Friday, September 14, 2012

The Colour of Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan

I've been extremely focused on schedules of presentations with my industry counterparts mostly from the advertising and media agencies.

EnSurvey, is going to be my key focus in months to come, I'm full of passion for such a web start up since LifeLogger time, a social networking company I worked with in my early work days.

I had to cancel my trip to complete some critical tasks.

Oh yeah, almost forgetting to mention Amily, she's is coming tomorrow, I'm hosting this awesome Taiwanese girl during her stay in Kuala Lumpur.

One that always misses us whenever we are away

Vivi is always the one that everyone of us in the family would miss terribly while we are away, and he would always miss us. Strangely, he acts very differently whenever we are away, good and bad.

Vivi, our precious family member for 7 years 我们家的宝
He would jump on the car and follow us on a 30 minutes journey to the airport every time when one of us flies.
My mom travels with me first time the light backpacking way, I'd use "us"in referring to both of us. I've previously mentioned in 11 days travel Taiwan itinerary that I tried to schedule a more relaxing trip this time and gradually increase the pace but it turned out to be remarkably busy trip. 
Yangmingshan National Park, 阳明山国家公园

It was the second day and we had visited Yangmingshan in hope of witnessing the awesomeness of cherry blossoms at the park.

One of the eight amazing national parks in Taiwan, Yangmingshan is situated at the North-east of Taipei, Beitou District, it takes less than an hour to reach Yangmingshan main bus stop from Shilin MRT station.

When you reach the famous destination, you could have decided to walk up from where the main bus station is, or take another trip of bus that would traverse the mountains to reach the higher spot.

Natural beauty, Yangmingshan national park, Taiwan

There's travel info counter, the handy helper pointed us to the right direction to take the bus near the MRT station exit to our next destination on that morning.

The friendly travel info counter was particularly helpful for tourists, it's stationed mostly at train stations and MRT/LRT stations, easily being spotted.

Foot shot

Yangmingshan National Park

Madam Goo was positioning to try a few camera angles
As she walked to the crowd resting place

The mountain peaks are accessible by a few networks of well maintained hiking trails, we did not attempt to hike the peaks.

We could have witnessed the most beautiful cherry blossoms if we were there a week or two earlier during the Spring season, but we have very little to complain.

Cherry blossoms - Image taken from

A warmth feel of the natural beauty

A different feel for the natural beauty

We did not make it to the top as we gradually came to the end of our hike as mom felt the tiredness after the long morning activity, we picked a spot to rest near the waterfall through this what seemingly as the walkway that linked to the hiking trail.

Walkway that linked to the hiking trail of Yangmingshan

Make sure you stop by at the humble restaurant where they serve the unforgettable Yam noodle 芋头面线 and Minced pork rice 卤肉饭 for only $NTD140 include drinks.

Yam noodle 芋头面线

Minced pork rice 卤肉饭

We went on to leave the national park and visited National Palace Museum 台北故宫博物馆, no camera allowed in the museum which housed more than ten of thousands of Asian art collections of ancient artifacts.

Huge crowd could be found at the museum, could be annoying, try to go in the morning to avoid the long queue.

It required some good stamina to stay on our feet especially after the morning hike at Yangmingshan, by this time, mom was already complaining she felt her back aching, me too.

$NTD100 - 180 was the entrance fees before and after discount using the youth travel card I applied at the airport.

These were a few shots of the statues at the long front walkway to the museum, it required tremendous efforts to even raise my hands to keep the camera straight at this point of time.

Chinese lion statue found in front of the National palace museum

Google translated this as tripod for Chinese word 鼎,  4 legged tripod? Whatever =)

I did not bother whether I had taken enough shots at the museum, was eager to head home. That would conclude our second day in Taipei City with my mom.

Now, the fun part had just started as the night got closer, I was invited by my Taiwanese host to a private party at one of the pub at Zhongxiao east road 忠孝东路...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

EnSurvey - The Online Survey Community That Pays Your For Your Opinions
If you are wondering why you haven't heard from me for some time I have a perfect explanation for my readers. I have an extremely important milestone to complete this time around.

