on hop off bus. The two lines only meet at Keelung station, it does not intersect in other routes from other zone. If the visitor wanted to visit specific place in other zone, you will return to Keelung Station to transfer to another route and you will have to pay for  tourish shuttle bus pass. When I looked at my time, I just decided to go to West Line only and see if I still have time to see the East Line route.

After quick orientation, I went out the Visitor Centre and jumped on the East Line bus. While inside the bus, I just observed that there were just few tourist. I took a seat at the back and felt excited as I was looking forward to see Heping Island Park. When we left Keelung Station, I checked again my GPS to see my current location while traveling. The shuttle bus stopped based on the route destination defined in the East Line Route. The first stop was Miaokou Night Market, second stop was Zhongzheng Park and third stop was Indigenous Cultural Hall before reaching the Heping Island Park bus stop. I bypassed the three stops as I wanted to go straight to Heping Island Park.

Heping Island Park (formerly known as Sheliao Island)


The tourist shuttle bus that I took crossed Sheliao Bridge  The said bridge is one of the bridge that connects Heping Island to the mainland aside from Heping Bridge. I got off the Heping Island Park Bus Stop which still around 5-10 minutes walk to reach the gate or entrance to the park. While walking, I checked my phone to see where I was and to see the directions that I was following. I tried to approached few people along Pingyi Road to verify that I was in the right direction but some people don’t know how to respond to me, so I walked again and again following my GPS in my phone. From Pingyi Road, I reached a gate and walked inside of it. I went to the park for photography and curiosity to the place. I spent at least an hour to see the park.


At Sheliao Bridge

Heping Island was called Sheliao Island in the past. It is located at the north of Taiwan. Heping Bridge connects the island to Keelung City. In 1626, the Spanish army built castles, churches and fortresses, preparing to do business with China and Japan. The castle on the southwest is called San Salvador, the saint savior. This is the first and currently the only castle in Keelung. During the Spanish occupation, Heping Island had busy trading activities with Southeast Asia. After World War II, the island was renamed Heping Island. Today, it is a famous tourist attraction.

Heping Island is perfect for diving and sea fishing. With years of erosion by the wind and sea, the eroded rocks and coasts have formed special shapes. The Keelung government has made Heping Island a coastal park with swimming pool, tour track, tourism service center and food and beverages.


Inside the park island, the first thing that I saw was the castle fortress like structure which is the Visitor Centre of the park where the building design was imitation of the Spanish style San Salvador City since the place has been occupied by Spanish for decades. It was the place where I started my short exploration of the park. I walked not far from the Visitor Centre where I saw the mushroom like rocks in the coast where special shapes had formed due to thousand years of erosion which is one of the fascinating things to see in the park.



Visitor Centre coming from the entrance of the park




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Mushroom Rocks from Little Camp



Mushroom Rocks with Keelung Islet (background island)


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Mushroom Rocks


Little Camp with View of Mushroom Rocks



With View of Mushroom Rocks from Little Camp area

Kiddie Pool

One of the shallow seawater swimming pool is the Kiddie Pool where adult can safely allow young ones to play with the water without worries of waves from the sea and be drowned as they watch children from a distance. The nice thing about the pool is that sea and natural ecology can be introduced to young ones in enjoyable way.




Kiddie Pool


Kiddie Pool from Angel to the Sea Marina (Upper Board Walk)

Blue Ocean Pool



Another interesting to learn about the Blue Ocean Pool aside of being part of the sea is the opportunity of the swimmer to swim together with tropical fish, crabs and other marine creatures in the blue water. Is it not that fun? The pool was transformed from natural seawater into the waterway to a pool.


Blue Ocean Pool from Angel to the Sea Marina (Upper Board Walk)


Summer Stay Beach

The island also offers beach where visitors can enjoy the scorching heat from the sun and can play with the sand. Walking the upper board walk which is called as Angel to the Sea Marina, gives the visitor a chance to explore the park in a different perspective to enjoy the scenery that surrounds it.



Visitor Centre


Bush Island

While exploring the park, I thought that I saw everything that was why I decided to leave the park, but before I reached the gate where I entered the park, I saw a road that seems to lead somewhere, therefore I checked it out and wondering if I could see something in that area. Wan Shan Gong and Ryukyuan Fisherman Monument were found in the area. But I really enjoyed the rock formations on the shore and the colors of it where


Wan Shan Gong


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Surroundings near Wan Shan Gong


Ryukyuan Fisherman Monument



Surroundings near Ryukyuan Fisherman Monument

The one thing that I regret in my visit in Heping Island Park was unable to explore it completely. As I had rough idea what is being offered by the park, I missed to explore the mountain trail where scenic pavilion is located to be able to see more of the sea-erosion landscape which I missed. During the visit, there were some constructions going. And I was not aware that I can walked beyong the shore where most of the mushroom like rocks can be seen. If will given a chance again, I will return to this place to explore the park completely.

Shen’ao Fishing Port


I left Heping Island by taking the same East Line shuttle bus that goes to Riufang Station route as I wanted to visit Shen’ao Fishing Port. I came to the port expecting that there were too many people on it, but, to my surprise I saw few people around the port. I was not sure if it’s the port was on holiday during my visit, all I knew was it was Monday. I had a quick look of the port but this was the second place that I missed an important tourist spot because I was not aware that there was such thing in the port. What I did in the area was to walk around the port and took some couple of photos.






Ruifang District Fisheries Association



Shen’ao Fishing Port







Shen’ao Fishing Port with Keelung Mountain at the back


Shen’ao Fishing Port Viewing Platform


Shen’ao Fishing Port Bus Stop

Port of Keelung



Port of Keelung Scenery from Keelung Station (Maritime Plaza) Bus Stop



Keelung Station (Maritime Plaza) Bus Stop


Yangming Marine Culture and Art Museum (left building) and beside it is City Bus Terminal


Along Zhongyi Road with Boat Marina Harbourside Leisure Hall (right building)


Keelung Station South (left) with Yangming Marine Culture and Art Museum (right)


Keelung Station South

The last place that I visited which part of East Line Route was Shen’ao Fishing Port. From the bus stop where I went off was the same bus stop I waited for the bus that will return to Keelung Station. We took the same route and we picked-up other passengers like me in other bus stop. The bus route ended at Keelung Station (Maritime Plaza), where I had a chance to see the beauty that Port of Keelung is offering. And I really like what I saw. I can say that the center of Keelung City revolves around Keelung Station and places that surrounds it such as Port of Keelung. Before I totally left the city, I took few minutes to enjoy the port.

Until then.

Notes :
1. Plan to visit Keelung ? Please check latest information here. Plan to visit Heping Island Park? Check here. How about Shen’ao Fishing Port? See this.
2. Location : 360, Pingyi Road, Zhongzheng District, Keelung City
3. Directions / Transportation to Heping Island Park :
a. From Taipei Main Station, take TRA train to Keelung Station. TRA Train website here.
b. From Keelung Station, go to Visitor Centre where the tourist shuttle bus waits. Keelung Shuttle Bus website here.
c. Choose which Zone option you wanted to visit and enjoy.
d. Please visit the access link to the island park here.
Website : Keelung, Heping Island, Shen’ao Fishing Port

Follow  The Hidden Panorama or Follow Me :

Taipei Walks : Taipei Main Station, North Gate and Beimen Memorial Park

It was my first 100% free flight, as I used my GetGo Cebu Pacific through my points that accumulated in my account. I took a late night Saturday flight to Taipei during my second visit to Taiwan. Therefore, it was obvious that I will arrived in the city at early morning the next day. Like what I did during my first visit, just eight months earlier, I rented a pocket WI-FI with the same provider I had before and picked it up at the same convenience store at the basement of the airport which opens 24 hours (as other provider are closed after 8 PM). After that, I went straight to the bus terminal, bought a ticket and waited for the next bus that brought me to Taipei. I checked-in to the same hotel that I had before since it is comfortable place to rest and near in Taipei Main Station.


