Taiwan

Lounge Review: Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2 MORE Premium Business Lounge, 27 September 2015 and 07 October 2015

Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE) The More Premium Lounge

Sometimes, Lounge Buddy puzzles me. The MORE Premium Business Lounge gets a 1 star on Lounge Buddy. 1 Star. What were other passengers hoping for?? Caviar?

The MORE Premium Business Lounge is a perfectly decent lounge. They have a decent food offering with about 4 options for hot food: braised pork rice, soups, Taiwanese porridge, and 甜不辣. They also have a selection of steamed buns, and recently added a noodle station. Nothing too exciting or amazing, but would totally do the job. One of my favorite things? Haagen Daaz ice cream. Noodle Station at Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE) The More Premium Lounge

Food at Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE) The More Premium LoungeMORE Business Lounge at Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE)

MORE Business Lounge at Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE)

In terms of seating, apart from the general lobby area seating, they have a number of themed rooms. I don’t think there is a real theme, but some of these private rooms have massage chairs, others have sofas. They also have Xbox Kinects for entertainment, if you have a long layover. When I was there in the early morning and late evening, it was pretty empty, and my dishes were cleared often enough.

On the alcohol front, they offer draught Tsingtao beer, a decent selection of hard liquor – your usual suspects, Bacardi rum, Bombay Sapphire gin, etc. and some wines.

There is also a shower stall. The nice thing about their shower? They provide a towel and amenities. Downside? It is not the cleanest, and they don’t have a hairdryer. I actually prefer the free shower stalls beside the food court.

They have a three-hour rule, so be sure to check your time. MORE Business Lounge at Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE)

Kinect at Taoyuan International Airport T2 (TPE) The More Premium Lounge

Categories: Airport Lounge, Taiwan | Tags: | 2 Comments

Taipei, Taiwan: Taoyuan International Airport Free Showers!!!, 07 May 2015

For me, one of the worst things about these epic trans-Pacific, 24hr-long flights with long transits thrown in, is not being able to take a shower. Thankfully, the Seoul International Airport offers that. But today, I discovered that the Taiyuan International Airport offers it, too. I’m not quite sure when they started this. Judging from the excellent condition of the facilities, I am guessing it’s pretty new.

Where to find it?

After clearing transit security, head towards the food area on the upper concourse. You should see a Burger King and Starbucks. Do not stop there. Look across from there, and you should be able to see a Mosburger yonder. Walk behind the narrow path located beside the fancy Eva Air lounge meant for those privileged ones towards the Mosburger.

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You’ll see this (sorry, blurry pic)

At the bathroom from where this picture is taken, you’ll find two shower stalls:

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The awesome thing?

1. They are free

2. They come with those wall units of shower foam and shampoo.

3. There’s also a hair dryer attached.

4. It involves a rain shower, a shower head, and a tap.

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How it works

After you get in, lock the door. Once you are ready to take a shower, push the red button. It’ll give you 15 mins of hot water. That should be plenty.

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The lowdown?

1. If you didn’t bring a towel, you can buy one from the massage/spa place that you’ll pass by, on your walk from Burger King to here. I just used my shirt to towel off.

Categories: Airport, Taiwan, Travel Tip | Tags: | 7 Comments

Taiwan – Taipei & Taoyuan, 17 October 2012

Today was sorta my day, so I tried to balance fun and work. The night before, I spent time researching about food in Taipei, and stumbled upon this excellent food blog – A Hungry Girl’s Guide to Taipei, and with some luck, she actually reviewed a Mexican place a couple of days before. I have been craving Mexican for the longest time, so I showed up when Juanita Burritos & Tacos opened at 11 am. It looks very much like a Chipotle, and tastes very much like it, too. I was very happy with my soft tacos, and tried their offering of steak, chicken, and carnitas. It was probably a little pricey for Taiwan (8 USD/260 TWD for three tacos and drink), but cravings don’t really have a price. Go check out their Facebook page if you want to learn more. The walk on the alley towards Juanita was also really interesting – there are plenty of cute cafes. I’d really love to check them out in a future visit!

After a snack, I settled down and worked for some two hours. This was followed by another trip to Taroko sports for another round of batting practice. Apart from doing my softball practice, I also tried the 80 kmph baseball cage. Man, that really scared me. I made NO contact, and for the first five pitches, was scared shitless. Really gotta admire baseball players who stand and face 90 mph fastballs! But it was a good experience.

