Taiwan Trip 2016 – Taipei

Ahh, it’s been a long hiatus again, sometimes I just wish I’m still studying full-time with a lot more free time to create entries. Nowadays I’m struggling to just get enough sleep week by week. The perils of growing old, lol.

Anyway, this shall be the last part of my 2016 Taiwan trip, I probably will have a post on some of the things I bought that I think is nice.

Anyway, the city of Taipei is pretty easy to navigate with its robust metro system. Here’s a metro map with places of interest at the station. For a more comprehensive map you can also grab a free copy upon your arrival in Taiwan.

My usual go-to places in taipei:

  • Houshanpi: Wu-fen Pu wholesale market & Raohe Night Market
  • Jiantan: Shihlin Night Market
  • Danshui: Old street at north of Taipei, kind of like a big park
  • Ximen: My choice of stay! Love Ximen cause I can always grab some supper snacks back to my room to munch on ;p

I’ve also been to:

  • Xinbeitou: Hotsprings
  • Xindian: A smaller park near south of Taipei
  • Guting: Shida Night Market
  • Taipei Main Station: Shopping at the underground station
  • Danshui: From here I can also take a bus to Yang Ming Shan (mountain), but I remembered walking for what seemed like ages and still didn’t reach the top before I gave up and went to Xinbeitou for some hotspring instead lol.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

As you can see, I’m more of a shopping, laid-back traveler. I actually don’t mind staying in hostels if I’m traveling alone (though I would prefer those capsule type that I can draw up a curtain or close the door to have my own space). To save cost when I travel with my other half, I’ll go for Airbnb (inspite of his complains because hotel > Airbnb LOL).

My favourite location to stay is at Ximen for reasons as above, though I guess it’s not bad to as long as I can stay nearby night markets as well (because supper!). If you’re not picky it’s very possible to find an okay listing around SGD 50 (USD 35) in Ximen.

For this trip we actually went to a couple of new places:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I read that this place is where people visit for fresh seafood. It’s easier to walk from the station, but do prepare an umbrella in case it rains as there’s no shelter along the way. This place is also located within a wet market and I was a little disappointed as there’s nothing to see nearby. The seafood is fresh and recommended to go there with more friends, I had a hard time trying but failed to finish the box of thick sashimi that my other half absolutely hated. lol. there’s also cooked food in its premises that we didn’t try as I was too full from the sashimi.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Another place we went was a cat cafe. It’s the oldest cat cafe in Taipei but it’s actually a very normal restaurant with not many patrons when we went. And most of the kitties were napping hence not very keen in playing. Nevertheless they were very cute!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Well, most of our Taipei itinerary was very very laidback. So to end off I’ll just post some of the night market scenes:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pepper Buns – yum yum!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Omelette in many ways, Ah Zhone meesua, plum fried sweet potatos are my favourite! 

Apparently these 2 beef noodle shops are highly raved, but we didn’t get a chance to try them. So if you are in the area do try it out!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Fuss-Free Hair

I recently went to chop off 2 inches off my hair which is not that long anyway, but it’s a bit thick. So this time I also thinned the layers. I know many regard thick hair as being a sign of vitality, but mine was so thick especially at the back. lol now when I wash my hair I feel the lack of weight & length, and I know it sounds like a fetish but I’m so excited when I feel its airiness. haha! This length makes it so easy to dry too.

Now, I have natural curls that are not in the nice range. So I’m thinking I shall do another DIY hair straightening this weekend, and maybe post the results here! 😀

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and will have an even better New Year’s Day!

I Love Taiwan 2016 – Sun Moon Lake

On the 2nd morning we had a late breakfast at one of the makeshift breakfast stalls at the Fengjia University monument. We waited quite a while for bus 160 opposite Watsons and I think with our Easycard it was a free 20-30 minutes bus ride back to Taichung HSR station. At the booth near exit 5 (pictured below) we bought two-way bus tickets to Sun Moon lake.

