From Beijing, we flew to Taipei on Hainan Airlines. This was the first time I flew on a Chinese airline and I have to say it's an eye opener. First, the airline hostesses were all young pretty girls with similar height (~5'7") and weight (~100 lbs), very different than U.S. airline hostesses :) They made quite a scene boarding the plane together in their dress uniforms. Second, I was amazed at their professionalism and patience. During the 3-hour flight, they managed to serve pre-lunch drink, lunch, after-lunch drink, sell duty free items etc all with a smile to some extremely annoying passengers. I had never seen any passengers more annoying than this plane's. 90% of the people had to get up at least twice during the 3-hours flight, walking up and down the aisle, making the hostess' job of pushing carts down the aisle near impossible. And one guy couldn’t find his hot water bottle’s cap after lunch. He suspected it was on his lunch tray that that was cleaned away, so he demanded the hostess to check every lunch tray to find his cap. The hostess explained to him that there were hundreds of trays stacked in those carts, it’s not possible to dig them all out. He was pissed …
From Taipei airport, we took a shuttle bus to reach our hotel near Shuanglian MRT station. I love their airport shuttle buses. There were so many. Just ask the information desk to find out which one is the best for you. They are frequent (every 15 minutes) and cheap (ours cost 150 TWD/person, a lot cheaper than a taxi ride which probably would cost 1,000 TWD).
1. A no-smoking sign on our hotel's check-in counter.
2. After checking in, we ate a late lunch at this noodle shop near our hotel. The beef noodle was delicious.
After lunch, we got ourselves two Easy Cards at the MRT station, and started our sightseeing. Easy Card is a rechargeable contactless stored value smart card. You can use it on metros and buses. In Hong Kong (they call their card Octopus card), we even used them in restaurants, stores, and sightseeing locations. We loved these cards. They saved us lots of hassle to find changes to buy tickets/tokens. We even got discounts to use them at several places, totally worth the small administration fee (20 TWD for Easy Card, 7 HKD for Octopus card, that is less than 1 USD in both places) they charge when you surrender the cards at the end of your trip.
3. First stop was Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.
4. Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
5. Taipei 101 from Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.
6. Shilin Night Market. To get there, you need to get off at Jiantan MRT station, not Shilin MRT station. The market was so lively.