How I Almost Missed a Trip to Islas de Gigantes

How I Almost Missed a Trip to Islas de Gigantes

My trip to Iloilo in September 2018 was booked in November 2017 through a promo fare of Cebu Pacific. The one-way trip from Cagayan de Oro to Iloilo only cost me Php 440. Not bad, right? I figured it was a flexible and cheaper route for me compared to flying from Butuan to Cebu and flying again from Cebu to Iloilo.  The plan was to meet my friend, Gail, in Iloilo. Gail would be flying from Davao on the same day.   Both of us would  arrive in Iloilo in the morning of September 18.

The plan seemed perfect until February came. We both got emails from Cebu Pacific informing us of flight changes.  Gail’s flight was moved to a 6 PM departure time.  She would arrive in Iloilo in the evening.  She was thinking of having the trip refunded since we would not able to see a lot of Iloilo given the shortened trip. She was also concerned I would be waiting for her the entire day. But then, I also got an email about my flight. My flight would arrive in the evening.  There was an option to cancel and have the tickets refunded.  We were thinking about that but we figured that promo fare prices kept increasing each year. We would not be able to book this trip at a bargain again.  Plus, it did not cost much. We might regret not getting this short break.  We still had 8 months to plan the trip.

Gail is a superb planner and trip organizer. I had always wanted to go to Islas de Gigantes but I thought it was not possible with our schedule.  Without considering the arrival and departure days, we only had two full days in Iloilo and the port for the boat ride to the Islas de Gigantes was three hours away but Gail had managed to fit the trip into the schedule. She was able to find a glamping resort with island hopping, land tours and full board meals.  She fixed all our itineraries and the Airbnb bookings. She had a list of food places to try in Iloilo. She also managed to invite another friend so we have more fun. The more, the merrier, right? 

Everything was in order.  I was excited for this trip. 

So I packed my things in the afternoon of September 17.  I saved my plane tickets in my phone. For some reason, I reviewed my ticket and my heart skipped a beat. Alas! My flight  was not only changed from morning to evening but also there was a change of date from  September 18 to September 19. I missed looking at the date when I was notified about the change. This meant that  I would miss one whole day in Iloilo! We already booked and paid for the reservations.  If I fly on September 19, not only would I miss the Isla de Gigantes trip, I would have to book a hotel  in Iloilo for the night  (and alone at that) because my friends would be in the islands.  So I decided to say goodbye to my Php 440 ticket and booked the same flight as Gail.  This meant that I would be taking an 8-hour bus ride to Davao and fly from Davao to Iloilo in the evening of September 18.  The one-way plane ticket already cost around Php 2,700.  I used my GetGo points to drop the cost down to Php 1,600. This was the price I had to pay for stupidity not reading the fine print.

These are the things I would have missed! The glamping resort was gorgeous! And we had the resort all to ourselves! This is one of the perks of traveling on a weekday- less tourists.  My anti-social and introverted self was happy. There were lots of things to see in Iloilo City but we just chose what we could cover with the time we had. We had a blast.

All Pictures Iloilo 2018 katrina karen

I am glad there was a solution to  my problem even if it was a dent on my budget. I feel grateful to the greater power up there that pushed me to check my ticket that day since I missed the cue the first time.  It could have been worse.  I would not know what to do if I found my mistake much later when I am already in the airport in Cagayan de Oro.  I guess I was meant to visit Iloilo and it was worth the extra Php 1,600. For that, I am grateful.

How I Almost Missed a Trip to Islas de Gigantes

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor, and Cebu

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

I love traveling. I always try to go to different trips in a year but when it comes to planning the details of the trip, I now try to be chill. I no longer want to cover every possible tourist spot in a particular destination. I just pick what I want to see and I am happy with just that. For the Dumaguete, Siquior and Cebu trip, I just want to go Manjuyod sandbar in Negros Oriental, Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor and Osmena Peak in Dalaguete, Cebu.

I got what I wanted and more.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We were able to tour around Silliman University in Dumaguete.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
We met our friend May and her family.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
We ate at pretty cafes and restaurants in Dumaguete.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

I flew on a broom in Siquijor.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We went to a flower farm in Dalaguete.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
We were able to visit the Sto Nino Basilica in Cebu.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
I came home safe and sound.

All these pretty photos were reminders of a memorable trip.

However, there were more stories behind our trip and I felt I needed to immortalize them in this blog post.

This is the part where I start to tell you everything that went wrong.

