Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 14

Where The Wind Takes Me Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsStart of DayEnd of Day
Day 0 - Apr 21-22 2024Plane (Edmonton > Tokyo)Edmonton, CanadaTokyo, Japan
Day 1 - Tue Apr 23 2024Akihabara, Sensoji, Tokyo Sky Arena, Taiwan Food FestivalTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 2 - Wed Apr 24 2024Nezu Shrine, Tokyo National MuseumTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 3 - Thu Apr 25 2024Akihabara, Ginza, Yurakucho, Bocchi the Rock! Exhibition (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 4 - Fri Apr 26 2024Craft Gyoza Fes, Niku Fes, Odaiba, Kameido Tenjin ShrineTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 5 - Sat Apr 27 2024Niconico Chokaigi 2024Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 6 - Sun Apr 28 2024M3-53Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 7 - Mon Apr 29 2024Train (Tokyo > Osaka)Tokyo, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 8 - Tue Apr 30 2024Tsurumibashi, Expo Commemorative Park, Osaka Station (with Miyu)Osaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 9 - Wed May 01 2024Kyoto, Takenobu Inari Shrine, SaiinOsaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 10 - Thu, May 02 2024Train (Osaka > Tokyo)Osaka, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 11 - Fri May 03 2024Reitaisai 21Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 12 - Sat May 04 2024Japan Jam 2024 (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 13 - Sun May 05 2024National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 14 - Mon May 06 2024Haneda International Airport, Plane (Tokyo > Taipei), Liaoning Night MarketTokyo, JapanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 15 - Tue May 07 2024Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, Ximending Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 16 - Wed May 08 2024Shilin Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 17 - Thu May 09 2024Raohe Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 18 - Fri May 10 2024Songjiang Market, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Shida Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 19 - Sat May 11 2024Dihua Street, Huaxi Street Night Market, Guangzhou Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 20 - Sun May 12 2024Gongguan Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 21 - Mon May 13 2024Plane (Taipei > HK), Train (HK > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelTaipei, TaiwanGuangzhou, China
Day 22 - Tue May 14 2024Zhongfu Square, Alpaca Sighting (with Kel), Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 23 - Wed May 15 2024Panyu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 24 - Thu May 16 2024Nancun Wanbo (with Kel), Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 25 - Fri May 17 2024Train (Guangzhou > Xiamen), Zhongshan RoadGuangzhou, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 26 - Sat May 18 2024Xiamen Railway StationXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 27 - Sun May 19 2024Mingfa Shopping MallXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 28 - Mon May 20 2024Train (Xiamen > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelXiamen, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 29 - Tue May 21 2024Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 30 - Wed May 22 2024Tianhe Computer Town, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 31 - Thu May 23 2024Comic City, Shangxiajiu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 32 - Fri May 24 2024Train (Guangzhou > Hong Kong)Guangzhou, ChinaHong Kong, China

Monday, May 06 2024 (Day 14)

My flight details for the plane trip that I was going to take today were like this:

HND Tokyo International -> TPE Taiwan Taoyuan International
Flight number : IT217
Departure time : 2024/5/06 05:25
Arrival time : 2024/5/06 08:00

Due to time zones, this was a 3 and a half hour flight, and scheduled bright and early, with boarding beginning about 4:40 am or so. This was the first flight of the day, and was so early that trains were not running yet, at least not enough to get me from my lodging to the airport in time, which meant that I needed to be at the airport the previous night before the trains stopped running, or I’d have an expensive taxi ride in order to make my plane. To catch the last monorail train, I needed to be at Yoga Station by something like just past 11 pm, but I packed up and started to check out about an hour earlier than that, and it’s a good thing that I did because I got caught up in some last minute garbage disposal and repacking and stuff and the hour rapidly became half an hour instead, and in the end I still only caught that very last monorail train for the night and not an earlier one than that.

I wasn’t in any hurry to actually get to the airport though. I knew from my Visa Airport Companion app that there was a lounge that I could get a 2-hour visit in with my credit card’s benefit in Terminal 3 of Haneda International Airport, but that it was post-security, and I couldn’t actually get past security until I could check-in and deposit my luggage bag as checked baggage. Tigerair apparently only opens their check-in desk 2 and a half hours before departure though, so at around 2:55 am or so, which meant that I would have some time to kill after arriving at the airport before I could go to the lounge for free food, no matter what time I arrived at.

Tigerair is a budget airline that flies between Taiwan and surrounding countries, and I won’t lie if I said that, while their cheaper price was a consideration, the tiger theme of their service was also a (much smaller) consideration for me as a member of the Tigey cult. I mean, check out this picture in the confirmation email that they sent me.

And this one.

And some of the pictures on their website (local). Yes. Take my money.

