Taiwan 2016 (Part 1)

For the first time in a decade I am having a holiday whereby I am not worrying throughout the day when can I find time to reply to urgent emails and churn out documents, because I am in between jobs. Ah… The bliss of waking up to only leisure and personal emails, and fully enjoying the journey.

This trip was planned by my cousin Michelle. It’s fun packed but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for families with young kids. Probably better to take parts of it and expand.

We engaged a local guide cum driver who followed us throughout the trip. It’s a highly recommended mode of travelling around Taiwan as it is quite affordable and stress free. You can customise the trip in whatever way you want.

Day 1: Keelung and Jiufen

We set off for the journey with Sandra running rather high temperature that refuses to drop below 38 degrees celcius. The flight there was therefore not the most comfortable. Sandra was fussy and didn’t sleep well. But we survived with basically me carrying her throughout, and the daddy taking care of Sophia.

The first place we went was Keelung night market where we had 红烧鳗鱼,一口香肠,炸鸡排,卤肉饭,and some yummy pork soup and vege, amongst others. Our guide who is from Keelung feels that the night market there is the best. It is indeed not too bad.

The great thing was Sandra finally started perspiring at the very warm night market after not able to regulate her body temperature through perspiration for three days, and she’s now cleared of fever! Unfortunately instead of fever she had diarrhoea in the middle of the night and I even had to wash her pjs on the middle of the night and on our one hotel a night trip I had to take it out to hang for 3 nights before it dried.

After the night market, we went to our first hotel, 九份景栈. Normally it’s not recommended to stay at Jiufen because it can get misty according to our guide. However, my cousin wanted to stay there as she heard the stars can be beautiful. I was too tired to try catch it. The hotel (or should it be called motel) was a small one but was clean and cosy. It’s quite old fashioned but well maintained.

Day 2: Jiufen, Yilan

The second day we woke up to rain and had a delicious breakfast cooked by the lady boss. We started with fabulous pumpkin soup and followed with scrambled eggs and sandwich, all of it was delicious.

After breakfast it was still raining but still we went to 九份老街. The very long flight of stairs up carrying baby and wearing windbreaker was rather uncomfortable so it was a grateful break at the yam ball dessert place. We also had black pork sausage, white bittergoard juice, 雪在烧 and almond milk. At the end we rushed back for Sophia to use the toilet while my cousin ordered 太阳饼 from 李义饼家. 

It kept raining the entire day so we had to skip much of our plan like 十份瀑布 and parks.  Instead we went to indoor places like 金车咖啡城堡 and 金车威士忌噶玛兰酒庄, both nothing to write home about.

We went back to the hot springs hotel early but even then we only had time for a shower each and went out to the nearby restaurants for dinner.

That night Sandra was fussy and wanted to sleep on the comforter, refusing to sleep on the bed itself. I was worried the fluffy comforter will suffocate her in the middle of the night so moved her off the comforter after she falls asleep. That may have been a bad idea because she woke up covered in rashes! The sheets were probably irritating her skin.

Day 3: Yilan

Breakfast the next morning was a buffet spread with porridge and accompanying dishes. There was also green bean soup which I tried to feed Sandra more of to help with her rashes.

Then we covered some of the places we were supposed to cover yesterday but did not due to the rain like 几米广场,亚典蛋糕,山寨村. 

Thereafter we went back to the minsu (自然捲)that we were staying in that night, much to the delight of the kids as this is a very kids friendly place. Not only do they have a slide and lego in the room and a play kitchen area immediately below the room, there are also lots of kids friendly amenities like a bottle sanitiser and bottle soap and brush in the common area, and baby bath and toilet seat in the room. Everything was also very clean and bright. It’s the best accommodation I have experienced so far in the trip. Once I entered, I was extremely tempted to tell my cousin that our family will stay here for the rest of trip until the group goes back to Taipei when they can then pick us up. But of course we didn’t abandon the group.

That night we went to 罗东夜市 and had more Taiwanese snacks like 大肠包小肠,卜肉 etc. We then packed back to eat and the kids ended up sleeping way past bedtime, especially the younger one who usually sleeps early.

Hello DC, and back to Krisflyer

I was irritated how Krisflyer’s fuel surcharge for an award ticket was more expensive than a full budget airline non promotional ticket, so I thought I’ll switch to United Airline’s MilagePlus. Didn’t work! Can’t input my points. So looks like its back to trusty old krisflyer.

Another work trip so soon and late work day just before the flight. Sophia already told grandpa “cannot see mama and grandaunt” before she slept. Grandaunt was also travelling. Guess she knows we’re away. Now I regret extending the business trip for travel. I should have just rushed back to see my baby while she needs me.

Sydney continued – serviced apartments

I love staying in a serviced apartment when travelling. Pity not many parts of the world has the concept of short term (days instead of months) serviced apartment.

I loved the apartment from the moment I stepped into it. So much bigger than hotels and with the washing and drying equipment, we really could have afforded to bring just 2 sets of clothes and rotate them throughout the trip.

