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Mirador Hotel -> Kaohsiung - Taipei HSR (High Speed Rail) -> Neijiang Hotel -> Xi Men Ding -> National Palace Museum (故宫) -> Five dime Restaurant (五角船板) -> Miramar Entertainment Park -> Shilin Night Market
It's our final day at Kaohsiung and Mirador Hotel. The weather was fine, rather sunny unlike the rainy day that we experienced for the whole of yesterday. We decided to have a little change for our second and last breakfast at Mirador Hotel, by ordering the Chinese Cuisine. In all, there's 4 different varieties to choose from : Western, Chinese, Vegetarian and 蛋奶 (in which i am not quite sure whats served). Western constitue of mainly french toast. We had 4 sets of chinese cuisine, and its considered a wide spread of food for breakfast. There's croissant bread for self service too!

Chinese Cuisine breakfast @ Mirador Hotel
As much as we missed the hotel facilities and decorations,  we had to drag our luggages out and head for Zuoying HSR station. We had a final view of the hotel and headed out to flag for a cab.
hotel lift at second storey
yes, a sofa in the lift!

our room for the two days in Kaohsiung!
Guest area @ lobby

Reception area
look out for this if you are finding Mirador Hotel!
The hotel staff was friendly and helpful. When we told them about our difficulty in finding a cab that can accomodate our two big luggages and 1 hand-carry, the lady immediately called for cab at no extra charge. In about 6 minutes, the cab hired arrived!

Overall we give a rating of 4 out of 5 for Mirador Hotel! It's cheap and located conveniently!

Mirador Hotel namecard

We reached HSR station at 9am, and the boarding gate opens at around 9.10am.
HSR Zuoying Station
Kaohsiung HSR station
0126 HSR departing for Taipei !
Armed with our tickets, we headed for the boarding gate @ Zuo ying HSR station.
HSR tickets bought from 7eleven

railway @ Kaohsiung HSR
The seats were not fully filled as compared to the TRA which we took in Hualien.
Similar to Hualien TRA, the train departed punctually at 9.30am. It pick up speed and soon the grasses/fields that you see become a 'blur'. Not to the extent, but alright, its different from seeing the view outside when you are taking the MRT.

Inner view of HSR. 
Of course, there's no in-train entertainment. But there's a foldable table to place your laptop/food/...
We bought 董师傅痳署:花生&芝麻 flavours yesterday at approx NT160 for 8. It was freshly made when we bought it and were advised to consume it within the following night of the purchase.
Overall, we prefer this to 曾记痳署 @ Hualien as this has more fillings and the dough skin is less thick than 曾记痳署. It's around the same price or even cheaper than 曾记痳署 non-promotional price.

Travelling at the speed of 285km/hr, we sped pass from the South of Taiwan to the North. HSR passed by Taichung and Ban Qiao Stations. With passengers alighting and boarding, but this just took a quick 5 minutes at most and off the train towards its final destination!

HSR @ 285km/hr!
After reaching at Ban Qiao station, in 5 minutes time we arrived at Taipei Main Station.
Taipei Main Station
Taipei Main Station consist of its MRT/Bus interchange/HSR. Practically an interchange.The cabby at our later trip told us that in two years time, there might be MRT line directly linking Taipei Main Station and Taoyuan International Airport!

HSR fare table

We can actually purchase HSR tickets online in advance and enjoy cost savings!For example a trip from Zuoying(Kaohsiung) to Taipei cost NT1490/pax but if you buy in advance, there's an early bird price of NT1340! In another words, if my family had known earlier and booked online, we would have saved NT600 (about SGD26)! How wasted!
Anyway, if you worrying about any sudden change to your trip timing,fret not, you can still purchase the tickets at the main counter with an additional top-up cash to the Standard HSR fare.

Prior to leaving the train station for our accomodation, we passed by the HSR bento store. This appeared to be our last and first time having a taste of 铁路便当 throughout our 10D9N trip. The queue was long and halfway through the cashier informed us that there's only vegetarian set left. A few dropped out of the queue. Perhaps it has past Taipei's lunch hour (12+pm) hence not a lot of bento sets left.

HSR 铁路便当 store
The four of us shared two vegetarian sets @ NT80/each. It's not the cheapest bento set sold in the store.
HSR 素食铁路便当
Honestly, it wasn't up to our expectation. The taste was manageable but not exactly fabulous. We are not sure if it's because the meal is Vegetarian or whether its because the more 'genuine' 铁路便当 is usually sold at TRA stations instead of HSR, hence the disappointment.

Main entrance of HSR
We then exited from this door and crossed the road to flag a cab to our hotel : Neijiang @ Ximending. Prior to this we actually went to the underground Taxi stand at the Train station however the drivers seem quite inflexible. As we were not able to cramp into a four seater taxi as our luggages were not able to be packed into the car  boot of some of the taxis. Hence we requested for the bigger taxi (6 seater) which was the 10th taxi in the queue. Maybe its cause of the culture in Taipei or due to personal reasons, the driver asked us to board the first cab or we can just sit in his taxi and wait till the 9 taxis in front of him is cleared. But that would surely take up a lot of time! This incident leave a little bad impression of Taipei locals in our mind.

