SIN-TPE, Wu Fen Pu, Formosa Chang, Rao He Street

Singapore Airlines (SIN - TPE)

My family and I travelled to Taiwan in December 2013. Flying Singapore Airlines is definitely a treat. Unlike other airlines where you wish you were at your destination, Singapore Airlines ensures that your journey begins once you step foot on the plane.

Singapore airlines is probably on all the list of top-rated airlines. The company has centred its brand around customer service. Singapore Airlines cabin crew goes through intensive training (15-weeks programme) both before they start working short haul economy class service and again as the crew graduates to different classes of service and different lengths of flights. The signature Singapore Airline girl has to adhere to strict rules and regulations such has colouring their hair black or dark brown. shaping of eye brows, nail polish has to be of a bright red colour prescribed and many more!

Interior Cabin of
You normally have two meals to choose from, Asian or International dishes. The inflight menus are specially created to reflect the culinary influences of the regions to which Singapore Airlines fly. Since we were flying in the morning, we were offered Breakfast! You can get the western fare where your breakfast smiles at you! The western breakfast was ordinary. I would have preferred their omelette set which I had the other time on Singapore Airlines.
Western Breakfast
Or you could get the Asian fare which was Carrot Cake! Lots of shrimps and this is probably one of the most filling meals I had on a plane! However, the carrot cake has lost its texture(soggy) and this is expected since meals are only served hours into the flight. It was a good attempt as the carrot cake had great flavour. A plus for flying Singapore Airlines if you miss Singapore food!
Carrot Cake
This is the standard meal set up in Singapore Airlines. You will be served a bun, fruits/salad and dessert. The desserts vary and include classic ice creams from Haagen-Dazs (usually for lunch or dinner).
Western Breakfast Set
Enroute to Taiwan!
The Pacific Ocean

Taoyuan International Airport

Taoyuan International Airport
Assuming that you have landed in terminal 2, you can get yourself a pre-paid sim card after you have cleared the immigration and collected your baggage. It is better to do it here since the staff are familiar with foreigners and certain data plans are only available at the airport. The stores are located on the left after you exit the arrival area. There are several mobile service providers such as Chunghwa Telecom 中華電信, Far Eastone 遠傳電信 and Taiwan Mobile 台灣大哥大. Google to find which company best fits you! I chose Taiwan Mobile and was satisfied with their coverage.
Here is a list of their prices (Last updated July 2014, click here for their current rates)
Mobile Broadband 1-day = NT$100 (min)
Mobile Broadband 3-day = NT$250
Mobile Broadband 5-day = NT$350
Mobile Broadband 7-day= NT$450 (max)

The unlimited data passes starts continuously from service activation and a day pass is 24 hours (not calendar day). I.e. a 3 day pass registered on 1 Jan 2014, 3.00pm will last till 4 Jan 2014, 2.59pm.
Prepaid Card Counters
After getting the mobile prepaid card, it's time to travel to Taipei! Taoyuan Airport is not located in Taipei and a cab fare to the centre of Taipei can cost around 1000+ NTD. The cheapest way to get to Taipei would be taking an airport bus. Look for the signs leading to the high speed rail station or Express Bus Station. The buses here can take you to other parts of Taipei. For more information on the buses, click here. The bus to Taipei Main station will take an 1 hour or so. FreeGo and Kuo Kuang have buses that go to Xi Men Ting via Taipei Main Station where you will have to transfer buses.
Bus counters
Depending on which bus company you chose, you will be directed to the bus berth that will bring you to Taipei! We bought tickets for Kuo-Kuang Bus and it was a quiet journey to Taipei. Everyone seems to be asleep!
Kuo-Kuang Bus to Ximen Station via Taipei Main Station
The bus is just like any tour bus. This is a photo of the bus interior after everyone has left.
Interior of Kuo-Kuang Bus
After the long journey to Taipei. We finally reached TS Hotel which is a short walk from Xi Men Ting Station. Click here to check out my review of the hotel! I stayed here for 5 nights and am definitely happy my stay!
TS Hotel

Wu Fen Pu 五分埔

The first place my family visited was Wu Fen Pu (五分埔), a wholesale market where many blog shops get their stocks from. If you have been to Thailand, Wu Fen Pu is Taiwan's version of Chatuchak (Bangkok). The nearest station is Houshanpi on the blue line.
Hou Shan Pi
Few things to take note
1. Monday is for traders only. Normal customers will not be entertained.
2. Even though the website says that the place is open at 11am , many shops do not open till 1pm.
3. Taiwan has seasons unlike Singapore where the weather is Hot, Hotter or Hottest. You will be disappointed if you are travelling in December as the clothes will mostly be winter wear. Not very suitable for Singapore's weather!
Wu Fen Pu
The place does remind you of Bugis Street.
Wu Fen Pu
The clothes prices are high with shirts ranging from $20 to $40 SGD. The Taiwanese shop owners are familiar with the Singapore and Malaysia accent and may quote a higher price. Try to shop at places with price tags!
Wu Fen Pu
The clothes are placed in bulks and the shop owners will assist you in finding the right size.
Wu Fen Pu
My experience at Wu Fen Pu was disappointing. This is because we travelled in Winter and most of the clothes on sale weren't suitable for Singapore's hot weather. There wasn't much to choose from and the clothes were as expensive as those in Singapore. If you are a serious shopper, do not travel to Taiwan in December!

