Saturday, 17 September 2011

Next visit to Taiwan

On thursday Oct 20 i shall be returning to Taiwan, this time im flying from Heathrow with China Airlines direct to Taipei, i got a good price on skyscanner as the flights from Humberside were a bit pricey unless i wanted to change at some airport on mainland China, which i didnt really fancy after taking a connection in Xiamen in july, where transit passengers were not really catered for.The flight is about 14 hours its a long stint but theres no stops so thats a real bonus.   We are planning a few days in Hualien and Taroko National Park and a couple of nights in Keelung City so there will be plenty of pics and videos to come.  We are also planning to do a few shopping sorties in and around Taipei, ive got some plans to stay over there a bit longer next year, maybe take advantage of the 90 day visa exempt entry which i receive as a UK national. So im really looking forward to what will be my third trip to Taiwan in a year, hopefully it will be a bit drier than my last visit in july.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A rainy day in Zhongli

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One of the many rainy days on this trip, the street is just along from Selina's apartment in Zhongli.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Danshui and Shilin 2011

The weather did not improve much after the trip to the Sun moon lake everyday was much the same, bright and sunny in the morning then torrential downpours and thunderstorms in the afternoon, most of our plans were spoilt by the weather so we tended not to venture too far. Near to the end of my stay we decided to revisit a couple of places i particularly enjoyed on my first trip namely Danshui and the Shilin night market, it was still raining but not as much as previous days, the MRT was packed full of daytrippers all heading to Danshui or so it seemed taking advantage of a slight break in the weather. Danshui is always a popular destination its a really pleasant walk along the front and so much reminds me of seaside resorts back home. Selina wanted some special cookies she can only buy there from one particular stall it took a while to find but eventually we did and she was happy. After a coffee and ice cream we headed back toward the city stopping off at Shilin for the night narket. I wanted to eat some more of that famous fried chicken and we had arrived there early enough before the long queues had started to form. We wandered around the market for an hour before it got too busy as we still had to get the train back to Zhongli.

Monday, 12 September 2011

More from the Sun Moon Lake

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If you ever visit Taiwan you must make the Sun Moon Lake part of your itinery its an absolutely beautiful place so peaceful and relaxing its much less humid and the air is cooler. There are many footpaths around the edge of the lake and in the summer the noise from the crickets is defeaning ive never heard a sound like it, i managed to take a snippet of video as we were walking through the trees which i will post. The lake itself is shaped like the sun and a crescent moon hence its name and the water is a blue green colour. We took our free boat ride across to the village of Shuelli where you can take the cable car up the mountain, if you dont like heights dont go on the cable car but i thought it was brilliant ive got lots of footage of the cable car ride but its on Selina's phone in Taiwan when im back over there next month ill post some more photos.  On the tuesday evening we walked to the other village called Shuewze and had a meal in the local restaurant where you can eat such delicasies like stewed pork intestine, wild boar steaks and taiwanese wild chicken, i had the chicken and it was absolutely delicious, much better than the night before when we ate in the hotel using up our dinner voucher, the meal was a mixture of chinese and japanese dishes i have to say i didnt particularly enjoy. However the breakfasts were really nice you could choose between a traditional chinese breakfast and western style buffet, plenty of toast bacon hot dog type sausages, boiled eggs, cheese, scrambled egg and even chips one morning. If you are a drinker you may not like this hotel as there was no bar, that didnt bother me as im not a typical beer swilling Brit but if you wanted a drink you could get a beer at the 7-11 in the village. I will certainly be returning to the Sun Moon lake scenic area at some time in the future i felt we should have stayed there longer and if you like fishing you can sit there all day to your hearts content like some locals did we saw day and night.

Sun Moon Lake

We didnt do much on the sunday just had a look around Zhongli, Selina's new home,she had moved from Nankan to here after the disaster at Humberside Airport a month earlier. On the monday morning we set out to Taichung City en route to the Sun Moon Lake. The journey by bus took 2 hours to Taichung which apparently is Taiwan's second largest city. The heavens opened as we arrived and we had time for lunch before getting the next bus to the lake. All the buses seemed to stop directly opposite the railway station and the Nantou Tour buses go from the same stop so that made life simpler. The next leg of the journey takes around 90 mins with a stop at Taichung HRT from there we made our way to the mountains through a series of tunnels then onto the lake, the bus stop was directly opposite the hotel but we had to shelter there a few minutes as it was absolutely bucketing it down. We were staying at the Miracolo View Hotel Selina had decided we deserved a couple of nights of luxury and booked us a top class hotel, we were right on the lake edge and the views when it wasnt raining were magnificent. Our room was very spacious with a bar, tea and coffee making facilities,cable tv, wifi, a shower and jacuzzi. The 2 nights cost us 9000TWD   which included breakfast a dinner voucher for one night a free boat ride across the lake , free bus travel around the lake, free hire of cycles which never got round to using because the weather was too bad in the afternoons and a free ride on a cable car which i really liked but Selina wasnt too keen on haha.                                                                                                                                                           

