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Saturday, June 23, 2018

10 ESSENTIALS IN TAIPEI TOUR

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Taipei is probably the most tourist-friendly city for me so far. One thing that caught my attention is its mind-blowing transportation system not to mention the trains, might it be MRT, high speed, or the railway. If every city in my country, the Philippines, adapts to this ingenious idea, for sure, every Filipino would not face the everyday hassle on getting on both  LRT and MRT that each has been experiencing up to this date due to innumerable rather abominable factors that even the government itself could not resolve for such a very long time. How I wish!
Anyway, with a well-planned itinerary and a pleasant mind-set, you can never go broke in Taipei. In fact, I stayed in the city centre for almost a week and I was able to visit most of the sites by only taking the advantage of MRT trains and a few rides on the city bus.
Generally speaking, spending your time around the metro for a few days would be enough; on the other hand, I needed to stay longer not just to fill my memories with picturesque places, but to get to know more about the locals well, taste both extraordinary and ubiquitous delicacies, and understand the culture deeper. But then I realized that there are still a lot to discover: their culinary diversity, well-preserved geo parks, several UNESCO heritage sites, and other night markets that I was not able to try and enjoy. Certainly, I am coming back. Soon!
For tourists or travellers who will have a very limited time in Taipei, I came up with a travel plan that won’t eat a lot of your time. It’s hassle-free and easy to follow. But before you begin your tour, you should take note of the following essentials.

1. Itinerary
I divided these itineraries into 3 categories based on a handful of factors like proximity of the attractions, MRT line, and time when to enjoy a particular place. Certainly, each requires one whole day to accomplish this tour plan. Moreover, in order to remember these travel plans, I even created its title.
Types:
Itinerary 1 – The Nearby Attractions
Itinerary 2 – When East Meets West
Itinerary 3 – The Lantern of Nature
Tips:
- Of course, you should have a copy of the itinerary I made because it contains the name of the attractions in particular order, instructions, time when the site is open, and MRT line to use. You may print it or download the pdf file on your mobile phones.

2. MRT Ticket
There are practical methods to enjoy MRT. One is by tickets, either by card or using token for one-time trips. The fare is usually determined by distance which ranges from NTD 20 to NTD 40 per ride. Just remember to check the balance when using the card. Another way is by having your Taipei Fun Pass. This card doesn’t only give you unlimited rides on MRT, but also on city buses (not including the bus with more than 4 digits) and five Taiwan Tourist shuttle routes within the validity period.
Variants:
1 DAY - $ 180 
1 DAY (Gondola version) - $ 250 
(allows 3 trips on Maokong Gondola)
2 DAY - $ 310
3 DAY - $ 440
5 DAY - $ 700
Tips:
- Purchase Taipei Fun Pass according to the number of days you will tour around Taipei. For me, this type of ticket is the most affordable and very practical for short-term travellers. It gives us less hassle of checking the load every now and then and queuing to re-load the card. It surely a money-saver because the rides are unlimited.  

3. Navigation Tools
It would be better if you have wi-fi with you. You can rent a mobile wi-fi unit at the airport, but it’s a bit costly.
Using navigation apps like Google map, Waze, HERE Wego, and so on, is a very favourable tool to fulfill wanderlust. It vividly shows your current location, gives you simple direction, and indicates various ways to reach your destination. In the contrary, you don’t need to worry if you don’t have one. You can use a map which is available almost everywhere in the city free of charge, especially at the airport, MRT stations, convenient stores, and ticket office of most tourist attractions.
Courtesy of Google Map
Tips:
- Based on my experience, for a faster and greater ease of navigation, I used both. But most of the time, I tend to use the map so I am able to magnify the entire city and jot down some vital notes.

4. Money
Majority of the sites in Taipei has free admission, but bringing some extra money is a must.
New Taiwan Dollar (NDT)
Tips:
- You can practically make any transactions either by cash or credit card, but each has an advantage. If you are a type of person who shops a lot, then credit card is perfect for you. In the contrary, you still need to have some cash on hand. Some admission fees and small stores must be paid in and receive cash respectively.

