Taipei #TaiwanItThatWay #GorgeousGoes

Alright! This is long overdue! It’s time to share my Taipei trip itinerary. First of all, guess what? We only spent P14,000 (265 USD) for 3 days and 3 nights, so you might really want to read this. Yup that P14,000 already includes the airfare, hotel, itinerary, and souvenirs. I specialize in having the best trip with the lowest budget possible. I’ll stick to tips and trivia and not a very detailed itinerary – click the links (those with a different font color and underlined) for individual posts about the place or comment below 🙂

NT$ 1 = PHP1.761

USD = NT$ 30.59

Taoyuan International Airport

TPE is a large airport, so know immediately what terminal would you get off to. Terminal 1 and 2 is connected by a train. Also, take note that their train station heading to Taipei is not included in the 3 days bus and metro pass. It’ll cost you NT$160 (PHP 277; USD 5.23) to get to Taipei Central Station. This will also be a good time to buy your local sim card for a data connection – they have it at airport price! We got ours for NT$230 (PHP 397; USD 7.52) – that’s unlimited internet for 4 days.

YEHLIU GEOPARK

This is my favorite among the places that we went to in Taipei. This is so beautiful! The rock formations are all eye-candy. It has a vibe and natural colors that made our trip worth it, no matter how hot it was. Don’t miss out that ice cream shop at the end of the street to counter the heat(NT$80/USD 2.62/PHP 138)!. All the other details are in my separate blog post.

Maokong Gondola

Although there are other gondola rides, this one is a good experience too. You will cross the mountainside through the crystal cabins and see the skyscrapers on top. This one will only cost you NT$200/USD 6.54 for a two way ride up to Zhinan Station. Also, drop by the Chance store near the Taipei Zoo Station – they have these cute ice creams with real fruits in them!!!!

Zhinan Temple

I would like to refer to this place as “the unblogged destination”. While researching my way through our travel, I didn’t encounter any posts about the Zhinan Temple. Luckily, I gambled a choice between this one and Maokong station (where there is a plantation), and I am so happy that we did, because it literally made my jaw drop in it’s beauty. Will post a different blog for this one!

Longshan Temple

I love this temple! I have been to different temples already, but this one is the most authentic. It’s unlike any other in the sense that this is really a place of worship than a tourist spot. When we got there, there were people praying, reading their holy book, offering sacrifices and putting up their hands in worship. It was a good experience to see this kind of culture with not much people going just to take a picture and post it in Instagram. There is no entrance fee.

Shifen Old Street

Of course, you can’t go to Taiwan without doing this, right? Flying a sky lantern is a Taiwanese practice where they write their wishes and let it fly hoping that their god would see it and grant it. We don’t exactly did that for that, but it was still a good experience. Please go here in the afternoon. It is a good sight during the night but there’s no people already during this time because there’s really no direct transportation to the city. Stores closes at 8:30.

Cost: Lantern – NT$200 (USD 6.53/PHP 345), Taxi to the city – we got ours at NT$150 (USD 4.90/PHP259) each (6 people in one cab).

Shilin Night Market & Ximending Night Market

If you want the cheapest foods and the best night markets, I really recommend this two. Shilin night market is the cheapest and most popular among the other night markets. It is full of different street food that tastes really great! On the other hand, Ximending made me feel like I was in Times Square in New York. It was so lively! BUT – it has discounted designer brands in here so it’s not really cheap but if you want to buy branded stuff, then you can find good deals here.

Taipei 101, Jiufen Old Street & Liberty Square

Yes, I put these three on the last point because… well, I think your Taiwan trip will be complete even if you miss out this three. But if you have a few more hours or days to spare, then this is also a good option.

Of course, everybody wants to have a picture with Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world before Burj Kalifa. You might want to go inside too, but that’s just a shopping mall of expensive brands. That’s the same with Liberty Square. Good for pictures, but there’s really nothing there.

