Recently, we brought our baby, now an active toddler, to Taiwan in early September. The trip was a last minute decision to fill in an excursion for his school holiday, and also an outing with him alone before baby arrives next year. Before the trip, I had several bouts of complications from my current pregnancy and almost had to cancel the air tickets. Luckily in the end, we did make the trip and it proved to be the most memorable one for us!
Since our boy is officially 2 and a half years old, it is time to get a seat for him on our flight to Taipei. He was exceptionally cheerful and brought along his favourite new toy – a yellow aeroplane. We ordered Book the Cook on our SQ flight – Chinese Style Cod with Fried Rice and Seared Black Cod Fillet ala Nicoise for me. The food is yummy.
One of the perks of travelling in Taipei, unlike Tokyo, is the lack of language barrier. Most of the signages and announcement are in Mandarin. The MRT system is efficient and a convenient mode of transport for us and we have decided against renting a car. Dandy Hotel – a boutique hotel where we stayed is accessible via MRT and well connected to the shopping districts.
On the first day, we visited the Taipei Children Amusement Park. There have been many positive reviews on the park and I would highly recommend to families with young children. The kiddy rides are well-suited for toddlers and the admission is affordable at NT$30 (SGD 1.30).
The park is quite clean and spacious, peppered with lots of kiddy rides. However, I am not allowed onto all the rides – not even the ferris wheel. So Daddy was the only one who accompanied him for his rides. We also watched a Chinese drama in their children’s theatre. Lunch at the park was at an air-conditioned canteen where local Taiwanese and Japanese food was easily available.
It rained continuously for 2 days while we were at Taipei. On the first night, we were at Shi Lin Night Market. The following night, we headed to Miramar Entertainment Park for dinner and took the ferris wheel. You can see the windows are covered with rain water and the night scenery is hardly visible.
On the 3rd day, we left Taipei and took a train to Nantou. A hotel coach was there to pick us to our next hotel destination at Sun Moon Lake. Both daddy and son fell asleep during the hour bus ride. Such an amusing sight.
We checked into Fleur de Chine Hotel at Sun Moon Lake. The resort is one of the few with its own hot spring and hotel guests can enjoy soaking in the thermal waters in the privacy of their hotel room or visit a public pool. Breakfasts and dinners are inclusive in our hotel charges as well. It was a very cosy stay as we walked around the resort in our yukata and bedroom slippers.
We stayed 2 nights at the resort – the first night we had buffet for dinner. And the second night was a 10 course sit-down Chinese menu. The food is pretty decent on both nights; with lots of local produce which was fresh, sweet and juicy. The boy loves his grapes and Daddy gives thumbs up for their kiwi and papayas.
There was plenty of play area for children. The boy loves throwing balls in the bubble pool and playing with other toddlers in the indoor playground. There’s also live music and entertainment for the adults, a snooker table, jaccuzis and hotspring pools. Swimming caps are compulsory for entry into the pool. Daddy didn’t have one, so he had to buy one at the reception.
The next day, we signed up for a morning cruise on Sun Moon Lake. The weather was starting to get warm and the boy was looking a little gloomy under the heat.
We had 2 stopovers for the cruise. The first stopover, we visited Xuan Guang Pier where the famous Ah Po Tea Leaf egg and Xuan Guang temple is located. The next stopover is Ita Thao Village which sells local street food and handicraft.
My trip to Taiwan would not have been a disaster for my legs if only I have skipped the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway. It was summer in Taiwan and the area was rampant with the little black mosquitoes, which attacked my poor legs. The bites triggered a very bad allergic reaction for the next one week, and left me with multiple post-inflammatory scars on my legs (see photo below).
There is an amusement park with roller coaster and fun rides for adults within Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. As the time of our visit was during the off peak season, most of the attractions were closed. The little black mosquitoes probably attacked me while I was waiting for them to finish their rides. It was amazing the two of them, both in shorts, escaped the bites.
There are signages within the park to warn visitors about the little black mosquitoes, and the park provided mosquito repellent freely at designated areas. I did apply it, but somehow I still got bitten. I noticed another lady who was sitting near, had bites all over her legs as well.
