Hi, blog. It’s been a while and I didn’t mean to go this long without a blog post… I’ve been distracted by a lot of things (and by a lot I mostly just mean reading Harry Potter. Haha) So here I am, continuing my post about the Hong Kong trip I had with my co-teachers last month.
Two hours before I had to leave for the airport, I was only halfway through packing. I decided to sleep early the night before, and completely bank on the fact that I would finish packing everything while getting ready. I made it just in time, I was ready to go, tried my luck booking an Uber, but of course, no Ubers were available so I settled with Grab, greeted by an unhelpful driver.
Our visit to Nara Deer Park last December 2017 was basically a pit stop. We were traveling from Osaka to Tokyo, (thanks to Japan’s amazing railway system, it wasn’t a hassle) with all our luggages in tow. We were only able to spend about a total of 2 hours there. Sad, right? But still, it was a happy day!
During my most recent trip to Seoul with my family, I suggested we visit Petite France. I thought it was a little village that happened to resemble French villages but nope, it was actually a theme park!
So first things first, let’s talk about how to get there:
Sidenote: I’m heavily relying on Google and the photos I have for reference since I didn’t take notes
(which I probably should’ve done) during our transit…
OK here we go.
There’s almost always a theme park in any country. You’ve got quite a number of Disneylands and Universal Studios in the US, Europe, and Asia, Ocean Park in Hong Kong, Enchanted Kingdom in the Philippines, and Lotte World and Everland in South Korea. When I travel, I generally prefer to roam around and get lost in the city and discover, learn, and appreciate the culture. I, however, also think that it wouldn’t hurt to allot at least a day to visit a particular city’s theme park.
Everland is the biggest theme park in South Korea. It’s located just outside Seoul, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It usually takes about an hour to get there and here’s a quick list of different ways to get to Everland:
- Subway: If you plan to take the subway, visit Seoul’s metropolitan subway map here. You’ll be able to input the most convenient station for you and the station that you will be arriving at.
For example, the place I’m staying at is closest to Gangnam Station, so I will search that up and I would also have to look up Giheung Station, which is the station I wish to arrive at. It also includes the transfer I need to make, which will be at Jeonja Station so I could arrive at Giheung Station. From Giheung Station, you will need to make another transfer to Yongin Ever Line. 30 minutes later, you’ll arrive at Jeondae Everland Station, which is the last stop. And then, take the free shuttle from the station to Everland or Caribbean Bay! The website will show your ETA, the fee, and the transfer station.
Seoul’s Cyber Station website is so easy to use! You can download it on your mobile phone to make your commuting experience in Seoul hassle-free! PS. The app doesn’t require data or wifi, so even if you get lost, it wouldn’t be a problem. 🙂
- Bus: There are also regular city buses that will take you to Everland. It’s the cheapest option and this, I would say, is what I prefer most. All you have to do is pay right when you enter, sit back, relax, and get off!
- Shuttle Buses: There are two options for Everland shuttle buses. There are shuttle buses that pick you up from your hotel and there are also shuttle buses around Seoul.
This photo is taken from the EVERLAND website.
Upon getting to Everland, you would either queue to purchase your ticket (day tickets cost KRW 54000 for adults and KRW 43000 for children) OR you can quickly purchase your tickets online to save you time!
Everland has five themed areas, the Global Fair, ZooTopia, European Adventure, Magic Land, and American Adventure. It’s been a while since my previous trips to Everland so here’s a quick photo gallery 🙂
My first time in Everland was in December 2012. I remember freezing my butt off to the point that I barely enjoyed the park and didn’t go on any rides. I remember watching the parade and going around once. I kind of regret it now, I should’ve braved the cold, since the park really looked nice and pretty with the snow and bare trees.I don’t remember how many layers I had on but I still ended up using an extra scarf and borrowed my brother’s hat. LOL
Have I mentioned my love (
obsession) with polar bears yet???
Whoops. Okay, so we actually did something fun. Haha
Fast forward to April 2015, I went to Everland again with my friends Nina and Noelle. It was during spring so the weather was much better!We queued up to get our tickets but since it was off-peak, we didn’t have to wait long.I feel like it’s a must to take a photo by this huge tree that you see right when you enter the theme park.
Photo from Nina
T U L I P F E S T I V A L
We didn’t know the Tulip Festival was ongoing when we were there, it was such a nice surprise to see tulips everywhere!
Spot the bee
Couldn’t get enough of the pretty tulips!
Z O O T O P I A
We queued up to ride a bus that would take us around this area I forgot. From our seats, we were able to see wild animals upclose.
