#jygoessolo - Hsinchu (Day 1 & 2)

12:44 PM jiayg 0 Comments


So I arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 5.30am but had to get the SIM card from the counter at the airport (it's cheaper and only at the airport do the telecom service providers offer deals/packages). The counter opens at only 8am which meant I had 2.5hours to burn! And being early in the morning, no shops were opened so I found a place to lie down. 

There are 4 main telecom service providers and like the previous time, I went back with Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大) which I think provides good coverage. The packages that they offer are quite competitive with Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信). At least that was for the 30-day offer I took. Both do offer packages in 5, 7, 10, 15, 30 days (I'm just trying to recall). 

My trip was a 21-day one so I had to get the 30-day, for NT 1000 (SGD 43). This includes unlimited data and (I can't remember how long) talk time. Like I mentioned before, getting a SIM card is important because it at least gives me a form of security (especially I'm travelling alone now) - googling places, finding directions, booking flights on the go, checking for train timings..and most importantly, staying connected with my family and friends through whatsapp. I tried to Facebook less often but I did Instagram now and then (slaves of technology).

Oh yes, getting the Easy card (悠游卡) is very convenient because not only can you take trains (includes Taipei trains and the railway - not HSR) and buses in most places around Taiwan, you can tap & go for purchases at convenience stores. Here's where you can use them. I got mine from a trip long ago so I just have to top-up at the convenience store to reactive it. Here's where you can buy the cards. (There's a Hi-Life at the airport near the area to board the buses to city)



After getting the SIM card, I went to the catch a bus, hoping to find one that goes straight to Hsinchu. Unfortunately, nope. The only way was to bus to Taoyuan HSR (high speed rail) - alight at Hsinchu HSR - (fortunately I found) a free shuttle bus to Zhubei Station - alight at Hsinchu Station. 
  • Bus ticket was NT30 (U-bus)
  • HSR tickets were not expensive for me because I only took one station. You can check out the prices on HSR website. You can either purchase the tickets beforehand online or buy at the counter. I bought over the counters and got myself the free-standing/sitting tickets (cabin 10-12/ 自由座) - this means you get a seat depending on your luck, otherwise just stand throughout. But my experience: I usually get a seat after one station (which can be about 20minutes of standing first)
 So I took about an hour plus to reach the hotel and yet I was still early for check-in.

Chuanlai Hotel (川籟都會旅)
Agoda.com
Rates for 2 nights: S$78
Double Room
  • Relatively cheap! 
  • It's located about 10 minutes away from the Railway Station but situated on a busy street. Though it probably looked like a motel and I actually witnessed an middle-aged couple walking in and out within 3 hours. 
  • Room looked a bit dodgy but still decent as I had a queen sized bed to myself. The TV was well equipped with almost all the channels and they even loaded lots of movies!
  • I actually switched on the lights and TV to sleep because it's my first time sleeping alone in an unfamiliar place...
I left my backpack at the hotel and went off to search for food (didn't have anything since I boarded the plane at 1am). The hotel was also conveniently located near the Chenghuang Temple (城隍廟) where all the food are located too. 

 
 Had a piping hot Chenghuang Bun (城隍包) which tasted like 大包

I'm not one who will research for the best stall or must-have stall to go. Hsinchu is known for their Vermicelli, Glass-production/Glass-art industry and... Meatballs! This is very different from what we have in Singapore. Most of the stalls in there sold almost the same things. So I walked around and randomly chose a stall to have my meal. Sat right in front of the stall which makes me feel so Taiwanese. Probably just missing sitting like an ahlian on the stools hahaha..Base on the lady owner's recommendation, I had her stall's famous Squid soup which was flavourful. And even though I knew my stomach couldn't take in any more food, I wanted to try the meatballs. So I ordered a portion for myself which comes in 3... *gasps*

 
 
The meatballs are first steamed (?) and then fried. After which, they're drizzled with a special sweet sauce. The meat tasted a bit like charsiew and the combination with the sweet sauce was good. But most of the meatball was made up of starch (the skin) and it got me feeling sick (it was oily) after one.