This is going to be pure business blog, the business side of me for many of you probably won't be seeing. But I can assure you, I have the same passion for web business as much as for traveling and meeting new friends around the world.

It's been two remarkable years of conceptualization since the day I was with the advertising agency and finally EnSurvey has gone live. 

I could use some of your blessings, cheers! =)

What is it all about EnSurvey?

For many, it's going to be interesting to know that EnSurvey pays you to answer to some quick and fun surveys. Suitable surveys will be shown to you as your profile matches the client's requirements.

For others, EnSurvey is my latest venture, we help clients to gain quick market intelligence to justify business ideas and marketing initiatives, our clients are the marketeers (business owners, executives of brands, the advertising and media agencies, human resource and business units). You can work all within your budget and control.

Key features to EnSurvey

We are an online survey community where anyone can launch survey and target our respondents. You can target your private group too. Meaningful real-time results are generated real-time to assist you in achieving goals to deal with your industry.

Our model is pretty straight forward, our clients pay us, we pay our respondents. Think of us as the AirAsia or commonly known as the low price budget model, now more people have the opportunity to survey the market at higher frequency compares to when there’s no EnSurvey. 

We believe findings are very important to businesses where the strategy is built on, and we are the source of getting them in the most efficient and fastest way possible.

To put them into perspectives, I've included a findings below about a survey of Malaysian's Environmental Awareness in an attempt to understand the level of commitment from Malaysian people generally aged between 18 - 45 years old in doing their part saving the planet Earth.

Snapshot of EnSurvey

Surveys listing

Creating survey 

Targeting and setting up questions

Sample report

There are many great features such as:
  • The Question Bank that would assist first time surveyor
  • Incredibly powerful real-time analytics
  • Precise targeting from day one to eliminate the unnecessary market noises
  • Stay anonymous to survey the competitors
  • Bidding for survey to achieve maximum result (this has got some similarity to bidding for keywords in Google Adsense and Facebook advertising)
  • And many more
Alright, time to wrap up and I will definitely spend time blogging my next trip and clearing some of my backlog travel posts.

Until then, cheers and stay well, leave a comment of blessings for support! Thank you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Couchsurfing in Taipei, Taiwan

It was not until the very last week before traveling to Taiwan I started arranging things with some of the CouchSurf hosts who's staying in Taipei City.

I have made a few contacts and thankfully the response was positive and very quickly, a few hosts were confirmed.

There are couple of things to communicate with the host before you leave on the plane.
  • Date - it's important to communicate your arrival date accurately so the host can get prepared prior to your arrival.
  • Time & place - while the arrival date is important, it's also crucial to know what time and where is the place to meet your host. The meeting place could be a famous landmark or MRT station located nearby your host's house.
Communication is the key, grab a local sim card with data plan from the many service providers, start communicating with your host either through voice call or there are a lot of handy apps you can use to make sure the couch is available.

While email is usually good at earlier stage of communication such as brief introduction between you and your host, and a check briefly if the dates are available for hosting, I use mostly Whatsapp and Line messenger to communicate directly with my host on further arrangements.

It's essential to check with the host a day or two before your arrival to avoid miscommunication. You don't want to end up without a place to stay.

Yi-chun, our host in Shida, Taipei - 师大, 台北

It's unthinkable that Taiwanese have such lovely characters with them, they are extremely friendly and polite, Yi-chun is no exceptional!

The classic beatles photo frame nicely hung on the wall

The fragrance pot, whatever you want to call it =)

Yi-chun and friends are seemingly well-organized persons

A view into the dining area and the kitchen, the couch was ours for the night

It's clearly having an advantage to stay with the native host, the excitement of meeting new friends and understanding their cultures aside, they are usually very helpful when comes to giving you some travel advices.

Their suggestions are very helpful knowing where to go, when to go, and how to go about the local travel hotspots, sharing things you can't miss. It's going to be really interesting and fun.