Photos from NoellePhoto from NinaPhoto from NinaPhoto from NinaPhoto from Nina
E U R O P E A N A D V E N T U R E
Photo from Nina
G L O B A L F A I R
Photo from Nina
A M E R I C A N A D V E N T U R E
Photo from Nina
We only rode one ride when we were there (the one behind, Anchor’s Away I think). And right. I drank a huge cup of Coca Cola for breakfast. Never doing that again. (Photo from Nina)
Walking by Aesop’s Village. (Photo from Nina)
This was an ongoing inside joke with Noelle the whole trip LOL
Just like any theme park, Everland also had it’s parade 🙂
Photo from Noelle
Before we left the park, we took some more photos! And we really couldn’t get enough of the tulips. Nina bought one for her mom and I bought one for Kup!
Photo from NinaPhoto from Nina
Nina doin’ her thing!
We took the Ever Line to travel back to the city!
Hotel The Designers, LYJ Premiere is situated right by the heart of Gangnam. One of the reasons why I love the LYJ Premiere is because of its location. 1. Just across the street is the whole Gangnam strip filled with shops and restaurants! 2. Breakfast wasn’t included in our rate but it wasn’t a problem — it was so easy to find coffee shops and brunch restaurants around the area. 3. It was also 100x easy to get to and from places since Sinnonhyeon Station was literally right there!
Here’s a brief overview of the hotel’s amenities. I wasn’t able to see any of these for myself, minus the lobby and the terrace (which I also did not have a photo of), so I heavily relied on the hotel’s website for the photos.
All photos are mine unless otherwise stated.
A M E N I T I E S
L Spring (houses a massage, sauna, and snack bar)
Jardin De LYJ (indoor and outdoor bar)
LYJ Terrace (situated right by the entrance of the hotel)
Photo from LYJ Gangnam Premiere
Quick Tip: the hotel doesn’t offer free adaptors for guests, however you can borrow one for a deposit of KRW10,000.
H O T E L R O O M
I had two issues, and two issues only with the hotel rooms.
- The space. It was very difficult to sprawl our luggages (we had two big sized luggages, and two carry on luggages) on the floor, given the space. We unpacked our luggages upon our arrival and placed all our stuff inside the only closet in the room. It also did not have a lot of space so I used the chair for some of my stuff.
- The lighting. Okay, sue me for being petty but I like my spaces well-lit. I like having the option to turn the room pitch black for sleeping, and crazy bright during the day when I get ready. However, the room we had, and the room we had when we visited last April also had terrible lighting. Even with all the room lights turned on, all the curtains drawn, the lighting was just not enough.
There was only one mirror in the room, and it was inside the bathroom.
Aside from my two little issues, our stay at Hotel The Designers LYJ Gangnam Premiere was still good and I’m sure it’s a hotel to be considered again for when we visit Seoul. 🙂
Hotel The Designers | LYJ Gangnam Premiere
Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
While we were in Seoul, we had dinner at Kioku, a Japanese Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. We all had this dinner set called Rakuzan, and it was an amazing experience!
Four Seasons Hotel
Seoul, South Korea
OK so here goes the final post for our Taipei trip. We started our last day by waking up pretty early (well earlier than usual) since we needed to catch our Klook ride to Yehliu Geopark. The meet-up point was somewhere around Ximending (if I’m not mistaken), and we had to take the subway to get there. STORY TIME. We were a little short on time and I’m gonna be honest here — I was a little worried we would miss our ride. To make matters worse, we had such a hard time looking for the Klook meet-up point, even after walking back and forth, checking the directions on the ticket we printed out, and looking at the map at least five times (or more). We eventually found the shuttle, it wasn’t exactly where it was supposed to be but we found it.
Yehliu Geopark is located in the northeastern part of Taipei and it took us an hour and a half to get there from downtown Taipei. Our ride with Klook was so comfortable to the extent that all three of us fell asleep. When we got to the Geopark, we quickly located the entrance since we didn’t want to go beyond the time Klook has allotted us with. We thought all the entrance fees for the places we were to visit with Klook were already included in the fee, but for this particular package, we were only able to avail of a shuttle service from Klook. So we paid for the fee, and off we went.
Yehliu is known by its many rock formations, which were caused by mountains pushed out of the sea. Many of the rock formations apparently resemble quite a lot of things (like candles, the queen’s head, ginger…) but let me tell you. They all looked like rocks to me. Truth be told, I didn’t even know there was this whole resemblance thing going on so I hope you understand why I paid no attention to it and failed to see any. Whoops.
