Days before my trip to Taiwan with my wife and daughter; I was cracking my head on which lens to bring for this 9 days trip. On my daughter’s front; she is also cracking her head on which 2 precious stuff toys she is allowed to bring along to Taiwan. I am the type of photographer; that will hate myself if I don’t have the right lens when its needed. At the same time; I can’t possibly bring all. So my final decision; the Fuji XT-1 with 4 lenses. 10-24mm, 23mm, 56mm and 55-200mm. All this gears into a Billlingham Hadley shoulder bag plus space for 2 diapers, wet wipes, candy, 4 magic pens and 3 sheets of papers for Summer to draw when needed.
We arrived at about 730pm at Madison Taipei Hotel after slightly more then 4 hours flight from Singapore. As we were checking in; to my horror, I realized I left one small luggage at the taxi stand at the airport! Inside the luggage there is one laptop and 2 lenses! The wonderful hotel staff, Irene Fang; is the person to look for when one have a dire situation to handle. She called the airport staff to trace for my lost luggage and arrange the hotel’s regular taxi to drive there to collect the luggage back. What a way to start my holiday! When all the dust is settled down, Irene leads us to our hotel room; which is on level 12. She surprises us with a room upgrade! Suddenly I feel my holiday is really starting! A beautiful one.
Breakfast was good and the waitress even gave summer a silicon paper and makers to color on it. After breakfast, we headed to BabyBoss. Its a roll play theme park for kids above 3 years old. Pilots, bakers, chefs, make-up artist, builders, farmers, dentist, etc. And we are out in 15 minutes because Summer is doesn’t want to go into any of the classes. Parents can’t go in with their kids and Summer want us in. This is one fast way to spend SG$60.
Next pitstop, Song Shan Culture and Creative Park. Its about 20 minutes stroll from Babyboss. If fine arts is up your alley; this is the place for you. Art exhibition, gallery, cool cafes and for shopaholic even designer products to cool apparels to buy.
In the evening we headed to the streets behind our hotel. A quaint “village” with traditional restaurant to modern cafe. Kindergarten to Art Gallery. There is even a Ping Pong school. We settled on a neighborhood Chinese restaurant recommended by the Irene Fang. We ordered a plate of fried rice and their “famous” fried bee hoon. Summer ate the some fried rice and we try to force feed her the bee hoon with zero success. All this for less then SG$6 plus a pot of Chinese tea. Good value indeed.
Morning of day 4 at 530am, I took a taxi to conquer Elephant Mountain. Its one of the top choice by Tripadvisor for the best view of Taipei. The climb up the stairs is pretty easy with some part rather steep. It took a unfit photographer like myself 30 minutes to reach the top with at least 6 stops! The view are at top is beautiful with Taipei 101 towering above the rest. A must for anyone visiting Taipei.
By 12 noon we headed to the ever busy Taipei Railway Station to catch the High Speed Rail (HSR) to Taichung. Its a 50 minutes bullet train ride and another 30 minutes to reach Reddot Hotel. When we first arrival, the lobby area feels like a funky school’s playground. There are many cool art installation; the main attraction is the chrome slide that start on level 2 to the lobby. Both adults and kids are welcome to slide down.
The elevator was another delightful experience; the floor is filled with LED lights. Taking a lift have never been so colorful. Once we got into the room, Summer can’t wait to jump into the big bathtub. There were many small details that make this room special. I wish the ceiling were a little higher though. Another thing to take note; there are no restaurant in this hotel; other then for breakfast. As we are tired from the journey; so its cup noodles time in the room. As for Summer its pack rice with bonito flakes!
I AM MISS WINKY.
After a late afternoon nap; we headed to the Feng Jia night market. Supposedly to be the biggest in Taiwan. A must go attraction when you are in Taichung. Searching for a place to dine is not as easy as there are so many diners to choose from. We finally settle for a small Teppanyaki cafe with a sitting capacity of maybe 20 pax. Cod fish, beef, chicken and vegetables ; all for about SG$20 for 2 person. At the night market; Summer was very happy spending time buying her hairbands, hair clips and even a pair of specks. She is a complete happy girl that night; especially after having her bubble milk tea drink.
FENG JIA NIGHT MARKET, TAICHUNG.
The next day our journey by taxi from Taichung to Flying Cow Ranch is about an hour and fifteen minutes. As it was sunday; there is quite a bit of crowd when we arrived. Its nice to see families having picnic on the green pasture, kids running around, kite flying. And the most popular activities, blowing bubbles. We requested we have the same garden cottage like last year when we were there. Flying Cow Ranch is a self contain ranch with 4 dining establishment. A western cafe that serve pasta and steak. fast food joint, Chinese food cafe and a hot-pot restaurant.
The next morning after a no-frills breakfast we headed to the farm area. Which is about a 20 minutes stroll pass the lovely rolling hills and a small pond. Here we see the local residents; goats, cows, sheep, ponies, ducks, ducklings and rabbits. Summer’s favorite pastime there is feeding the ducklings and rabbits. I would recommend a maximum of 2 days stay at the ranch.
OUR MESSY COTTAGE. The ride back to Taipei starts with a 50 mins taxi ride to Hsinchu HSR and a 30 minutes HSR to Taipei. Our home for the next 3 days is Amba, it a trendy boutique hotel in Taipei’s trendy Ximending shopping and dining district. That evening we had dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant near Red House. Its a treat from our Taiwanese friends.
Now that I am back in Singapore; did I bring too many lenses? What do you think? During my daytime travel I will put all 4 lenses in the bag. Basically the default lens will be the 23mm on the XT-1 and sometimes 10-24mm. During the evening I will lighten up; keeping the 10-24mm as default lens and 56mm in the bag. Leaving the 23mm and 55-200mm back in the hotel.