Exchanging cultural and travel experience are always the most fun part in our first meeting. We got a lot of travel information that night from Yi-chun and her boyfriend.

My mom was very shy at first, but she settled down quickly feeling the warmth reception from our lovely host.

Yi-chun, our Taiwanese native host in Taipei in Shida

The Next Day

The next morning we were up early for Yangmingshan national park and National palace museum at the north of Taipei city.

Morning walk on the street to the Technology building station

As we walked towards the nearest Technology building station, we found our little wonder at the cross of the housing areas.

Resting at the garden, yeah resting before we even started our trip haha, this cup noodle, 面线, together with pork sandwich enlightened our day for only $NTD 60!

Sweet time at the relaxing garden

Mianxian 面线, irresistible noodle soup

The unforgettable pork sandwich!

They were just two of the many irresistible and humble-looking food we'd definitely recommend anyone to try it, it's unbelievable!

And we could defnitely use a little time for planning our route to our next destinations.

Rock n' roll!

It's a quiet morning, it's always good to start the day slow to enjoy every moment of the details before we got busier later.

Next up,  The colour of Yangmingshan national park.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Taiwan: 11 Days Round The Island Taiwan Trip Itinerary

My blog's traffic has increased significantly after my last post on Taiwan trip sampler, I should get busier with more Taiwan posts for the obvious reason.

Synopsis of my Taiwan trip

I was originally expecting a slow start of the trip and gradually increasing the momentum to allow time for my mom to adjust to my pace in my previously proposed 11 days Taiwan northern central-west trip sampler.

It turned out to be the opposite way, it was a frenzy start and gradually slowing down at the end of the trip.

Again some very last minute rearrangement of my trip this time I traveled East coast and went all the way down to Southern side of Taiwan after being convinced by Willy, the backpacker hostel owner in Taipei, that we should get more out of the journey to the East at this time of traveling.

Taipei 101
The weather was unpredictable, we got a Sunny warm morning with about 25 Degrees of Celsius, all of sudden the sky turned gloomy and the temperature would drop to below 20 Degrees with strong breeze of cold wind.

We spent a few great nights in Taipei, then setting foot in Hualien and Taitung along the East line before finally settling down in Tainan skipping Kaohsiung and Kending for some reasons.

A few places we covered while we were in Taipei City 台北市.
  • Taipei 101 台北101
  • Ximending 西门町 (Young & trendy district)
  • Longshan temple 龙山寺
  • Natinal palace museum 台北故宫博物馆
  • Dihua street 迪化街 (one of the oldest street in Taipei)
  • Zhongxia east road 忠孝东路(东区 Shopping heaven)
  • Wufenpu 五分埔 (Best shopping place)
  • Yangmingshan national park 阳明山公园
  • Xingtian temple 行天宫
  • Raohe night market 饶河夜市

There's no particular reason why some destinations were skipped from the original plan, it's just my own preference and last minute decisions from the optional travel list.

From the sight of the buzzing cities with the third tallest building in the world to the magnificent of the natural and historical landmarks, Taiwan never came short of my expectation about her.

I'm amazed especially by Taiwanese's rich culture and politeness, their extraordinary friendliness electrifies me, the people are full of love and most are highly spirited!

Ilha Formosa, The Beautiful Island, claimed by the Portugese sailors centuries ago when they first saw Taiwan, is truly one of the most beautiful travel destination you can not miss!

These pictures will tell us how diverse is Taiwanese cultures are.

Zhongxiao road, one of the most concentrated & busiest streets in Taipei

Xingtian temple 行天宫

七股龙山庙 Qigu Longshan temple near Tainan
Yangmingshan 阳明山

Jiufen old quarter, 九份老街 is the reminiscent of Sapa in Hanoi, about 1.5 hours away from Taipei city centre by bus, Jiufen old quarter is an old quarter situated at the far hilltop near Keelung city. Avoid any weekend trip, this place is flocked by travelers!