It was one fine Saturday of August 18 when we took a 655 AM flight from Butuan going to Cebu. We were 5 happy travelers.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
It was an uneventful flight which I hoped that all my flights should be. We arrived at around 8 am in Cebu. Our goal then was to reach the Cebu South Terminal since we would be traveling south to reach Dumaguete. There were 5 of us so we won’t be able to fit in one taxi.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

I learned through Googling that we could take a myBus from the airport and drop at Parkmall where we could then take a jeep to the terminal. Four of us were in seats that face the rear of the bus and only one friend was facing front. And so we missed the Parkmall stop. And we realized this when we saw SM, the end point of the trip. We thought the driver would inform passengers of the stops.

We resolved to take two taxis to South Terminal.

Upon arrival, we had to decide which bus to take. We had two options: 1. Take a bus to the Lilo-an port in Santander and take the ferry to Sibulan in Negros which is just 15 minutes from Dumaguete or 2. Take the Ceres bus that will take us directly to Dumaguete through a barge in Bato, Cebu. Option 1 is a shorter trip if you don’t miss the ferry ride after. It was already almost 10 am and we figured that it might be difficult to take lunch on the road so we decided to eat first before traveling. Elizabeth mall was near so we just walked.

All was well but as soon as we were almost done eating, it rained. Real hard. We waited for the rain to stop and decided to just take the taxi as soon as it was starting to let up.

After a few minutes of pondering, we decided to take option 1: bus to the port. We were led to a line at the back of the terminal. A long winding line. All the while we thought that the waiting area was in the front of the terminal.

This was our line. And we still had to go through that line at the back.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Good thing that there were chairs. We just had to hop from one chair to another. Why the long lines? All those who would go to South of Cebu ride the same bus route. Whether you go to Carcar, Argao, Dalaguete or Oslob, you take the same bus. That is why everyone “sits” on the same line. Plus, it was the start of a long weekend.
It was already 1 PM when we got on the bus.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

A few minutes after the bus left the terminal, the bus made a U-turn and returned to the terminal. The driver felt there was something wrong with the bus. We had to move to another bus. The transfer was organized. We were instructed to sit in the same seat on the replacement bus.

It was a good thing that the driver noticed something wrong with the bus while we were still near the terminal. Imagine the hassle if it happened halfway through the trip. That was a relief until we got stuck in traffic in Carcar. There was an accident. Someone was hit by a truck. There was no alternate route. All vehicles had to wait until the area was cleared.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

If only we knew how long we had to wait we could have gone to buy chicharon from these stalls. hehehe

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We arrived at the Liloan Port at around 630 PM and we were in luck this time. We caught the boat that was about to leave for the Sibulan. That was a quick 15-min boat ride.

As soon as we landed in the Sibulan port, our friend, May, fetched us. We were all happy to see her and we thought that our string of bad luck was over.

May drove us to The Flying Fish Hostel where we booked a 6-bed dorm room through Airbnb. Much to our surprise, we were led to a 10-bed mixed dorm room. We panicked. Five of the beds were already occupied. We wanted a room all to ourselves. So we decided to have the booking refunded.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

On the bright side, we had May still waiting for us outside who immediately got in touch with the alumni hall of Silliman. We were told there was an available room for 5.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

May also ordered a feast for us at Sans Rival, that famous restaurant in Dumaguete. We ate our worries away and just indulged every bite. After all that we’ve been through, we were famished.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

This was our dorm room in the Silliman Alumni Hall. Not bad for 1,400 a night!

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Photo from my friend, May

I was so tired. I immediately changed into my sleepwear and called it a night.

The first full day in Dumaguete was a lot of fun. All those bad luck were wiped out from our consciousness.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Or so we thought.

The next day was our trip to Siquijor.

Remember that we just wanted to be chill about the trip? We planned to take the 8 AM boat to Siquijor.
We arrived at the pier at 745 AM. Ha! The tickets have sold out so we bought tickets for the 9 AM trip. On the bright side, we now have time for breakfast. We had breakfast at the Silliman canteen.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

It took us an hour to reach Siquijor by boat. Because we learned our lesson earlier, we agreed to immediately buy tickets for the afternoon trip back to Dumaguete. When we learned that tickets would be sold only by 11 AM, our multicab driver arranged for somebody to buy the 4:20 PM trip tickets for us.

Off we went on our tour. We enjoyed our time in the Cambugahay falls. Who wouldn’t?

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We enjoyed it so much that we had to cut short our trip to the Salagdoong beach because we no longer had enough time. Our driver had to drive fast for us to make it to the 4:20 PM trip.

