Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chiang Mai, 28 February to 4 March 2015

Our first trip for the new year 2015 was to the 'Rose of the North', Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Tricia and I went on a 4 nights stay meeting up with Agnes and Hean Chye over there.





 
Air travel was by AirAsia. Hotel stay for the entire stay was at Goldenbell Hotel, located near south 'Chiang Mai' gate. It is less than 5 minutes walk to the Saturday night market and about 20 minutes walk to the popular temples within the city walls. It is a new, small boutique hotel with only 30 rooms, opened for business in November 2014. There is a nice swimming pool and it comes with daily buffet breakfast. Comfortable stay.

The airport is only a short distance from the city centre. The trip to the hotel by the red songkhaew cost 150 baht for 2 pax. The return was even cheaper at 40 baht each.

The entire stay was to absorb the sights, smells and sounds the city has to offer. Night markets, street food, shopping, massages and visiting popular tourist attractions.

Wat Chedi Luang
 

At Chiang Mai (South) Gate

The old and new co-exist


Street food galore 

Saturday Night Market
Visit to the famous Tiger Kingdom. We got more than we anticipated. It was Hean Chye's bucket list to take a pic with a real live tiger. We agreed to join in not knowing what to expect until we purchased the tickets and taken to the waiting area. Only then we realised tourists were taken in groups into an enclosure where about 5 adult tigers roamed free!! Admittedly, it was real scary when it dawned on us what we got ourselves into.

Believe me, the tigers are awake!



Was I scared...you bet!

From Tiger Kingdom, it was a 2 hours driving journey to Chiangrai. Along the way, we stop at a hotspring.
 



                                                                                            Wat Rong Khun
  
                                                              
 
 

 
On Day 3, we went on the day package to Doi Inthanon National Park which includes two waterfalls (Vachiratharn and Mae Klang), highest point in all of Thailand and the Karen hill tribe cloth weaving. The package cost was 1,200 baht per pax but we got another 100 baht discount from the hotel.

 
 
 



 
Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri, two chedis near the summit of Doi Inthanon
 
 
 
 


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Taiwan Part 3, 2 to 8 November 2014

Day 5, SML to Taichung, Taipei, Thursday @ 6 November 2014

After a hearty breakfast of porridge, bread and jam, we loaded up the car for our last leg of our cross country trip to Taichung on the West Coast for our journey back to the capital by THSR, Taiwan High Speed Railway aka Keretapi Peluru.
The route eventually took us to the freeway, speed limit 100 kph, to Taichung. On the car windscreenis a microchip to tag the car as it enters the freeway. We only paid TWD20 for the stretch used to the car rental company when we returned the car with the same full tank.

Subsequently, the company dropped us off at the Taichung THSR station. Originally, our journey back to Taipei was supposed to depart at 3pm but we have it changed to 1pm since we were early. The journey from Taichung to Taipei by bullet train was 1 hour.





After we checked in to Go Sleep Xining also in Ximending, we spent the afternoon exploring the shopping area at the basement of the main Taiwan Railway Station.


We always make an effort to try the KFC in different countries. The girls quite like their version of Hot n Spicy.

One of many restaurants found below




From the main railway station, we took the MRT to the famous Shilin Night Market.
 


White Bitter Gourd!





 
 

They are fishing for prawns. Catch them and they will grill it on the spot for you to eat.

Many game stalls can be found
 
Assorted candies to choose from
The night market has the usual gamut of stalls.Shilin Market is not the largest but popular with the tourists.

Day 6: Wufenpu Wholesale Market, Taipei 101, Tonghua Night Market Friday @ 7 November 2014

Slept until later in the morning after 5 exciting but tiring days. On the way to Ximen station, we came across the iconic 'Red House'.

 

From Ximen station, we took the blue line to  Houshanpi station. Wufenpu is an area best known for wholesale garment especially women fashion wear.

When we reached there at about 11 am, all the stores have yet to open. After asking some local people there, apprently it only comes to life after 2pm!


This stall serves one mean pau with tender pork meat and 'miu choy'. 

Steaming hot pau. This I've to say is simply delicious!

The shops have yet to open

Ready for the day's business
After a late lunch, took the same MRT back to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall station and walked a few blocks to the famous Taipei 101. Honestly, not to be biased, I personally feel that our Petronas Twin Towers is more impressive and aesthetic tower.