Since it was Sunday, I had personal commitment in the morning, then I used the rest of Sunday exploring nearby places from my accommodation in Taipei, a walk-able tourist spot that I can visit in the afternoon. I started my walk from a well know station in the country, none other than Taipei Main Station.

Taipei Main Station



I came from in Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City for my morning commitment, I arrived in Taipei Main Station Bus Stop near  Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Station Store and cross the road to reach the South Entrance / Exit of Taipei Main Station. I explored the station as I need to exchange the 3 Days Taiwan High-Speed Rail Unlimited Pass that I bought few days earlier before my scheduled flight to Taiwan. I bought the pass as I planned to explore places outside Taipei, to explore other parts of Taiwan. And while walking inside the station, I saw lots of people gathered at the center of the station, an open space which at first I thought that there were events happening but it was none.


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That moment, I realized, most people came there in the open hall were mostly my countrymen. I remembered, it was Sunday – the common rest day of my fellow Filipinos that works in Taiwan. And then, I remembered the similar situation that I experienced when I worked in Singapore. Sunday is the rest day for most Filipinos that works as domestic helper and commonly meet up in Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road in Singapore. I learned it was the place where my countrymen usually meet up in Taiwan – Taipei Main Station it is. Observing them just like they were there, sitting together with acquaintances and friends, it was a social place that I thought maybe made them feel at ease as they with familiar faces back home.


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Taiwan Railway LDK58 Steam Train, Displayed at Taipei Main Station East 2 Exit

I went outside the station from East Exit and there I still saw Filipinos, just sitting around, spending their time to chill. Next, I saw a Taiwan Railway LDK58 Steam Train, displayed near East 2 Entrance / Exit of the station. And people came near the steam train to do a selfie photos with it. After taking couple photos of the steam train, I walked around from East part to South part  of the station. At that time, I was still thinking where to go and then, I thought the first place to see where I can play with my DSLR camera, that was the North Gate.


Shin Kong Life Tower and Guanquian Road


National Taiwan Museum of Railways


Zhongxiao West Road from Beimen Memorial Park


Bo’ai Road (left) and Yanping South Road (right) from Beimen Memorial Park


Beimen Post Office

North Gate (Traditional 19th Century Gatehouse) 

North Gate is just few minutes walk from Taipei Station. During my first visit in the city, I had seen North Gate from a distance while taking bus and just passing the gate. In my second visit in the country, I freely enjoyed taking photos of North Gate that stands within Beimen Memorial Park.


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North Gate (Cheng’en men)

I did not realize that I will learn something about the Taipei City Wall while walking in Beimen Memorial Park. There were displays at the ground explaining the Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”, History of Taipei City Wall, how the city wall were built, its materials and structural features, how the stones quarried used to build the city wall and it also features the planting and paving design of the park itself which still conveys cultural significance related to North Gate. I honestly enjoyed my walk in the park.

Beimen Memorial Park (North Gate Square / North Gate Plaza)

The Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”


The Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”

Qing Dynasty Taipei City’s “Axial Lines” reveal two main strands of cultural significance. Taipei City’s “ceremonial axis” was constructed to run north-south from in front of the Taipei Yamen (government) to Wen and Wu Temples, along Chongqing South Road (then called Fuqian Street in the north and Wenwu Street in the south). This central axis and all north-south streets where directly aligned toward the North Star, forming a chessboard grid with east-west streets,Taipei’s fortified city was Taiwan’s only Qing Dynasty city to be laid out rectangularly. This spatial pattern manifest the city’s “ceremonial system” according to the “royal city” layout prescribed in the Book of Rites.

The History of Taipei City Wall


The History of Taipei City Wall

Plans to build Taipei City Wall were instituted by Chen Hsing-chu, the Magistrate of Taipei Prefecture, in 1879. Rough 5000 meters long, 5.76 meters high, 3.84 meters thick, and battlemented, it was topped by a horse path and surrounded by a moat.

Five gates served passage through the wall; Chen’enmen (the North Gate), Jingfumen (the East Gate), Baochengmen (the West Gate), Lizhenmen (the Main South Gate) and Chongximen (the Little South Gate). The North and West Gates were fortified on the exterior with enceintes. Built of stone, it was Taiwan’s only rectangular city wall, surpassing all others in height and magnificence. Construction of the wall and gate towers was completed in 1884.

How Stone Was Quarried for Taipei City Wall




How Stone Was Quarried for Taipei City Wall

The stone materials for the wall and gates were obtained locally. The foundation slabs came from Beishihu in Dazhi, cut from the hill stones using small chisels. To extract each 12-foot-long slab, the workmen first chiseled out 7-8 equidistant square holes in the stone surface. They then placed 5-to-6 flat chisels 3 inches into the holes, obliquely inserted half-inch-thick iron plates on two sides of the chisels, and struck the chisels with 15-pound hammers to split off long stone bars. Finally, they cut the stone bars into small slabs, measuring one foot wide by four to five feel long, for ease of transportation.

Planting and Paving Design Concepts


Planting and Paving Design Concepts

The North Gate has the greatest historic significance among Taipei’s five gates. It was the most used tea merchants and foreign traders who congregated in Dadaocheng outside the wall. Governor Liu Ming-chuan built the train station nearby and the tax office machinery bureau and many foreign firms were located in the gate’s vicinity. The Qing government ceremonial arch for the reception of officials was set outside it.

The landscape design of the North Gate Square not only beautified the square but also gave expression to Taipei’s history and cultural essence. The paving and planting tell the story of each landscape element.

Jasmin Flowers

The tea trading firms in Dadaocheng enjoyed booming prosperity at that time. The jasmine used for scenting tea became a signature plant of the Dadaocheng tea industry.

Roadside Trees under Japanese Rule

The Japanese authorities removed the city wall to make way for the building the park like three-lane road – a symbol of modern urban planning. The carefully selected roadside tress, such as Bischofia javanica (bishopwood) and Cinnamomum camphora, hold special significance in the development of Taipei’s avenues.

The Building Materials and Structural Features of Taipei City Wall


The Building Materials and Structural Features of Taipei City Wall

Two kinds of stone were used to build the Taipei City Wall. The underground foundations were built with sandstone take from the Beishihu in Dazhi (then called Qili’an stone), while harder grey-black andesite (Guanyinshan stone) was used for the wall’s protective facing.
To solve the challenge of the ground’s soft upper stratum, Chinese fir foundation piles were driven down to the hard soil sever meters below ground. Then, beams 3-5 meters long were placed horizontally to form a platform on which ten layers of sandstone labs were laid in a right-angled criss-cross pattern. The wall was about 3.6 meters thick. To form a strong protective shield, the wall was faced with andesite laid in a Flemish double-stretcher bond. Its interior was filled with pebbles and rammed earth.

