Stinky Tofu, night markets, lantern festivals and of course Taipei 101. Ask anyone who’s been to Taiwan and they’d probably mention these places as part of any itinerary, and they’d be right.
But for me, Taiwan USED to be about one thing– METEOR GARDEN.
Oh Baby Baby Baby, My Baby Baby
Wo Jue Bu Neng Shi Qu Ni
Ni Shou Xin, Ni Sheng Ying
Hai Zhan LI Wo De
Xin Zen Neng Wang Ji
Xiang Ni Jium Xiang Shi Hu Xi
C’mon. I know YOU KNOW the song “Can’t Lose You” even if its in Chinese.
Long before KPOP became a thing, there was F4 Fever, and the only garden Pinoys wanted to look after every single day was Meteor Garden.
Who could forget Dao Ming Si (Jerry Yan), Hua Ze Lei (Vic Zhou), Mei Zuo (Vanness Wu) and Xi Men (Ken Chu), and Shan Cai (Barbie Xu)? Certainly not my mom who bought several sets of VCDS and later DVDs of all the episodes (first subtitled, then dubbed in English and finally dubbed in Tagalog) and that was even if she had watched all TV replays!
So while Taipei 101 might be its most iconic structure, there’s no denying that Meteor Garden’s popularity made Taiwan a must bucket-list destination for a lot of Pinoys.
I, for one, have been secretly planning a little Meteor Garden tour when I go on my very first trip to Taipei this November.
But after yesterday’s Fun Taipei event, I think I might have to drastically change our itinerary to squeeze in all the other destinations and fun activities they showcased during their presentation.
The FUN TAIPEI 2018media launch and travel seminar was held to promote their upcoming event to be held at Activity Center of Glorietta 2 on Friday July 6, 2018. It will be open to the public and they can sample different food stations featuring some of the best dishes from Taipei. There will also be a DIY session and an interactive photo studio. Capping off the series of promotional events for Taipei City is the 2018 Travel Madness Expo at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, happening from July 5 to 8.
To make the event interesting, the Department of Information and Tourism of Taiwan cre
ated created a 24-hour non-stop eating tour theme, to entice the food-loving nature of Filipinos.
Presenting a dish appropriate for each time of the day, the Taipei delegation consisted of some of the most famous food and beverage service providers, including Taipei’s popular breakfast brand My Warm Day, hottest Ma La hot pot, award-winning pastry and bakery Sunmerry, always packed Smoothie House, world-famous beverage maker KQ Tea, dry noodle maker Asha-food and Fried Chicken Master assuring tourists that they will never get hungry in Taipei 24/7.
Other presenters included chic hotel chain amba Hotels & Resorts and the Taipei Double-decker Sightseeing Bus service.
Jeron Travel, a famous local travel agency meanwhile launched a new travel promotion with Taiwan’s top airliner EVA AIR, the package includes a ticket for the Taipei double-decker sightseeing bus. The ticket sale is set to start on 5th July in the Philippines at a minimum price of USD 400. They also announced the availability of the limited amount of Fun Pass Taipei and “FUN TAIPEI” surprise package to give Filipinos a series of super deals once they board the flight until they return home.
But the main highlight of the Fun Taipei gathering was the launch of Mikey Bustos music video for his new song “My New Crushie.” The song based on the theme song of the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei City, features playful and catchy lyrics, as it gives viewers a sneak peek into Taipei’s amazing food scene—and how Mikey found his Taiwanese “Crushie”
In the video, Mikey and his “crushie” Venus go on an enviable food trip that included beef noodle, Mango shaved ice, fried chicken and the world famous stinky tofu.
He shared his fun experience during the shoot including that of the time when it rained heavily while sampling the street food. Now, he thinks of stinky tofu on a rainy day. “The taste is so unforgettable and I wish I can go back to Taipei to try more things that I didn’t get to eat last time,” narrates Mikey.