Could this be the famous Queen’s Head? LOL
Or this one…?
We walked around the park and took lots of photos. We also noticed there were marshals or guards around the park, warning tourists if they were stepping beyond the boundary and getting too close to the edge.
If we had stepped over the red line, we would’ve gotten called out by the marshals haha!
We walked around some more before we headed back to our Klook bus. And on the way out, there was this neat marketplace especially designed to attract tourists. I was lowkey looking for the same orange juice we had from the nightmarket…
SHUINANDONG SMELTER / REMAINS OF THE 13 RUINS
The highway and the ocean across the parking lot of the 13 Ruins.
After traveling for 30 or 40 minutes from Yehliu Geopark, we reached our next stop — Shuinandong Smelter or the Remains of the 13 Ruins. OK before I started blabbing away I just want to say, this place really creeped me out and writing about it now still gives me the creeps so I’m gonna type this out as fast as I can and sorry in advance if I miss anything out.
The overcast made the 13 Ruins look like it came straight out of a horror movie…
This area of Taipei was once a mining town since it was abundant with gold. Mining eventually stopped and gold ran out so the miners left town, leaving their factories abandoned. Thus, the existence of the Remains of the 13 Ruins.
Seriously though, I was so creeped out the whole time we were there. Don’t know if it was because of exhaustion, hunger, or just the place. But I swear, it was creepy.
We hopped back on our bus and 5 (or 10?) minutes later, we reached the Golden Waterfall. The whole waterfall gave the illusion that actual gold was flowing from it, I mean it did look a goldish!
It was beautiful, no lies. It was one of those things that completely catches your attention.
According to Round Taiwan Round, the “beautiful gold color (was) a result of the combination of regular rainfall in this mining area and the abundance of heavy metal elements deposited in the riverbed.”
The water flowing from the waterfalls is actually too toxic to much. Hmm I wonder if that’s actually true.
OLD TOWN JIUFEN OLD STREET
Our second to the last stop was Old Town Jiufen, which was comprised of REALLY narrow and REALLY crowded streets filled with food and goodies loudly representing the Taiwanese culture.
Our Klook bus was parked at what seemed like the very bottom of the hill and we had to climb countless flights of stairs up different hills, valleys, and mountains to get to the Old Town. (half joke) We even got lost once, the signs weren’t clear enough to give the proper direction and asking locals would’ve been frustrating because I for one didn’t even know the name of the place we were going to until I looked it up for this blog post. :—-)
The first thing we did was to look for a restaurant/street shop that sold authentic Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice (PS. only discovered the name of this dish just now thanks Google!) to have for lunch.
This with a bottle of Coke? P E R F E C T I O N
After our late lunch, we walked around Old Town and indulged ourselves with more streetfood. Here’s a few photos of the food I liked!
No Try = Sad Maddie. I live for food samples. Ask Lara or Vina, they can attest to that.
Simply called “Peanut Ice Cream Roll.” I didn’t buy one at the time but I bought one at our last stop!
Our Klook driver was nice enough to take our photo while enjoying our Pork Sausage! There are times I still crave for that dang pork sausage… 😦
SHIFEN OLD STREET
Our last stop with Klook was at Shifen Old Street, more commonly known as the place where all the sky lanterns are at. Upon disembarking, we wasted no time and quickly looked for a stall to purchase our lantern from.
Vina and I writing on our lantern!
We were allowed to choose from any set that had four colors. We chose the set that had red, blue, yellow, pink and each color symbolized …something. I can’t remember. Anyway, we took a while debating which to get since there were sets that had 3 colors that we liked and 1 color we strongly didn’t like, 2 that we liked and 2 we didn’t like…you get the picture.
Ours is the one on the right. Bye, bye, lantern!
Right in the middle of the village, trains literally pass by. Fast fact: these train tracks were originally made to transport coal during the Japanese era.
Treating myself to some yummy Peanut Ice Cream Roll!
A footbridge we chanced upon before heading back to our Klook bus. We never found out what was on the other side though. When one of us randomly checked the time, we realized we had already missed the call time. So we ran back down, hoping we wouldn’t be the last ones to board the bus!
Looking back now, I’ve come to realize that heading to Shifen for the sky lanterns was a great way to end our trip. I mean writing on the lantern made me think about the things I was thankful right then and there, and I realized just how I was thankful for my friends, for our Taipei trip, everything going on in my life, future plans… It was just. Yeah. Okay.