The kitchen was the most fantastic part. The cabinets had perhaps 20% of amount of stuff I had in my kitchen but yet had everything I needed to do most types of cooking. It just goes to show how much unwanted stuff I have in my kitchen. Its probably a good thing every morning the little one puts on her shoes and literally drags everyone out of the apartment because I could spend all day in it cooking and chilling.






Of course, 5 minutes into us occupying it, it is nowhere near as zen as it looks in the pictures.

Dim sum – as good as ever

Yum yum, one of the best things about Sydney is the dim sum there. That’s what you Aussies call yum cha. Ok, hubby just interrupted saying that yum cha is also used here so I probably should clarify that yum cha is often used as a noun in Australia when it is a verb.

This time we visited Sydney, I made it a point to fit in a trip to a yum cha restaurant and was initially planning to head to marigold which is of course the evergreen there and widely thought of as the best but fortunately I bumped into an old friend at church who informed me that in his view, a new restaurant called The Eight at Market City is better and with shorter queue, so we went there and the food was indeed great. That was the consensus among daddy, mummy and baby.


This trip we also found a great Thai restaurant called Chat Thai. For this one baby didn’t quite agree with daddy and mummy. “La la” (ie spicy) she says.

Back and sick!

Finally back from 5 days in Sydney, supposed to be 6 days but became 5 – don’t ask. The daddy vowed NEVER to bring the baby to a trip anymore, at least not to somewhere with flights of more than 3-4 hours. Admittedly the flight back was bad as it was in the day so Sophia was awake and needed to be constantly entertained. Towards the end I caved and gave her the iPhone so she can sing and dance to the nursery rhymes app. Don’t judge. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Unfortunately, after we got back, Sophia developed flu symptoms. She probably caught a chill on the second last day of the trip when the weather suddenly turned much colder than the previous 2 days. We were caught unawares and under-dressed. The sudden downpour coupled with such strong winds that my umbrella was completely destroyed didn’t help. Last night, Sophia’s temperature rose to a whopping 39.8 degrees and not surprisingly she was unable to go to sleep and insisted on being carried. I fed her some paracetamol, turned the air conditioner to chill mode (as it was getting stuffy with the air circulation mode that grandpa likes to set it to), gave her water to drink and hugged her to sleep. After 45 minutes or so, the grandparents decided to check on her and all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity with the grandparents turning on the lights to see how she was doing and take her temperature. Then the grandma deciding to make 2 hard boiled eggs in order to administer her home remedy of rubbing eggs on Sophia’s back, forehead and chest, with much clanging of pots. They then decided to bring Sophia to their room to rub her over with a warm egg. This seems mighty unscientific to me – if anything, she should be given a cold rub down or tepid sponging, not with something warm! She clearly didn’t like it very much either so the grandma could only manage to rub her back. Once again the lights were on for this traumatising procedure and the tv was also on in their room, much to my dismay. After getting baby all worked up, we had to calm her down again and make her sleep (which, in my view, was what she needed most). In the end nobody got much sleep last night.

I do really appreciate my parents’ help with Sophia but circumstances like last night really leave me quite frustrated. I know they did the egg thing out of desperation because they were not people who believe in such old wives tales either and have never done that to me as a child so I am grateful that they care for Sophia so much, BUT I was really worried that the warm rub will only make the fever worse, which is a dangerous thing for children. Its really tough dealing with these situations.

On a separate note, am I the only one who finds these new security devices issued by banks way too fiddly? I received 2 such devices while I was on my trip, they look like mini calculators about 7cm long and 4.5cm wide, but are rather flat so not that hard to carry around. The size was to accommodate the numbers, which is fine, but with one of the devices, the numbers were completely useless! One just needed to press one of the buttons to obtain the pin, so why does the device need to be so huge? With the other, the numbers made sense as a pin needed to be entered to generate the pin, but activation and future operation instructions were beyond vague. I was supposed to follow onscreen instructions which were actually wrong. The button that was supposed to generate the pin based on the instructions was actually the backspace button and I had to experiment with the device myself to figure out how to generate the pin, and then fiddle with it more to figure out how to turn it off (which was not part of the instructions). I have now activated the device but am not 100% sure that next time I would know how to generate the pin. If a young and supposedly technologically sound person like me has difficulties, how much more would the elderly have difficulties?

On the plane

No, I did not jeopardise the safety of all the passengers on the plane by posting this on the flight. I merely wrote the draft while I was struggling on the plane, unable to sleep. Good thing I took an hour’s nap at home before heading for the airport. Its just so impossible for me to catch any sleep on flights.

Sophia was surprisingly good tonight! She slept at about 9pm, which is a good time by her standards, but woke up when we carried her up to head to the airport. That was a bit of a bummer because I was hoping she would be able to sleep through it all but no matter, she was really good throughout the journey all the way till the time we boarded the plane! Surprising for a child pulled out of bed. Once the plane started taking off, she found herself a comfortable position in my arms and dozed off. But my inability to sleep meant I was too wriggly a bed so eventually I managed to put her on a seat and off to a deep sleep she goes. Meanwhile I’m exhausted but get no rest.

Here’s hoping she’ll be as easy as this throughout the trip!