You can also buy a package tour ticket to Sun Moon Lake or Cing Jing Farm at this counter, and for more information you may visit the company’s website:

http://www.ntbus.com.tw/en-p-1.html

The bus actually begin operation from early morning (i think 7+ am?) but being the lazy couple we are, we reached the counter only in the afternoon and thought it was too late for us to complete the package in time. Hence we only went for the return bus tickets, but just nice this uncle was selling us the boat ride tickets for NT150 for one.

Of course, if you’d rather have a private car then you can DIY your itinerary at https://www.rtaiwanr.com/taichung-city/lavender-tour

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Side note: I visited Qing Jing Farm in 2014, and it was a relaxing stay. Generally people take a morning bus up and stay at the higher area 5 to 8. We took a NT50 bus and started from the top at the sheep show, walked down  and reach Little Swiss Garden for flowers-watching and a lunch at Carton King. You can also take a early morning bus to HeHuan mountain to watch the sunrise but we were just too lazy. lol.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Anyway back to the topic, this is a typical pass covering the return bus rides, unlimited transfer, boat rides and I think some entrance fees as well as cable ride.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Below is the rough map of Sun Moon Lake. We took about 2 hours to finish the boat ride with 3 pier stops including the starting point (Shuishe), including a short walk at the street stalls at the last point Ita Thao (there’s also quite a number of homestay hotels there). So do go early if you aspire to really utilise the package fully.

Then we spent about 1.5 hours to share a motorised bicycle to ride along the Ita Thao Lakeside Trail. If you rent the motor bike instead then you will ride on the actual road instead of the trail.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

L-R and down: Tea Eggs at Xuanguang stop but it’s available everywhere. Starting point at bus drop-off area. Shuishe Pier. Walking street at Ita Thao pier.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Different scenes around the lake. Top left photo is from a section of the Ita Thao walking trail:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Overall I am pretty happy for our decision to plan a Taichung itinerary in our Taiwan trip 🙂 We went back to our airbnb to have an early rest before heading to Taipei the next day. Because we were with luggage, we hailed a cab to Taichung HSR station which I think cost NT280 for a short 10 minutes ride.

I Love Taiwan 2016 – Day 1

I’ve always have a special penchant towards Taiwan. I’ve been there 3 times before this, and I find it easy to navigate as I can understand Mandarin (actually even if you don’t it’s still fine as many of the attractions come with English signs)

My main love for TW is a combination of factors – cheap & good street food, shopping, and of course the friendly local people.

(There’s a recent spiked decrease in mainland China tourists in Taiwan – I’m guessing over the issue of country autonomy again? I personally prefer Taiwan to be an independent country but that’s just me lol. Anyway, good for me since there’s less crowd at the tourist spots!)

I was toying with travelling in Nov 2016 or in first quarter 2017 since the weather is the nicest during this period (cooling but not freezing, at 5-25 deg cel depending on the month). Then I saw a really cheap Jetstar promotion which after adding in reasonable check-in luggage, cost SGD388 for 2 (15kg there and 35kg back under husband’s name)! WOW! Normal prices are like SGD300 for one person. Side note that 35kg is just nice for me this time, and I feel that I didn’t buy a lot. So to be safe it’s best to have at least 45kg or more for 2 person. Traveling in a colder period also means the fashion will be more of the Autumn/Winter type, so if you’re from the tropical climate countries you won’t be able to buy as much clothes. But I still like it as I love walking and enjoying the cool breeze~!

At the Jetstar counter at Changi Airport, there’s actually automated kiosks that travelers scan their passports, get boarding passes and then add on check-in luggages. They will then print the boarding passes and bag tags before dropping off their luggages at the counter. This is rather confusing for a first-time user and there was a bit of chaos as some had to re-queue at another counter as they forgot to print their bag tags.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After a 4-hour flight to Taipei Taoyuan Airport (this flight will go on to Japan), we joined the long queue at the customs. There’s actually money changers inside and outside the gate, but I recommend to queue FIRST as there the passport-stamping area there will be a money changer before you exit the customs area, and OUTSIDE the customs area at arrival there’s also a counter for the 3, 5, 7-day SIM card packages. It’s really cheap so I do recommend to get it and stay connected!

we followed the signs to the bus area.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There’re many buses here, some go to Taipei (Taipei Main Station, Ximen Ding), some to Taichung (3 hrs journey?) and the bus we took is to Taoyuan High Speed Rail. It cost NT30 and takes about 20 minutes.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The HSR comes from Taipei, hence I recommend you to spend an extra USD1 for an assigned seat for your 40 minutes journey to Taichung, unless you’re taking the train really early.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

At Taichung HSR station, walk down to the level below and outside for the bus 160 to Fengjia Night Market. It will help a lot if you already have the Metro Card, and you can always do the top-up at a 7-11. It’s really cheap, like 2-30NT or free I think.

