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mitsueki Travels | 9D8N Taiwan February 2014 – Day 5 (Part 1)

We kick started off Day 5 with an extremely early start as we were scheduled for the HeHuanShan Sunrise Tour (合歡山) arranged by Misty Villa at 4am. Previously, we paid 400 TWD per person on our arrival day the day before as mentioned here!

You can read all my previous posts on my Taiwan trip here:

HeHuanShan Sunrise Tour (合歡山)

To be honest, though I’ve read about it – but going on the Hehuanshan Sunrise Tour wasn’t on my itinerary because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to make it on time. In the end though, I figured – since we’re here, let’s just go for it(:

Do note that Misty Villa does not use the normal HeHuanShan red bus but an private E-Go bus instead. I’ve read that this arrangement is much better because the driver will bring you to a place with less people for star gazing and you reach the HeHuanShan sunrise spot earlier than the red bus as the latter will bring you elsewhere to purchase souvenirs (yeah, their commission) first.

What to prepare are thick, thick THICK layers of outer and inner wear because seriously, it is FREAKING COLD UP THERE. (Note that I went in February) Yeah, I read other blogs and I gleefully thought I was well prepared by wearing these 2 layers of jackets plus a scarf below including my day wear but oh no – this. WAS. NOT. ENOUGH.

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All bundled up, we were rearing to go though slightly bleary eyed with barely enough sleep ><!! Oh and remember I told you to download the torchlight app or bring a torchlight? You’ll need it here as you head down the slope to the awaiting bus.

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Stargazing

Our bus was complete full of guests (mostly Singaporeans) from Misty Villa and we were accompanied by our bus driver cum tour guide as he drove up the winding mountain slope towards our first stop. Lol, there was still 3G there so I tried to check in on Facebook and the location was here: 翠峰

As we got down the bus, we were hit with an instant chill and I was instantly shivered. It was forgotten for awhile when I noticed the sky – yes, we were surrounded by countless stars! It was an amazing sight – one that I will never forget especially because you can never see this in Singapore! I tried using both my camera and phone to snap a photo but obviously the photos can only be taken with a DSLR so here’s what I got, lol.

Our tour guide/bus driver then pointed out to us all the different stars in the galaxy (in Mandarin) and explained the story. It was definitely interesting to see the major and tiny stars all up there in the sky. He told us to download the Stargazing app (I downloaded Star Chart from PlayStore) and you can use the app to figure out the different stars.

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I grabbed this photo from roundTAIWANround (also taken at Hehuanshan)that shows all the gorgeous sight that we were able to see – beautiful!

Credits: roundTAIWANround

Then, our driver drove us to a couple of places for photo taking opportunities if you dare to venture out of the coach and into the freezing cold that is. One of the stops is at the sign for the Taroko National Park.

He shone the bus headlights so that we could take photos so hey why not? Lol, the reason why the photo is blur here is because the poor bf was freezing and his hands kept trembling to take this photo HAHAHAH!

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The bus driver also stopped at a spot for us suaku Singaporeans who have never seen real snow/ice before. Darn slippery here but luckily I had on winter boots so I wasn’t sliding around like the bf, wahahahaha.

Another photo opp, and I was the only one who dared to do it. The rest were huddled back in the bus =.=

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Our main stop was at this 合歡山 Hehuanshan Sunrise viewing spot. I think there are a couple of places but our driver stopped us at this one. We were one of the first few buses that arrived there so yay! we were able to get a good spot before the rest of the buses came, including the red buses I mentioned earlier.

It was a cold, cold COLD wait waiting for the sunrise. We just stood there cameras ready waiting for the sun to rise – oh and yes, our driver will tell us the exact timing when the sun would rise so get your cameras ready then!

Btw, this is me wearing ANOTHER layer of windbreaker kindly provided by the bus driver. So yes, don’t worry – all bus drivers will have windbreakers in their buses for guests to use. EVERYONE used one BUT you’ll still be freezing :S

While waiting, snapped a couple of photos around the area:

It was almost difficult to smile actually, LOL!

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And then..the moment that everyone braving the cold was waiting for – the sun rise(:

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It was a magnificent sight that even the bf had to take photos! Yeah, just to share – he has only 100 photos in his phone camera and he probably only took 5 of them -_-

An unforgettable moment to view the sunrise and it was our first time too(: Really glad that we got the opportunity to watch the sunrise together ^^

In my opinion, it was worth waking up at 3.30am just for the tour and we were lucky that we managed to see the sunrise because one of my blogger friends told me that she missed the view as it was cloudy that day! ;/

Oh and then I just realized where we were at – Hehuanshan National Forest Recreation Area -_-

Taken after the sunrise of course because I refused to relinquish my prime spot at the viewing area despite the freezing cold. I look like a fat dumpling because I’m wearing my shirt, jacket, winter coat, windbreaker and a scarf. And I’m plump too, ahhahaha!

