Day 7 -- Taipei, Taiwan/Singapore

12/31/2013 Tuesday

We left Tainan early this morning so that we can take our flight to Singapore. In the terminal, there were a Hello Kitty section, so I was taking tons of pictures there as I am a Hello Kitty fan.

Unfortunately, the plane that we are on is not a Hello Kitty plane. Only certain flights have Hello Kitty plane where the plane is decorated with Hello Kitty, including pillows, utensils and even the food are shaped with Hello Kitty.

Then, we are off to Singapore, a place where I grew up in.

Singapore is a very small island with a lot of people. It is ~278 square mile with about 6 million population. The island is projected to grow a little more due to its land reclamation projects by filling the sea with sand. It is one degree north of the equator, thus there is only 1 season in Singapore, which is summer. The island is usually hot and humid. 

We booked the hotel right in the heart of Singapore as I want to be accessible to the malls. The hotel is Royal Plaza on Scotts which is on Orchard Road. 

First we check in to the hotel, then we went for our early dinner. It was a weekday but the mall was packed with people.

After dinner, we walked around the mall.

I was getting a little claustrophobic due to being around so many people in a tight space, so we went to walk outside. Even though I grew up there but since I have been living in the States for such a long time, I was not used to the crowd in such a tight space.

When we went outside, I felt alive again. The lights were very pretty as well. At night, it could get a little windy, so it was not too hot which was very comfortable for us.

After walking a while, we were hungry again, so went to the food courts in the basement to look for food. Food courts are basically little individual stalls selling food and you can pick which stall you want to buy. Then, we went to find an empty seat so that we can eat there.

After our late snack, we weren't ready to call it a day yet. So, we decided to take the mass rapid train (MRT) to Marina Bay Sands to check out their new hotel which was built in 2010. It was not built when I was last there.

I actually was thinking about staying here for at least 1 night but it was fully booked during the time we were in Singapore. I think the reason being that it was during the New Year timeframe, so it was hard to book. In hindsight, I should have booked it way in advance. I saw the pictures of the infinity pool that the hotel has and wanted to experience it but only hotel guests are allowed to swim in the infinity pool although non-guests can pay to visit the pool but are not allowed to get into the pool. This is definitely going on my hotel list the next time I am in Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore hotel is now the landmark of Singapore. Every time I see a picture of Singapore, I see the picture of the hotel. It has a casino there and many high end luxury stores as well. Since the government discourages their residents to gamble, the residents have to pay $100/person to enter the casino while it is free for visitors with a foreign passport. This hotel is owned by the Las Vegas Sand, so I wasn't surprised when I saw the gondola inside the hotel. It reminds me of The Venetian in Las Vegas.

There was a huge crowd outside the hotel as it was New Year's Eve and everyone was gathered outside. We visited the only floating Louis Vuitton shop.

After that, we decided to go back to the hotel before we get trapped in the crowd as there were many people outside waiting for the New Year's Eve celebration. 

Day 6 -- Tainan, Taiwan

12/30/2013 Monday

We plan to leave for Singapore tomorrow, so I wanted to spend my last day in Taiwan with my grandma. My grandma is 93 year old and is still pretty healthy for most part. She remembers some stuff better than me. She can't walk too long and travels in her wheelchair. But we are very lucky to hire a good helper who is from Indonesia. She helps to take care of my grandma and takes her out.

After spending the entire morning with her, we left for lunch. Anthony was craving for some burger, so we went to MOS burger nearby.

I didn't eat much as I wanted to eat more local food before I leave Taiwan. So after Anthony finished his food, we went to eat my kind of food.

We also walked around our neighborhood. Tainan is a very old city and used to be the capital of Taiwan. There are many old structures left behind. It gives a feeling of old city, unlike Taipei which is more advanced.

After that, we went back to visit my grandma again. 

If you are thinking about visiting Taiwan, my recommendation is go either in March or October. I think the weather is the best during these 2 months. Summer is usually Typhoon season (similar to Hurricane season) so it rains a lot and is very hot. December is a little too cold to enjoy the beaches that Taiwan has. Flights are also cheap during these time as it is off peak season. If you are flying from the West Coast of U.S., it probably cost ~$800 for a direct flight to Taiwan. I have taken both Eva and China Airlines to Taiwan. To me, there is not much difference between the two airlines although more people prefer Eva. Also, Eva has a better flying record compared to China Airlines.

If you are planning to visit Taiwan, then I also recommend you should visit another country in Asia. The flights between the countries in Asia is short (couple of hours at most), so it makes sense to visit another country in Asia while you are there.

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