(Side note again, you’ll also see a booth selling tour bus packages to Sun Moon Lake and CingJing farm etc)

You’ll alight at Watsons, right smack at the fengjia night market. This is a stop before the Overseas Chinese University stop. If in doubt just ask the driver (in Chinese though lol).

Well, if you feel like cutting away all the hassle you may spend around USD 9 for the short taxi ride.

Anyway we had the unlimited wifi SIM card package from the airport, so I was checking the route using iPhone map too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After settling down at our Airbnb that’s really near the night market (if I can I will include a review of the places I stayed), we went to Fengjia night market!

But before that we went to this raved yakitori place called Gekiuma Yakitori a short 10 mins walk away.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Enter a caption

I think the yakitori is nice since I like grilled food, ambience is nice too; I won’t necessarily go back again as I think I can find similar yakitori in Fengjia NM. Anyway this shop is like a yAkihito cum bar so it’s nice if you’ll like to sit down and drink while eating and listening to music. Soup is freeflow too!

Next we walked back to Fengjia NM for more eating, and shopping! Btw in Taiwan it seems that many NM are located next to an university, same for Fengjia NM. I had the milk steamboat here, and also we had breakfast at this area the next day, right at the street where the Fengjia University monument is at. Try their breakfast!

please try the fried sweet potato balls! One of my favorite snacks! 😀

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Eyebrow Embroidery

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

L: Lower quality. R: Better quality

I mentioned in my previous post that I really regretted doing eyebrow embroidery, and I feel like I should elaborate so other lazy girls like me know what to look out for.

I had this rather cheap package for Gelish manicure with this neighbourhood shop rather far from my house around 1 hour plus away (it actually got transferred from another shop that closed down). So I was going for periodical manicures to finish using up my USD100 package (yes it’s really cheap) and besides it’s really not too bad. One fine day the beautician started selling eyebrow embroidery services, telling me how good her skills are having trained with a renowned upmarket branded shop, and saying how she can give me a good discount with really natural-looking brows. I could get 30% off the price and even offset part of it with my package etc.

Yes I got sold by the convenience of eyebrow embroidery and went for it, paying about USD340 thinking that my brows will look like the right picture. But no, as fate would have it, mine turned out like the botched version of the left picture.

And guess what, eyebrow embroideries come with 2 session, at the 1st one the beautician gave my right brow a too-high tail, and at my 2nd the other beautician botched the color. So now I’m still grappling with the aftermath of a set of so grey it looks black eyebrows that’s not very artfully done,  with ink that runs so it’s blurry now. This is already like 8 months in, and I hope it doesn’t last as long as it’s supposed to be, like 2 years?

Oh my. I really should have done it in Korea or Taiwan where I expect the skills will be better. @.@ I hope you girls out there have better experience!

Korea Haul – Eyeshadow & Eyebrows

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Hey people! It’s been a long time so here’s a quick review of the 2 eyeshadows I’ve got from Korea. I think both are pretty similar in that after spreading they are very subtle, and there’s a fine sparkle about them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I’ve also been using the Lioele brow pencil that I got for cheap, and also Etude House’s Color My Brows. I feel that the brow pencil is nothing much to speak of, it’s just a really normal pencil, though I like the angled pencil. For the EH Color My Brows, it’s a rich brown colour but I think I selected the wrong shade (bright brown) for my eyebrows (more closer to dark grey). I really regret embroidering my brows and wish the pigment will fade away really soon!