Deputy Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Information and Tourism Chen Yu-hsin said that the comedian-singer is the first foreign celebrity to be invited as Spokesperson to promote Taipei as perfect city for foodies and shopaholics and expressed her gratitude to the Filipinos for choosing Taipei as one of their favorite travel destinations.
Accordingly, the number of Filipino visitors has hit new highs, with the number reaching 290,784 since Taiwan approved the visa-free program for visitors from the Philippines in November 2017, which is just extended until the end of July, 2019. This is a staggering 68.59% increase from the same period in the previous year, which attracted 172,475 people in 2016.
Taiwan is less than two hours away from Manila, and now that traveling remains visa-free until December of 2019 its is probably the best time to visit this “hidden gem of Asia.”
An island country, Taiwan is blessed with a diverse range of exquisite beauties, with each corner of the island having its own unique scenery filled. Sitting in the path of warm ocean currents off the east coast of continental Asia, Taiwan proper is uniquely blessed with a wide range of climatic zones and four seasons– from tropical to temperate. This makes it an agricultural paradise where virtually any kind of fruit or vegetable can be cultivated as well as a recreational wonderland.
The cloud-piercing Taipei 101 tower and the frenetic 24-hour pace of life is a stark contrast to the rustic charm of the countryside and the blending of the old and the new, they say, is like being in a time tunnel that passes from the past through the present and into the future.
Taipei the capital city of Taiwan and is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of Taiwan. Called the City of Azaleas, this modern metropolis is where most tourists begin their Taiwan adventure where you can find delicious street food, night markets, historical artifacts, hot springs and its many upscale shops.
Now my seatmate, Christine, who if I recall correctly is from Jeron Travel, said 40 percent of or 4 out of 10 passengers aboard Taipei’s Hop On Hop Off Bus are Filipino, which just goes to show how Taipei has become such a favorite destination and that you’ll never feel alone in Taiwan.
If you are like me who is just about to embark on your very first Taiwan adventure here are some things to remember:
- Check your travel documents: Before you even book that flight or that hotel in Taiwan, make sure that your passport is still valid for at least 6 months! Aside from your passport, it would also be a good idea to bring along additional identification documents such as a government issued ID like driver’s license, social security ID etc.
- Book your flights and accommodations in advance: There are now more flights from the Philippines to Taiwan so make sure to book those flights early. Download an app such as Traveloka or SkyScanner or Expedia to find cheap airfare and flight options. Once you have booked your dates the next step is to find some accommodations. Again there are a lot of apps like Booking.com to help you.
- Plan your itinerary: Like I said, with all the new places I learned from the event, I’m now a bit confused as to which places I should visit first.
- Of course I want to visit Yingde University which is the National Chung Cheng in real life, where a lot of the scenes in Meteor Garden were shot—locker room, the hallway, the garden need to check all those! Then there’s Taipei 101, the Beitou Hot Springs, DaoDaoCheng and Dalongdong, Bangka and Ximending, Yangmingshan National Park, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, The Grand Palace Museum and a lot more! The challenge is how to properly plan your day to see the most places! Maybe we’ll do that Hop On Hop Off Bus tour!
- Check the weather! Since Taiwan has four seasons its best to check the weather forecast on your travel dates so you could plan your clothes accordingly. They say the best season to visit is from autumn (November) to early spring (April).
- Know your transport options: Taiwan has a very extensive and efficient public transport system so going around will not be a problem if you know your options. You can take a train, or bus and going around Taipei will be much easier with a Metro Pass or Easy Card. The Metro Pass reloadable card allows you access to the city’s MRT system, with validities for 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours. These cards are available at any information counter of the MRT. The Easy Card is the same, and can be used in Taipei and Kaohsiung buses as well.
- Get a pocket Wifi: You never know when you’ll need Google maps or translate or even the Taipei Metro App so having an online connection always will be a lot of help for first timers. And to be sure ask your hotel receptionist to write down the names of your destinations in Chinese characters for easier understanding.
- Visit the Taipei City Booth at the 2018 Travel Madness Expo at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, happening from July 5 to 8!
Check out more event photos here!