We traveled by light rail to Shihlin station and transited with public bus to Jiufen. I'd recommend to spend a few nights staying at Jiufen to use some quiet moments, there are many cheap and remarkable B&B (Bed & Breakfast local house converted hostel, 民宿) providing comfortable accommodation.

Jiufen old quarter 九份老街 is one of the signature of Taiwan

Temple at the entrance of Raohe night market in Taipei 饶河夜市

My favourite Taiwanese signature food is no other than the minced pork rice, 卤肉饭.

Minced pork rice 卤肉饭
It's not until we reached Hualien 花莲 we found out about how magnificent it was about Taroko National Park 太鲁阁国家公园, one of the great wonders in Asia according.

The park is located towards North of Hualien Country, a full day tour to Taroko gorge, 45 minutes from Hualien township with bus or motorbike, is the favourite destination for many hikers and cyclers.

The stunning gorge is known for its sheer marble cliffs, deep, winding tunnels, and the Liwu River which flows through the craggy landscape.  We stopped at the Swallows Grotto, where the section of the highway runs through tunnels carved into the marble vertical sides of the gorge.

One of the few highlights are:
  • Taroko Skadang Tracks 砂卡当步道
  • Swallow Caves 燕子口
  • Tunnel of Nine Turns 九曲洞
  • Eternal Spring Shrine 长春寺
  • The Bridge of Kind Mother 慈母桥
  • Tiansiang Lodge 天祥
Entrance to one of the Asia wonders, Taroko, it means magnificent and beautiful in Truku

Taroko Gorge's remarkview from Skadang tracks 砂卡当步道风景

The East line train has the panoramic views of the East coast beaches and agriculture farms, mostly are paddy fields.

Paddy field along the East coast line
We stopped at Tainan 台南 after Taitung 台东 and traveled out of town to Taijiang National Park 台江国家公园 for the marine life of the famous lagoon.

The dense of mangroves and salt fields near the inland sea of Qi-gu 七股 are also the highlights where we unexpectedly met by troops of locals celebrating the God's birthday where the locals marched and danced their Gods out from their respective temples to greet the birthday of another God.

Celebration of God's birthday

Taijiang roadside where the gentle wind welcomed us
Fort Provintia 赤崁楼 in Tainan
Taiwan Round The Island Trip Itinerary

It covers the Northern, Central-east and Southern part of Taiwan.

Day 1 - Arrival in Taoyuen > Taipei
Day 2 - Taipei
Day 3 - Taipei > Jiufen
Day 4 - Taipei
Day 5 - Taipei > Hualien
Day 6 - Hualien
Day 7 - Hualien > Taitung
Day 8 - Taitung > Tainan
Day 9 - Tainan
Day 10 - Tainan
Day 11 - Tainan > Taoyuan > Kuala Lumpur

Main Attractions

View [Taiwan] Backpack itinerary sampler in a larger map

Overall Expenditures

Living standard in Taiwan is considerably OK, Taiwanese beer is as cheap as TWD$450/500ml per can! Well that's my simplest correlation, haha!
  • Accommodation - TWD$400 - 700/night/person
  • Motorbike rental - TWD$500-600/day
  • Food - TWD$250-500/day/person
We spent most of the nights at backpacker hostels, they are generally clean and with highly passionated hostel helpers sharing all the tips required for your trip. 

Information about a city is easily available as the travel info center usually being setup at train or MRT stations.

Rental of motorbike at certain cities are highly recommended to save traveling time, the providers are all over the place near train stations. 

Resourceful Reference

One of the handiest reference site I've visited frequently when I was studying about Taiwan is Kafkaesque's blog, the 30+ year-old European blogger who moved to Taiwan couple of years ago is really thorough about Taiwan.

There is a great Chinese forum giving every little good tips about the best deals and hot travel spots in Taiwan, Backpacker Taiwan Forum. Forumers are very helpful in recommending amazing places for visit, best deal of your packages and accommodation with humble reviews through their own experience, the discussion goes beyond Taiwan to other regional countries as well.

