During my Japan trip I didn’t bother learning the Japan Rail system; where my companions go that’s where I go. I noticed that in some stations we were changing trains, but it didn’t really occur to me why and how to do it. That’s the thing with sponsored trips, you just go with the flow because everything is taken care of including a task as simple as taking public transportation. When you go on your own trip of course this is not going to be the case especially if you are alone. The responsibility of where you will eat, where you will go, and how you will get around lies on your shoulder. In short, I was forced to learn the Taiwan MRT system. I realized that it’s not as difficult as it may seem and because I am proud that I did learn it, I just had to write an entire post about it (celebrate little achievements y’all!). So here are some tips on how to take the Taipei MRT.
But it’s not as big as Strayed’s monster. Mine is a CabinZero 44L lightweight cabin bag, the color of Desert Sand. It costs about GBP 80 (PHP 4,990), under CabinZero’s Military range. It was built with military spec nylon, has side compression straps, top grab handle, AirMesh padded back and straps, zipped pocket in the front, as well as zipped mesh pockets inside. Moreover, it has sternum and waist straps.
The nylon lining is polyester, it weighs about 950 grams, the material is waterproof, and the bag’s dimensions are 55 x 40 x 20 cm. As the name of the brand implies, this bag can fit in the cabin. If that ain’ cool enough how about I tell you that it has a global luggage tracker powered by Okoban and 10 years warranty?
Now I am not about to pretend that I’m a backpack expert, but I’ve had regular backpacks before and I can tell the difference between using a regular backpack that doesn’t have any of those specs to having a CabinZero that offers all those. Because seriously how many of us really think about the features of a bag and how they would make things easy for us when we use them? If I have to be honest, I buy a bag before based on aesthetics or whether or not they’d look good with any of my clothes rather than comfort.
So let’s just say that CabinZero sort of changed the way I perceived bags. Now I don’t stop at looking at the aesthetic, I also check the functionality of it.
Two of the major discomforts I always experience when going on trips with a heavy load are the inevitable strains on the shoulders and lower back and the fact that the bags couldn’t fit all of my stuff (hence my 2-bag approach to traveling). Both of these have been addressed by CabinZero.
The padded straps made the heavy lifting more manageable and the inside is so spacious, I was able to pack all of my things without so much effort. I like to think that I am a light packer, but really, I’m not. I always end up bringing clothes that I don’t really get to use during the trip. So I definitely appreciate the extra space inside this backpack. It’s so spacious that I was able to stuff everything in it including the travel gifts or in Filipino, pasalubong.
And if we have to talk about the looks department, my CabinZero bag has no problem with it. First I am in love with the color, I have no problem pairing it with my clothes. I also like its minimalist design, no unnecessary protruding pockets, and the front looks seamless.
Great news! If you too want to have a CabinZero bag, you may use my code so you can avail of the discount. Just click here to use my referral link.
I didn’t lack inspiration for my itinerary in Taipei; I had friends who were generous with their suggestions on where I should go and what I should do. One even sent me a copy of her itinerary when she went to Taiwan. Despite this, I went to Taiwan like I had no idea what I’m about to do. I have forgotten about the suggested itinerary, the transportation and spots to visit, and other pieces of advice thrown over chat conversation. Yes, I can be an askhole. There are dangers in refusing to acknowledge in other people’s advice but I can definitely understand the lure. The prospect of finding out things on my own was delicious for me. This is how I found out TourMeAway while randomly googling for things to do in Taiwan. I discovered that there is an option to see Taipei by joining a small group of tourists in a tour led by a few locals. And the best thing about it, it’s free.
Two years ago, I went to Cambodia and learned about the Hindu story of the churning of the sea of milk while exploring the temples of Angkor Wat. I remember being fascinated with this particular story; the gods and the demons worked together to churn the sea of milk to get the amrita using a snake (Vasuki) as a churning rope and this happened in Mount Mandara. Mandara happened to be the name of the spa that I and my blogger friends went to recently. It was an opportune invitation to check out The Mandara Spa at BF Parañaque as I was then suffering from body aches incurred from my recent Taiwan trip. Is my time at this spa as memorable as the story I mentioned? Read on to find out.