As soon as we arrived at the terminal, our tickets were handed to me. We were walking fast towards the terminal area even more so when the person manning the gate already told us that the boat was about to leave. Boarding already started. My friends went ahead of me so that they could at least inform the crew that we were already coming. I was left a little behind because I still had to pay the terminal fees.

I saw my friends whose faces showed relief that they reached the boat just in time. And then one friend realized, ” Why are we in a RORO (roll-on roll-off) boat? Aren’t we supposed to ride a fast craft?” Then we saw a fast craft leaving the dock. That was our boat. We missed our boat by a few minutes.

The crew in the RORO were kind enough to help us on what to do next. They assured us that they would wait for us to secure a refund and buy new tickets. I walked so fast towards the gate to get the refund and buy the tickets.

This is us in the boat. Can you see the beads of sweat on my cheek?

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Our ordeal was not over because two of us in the group got diarrhea. Somebody in Siquijor might have put a spell on us. Ha!

The bright side? We got to see dolphins and this lovely sunset.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

By the 4th day of our trip, we had become veterans of misery. Ha! We were still amused at the series of unfortunate events that befell us. I kept telling my friends that this was just a test. And that Murphy’s Law was in effect: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. So be it!

It was now time to travel to Cebu. We planned to drop by Dalaguete and visit Osmena Peak. We took the Ceres bus this time. We had lunch at the pier where the barge was. The barge would carry the bus to the pier in Bago, Cebu. For the two of us who had diarrhea, lunch was patatas, a local square biscuits. We failed to notice that only our group was left eating. The bus conductor came to tell us that they were waiting for us. The bus was already on the barge. When we reached the bus, we saw that one friend was not with us. We decided to call her and we saw her from a distance panicking outside not knowing where to go. She did not realize that the bus would be loaded onto the barge. She finally saw where we were. All is well that ends well.

We dropped at Dalaguete for Osmena Peak. We were lucky this time because we were able to hire a multicab going to the foot of the mountain instead of riding at the back of a motorcycle. We even minimized our misery by hiring a guide and renting a trekking pole.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We enjoyed both the peak and the flower farm that was suggested to us by our guide. By the time we got back to the Dalaguete highway, we were starving so we enjoyed a bowl of batchoy at a local eatery.

Our tummies were full so we were ready to travel to Cebu. We were waiting at the bus stop along with other passengers. Remember that there was only one line in the south terminal because the route would only drop passengers along the way? Oh well, we were waiting for a bus to Cebu at the end of a holiday. All the buses we tried to hail were full. There were passengers standing on the aisle. I could hear one of my friends asking if there were vans for hire or anything for hire. There weren’t. We were advised to go to another bus stop because there were more passengers alighting there. We hired a tricycle to get us there. We met a passenger who told us that she had been waiting 3 hours for a bus. I guess she was not willing to stand on the bus aisle. We were.

When the next bus arrived, we saw that there were passengers alighting but the seats were still occupied. We asked the conductor if there would be passengers disembarking. He told us that we could stand in the aisle near the rear of the bus because there would be 3 passengers disembarking in the next town. True enough, we only have to stand for a less than an hour and we all got seats. With this, our string of back luck ended.
We arrived safely at our hotel in Cebu. We were able to visit Sto. Nino Basilica the next day. We dropped by SM before we headed for the airport.

It was a memorable trip. I have to give props to my friends for staying positive all throughout our journey.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Traveling indeed is a test of faith, character and even friendship. I am sure to be keeping these friends I have.

 

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

That One Afternoon in Taal

That One Afternoon in Taal

I almost forgot to write about this trip. After that Taiwan trip last April,  my friend,  Gail, and I extended our stay in Luzon to go to Taal, the heritage town in Batangas. (We are from Mindanao, Philippines, btw.) Gail and our friend, Shirly, already went there months before and I wanted to visit the place, too.  Gail was so nice to accompany me even if she had gone there before and even if we were already very tired from our trip. (We have become Titas!) We both wanted to go home to our provinces but we also had to take this trip because we already paid for our overnight stay in Lemery. We decided to take our time. Rushing would only stress us. I think we left the Airbnb we rented at 9 AM. We did not rush. We were chill.

We arrived at a hotel in Lemery at around lunch time and I could not remember if we ate lunch. I think we skipped lunch (*insert a shocked emoji) because we planned to eat our way in Taal.

In Taal, we were greeted with these buntings.

That One Afternoon in Taal

It was the ‘El Pasubat Festival’, a celebration of its founding anniversary. There was a culinary contest at a plaza near the municipal building. While hanging out there watching the activity, we saw Kuya selling ice cream.