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This isn’t all of course – there’s one more photo opportunity place that our driver was taking us to. The following photos are taken from the bus btw: 025-DSC01772 026-DSC01773 027-DSC01774

This was the last stop before the bus brought us back to Misty Villa. Erm, I can’t remember the name of the place but this is what it’s called:

Believe it’s also a place where you can view the sunrise but the elevation is definitely lower here. Beautiful photos that can be captured here though(:

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Even though you have to make your way up and down gingerly the stairway holding on to the rope as it’s really slippery due to the ice.

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If you like, you can use the toilet located here if you don’t mind freezing your butt off (for ladies), lol!

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Breakfast at Misty Villa

Journeying back took about half an hour or so if I recall right? The bf and I were snoring away by then. Mm, we reached Misty Villa at probably 7.45am or so? Headed back to our room to store away our jackets in our luggages before heading out to the breakfast room at the reception area at 8am-ish. (Read HERE for my Misty Villa review).

Our E-go bus from Misty Villa to Taichung (pre-booked with Misty Villa before our arrival) was scheduled to pick us up at 9am so we knew we just had to have breakfast before that. We left our luggage in the rooms by the way as their hired help would assist to lug them down the 100+ stairs to the entrance of the minsu (lucky for us!)

This was the only buffet breakfast that we enjoyed on our Taiwan trip(: The spread wasn’t aplenty but it was appetizing and pretty delicious though I do prefer the homemade breakfast at Doris Home back at Sun Moon Lake the day before ><

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Oh and while having breakfast, I finally got a snapshot of Niu Niu, their resident bulldog.

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A clearer photo of Niuniu stolen from m4sh3d up life:

Credits: m4sh3d up life

The last glimpse of Cingjing and Misty Villa before we left on our e-go bus towards Taichung on a 2 hour journey where we slept all the way.

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Taichung HSR – Taipei HSR

From there, we had to take the HSR to Taipei. Before that however, I made sure to stop by the Railway Souvenir Shop to get hold of the railway bento set 台鐵便當!

Choices available were pork, fish and vegetarian if I recall right priced at 80 TWD per set.

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I went ahead to purchase a pork cutlet set while the bf was off purchasing the tickets (Taichung – Taipei @ 765 TWD). I knew the HSR timings prior to the trip because I checked on the website first and it was really useful for planning the trip(:

That’s why I highly recommend you check out the HSR website here first before your trip to check on the different train timings. You can also book your tickets in advance with early bird discounts of up to 30% but that’s only if you are really sure you can make it in time for the timing specified!

Unlike the first time, I managed to get a window seat this time and it was nice checking out the view as the HSR sped by in a blur @ 300km/hr! 😀

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You are allowed to eat and drink onboard the HSR and during lunch / dinner times, the HSR staff will push a pushcart selling the bento sets / drinks and you can purchase it. Alternatively, pick 1 up from the nearest 7-11 or the railway souvenir shop(:

Whee, unboxing my HSR bento!

For 80 TWD, you get this gigantic piece of pork cutlet, salted veggies, broccoli and a hard boiled egg – really worth it in my opinion though it was too much for both of us to finish in the end.

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City Inn Branch II, Taipei (新驛旅店台北車站2館)

When we got off and reached Taipei HSR Station, we were utterly lost as we had completely NO idea how to get to our hotel, City Inn Branch II. Though I had printed the map and directions ready, it didn’t really make too much sense to us while we were lugging our luggage around the station.

Thankfully, a very nice Taiwanese lady took us under her wing and she led us all the way to our hotel before heading back to the HSR station!Taiwanese people are just so nice  :’)

Gosh and later we figured, it was actually REALLY easy to get to our hotel from the station though it may be a 10 minute walk.

This is the path that she led us: Taipei Main Station > Q Square > Y5 Exit > Cross Chengde Road to Y7 > Cross Huayin Street > Cross Chang’an W Road > City Inn Branch 2/3 complete with escalators/lifts since we had plenty of luggage.

