Showing posts with label Taiwan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taiwan. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taiwan: Food trip in Taipei's Shilin Night Market

Back to my Taiwan trip last June. After checking-in, we went straight to the Shilin Night Market for some shopping. Taipei has a very distinct night market subculture. It's a place where you can meet up with friends or spend some idle time with the various activities there. But I was more excited with the hawker food which Taipei's night markets are very known for.

We went straight to business and went on a food tasting spree. Like in previous trips, I had to have stinky tofu! The oyster pancakes are good as well. And make sure to try the fried chicken patties at the entrance of the market. I'll let the photos do the talking. If you're in Taipei, make sure to try out the food at the various night markets.

Thank you to EVA Airways and Jeron Travel for inviting me to join their familiarization tour to Taiwan. More on Taiwan in the next few weeks, particularly the spectacular Taroko Gorge and Hualien.

In the meantime, check out my photos of Taipei in the Ivan About Town FB page.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taiwan: Wufenpu Clothes Market & Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101

The prospect of flying back to Taiwan for a few days was exciting. It's one of those destinations I savor, quite literally in fact because of the delicious street food! EVA Airways had invited me to explore Taiwan together with other travel bloggers and writers. And who was I to refuse, especially since we were visiting Taroko Gorge and Hualien!

After the quick check-in at NAIA Terminal 1, we relaxed a bit at the lounge before boarding our EVA Air flight to Taipei. It was a lunch flight and we arrived late in the afternoon. As soon as we cleared the usual airport arrival procedures in Taoyuan International Airport, we immediately proceeded to the Wufenpu Clothes Market 五分埔時尚購物通, the largest clothing market in Taipei and our first stop for the tour.

It's paradise for those looking for value for money clothes and accessories. And one can spend a whole day just walking around and looking for the latest trends at a bargain. But we only had an hour to spend. If you want to check out the market when you visit Taipei, the nearest stations to Wufenpu are the TRA Songshan Station and the Taipei Metro Houshanpi Station.

But I'm really not the shopping type. So it was nice to see a Taoist temple in the market area while walking around, at least a little bit of traditional culture there.

By now, we were getting hungry. And there's no better place to have dinner than in Din Tai Fung! My mouth was watering at the thought of having Xiao Long Bao for dinner. So I just couldn't wait. We were eating at the Taipei 101 branch.

And I was not disappointed. It was bun and dumpling overload that night. Plus of course other favorites like their tofu appetizer which I just love! We were served other kinds of dumplings and buns that night, I forgot to take note of what else we had and enjoyed the feast.

Before proceeding to the Shilin Night Market, we first checked-in at the Palais de Chine Hotel which I noticed was smack in the center of Taipei's transportation hub, with the bus terminal right beside it and the Taipei Main Train Station just a mere five minutes walk away.

And the rooms were spacious, modern and very cozy, perfect for the business traveler. The only thing I don't like about tours is that we don't get to enjoy the hotel much. As soon as we were settled, we rushed to the Shilin Night Market. Se more photos of Taipei, Taiwan in the Ivan About Town FB page.

Palais de Chine Hotel Taipei 
No. 3 Sec. 1 Chengde Road Taipei 103 Taiwan 
Tel. No. +866 (2) 21819999 
Fax No. +866 (2) 21819988

Many thanks to EVA Airways and Jeron Travel and Tours for arranging this trip to Taiwan!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Taiwan: Applying for a Taiwanese visa in the Philippines

Here is information on how to apply for a Taiwanese visa in the Philippines. I actually had to apply for one despite supposedly being exempted since my trip last year happened when relations between Taiwan and the Philippines were a bit shaky for a few weeks.

For short term visas to Taiwan, you will have to submit the following to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), the office which issues Taiwanese visas in the Philippines:
1. Application form completely and correctly filled out plus one photocopy. Do not leave blanks. Indicate N/A if not applicable
2. Two (2) passport size photos 1.5 x 2 inches with white background, taken within the last three (3) months
3. Philippine Passport valid for at least six (6) months plus a photocopy of the first page
4. Birth Certificate issued by the National Statistics Office
5. Marriage Contract (if applicable) issued by the National Statistics Office
6. Supporting documents related to the purpose of visit and financial capability such as:
- Confirmed round trip plane ticket or booking certificate
- Certificate of Employment and letter of permission or proof of leave from employer
- Financial statements of the applicant such as: (1) Income Tax Return (2) Bank Book or Bank Statements
- Letter of Guarantee (if applicable)
7. If traveling on business, you must also submit:
- Business letter or trading records from the Taiwanese company
- Certificate of Business Name Registration and SEC Registration (if owner of the company)
- Invitation letter from the Taiwanese company or organization in Chinese letterhead that outlines clearly the purpose of your visit and duration of your stay
- Official letters or request letters from concerned authorities for official trip
- Seminar program
- Certificate of Employment, professional identification and/or company ID
- Other supporting documents if required such as SSS contribution lists, pay slip, etc.
8. All documents submitted must be original plus one photocopy
9. Applicant may be scheduled for an interview (if required)
10 Visa fees are Php2,400.00 (Single Entry) and Php4,800.00 (Multiple Entry), payable upon filing of application and are non-refundable.
11. Processing time is three (3) working days. For rush applications (one day processing), there is an Expedite Fee of Php1,200.00 (Single Entry) and Php2,400.00 (Multiple Entry)
12: Filing Time is 8:45 to 11:45 a.m. from Mondays to Fridays except holidays. Releasing Time is 1:45 to 4:45 p.m. Mondays to Fridays except holidays.