We had to buy ice cream! Yum!

Gail had been raving about Taal’s lomi so we had to get one. We just ordered from a random eatery and, lo and behold, we got the thick and savory noodle dish. This was lunch and it was filling.

That One Afternoon in Taal

We dropped by the church which is said to be the biggest Catholic church in Asia. This is the Basilica de San Martin de Tours.

That One Afternoon in Taal

There was going to be a wedding that afternoon.

That One Afternoon in Taal

It is a beautiful church.

That One Afternoon in Taal

There is a balcony attached to the church.

That One Afternoon in Taal

It overlooks a koi pond.

That One Afternoon in Taal

Another food to try in Taal is the halo-halo at a carwash. Since it was a long walk from the church, we figured our tummies were now ready for merienda.

The carwash/cafe was decorated with memorabilia.

That One Afternoon in Taal

The halo-halo was yummy! It was the type with finely shaved ice and minimal ingredients. It reminded me of Razon’s halo-halo.

After that halo-halo, we started our walk around the town.

This is Gregorio Agoncillo’s mansion. Now this space in the blog should be a brief story on who Gregorio Agoncillo was, but I took this photo outside a closed gate.  I could have written down the stories of the things I saw inside the house and the people who lived there. Ha! Now we all have to google.  Sorry about that.

That One Afternoon in Taal

We were really walking at a leisurely pace that it was past 4 PM when we reached Galleria Taal.

That One Afternoon in Taal

Galleria Taal is a museum with the largest collection (i think) of cameras in the Philippines.  I only took a few photos. (Nahiya ang camera ko sa camera nila!) Talk about my camera being camera shy!

These are just a really small sample of their collection.

That One Afternoon in Taal

I was only able to visit one museum.  It was already 5 PM when I exited the camera museum. So much for being chill and taking my time! Ha! Ha!

That One Afternoon in Taal

Even this place where we could dress up in Filipiniana was already closed.

That One Afternoon in Taal

We just said hi to Marcela Agoncillo, the woman who made the first and official Philippine flag.

That One Afternoon in Taal

We were following a Taal town map and we saw that there was another church.  This is the Our Lady of Caysaysay church.

That One Afternoon in Taal

The church was closed but the caretaker allowed us to enter. He had to get a set of keys for us to be able to get inside.

We said our prayers.

That One Afternoon in Taal

Since Gail had visited before, she also knew that there was a miracle well near.  The water from the well was believed to have miraculous healing powers.

That One Afternoon in Taal

The sun was about to set as we left the Caysasay church area.

That One Afternoon in Taal

We dropped by the basilica again and we were able to catch the wedding party as they were taking pictures. Now if we only knew where the wedding reception was, it would have been free dinner for us! Kidding!

That One Afternoon in Taal

The Basilica lit up at night.

We had dinner at a local restaurant and rode a tricycle back to our hotel in Lemery, Batangas.

It was a chill and no-frills trip.  Thank you, Gail, for being my tour guide!

Taiwan Trip: Video Clips Compilation

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So what do you do when you have lots of video clips from your travel? Stitch them together, add music, write captions and upload it on Youtube. I have not really planned these videos well to create a cohesive story of my trip but since these clips are all I’ve got, I compiled them anyway. The plus side of posting the video is that I can free some disk space from my phone and laptop. I still need a lot of practice in editing videos. My hands were shaky and my editing tools were very basic ( Hello, Windows Live Movie Maker! Hahaha).  This is more of a video for myself and Gail- something we can reminisce about the trip. So apart from taking photos, I also take these video clips (if I remember them).  I also value the experience itself so there were lot of times I forget to take the photos and video- taking a moment to just enjoy the place using my senses.

I hope you get a glimpse of what Taiwan has to offer even with my very amateurish video.

10 Noteworthy Places to Visit in Taiwan for the First-timers

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Taiwan is just a short plane ride away from Manila and yet it was never in my list of places to visit. When a temporary visa-free entry for Filipinos was offered, I started to become interested in visiting this country. My friend, Gail, and I decided to book a trip there when she saw a discounted fare from Eva Air.

I never regretted my decision to visit Taiwan. I even want to go back. There are still a lot of places in Taiwan that I want to explore.

Since I enjoyed my stay in Taiwan, I have listed the top 10 places we visited. We had 4 whole days to spend in Taiwan and we made sure we get to different interesting places. The list was written in random order.

1. National Palace Museum

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It is a vast complex.