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About Taipei Prefecture

There is information displayed at the ground of Beimen Memorial Park regarding the Taipei Prefecture which was formed when Japanese takeover Taiwan where it has three business center : Taipei inner region , Monga (Southwest) and Dadaocheng (Northwest) outside of the city wall. Information also describes details of the prefecture, by mentioning what can be seen in every part of it. It mentioned what to be seen coming from South Gate, West Gate and North Gate regarding its old streets, temples and buildings.


Taipei Prefecture


South Gate Details




West Gate Details


North Gate Details

It was a relaxing walk in Beimen Memorial Park or The North Gate Square or The North Gate Plaza. It was also worth knowing that North Gate and the park itself was just recently renovated and improve as part of cultural preservation of Taipei. But I truly admired what Taiwan government did when they removed the elevated highway just to make emphasis of the historic North Gate as one of the symbol cultural heritage of the city.

Notes :
1. Plan to visit Taipei ? Please check latest information here. Plan to visit Beimen Memorial Park or North Gate Square or North Gate Plaza? Check here.
2. Location : Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
3. Directions / Transportation to Beimen Memorial Park / North Gate :
a. From Taipei Main Station, get off at South Exit/Entrance of the train
b. Turn right and walk beside the Zhongxiao West Road and the gate can immediately be seen along the road.
Website : Taipei , Beimen Memorial Park / North Gate





Top 17 Places Visited in Taiwan (v 1.0)

Have you been in Taiwan? Do you have top list during your trip in the said country? Here are the top places that I visited during my first trip in Taiwan. What are yours?

Top 1 – Taroko National Park

During the first visit in Taiwan, my favorite place that I fall in love with is Taroko National Park. The mountains that surround the park is the main reason why I love it. Next is the Liwu River where most of amazing gorges can be found. Another reason are Shakadang Trail where I love its river, Swallow Grotto where cliffs and Indian Chief rock formation can be found, Tien-Hsiang village surrounded by mountains and of course the Eternal Spring Shrine, the temple with a falls underneath.

I will not specify anymore which area in Taroko National Park are my favorites as I like all of what I had seen in the park.


Top 2 – Hualien Der-yen beach

Though the visit in Hualien Der-yen beach was most likely a side trip part of my tour in Taroko National Park, I like to see this kind of places in Taiwan. It always nature wins my heart in my travel.


Top 3 – Taipei Zoo (Wensha District)

I like zoo, but I never realized that I will be enjoying so much while visiting Taipei Zoo not only because of Giant Panda and Red Panda but because of its animal diversity that will be discovered here and the natural setting of the park.


Top 4 – Taipei 101 (Xinyi District)

Xinyi District is the financial district of Taipei where Taipei 101 is located. A symbolical building of Taipei or let’s say Taiwan as this is unique tower in the world.


Top 5 – Shin Kong Mitsukosh (Xinyi District)

One of the luxurious shopping area of the country that can be enjoyed in Taipei. Walking here is already entertaining though there are lots of people during my visit, I found amazing that Taipei has such places like Shin Kong Mitsukosh.


Top 6 – Ximending (Wanhua District)

These pedestrian area where surrounded by markets, shopping stores and cinemas that change the way I think about market place. My walks here was so relaxing.


Top 7 – Shilin Night Market (Shilin District)

My last minute walk was spent here before I went to Taoyuan International Airport. And I like the ambiance of this night market.


Top 8 – Bopiliao Historical Block (Wanhua District)

A historical block that made me realize how amazing if different culture aspirations has been put into architecture.


Top 9 – Red House Theater (Wanhua District)

Though I was sad at first because the main building of Red House Theater is under renovation, I had a good time walking in one of the cultural and creative store to be found inside the building.


Top 10 – [Bangka] Mengxia (Mengjia) Longshan (Lungshan) Temple (Wanhua District)

My favorite temple that I saw while walking around Taipei. The architecture design and its colorful buildings are so inviting that anyone will enjoy just to look at them.


Top 11 – [Bangka] Qingshui  (Chingshui) Temple (Wanhua District)

The first temple that I had seen during my walks in Wanhua District. A distinguishable temple of its kind.


Top 12 – [Bangka] Qingshan Temple (Qingshangong) (Wanhua District)

Another interesting temple that I found but I haven’t got a chance to get inside.


Top 13 – Taipei City Hall (Xinyi District)

A government building at the middle of Xinyi District significantly shows its simplicity and can be an outlier because of its exterior design but its impression made on me was plain but authoritative.


Top 14 – Taipei Jen-Chi Hospital (Wanhua District)

A discovered historical building that I found while walking in Wanhua District.


Top 15 – Bangka Park (Mengxia [Mengjia] Park) (Wanhua District)

A relaxing place found during my walk where I found Taiwanese enjoys the weekend.


Top 16 – Lin Jiang (Linjian) [Tonghua] Street Night Market (Daan District)

A discovered night market after spending walking time at Xinyi District, I found myself here when I felt hungry.


Top 17 – Huaxi Street Night Market (Wanhua District)

Another night market that I passed by while walking in Wanhua District, but because its after noon, most of the stores are still close at the time I went here.


3 Days – Taiwan Experimental Travel Itinerary

The first time I traveled in Taiwan, my itinerary was not really planned. I called it as experimental travel because it’s the first country that I visited using a visa exempt policy. So, in nature, there is possibility that my entry will be denied if there is something wrong how I understand Taiwan’s policy regarding visa-exempt. But I was thankful that my first entry was smooth as I dreamed of it.

Without further ado, here are the 3-Days Itinerary that I had during my first time visit in Taiwan. Please use the itinerary as reference as the list are not necessarily in order the way I visited them. I myself checks other itineraries from other travelers but in the end, I still created my own itinerary based on budget, time frame, availability and more of my preferences. There are different reasons and considerations for my list so you can use it at your own discretion.

Day 1 – Taipei City

Wanhua District (Part 1 & Part 2)



Huaxi Street Night Market


Red House Theater


Bopiliao Historical Block


Taipei Jen-Chi Hospital


[Bangka] Qingshui  (Chingshui) Temple


[Bangka] Mengxia (Mengjia) Longshan (Lungshan) Temple


[Bangka] Qingshan Temple (Qingshangong)


Bangka Park (Mengxia [Mengjia] Park)


Xinyi District

Taipei 101


Taipei City Government and City Hall


Shin Kong Mitsukosh


Daan District

Lin Jiang (Linjian) [Tonghua] Street Night Market


Day 2 – Taipei City

Wenshan District

Taipei Zoo


Day 3 – Hualien County

Taroko National Park (Part 1 & Part 2)

Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate (East Gate)


Shakadang Trail


Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto)


Tunnel of Nine Turns




Cihmu (Cimu) Bridge


Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)


Hualien Der-yen beach


Day 3 – Taipei City

Shilin District

Shilin Night Market


Taroko National Park (Part 2) : From Tunnel of Nine Turns to Tien-Hsiang to Eternal Spring Shrine

Tunnel of Nine Turns

We came back to the bus and continued our journey in Taroko Gorge. And we drove towards the Tunnel of Nine Turns. Here, I had a chance to see the scenery inside the bus. The Jiuqudong (Tunnel of Nine Turns) was constructed in 1996, so that the visitors can view the rock folds, joints and faults of the marble cliffs. The two cliffs are so close to each other, and it looks like they are joining to each other if seen from afar. This section has the reputation of “Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon”. I discovered that “Nine” for Chinese means “many”.