After we familiarized ourselves later, we figured that the fastest way was to head down all the way to Y7 staircase (brings you to the Underground Mall) to get to Taipei Main Station. There are a few other routes so just feel free to walk around, pretty hard to get lost in my opinion(:

As below, you just walk straight all the way towards this direction (Q Square on the right) towards the McDonald’s sign. After you cross the road and turn left – it’s your hotel! Well, if you prefer a hotel that is closer to the Taipei train station, you can opt to stay at Caesar Park Hotel Taipei / Cosmos Hotel instead. It’s more expensive of course as City Inn Branch 2 or 3 is the cheapest around the vicinity.

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CityInn Branch II (新驛旅店台北車站2館)
NO 81.Chang-an Rd., Datong District, Taipei 10355, Taiwan
Website: http://www.gocityinn.com/EN/Cityinn2

There are many reasons why I selected CityInn Branch II:

  • Rated #2 in Tripadvisor
  • Highly recommended by all my friends for their stay and hospitality offered
  • Affordability
    (We paid 8460 TWD (S$355) for 4 nights, Standard Room which is about S$90 per night)

Checking into CityInn was a breeze and I was really glad that they remembered my request for a room with windows. This is because we had booked the cheapest room category (Standard Room) and based on reviews – I heard that many of these rooms did not come with a window, hence I had requested for one through one of our email exchanges.

Do note that CityInn is an extremely popular hotel so be sure to book well ahead in advance. When we had booked it 2 months prior to our trip, there were barely any more rooms left!

City Inn Branch II Hotel Facilities

Anyway, just sharing photos around the hotel and the facilities for your reference. 

The reception area – and all the staff were really friendly and would greet you all the time! They are also really helpful if you need to find directions or have any queries and will go all the way to assist you in any way.

By the way, if you plan to order your sun biscuits from Taichung or anywhere else and had them to deliver to your hotel, don’t forget to inform the receptionist(: We ordered ours from Ah Ming Shi during our stay in Taichung on Day 2 HERE!

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CityInn hotels in general, especially for the ones located at Taipei don’t offer breakfast options (nor do they have a restaurant) except for the CityInn at Taichung. But, they do make up for it with a small pantry that offers free tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

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The pantry also has a fridge, oven and toaster for your needs. And here’s one of the best facilities that they have – a mini laundry room! We utilized this during one of the days to give some of our clothes a good wash.294-20140226_174542290-20140226_174428   293-20140226_174522  295-20140226_174609 296-20140226_174621

So yeap, these are the facilities available at CityInn Hotel Branch II (and yea, no swimming pool if you were wondering).

City Inn Branch II Room Review

Once we got hold of our room card, we were off to deposit our luggage into our room! Oh and I have to mention that the lift is rather tiny (fits max 4 people and 2 large luggage).

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Relatively narrow hallway but this wasn’t an issue for us.

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The standard room size for CityInn is only 15㎡ (Twin / Deluxe rooms are 19 & 20 ㎡), so you can pretty much envision how small the room is. There’s not much space to place your luggage so we just placed them at the side of our beds.

Remember to request for a window – it does serve to make the room seem bigger and brighter 😛

Speaking of the bed, we thought that it was really comfortable and it caused us to oversleep 3 times over the next few days =.=

As mentioned, the room has everything you need right? A couple of hangers, a full length mirror, and 32inch LCD flat screen television with free HD movies and plenty of channels to flip through.

At a small corner of the room, there’s a hot water flask, free coffee/tea and bottled water and plenty of plugs as needed. Free WIFI is inclusive and available in the hotel as well but if you like, they have paid plans for better connectivity. I think the free WIFI sufficed for our stay though as we were only back in the hotel mostly in the evening or late at night.

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P.s pull out the drawer for cups, free snacks (replaced daily), plastic bags and even a condom (lol).

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Meanwhile, the toilet was really clean and comes with daily toiletries, hair dryer, towels as needed and a shower area. The shower pressure was fantastic by the way!

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In general, it’s a pretty small, clean and simple room but I have to say it’s rather functional because it has everything that you need. To us, we felt that the room was pretty comfortable and cosy – perfect for the 2 of us and we enjoyed our stay at CityInn!(:

Well, that’s it for Day 5 (Part 1)!

For Part 2 – we explored plenty of places, shopping areas, did some cafehopping and headed over to Shilin Night Market! Stay tuned because this is just the beginning ! 😉

Don’t forget to stay tuned to my blog / like my blog’s Facebook page / follow me @mitsuekion Twitter & Instagram for the latest updates!

Till later,
♥ mitsueki

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Author: mitsueki

Hello! I'm mitsueki aka Daphne and I blog at mitsueki.sg! Follow me on IG for more updates too!

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