The flow of the taxi opposite of the main entrance is fast, hence we were able to board a cab that have no problem accomodating our luggages. Soon we reached Neijiang Hotel @ Ximending, at 1+pm.

Neijiang Hotel.
we stayed at the second floor overlooking the road! As it wasnt the check-in time and there's no vacant room as told me the receptionist, we deposited our luggage with them. They tied them and even casted a net over ours and the other travellers luggage.

We then went for a short tour around 西门町 to try the famous 阿宗面线!

There's no franchise for 阿宗面线! So if you want to have a taste of this highly popular noodles as recommended online, you have to come it's ximending store!

Theres no oysters but intestines. Overall its delicious but we suspect its due to the over added MSG. The taste lingers in our mouth for almost the whole day. We wont recommend this to people who prefer bland stuff though.

stools outside for seating
青蛙下蛋 is a store that sells dessert like 爱玉冰.It attained quite high ratings on Taiwan tourism webs.But a pity, our procrastination prevented us from  trying it.

A short tour around Xi Men Ding in search of clothes and we came by quite a few shops selling affordable yet trendy shoes at NT190 ( around SGD8/9) and clothes(dresses too) at NT170. However dont expect too highly about the dresses material. 一分钱一分货yeah?

With the aid of map provided by our hotel receptionist, we reached Neijiang Hotel at 2pm, to check in and prepare for our trip to the National Palace Museum (故宫)!

our room for 2 days!
We paid a total of NT4960 (approx SGD 110/day) for two days, inclusive of breakfast sandwich.

Do draw down the blinds before using the toilet! If not you will be exposed to the streets people, especially when you are staying on the second floor like us!

showering area(not segregated from the toilet bowl. No showering curtains though)

sofa + door

double beds 
The bed is quite spacious, believed to be king size. Certainly bigger than the bed at 明月湖(Sun moon lake).

TV + writing desk
The TV quality is manageable but of course we would still prefer LCD TV, but with the price we are paying for this is definitely reasonable!

We borrowed universal adaptor from them as what we brought wasn't compatible, and we also borrowed internet cable as we couldn't connect to the wireless access. However there's a need to deposit NT 200 with he hotel staff for borrowing of universal adaptor.
We tried connecting using our two iphones and a laptop to their hotel wireless, but all failed despite the signal showing full strength before attempting to connect. Even the cable that they lent to us, could not  register any signal.  Hmm...

We left Neijiang at 2.30pm. Oh, for security reasons guests are required to deposit the room key at the reception counter before heading out. However it appears that guests can just request for their room keys by telling the room number to the counter. no verification needed. Hmm...

We took the public transport (MRT+ bus). We took to Shilin station, then transfer to a bus. There's a few buses alighting at Gu Gong (last stop). One of the buses is red bus R30 (low floor). You can check it out at the board at the bus stop. The bus stop is just a straight walk after coming out of shilin MRT.

Taipei MRT card = 悠游卡
For Singapore travellers intending to go Taipei, can head to the Taiwan Tourism Board @ Raffles Chevron House to obtain your Taipei MRT card. It's free as long as you provide evidence of your air booking confirmation and hotel booking, if not you would need to bear the extra cost of buying the MRT card!
It comes in a nice package as seen below.

Taipei MRT card package obtained from Taiwan Tourism Board @ Singapore

Inner view of Taipei Public transport
Taipei's tapping in and out of cards system is very different from Singapore. The locals generally enter from the back door without tapping, and only tap when they alight at their stop - at the front door. Fee is only deducted when you tap upon alighting! We didnt know about this custom and practiced Singapore's style - tapping when you board and entering through the front door. Luckily the driver was kind enough to let us off (we didnt tap when alighting) when we told him about our negligence as tourists and tapped when boarding.

We reached in about half hr time and we saw quite a number of yellow taxis parading at the entrance of the museum, waiting for potential customers.

National Palace Museum (故宫)
Tickets were given free by Taiwan's Tourism Board (singapore). It would have cost NT160/pax!
For interested visitors to Gugong, do note that they have several promotions regarding the admission ticket. There's free admission during Extended evening hours: Every Saturday from 18:30 to 20:30. And, Starting Jan 1st to Dec. 31st, 2012, guests visiting Exhibition I (Main Building) during off-peak hours (4:30 p.m. ~ 6:30 p.m.) between Mon to Fri (public holidays excluded) will receive 50% discount on NPM's Regular, Group and Discount ticket(s). that means NT80 instead of NT160!
May visit this web for more details about the admission + price + ongoing exhibition details

Small bags/handbags are allowed to be brought in but not backpacks. You will need to deposit your backpacks with their counter and they will give you a token in which you use it to exchange for your belongings after ending your tour at Gugong.

As photography is not allowed within the exhibition areas, hence we did not take any photographs.
and we saw the famous 翠玉白菜. It's entirely cut from jade and according to Gu gong Website, it states that it was originally from 紫禁城的永和宮,永和宮為光緒皇帝妃子瑾妃的寢宮. Its such a great masterpiece, and also we chinese seem to resonate with it. 