I caught the very last monorail train to the airport, along with a bunch of other people. I hope no one got left behind, the train conductor was yelling in Japanese at people to get on the train and that it was the very last train of the night. Since most of the people heading to the airport were foreigners though, not sure how many of them understood him.

The Terminal 3 airport was still somewhat crowded for this time of night, compared to when I visited Singapore’s Changi Airport at night before.

I had time to kill between midnight and 2:55 am, so frst I went to weigh my bags on a convenient weighing scale and found that my carry-on bags were a little overweight. The weight breakdown of my suitcases at that point was like this:

Big (checked bag): 10.96 kg
Medium (backpack): 7.81 kg
Small (sling bag): 3.85 kg

The weight limit for this flight was 20 kg for checked bag, and 10 kg combined for the two carry-ons, so I rearranged some stuff and also realized that the water in my bottle in the sling bag was also counting as a bunch of weight that I wouldn’t be able to take past security anyway. I also panicked a bit because I remembered that I had put the key to my suitcase locks somewhere that I would be guaranteed to find it, but I forgot exactly where that was. I found it eventually after some searching though. It was in Tigey‘s carry bag.

After rearrangement, my bags weight distribution became:

Big: 12.18 kg
Medium: 6.91 kg
Small: 3.00 kg

And I lacked water. I think my phone weighted 300 grams or something with its case so I left that off too. In the end though, they never weighted my carry-on luggage anyway so it didn’t matter that I got down to below 10 kg ish.

There were lots of nice photograph spots in Haneda Airport Terminal 3, stuff like this:

There were also tons of people stretched out on benches and sleeping all around. It was really interesting to see.

I sat down on a bench for a bit (next to the guy in the second-last picture above) and nodded off, off and on, while playing Monster Train on and off. But channeling my newfound experience in line-queueing that I had learnt in Japan over the past few days, I went down about 30 minutes before the check-in counter was due to open, and got in queue there near the front of the line, with the reasoning that the faster I got through the check-in line, the faster I could get to that lounge and the more of the 2 hour allotment I could actually use. It worked, and once the check-in line opened, which was signalized by by staff lining up and bowing to the waiting line (which I knew was coming and tried to take a picture of but barely missed), I was through the line and then through security in a matter of minutes.

I did actually have to declare this time when and how I was going to be leaving Taiwan, and even show them my itinerary as proof, so I’m glad that I had already booked that outgoing plane ride next week. I wonder what would have happened if I had not booked it yet.

Anyway, I went to the one single lounge in Terminal 3 that was just past security, and spent my second of 6 free annual lounge passes on it. It was called TIAT Lounge, and I assumed that TIAT stood for Tokyo International Airport Terminal, but who knows for sure. There was also a Sky Lounge there I think, which was for a different class of passenger (or credit card), but I had no access to that. So instead, here are pictures from the TIAT Lounge in Haneda Terminal 3.

As the sun hadn’t rise yet, the last two images above basically the “view outside the window” shots, came out weird due to the reflections in the lounge. The lounge was alright, nothing special, nothing I’d write home about, although they did have shower rooms. There was basically no one else in there when I got in since we were the first flight to open the check-in counter after the overnight airport shutdown and I was one of the first people through the gate, though a couple more people came in after me at some point. The food section was actually really small, and a bit sparse in terms of options, but it could definltely have just been that there weren’t enough people around to justify making more food.

I didn’t gorge myself here even though it was free food, but I still did have a fair amount. Two bowls of rice and curry, topped by the pork dumplings and a few other things, and then one weird bowl of soya sauce noodles, a small bun, and some tea.

And then it was off to Taiwan! The plane ride was actually really good. Although it took me about half an hour to find a relaxing enough position to be able to nod off in without pain, I conked out and slept for nearly 3 of the 3.5 hour plane ride, waking up to blocked and painful ears as we were beginning our descent. Some frantic swallowing to pop the ears later, I took some pictures of some of the cute brochures and things on the airlines:

When Tigey takes over the world, he’s definitely using this sort of naming scheme. Also, it’s rare for me to remember my dreams while out on vacation, but I somehow managed to do so while sleeping on this plane, and it even had a Tigey theme to it! Amazing.

Once I landed, I withdrew a bit of money from a Bank of Taiwan ATM at the airport, a move that I believe, from looking at the transaction later on and comparing it to the exchange rate from just using my credit card directly, cost me $5 CAD on the Bank of Taiwan’s side and $0 on my Scotiabank side. There are 7-Eleven and Familymart convenience stores in Taiwan too, but their ATMs look different from the ones in Japan, and I wasn’t sure if any of them had similar fees. I didn’t need that much money though since I was only here a week and since Taiwan has much better credit card coverage than backwards Japan, so I hopefully will not need to find out.