Lash by Lash Extension

So I bought a local Groupon package for S$22 (16 USD) with a beauty shop in Orchard Road, for an introductory offer for a lash-by-lash extension. I’ve done cluster lash extensions before and thoroughly regretted spending the money, so this time round I only bought the voucher as my colleague is visiting this shop as well, and I see her nice results.

Read on till the end for my personal disclaimer!

Anyway, here are my results:

The shop’s name is Browtisan. Anyway the “young girl in 20s” on the website’s front page is totally photoshopped; the owner in person looks older than that.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pardon my obviously, crazily smoothed & whitened skin using photo apps – I’m that self-conscious hahaha.

Main focus is my lashes! ^-^ i LOVE it! it’s much thicker & longer than my natural lashes (made more sparse from the lousy cluster extension), and I feel pretty with these lashes (and BeautyCam)! Not to mention makeup becomes easier as I didn’t have to use mascara or eyeliner for the time the lashes are on me.

My cheap voucher only entitled me to the “natural” category of lash extensions, which was around 100-150 for 2 eyes (aka 50-60 for each). Anyway the beautician claimed she will tend to add on more lashes to account for those that will undergo natural fallout. The whole process was around 1 hour, and I actually dozed off like 2 times and erm, made those pig snorting sounds as my nose was blocked & I was breathing through my mouth @.@ hahaha!

Oh anyway in the end I paid another S$315 (USD 226) for 3 sessions that will come with moisturising eye mask instead of tape (these things tug at your eyes and will cause sagging I suppose?). I find it slightly unethical that they only told me about the charging of the 7% GST (Goods & Services Tax) AFTER I agreed to buy the package. tsk tsk. Usually the salons I go to don’t come up with GST addon after the customer agrees to buy the package.

That is one good reason why I’m not going back after my 3 sessions finishes, and not like I can afford many $100+ lash extensions all the time lol. I’m just a normal working girl. I do like it that I can just wake up and look even slightly prettier without doing anything – suits my lazy motto. LOL.

Now for the disclaimer: it does seem like not everyone is meant for such splurging. I didn’t feel any irritation from the glue’s vapour on the first day, but in the week plus that followed sometimes I’d suddenly get the sharp pain in my eyes when I yawn (which is a lot as I’m always sleep deprived lol). My other 2 colleagues who did it at the same place had little to no side effects at all.

Anyway, if you’re interested, I do see a couple of places that offer cheap 1st trials, and even just cheap rates:

First Trials:

Corene Nail Spa (Facebook)

Green Beauty Solutions

Nett prices:

Allure Secrets

Or, you can always look out for deals that specify “lash-by-lash extension”.

Never go for cluster extensions! 😀

 

Etude House Big Cover Cushion Concealer – After thoughts

After using the EH Big Cover Cushion Concealer for a few times, I find that I like the brightening effect it brings. After dabbing onto my under eyes, I’d use an inspired beauty blender to blend it out. (Anyway i guess the real blender isn’t this rock hard ?)

BUT GUESS WHAT?

Yesterday when I used it as I had a wedding to attend, and the sponge part of the concealer disintegrated into pieces and fell off! Omg. I’ve never read of that happening on any blog post before.

Was it because I didn’t use it enough? Didn’t dry it before I capped it? Hmm anyhow now my cushion concealer has turned into a cushionless – normal – concealer lol.

 

Photography app – BeautyCam

I’ve only been introduced to this app yesterday by a friend and I’m already sold.

I know there’s a lot of photography apps out there, and even instagram has pretty filters. But this babe is really quite something else.

It has different functions – beauty, makeup, video and special effects (“Pikapika”). So you’d take a selfie and the app automatically smooths and whitens your skin, and even add some makeup (where you can further reduce or adjust)! I ended up taking at least 10 selfies yesterday night when I first downloaded it. I totally felt like I instantly transformed into a Korean star (though I’m nowhere near that) on this app.

Try it! If you don’t like it you can always delete it later.

This app can be downloaded free at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beautycam-meet-your-better/id592331499?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.meitu.meiyancamera&hl=en

(By the way none of my posts are sponsored since this is just a small blog I’m keeping out of my own interest, and I doubt any sponsors will be interested in such an obscure blog like mine haha)