Singapore is a pretty common destination for us. We’ve been going there since, well, forever as we have relatives there. We decided to stop by for a few days to visit as we were close by. Plus the flights from Bali were £5… So no excuse not to right!
And it was nice to have something familiar for a few days. Months of turning up somewhere new every few days can take it’s toll so it was a nice change of pace to go to somewhere we knew and to see familiar faces.
Now because we go quite often we don’t do much of the tourist things. We’re pretty limited to shopping on Orchard Rd and going out for food wherever our family and friends take us!
That being said we did manage a trip up to the bar in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (that’s the hotel/ casino/ shopping centre with a boat on top) one evening which had spectacular views over the city. I’d have loved to dip into the infinity pool up there but it’s for guests only! Perhaps a reason to splurge on a room next time I’m there…
We had some fab food: Tim Ho Wan for dim sum (more on that in Hong Kong…) and Imperial Treasure Peking Duck in Paragon as well as an interesting Japanese grill (you cook your food on a charcoal grill at your table) and some yummy seafood. Basically all food in Singapore is good. These are a people who know how to eat and enjoy it!
We’d spent some time with our Singaporean cousin talking about Taiwan as it’s a favourite holiday destination of hers and got some tips and maps for places to go, where to eat etc. of course it would’ve been more helpful if we could read Mandarin since none of the signs/ restaurants were in English…
Now feeling slightly concerned, we flew to Taipei!
We spent a few days in Taipei just exploring the city. We stayed in a budget serviced apartment type place near the Shilin night market and wer very happy there (AM 6 apartments). Just be aware that it can be difficult to find! We had taken a bus from the airport to the city ($140TWD with City Flyer) and jumped in a cab to Shilin. It did take a while (and the help of several people) to find the place but we did! Taxis are pretty cheap in Taiwan so don’t fear if you need to hop in one, though obviously the MRT is much cheaper.
The Taiwanese people are genuinely really nice and very helpful, even if their English isn’t great they’ll always keep trying to communicate and work it out. It’s lovely! As an example, after we found our place we had to wait for someone to let us in and whilst we were waiting, our taxi driver came back to check we were ok! So cute!
Getting around the city is easy on the MRT for non Chinese readers/ speakers- everything is also written and said in English! Very helpful for the tourists. The MRT system is meant to be one of the best in the world and we found it to be very easy to use, organise, clean- all things you want. You can get day passes or 24 hour passes depending on what you need and can include buses and even the Mao Kong gondola for an additional price. If you’re not doing too many trips though, like us, single fares are very cheap and easy to buy from machines.
We managed to cover a lot of ground in those first couple of days… The Shilin night market (of course),Tam Sui, Ximending, Taipei 101, the Jianguo Holiday weekend flower and jade markets and the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall. We really tried to cram in as much as we could.
Tam Sui was lovely- it’s a cute little seaside town (very Southend or Blackpool-like but back in the day), filled with little food stalls, old school arcade games and the like. We spent half a day just wandering around sampling the goods before heading to Ximending.
Ximending seemed crazy! Rammed full of youngsters shopping and, well, doing whatever it is youngsters do these days, the streets filled with shops upon shops upon cinemas… We got caught out in a sudden rainstorm there which led to a nice photo opportunity.
Our evenings were mostly spent in the Shilin night market which I loved, not least because we were basically staying in the middle of it! The market is part food, part clothes, part general meeting place. It’s really vibrant. We tried lots of the food including the oyster omelette (yummy!) and the teppenyaki (yummier!) all for very cheap prices. We would spend maybe £2 on dinner together.
Taiwan loves all things cute which probably led to this creation…
Yep, that’s a candy floss rubber duckie. With googly eyes! It’s some of the best duck I’ve ever eaten! Hehe. ($80 from the night market).
Oh and the bubble tea!! Bubble tea originates from Taiwan so I expected good things from the tea here! And it was pretty good- some teas are acquired tastes though and perhaps a bit odd to my taste buds… We tried lots of different shops and the tea was different in each so it’s worth trying a few to find your favourite!
Also, if you’ve not been to one before, go to Din Tai Fung for xiao long bao (soup and meat filled dumplings). This restaurant chain is all over Southeast Asia and even Australia but has yet to make it to the UK (what a shame!). It is a Taiwanese chain and man, the food is fantastic! We ate there twice- once at Taipei 101 and once at Sogo… The queues are a bit long- we waited about an hour each time but waits can be up to two hours- but I think the food really makes up for it! And the tea! The Chinese tea which is offered for free is perfectly brewed. My mouth is watering just remembering that place… Mmmmmmm!