Visa Exemptions
Effective March 15, 2011, Philippine passport holders may apply online for an Authorization Certificate for visa-free entry to Taiwan for up to thirty (30) days. Those eligible for visa-free entry are passport-holders with valid visas or permanent resident cards of the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, European Union (Schengen), Australia and New Zealand, provided that they have never worked in Taiwan as blue-collar workers before.

Qualified applicants should register their passports and personal data at the website of the National Immigration Agency of Taiwan and apply for approval. Upon obtaining approval, print out the Authorization Certificate and show it to the airline check-in counter. Remember that the Authorization Certificate must be presented at Taiwanese Immigration together with the valid visas or permanent resident cards. Failure to do so will lead to prohibition from entering Taiwan.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
41st Floor, Tower 1, RCBC Plaza
6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City
Telephone No. (02) 8876688; Fax No. (02) 8877828

Download Taiwanese Visa Application Form (print on A4 paper)
Alternate link for Taiwan Visa Applcation Form

Friday, May 27, 2011

Taiwan: Visit to China Airlines Headquarters in Taoyuan Airport

China Airlines has continuously provided Filipinos one of the best options for air travel options not just to Taiwan, but onwards to the United States, Canada and Europe as well. Founded in 1959, China Airlines has become an airline of choice for many of our countrymen who look for value for money and great service. Today, the airline flies to 98 destinations in 29 countries.

During our visit to Taiwan, we had the chance to visit the newly-inaugurated China Airlines headquarters at the Taoyuan International Airport and tour its maintenance and training facilities.

Our first stop was Base Maintenance, which offers aircraft maintenance services including airframe, components, composites, cabin interior refurbishment, and painting & stripping. Several planes were actually being serviced while we were there.

We then visited China Airlines’ Engine Maintenance, which is actually one of Asia's advanced engine maintenance plants. It offers a comprehensive range of engine maintenance services.

Finally, we were toured around the Training Department which takes “an aggressive yet well-grounded approach to training to meet the requirements of international airline practices and operations.” The pilots and crew get intensive training for various aspects of the flights with state of the art simulators and facilities to help mimic actual flight situations and emergencies, including fires and water landings.

With all that attention to detail, it’s no surprise that China Airlines has strengthened its safety record, receiving the prestigious IATA IOSA Safety Certificate in 2005.

According to China Airlines Country Manager in the Philippines Michael Wu, “China Airlines continuously promotes a Corporate Safety Concept and has implemented a “Safety First” policy as the company core value. To achieve this core company value, China Airlines has implemented a companywide Safety Management System to promote safety and emphasize the safety responsibilities of each employee. Efforts have been made to build a three-dimensional safety net covering China Airlines operations both in the air and on the ground. Pilots and crew are given regular training in safety concepts, threat assessment methods, response techniques and ground safety. A series of regular safety activities have been arranged as a way of raising awareness about core values of safety and quality. China Airlines has passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) to become an IOSA certified operator from 2005, and passed the re-certificated audit to get the renewal IOSA certificate in 2011.”

And the great service has not gone unnoticed. In 2007, China Airlines was awarded highest ever rankings in Economy, Business and First Class service by Skytrax. As Mr. Wu shares, “The core value of our cabin service is that we treasure every moment with the passenger. We understand that for China Airlines to grow and remain strong & healthy, we have to focus on maintaining a base of loyal passengers. So passenger satisfaction is always the goal we pursue.”

In the past years, China Airlines marked some major milestones. In 2009, it celebrated its 50th anniversary. Just recently, China Airlines joined the SkyTeam Alliance, which thus firmly strengthened its Asia-Pacific network by welcoming its fifth carrier from the region. China Airlines leads the way as the preferred carrier for Filipinos to Taiwan and beyond.