Well, until we meet again in my next blog, I should say that Taiwan is truly remarkable, a livable place as described by my good friend, Derek. And no doubt, Taiwanese is one of the warmest people on the planet you'd want to meet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Taiwan: 11 Days Northern and Central West Trip Itinerary Sampler

Taiwan, quoted by Lonely Planet, within the borders of this small, sweet potato-shaped island with barely 23 Million populations lies the contrasts and melange of cultural influences that you will not likely to find anywhere else on the planet.

This will be the most interesting trip that I've longed to visit and missed twice of previous scheduled trip due to several reasons.


This sampler is modified to accommodate my mom's need after I have encouraged her to take on the trip with me and I'm really excited to see how it turns out for her.

I'm worried she is neither a backpacker nor she is a frequent traveler, definitely not used to the plenty of walking and talking with strangers although she has been swamped by some of my thrilling backpacking stories over the years.

It's the first time having a travel partner, I'm going to stay positive we will quickly love Taiwan and settle down at the home of the world's warmest people.

And the best part is, we can communicate in Chinese - Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, English, bring it on man! Language is the most underlying advantage that a Malaysian has, it's incredible isn't it!

The fact is, there's not much information about Taiwan and not many books written in English about it too but that doesn't mean Taiwan isn't the favourite travel destination of the many travelers.

As I dig deeper into what they have to offer, Taiwan is such a spectacular travel destination for magnificent cultural exploration. Old towns and streets in city easily existed for centuries!

Besides their deeply rooted cultures, they have the best food! For decades, Taiwanese focus so much on the packaging the food look incredibly nice in any part of the country,  and the food are given such a detail highlight you can find them in every single Chinese written travel book!

Suggested Trip Length

The suggested trip length is about eleven days, I originally have a 14 days circle the island itinerary but it's unlikely to happen, first because my mom could really use some relaxing schedule and second is the time limitation.

I have a start up coming up real soon, the launch should be on early April shortly after I'm back from the trip.

Hence, this is going to be slightly more loosen up trip, a slow start sampler, it's more practical for most of the travelers to take on the balance of cultural experiencing, more relaxing time for the details.


Taiwan is typically presenting an average temperature of 22 Celsius all year round, there's no severe cold in winder and no brutal summer heat according to Travel China Guide.

Many travel guides including Wikitravel have mentioned that the best time to travel Taiwan is on the month of October and November.

Autumn (Sept - Nov) is seen to be good traveling time to many as the conditions tend to be warm and dry and prices lower, while, Spring (March - May) can be clear and dry, or wet.

Summer (June-August) is usually a great time to visit the east coast, especially the outdoor activities at the beaches.

Many think that traveling during Chinese NewYear is a bad decision but it is at this time you will be able to experience the Chinese's biggest festive celebration, the rates are likely to double and shops are shut down the first few days.

The low month is the traditional month of Ghost on July as the prices can drop slightly.

Sample Plan

This sample plan covers most of the travel hotspots in Taipei in 3 days, I'm spending 2 days in Jiufen to take an easy walk at the older quarter before traveling to Wulai, another old quarter with remarkable scenery.

After Wulai, a more hectic schedule to Taichung, I'm going to stay in Taichung for the local's favourite Fengjia night market, a lot of half day trips to nearby towns at Lugang, Dajia, Fongyuan and Sinshe for a good mixed of travel experience for instance the flower farms, century old temples and towns.

Last destination will be the incredible Alishan, we will spend our last 2 nights to relax at the hilltop before heading back to Taoyuan International Airport on the last day of our trip.

Travelers who love Tainan or Kaohsiung can spend the last 2 days in the city while I have to skip them this round and come back another time.

Those of you who want to go for Taiwan's biggest musical fest, Spring Scream, in Kenting around this time, I've included its information at the end of the blog.