Scenery from Tunnel of Nine Turns



We reached Tien-Hsiang or Tianxiang Village where the hotel restaurant is located and where we had our lunch that day. We were divided into two group and sits surrounding a huge circle table. At the restaurant we had a chance to eat local delicacies. Pardon me of the food specifics, as I don’t knew the menu of what we ate, all I knew was its Taiwanese cuisine. Though, I was not really good in food stuff, but I love to eat, who doesn’t? Right? The menu that was served was as just enough to all of us to fulfill our bellies and to keep us going in our adventure in the park.


Hotel Restaurant



After our lunch, we went outside to see a bit of the village. I walked around, I found local stores and bought post cards as my personal souvenir of the place. I also found a monkey strayed around the corner where people approach it just to take an up close photo. I continued strolling in the area then I saw bridges. First was Zhihui Bridge,  second was Pudu Bridge towards Xiangde Temple at the mountain side. I enjoyed the scenery in front of me and thinking that it is such  beautiful and serene place.  I took more photos before I decided to go back to the bus.


Zhihui Bridge and Pudu Bridge


Zhihui Bridge with the Background of Xiangde Temple Area at the top


Xiangde Temple Area at the top


Pudu Bridge

Snapshots along the way before reaching Cihmu Bridge

Cihmu (Cimu) Bridge

We had a brief stop at Cihmu Bridge to appreciate the scenery that it has to offer. I approached the bridge and went to the waiting shed or pavilion nearby located at higher ground, a great point to take photos in different angle of the place. At the waiting shed, there were scenery found to be amazing. I did enjoy the quick visit we made in the bridge.



Waiting shed or pavilion

“Cimu” in Chinese means motherly devotion. The bridge has connection to the legend where the area is known as “Heliu” where two rivers meet. A child near the edge of the river has been swept away by large current of water. Every day the mother’s child go to the river and pray for her childs safety and hope to come back to her.



Liwu River from Cihmu Bridge


Cihmu Bridge


Liufang Bridge that we passed by

Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)

The last stopped we had in Taroko National Park was in Zhangchun Bridge. There are lots of scenery to see here. First was the famous Eternal Spring Shrine or Changchun Shrine which visible even from a distance, the shrine gives a photographic view because of its location, because of its falls underneath, because of the greenery background that surrounds it, because it stands at the mountain side and because of Liwu River at the bottom of it. One thing that I learned while I was here was when I read the information near the bridge about the shrine. Because there are many people died building the Central Cross-Island Highway, Eternal Spring Shrine was built to commemorate the men who lost their lives on it.


Taroko Eternal Spring Changchun Shrine

After appreciating the scenic view of Eternal Spring Shrine, I saw as well the Guanyin Dong, the building or temple at the top. Then, we walked and passed Zhangchun Bridge. While at the bridge I saw Liwu River in another angle to appreciate it more. The tour in the park gave me this thoughts that Liwu River is all the way with us through the entire journey in Taroko Gorge, I had seen its different beauty in every part of the park. A truly magnificent river for me. We passed the tunnel road of Zhangchun Bridge to go to the bus as we nearly heading back to Hualien city. Before I jumped in to the vehicle, I saw Taroko Changuang Temple Suspension Bridge and Gate to Changuang Temple.


Zhangchun Bridge

Liwu River at Zhangchun Bridge



Guanyin Dong


Taroko Changuang Temple Suspension Bridge



Liwu River and Zhongbu Cross-Island Highway



Gate to Changuang Temple

My tour in Taroko Gorge is a day tour and I already admired the park. I am wondering what if I had a chance someday to hike some part of this beautiful national park. I hope I will be given a chance. Until then.



Taroko National Park (Part 1) : From East Gate to Shakadang Trail to Swallow Grotto

In my 3 days in Taiwan, I took a day tour during my 3rd and last day as my final adventure in the said country. I know that I haven’t seen much yet of the city but I wanted to see a national park during my visit in Taiwan and with that same reason, I booked Taroko Gorge day tour online before I ended my travel and before I flew back to Manila.

It was Monday, January 9, 2017. I put back all my stuff in my small luggage backpack and prepared myself early in the morning. I checked-out past 5AM in the morning and sit in the cafe within the hotel / hostel that I stayed in Taipei and waited for my tour to pick me up. In few minutes, the car arrived, I stood up and went outside and a man looking for me reading my name. I responded that its myself and he told me to hopped into the car. Inside the vehicle I found other tourists. Next, our car traveled to Taipei Main Station and from the parking area we walked towards the station that will bring us to Hualien. Our tour guide informed us that we will take the train and once we reached Hualien Station, we will meet Josephine, our guide in Taroko Gorge National Park. Then, he gave our train ticket. While we were waiting for the right train that we need to take, I introduced myself to the 4 people in the same tour. One couple from London, a French women student from Hongkong and a male solo traveler like me.

When the train arrived, we checked the train car from our tickets. The French woman and I had the same car in the train but our seats were apart from each other and the three were in another train carriage, therefore I traveled from Taipei Station without talking to someone. I set the alarm in my phone in case I may fall asleep in the train while traveling. And I did fell asleep but I woke-up from time to time. Since I was sitting at window seat, I was able to capture some photos along the way before reaching Hualien Station.


River border between Yilan County and Hualien County near the coast before passing Heping Station

River before reaching Xincheng Taroko Station

We reached Hualien Station and two of us from the same train car look for the rest of the three and came together in a group. As advised on us of our guide in Taipei, we have to specifically meet Josephine just near the stairs after we just get-off the train. We waited and went down, then we go back upstairs. Then we met Josephine.  After she met us, we walked a bit inside the station and then she mentioned that there was another group that she was waiting as well, that’s when I realized that she handles more than one group travel tour company. She advised us to do what we need to do in the station while we were waiting for the rest of the group to be completed according to her list. Then, after we were assembled completely, we went out towards our bus at the parking.

Josephine speaks English in Chinese tone but its understandable.  She’s friendly and lively when speaking and she tried her best for us to laugh a bit. She also speaks Chinese and Japanese while on the tour. That’s quite a skill, speaking 3 languages in a tour. Along the road she started explaining some of the places that our tour bus was passing by which shows she definitely knows the place.

Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate (East Gate)



Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate



Jinwen Bridge


Liwu River from Taroko East Gate

After sometime, we reached the entrance of the park called Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate. Here, we stopped a bit to see the arch gate and its surrounding areas such as Jinwen Bridge and Liwu River. Near the gate, we had a glimpse of Zhongbu (Central) Cross-Island Highway.  Next, we were back to the bus, we crossed Jinwen Bridge, we passed Taroko National Park Tourist Information Center and we stopped at Shakadang Bridge.