5. Comfy Clothing
Another vital thing you need to take into consideration wherever you travel is the appropriate attire. Taiwan has tropical climate with hot and rainy summer from May to September. It also has spring in April until early May, autumn from October to December, and mild winter in January.
Altonie and Princess wearing their trendy but comfy OTTD
Tips:
- It was summer and the weather was unpredictable when I was in Taipei. There were times that it was sunny in the morning then it would rain until evening, so a small umbrella is another essential.
- Wear light clothing preferably cotton fibre. Short pants and a shirt can do.
- You must wear a very comfortable pair of trainers or rubber shoes. Expect that you’ll do lots of walking on this tour.
- You can wear a cap and sunglasses whenever necessary.

6. Gadgets
Make sure that all of your gadgets are fully-charged so you won’t be missing anything. You can bring a power bank as well if in case socket is unavailable in some areas.
Tips:
- If you’re not using your wi-fi or mobile data in you smart phone, put it on airplane mode. By this way, it won’t run out of battery easily.   

7. Small Handy Bag
In any forms of travel activities, you never forget to bring a bag. Of course, you need to secure some of your stuffs like your wallet, passport, map, gadgets, and store something to bite and drink.
Tips:
- Remember! You won’t be carrying anything that adds up to your load. Again, you’ll be walking the entire day, so there’s no way for you to stop your journey due to carrying heavy things.
- Choose a multi-functional bag. When I say multi-functional, you can carry it with your hand, wear it with a crossbody strap, or just put it on your shoulder. There are numerous multifunctional bags out in the market now, some are available online.
- It should be water proof and expandable.

8. Sunscreen Lotion
There’s no doubt that you’ll be toasted under the heat of the scorching sun. Putting some sunscreen lotion or cream is essential to avoid sun burn and wrinkles. What I like about Taiwan’s sunny weather is its less humidity. You never go as damp and oily as easily compared to the Philippines.’
Tips:
- Nowadays, sunscreen lotions are in the form of spray. I prefer this one because it distributes the lotion on your skin evenly.

9. Energy Snacks
In case food is not present in few places such as temples and memorial shrines, bringing a handful of snacks is a brilliant idea. At least you have something to munch when you get exhausted or hungry during the tour.
Tips:
- There are some food that provide you instant source of energy whenever possible such as raisins, energy bar, peanut, and some oatmeal cookies with various flavours. You can easily see them in supermarket or convenience stores.

10. Open Mind
You will not be able to accomplish the itineraries I made without this in yourself. Basically, some travellers would be very eager see new places, meet new people, and try authentic cuisine, but more often than not, they are ignorant of the custom or the culture that they will have to encounter. Unfortunately, they go home frustrated and dissatisfied because of unmet expectations.
Tips:
- Try to search do’s and don’ts in meeting the locals. You can obtain them in Google.
- Go out and try new cuisine. There’s no harm in trying anyway.
- Learn a little bit of their language. A bit of hello or good morning in their mother tongue will surely brighten their day. You might not know, they can teach you their language without any extra cost. Surely, it will be useful in haggling at the market.
- Don’t compare their culture to anything when having a conversation with them. It’s a big no no or you may end up in big trouble.
- Don’t argue with some sensitive talks about religion, politics, sex, and gender. There’s always the right time and venue for that. You can talk about these topics discretely, but with your close Taiwanese friend.
Local Taiwanese food


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

MONEY CHANGER IN TAIPEI

Taiwanese Dollars
One thing travellers or tourists must do when visiting Taiwan is to have their money exchanged into Taiwan Dollar or New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) before they start their tour around the country. There are plenty of ways to do this. One is to exchange it in your country particularly in some money changer counters or even in major banks. The only thing that sets them apart is that the bank usually asks for some requirements such as your passport and/or any valid IDs, e-ticket of your flight, and sometimes your dollar account with them. What I can advise you is before visiting a local money changer, you’d better call and ask them the specific requirements so you won’t be missing anything. Most of their contact information can be searched now in Google.
Money changer centres, commonly known as Foreign Currency Exchange Services in Taipei are few, and I had a hard time finding them even searching one in Google, so I what I did was to ask the receptionist of the accommodation where I stayed. The following are the locations where you can take advantage of this service which I personally visited as well.