After my little exercise, it was time for more excitement. Last year, I went to a Taiwanese professional baseball game between the Uni Lions and Elephants Brother. This year, I was in time for the Taiwan Series (sorta the Taiwanese version of USA’s World Series) to see the clash between the Uni Lions and the Lamigo Monkeys at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium. It was interesting to see the changes to Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium. For one, they actually built the outfield stands, which I ended up sitting at. Probably not the best idea, given the drizzle. They also added a large TV screen, and I’m not sure if they do it all the time, but they actually had fireworks when the home team (Lamigo Monkeys) hits a home run.

Apart from the infrastructural changes, the atmosphere was also certainly different. The Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium is actually the real home stadium of the Lamigo Monkeys, and a lot of the Lamigo Monkeys’ supporters are from Taipei and Taoyuan. Needless to say, they came out in full force. Almost all the lower infield seats were filled up, and Monkeys fans also peppered the outfield stands. It sure was rowdy!

One of the many alleys in Zhongxiao area

An Alley Scene in Taipei (Zhongxiao E Road area)

Juanita Burrito & Tacos

Juanita Burritos & Tacos

Tacos from Juanita - steak, carnitas, chicken

Mmmm, tacos – steak, chicken and carnitas

Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium from the Outfield Stands

Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium

Taiwan Series 2012 - between Lamigo Monkeys and Uni Lions

Taiwan Series 2012 – Between the Uni Lions and Lamigo Monkeys

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Taiwan – Taipei, 16 October 2012

We got off the cruise at around 5.45 pm, and were met at the port by my dad’s regular taxi driver/friend. It was a quick 30 min ride back to Taipei.

Nothing much to report today, but we did have a really good dinner. We walked to the back alley of our hotel, and went to this place called Du Hsiao Yueh/Slack Season Noodles/度小月, which specializes in Tainanese street food. They even have a little noodle stand in the lobby area of the restaurant, and is pretty cheap. A basic noodle costs about 2 sgd. We all had a noodle each. We also ordered four other dishes – fried oysters, fried cuttlefish, fried shrimp cakes, and a cooked salad with shrimps. This cost us a total of 40 sgd for three people. They were all very tasty – I highly recommend this. I also popped over to the froyo place beside Slack Season Noodles for some dessert.

Du Xiao Yue

Du Xiao Yue – they try to give a 1880s feel at the entrance

Danzi Noodle at Du Xiao Yue

Danzi Noodles

Fried shrimp cake at Du Xiao Yue

 

Fried shrimp cake

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Taiwan – Taipei to Keelung, 14 October 2012

Our cruise was supposed to depart around 5 pm, and we had to be on board by 2 pm. So, I had the whole morning to myself to explore Taipei. Well, I actually do have a mission – find a companion for Red. Some five years ago, I bought a red Mizuno glove from Taipei. While Red is still holding strong and doing real well, I also do want to get a back-up, just in case – genius that I am – lose the glove by accident, or break it or something. I was initially planning on trying to find the old sports shop in Ximending that I bought Red from, to buy a sibling for Red, but as there was free wifi in the hotel, I spent the night googling, and chanced upon something – a sports complex with batting cages, and softball/baseball equipment sold on site.

Say hello to Taroko Sports. They have more than 10 locations across Taiwan, and within Taipei itself, they have three locations. The one most accessible for me was within short walking distance of Jiannan station on the Wenhu line. Just look out for the huge ferris wheel that’s attached to the mall Miramar. Walk towards that mall, take a left, follow the road. As you walk on the road, you should see landmarks like Victoria Hotel and a love motel across the road. (you’re kinda following the metro line)

I was definitely psyched when I arrived. It was everything that it promised to be. They have more than 8 batting cages for baseball, with speeds ranging from 80 kmph to 140 kmph. They also had 5 softball batting cages, and 2 pitching cages. Well, they have a bunch of other sports, like a mini bowling alley, and hoops, and an arcade, but I was just there for the softball. In terms of pricing, it’s slightly cheaper than the US. Their most expensive option was 200 TWD for 6 tokens (~1 USD per token), and each token is good for 20 pitches. If you buy more tokens, the prices come down, and they have various promotions. For instance, they have a ladies Wednesday, whereby girls get twice as many tokens. Through a remarkable design, they were able to pack all these into a fairly small area. You won’t get to see your ball fly much, but hey, you’re getting some practice, no?