Shakadang Bridge, River and Trail



Shakadang Bridge



Shakadang Stream / River


Shakadang Trail















Shakadang River along the Shakadang Trail

I had this tense and funny experience while in Shakadang Trail. Our tour guide, gave us time to get down to Shakadang Trail from the bridge so we can walk a bit in the trail to take some photos in the area. Not knowing how long the trail really is, because of my fascination with the beauty of Shakadang River, I walked probably more than kilometer distance of the trail that resulted me to be late 10 minutes of returning to the bus. When I was walking back, when Shakadang Bridge had been visible to me, I felt concerned because I was not able to see the tour busI had from where it stopped which just few steps from the bridge stairs to the trail when I got-off. Then I walked fast and hoping that I was never left behind. 11 AM was the return time to the bus and I was still walking in the trail. I did a walkathon and passed so many walkers along the trail, then climbed the stairs as fast as I can, my hopes rose when I saw buses after the bridge near the tunnel road. I was near the buses and don’t knew what’s next to do when I don’t even knew my bus tour plate number. So I checked the nearest bus to me and looking for a familiar face. Then I passed another one and Josephine was just outside the bus. I felt relieve when I saw her. I apologized to her and to the people inside the bus for being late because of my negligence to return on time.

Some snapshots while inside the bus looking towards Liwu River while we were driving at Zhongbu Cross-Island Highway after Ningan Bride going to Swallow Grotto.

Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto)


Swallow Grotto



Swallow Grotto Trail


Swallow Grotto Road Tunnel/Thruway


Potholes on the Cliff Face along Swallow Grotto Trail



Cliff Faces along Swallow Grotto Trail


Swallow Grotto Trail Photos

I was back at the bus, the tension that I felt died down and I felt relax again as our bus were moving along road. Inside the bus, I looked at my window and continued to see the park while inside of it. We stopped a few minutes again, then I realized that Josephine picked-up the safety hats that we will be using as part of our itinerary in the national park and each of us get our own hat. The safety hat was not different from the hard hat that construction worker that are using, with that in my mind,  I just thought that maybe its important as part of our safety in the tour.

The bus stopped again near Swallow Grotto or Yanzikou. Then our guide checked all of us if we were all wearing our safety hat and  she signaled us that we can get-off the bus. It is a road thruway that looks like a tunnel where we had a chance to walk inside with viewing deck to see Potholes on Cliff Faces and portion of Liwu River.




Swallow Grotto Trail with Liwu River

The walk that we did which started from Swallow Grotto Trail ended up to Jinheng Park, just before Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail. When we reached Jinheng Park, we saw another scenic spot – a beautiful rock formation in the gorge. There was this thing that our tour guide was telling us to find in rock formation which is the “Indian Chief”, honestly, I was having a hard time to find it myself maybe because the way I looked at the rocks and the angle of my eyes towards the rocks. And in the end, I found the famous “Indian Chief” face that curves in the rock. After enjoying the scenery at Jinheng Park, I decided to go back to the bus and before I jumped inside of it, I enjoyed the view of Liwu River from Jinheng Bridge.

Until then.




Indian Chief Rock formation




Liwu River from Jinheng Bridge


Jingheng Bridge


Ludan River from Jinheng Bridge



Taipei (Muzha) Zoo – One of the Largest Zoos in Asia

It was Sunday, my second day in Taiwan. I attended a personal activity in the morning before I started my adventure in Taipei. Because I only had half day left, instead of walking somewhere in the city like what I did in my first day, I planned to visit Taipei Zoo and Maokong for the rest of the day. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit Maokong because the rest of my half day was spent in Taipei Zoo or Muzha Zoo. I thought that my visit in zoological garden will be a quick one, but I was wrong because I did not expect that I will be enjoying my visit in the zoo. My heart for biology beats again and my interest in science triggered again after I saw the animal diversity that Taipei Zoo is currently taking care of.


Taipei Main Station


Taipei Zoo Station

From Taipei Main Station, I took Bannan Line and transfered in Zhongxiao Fuxing Station for Wenhu Line to reach Taipei Zoo Station. From the station, I walked towards the entrance of the zoo. When I entered the park, I saw a lot of people, a surprising thing for me to see because I did not expect huge crowd of visitors in a zoo, I just thought that it will be fewer people,  that being said, zoo can have a lot of visitors because there’s something on it that people eager to see.



Entrance and Ticket Booth



Taipei Zoo



Taipei Zoo Stage and Open Ground

I had lunch in one of the food chain inside the park before I started my adventure in the zoo. I checked the map that was handed to me when I bought my ticket. While I was looking at the map, I was wondering how I will plan to roam the park as quick as possible because I still wanted to go to Maokong. But, while walking around it and as many unique and interesting animals that I found in the zoo, I gave up the idea of visiting Maokong.

In this post I will just emphasize some of the animals that were unique for me and some that was first time that I saw for real, I will still put the different photos of animals that I captured in one of the largest zoo in Asia. I honestly enjoy seeing and discovering the animals while I was wandering in the park. But because the zoo is so huge for me, there are other animals that I haven’t seen as the park was about to close.

And here were the different kinds of animals that I got a chance to see inside the zoo.

Giant Panda – Tuan Tuan or Yuan Yuan?



The first thing that I saw when I was inside the zoo was the Giant Panda. Maybe because it’s popular and it’s the nearest animals to me when I started to wander the park while I was looking at the map in my hand. When I reached Giant Panda House, I saw a bearable number of people outside the glass wall of its house, watching the panda. I approached its house and found one huge panda lazily lying at the wooden floor attached to the tree branches. Unfortunately, I just saw one panda. Taipei Zoo is taking care of two giant pandas named as Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan. Since I haven’t able to book a ticket for a more up close visit to the panda, there is no way for me to identify if the panda that I saw is Tuan Tuan or Yuan Yuan and with that, I leave it thinking it’s one of the two.

After I was satisfied looking a bit of Panda, I passed the Solar Energy Clock before I walked towards Asian Tropical Rainforest Area.

Asian Tropical Rainforest Area

Pygmy Hippopotamus




Malayan Tapir



On the spot that I saw these Malayan Tapir, I also found a note on it, that it’s the school of the said animals, which means that their weight are being measure and being trained to follow the keeper. At the same time, its the opportunity to know if the female Malayan Tapir is pregnant.

Malayan Sun Bear


Malayan Sun Bear are known as good tree climbers.

Asian Elephant



Bengal Tiger



Black Swan



Desert Area

Bactrian Camel



Besides living in deserts and grasslands, most Bactrian camels live in Asian mountain wastelands and can endure the intense summer heat and the cold winter.

Dromedary Camel



Dromedary camels are social animals, led by a male camel. Although they can adjust to dry environments, they cannot live in the mountains like the Bactrian camels.

Australian Area






There are more than 600 locales and towns in Australia named after the emu. The general public considers this bird its national bird.

Aboriginal mythologies
1. wearing sandals made from emu feathers can hide one’s footprints
2. The sun is said to have been created by an emu egg being thrown into the sky

The emu is curious by nature. It would peck anything that reflects light. This animal would come to close to humans; even follow man around, just to find out what he is doing.

African Area

Chapman’s Zebra





Common Eland



Common elands are the largest antelopes who move in groups through savannas or open wooded areas. Although they appear to walk slowly, these animals are alert at all times. They rest in shady cool places during the day and come out to feed at twilight or a night




Spotted Hyena




While I was exploring Taipei Zoo, one of the animals that I saw was Spotted Hyena. This animal is said to be a great hunter on land and a great swimmer. They can control their buoyancy and discontinue their breathing to walk under water.

