Taipei (Day 25): Back to the Rainy City

March 25, 2016

Our last morning in Kenting started like all the others, wake up and head down for breakfast, except this time no swimming after breakfast.  I think three nights in Kenting was good enough, especially when the weather wasn’t that great. Without nice weather, there’s really not much to do there, so it was good we were heading back to Taipei.

Goodbye, Kenting
Goodbye, Kenting
Goodbye, Chateau Beach Resort
Goodbye, Chateau Beach Resort

Our bus from the hotel left at 11am and we arrived at Kaohsiung’s Zuoying station at 1:30pm. We had about an hour to kill before our train back to Taipei. There is a mall attached to the train station that has a Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Uniqlo, Daiso, Muji and a food court. We walked around and my sister found some cute plastic plates for Nate at Daiso. The items there were only 39 NT = $1.58 (a bit cheaper than the Daiso at home).

On the High Speed Rail back to Taipei
On the High Speed Rail back to Taipei

The train we took back to Taipei took about two hours this time because we made about five stops along the way. We arrived back to a very wet and colder Taipei. It was about 13 degrees Celsius and raining quite hard. We didn’t have umbrellas so we walked as quickly as possible (Tim: It’s actually best to walk slower in rain to not get as wet, unless it’s windy) and under awnings as much as we could back to Tim’s uncle’s apartment. We dropped off our bags and headed out for dinner. We had our mind set on hot pot because of the weather and we wanted some vegetables.

Back at our favourite hot pot place
Back at our favourite hot pot place. We have a stamp card – one more and we get one for free!

We headed back to our favourite hot pot place and it was packed for 6:30pm. We were actually surprised it was so busy because most locals eat later than we do in North America. Luckily, there was a table for us and warmed we up with delicious shabu shabu. Nate enjoyed it as well and loved having some of the ice cream at the end.

After dinner we came back to the apartment and my sister and Noel started to pack and organize their luggage (it’s their last night here). Tim and I went through some of our stuff that we realize we don’t need so they could bring it back home for us – mostly Tim’s electronics.

Tomorrow, we’re going to stop by some of their favourite places before they head to the airport around 9pm. Noel wants to go back to Yong Kang Beef Noodle, Nate wants to go back to Daan Park (so we think), and my sister wants to go to Sunny Hills for pineapple cakes.

The forecast tomorrow is sun! Nate has been singing “Rain, rain, go away”, so now his wish will come true. If only the weather had been nice while they were here.

Steps today: 10,000

Kenting (Day 24): Good Luck Winds

March 24, 2016

Yesterday, we had hung some of our shorts and swim suits on the balcony outside to dry. This morning, when we woke up and looked outside there was only one item out of four left on the balcony (we’re on the 2nd floor). The palm trees were swaying and it was super windy outside. We looked outside and saw my sister’s shorts on the roof top below, Noel’s swim trunks on the ground and Tim’s shorts weren’t anywhere in sight. Tim went down to find his shorts which had been blown about 30 meters away on the first level. Then Tim climbed off our balcony to the roof to get my sister’s shorts (probably not the best idea). We learned our lesson about Kenting weather: it changes really quickly. Today’s temperature dropped almost 10 degrees Celsius and with the wind blowing it felt significantly colder than 20 degrees out.

Here are some pictures from breakfast:

Fruit bar
Fruit bar: Guava, Pineapple and Watermelon


Omelet station
Omelet station
Drink station
Drink station
My fruit plate at breakfast
My fruit plate at breakfast
Tim's clams
Tim’s clams

After breakfast, we got changed and headed to the covered jacuzzi area. The jacuzzi area pool is set at about 34 degrees and has different jets everywhere, including ones that spray down to massage your shoulders. This area was the only part of the pool area that was busy. In the pools here you need to wear a swim cap. If you don’t have one, you can borrow one from the hotel. Many locals had their own that matched their swim suits.

