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Old 1st February 2020, 12:20 PM   #1
yflyer
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Default Scoot to Taiwan: Taipei 101, Taroko Gorge, Jiu Fen Old Street

TR INDEX

1. Introduction
2. Flight - Scoot TR874 SIN-TPE (Airbus A320)
3. Hotel - S Hotel Taipei
4. Run - Nanjing E Road and Keelung Riverside
5. Dining - Dawan Yakiniku
6. Destination - Houtong Cat Village
7. Destination - Jiufen
8. Dining - Liaoning Street Night Market
9. Hotel - Taroko Aluwa Homestay (Ming Shu)
10. Run - Manbo Beach, Xincheng
11. Destination - Taroko Gorge
12. Destination - ATV at Qingshui Cliffs
13. Dining - Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien
14. Hotel - Eslite Hotel Taipei
15. Run - Taipei City
16. Dining - Xiao Cui Omakase
17. Dining - Snow King Ice Cream
18. Destination - Taipei 101
19. Run - Rainbow Bridge
20. Flight - Scoot TPE-SIN Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
21. Final Reflections

INTRODUCTION

Mrs yflyer loves heading to Taiwan for holiday. There is a lot to see and do, and the cuisine holds many delights. It is also a value destination, with very reasonable prices, given the quality of what is on offer, whether you are on a budget holiday or luxurious splurge.

The last time we were in Taiwan was in June 2015, on a family getaway. We were back again at the end of last year, in early December 2019, for a short family vacation, but this time without Miss yflyer no.1, who was in the middle of her university term. It was just Mrs yflyer, Miss yflyer no.2 and myself this time round.

We spent 5 days in Taiwan, mostly covering ground we did not get round to exploring in 2015.

On this trip, I finally made it up to the observation deck of Taipei 101, at one time the world's tallest building, although that title now belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.



There was also a lot to see outside the city of Taipei, easily accessible to visitors via Taiwan's rail network...



We headed by train to Jiufen, a very pretty hillside town well known for its Old Street, with its multitude of stalls lining winding alleyways...



We also toured Taroko Gorge, with its amazing trails and views...



We explored the Jiuqudong Trail, newly reopened in June 2019, after being closed for 6 years since the 2013 earthquake.



Mrs yflyer was in charge of the itinerary, hotels and restaurants. She knew my taste in hotels very well, and picked several very interesting properties: the Philippe Starck-designed S Hotel, and the Eslite Hotel, in Taipei, as well as a small homestay/BnB, or Ming Shu, in Xincheng, close to Taroko Gorge. She picked the restaurants as well, revisiting old favourites like Dawan Yakiniku, as well as new places, including Japanese omakase restaurant Xiao Cui.

I left all trip planning in Mrs yflyer's capable hands. The only thing I had to do for this trip was book flights (On Scoot!), and once there, figure out running routes in central Taipei, which I initially found quite frustrating, until I eventually discovered the ideal place to get my running fix.

In this TR, I'll also cover the difference between Scoot's Airbus A320 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the SIN-TPE-SIN sector.

Last edited by yflyer; 10th February 2020 at 08:36 PM..
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Old 1st February 2020, 01:34 PM   #2
yflyer
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Our outbound flight was Scoot TR874, an Airbus A320 service departing at 8.30am, a 4+ hour flight with scheduled arrival in Taipei at 1.15pm.

While Scoot flies both A320's and 787's to Taipei, the schedule for the A320 service suited us better, so I reluctantly booked the A320 narrowbody for our outbound flight, saving the far more spacious 787 for our return sector.

We headed to Changi T1 for our morning departure...



The T1 driveway wasn't too busy at 6.43am that morning...



The large self-service check-in area for Scoot in T1. No issues finding an available self service kiosk to check in.



Baggage self-check in was smooth as well, although one had to be careful to place the bag tag at an angle which was readable by the sensors at the bag check area.



Christmas (And Frozen II) decor in the airside area...