Grevy’s Zebra



Grevy’s zebra is the largest zebra, with black and white stripes ditributed on the body and legs. They stay in herds and live in dry grassland, shrub grassland and semi-desert areas.

White Rhinoceros



Western Gorilla









The photos above of Auodad reflects its notes that I found near wherein they form a group in rock formations.

The beard of the male Aoudad droops from the throat, chest area all the way to its forelegs. During the fight for females, the males use its horns to hit their opponents. They form groups in rock formations and dessert areas. Vegetation is scarce and water is obtained from plants and dew.







An interesting facts that I read about Bongo

The bongo is difficult to find in the African forest due to its rare coat hues and stripes. When running, the bongo move its horns backwards to the back to avoid being entangled by vines, plants and tree branches.

Patas Monkey


A discovery learned about Patas Monkey

The patas monkey is the fastest running primate moving on the ground during the day. When one observes, one will see the monkey using its hind legs to stand up to see more clearly. They climb trees when danger approaches. At night, they rest spread out in trees, hoping to avoid being attacked simultaneously.

Temperate Zone Area

Przewalski’s Horse




American Bison


Black Prairie Dog




Black prairie dogs live with approximately 170 types of animals; for instance, ants, beetles, crickets, mice, rabbits, salamanders live in the tunnels that prairie dogs dig; spiders net at cave entrances, they are also the food for eagles, bobcats, foxes, and weasels

Mountain Lion









Asian Black Bear



Red Panda




Another interesting animals that I found in Taipei Zoo was Red Panda which came from Hino Japan. Honestly, I had a hard time to see this one in close proximity from the viewing deck of its natural cage because it used to walk from behind of some plants and branches almost not visible except for its back. I waited for few more minutes, the other visitors just left without seeing it and to my surprise it shows itself and I captured snapshot as I can. Though it’s not that clear in my iPhone, but I felt relieve that I saw the Red Panda with my own eyes.

Penguin House



Taipei (Day 1 – Part 3) A Bit of Xinyi and Daan District

From Longshan Temple Station, I took Bannan Line to reach Taipei Main Station and from there I change to Tamsui-Xinyi Line train to reach Taipei 101 / World Trade Center Station. I get off the station and saw a different kind of world compared to Wanhua District.


Taipei 101

First thing that I saw was Taipei 101 Tower which famous in the world. Though I was already in the ground just outside of the building, I  never went inside the building nor I visited its observation deck to see the city from the top,  at that time it’s not my plan, I just wanted to walk around the place. The ground was my starting point to see the district and took some photos of art works being displayed just outside the tower.



Taipei 101

Some of the public artworks that can be seen outside the tower are “Infinite Life” by Kang Mu-Hsiang and “The Rising Sun-The Shooting Stars” by Doug Duff. Below are the photos of the art and its description.


“Infinite Life”

The tightly coiled lines of 「Infinite Life」trace out the image of life in its original form, a steel embryo reborn from the towering structure from which it came. As a reflection on the circle of life, using retired cable from the TAIPEI 101 Observatory high-speed elevator to create beauty from otherwise discarded material, the sculpture stands as testimony to TAIPEI 101’s philosophy of environmental protection.


“The Rising Sun-The Shooting Stars”

An egg-shape waterscape occupying the gentle slope on Sung-Ren Road, water forms different flows along the angles the leaning egg-shaped fountain creates. On the top, a 90cm- diameter granite ball rolls as water whirls. Around the egg, water jets light up the night. The waterscape is formed by a three-dimensional granite assemblage, of human height and proportioned to create a congenial atmosphere that puts pedestrians at ease. A wind speed sensor is included to turn down the jet power during windy times.


“Partners” by Taipei Financial Center Corp

Additional art that I captured has title “Partners”. These are colorful blocks stands in the front and made by Taipei Financial Center Corp.





Some snapshots taken just outside the tower

Taipei 101 was formerly known as Taipei World Financial Center and was once the Tallest Tower in the world from 2004 to 2009 until Burj Khalifa broke the record. But the tower still holds the record as the Tallest and Largest Green Building in the World. Another interesting note that I learned about it is, it holds the Platinum Certification which is Highest Certification in (LEED) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design with that said, I truly respect government and businesses that considers environmental design in every infrastructure they built.


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Taipei 101 from a distance

Taipei City Government and Shopping Areas

I walked from Xinyi Road and then turned left to Songzhi Road not knowing what to see. While walking along Songzhi Road, I found the Taipei City Hall. I reached the end of Songzhi Road which is Songgao Road where Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall (Xinyi Place) is located. I walked in the walkway between buildings and I felt overwhelmed because I found a lot of high-end boutique stores in the area which I can say a haven for people who love shopping.


Looking towards ATT 4 Fun Shopping Mall along Songzhi Road




Taipei City Government Park



Taipei City Hall


Songzhi Road towards Songgao Road


Songzhi Road corner Songgao Road






Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall (Xinyi Place)

After my eyes had been blown-away by high-end international stores in Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, I walked to another area not really far from where I came from which is Vie Show Square Taipei Hsin Yi where I witnessed a public entertainment show of some kind of anime character (forgive me if I cannot identify the character, its familiar to me, but not sure who is the character it portrays).


Vie Show Square Taipei Hsin Yi




Photos while walking at Vie Show Square Taipei Hsin Yi

Lin Jiang (Linjian) [Tonghua] Street Night Market

From Vie Show Square Taipei Hsin Yi, I took a bus going to Lin Jiang Street Night Market because I was already hungry from walking.  I get off at Sanxing Elementary School near the night street,  just a few steps away from it. So I passed the street and walked back. I ate some meats and veggies while walking on the street and bought some sweets to take home as my snacks.




Lin Jiang (Linjian) [Tonghua] Street Night Market

So, overall I enjoyed my first day in Taipei walking around in Wanhua and experiencing a bit of Xinyi and Daan District. I know that these are not all what these districts has to offer but I just have limited time in Taiwan. Until then.



Taipei (Day 1 – Part 2) [Bangka] Wanhua District

My next destination after a worthy walk in Ximending was Central part of Wanhua District where more historical sites are located such as Longshan Temple, Bopiliao Historical Block, Qingshan Temple and Taipei Jen Chi Hospital. Below are the continuation of my adventures as I travel in Taipei continues.

While looking at the map, another temple caught my interest to see, and that is Longshan Temple. To reach the temple I have two options, one is to walk from Ximending or take a train to Longshan Temple Station if I take Bannan Line (or Blue Line in Taipei Metro) and its next station after Ximen Station. Because I had limited time and still wanted to reserve my energy for other walks that I plan to do, I decided to take train. When I get off the station, I found myself in Mengxia (Mengjia) Park or Bangka Park where quite number of people having laid back time and enjoying the weekend. While looking around the park and checking where Longshan Temple is, I found a group of old Taiwanese playing a chess like board game. I am not really sure if it’s really a traditional chinese chess, so I leave that item as it is.


Longshan Station Entrance/Exit


Senior Citizen playing chess like board game.


Chess like board game

Bangka Park (Mengxia [Mengjia] Park)

I continued walking and looking around a bit hoping to see interesting stuff along the way to the temple. Before I found the temple, I saw Longshan fountain that people are enjoying in the park. Based on history, the park was a large pool before it converted to a park in 1924.