The Fontanilla's with their swim caps on
The Fontanilla’s with their swim caps on
Jacuzzi area
Jacuzzi area
Tim in front of the colder pool where we would jump in every 15 minutes or so to feel refreshed. We were the only ones who were "brave enough" to go inside a colder pool (it really wasn't that bad)
Tim in front of the colder pool where we would jump in every 15 minutes or so to feel refreshed. We were the only ones who were “brave enough” to go inside a colder pool (it really wasn’t that bad)
Most people were dressed like it was going to snow. Like this lady behind us in a parka.
Most people were dressed like it was going to snow. Like this lady in the parka <3

To get to our resort in Kenting, we took their shuttle from Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung. I had booked the shuttle about three weeks before but forgot to ask to reserve seats back to Kaohsiung on Friday. When we arrived at the resort to check in, we told them we wanted to book a shuttle back and they said the shuttle was full and that we would have to take a bus in town which takes an hour longer and costs more. I felt really bad for dropping the ball on this. We had done more research on the other bus we had to take but today as we went out for lunch, I told Tim to just ask the front desk again if there was any room for us. I said, I think today is our lucky day, maybe some people decided to go home earlier or stay longer. Tim went to go ask and we were in luck, they had room for us! They even gave us the round trip rate of 500 NT = $20 CAD, only 100 NT more than the one way fare (which is not posted on their website… their website needs some work), so we only had to pay the different from our one way fare we already paid. This was the best news we had all day! A shorter bus ride, more convenient and a lot cheaper (the other bus would have been 418 NT = $17 CAD one way).

With that great news, we headed for celebratory lunch at McDonald’s. Asian McDonald’s have fried chicken! The prices at McDonald’s in Taiwan is a bit cheaper than at home. A Big Mac is only 69 NT = $2.80 CAD, where as it would be around $5 CAD in Vancouver. The best thing we have discovered at McDonald’s in Taiwan are their black sesame McFlurries (Tim: and sundaes). They mix black sesame paste with crunchy rice-crispy-like bits; no wonder it’s advertised at their number one seller.

Fried chicken, 2 pieces of either a drumstick or thigh is 100 NT = $4 CAD. Tim got the spicy
Fried chicken: 2 pieces of either a wing, drumstick or thigh is 100 NT = $4 CAD. Tim got it spicy. It was good!
Tim enjoying the chicken.
Tim enjoying the fried chicken. It was hot and juicy since they fry it to order.

We walked around the beach after lunch and then eventually made our way back to the room. It was Nate’s nap time and as it turned out, it was mine as well. Earlier in the day, Tim signed us up for an archery class at 4pm, but I stayed back to watch over Nate while Tim went with my sister and Noel.  They came back after an hour saying they had fun. Nate didn’t wake up from his nap until around 6:30pm. We were deciding what to do for dinner since it was really windy out and we didn’t want to eat night market food tonight. My sister and I went to check out the restaurant downstairs and decided to just stay in tonight.

Tim the archer

The main restaurant here is where breakfast is served, buffet style. The restaurant is called “Aegean Restaurant”, which had a mixture of Western and Asian options, a good selection of cold seafood, and a carving station.
It was 693 NT = $27.60 CAD per person (weekday price), which is like a North American priced buffet. They had a Filipino trio band playing live music during dinner, which Nate enjoyed listening to. We all enjoyed dinner as there were a lot of vegetables (which really hit the spot) and western options (Tim and I were craving pasta for a while). The seafood was a nice treat since the seafood at the night market was overpriced for tourists -ie. 3 scallops on a skewer for 200 NT = $8 CAD.

Ham and roast beef at the carving station
Ham and roast beef at the carving station
My seafood plate - mussels, scallops and prawns
My seafood plate – mussels, scallops and prawns
Dessert area - chocolate fondue
Dessert area – chocolate fondue
They also had a soft serve machine. Tim had 3 scoops of ice cream.
They also had a soft serve machine. Tim had 3 scoops of ice cream (Tim: When I stood up to get a fourth, my travel companions looked at my funny, so I decided not to go for one last scoop).

We took our time and enjoyed our nice dinner. My sister, Noel, and Nate treated us tonight as a thank you for “showing them around Taiwan”. It was the most uncomfortably full Tim and I have been since being on this trip.

Time to sleep, tomorrow will be a longer day because we have to travel back up to Taipei. At least now we don’t have to worry about the bus to Kaohsiung!