1. Bank of Taiwan (Arrival Hall)
The currency exchange service is available at the Arrival Hall of Taoyuan International Airport (Terminal 1) round-the-clock. You can see this on right side after you pass through Passport Control (immigration check). In fact, I arrived at around 2 in the morning, and to my surprise, the counter was still open.
Schedule: Open 24 hours
Contact Information: 03-398-2213
Website: https://www.taoyuan-airport.com/english                     
Taoyuan International Airport

2. Bank of Taiwan (Departure Hall)
If you have some Taiwanese Dollar on hand and want to exchange them to USD, currency exchange service counter at the departure hall is there for you 24 hours. You can easily see it near Check-in Counter #1, on the left side of the escalator that brings you to the Boarding area. I suggest you to complete the check-in procedures first before exchanging your remaining Taiwanese Dollars to avoid any hassle before boarding.
Schedule: Open 24 hours
Contact Information: 0800-880-288
                 Courtesy of Taoyuan International Airport, Terminal 1
     
3. Taipei 101
The money changer service in Taipei 101 is handled by one of the concierge located at Basement 1 (B1) – Central Circle.
 Taipei 101 in Xinyi District
You can easily see it right beside the escalator, a few feet from the food court. Other services it caters include:
- customer inquiries
- tax refund
- redemption of gifts
- sales of e-voucher
- paging area
- lost and found
- first aid
- parking fee deduction
- application for membership cards
- usage of equipment free of charge: charging cable, power bank, stroller, wheelchair, blanket, and child locator.
Remember that this foreign currency exchange service is only for foreigners; thus, you must present your own passport. Besides, it can only exchange a few selected currencies to Taiwanese Dollars including AUD, SGD, HKD, RMB, JPY, EUR, and USD.
Entry way to the shopping mall
Schedule:
Sun – Thur, 11:00 am – 09:30 pm
Fri – Sat, public holidays (evening) – 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Contact Information: +886-2-8101-8800
How to visit via MRT:
1. Take the RED line bound for ZIANGSHAN
2. Get off at R03 – Taipei 101 Station
3. Use Exit #1 – World Trade Center
Follow this marker and you’ll not get lost

4. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Building 1 (Zhongshan Area)
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi is an 11-floor shopping mall (including the 2 floors of the basement) which sells chiefly branded international products from apparel to accessories, cosmetics, teas, electronic appliances, and arts and crafts, perfect for both genders from all ages.
Schedule:
Mon – Sun, 11:00 am – 09:30 pm
Contact Information: 02-2568-2868
How to find via MRT:
1. Take RED line or GREEN line
2. Alight at R11 – Zhongshan Station or G14 - Zhongshan Station
3. Use Exit #2 – Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Building 1. The entrance of the mall is just several feet away from the MRT.
4. Take the elevator which can be seen on the left side, but outside of the building entrance. The foreign currency exchange is on the 9th floor, located inside the VIP Centre. 
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi in Zhongshan District
This branch can only exchange USD, JPY, EUR, AUD, CNY or RMB, and HKD to Taiwanese Dollars. Again, you should bring your passport.

5. FE 21’
FE 21’ (Far Eastern) is another must-visit shopping mall when you are around Ximen shopping district. It has 8 floors with great selections of products to choose from including one floor on the basement.  What makes this place more distinct is it specializes in merchandise for female consumers. The mall has either imported or local products ranging from trendy clothing, jewelries, skin care, cosmetics, toys, and a lot more. In addition, it has VIP and breastfeeding rooms for their patrons.
 FE 21’ Paoching Branch in Zhongzheng District
Schedule:
Sun - Thur, 11:00 am – 09:30 pm
Fri – Sat, 11:00 – 10:00 pm
National Holiday’s eve – 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Contact Information: 0800-231-022 / 02-2381-6088
How to find via MRT:
1. Take BLUE line or GREEN line
2. Alight at BL11 – Ximen Station or G12 - Ximen Station
3. Then use Exit #3. The mall is right beside the MRT exit.
4. The foreign currency exchange service or what some people call it money exchanger, is located on the 1st floor, specifically at the information counter. Again, you have to show your passport when making any transaction here.
Information counter of FE 21’

Reminders & Tips:
* If you’ll arrive in Taiwan so late, you can have some of your money exchanged at the airport so that you have something to use for taxi or buying your stuff. Then exchange the rest of it in the malls I mentioned above. Service fee is included at the airport amounting to 100 NTD per transaction.
* Foreign currency exchange services in the mall don’t have any additional service fees. However, they are only open on certain hours.
* Like I always say on this article, you have to bring your passport wherever you go and make any transactions in Taiwan. 
x

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chowking Asado Siopao for FREE on August 27, 2017