Entries from Familiarization Tour
Kang Qing Long District in Taipei
Xiaolongbao 鼎泰豐 at Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
Taipei 101 Observatory
2010 Taipei International Flora Expo
Raohe Street Night Market 饒河街觀光夜市 in Taipei
Treasures of the National Palace Museum 國立故宮博物院
Taiwanese food at Wan Lin & Chi Chia Chuang Restaurant
Longshan Temple 艋舺龍山寺 & Huaxi Street Night Market 華西街夜市 in Taipei's Wanhua District 萬華區
Around Taipei's Beitou Hot Springs
Danshuei Old Street, Fort Santo Domingo & Danshui River cruise in Tamsui District 淡水區

Note: This familiarization tour of Taipei, Taiwan was organized by China Airlines. Book online at the China Airlines website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taiwan: Danshuei Old Street, Fort Santo Domingo & Danshui River cruise in Tamsui District 淡水區

Danshuei 淡水區, also spelled Danshui or Tamsui, is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Taiwan. In 1629, the Spanish established the town and mission of Santo Domingo in the area.

We first had lunch in Red Castle Restaurant, a colonial residence converted into a restaurant, before exploring the historical buildings of the district.

One of their specialties is the Brass Pot which is their version of hot pot or steamboat 火鍋. From the top of the restaurant, one gets a really nice view of the Tamsui River and Taiwan Strait.

Fort Santo Domingo is one of the major attractions here, where you could find Fort Anthonio, built by the Dutch after they expelled the Spaniards, and the British Consulate Residence. So from Danshuei Old Street, we motored to Fort Santo Domingo. There are actually more old buildings in Danshuei that are worth exploring if you have the time.

But the main attraction of the district is actually Danshuei Old Street itself, which is actually a network of streets that form a very popular shopping area, noted for its massive array of Taiwanese snacks and seafood restaurants along the banks of the beautiful Danshui River.

Instead of proceeding back to Danshuei Old Street by land, our hosts decided to bring us there via a ferry ride to show us the Danshuei District from the Tamsui River which made the community an important port in the olden days. So we proceeded to Tamshui Fisherman's Wharf 淡水漁人碼頭 to take a ferry back to Danshui Old Street.

One of the distinct features of Tamshui Fisherman's Wharf is the Lover Bridge of Tamsui which got its name from the fact that construction commenced on February 14, 2003. You basically cross this pedestrian bridge to get the the row of seafood restaurants.

We spent an hour or two just walking along the street looking for some souvenirs to take home. I actually noticed that many souvenir items are cheaper here, especially if you buy them from the street stalls on the way to the Metro Station. Danshui also has it's own Longshan Temple 龍山寺.

One of the stores we visited is a bakery called San Xie Cheng. It's easy to miss since the signs are all in Chinese. But if you notice the sign, you'll see Chez Jean depuis 1935. The bakery is known for its dragon and phoenix cakes. And the good thing is they offer free tastes to visitors who are curious about the cakes. So if you are in Tamshui, try to visit San Xie Cheng.

On the way back to the Metro, our host from China Airlines made sure we tried the grilled stinky tofu at one of the food stalls. Danshuei also has a lot of hawker stalls so the area is also good for a street food adventure. More photos of day 3 in Ivan About Town FB page.

Note: This familiarization tour of Taipei, Taiwan was organized by China Airlines. Book online at the China Airlines website.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Taiwan: Around Taipei's Beitou Hot Springs

Beitou District in Taipei is most known for its sulfuric hot springs. In fact, as soon as you step out of the Xinbeitou Taipei Metro Station, you can already smell the sulfur. For our third day in Taipei, we visited the different attractions of Beitou.

Our first stop was the Beitou Thermal Valley, sometimes referred to as Hell Valley because of the large amount of steam in the area. A natural sulfur gas geyser, the water in Thermal Valley is between 80 to 100 degrees Celsius and contains melanterite or green sulfur. It was quite an experience walking around Thermal Valley. Even the streams around the area were so rich in sulfur, the water was white and steaming!

After exploring Thermal Valley, we briefly stopped by the public baths (which I noticed was very popular to senior citizens) before proceeding to the Beitou Hot Spring Museum which was once a public bath itself.

The Beitou Public Baths were built by the Japanese Colonial Government in 1913 based on the design of the Mount Izu Hot Spring Bath in Japan. The biggest public baths in East Asia during its heyday, it has been adaptively reused into a museum showcasing the history of the area.

We also visited the Taiwan Folk Arts Museum, another old structure that has been transformed into a museum. Built in 1921, the two-story Japanese building was originally a hot springs inn called Kayama. It was later used as a dormitory for the families of soldiers, and later as a country house, before it became a museum in 1984, dedicated to preserving and exhibiting Taiwanese folk art.

For the afternoon, we trooped to the Danshuei District but returned to Beitou in the evening for dinner and an overnight stay at Sweetme Hot Spring Resort. After all those sumptuous meals, our last dinner was at a vegetarian restaurant called Su where we ordered from a menu of set meals.

I actually looked forward to staying at Sweetme Hot Spring Resort since every room had its own sulfuric bath! That dip in the tub of warm sulfuric water was a perfect way to end a really jam-packed trip around Taipei. More photos of day 3 in Ivan About Town FB page.

Note: This familiarization tour of Taipei, Taiwan was organized by China Airlines. Book online at the China Airlines website.
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