After some fun in the cages, I headed towards their shop, which was within the premise of the sports complex. Service was amazing, and they had a huge range of gloves. I’d guess they had more than 100 different gloves from 6 different brands. As part of my secret plan is to slowly collect the colours of the rainbow for my fielding gloves, I ended up with a blue one. It’s also serendipitous that it was the best fit amongst the different gloves! So, hello Blue!

After my little morning exercise, I met my parents for lunch at Sweet Dynasty, a Hong Kong dessert/food place that has made in-roads into the Taiwanese culinary world. Previously, they were on the same side of the street of San Want Hotel, but looks like business has been brisk. They have since then moved across the street to much larger premises, just above Zara. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I had one of their famous beancurds, but with walnut paste option. Try a bucket if you have enough fellow diners to share with you!

Post-lunch, we took a half hour cab ride from Taipei to Keelung. Not much to report, as we very quickly boarded the Superstar Aquarius. We had a good three hour before the boat’s departure, so I glanced around Keelung. The warehouses looked pretty old school. I can almost imagine them being in black and white photos!

Taroko Sports

Taroko Sports at Jiannan

Batting cage at Taroko Sports

Softball batting cages

Beancurd with walnut paste

Beancurd with Walnut Paste at Sweet Dynasty [糖朝]

Keelung Harbor

Keelung Harbor

Stateroom with Window on Superstar Aquarius

Oceanview Stateroom with Window on Superstar Aquarius

Categories: Activities, Cruise, Taiwan | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Singapore to Taipei, 13 October 2012

Not much happening today, as it was a travel day. But this must be the most fancy travel day I ever had. As the cost of an economy ticket, and an economy deluxe ticket was the same on Eva Air, we upgraded to business class. The sweetness started with the check-in. We went to the premier check-in, which was completely separate from the general area. After checking in, there was a separate entrance to the immigration area, after which, we went to the business class lounge, where they had food, drinks, and massage chairs for you to wait around before going to the boarding area.

The chairs were pretty sweet, and as it wasn’t a particularly high season, there were lots of empty seats, including the one beside mine. The chair actually flattens out fully, though at an angle of sorts. After lunch, I took a 1.5 hr nap on the chair/bed, and woke up with none of the aches associated with awkward sleeping postures on planes. They also served our lunch on proper dinnerware, so I guess that’s kinda nice? The main was rather forgettable, but the appetizer, and the dessert was good. Kinda wish I actually had that kind of moolah to fly business from Singapore to Seattle. That would definitely make the journey way more bearable.

Also, for once, I was by the window seat that was not by the wing. So, I managed to get some nice aerial shots of Taiwan, which really captured the diversity of its landscape.

By the time we got to Taipei city, it was 7.30 pm, so there was nothing left to do, except have dinner. My dad and his Taiwanese friends like this Teppanyaki Restaurant, Xinlin/信林 at No. 147 sec. 1 Ta-An road, Taipei. It is a short walk from Zhongxiao Fuxing metro. Not sure about the price, but the portions are big for Teppanyaki, and it tastes good, too.

We stayed at San Want Hotel again, which is just above the Zhongxiao Dunhua metro. It is somewhat pricey, but has a really good location. There are online deals that are more than half off the rack rate, so shop around.

Eva Air Business Class

Eva Air Business Class

Dessert on Eva Air

Dessert on Eva Air Business Class

Aerial picture of Taiwan coast to mountain

 

Aerial shot of Taiwan from coast to mountain at sunset

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Itinerary: Taiwan and Japan, 13-18 October 2012

13 October: Taipei, Taiwan

14 October: Taipei/Keelung, Taiwan (board Superstar Virgo)

15 October: Ishigaki, Japan

16 October: Naha, Japan

17 October: Keelung/Taipei, Taiwan (I have some plans to go watch the Taiwan series [baseball], but I’m not sure if it’ll work out)

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Taiwan to Hongkong – Kaohsiung to Hong Kong, 29 August 2011

Another travelling day – we moved from Kaohsiung to Hong Kong. What was uneventful travel turned out to be more exciting – we had to keep up to date with the weather report, as a typhoon was coming to this part. Our flight was delayed for two hours, but we were informed in time, so we arrived in the airport in time for our flight. Although we got there in time, there was another delay, as the plane coming to pick us up couldn’t land. The typhoon that was coming was starting with bring with it strong winds and an insane amount of rain. The Taiwanese were certainly prepared – they took down all the signage hanging at the airport, and changed the automatic doors to create air traps. It was quite an experience for me, waiting it from the safety of the Kaohsiung Airport.