 
城隍廟

 
Visited the Art museum (新竹市美术馆暨开拓馆)- a small one and basically to understand Hsinchu's history.

 
Outside the Glass museum (玻璃工藝博物 )and these 2 kids came up and ask what I was doing - I was trying to take selfies with the selfie stick. I told them I was taking photos and invited them to take one with me! (Admission tickets: NT 20)



 
Walked a long way to the hill/park of Hsinchu City. Almost like our Bukit Timah Hill.

 
Settled for dinner at a roadside stall which sells Hakka Noodles (客家板條) and accompanied by a plate of pig's stomach (reminds me of home :') ) 一個人履行的好處是不需要考慮另外一個人是否喜歡你安排的行程 / 吃你選的攤位。

DAY 2

My birthday! Received a lot of well wishes on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Every one was surprised I was on a solo trip - what more on my birthday! Well but having a data plan really helps me a lot in staying connected so I wasn't fearing being lonely. 

Woke up pretty late and the plan was to head to Beipu (北埔) , an old Hakka town. (新竹北埔以擂茶、客家菜、古蹟與螢火蟲著名.)

Directions: Take a Hsinchu Coach from Hsinchu Railway to Zhudong Bus Terminal and change to Zhushan Line (towards lion mountain). 從新竹到北埔:從新竹火車站搭新竹客運至竹東站,轉搭竹山綫(往獅山)

 
Zhudong Bus Terminal / 竹東站

 
And this is how you look at the bus time-table.

It was noon when I reached and being a weekday, the area was quiet without any tourists. I was probably the only foreigner there! Beipu is known for their Leicha (a Hakka drink produced by mixing almost 20 types of beans and other ingredients). I bought one for myself and the first sip: beans taste was really overwhelming! Couldn't finish a whole cup because it was too much for my palates. 
 
 
These are the ingredients!

 

Settled my lunch at a Hakka stall but being the greedy me, I wanted to try a few dishes. However, the owner said she couldn't prepare smaller portions (all had one size only), so I ended up ordering one plate of their wild vegetables (炒過貓, literally stir-fried cat, so I thought it was a cat meat dish initially!), preserved radish omelette (菜圃蛋) and fried vermicelli. The wild vegetables had a good crunch but because it was stir-friend with ginger shreds, I couldn't finish it after half a plate. And half a plate still looks very much like one full plate - as if I have not touched the food at all ._.

 

  

 
All for one person.

 
Beipu is a nice quaint little town tucked away from the bustling Hsinchu city. It has wellpreserved the Hakka heritage. I believe it'll be nice to visit again during peak periods with more people. Other than food, a hill and some relics behind the town, there's nothing much to expect here. Probably because it was raining, it kind of dampened my mood to explore.

 After Beipu, I missed the bus to head to my next destination. The next bus was a 3 plus and my dad was telling me I could visit one of the mountains (赤柯山) which was quite a distance and this will mean risking going back to the city late. Nonetheless, I took the bet and hopped onto the bus from Beipu to Zhudong to Guanxi. Unfortunately, on my way to Guanxi (and I travelled for a very long distance! Almost 40minutes), it started to rain really heavily. This means plans destroyed. So I had to get down at the next bus terminal and change the bus back to Zhudong and then another one to Hsinchu city. My whole day was spent on the bus zzz. And I almost missed my stop! 

 
Thankfully I managed to alight at the east gate of Hsinchu city and took a few touristy photos there. People-watched and enjoyed some groups of students having their dance practice as well. 

I guess birthday still means having a good treat for my tummy! Treated myself to a plate of satisfying bBeef pasta and Haagen-Daaz Mango Raspberry Ice-cream to wish myself a happy birthday.







About Hsinchu: Hsinchu is more or less an industralised city, residing a majority of Hakka locals. It's not exactly as bustling as Taipei city, yet not quaint (like what I expected). Probably similar to Kaohsiung. I guess Hsinchu is still known for the Leofu Theme Park. Other than that, I feel that Hsinchu is good for its Hakka food and culture, and probably that's it.

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