Some of the T1 restrooms have spectacular tarmac views...


Last edited by yflyer; 10th February 2020 at 08:38 PM..
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Old 1st February 2020, 01:49 PM   #3
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At the gate...



TR874 SIN-TPE-NRT, Singapore to Taipei with a continuation to Tokyo Narita, was operated by 7 year old Airbus A320 rego 9V-TRP.



This plane had one of the more boring names in the Scoot fleet, Tango Romeo Papa, probably just named after the registration. This was surprising given how creative and just plain zany the names were for other aircraft in the Scoot fleet.

Boarding...



This A320 had the older wingtip fences, rather than the Sharklets that many newer Scoot A320's had.



This was a single class all-economy aircraft, laid out 3-3.



This 7-year old aircraft had dark leather seats, and frankly the interior, while clean, was showing its age.

Seat recline was average...



Legroom was ok...



Thick armrests...



...which could be fully raised...



Individually adjustable air vents , something that no SQ planes have...


Last edited by yflyer; 2nd February 2020 at 02:45 PM..
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Old 1st February 2020, 01:52 PM   #4
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Sharp right turn following take-off from Runway 02C...



A very full flight today...



Cabin ambience was ok, but I have reservations about narrowbodies on flights longer than 2 hours, and this was 4+ hour sector, with a continuation to Tokyo NRT that would take a further 2+ hours for pax heading to Japan.
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Old 1st February 2020, 01:58 PM   #5
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There was no IFE screen or wifi on this aircraft.

The inflight magazine...



Shopping guide...

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Old 1st February 2020, 01:59 PM   #6
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A very extensive Scoot Cafe menu...



Mains at S$12...







Snacks, including famous Old Chang Kee curry puffs!





Ice cream etc...



Snacks...



Beverages (Hot beverages shown here, cold drinks also available)...



The liquor selection...



Celebration cake...

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Old 1st February 2020, 02:05 PM   #7
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I purchased a bottle of white wine...



...which came with its own plastic cup...



At time of booking, I had pre-ordered the vegetarian briyani (which came with water and a small tin of chocolate.)...



The briyani was a disappointment...



It tasted bland and dry. This must have been one of the worst inflight Y meals I had ever eaten (Or not eaten -- I stopped eating after a few bites...).

Mrs yflyer had pre-ordered the nasi lemak, and this saved the day...



I had a couple of bites of the nasi lemak. This was wonderful -- it hit the spot! It was everything the vegetable briyani was not: rich, intense flavours, with enough spicy gravy and sambal.



Lesson learnt: Avoid the vegetable briyani, go for the nasi lemak if available!

The chocolate...


Last edited by yflyer; 2nd February 2020 at 10:32 AM..
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Old 1st February 2020, 02:08 PM   #8
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As this was a single-class aircraft, it was nice to be able to use the restroom in the front of the cabin, rather than having to make my way to the rear restrooms.



A view of the cabin from the rear of the plane. As mentioned, the A320 had decent ambience for a narrowbody aircraft, but on a long 4+ hour sector, this was definitely not as pleasant an experience as spending that time onboard a widebody aircraft.



The old, dark coloured seats also made the cabin feel a little gloomy. Contrast this with the cheery and bright ambience on this TAP Portugal A320 cabin I flew between Lisbon and London. On the flip side, that particular TAP A320 had new slimline seats and had very narrow seat pitch compared to this Scoot plane, so it was not all in favour of the TAP.

Last edited by yflyer; 1st February 2020 at 02:18 PM..
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Old 1st February 2020, 02:25 PM   #9
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Enroute to TPE, we flew over southern and central Taiwan...



The final part of the flight was over the west coast of Taiwan, with great views of the coastline and mountainous terrain over much of eastern Taiwan visible out of the starboard side windows...



On the ground in TPE...





Scoot operates out of the old TPE Terminal 1, which has been renovated and expanded from the original terminal structure...



Immigration queues were longish, with e-gates not available to Singapore passport holders.