Juifen Old Street looks really good in the eye and for photos, but I don’t think the fare and travel time to go up there is worth it. It is a loooong street of souvenir shops (but not cheap compared to night markets) and lanterns. That’s it.

 

I had a really good time in Taiwan, especially because of their locals, so I hope you have a good one too! You can also check my post on how you can have a budget-friendly travel. If I can help in any way, feel free to reach out!

BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES

Plane ticket (Cebupac piso fare promo)- PHP1880|USD 35.58|NT$1089

Airport tax (NAIA) – PHP1620

Accommodation (Hostel Jiizu; Private double room with private bathroom; Near Nanjing Sanmin Station) – P1864|USD 35.27|NT$1080

Sim card, unlimited data for 4 days (hotspot!) – PHP397|USD7.51|NT$230

Train from TPE to Taiwan Central Station – PHP277|USD5.24|NT$160

Fun Pass Card (unlimited bus and train card) – PHP758|USD14.34|NT$440

Lunch (Shredded chicken with mango shake) – PHP259|USD.490|NT$150

Bus to Yehliu (two way; not included in the Fun Pass card) – PHP216|USD4.08|NT$125

Lunch (Mcdonald’s) – PHP130|USD2.45|NT$75

Dinner at Watami Ramen – PHP397|USD7.51|NT$230

Souvenir at Shilin Night Market – PHP1553|USD29.38|NT$900

Coco Milktea – PHP69|USD1.31|NT$40

Breakfast (local food) – PHP86.26|USD1.63|NT$50

Gondola (two way; until Zhinan Station) – PHP345.02|USD6.53|NT$200

Lantern (we only bought 1 lantern, so this will be split in 3) – PHP345.02|USD6.53|NT$200

Bus ride to Jiufen (not included in the Fun Pass card) – PHP147|USD2.77|NT$85

Taxi from Shifen to Taipei Main Station (6 people in 1 cab) – PHP259|USD4.90|NT$150

Dinner – PHP259|USD2.90|NT$150

Souvenir (FOOD! Nougat, salted egg biscuits, and mochi; we bought around 15 bags) – PHP2588|USD48.97|NT$1500

TOTAL: PHP12,952|USD245.11|NT$7508

The rest is spent in other souvenir and food 😀

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The Local Way Is The Best Way

As I mentioned before, to experience a nation’s best, you have to go the local way. Meeting the locals of Taiwan led me to believe this stronger. I have been to 11 countries already and I think Taiwan has the best locals, so far. Let me tell you my experience. It is only recently that Taiwan opened it’s doors visa-free that’s why it’s locals are not yet used to see foreigners roaming their streets – I think that  might be the reason why. At first, I have a bad taste with their locals because they do not smile. I associate warmth with a smile because everyone is smiling in my country. I interpret a poker face with anger or apathy, but I was so  w r o n g  with Taiwanese. They were so accommodating and hospitable.

There were a lot of times when we didn’t even asked for their help, but they helped us. When they see us get lost or confused by their railway system, they approached us and asked us where we’re going and try to help us even if they cannot speak English that much. My friend ran out coins when we rode their bus but we have to pay an exact amount, without hesitation, the woman in front of her gave her NT$100 coins in exchange for my friend’s bill. Also, when the staff in Zhinan temple saw us arrive and look around, she gave us a FREE tour (I know!!!) with a complete explanation of the people, dates, and juicy trivias. She warned us that she speaks little English but she’s willing to show us around. When were done, she left us without even asking for a tip or donation. Same goes for the head nurse that we met in the bus, she went off with us and showed us the cheapest place for their favorite bread, gave us her Facebook contact details so we can reach out to her if we have questions, and gave us haggling tips for their night market. That’s how accommodating they are.

Taiwan will be a sweet memory for me, thanks to their locals. If you’ll visit this country, you have one less thing to worry, their locals are the BEST. I’ll be writing more about my experience, so stay tuned! #GorgeousGoes

Yes to Yehliu Geopark!