Farmosa Chang

After the disappointing shopping experience at Wu Fen Pu, we had dinner at Formosa Chang. It is easy to spot once you are out of the MRT station. If you like traditional Taiwanese food, you have to come here to have the braised pork rice (known in Mandarin as luroufan, 魯肉飯). Formosa Chang started as a food stand in Shuang-Lien market, 1960. ue to the growing business, the founder, Mr. Yian-Chuang Chang, could hardly afford 3~4 hours of sleep a day, not to mention handle his unkempt beard. The better the business got, the longer his beard grew.  After a while, he became well-known not only for the minced pork stew with rice, but also for his beard. 
Farmosa Chang
Formosa Chang charges NT$33 for a small bowl of braised pork rice. Bits of fatty pork stewed in sweet soya sauce, ladled on top of a bowl of rice. A slice of pickled is placed on top of the rice and complements the dish very well! This may not be the cheapest bowl of braised pork rice in Taiwan but you are sure that the food is consistent. I ate another Farmosa Chang outlet and it was equally as good! There is a large version at NT$49. 
Braised Pork Rice
The pork balls were great!

Pork Balls
Overall, Formosa Chang is definitely a safe bet for Braised Pork Rice!
Things you need to know:
1. Bring your own water as the restaurant does not sell any drinks.
2. There are several branches around Taipei. Click here for the official website link (Only in Chinese)
3. You can bring back the Braised Pork that they sell in aluminium packaging.

Rao He Night Market

After shopping at Wu Fen Pu wholesale clothes market and an excellent meal at Formosa Chang, we walked to Raohe market which is located 11 minutes from Wufenpu (800 minutes).
Ciyou Temple (松山慈祐宮)
At the east end of Raohe Street Market is the Ciyou Temple. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Mazu and constructed in 1753. Once you spot the temple, you know you have arrived at Raohe Street Market, one of the oldnest night markets in Songshan, Taipei. You will be able to find various kinds of booths for general merchandises, accessories and snacks! One of the most popular snacks here is the Rao He Buns which is suppose to be pepper meat buns. You will definitely be able to find it since it is the first store on the East End of Raohe Street Market!
Rao He Buns
The photo above was taken as we were about to leave the market. There seem to be a peak hour where there are long queues for the buns. I would advice to arrive after dinner time to avoid the queues! Everything is freshly made and prepared at the store itself. 
Rao He Buns
Unfortunately, the buns did not live up to expectations. The buns exterior was crispy but extremely tough on the inside. The meat saved the day as it was tender and juicy that it drips out of the bun! I don't think this is a good representation of Taiwan snacks but if you must have pepper pork, this is definitely one of the better pepper pork buns in Taipei. 
Rao He Buns (45 NTD/S$1.88)
Look what do we have here. Ri Chuan Takoyaki. 日船章鱼烧(40NTD/S$1.67). Chunks of octopus in the middle, topped with bonito (fish flakes), green laver and okonomiyaki sauce! This are definitely one of the best snacks I have found in Taiwan! I wouldn't say this is a good representation of Taiwan's snacks as Takoyaki originated from Osaka. Still, do not give this a miss!
Watch those batter grilled to perfection! 
Other things you may find here are the famous Cheng Dong Medicinal Spareribs which we gave a miss and the ever popular Sugar Apples (or Custard Apple). They taste like soursop, but much sweeter! But these one's at the market are expensive and cost twice as much as a ordinary fruit store. Only buy this if you don't have much time in Taiwan!
Custard Apple
Other than the rows of food, there are plenty of shops that sell all kinds of goods from shoes to clothes to souvenirs.
Leather Accessories
Leather World
There is this glass ornament stall where the ornaments are made live on an open flame for visitors.
Live demonstration
Glass Ornament
Things you need to know:
1. Raohe Street Market is one of the more difficult night markets to get as it is not close to any MRT Station. Houshanpi is the nearest and is a reasonable walk to get there.
2. Pair this market with Wu Fen Pu and Formosa Chang for a fun filled day!
3. The night market is clean and is about 500m long. It has two lanes and you can walk up on one lane and return on the other.
4. Opening hours: 5:00pm - 12:00 midnight. 
Click here to return to the Taiwan Travelogue main page.
Day 2 is in progress.
Here is a map of my day 1. We walked an average of 4km from Houshanpi Station to the west end of Wu Fen Pu and back to Houshanpi Station.
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About Haoming Koo

Koo Haoming. Founder of The Fat Chemist. Currently an undergrad at the National University of Singapore with a burning passion for science! Inspired to start a blog after reading the book, "Napoleon's Buttons, How 17 Molecules Changed History". The book fills the gap between Chemistry and History. Adapting the style of the book, posts written by me highlight the chemistry in the food we eat.
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