We eventually cleared immigration, got our baggage, and headed to TPE by taxi...



...passing the iconic Grand Hotel Taipei along the way...

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Old 1st February 2020, 02:44 PM   #10
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I found this to be an decent but unexceptional flight. Our service was on time, and the cabin crew were helpful and professional. The nasi lemak meal was very good too (Unlike the vegetable briyani, which was a disappointing dish). On the downside, the aircraft looked a little worn out, with very mediocre cabin ambience.

Our flight got us from Singapore to Taipei safely and punctually, and the price was right. At a basic level i guess I was satisfied. Then again, this was not a flight I would enthuse about.

I had higher hopes for our 787-operated return flight, which was a few days in the future.

In the mean time, it was time to start our vacation in Taiwan, and that was something which we were all looking forward to!
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Old 1st February 2020, 03:01 PM   #11
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Our first hotel in Taipei was the S Hotel, a boutique hotel designed by Philippe Starck.



The lobby...



The open-concept check-in area...



A curved staircase led to the lower level...



...which housed the hotel's restaurant and bar, which was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner...



The room itself was very spacious and quite minimalist, done in white with a few splashes of colour...









While undoubtedly stylish, I found the overall ambience to be just a little sterile...

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Old 1st February 2020, 03:01 PM   #12
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There was a wonderful high end B&O bluetooth sound system...



Nespresso...



Soft drinks and beer in the minibar were complimentary...



The bathroom...





Shower...



Washlet-equipped WC...



What on earth did these symbols mean?



On the whole, I thought this was a very nice hotel room to spend a few days in Taipei.

Last edited by yflyer; 4th March 2020 at 10:57 AM..
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Old 1st February 2020, 03:11 PM   #13
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The bar in the restaurant in the basement had a very nice selection of wines and cocktails...





Their Christmas mulled wine was wonderful as well...



Our room rate included a hot buffet breakfast, also served in the basement restaurant...



This had a great selection of hot and cold buffet selections...



...including Taiwanese breakfast choices...



Congee with braised pork...



Zhu Er Duo...



Dim sum...

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Old 1st February 2020, 03:12 PM   #14
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Taiwan-style crispy you tiao...



...as well as western selections...



...and several a la carte egg dishes...



Coffee brewed to order...



A very impressive breakfast spread which we really enjoyed during our stay.
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Old 1st February 2020, 03:36 PM   #15
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Before dinner on our first day, I headed out of the S hotel for a run...

From the S hotel, I headed south down Dunhua North road towards the Taipei Arena...



...before making a left turn and heading East along Nanjing East Road towards the Keelung River...



In the intro to this TR, I wrote that I initially found running in Taipei frustrating. Why was that?

The reason was simple: while Taipei had wide pedestrian walkways and dedicated cycling lanes, I found that the traffic lights at junctions and crossings had really long red light timings, often more than a minute or even 2 minutes. This meant that if I missed a green man, I would have to wait at the pedestrian crossing for a really long time, and this really messed up my pace.

On this first and subsequent runs in the city, I found that running on sidewalks in Taipei was not really feasible as there were always frequent stops at traffic junctions. These runs turned out more to be like interval training, with long pauses to cool down, and then subsequent sprints at the fastest possible speed (While avoiding bikes and pedestrians) to try and make up lost time and keep the heart rate pumping.

I continued my run within the concrete jungle that was Taipei, thinking that this run offered little more than views of city blocks and highway overpasses, when I reached the end of Nanjing East Road and came up to a series of steps leading up towards a series of intersecting flyovers, around where the Keelung River should be.



Up ahead should have been the Keelung River, but where was it? There was no water body in sight...

I headed up the stairs...



To my great delight, at the top of the stairs, I came upon the Keelung River and riverside park complex.



This was a long swathe of green in the heart of Taipei, with the Keelung river flowing through its centre.

Last edited by yflyer; 3rd February 2020 at 07:43 AM..
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