What’s the first thing that you look for in a place? Me, what else? Coffee! So when I went to Taipei I told myself I am going to hang out in a cafe somewhere. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that, at least the “hanging out” part. But I did find two cafes and I was able to buy coffee so I guess that’s not bad. I was able to discover two, Louisa Coffee and Cama Cafe.
In Cambodia they have the Buddhist and Hindu temples, in Japan there are temples and shrines. In Taiwan they have memorial halls, erected to commemorate some of their greatest historical leaders. In my short time in Taiwan, I was able to visit two of these—Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek—two of the most popular tourist spots in Taipei. I know I promised to do slow traveling and to stay away from the tourists spots as much as possible, but I’m allowed to break my own rule. Besides, if you are only given 4 days in a country, you should forget about slow traveling, that ain’t possible. So what’s so special about these two memorial halls that locals and foreigners alike like to visit them?
In Xinyi District you can find the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. It can be easily reached by train, in fact, one of the MRT Stations is named after it due its location. Before this trip, I don’t know anything about Sun Yat-sen, I just went with the suggested of my friend, Christine. Because she didn’t have her own WiFi we had a little bit of miscommunication and I ended up at Nangang Exhibition Center, which is the last station of the Blue Line. Good thing the fare is not that expensive and it’s easy to use the MRT, lest I’d be depressed.
So after my little “joy ride,” Christine and I finally met at Sun Yat-sen Station. We started walking, and I had no idea where we were going. Christine had been in Taiwan a week before me so she is more familiar with the area; hence I let her decide where we should go.
We grabbed coffee, I had noodles in a 7-Eleven where we also chatted for a bit, before we set out to go to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.
So who is Sun Yat-sen?
Good question. I had no idea either.
Until this trip of course. Sun Yat-sen is the national father and the first president of the Republic of China. Born in 1866, Sun was a Chinese physician, writer, philosopher, calligrapher, and revolutionary. Being the founding father of China, he is revered as one of the greatest leaders of modern China. Sun’s greatest legacy is the Three Principles of the People, a political philosophy that promotes nationalism, modern government, and people’s livelihood.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall was built in 1972 in his memory. It’s a multi-purpose multi-purpose social, educational, and cultura center for the public center. The place is big, with a land area of about 28.4 acres. It’s most prominent feature is the humongous sitting Sun Yat-sen statue by the main entrance hall. It would remind you a lot of that Abraham Lincoln statue. There is a formal changing of guards every hour, which we weren’t able to see.
In the memorial hall’s proximity you will find the Chung-shan Park, with a beautiful garden and an Emerald Pond known locally as Lake Cui.
Interesting Fact: China has their own Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chung-shan Park.
From Sun Yat-sen you can see another famous Taiwanese landmark, Taipei 101. Christine and I didn’t feel the need to go up there; we were okay with just taking some photos with it in the background.
I wasn’t really planning to go to Chiang Kai-shek though most of my friends recommended it. But the Tour me Away Taipei Chillout tour that I joined included CKS in the itinerary so I was able to visit it by accident. About Tour me Away, let’s talk about that next time.
This memorial hall was built in tribute to another former president of the Republic China, Chiang Kai-shek. He was was a Chinese political and military leader and he was the president of China from 1928 to 1975. He was the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), a Chinese Nationalist Party. The lost of KMT from the communists in the civil war forced CKS to flee China and to begin a government in exile in Taiwan. This is the reason why many countries consider Chiang’s government as the legitimate Chinese government.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is located in Zhongzheng District. The roof of this memorial hall is of octagonal shape to represent the number 8, which according to Chinese tradition is linked to abundance and good fortune. There are two sets of stairs leading up to the main entrance with 89 steps because CKS died at age 89.
Just like in the Sun Yat-sen memorial hall, there is a big statue of Chiang inside this building. Tourists like to watch the guarding mounting ceremony here, and I happen to have witnessed it when I visited.
Both memorial halls can be visited free of charge. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is open daily from from 09:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except Chinese New Year Eve and Chinese New Year. The Memorial Park on the other hand is open everyday from from 05:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall on the other hand is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.