In Hong Kong, we stayed at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mongkok, Kowloon. It is located beside a huge mall, Grand Century Place, and inside Grand Century Place, is the Mongkok East MTR station. A 15-min walk will bring you to Mongkok MTR station, and there is also a bus transit centre in Grand Century Place, making Royal Plaza Hotel very convenient. The rooms were average, but there was a nice little sitting area that was like a balcony, and the views were decent. Mainly a residential area.

The gym was a little smaller, and had about four, up-to-date treadmills, two stepmasters, and about the same number of stationery bikes as treadmills. They also had a couple of weights machines, and a decent-sized swimming pool.

We had dinner at a Teochew place on the 7th floor of Grand Century Place. It was cheap, but also very forgettable. Thankfully, dessert made up for it, as I had my favourite Hui Lau Shan 許留山, which specialises in fruity desserts, particularly mango. They also have other Chinese desserts like hashima and bird’s nest. I went with my usual order of Mango Warrior 芒果神兵, which is mango pudding, mango puree, mango cubes, topped with mango ice cream. Costs around 40 HKD, which works out to around 7 SGD. If you are a mango fan, do try it!

Massive pedestrian bridge at Mongkok

Garden Street from the Mongkok pedestrian bridge

Mango Warrior

Hongkongers’ entertainment at night

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Taiwan – Kaohsiung, 28 August 2011

In the morning, my family went on a tour of Kaohsiung, which I did not follow, since I have already been to the places they intended to visit (Foguang Temple, Ai he, etc.). So, it was another food and gym morning for me. I stuffed my face with more macaroons, this time, an earl grey one, and spent 1.5 hours in the gym, working off this food trip.

In the afternoon, I bumped into my dad, who was on his way to the Pacinko parlor, so I followed him there again. Not sure where it is exactly, but the next time you are there, and dying for some Pacinko fun, there is some to be had in Kaohsiung!

We had an excellent buffet dinner in Grand Hi-lai hotel, before going to Liuhe Night Market 六和夜市. It was quite a drizzly night, so we sped through it. Didn’t take any photos, as it was drizzling. Also, I have pictures of the place from a previous trip, so that lessened my motivation even further.

Earl Grey Macaroon

Grand Hi-Lai Hotel is the 2nd highest building in Kaohsiung; this is the highest at 85

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Taiwan – Taipei to Kaohsiung, 27 August 2011

We moved from Taipei to Kaohsiung today, via the High Speed Rail, which took 1.5 hrs to make the 300+ km journey between the two cities. I highly recommend this option, as it is extremely comfortable, and the train station is located in the middle of Taipei. The station in Kaohsiung is about a 20 min taxi ride from town.

Once again, we stayed at the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel in Kaohsiung, which was excellent (and it does claim to be the best hotel in Kaohsiung). We have stayed here in our previous visits, but what sweetened the deal this time, was the free upgrade we got to executive rooms, which included a nice sofa set, and a balcony with gym equipment overlooking the Kaohsiung Harbour. The hotel had an excellent gym, with no less than eight treadmill machines, and a pretty decent weights section, complete with stationery bikes and steps machines. They also have a nice pool, but I didn’t go swimming.

One of the nice things about the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel, is the huge Hanshin mall that is located beside it. You can actually go into the mall which is located beside it without setting foot outside. It’s a pretty substantial mall that is around 11 storeys (when you count in the three levels of basement). It definitely worked out for us, as it rained the two days we were there. It was nice to have some food options within shelter. I sampled the dry variation of the Danzi noodles, and the fried oysters at the food court, which was pretty decent, and topped that off with some macaroons and Gongcha.

Well, the main event of the night was having dinner with my dad’s friends, so that was pretty much my day – gym and food.

Executive room in Grand Hi-Lai Hotel

Gym Equipment in the room balcony

Kaohsiung Harbour

Dry version of Danzi Noodles

Fried Oysters

Categories: Food, Rail, Taiwan | Tags: | Leave a comment

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