Since we already purchased four round trip airline tickets, we felt a little dejected when we heard that the regulations for getting a visa to Taiwan is very strict and many applicants have been denied. Even our two nieces who were supposed to travel along with us decided to back out. However, hb and I were a bit more confident that we could get it as we already have traveled to some places in Asia. Luckily, we both got our tourist visa processed in just less than a week. We supplied to TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines) the following requirements; two recent photos affixed onto the fully completed visa application form, passport with a validity period of at least six months, original birth and marriage certificates from NSO, employment certificate, airline tickets as supporting document and bank statement.
We arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which is situated about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Taipei City. As soon as we got our luggage, we headed to the Express Buses located southwest side of the Arrival Passenger Reception Area. There are scheduled bus services available to a number of locations.
Our drive to Taipei City took us about an hour and fare is relatively cheap around NT$ 110 per person. Taxi service is also available but it will cost you more than NT$ 1,000. For foreigners, it is advisable to write down on a piece of paper the name of your intended destination in Chinese. This is important as most drivers and locals do not speak English.
Taipei is the largest city and capital of Taiwan and it is historically known as the island of Formosa (beautiful island). This is the island's center of political, commercial and cultural activity. It is also predominantly identified as a high-tech developer and manufacturer of electronic goods.
Taipei is a sprawling metropolis with many remarkable attractions such as the famous Taipei 101, National Palace Museum, The National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Martyr's Shrine, The Red House, Taipei Astronomical Museum and The National Taiwan Science Education Center. In addition, this lively city has an assortment of exciting activities to offer like the energetic nightlife, unique restaurants and the bustling night markets where exotic food such as stinky tofu and pan fried buns are to be found.
There are two major public transportation system, buses and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) that offers the most convenient and inexpensive way of getting around Taipei. On the other hand taxi cabs may also be hailed on the street that can take you to the lesser traveled districts of the city.
Taiwan unit of currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$), which has five denominations in paper money and five in coins. Taipei has many religions include Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam. They speak Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and Indigenous languages.
Taking a stroll along the city streets, I observed that most young Taiwanese women seem to like wearing shorty shorts and micro mini-skirts that would certainly attract men's attention. (Hmm, I wonder if hb had a grand time). Tsk, tsk... I should have agreed meeting with Wu Chun and the F4 guys to get even. mwehehe
Another thing I've noticed about the locals in Taipei, they are fond of pets. Maybe this is the reason why pet business in Taipei has boomed. It's quite possible you'll stumble across some businesses such as pet shop, pet food, pet accessories and grooming.
To most of us, it's very ordinary to see cats and dogs as pets. But how about PIG?
We saw this young woman with her adorable little pig in tow while walking down the alley. The pig's head and tail are black, cute cartilaginous snout, cloven hooves, partly bristly hair while its body has large swath of black and the rest of the skin is light pinkish. I have absolutely no slightest idea that pigs can also be kept as pets. I was really surprised and astounded while I kept looking back at them. No wonder even Hollywood actor George Cloney once owned a pot bellied pet pig named Max, who unfortunately passed away of natural causes.
I've just read that pigs became the new pet craze in Taiwan during the new lunar year of the pig 2007.