At first glance Google, Yehliu Geopark do not look exciting and fun. After all, it is far up North, humid, and just rocks. But I am so glad we took the risk and braved our way, because it easily became one of the highlights of our Taipei trip.

WHY SHOULD YOU GO THERE: I was hesitant to go here at first, thinking that it is a waste of time to spend 4 hours just to see a landscape. But it is not just plain rocks. There’s a beauty in there that I can’t put into words, and if you know me, you’ll know that that rarely happens. Maybe it’s the colors, maybe it’s the fact that no one designed this and it just formed naturally, or maybe it’s a different sight from the tropical country I came from – I don’t know. I just know that I enjoyed it so much minus the heat & sweat.

WHY SHOULD YOU NOT GO THERE:

I came from the Philippines where it’s normal to wake up dripping in sweat, but this is a different kind of heat – I got red marks on my shoulder after staying here for a couple of hours! That’s the only cons in going here but to be honest, that’s a small thing to bear in exchange of this natural beauty.

HOW TO GET THERE: Yehliu is in Wanli district, which is an hour away from Taipei. That’s why you have to ride a bus that’s not included in the regular Metro pass. Ride the bus 1815/1815A for 83 TWD. Don’t worry! The bus has reclining seats, footrests, free wifi, and a charging port.

OTHER DETAILS:

• Entrance is 80 TWD for adults and 40 TWD for children, students, seniors and PWD.

• Bring an extra shirt so you can change after the tour

• Bring water

• There is a visitor center by the entrance where you can buy souvenirs

That’s it! Yehliu rocks! Let me know if you have questions & suggestions ☺️#GorgeousGoes

Give Up That Check-In Luggage Without Giving Up Your #OOTD!

In my previous post, I shared my ideas on how to have a budget-friendly travel. Another tactic is to choose the right flight options. I do that by refusing all add-ons in my plane ticket – that means no meals, no insurance, and finally, no check-in baggage. Some people don’t do this because they think that giving up your check-in luggage means sacrificing your #OOTD, right? Wrong.

I have my fair share of mismatched OOTDs because I was trying to limit my baggage at 7kgs. The photos above are all my trips that I wish I could’ve worn something more Instagrammable. I was wearing a formal shirt when  I arrived in Narita, and I only packed jeans and a shirt throughout my stay in Japan! I wasn’t aware of the temple policies in Bangkok, so I was forced to rent a manly polo to enter! And of course, I was wearing a long sleeves, heavy cotton shirt in El Centro, California – a desert!

Yes, I learned my lesson the hard way. With my upcoming Taipei trip next week, I plan on dressing better. Here’s what I did:

1. Know where you’ll go

This became my main problem during my first trip in Japan. We didn’t really prepared where we’ll go – so I didn’t know what outfit to prepare. Once you know your target places, you can start choosing clothes. At this point, scrolling through Instagram with people posing to the places you plan to visit is really helpful. I learned over time and was able to achieve some IG worthy photos. This will also save you from the anxiety of fitting your whole closet in your luggage.

2. Wear your bulkiest clothes in-flight

They don’t weigh you when you ride the plane, so if you can, it will save you a lot if you’ll wear your bulkiest clothes on your way. This is the perfect time to wear your sweater, boots, and thick clothes!

3. Don’t bring too much bottoms and shoes

If there is an article of clothing that you can wear over and over without giving your followers an idea that you’re being stingy strategic on your luggage, it is your bottoms and shoes. One pair of jeans and shoes for a 5 day trip is enough for me. For women, rompers and dresses are your bestfriend! Also, I only bring 1 pajama and shirt for my night dress. You don’t need to bring 4 pair of clothes for four nights!