Steps today: 13,500



Kenting (Day 23): Catching Some Rays

March 23, 2016

Today was the first day in over a week that we all woke up after 8am – even Nate! I think it was a combination of comfortable beds, silence and blackout blinds. Nate started to call out for my sister around 8:15am and we were surprised that it was so “late” – we woke up to get ready so we wouldn’t have a rushed breakfast (breakfast ended at 10am).

I think it’s always exciting to see what type of free breakfast hotels offer (or is that just me?), especially Asian hotels. I find that Asian hotels offer the best breakfasts because they always have an assortment of good Western and Asian options. You could have a plate of bacon and eggs then have a plate of noodles and stir fry – it’s the best of both worlds.

After reading a lot of very mixed reviews on Trip Advisor about this resort, I continue to be very skeptical about American’s reviews about Asian resorts and hotels. There were multiple negative reviews made about how Chateau Beach Resort doesn’t have a good breakfast and how there’s not enough Western options (come on, you’re in Asia…). As soon as we walked into the breakfast “hall”, the food and beverage area was extensive. I’ll try to take pictures of the food tomorrow – I was a bit overwhelmed this morning.

There were a lot of Western options – bacon, sausage, eggs, and even an omelette station. Tim was really happy about the Taiwanese food options like – danzi noodles (the noodles we had in Tainan) (Tim: they were so-so), stewed pork belly, and a green onion pancake station. Noel (and Nate) were most excited about the fruit bar – it had guava, pineapple, water apples and watermelon. Thanks to the breakfast buffet, Noel didn’t have to buy guava during the day.

The dining hall is a bit of a gong show since the resort is so big
The only picture I took of the dining hall which resembled a cafeteria – I’ll take better pictures tomorrow

After breakfast we were all set to swim. It was about 28 degrees Celsius today, a bit overcast with the sun coming out once in a while. It was nice to feel the heat – it was the weather we were hoping for in Kenting. We hung around the pool for a bit and then went down to the beach. The waves got pretty big so was not ideal for swimming in the ocean, though there were a bunch of people who were. Also, there was a warning that there were jellyfish in the area, which kind of psyched me out, so we just stayed close to shore.

Since we are in Asia (where most people want to be pale) there aren’t many sun bathers, therefore, there isn’t an abundance of lounge chairs around. We didn’t find this to be a problem since there were still quite a few free. We found most people liked to stay in the shade or in the covered jacuzzi pool and only the North Americans were out laying on the beach in the direct sunlight (with tanning oils).


Tim hanging in the pool - it's a bit cold when you first go in
Tim hanging in the pool – it’s a bit cold when you first go in
The beach is lined with these umbrella huts
The beach is lined with these umbrella huts
Nate enjoying the morning at the beach
Nate enjoying the morning at the beach
Spot the North American? (without the tanning oil)
Spot the North American? (without the tanning oil)

For dinner, we headed back to the night market – it seems like that’s the best place to eat since a lot of the restaurant close by seem overpriced. We decided to try the “Taiwanese three cup” stall, which makes the traditional three cup chicken as well as other options: squid, mushrooms, duck tongue, and prawns (all made to order). We both ordered the chicken – it was really tasty, but would’ve been even better if we had a bowl of rice to go with it.

Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken - 150 NT = $6 CAD
Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken – 150 NT = $6 CAD
Our chicken - all dark meat.
Our chicken – all dark meat.
My first time trying papaya milk - it was really good and refreshing! 60 NT = $2.50 CAD
My first time trying papaya milk – it was really good and refreshing! 60 NT = $2.40 CAD

Our night at the night market got cut short by a sudden downpour. We were ordering bubble tea from Presotea when we felt a couple of rain drops, then suddenly rain was coming down like crazy and all the vendors quickly rushed to get their stalls under cover. We stood under Presotea’s cover until the rain died down. We still had about an 8 minute walk back to the hotel without an umbrella. You could tell no one was prepared – everyone was soaked.

Flash rain storm
Flash rain storm

An observation about Kenting is that it’s like the Thailand of Taiwan. Kenting Road (where the night market is) resembles any street in Koh Samui or any beachy Thai town. There’s a lot of street vendors, clubs, girls and lady boys dancing outside, and alcohol (we haven’t seen alcohol at any night market in Taiwan before here). Although the one thing Kenting doesn’t seem to have (or openly show) is prostitution, which is good.