Longshan Fountain



Vicinity of Bangka Park

[Bangka] Mengxia (Mengjia) Longshan (Lungshan) Temple

The temple has so many names, here I will use the common one which is Longshan Temple. The temple is the most well-known temple in Taiwan which built in 1738, though tested by natural disaster for a long time, it was damaged heavily during World War II and since then, it was restored and keeps on renovating. The temple is one of the largest and oldest in the country.



Main Entrance




Outer Courtyard





Main Hall




Longshan Temple is a 2nd grade municipal heritage site which important gods from Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism are enshrined. The temple has at least 100 gods which one of the reason why there are lots of visitors come to see the temple.





Bopiliao Historical Block

After wandering inside the Longshan Temple, I found a nearby historical block which is Bopiliao. It is block located in the corner of Kanding Road and Guangzhou Street with some portion of it are still on bricks and some looks been restored as it’s already concreted with cement. The block is great place to see what is it like on streets and shops during Qing Period, Japanese occupation and early post wars. The building is a combination of Fujian and Baroque style which quite unique as it has fusion of two different architectural concepts, that exist in the block.







[Bangka] Qingshan Temple (Qingshangong)

Another temple that I had a chance to see though I wasn’t able to go inside of it was Qingshangong or Qingshan Temple. The temple is categorized a 3rd grade municipal heritage site and a home of god King Qingshan. One of the festival held in Wanhua called “Great Bangka Sacrificial Ceremony” is to celebrate the birth of deity King Qingshan and the festival itself is one of the “Taipei’s Big Three Temple Fairs.”



Road photos on my way looking for Qingshan Temple




Qingshan Temple

Huaxi Street Night Market

My walk continues in the nearby area of the temple then I passed a night market called Huaxi Street Night Market. Historically, it is the first tourist night market in Taiwan. It has uniqueness on its own as it sells local delicacies that cannot be found in other night markets. The market is also one of the 3 famous street markets that surrounds the area that everyone can enjoy while visiting the place.





Huaxi Street Night Market

Taipei Jen-Chi Hospital

A historical hospital building has been declared a municipal heritage site and considered as Taiwan’s Earliest Psychiatric Hospital.



Taipei Jen-Chi Hospital


Guangzhou Street near  Longshan Temple just after crossing Xiyuan Road

So far, I am enjoying my walks in Wanhua district. As I am checking the map that I am holding at that time I decided to leave the district and visit another, Xinyi District, which is both government and financial district of Taipei, then a bit of Daan District. Until then.

Taipei (Day 1 – Part 1) [Bangka] Wanhua District

My travel to Taiwan is the first experimental travel that I did because, it’s the first time that I traveled in a country that I will be using a visa exemption policy. Usually, I only traveled in a country with visa or visa-free. I just followed the instructions that I found in Taiwan’s website regarding the visa exemption where I used my USA visa to enter the country.

Most of the time, when the plane arrives at the airport, I used to prepared myself to leave the plane as soon as possible. For my flight to Taipei, I decided to be the last one to leave the plane because my seat was not really far from the last rows and the flight arrival itself was already behind by 2 hours, hurrying myself out of the plane was actually useless.

The usual thing happened, after leaving the plane, we went straight to immigration. Passing immigration is the part of my travel that gets on my nerve. Because it’s the symbolical gate that will decide my fate of my travel in one country, whether I will be sent back home or I will be allowed to enter the country. So far so good, that I haven’t experienced bad things every time I pass the immigration. The reason why I said that it gets on my nerves because my travel adventures may or may not happen depends on immigration decision to allow me to enter their country.

When I did the document verification at the airlines check-in counter of my flight, it gave me 50% hope that my experiment travel in Taiwan will be happening, the other 50% was at the hand of immigration officer. Because if there is something wrong in my document, the airline should advise me about it and they have the rights to hold me in boarding the plane.

I went and lined myself in the queue. I prepared my passport and my travel certificate. I also prepared my hotel accommodation and return flights just in case that immigration officer will ask for it. It was my turn, I walked towards the immigration officer, I gave my passport and travel certificate. Next, I stand properly at the front of the camera and they took a photo of myself, followed by fingerprint recording. After few minutes of checking of my documents, I smoothly passed the immigration without issues.

After passing immigration since I don’t have checked-in luggage,  I went to the hi-life store where I will pick-up the pocket wi-fi that I rented for the next 3 days. One thing that I learned and experienced while I was in Japan last 2015, if my destination country can provide fast internet connection, having a pocket wi-fi is beneficial because it helps me while moving around in a foreign country. I rented the wi-fi at least more than 5 days before my scheduled flight and confirmed where to pick it up because my arrival is early in the morning where most wi-fi rentals are closed in operations.

After picking up my pocket wi-fi, I checked my options how to go to Taipei City since I arrived in Taoyuan International Airport which estimated to be an hour travel to the city. At first, I checked the taxi and found few people in the queue, but I know it’s quite expensive compared to bus. I followed signs to bus terminal. I checked the ticket booth and asked the next bus schedule and it’s prices. At that time, it’s already passed 3:30 AM in the morning. I saw outside a long line in the queue of the same bus that will take me into the city and I decided to wait inside, thinking that I have to follow the next schedule. Two bus left the terminal to the city, I was surprised because another announcement that there’s a bus to the city and I looked at the time and it’s still early in my schedule. I went outside and check it out with a bit of hesitation. I approached the man in uniform standing near the bus and asked if I can ride the bus, and he get my ticket and confirmed I can ride on it. I felt at ease because I thought I have to wait for another 30 minutes based on the schedule I had in my ticket. We were only 4 passengers at that time, because most of the passengers took the previous two bus. While we were driving down to the city, I tried to look outside with a curious eyes and I felt good. Because it’s early in the morning and still dark, I just saw few people outside.

After at least 30 minutes in the road, we reached the Taipei bus station in the city which also near in Taipei Main Station. I used my pocket wi-fi immediately and used Google Map directions to guide me how to reach the hotel that I booked for the next 3 days which was Poshpacker Hotel. I found the hotel within 10 minutes walk from the bus station. I was glad that Poshpacker is 24X7 hotel and there’s someone who can assist me for checking-in.

Before 5 AM in the morning, I was already in my room which located in Ladies Floor. I can say that the hotel is similar to backpackers hotel but a cozy one. I had a single room with shared bathroom and shower. I think Taipei’s offering a lot of cozy hotels for sharing, but I chose the one which offers with single room as it is more comfortable and with privacy even though the toilet and shower is for sharing. I actually enjoyed my stay in the hotel. It’s one of hotel backpacker that I like and I planned to stay there again if I come back to Taipei.

I slept for another 5 hours. And I woke up before lunch. It’s my first day so I quickly prepared myself and I went out of the hotel to start my exploration in the city.

Wanhua District – Taipei’s Oldest District 

The old name of Wanhua is Bangka which refers to a hollowed-out canoe or perhaps the location where the canoes would gather. It is once an important center of northern Taiwanese government, economics and culture.

When I learned this information, I was wondering because in my country, we have Tagalog word “Bangka” as well and it has the similar definition, which means a small boat. Now I am wondering, if the word is either Chinese, Bahasa (Malaysian or Indonesian) or even Spanish origin, well I will leave that information to the experts, just triggered my curiosity.