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Off to Taiwan again

July 9 2011 i set off again to Taiwan from my local airport Humberside.  I was stood waiting at the check in desk when this guy tapped me on the shoulder and informed me i was the subject of a random security check and wanted to check the contents of my suitcase, absolutely splendid after the disappointment of Selina being sent back a month earlier my first thoughts were "have they been waiting for me", anyway i hoped they were disappointed that they found nothing untoward in my case, i preceeded to the departure lounge to wait. The route this time was Humberside to Amsterdam to Hong Kong to Taipei with KLM and Cathay Pacific last year i did Humberside to Amsterdam to Bangkok to Taipei, all i had to do was pick up my boarding pass at Hong Kong for the last leg of the journey. It was the first time i had travelled with multiple airlines so unless the airlines are linked together you dont get your boarding passes all the way through, i made sure my bag was checked all the way through to Taipei which saved me some unnecessary stress at Hong Kong. I have to say the organisation at Hong Kong was absolutely first class, when i arrived and walked to the concourse i noticed my name up on a board with the check in desk number i had to report to, that took all the sting out of wondering where to go, i collected my boarding pass found my gate and waited. The airport at Hong Kong was superb i certainly would have no hesitation connecting here again.  I arrived in Taipei around 1730pm local time whizzed through immigration collected my bag and met Selina who had just arrived, i was back in Taiwan, we were going to get the bus to Zhongli but there was an hour wait so a taxi it was 600TWD about £12 and just over half an hour later we arrived at her new apartment.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Wonderful British Immigration

My second visit to Taiwan in july this year was an unexpected one, my friend Selina was due to come over to the UK for 3 months in june but due to our ever vigilant immigration service her visit never happened. Taiwan Nationals are allowed to visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa as they are considered to be a low migration risk so we thought we would take advantage of this. Let me say this now im not a dishonest person i didnt want to break any rules, i didnt want any problems arising for the future, but looking back at what happened at Humberside Airport on june 9 i wished i had lied and told them a load of bull, maybe because Humberside is not a busy airport, maybe because the immigration officers there have nothing better to do i dont know, but they subjected Selina to a 2 hour interrogation without an interpreter. Her english is ok but nowhere near good enough to get through an intense interrogation without getting confused and unsure of what to say. They came through to see me 3 times to ask me various questions, they said she lied twice, they believed she had a job here and they didnt believe she was going back even though she had a return ticket, apparently in their eyes anybody can pay an extra £200 for a return ticket but have no intention to use it, the truth was she had come to visit me and stay at my house and we were going to look around for a job for her but if we didnt find one it was no big deal she had to go back to Taiwan anyway because she would need to apply for a work permit in her own country before she could come back to the UK. It was an idea that went horribly wrong and its cost us both a fair amount of money in the short term. Maybe we were just naive thinking that honesty was the best policy but in hindsight we should have just lied. Theres alot more to it which i wont go into now but it just makes me laugh at our wonderful immigration service who have let countless thousands of illegals into our country they have no record of people leaving the country and for me they target the wrong people, why give the Taiwanese 6 months in the first place??? Selina had already been here once before albeit only for a short time yet they didnt seem to even know that, i just said why dont you look at her bloody passport and see the stamps.  Anyway the upshot of all that was i went back to Taiwan on July 9 for 11 nights nowhere long enough but it was a hastily arranged visit and in my next posts ill tell you all about it.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Danshui

Danshui the nearly but not quite a seaside resort situated to the north of  Taipei on the mouth of the Tamsui River. Danshui is a great place to go and watch the sunset and attracts many visitors from Taipei. Unfortunately on the day i visited it was a little too cloudy to see a proper sunset but i certainly thought it was an enjoyable place to visit as it reminded me of a seaside town in the north of england with its stalls, arcades and sea front.You can also take a ferry across the mouth of the estuary for a few dollars. As you get off the MRT and turn left out the station walk past the Starbucks and up the street where are all the street vendors are, the aroma of all the different types of cooking was so strong as i walked up the narrow lane.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Wulai

Take the MRT to Xindian then get the bus up to Wulai it only costs 40TWD less than a quid. The mountain town of Wulai where you can get a hot spring. I liked Wulai most of the town was built on one side of the river thats where all the shops were and the touristy bits, then if you crossed the bridge you can either get the mini railway or walk to the waterfall area.  Everywhere advertised the hot spring i never had one but one day ill go back and have one probably in a hotel, i didnt fancy going into somebodys house and in their private bathroom. After walking back from the waterfall area i sampled some wild boar freshly grilled and bought some rice wine.