Tomorrow is our last full day here. I imagine it will be somewhat of the same type of day we had today. I’m happy everyone is having a good time. It’s a nice way to end our leg of this trip with my sister, Noel, and Nate. We head back to Taipei on Friday and have one more night with them before they fly back home to Vancouver on Saturday night – just in time for Easter Sunday.

Total number of steps today: Around 10,000 steps but it wasn’t that accurate today since we didn’t have our cell phones with us at all times.

Kenting (Day 22): Finally Feels Like a Vacation

March 22, 2016

Today started off a bit hectic as we were busy packing up everything and making sure the apartment wasn’t a mess when we handed it back (Tim: Not sure why that was necessary since we pay a cleaning fee for AirBnB). We left the apartment at 10:30am and made our way to Taipei Main Station to catch the high speed rail train to Zuoying (Kaohsiung).

This was our first time taking the high speed rail (HSR) long distance. We had taken the HSR to Taoyuan (15 minute ride) for the lantern festival but were only taking the normal railway for our loop around Taiwan. Our train left Taipei at 11:24am and was scheduled to arrive in Kaohsiung at 1:00pm. Taipei to Kaohsiung is approximately 360km, so to get there in about an hour and half (Tim: with two stops) is pretty awesome!

Nate outside our train
Nate outside our train

As scheduled, we arrived at the Kaohsiung’s Zuoying station at 1:00pm on the dot. We bought our tickets for our return trip back to Taipei and walked around before heading to the hotel shuttle that picks up everyday at 1:50pm. Zuoying Station is very modern with an assortment of food options and even has a Muji and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi attached to it.

The shuttle from Zuoying to our hotel in Kenting took two hours for about 114km (which included a 15 minute rest stop break). If only there was a train connecting Kenting to other cities in Taiwan, it would make traveling here so much easier. Long bus rides are pretty painful, I prefer train rides.

Once we got to the resort, I was pleasantly surprised. We are staying at the Chateau Beach Resort in Kenting. It’s a popular destination because of a movie (Cape No. 7) which was filmed around the area. The hotel and grounds are very nice and our room is quite spacious with very high ceilings (our room is $200 CAD/night for a “Mountain View” family room). The hotel is very family friendly with multiple shallow pools for kids, a playroom, and the hotel’s private beach has super soft and pristine sand. This is the only hotel in Kenting that backs on to its own beach – which was a major selling point for us, especially with Nate.

Chateau Beach Resort's beach
Chateau Beach Resort’s beach
Nate getting used to the sand
Nate getting used to the sand
Our first Kenting sunset
Our first Kenting sunset
Pool area
Pool area

We were excited to explore the resort once we settled in since it was actually sunny and warm (about 26 degrees celsius). We walked down to the beach and walked along the shore for a bit – the water is a bit too cold to swim in but it’s perfect to wading in. The sun was starting to set so we decided to head out and grab something to eat, since we didn’t really eat much today.

The Kenting night market is located just up the street from the resort – which is a pretty ideal location. We snacked on some green onion pancake, fried milk, sausage, and chicken. For dessert we went to McDonald’s and tried their black sesame sundae (it was really good, and I don’t even love black sesame). The main street in Kenting is very touristy and it reminded Tim and I of Thailand (Tim: Koh Samui) more so than any other place we’ve been to in Taiwan.

Kenting night market street
Kenting night market street
Waiting for chicken
Waiting for chicken.

We headed back to the hotel and went to the rec room to let Nate play (and Noel and Tim played ping pong).

Nate in the rec room
Nate in the rec room

It’s nice to sleep in comfortable beds for the first time in a week or so. It’s also so quiet here compared to being in the Daan apartment. I know that this part of our trip is a luxury and Tim and I will not be traveling like this for other parts of our trip (unless it’s really cheap), so I’m definitely savouring every moment we have here for the next three days.

Looking forward to doing nothing by lounging and reading by the pool tomorrow. The temperature is supposed to be 28 degrees.

Steps today: 15,000