24 September 2013, by Mandy Loh
Wow its been a while since my last post! Sorry for the radio silence…I was busy wrapping up a writing project, and then frantically planning our Taiwan family holiday the week before we left. (Yes, I’m a total procrastinator!) And last week, we were in Taiwan!
As it was my first time going to Taiwan, I was clueless about the places to visit. Thankfully, I managed to cobble an itinerary together, AND book all our hotel accommodations and train tickets – despite being so last minute, and with our holiday dates coinciding with Taiwan’s Moon Festival long weekend! Much thanks goes to Tim’s Taiwanese colleague who helped us buy train tickets in advance. It turned out to be a super-peak time to travel and we might have gotten stranded if we didn’t buy tickets beforehand!
The last time we travelled overseas as a family was more than a year ago, when we went to Shanghai. Back then, it was relatively easier to bring Cristan around as he was still rather amenable and cooperative. Now an opinionated toddler, it takes much more persuasion and patience to get him to follow our schedule and plans. The biggest lesson learnt? Keep your itinerary as light as possible when toddlers are involved, because you have to factor in their “toddling” time: where each bench along the way is a choo-choo train that absolutely has to be climbed upon, and each twig on the ground just has to be picked up and explored.
Overall, we had a great time on our Babymoon No. 2, probably our last overseas trip for a while until Doubbles becomes slightly older, as we cannot imagine how we can possibly enjoy a holiday with an infant AND a toddler in tow! Anyway, here are some pictures of our trip!
We arrived nice and early at the airport with lots of buffer time before our flight, which allowed us to wander around leisurely and grab an early lunch for Cristan. This was a lesson learnt from the previous Shanghai trip: to make sure Cristan is well-fed before the flight, otherwise he would be super-cranky – and nobody likes a cranky kid on a plane…
We decided to pack everything into one huge luggage bag, so that while on the move, Tim could handle just one bag while I carried Cristan. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as on one leg of our journey, taking a train from Taipei to Hualien, Tim had to lug the bag up a flight of stairs as there were no escalators or lifts at the train station! Imagine if he had to do that with multiple bags!
Our flight was delayed for about an hour due to various reasons, but Cristan didn’t mind as he was having so much fun with the in-flight entertainment, and had Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on repeat!
Still in high spirits when we landed in Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan. Guess he likes travelling just as much as his Momma! 🙂
The next day, we went to Jiu Fen, a quaint little village about an hour’s train journey from Taipei Main Station. Cristan was super thrilled to be on a real “choo-choo train”!
By the way, on the way to Jiu Fen, it occurred to me that there was a risk of Cristan getting lost in the crowd. So I followed the advice of fellow blogger Kelvin, and scribbled a little note with Tim’s temporary Taiwan mobile number on it, just in case:
Thankfully, it was never needed. Instead, Cristan ended up playing with the note all the time, taking it out of his pocket to look at it, and then stuffing it back into his pocket!
We found the carrier extremely useful for Cristan to nap in while we were on the move. Unfortunately, at other times, he would refuse to be in the carrier, preferring to walk or just be carried in our arms. Oh well…
Due to misinformation, we had to wait more than an hour for our train ride from Jiu Fen (Ruifang Station) back to Taipei Main Station. By the time we got to our next destination for the day, Danshui, we were totally wiped out. We only managed to grab dinner at the first restaurant we spotted, and a short walk along the Old Street, before we threw in the towel and headed back to the hotel.
But there was always time to end the day on a sweet note, with a generous serving of gelato!
The next day, we re-calibrated our plans. We really couldn’t be too ambitious, but it was more important to enjoy the moments rather than rushing from place to place, or forcing ourselves to go on when we were tired.
We started our day with a lovely Maokong Gondola ride, with fabulous views of the city and the mountains. Cristan especially enjoyed the glass-bottomed Crystal Cabin, as he could see the trees beneath his feet!
When we reached the top of Maokong Mountain, we tucked into a delicious lunch in a restaurant with a great view.
We squeezed in a peek at Taipei 101 on the way back to the hotel:
And took an afternoon siesta before hitting the Shilin Night Market in the evening!
More pictures of what we did in Hualien, coming up in Part 2!