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Friday, April 3, 2015

Day 8 - Singapore-Taipei-Tainan: Selamat tinggal Singapura, Ni Hao Taiwan

Singapore/Taiwan: Day 8 - 3.4.2015

We had to get up ridiculously early in the morning at 3 a.m. and then took a cab, that we had arranged at our hotel in Singapore, the Keong Saik Hotel. Originally we had planned to take the MRT to the airport, but then - fortunately a day before leaving - realized, that the MRT-trains don´t drive that early. After about 40 minutes we arrived at the Singapore Changi Airport. Things went smoothly there. We didn´t have to wait long to check in for our flight with the discounter airline Jetstar to Taipei, Taiwan. The disembarkment process also was quite quick and so we had some time left at the huge and pleasant airport, which to my delight even had free foot massage machines!

We set off at 7 a.m. and arrived at around noon at Taoyuan International Airport. Immigration was quick and soon we were at the arrivals hall, where we turned left and at the end left again (as we had read online) to get to the telephone companies. We bought a local SIM Card at the Chunghwa Telecom office and uploaded some money on it for cheap international calls. Next we had to reach the Taoyuan High Speed Rail Station. While there´s a shuttle bus, we decided for a cab, when a cab driver outside announced, that it cost 350 Taiwanese Dollar (about 10 Euro).

At the High Speed Rail Station we purchased tickets at the machine, which has also English service, to Tainan, where we had booked a hotel for three nights. There was still time left, so we wanted to have a snack and coffee. While Jetstar has cheap flights, they don´t serve anything on board for free, so we were ready for something. Unfortunately the supermarket and the restaurant at the station were filled with loads of people and we didn´t want to squeeze through and stand in a long queue with our heavy luggage. Fortunately, outside we found a Starbucks and relaxed there for a moment, until we had to go to the train.

We only got non-reserved seats for the train and while the trains have wagons for non-reserved seats, it was already full and I had to stand nearly all the way to Tainan. The High Speed Rail is a really fast and modern train, that runs a line from north to south Taiwan on the western side of the island. It actually was just a bit more than an hour until we reached Tainan. Outside of the station we found the free shuttle bus, that connects the High Speed Rail Station to the main city. We could stow our luggage in the bus and then entered the bus, which had English signs. That was great, because we don´t speak any Chinese. We exited the bus at Jiang-Sing Junior High School Bus Stop and then walked the rest to our hotel, the Fuward Hotel

We had decided to start our two week journey through Taiwan in Tainan, because the city is the oldest in Taiwan and has an abundance of temples. It´s also a good base for excursion in the area. When we arrived at the hotel it was already late afternoon and we were a bit exhausted after all the traveling that day. The hotel however cheered us up - a nice room, a modern hotel, flatscreen TV with an abundance of channels, refrigerator and aircon. 

You´re not every day arriving in Taiwan. So we wanted to make the most of it and started a little sightseeing tour. The hotel is really close to the Confucius Temple. When we walked there it was already getting dark, but the more than 300 year old temple was illuminated - quite a sight.

Just opposite the temple was a food street, so we went there and had dinner at the Hawaii Grill, where the friendly owner - an US America - told us, how much he liked Taiwan and that it´s much easier there to start a business than in other countries. 

After dinner - we had chicken and coconut cake - we walked further to the Koxinga Shrine, which unfortunately was already closed, so we could just walk around in the park in front of it.

On the way back to the hotel we walked past the Lady Linshui Temple and stopped at a bakery. They were especially nice there and told us which filling is inside the different breads. Back at the hotel we soon fell asleep after a long day of traveling. We were looking forward to two weeks of sightseeing in Taiwan.

Taiwan might not be the obvious choice for non-Chinese travelers, but after some research we had decided for this holiday, in order to see ancient temples, modern cities, waterfalls, rainforest, mountains - and all reachable by modern infrastructure, which makes independent travel easy. The next day we planned to really start with sightseeing in Tainan.

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