Photo courtesy of Chowking
Chowking is giving out its Chunky Asado Siopao for FREE. You may visit any of its participating stores on August 27, 2017 (Sun) at 3 to 4 in the afternoon and be one of the first 200 customers who will receive a FREE Chunky Siopao Asado. If you'll buy Chunky Siopao Asado, it costs P 39 per serving. 
The participating stores are listed below.
North Luzon
1. Abanao Baguio
2. Mabalacat
3. SM Tarlac
4. Laoag City
5. Nepo Alaminos
6. Nepomall Angeles
7. Nepomall Dagupan
8. Olongapo 1
9. Mega Center, Cabanatuan
10. Robinsons Pampanga
11. Robinsons Santiago
12. SM Baguio
13. SM Cabanatuan
14. SM Cauayan
15. SM Clark
16. SM Marilao
17. SM Pampanga
18. Tuguegarao Tanza
19. Urdaneta Mc Arthur
20. Waltermart Gapan

Metro Manila
1. 168 Residences
2. Alimall
3. BGC 11th
4. Carriedo
5. Edsa Central
6. Fairview Regalado
7. Farmers Market
8. Fastbyte Alabang
9. Festival Mall
10. Festival Mall 2
11. Gagalangin
12. Glorietta
13. Juan Luna, Divisoria
14. Mabini 10th Ave., Caloocan City
15. Malabon City Square
16. Malabon City Hall
17. Manuela Starmall
18. Marikina Riverbanks
19. New Southmall
20. Paco
21. Pamplona
22. Pasig Market
23. Pateros Bayan
24. Petron Dimasalang
25. Robinsons Metro East
26. Sampaguita
27. SM BF, Paranaque
28. SM Center, Las Pinas
29. SM Fairview Annex
30. Small Mall of Asia E.M.
31. SM Megamall
32. SM Novaliches
33. SM San Lazaro
34. SM San Mateo
35. SM Taytay
36. SM Valenzuela
37. Spark Place
38. Tayuman
39. Tutuban 1 & 2
40. Vista Mall

South Luzon
1. Candelaria Highway
2. Canlubang
3. Central Mall Binan
4. Dasma Central
5. Gumaca Hi-way
6. Legaspi Pacific Mall
7. Legazpi Rizal
8. Molino
9. Robinsons Lipa
10. Robinsons Palawan
11. San Juan Batangas
12. San Pablo Junction
13. San Pablo Ultimart
14. San Pedro Downtown
15. SM Bacoor
16. SM Batangas
17. SM Dasmarinas
18. SM Market Mall
19. SM Sta. Rosa
20. Sta Cruz, Laguna

VizMin
1. Alturas
2. Ayala Cebu New
3. Cebu Cyberzone
4. Abreeza
5. Dumaguete
6. Gaisano Butuan
7. Gaisano Davao
8. Gaisano Tagum
9. SM Gen San
10. KCC Gen San
11. KCC Marbel
12. Pagadian
13. SM Bacolod
14. SM CDO Premier
15. SM Consolacion
16. SM Davao
17. SM Iloilo
18. SM Seaside City Cebu
19. Tacloban 1
20. Valencia, Bukidnon
21. Citymall, San Carlos
22. Gaisano Marketplace Roxas

Per DT-FTEB Permit No. 11965 Series of 2017


Reference:  Chowking PH

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

MACTAN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) formerly known as Mactan Air Base, is located in Central Visayas region, specifically in Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island with an area of approximately 800 hectares. The airport was built by the US in 1956 which served as an emergency airport.
It was on November 12, 2013 when the world’s biggest aircraft, Antonov An-225 Mriya, landed on MCIA all the way from Zagreb International Airport in Croatia for the first time in the country. The aircraft delivered a 180-ton of transformer from the Croatian energy company, Koncar as a replacement to the First Gen Corporation’s power plant, located in Batangas City.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) awarded the operations and maintenance of MCIA to one of the consortiums based here in the Philippines for a bid amounting to 17.5 billion pesos. The project covers the renovation and rehabilitation of terminal 1 as the 1st phase, and expansion of the existing runway. It is expected to be complete by 2018.
A part of this project, is the improvement of system and service including the electronic boarding pass scanner, both for domestic and international flights seen at the arrival area of the airport after checking-in, easy-to-follow markers and information board with neon yellow fonts, flat screen monitors showing real-time information to track flight arrivals and plane finder in each gate, plenty push carts, great selections of establishments to dine and shop, and very cold ventilation in any parts of the airport that you’ll have to wear your jacket. In addition, the management maintains the entire place to be as clean as possible by its hard-working utility employees.
Boarding pass scanning system