Day 1 - Arrival in Taoyuen >Taipei
Day 2 - Taipei > Danshui > Taipei
Day 3 - Taipei > Beitou > Taipei
Day 4 - Taipei > Jiufen
Day 5 - Jiufen
Day 6 - Jiufen > Wulai
Day 7 - Wulai > Taichung > Lugang > Dajia > Taichung
Day 8 - Taichung > Fongyuan > Sinshe > Taichung
Day 9 - Taichung > Alishan
Day 10 - Alishan
Day 11 - Alishan > Taoyuan > Kuala Lumpur

View Taiwan Brief Travel Itinerary Sampler in a larger map

Main Attractions

This map has most of my travel destinations, there are places I have to skip due to lack of time, I'll continue to update this map as I'm sure I'll discover another great number of interesting places to visit in the process of studying more about Taiwan before making the trip.

View [Taiwan] Backpack itinerary sampler in a larger map

Taipei City 台北市
  • Taipei 101 台北101
  • Ximending 西门町 (Young & trendy district)
  • Longshan temple 龙山寺
  • Sun Yat-sen memorial park 国父纪念馆
  • Natinal palace museum 台北故宫博物馆
  • Baoan temple 保安宫
  • Dihua street 迪化街 (one of the oldest street in Taipei)
  • Office of the president 总统府
  • Zhongxia east road 忠孝东路(东区 Shopping heaven)
  • Danshui old quarter 淡水老街
  • Taiwan democracy memorial park 中正纪念堂
  • Yongkang street 永康街
  • Wufenpu 五分埔 (Best shopping place)
  • Yangmingshan national park 阳明山公园
  • National Taiwan museum & garden 二二八和平公园
  • Tianhou temple 天后宫
  • Beitou hotspring 北投温泉
  • Wulai old quarter 乌来老街 (One of the oldest quarter & waterfall)
  • Tianmu 天母

Dihua street 迪化

Taipei 101 台北101

Wulai 乌来

Ximending 西门町

Night Markets in Taipei
  • Shihlin night market 士林夜市
  • Raohen night market 饶河夜市
  • Shida night market 师大夜市
Keelung City 基隆市
  • Miaokou night market 庙口夜市
  • Jiufen old quarter 九份老街 (One of the oldest quarter)

Jiufen 九份

Taichung City台中市
  • Fengjia night market 逢甲夜市 (The biggest night market in Taiwan - 1,500 stalls & shops)
  • Sun moon lake 日月潭
  • Changhua 彰化
  • Lugang 鹿港 (One of the oldest quarter)
  • Fongyuan 丰原
  • Sinshe 新社 
  • Dajia 大甲
  • Jiji small rail line 集集
  • Alishan 阿里山
  • Yushan national park 玉山国家公园

Alishan 阿里山

Yushan 玉山

Lugang 鹿港

Sinshe 新社

Entertainments at Night in Taipei

Taipei's night life is one of the main attraction and it's highly recommended to spend the weekend in Taipei and visit one of these clubs.

I've gone through a few video clips and Taipei is thought having plenty of awesome pubs and clubs that can be found all over the city.

Some of them are owned by Taiwan celebrities.
  • Lava
  • Pasoul (Drink all night over the weekend, I'll have to confirm this myself)
  • Room 18 (More privileged group)
  • Luxy (Drink all night)
  • Primo (More privileged group)
  • Babe 18 (Drink all night, Thursday)
There is a video about Taipei's clubs about the club in Chinese.

Useful Maps

MRT route - 16fan forum

Spring Scream 春呐

One of the many things I want to do is to visit Spring Scream 春天呐喊, in short, 春呐 (Chun-na), a once a year epic adventure of art and audio aspiration that hits the island in Kenting.

An amazing and widely known, one of the largest international music festival in Taiwan with over 200 domestic and global bands performing over the course of 4 days festival.

It just gotten bigger and bigger with so much emphasis on music and sound. And it's happening on 4-8 April 2012.

I just hope I can make it this trip, entrance fee is only NT$1,500/USD30. Yeah, bikinis and hot chicks!

Spring Scream musical event 春呐