I then bought a 7 day unlimited SIM Card from a Klook counter there. That early in the morning (8:30 am), not all the stalls were open yet, and their prices more or less looked similar anyway, though I probably could have found something slightly cheaper if I had looked around more. But this cost 500 NTD (New Taiwan Dollars, also apparenty interchangeably called Yuan (元) like the Chinese currency), which converted to about slightly over $20, so it was fine. I also picked up an Easycard, basically Taiwan’s public transit card, for 100 NTD, and then deposited about 2,000 more NTD into it at a top-up machine at the airport MRT station. This top-up machine only took cash, and there was an old man station attendant who hovered near me and tried to be helpful pointing out how the machine worked as I did so. It was very similar to the Japanese machines though so I knew how to use them. But thank you anyway, sir.

And soon I was off riding the train system, the MRT, which just like Singapore’s MRT system, stands for Mass Rapid Transit. The accommodation had sent a recommended line to take, which was different from the Google Maps ones which kept on suggesting buses, which I didn’t want to do with luggage. According to the place, I needed to take the train from the Airport Terminal Station to Sanchong Station and then transfer from there to another line to get to Xingtian Temple Station, and it was a few minutes walk from there. This was fine, except that I realized after boarding the first train that there was a local line version and an express line version, similar to Japan, and I had taken the express line. But Sanchong was only a local line stop. It was the very last stop before the final station, Taipei Main Station, though, so I took the train there anyway and then switched to a local line and backtracked one stop without much issue.

I then switched to the other train, which also reminded me of Singapore trains, with long views down the entire length of the train, something that Japanese trains tend not to do as they compartmentalize their carriages with doors.

A few stops later, and I found myself unceremoniously on the streets of Taipei. It was hot and somewhat humid, and I don’t like my luggage wheels to touch the ground out in the streets so I was carrying my heavy bag off the floor for most of the way there, which was really good exercise.

I loved the little shops and haphazard buildings everywhere though, this is a city architectural style that I really, really like and that are going to be splashed all over my next few blog entries for sure.

I reached my lodging location and put down my bags there, then set off exploring the nearby neighbourhood, after stopping by a 7-Eleven for some drinks.

Similar to Japan, they had lots of cheap drinks in stock here, but different brands and different flavours. They also had hot food as well as bento boxes here, but again, different types and different aromas. It was great.

It was also good for learning the currency conversion rate — 1 CAD is about 23 NTD/yuan, so all the numbers looked really low compared to Japan where 1 CAD is about 90-100 JPY/yen.

I also saw that a lot of their drinks and some other similar products had interesting deals that I had not seen in Japan, but they were split into at least 3 separate kinds (3 that I saw, anyway) that were phrased very similarly, but not exactly the same.

One was this type, in the style of 第2件10元, which means that the 2nd item cost 10 yuan instead of what the original price was:

The second one, which I don’t seem to have a picture of, is similar, but is lacking the first character, so it’s something like 2件32元, which means that buying 2 bottles cost 32 NTD (whereas one bottle, in the case of the tea with this deal that I did buy later on) normally cost 20 yuan by itself.

The last type is in the form of 第2件6折, which means that the second bottle cost 60% — i.e. there’s a 40% discount on the second bottle if you buy two. Very similar, yet very different.

Anyway, I wandered down the streets and found a tiny, tiny shop to eat at. The streets near the lodging that I’m staying in were chock-full of streets with shops like this, which was amazing. Many of them seemed nameless though, instead feturing some sort of food sign where their shop name would normally be instead. Like the sign of the place I ate at translates to Braised and Stewed Beef Noodles and Dumplings.

Anyway, I understod part of the menu and just used Google Translate for the rest. Most Taiwanese speak Chinese but also knew a spattering of English though, especially the younger generation, and the English rate and fluency level is a mark higher than the Japanese.

I had fried rice cake with shredded pork, the 110 yuan item in the bottom half of the first picture, which converted to a tad under $5 CAD. The shop was set up so you had to pass the cooking area to get into the eating area with seats, and the entire thing seemed family-run, as I expected that most of the shops in the neighbourhood probably were.

It was not bad at all.

While there, I received a text that (complimentary early) check-in for my room was now available, so I headed back to the lodging right after. Apparently the main building, whose address I had been given, was the main office and also had rooms above but they were for families with 4+ people. As a solo traveller, one of the attendants helped wheel my suitcase out and to an adjacent building where my room was instead. The single room I was given was still spacious and comfortable though.

But for some reason, for the second lodging in a row, the washing machine was out in the balcony!

At least it doesn’t go below 0 or snow down here like it can in Tokyo though, so that’s more understandable at least. Still, what a coincidence.