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The museum houses three floors (and a basement) of artifacts.

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These are just few of the interesting pieces I saw. I took photos of non-blue ceramics because they had interesting colors that caught my eye.

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This one is an intricate carving of an ivory ball said to be made from a single elephant tusk. That is a huge tusk so imagine how large the elephant was.

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“Suzhou Fakes” This work is a forgery but it was so good that it deserved special attention in this exhibit.

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2. Nanya Rock Formation

The northeast coast of Taiwan has interesting seascapes. The sea creates a coastline of sculptures.

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I also love how awesome the mountains are in Nanya.

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3. Cape Santiago Lighthouse

We went on a Monday. Too bad the lighthouse was closed. We spent our time in this area. It was beautiful here.

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We chanced upon an artist trying to set up his tools. We were waiting for him to start painting but it started to rain. We hope he was still able to complete his work despite the rain.

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Bonus: We took a Klook tour. We spent time at the Waiao Tourist Center which overlooks the city of Yilan.

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This is my affiliate link to Klook:  Klook discount  You get a discount when you book through this link and I will get a reward, too.

4. Old Caoling Tunnel

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The tunnel was 2 kms long. My friend, Gail, was on a bike because she knows how and I don’t. This tunnel is now being used for biking.

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This was the moment when knowing how to bike was essential. I walked a total of 4 kilometers alone.

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Being alone in a cold, dark tunnel can feed scary thoughts into my imaginative brain. Good thing I met cycling people every several meters or so.

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This is what we can see after exiting the tunnel.

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There was another parallel tunnel for the trains.

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5. Jiufen

Jiufen is a mountain town known for its intricate alleyways peppered with different shops. It is also the inspiration for the animated movie, “Spirited Away”.

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I love the peanut ice cream in this shop.

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It was raining when we went there which made navigating the alleys a little harder.

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We found time to have tea and we had to go through some tunnel to find this tea place.

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6. Shifen

We went to this old street with a railway station.

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It is popular for flying sky lanterns. People wrote their wishes on the lantern and released it to the sky for good luck.

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These people were standing on a working rail track. A bell rings every time there was an incoming train and people would walk to the side for safety. Once the train passes, they would return to position and set up their lanterns again.

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7. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

We went here in the morning of the day we left Taiwan.

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We just wanted to visit the place since we saw how different the MRT station was. It had gold markers all over the station so it was really special which really showed how  important a person Chiang Kai-shek really is in the history of Taiwan.

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We were lucky to have observed the changing of the guards.

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It was a fascinating ritual/routine which made me wonder if the monument of Jose Rizal in Luneta had similar routine. (At a very young age, I learned from my mother that the Jose Rizal monument in Luneta had real guards- not a statue but breathing, living human beings. I was dumbfounded learning that bit of information.)

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8. Yehliu Geopark

It was unfortunate that it was raining real hard when we went to Yehliu Geopark. The park had all these interesting rock formation. We were given a leaflet which would help us identify the different shapes of rocks. I guess our guide was correct when she said that this would be a good reason to come back.

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We found some ways to still get a few photos in this park.

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9. Zhong She Flower Garden

Since we missed the cherry blossom season in Taiwan, we were searching for any park with flowers. We saw awesome photos of this flower garden in Houli, a town in Taichung. Taichung is located in Central Taiwan which means we have to take a few train rides from Taipei. We found no package tours to Taichung so we had to D-I-Y our itinerary. I am thankful to Gail who was very efficient and reliable in researching for directions and navigating different train systems in Taiwan.

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The flower garden was awesome. You may see me squinting at the sun but Gail and I enjoyed our time in the flower garden.

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10. Rainbow Village

This is a colorful village masterfully done by a military veteran.

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We were lucky to meet him! Meet Huang Yung-fu, the artist behind the colorful Rainbow Village. The story goes that when the government planned to demolish and transfer the residents of this village to another location as the complex had become an eyesore, this military veteran picked up his brush and started painting its walls and floors with vibrant colors. The village has become a tourist attraction that the government had no choice but to leave them alone. Clever, eh?

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Runner up on this list is the Longshan Temple. We spent a short time in this temple because we had a flight to catch.

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I know I did not mention Taipei 101 because Gail and I were both acrophobic so we did not visit the observatory. On our last night in Taipei, we realized that our Airbnb was actually near Taipei101. Look at us being touristy.

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These are but a few of the noteworthy sites to visit in Taiwan. There are still a lot more I am interested to visit!

‘Til next time, Taiwan!

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