Bar-coaded boarding pass (BCBP)

Gate 8

Cebu Pacific is one of the airlines usually seen in MCIA

The ongoing expansion project of the airport

The following establishments available at the boarding area are classified to food and drinks, gift and souvenirs, and health and beauty.
Food & Drinks
1. Italian Bistro & Bar – La Bella Express
The store sells Italian sandwiches such as Genova, Panino Milano, Panino Capri, Buongiorno, ham and cheese croissant and some chocolate cookies. 
Price per serving:
Genova (chicken breast with pesto sauce and lettuce) - P 200
Panino Milano - P 250
Panino Capri - P 300
Buongiorno (scrambled egg sandwich with bacon) - P175
Ham and cheese croissant - P 150
Double chocolate chip cookies - P 50
Chocolate chip cookies - P 50


2. Top ‘n Doc
They usually sell hotdog sandwiches and the usual softdrinks.

3. Grilled Pita

4. Tsim Sha Tsui – Dimsum & Tea Bar
The store's main products are various kinds of dimsum and tea flavors. The price ranges from P 120 - P 170 per meal. 

5. Zubochon
Zubochon is known for its succulent roasted pig, locally known as 'lechon.' Most meals are in combo, ranging from P 180 to P 220 per meal including one serving of steamed rice and a glass of drinks.
Meal Price:
Roasted chicken mami (noodles) - P 180
Lechon mami (noodles) - P 180
Roasted chicken sotanghon (noodles) - P180
Eye pork fried rice - P 180
Bangus (milk fish) sisig with rice - P 240
Lechon sisig - P 190
Lechon paksiw with rice and drinks - P200
Boneless lechon with rice and drinks - P 220
Roasted chicken with rice and drinks - P 150

6. Dunkin Donuts
Donuts and drinks sold in regular stores are also available in this branch.

7. Jollibee
Most meals in budget or ala carte are available in this store. 

8. Tubo Cane Juice
Tubo means sugar cane, so what do you expect. Sugar cane juice is available in various flavors. 

9. Bo’s Coffee
Different kinds of coffee-based beverages are available in Bo's. Mostly can be served in hot, blended, or over ice, so if you want something refreshing and will make you awake in a very early flight, drinks here are perfect for you. The store uses locally-produced coffee beans. 

10. Cinnabon
For those who are not familiar with Cinnabon, this store usually sells hand-made cinnamon in different flavors. If you want something sweet as your pasalubong or present to your loved ones, a box of this delight is perfect for them.  

11. Candy Corner
Well, having Candy Corner at the airport is a very nice idea. A lot of travelers these days go with their kids, and this will give you a great selection of candies including gummies, chewing gums, mallows, and many more. 

Gift & Souvenir Stores
1. The Cocoa Trees 
This store sells famous international brands of chocolates and candies such as Kinder, M&M, Cadbary, Toblerone, Kisses, Hawaiian Host, Kit Kat, Chupa Chups, Haribo, Valrhona, and Zaini, and many more.

2. Island Souvenirs 
Island Souvenirs is known for the authentic designs seen on its shirts, ref magnet, mugs, keychain, bag tag, cap, shorts, tanktop, and shoulder bags. Dried mangos are also available.

3. District Fiesta  
This store has locally made products like necklace made up of hand-painted wooden beads, hats made of abaca, necklace made of shells and wooden beads, and some goodies such as dried mango, otap, and mangorind.

4. WHSmith 
It sells digital accessories from earphones, to cellphone covers, chargers, and so on. They also have souvenirs such as U-shaped sleeping pillows from adult to kid's size, different colors and designs of scarf, shoulder bags. Also, they have potato chips, chocolate in different brands, softdrinks, and mineral water.

5. Watch ‘N See 
This store sell sunglasses and reading glasses, and watches in various brands

6. Bench Depot
It is one of the famous local brands with many branches all over the Philippines and some parts of Asia. They sell apparel, accessories, and cosmetic products.

Health & Beauty
1. Victoria’s Secret
The store mainly sells lotion, body wash, perfume, and other cosmetic products by Victoria's Secret and other known international brands.


2. Stress Away Massage
If you may have arrived earlier and much time to spend at the airport or your flight has been delayed, this area of relaxation is perfect for you. You'll go home refreshed and relaxed.