The bathroom was really nice and large, which I appreciated. I liked the lack of a partition between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom, this is similar to Singapore and sometimes Japanese bathrooms are built like that too, but sometimes not. Usually those have a bathtub in the way though. Singapore seldom does, and neither did this room. Also the shower head’s jet was REALLY powerful, to the point that the impact of the water jet was causing large misty sprays in the opposite direction, and I couldn’t help but think of the Commando 450 from this Seinfeld clip that Jah had linked in Discord a couple of weeks back. It was basically that strong.

I spent a couple of hours in my room after that to catch up on the previous day’s blogging, plus I wanted to get out of the heat and rehydrate a bit, and perhaps head out to a night market later in the evening. I had immediately understood why Taiwan liked night markets — it was too sweltering in the afternoon to do anything, especially when the streets and shops were so cramped! (By that logic, Singapore would have tons of night markets too though, and they don’t. Oh well.)

Anyway, as prophesized, I went exploring again that evening, planning to walk from my place to a small night market about 30 to 45 minutes away on foot. One thing that struck me was that Taiwan sure had a lot of motorcycles. I think this is true in China in general too, and likely a lot of other Southeast Asian countries, though not as true in Singapore and definitely not true in Japan and Korea. Small streets, big streets, they were everywhere.

I also learnt that the convenience stores sold these eggs in the evening (and possibly earlier on, not too sure) — these were the tea egg things I mentioned remembering in this Song of the Week segment!

They smelled amazing. I didn’t try them today, but plan to at some point. Instead, I walked on, also then passing this shop, which seems to be a build your own bento box kind of things from hot trays:

That looked amazing, but I think was fairly pricey too, I might try it one day though.

Eventually, I reached the night market that I was aiming for, which was Liaoning Night Market.

It was small, but I didn’t want to go to the biggest night market on the first day or anything like that. It was also pretty much a purely food-focused market, and I ended up eating at this restaurant due to one of the owners out front being friendly and chatting me up.

So the menu looked like this, and I ended up buying and trying a couple of things:

But even though I picked the “40 yuan per two” option for the goose meat, they still gave me a full plate and charged me accordingly for it (280 yuan), which made the entire budget of the meal just about max out what I wanted to spend for the evening, 670 yuan (about $30 CAD) instead of 430 yuan (closer to $20 CAD). Also once I was inside and eating, the friendly woman pretty much ignored me for the rest of the night, making me think that she was a barker just to attract people into the place. The food was good though, and the restaurant was air-conditioned, which was really nice too. But if I had known that that was the only place I was going to eat at for the night, I perhaps would have picked some more interesting things like snail or frog instead of goose meat (which tasted exactly like duck meat), fried octopus meat balls (which didn’t translate properly in the Google Translate thing above, but were wonderful), and oyster soup (which was okay, but not super unique).

I could have bought so many tea eggs with that cash! It was a good reminder of the conversion rate though. I’m too used to Japan and its 90-100 yen per Canadian dollar conversion.

After dinner I walked south out of the street that the various food shops were on, and wandered into a more modern downtown-ish area. These decorations were pretty:

And then I took a bus home. The buses were interesting, they had huge, plush-looking seats:

And some of the seats even had seatbelts.

For good reason too — the bus pretty much started moving before the doors were fully closed, and the doors opened before the bus had fully come to a stop, it felt very haphazard and rush-y. There was also an annoying beeping noise the entire time I was on the bus. However, the bus and train rides were really cheap! The bus ride cost under a Canadian dollar according to Google Maps, something like 15 yuan only. The train rides aren’t much more either. There’s also discounts, as I understand it, for transferring between buses or trains or both within an hour or so of your last train.

I did very much enjoy walking around commercial Taipei at night though. There were large chunks of the city that were more “modern”, and chunks that had a lot of small mom and pop shops squished together, and chunks that were in between too, stuff like this:

Finally, I pulled out a couple of pictures out of order from the stuff I uploaded today, and posted them here as interesting shops that I wandered by. Here’s a shop just selling chairs:

A small, independent arcade of claw machines:

Another claw machine arcade, though this one was downtown and much larger and posh:

A shop selling paper money, used for burning during ancestor rituals to send them money to use in the afterlife (I’ve seen these shops in Singapore too!):

A restaurant with live seafood outside:

And a small store stuffed with tons of little odds and ends and trinkets that I wandered into:

I got home and took another shower — the nice thing about the large toilet is that showers are very convenient to take, which is probably necessary in Taipei and anything south of here if I plan to go out multiple times a day. I had taken the day off work, so that I could settle down in the city and also probably take a longer sleep that I usually needed to that night, but it turned out that my nap on the plane was just fine to tide me over to the new day without messing up my sleep schedule much.

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 14

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