There was a lot of people and without guide, we are not quite sure of the stories behind each artefacts making our tour around the exhibitions a little less understanding and mundane at times. There's a lot of Mainland tourists that came from various tour buses, their guides wore a special mike and the tourists under him will receive what he said through a headpiece. This can lessen the noise level within the museum.

We suggest if you have great interest in Chinese history, Gu gong is absolutely the best and must-visit place.
One can actually take a bus of around 30minutes or less at the carpark of Gu gong to Miranmar Entertainment Centre. But as when we reached the bus stop we just missed the bus. The bus is not very frequent, about every 1 hr or a little less. Hence we took a cab and left the place at 5.25pm. We were able to reach five Dime Driftwood Restaurant (Near Miranmar Entertainment Centre) before 6pm though we booked 6pm a week ago. We thought it would be very crowded and popular but turned out, it was quite a big restaurant with a total of (4/5 storeys). We were the first on their reservation list! Perhaps we were early, it was quite empty. We toured around first before settling down for dinner, afterall its famous for its infrastructure. We know of this restaurant through word of mouth. It's a stand alone restaurant serving chinese cuisine and one needs to walk through a path way before entering its restaurant through traditional doors at the second floor.

五角船板 Five Dime Driftwood Restaurant
View from Outside
Inner Infrastructure
Toilet! Quite unique looking though! Doors made of heavy wood
Opening Hours

We ordered 4 dishes. Chinese tea was served too.

Sweet potato Rice (standard) @ NT20/bowl
咸鱼鸡粒豆腐煲 Salted fish and Chicken Tofu (NT360)
宁波(年糕)香辣球 @ NT 360

蜜汁咕噜肉 (Sweet and sour pork) @ NT320

清炒菠菜 Stir-fry spinanch @ NT180
We like the fragrance smell from the steamed rice and also its sweet potato. The tofu and the spinach were not bad. while the Sweet and sour pork tasted average and they seem to use frozen prawns for the prawn ball dish. The dining ambience there is very appropriate for a casual relax dinner.

Our receipt!
Cost there is generally like Singapore's restaurant.
We sincerely applaud the effort the owner placed on this restaurant especially its infrastructure. It's certainly one of its kind. But with the high maintenance cost yet little customers (from what we see on 18/04/2012), we worried for them. According to cabbies, they said that this place is only popular with tourists but not locals though.

We left the place in an hour time as we still have Miranmar Entertainment Centre + 士林夜市 to shop! There's also a standalone Carrefour but as it was raining, we only headed to Miranmar Entertainment Centre. But sadly, to find that its as desolate as Kaohsiung's Dream Mall! Furthermore, it mainly sells branded goods which is of comparable price to singapore's. Thus we didnt venture much into the centre and headed for its shuttle bus to Jian Tan station instead. It's shuttle bus area is near the area selling cinema tickets at level one. The bus is bigger than Dream Mall's shuttle bus - chartered public bus.

The rain is not stopping and the clouds aren't clearing. It's still wet weather. We hesitated about whether to go Shilin Night Market since its raining but decided to just take a quick walk around the place as we do not have time to make a stop over here given our limited night time in Taipei. Oh, do alight at Jian tan station if you want to shop at Shilin Night Market. Do not alight at Shilin station! It would be a long walk!

our first stop @ shilin night market!
Long long queue with some tourist pleading the store owner to provide an express queue for them as their tour is about to leave the night market soon. But luckily for us, unlucky for them, the store owner did not give in to her request. They do not provide cutting service and all 鸡排 are freshly fried. 5 cutlets at a time. It was piping hot and we eventually carried back to our hotel to savour it, slowly. I must say this authentic one is much much better than what's sold in Singapore. It has more meat, and the meat is tastier - not that kind of MSG taste though i wont deny that they didnt put any monosodiumglutamate. And there's bone in their cutlet! very真材实料!It's sold at Nt 55 each.

We went on to shop around and bought some fruits. But a warning to potential travellers, please compare prices with the fruits sold in your hometown before buying them. Fruits at Shilin Night Market is priced unreasonably high. Though they are quite generous with the portions they give for food tasting.

We mostly shop at the sheltered/underground mall newly built since it was raining heavily. The basement level sells food and once you enter there's a strong food + oil smell that leaves your clothing with it. The upper level which is opened though sheltered has a much better ventilation. We bought peanuts candy at Nt150 per pack. Buy five get 1 big pack free. Buy three, get one small pack free.

Peanuts candy at Shilin Night Market
We left at 8.30pm or so. It was 23 degree celsius probably due to the rainy day. Afterall, 清明时节雨纷纷...

Jian Tan Train Station
Inner view of the Train

Look at how orderly Taiwanese are. They adhere to the markings made on the floor and queued up as accordingly and they tend to lean to the right of the escalator. You wont catch Taiwanese occupying both side of the escalator, even if they are a group and chit chatting. Healthy civilised culture nurtured in Taiwan! Praises for them!


Anonymous said...

Hi there

Please advise how much is the cab fare from MIrador Hotel to Zouying HSR Station? Take how long?
Thanks in advance.


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