 

There you go – save that extra cash for check-in luggage! But always remember, your comfort is our priority over Instagram likes, unless you’re willing to go through some #TiisGanda! Let me know what you think or if you have additional tips to share! 🙂

Budget-Friendly Travel

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A lot of people assume that because I travel regularly means that I am rich and have a lot of money to spare. That’s not true. For me, travelling does not have to be a luxury. Here are 4 tips on how you can achieve your #TravelGoals without hurting your wallet:

1. The golden rule for a budget-friendly travel is PREPARATION. 

Travel will cost you, it is impossible not to — BUT you can save a significant amount of money by preparing your way through the travel. I do not believe that a spontaneous and unplanned trip is the best thing to do, it might be adventurous, yes, but you will not be able to maximize your time and budget. I always book my plane ticket and hotel accommodation at least 6 months before the intended stay. This timeline gives me a lot of time to save, and a lot of flexible options for discount and promos. 

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2. Enjoy doing your RESEARCH.

I am a planner. Before arriving at my destination, I already have a plan of what I’ll do throughout my travel. I really find blogs very helpful during this part. I search everything that I have to know: maps, transportation options, fare, travel time, and even restaurant menus.  This gives me a realistic expectation of the budget that I have to prepare, which is why I don’t get swayed by smooth-talker-sellers because I usually know the right selling price. Research also eliminates the time wasted in getting lost, or missing out on establishment’s hours.

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3. Experience > Accommodation.

You are not in a foreign land to sleep all-day. You do not need a hotel with a bathtub, sofa, terrace and a study room. Personally, as long as the accommodation is clean, a private room with a private bathroom, I’m okay. I plan on staying outside that’s why a 5 star hotel is not a must for me. Rather than spending a big chunk of budget to a hotel, experience will make your trip unforgettable.

4. The local way is the best way.

A country’s locals have saved my wallet more than anything. Instead of renting a tourist van, I ride their public transportation. I do not eat in international cuisine restaurants, I eat beside the streets (although I am usually picky). Locals will tell you the cheaper and better options, especially if you are kind to them. This is true to every country that I’ve ever been. If you show them that you’re interested to see their country through their lens, they proudly show you the local way. Do not come in all that touristy flair. Experience the local way, because it is usually the best way. 

Lastly, no travel is hassle-free – like fitting your closet in your luggage to get the perfect #OOTD. There will be bumps along the way no matter how much you prepare and anticipate. That’s where the fun comes in. Now my luggage is waiting for my Taipei trip coming up next week, so watch out for that! #GORGEOUSGOES

A Letter To My Victory Group

 

This afternoon, I attended the Kingdom Summit and I became teary-eyed as I looked around. Before the event started, I saw Huey and asked her if she will sit with us, but she refused because she’s the event coordinator. I sat with Noemie, Grace, Reca and Clarisse. The music team started playing and I saw Cessy singing with them. Then, after a few minutes, I saw Bianca trying to find a good angle to make a perfect shot. After the first speaker, Grace played in our segment “I Can See Your Voice”. I want to take this moment to honor every single one of them – even those that weren’t in the event today.

 

To My Victory Group,

I just want to say that I am very, very proud of you. While watching you serve in whatever capacity God has placed you, I remember the times we had our One2One. I remember how you were curious about God. I remember when you tried to hide and didn’t attend our Victory Group. I remember the times that you weren’t responding. And I most especially remember when you decided to get serious with your relationship with God. I remember when everything in your life became about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I remember when I saw you talking about the gospel with passion in your eyes. I remember when you questioned, when you doubted, when you found out and when you surrendered.

Now, seeing you disciple and serve in the church with the different gifts and talents that you have brings me so much joy. Whenever I look at you, I see that the future is indeed bright, because they have you. I know that you will never stop until every student and every person you meet hears the gospel. You cannot be restrained, you will not be discouraged, and you will force your way if you have to. You will not subscribe to the cheap ways that this world determines your value. I am excited to see you claim your identity and purpose more and more. I am excited to see you become the salt and light to wherever you’ll set your foot on.

While you go change the campus and change the world, it is my privilege to stand behind you and cheer you on, to encourage you to move forward when you lose heart, and to remind you of God’s promises when you feel that nothing of what you do amounts to something. Thank you for allowing me to speak to you. I boast of Jesus’ work in your lives.