For our very, very, very last hurrah, we headed back to Taipei 101. We went up the mall (which we weren’t able to do) just to check what was in there. We didn’t stay long, since none of us were planning to buy anything from Louis Vuitton or Furla.
View from the footbridge outside the mall.
The MAIN reason why we went back to Taipei 101 was because of the LOVE sign. I had completely forgotten about the LOVE sign in Taipei until our very last day and thank goodness it was really easy to get to.
That’s the end of our Taipei trip! I hope you enjoyed reading my posts about this trip! In case you missed my other posts, here’s a quick link. 🙂
We started our third day in Taipei by exploring East Nanjing Road and having brunch in one of the restaurants there, since it was already almost noon that time.
I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but this is how it looked like! It was a typical-sized restaurant, free wifi, free water, and clean restroom.
Lara and I ordered the same thing — I couldn’t make my mind up so I asked the waiter what their bestseller was and it was this set of coffee, bread, fruits, milk noodles with cheese thingamajig. I was a little iffy about it but there’s a reason why it’s a bestseller right? Haha
This was Vina’s order. She didn’t want the salad so I ate it haha it was good!
After brunch, we boarded the train (or subway whatever it’s all the same to me…) that would take us to our main destination for the day — Maokong Gondola.
We stayed in the first cart and we easily saw the beautiful views along the way!
We walked a couple of meters to get to the station for the Maokong Gondolas (or cable cars. I thought it would be like one of those gondolas you see in Venice but it was actually a cable car).
We purchased our ticket and we requested for a gondola with a glass floor (which was free of charge!)
TAIPEI TEA PROMOTION CENTER
We then walked to the Taipei Tea Promotion Center, a highly touristy spot where you get to have the legitimate Taiwanese tea experience.
We walked around the area for a bit and noticed there weren’t really a lot of places to have tea at. Unless all the others were still further up?
We chose this little area mainly because it offered such a pretty view.
I spy with my little eye…
Of course I don’t remember the name of the place… But it was nice and quiet, it was what we were looking for. BUT. They didn’t have wifi, it was okay though!
The waiter asked us what kind of tea we wanted but we had no idea so we asked him to choose for us. We ended up with this one.
He showed us how to make the tea — how long we have to wait before it’s ready, how to pour the tea properly… He left us on our own after showing us the whole procedure twice or thrice. We then took turns making the tea!
We didn’t finish our little packet (I think Lara brought it home) since we wanted to get back to the city before the gondolas would close for the night.
Sure it was a little pricey, but it was a great experience! The whole tea-time was also sort of like a break, a little down-time from all the walking and touring we’ve been doing. It was an opportunity to just soak everything in.
We then headed to Ximending, a neighborhood known for the Red House Theater, shopping, and clubs and pubs.
The Ximending Pedestrian Area. (Sort of resembles the one in Shibuya!) This pedestrian was apparently the first and largest pedestrian area in Taiwan.
Before walking around the area, we bought streetfood from this cute looking Volkswagen stall.
Not gonna lie, none of us knew what this was. It was deep-fried and a little spicy. Still pretty good!
One of Ximending’s landmarks is the Red House Theater. We walked around the area trying to look for it only to find out that…
IT WAS UNDER RENOVATION!!!
All we really did in Ximending was to walk around and explore the place. We walked along the streets, checked out the different stores, and Vina bought one of those tall soft-serve ice creams. That was really it.
RAOHE ST. NIGHT MARKET
We then headed to Raohe St. Night Market, another ~well-known~ night market in Taipei. The food they sold in there wasn’t that different from the ones sold in Shilin Nightmarket, so I didn’t bother taking much photos.
It was all nice and pretty… until it started drizzling.
The whole time we were there, we were looking for the orange juice we had from Shilin. They didn’t have it. 😦
The only thing I bought was a bag of guava. It was so sweet! Oh and I bought one of those authentic Taiwanese hotdogs. SO GOOD.
Lara and Vina with their takoyaki!
There was a temple right outside the market!
We went back to our hostel afterwards and randomly decided to go to the nearby 711 (in our pajamas) and to buy some tea eggs!
We set the camera on self-timer and just took random photos around the store.
We would’ve taken some more but the dude at the counter started looking worried or something. Haha
We headed back and ate everything we bought at the hostel. We also took photos since nobody was around. It was already 130AM or something!
Just in case you missed it! Here are the links for more Taipei posts:
If I’m not mistaken, we headed out of our hostel around 11AM and headed back to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, since the area was near the trail we were planning to go to. We spent quite a while looking for a place to eat at and ended up at the Food Court in Shin Kong. After lunch, we walked to the trail to Elephant Mountain.