We left Nantou after 2 nights and took a train to Taichung. Compared to Taipei, Taichung is more rustic and the transport network is less developed; our only mode of transport is the metered taxi.
Chun Shui Tang was supposedly the originator of the famed Taiwanese Bubbletea. They have plenty of outlets throughout Taiwan, but their first shop was found in Taichung. Besides bubbletea, the restaurant also served plenty of local Taiwanese fare such as Tea Leaf Egg, Braised meat rice etc.
One of the common sights in Taiwan is the presence of many night markets within a city. Shi Lin Night Market at Taipei is one of the biggest – but while we were at Taipei, it rained continuously for 2 days and we couldn’t get a good walk at Shi Lin. The Fengjia Night Market is famous in Taichung, but we weren’t very impressed by the stalls. I managed to get some T shirts from a discounted shop at Fengjia – that’s about it. The rest of the arcade shops and street foods do not quite appeal to us.
We had dinner at Miyaharu – one of the pre-war historic building which was restored to a restaurant and souvenir shop selling pineapple tarts and cookies. The interior is reminiscent of a scene set from the movie, Harry Potter, and makes a good backdrop for photo taking. The menu, however, is quite pricey for Taiwanese standards, but their ice-cream is quite spectacular looking. If you are going there for a meal, you should try it.
We didn’t spend the night at Taichung, and hurried on to Kaohsiung where we booked Hotel Cozzi for 3 consecutive nights. This was to minimize packing and unpacking of the luggage. The developed train network provided quick and easy commute for us to visit Tainan the following day.
We visited all the touristy attractions, including the An Ping Tree House. Honestly, there was nothing much to see except a dilapidated house with overgrown roots of a tree.
And we found the An Ping Bean Curd – which didn’t have a queue! They have a variety of bean curd in variety of flavours. I had the original bean curd with red bean topping, and Daddy ordered black bean curd with red bean topping.
And we had some fun at Flower Night Market where local street food and various games stall dominate. Daddy thought it was easy shooting balloons and tried his hand at it. He got enough points to exchange for some mini toy cars for the boy.
We ended our Tainan day trip and took a train back to Kaohsiung. The following day, we visited the zoo.
Shoushan Zoo is a very small one in Kaohsiung but it has enough animals to intrigue a young toddler. One can walk around the zoo and complete the tour within a single morning. The admission charges for the zoo are also fairly cheap. However, the weather is blistering hot in the summer, I’d suggest you to visit the zoo in the cooler months.
The young boy couldn’t get off his blue car when it was time for lunch. We had a hard time dragging him off to eat his lunch at a nearby cafe within the zoo. Such toddler meltdowns are fairly common at his age and poor Daddy has to handle him alone because I couldn’t carry him in my state.
By the end of the week, both of us were dead beat from the travelling and struggling with the active toddler. On the final night, we had dinner at Harbour Buffet Restaurant at Ju Dan. It was highly recommended by the hotel staff and since it was minutes away from Ruifeng night market, we decided to try it. The buffet spread was sumptuous compared to the buffets in Singapore. And the staff was attentive and kind enough to give us two chairs and a blanket to let the boy sleep in while we enjoyed our buffet.
There wasn’t much to see at Ruifeng Night Market. Most of the stalls are quite similar to the rest of the night markets. We took a short walk and headed back to our hotel before it got real crowded.
Our last day at Kaohsiung was spent at Taroko Park – it was a newly opened shopping centre cum amusement park in Qianzhen district. There was plenty to shop and to eat. And of course, the air-conditioned mall was a welcoming change for the hot weather.
Due to his age and height restrictions, the young boy could only ride the bumper car in the Suzuki circuit. At the end of it, he appeared grouchy and was reluctant to take the ride a second time.
We enjoyed most of our 8 day trip to Taiwan, sans the attack of the little black mosquitoes. Most of the Taiwanese food is very much similar to our local fare and the restaurants are mostly welcoming to families with young children. The Night Markets are an interesting sight, but are a little too crowded for our liking.
We would definitely visit Taiwan again – just not the Sun Moon Lake District!