Ximending – Once An Old Commercial District, Now A Vogue Area for Old and New

My hotel was near in the first place that I visited which is Ximending Wanhua District. Before I left the hotel, I asked the hotel officer if Ximending is walkable from the hotel. And she instructed me willingly how to go there. With the instructions and the GPS in my phone using Google Maps and its directions, I smoothly reached one of the exit of Ximen Station. I know that the District is a shopping district, though I don’t usually go for shopping of things, aside from buying post cards as my souvenirs, I still went to Ximending out of curiosity.

From hotel, I walked along the Section 1, Hankou Street, crossed several streets until I reached Section 1, Zhongzua Road,  I crossed the road and turned left and walk along the same road. While walking in the side-walk, I can immediately feel that the place I was looking for was just around the corner. I passed small lanes and streets and I can see that those lanes and streets are already part of Ximending. I continued walking along Section 1, Zhongzua Road until I reached Chengdu Road. There, I found 2 exits of Ximen Station. I also found the streets towards Ximen Walker. Around the corner, there are historical structures nearby. I felt good as I looked for my half day as another opportunity to see new places.

Ximending Pedestrian Area – The First and Largest Pedestrian Area in Taiwan

At first, I was not sure where to start my walk. I was contemplating if I will go through the historical structures route or walk in the shopping streets. Then, I decided to walk first in Ximen Walker where the famous shopping streets are located. While walking in the streets inside Ximen Walker, I was confused on the street names as I found common names even though I crossed another street, so in overall, I knew that I was walking in Hanzhong and WaChung Streets. While walking in the area, I was fascinated for things that I had seen. I can see the colorful streets with lanes developed and designed to make the market streets more appealing to the visitors and tourist alike regardless of age. I enjoyed my walk in Ximending while taking souvenir photos of the streets.










Taipei or let’s say Taiwan is famous for its Night Market. I think it’s one of the countries that I found out to have a lot of Night Market. In Taipei alone, the city seems to be surrounded by Night Markets which I think is great so that people will be subdivided and distributed which strategic for one market place not to be too crowded.

Historical Sites

When I was done walking in shopping street area, with the map in my hand and with my phone, I used Google directions for my next destination, I was looking for historical sites or building near or around Ximending and found some of it.

[Bangka] Qingshui  (Chingshui) Temple

The first structure that I searched for was Bangka Qingshui (Chingshui) Temple, I had a hard time to find the temple from where I was coming from. At that time, I was walking along Chansha Street. And it was not immediately noticeable to see the temple coming from that road  because it was a side of the temple that can be seen. I bravely walk inside the temple and I just saw few people around. I took some snapshots as my souvenir though I was not sure if it’s just alright to take photos inside the temple. I tried to check if I can read something within the temple but all the scripts that I saw were written in Chinese characters (that was the time my frustration arise, because I wanted to read something and understand something but the language become a barrier for me).


One thing to note that I learned about this temple, it is a 3rd grade municipal heritage site and said to currently hanging a plaque with inscription “Go Zi Zheng Ji” which presented by Guangxu Emperor and one of the few imperial plaques to be seen in Taipei City.

The temple design is considered to be the best of the mid-Qing style and artistic standards in Taiwan.




Red House Theater – The Most Iconic Building in Ximending

The building served as market place at first and become a multi-functional cultural centre with regular live performances and exhibitions.

When I reached Red House Theater, I felt a bit of sadness because its main and popular part of the building was currently under renovations. I can’t see its famous octagonal shape structure which known to the world because it’s covered of plastic with the same look of the building. But even that was the case the other part of the building is open.

Before I walked to the crucifix shape part of the building I saw volunteer guides. And I approached them because I knew I can converse with them in English. They were two young lad and lass student and we discussed about the building and a bit of its history. I had a great time talking with them. After sometime, we ended the friendly discussion and we bid our goodbyes to each other.

I walked towards the other part of the building which is currently being used as market place for variety of cultural and art products. I roam around the crucifix shape portion of Red House and I had a look what’s inside from the ground floor up to the second level of the building. Its entertaining to have a peek whats in the store because various products are being showcase in the historic building.





The Red House was my last itinerary in Ximending before I moved to central part of Wanhua district which will be described in the second part post. Until then.




Travel Diary 101 : Flight Bound to Taiwan

Today is my flight bound to Taipei I decided to work from home to avoid too much traffic from the city since its Friday and to give me a chance to prepare my stuff as I am avoiding to miss anything in my backpack. While I am packing, I’m still working, monitoring all incoming emails from time to time. I am lucky as not much work for me today since it’s just few days after New Year, most people at work has still hangover from recent major holidays. It is a quiet day for my work life which is great.

I left home 5 hours before my scheduled flight. I traveled at least 1.5 hours from home to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, to Terminal 3 to be exact. I withdrawn few cash to pay for my travel tax. There are self check-in kiosk available at the front of Air Asia counter, which is my airline for my travel. I felt at ease at first since I don’t have luggage to checked-in. After checked-in at the kiosk, I got my boarding pass from the machine, but when I checked the boarding pass printed, I saw that there is travel document verification mark on it and instructing to go to document verification counter. I inquired in one counter of Air Asia about it, I was advised the travel document verification is the same as checked-in counters. This means the self checked-in I did earlier in their kiosk is useless because I have to queue in the long line too. I wondered why they put those self checked-in kiosk, when they cannot provide a counter that only checks travel documents. It’s one of the disappointments that I experienced today.

I queued more than 1.5 hours just for travel document verification. When its my turn, I only spent around 5 to 10 mins. I was advised for the gate for my flight and instructed that the next step is immigration. If there was separate counters for verification check, the 1.5 hours may have been spent to other things than queuing and waiting, but that is reality of life when dealing with budget airlines.

I went to the immigration gate and passed easily without questions. Then, I passed the last scanner and I walked straight to the gate for my flight. One hour to go before my flight and I thought all will be good and then, as we approached the time of the flight schedule, there was announcement that the plane is being serviced and therefore the flight will be delayed for at least 40 minutes. Like other passenger, I can’t do much about it but to wait.

Next announcement was past quarter of 11 PM that night and they mentioned that we will be boarding soon. Then after few minutes, boarding the plane has been started. The plane took off past 12 AM in the morning. Estimated time to arrive Taipei was almost 3 AM, 2 hours delayed than scheduled time.

The usual experience inside the plane happened, the flight crew checks everything, demonstrated safety procedures and evacuation process during emergency. Then, the plane took off, after we were stabilized in the air, the crew started to do their chores, since I booked my flight with food, they served the food to the people who ordered it prior to the flight. I know that we cannot expect too much quality of the service in a budget airlines, because customer service comes with a price nowadays. That’s why I have to order my food together with my booking so that I can take advantage of serving the food at the earliest. Ordering food on the spot while inside the plane, can be daunting, as most of the time, your order will take sometime and if unlucky, the food you wanted to order is not available anymore.

My food served at the earliest and I ate and finished early, while the other crew still serving the other passengers. Because the flight was not too long, I just closed my eyes and took a nap. When I woke-up, the crew announced to prepare for landing to Taoyuan International Airport and I knew that in a matter of few minutes, I will be in Taipei,  Taiwan, new city and new country for me. Until then


Written this diary last January 6-7, 2017.
Updated, June 8, 2017