Xiangshan Elephant Mountain
Just a couple of blocks from the Taipei 101 is the Elephant Mountain, there was a trail to get to the top, about 183 meters high. The hike was not easy, and none of us were prepared for it. It was stairs, stairs, and more stairs that usually got crowded too, which made it a little difficult to walk on your own speed.
On top, people were crowding around and taking photos of the “The Six Giant Rocks,” which was a bonus attraction when you climb up Elephant Mountain. They were pretty dang huge and none of us bothered climbing up like everybody else.
It also wasn’t until we reached the top that we discovered why it was called Elephant Mountain. It didn’t look like an elephant to me but yeah, it was apparently like an elephant’s trunk.
View of the city from one of the decks along the way.
The beauty that is the Taipei 101.
The Taipei 101 was completed in 2004, after five years of construction. As the name suggests, the building has 101 floors which represents high ideals. The building actually symbolizes quite a number of interesting things and you can read about them here. It has become a landmark so when we were in Taipei, we didn’t miss the chance to visit the skyscraper.
The first five floors of the skyscraper is a mall, which we didn’t get around to visiting. We quickly passed by the ground floor and went ahead to purchase our tickets.
The Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world from March 2004 – March 2010, before it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It was at this point that I realized I wanted to visit the world’s tallest buildings and actually go to the observatory, not just the lobby.
We asked which floor Starbucks was at, since we planned to have coffee and pastries while we were at Taipei 101, but they told us you could only go to that particular Starbucks if you have a reservation. Oh well. Maybe next time!
540 NTD allows you to ride the elevator and enjoy the view for as long as you want. There’s no time limit, so that makes it worth it!
We were able to see the building’s famed mass damper and I had no knowledge about it. Thanks to the free wifi throughout the observatory, I was able to google it and discovered that it was designed to suppress strong gusts of wind and absorb earthquake shock. Pretty dang interesting.
The Outdoor Observatory was located on the 91st floor. We took the stairs from the 89th floor so it wasn’t that crazy of a climb. It was nice how the height of each floor was painted on the wall — imagine if you climbed the tower from the bottom to the top, there would still be a couple of things that would entertain you haha!
The difference a few minutes makes.
Views from the Indoor Observatory taken at different times:
Before heading back to the ground floor, we circled the observatory again. There was a big display of jewels/gems/crystals in different shapes, mostly reflecting the rich Chinese culture. We also saw an expensive looking globe, it looked so pretty. I loved it, I seriously enjoy looking at globes and maps. Something about them.
We ended our second day by heading to the Fisherman’s Wharf. We took the subway, and then took a bus to the wharf. The bus ride, like our bus ride from the airport to Taipei Main Station, was a little scary. Wait, I don’t think I’ve mentioned how that bus ride went. So we were on this bridge and the driver did like a sharp turn or something, and the whole bus literally shook, and all the passengers actually woke up (everyone was asleep, it was past midnight that time). Then, when we were approaching the station, the bus went over the curb, and it shook like crazy again. The front of the bus was actually damaged from that. S C A R Y.
Anyway, when we got to the Fisherman’s Wharf, everything was closed. We didn’t know they closed early and we even planned to have dinner there. There was a food stall though that was still open, but it didn’t really sell meals, only street food and light snacks.
The Wharf with the Lover’s Bridge right in the middle.
We walked around the wharf and enjoyed the view and the silence. It was nice, sort of having the whole place to ourselves.
We headed back downtown, near our hostel and looked for a place to have dinner at. There was a nearby nightmarket we walked to, only to discover it was already closed and packed for the night. I honestly got a little scared walking around unfamiliar territory in the middle of the night. Anyway, we gave in and took a cab to an authentic noodle house and had dinner at around 11PM?
After our late night noodle run, we headed back to the hostel by foot since it was near AND THEN WE GOT LOST. The kind of lost where everything starts looking the same, starts looking dim and scary, and absolutely no wifi. Thankfully though, we ended up in this street with a lot of lights, a lot of people, a movie house, and stores. We asked this couple where the heck the way was back to our hostel and they didn’t know, but they went the extra mile and actually called the hostel, locate the address, and help us! So that was quite an adventure. We started walking again and everything suddenly looked familiar and it was at that point when you start to realize you were almost there but the fact that it was midnight and you were in an unfamiliar place scared you so of course you end up getting scared right?
That concludes Day 2! Don’t forget to check out my other posts about our Taipei trip: