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After staying near Taipei Main Station at Neosoho for the past few days, it’s time to move to somewhere less central, but closer to destinations that I would cover the next few days, such as Wufenpu (五分埔), Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市) and Xiangshan (象山).
Changing Accommodation in Taipei
Mini Review of Neosoho
To be honest with you, the stay in Neosoho was excellent in terms of the amenities and free toiletries they’d provided ~ toothpaste, shampoo, facial wash, detergent, ironing board etc.
I was in awe with their large shower area. Each cubicles comes with a wet and dry area. And mind you, they have rain shower! Plus the toilet was never crowded at any time of the day, in my 4-day stay there.
At such a low price charged per night, how did they manage to offer free F&B options 24 by 7 at the common lounge area?
Good as it is, Neosoho seriously lacked one thing! A good resting place.
I’d been waking up at 4 or 5am every single day due to the lack of sound proofing. Each unit was just a high cubicle, and I could hear my neighbors’ every movements, no matter how small those actions were, such as opening plastic bags, packing or typing on laptop. It’s just like how you could hear your colleagues typing or talking over the phone.
Maybe I was unlucky to have inconsiderate neighbors who didn’t care about lowering the noise level even at 2am or 5am.
Neosoho did provide ear plugs. But those ear plugs didn’t manage to stay in my ear throughout the entire night. I found them on the floor every night.
I’d realized much later a good thing about staying in Neosoho. I was forced to wake up early (think 5am) and that gave me ample time each day for my tour.
The bad thing? Most of the photos showed me with deep eye bags due to lack of rest.
Travelling to Houshanpi with Luggage
How was it like for a solo female traveler to change accommodations in Taipei?
It was a little challenging, but only for the initial part. Lugging a suitcase, a big bag and a carry-on bag up and down Taipei Main Station’s steep staircase was no joke. Despite being very healthy (you know I love to exercise), my face was flushed after climbing the steep and long staircases, and expending potential energy.
TIP: Taipei Main Station has numerous entrances/exits. Before the day of your move, recce to find paths that require minimal climbing efforts.
The good news – this was the only part that proved challenging. The rest of the journey was smooth as a breeze. I didn’t face any issue towing my luggage into the train cabin at 9.30am on a Sunday morning. It wasn’t as sardine-packed as the train in Bangkok. Coming off Houshanpi MRT station was easy too, as they have escalators that led to train exit.
Update (2019): I’ve since purchased a backpack that I super love. It’s big enough to contain all my stuff, is durable and yet looks so classy. I’m glad that I can remain mobile and stay hands-free. This 44L backpack that I’ve been using for 2 years since has saved me money when I traveled on budget airlines as I didn’t need to buy extra checked-in baggage. I’m highly-recommending it to you!
Checking into Private Apartment – booked through Airbnb
I’d booked a unit next to Houshanpi Station through Airbnb. And I was looking forward to a more luxurious experience – an entire condo unit to myself and with great view of the city.
So far, my experience of using Airbnb has been smooth, with the exception of this unit.
Mini Review of Houshanpi Airbnb Apartment
The owner (or room manager) didn’t want to provide any check-in instruction until I’d reached the unit. I’d requested so many times, but he didn’t bulge. No means no.
Although the unit was just next to Houshanpi MRT (and I’d thought it was easy to locate with the help of google map), I couldn’t find it. You know what? It was so inconspicuous that I had walked past it three times without knowing it. Where’s the block and unit number?
In the end, a lady sitting at a temple nearby stood up and asked if I was checking in? She happened to be the cleaning lady. It must be my lucky day, ironically. Else, I would probably be stranded for a while longer.
The cleaning lady said she wasn’t aware that someone would be checking in. OMG!
TIP: If you see a Houshanpi Unit on Airbnb that looks like the photo above, please AVOID! I’ve just checked, they have repainted the unit. Watch out for similar layout of room and avoid.
The unit was so much smaller than the published Airbnb photos and it was dirty. I’d asked the cleaning lady to clean the floor on Day 2, but it turned out to be equally dirty. I couldn’t walk around barefooted, and I didn’t dare place my clothes on table surface which was layered with an obvious layer of dust. God knows how clean the bed was. Sigh.
TIP: Many units in Taipei listed on Airbnb seemed to use camera tricks, to make the units appear bigger than they actually were.
By the way, the unit wasn’t a private apartment, to my dismay. Rather it was one of the four self-sufficient units in an apartment, which meant I had to walk through one gate (ground floor) and two doors. Three sets of door password to remember.
The interior design looked pretty in photos, but was poorly designed in terms of functional use.
For instance, I could not reach the clothes rack because it was too high. The cleaner lady demonstrated how to use it – she stepped onto an ottoman while wearing her shoes.
Hmmm, “Don’t sit on the ottoman”, I’d registered.
The non-adjustable shower head didn’t point down at me. It’s angle was such that it sprayed right over my head towards the top of the bathroom door. My only bathing option – hold shower head manually with one hand or squat down and use the tap. I chose the latter. What a bummer!
To add, there wasn’t any place to hang my clothes in the bathroom. And I couldn’t wash my face without my head hitting the toiletry rack.
The induction cooker wasn’t working and the kettle was missing. When I asked about the free laundry as advertised in the unit listing, the cleaning lady expressed surprise and didn’t seem too willing to provide. So I didn’t trouble her.
For the 3 days I’d stayed there, the room was as dirty as it was on the first day. My feet was black if I walked around bare-footed.
All in all, Neosoho was so much more comfortable and cleaner. If I have to choose one again, I would gladly stay at Neosoho for the entire stay, although I may have to forego some quality sleep.
Wondering around Houshanpi Neighbourhood
As a regular user of google map, I found it hard to navigate around Houshanpi despite it being a suburban area. The place I was staying was in the middle of a few mega junctions.
It’d looked alright from the map. But standing and staring at the cross junctions, it was difficult figuring where leads to where.
No visible landmarks to distinguish the various roads. I didn’t have any trouble navigating the busy Taipei Main Station area, but had difficulty figuring where I was here in Houshanpi. How embarrassing!
After checking in, I wondered around to familiarize with Houshanpi. It was a rather quiet and slow-paced area. Not very exciting, but shouldn’t be a problem getting basic amenities – there were a few convenience stores within walking distance.
Look at the drinks I bought! Finally, I had a personal fridge to store goodies. LOL.
There wasn’t much to see or do, other than walking to Wufenpu or Raohe Night Market which I’d intended to do later.
Lunch at Sushi Express
While on my way to Wufenpu, I stopped by a Japanese Restaurant and decided to have some sushi. It was only after entering the restaurant that I’d realized the restaurant was Sushi Express – same as the ones we have in Singapore.
The sushi was okay. And the price was quite similar to those in Singapore (NT180 for a few plates of sushi).
Shopping at Wufenpu
After lunch, it was shopping time! Everyone said we have to shop at Wufenpu if we want cheap deals for clothings. Was it really so?
Undeniably, the clothes here were so much cheaper than those in their departmental stores. On their sales rack (placed outside the store), I could find clothes selling for NT100 to NT150. Just browsing through those sales rack took me 3.5 hours and I’d only completed less than half of Wufenpu. And I didn’t even enter any shops! Spent NT1050 on clothes.
Quality of Clothes in Wufenpu
On hindsight, it probably wasn’t a great idea buying those cheap apparels in Wufenpu. Unlike Bangkok’s Platinum Fashion Mall that sells clothes of acceptable quality, 80% of the clothes bought from Wufenpu shrunk after a wash. One dress shrunk so much it became a blouse.
Two pieces had a hole. Another one had a semi-ruined graphic print. All in all, purchases in Wufenpu turned out to be more expensive than clothes I could get in Singapore, based on a per-use basis.
TIP: If the shop assistant offers you a new piece of clothing, make sure you take the piece out of its clear plastic wrapper and examine it thoroughly for defects – check print, holes, fray etc.
Where to find Toilets in Wufenpu?
Where to find toilet when shopping in Wufenpu? Refer to the green plot on google map. Yes, go to Wu-fen-pu Park.
Enter the unit (top right photo). It would bring you down to basement car park. Look out for the sign 化妆室 which means dressing room in Chinese.
How to go from Wufenpu to Raohe Night Market
Make good use of Google map’s feature. It took only 7 minutes’ of walk to reach Raohe Night Market from Wufenpu.
Exploring Big Big Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market was jam-packed with people.
The shopping street was split into two lanes making each narrow and difficult to move through. Each of the lanes was somewhat uni-directional (based on crowd’s movement) and meant that I had to walk one direction forward, reach the end and make a u-turn back through the same street in order to access food on the other side of the street. For those who prefer to “browse-then-buy”, I’ll say “Good Luck”. You may end up walking twice the distance.
The fact that they mixed food and sundry goods together also meant I had to walk more even though my interest was solely on food. But all in all, it was a night market worth coming. There were so many food options, and most tasted great.
The Popular Black Pepper Bun
Expect to see snaking queues around red queue poles when you visit the popular Black Pepper Bun stall in Raohe Night Market.
You could observe the making process of these buns, and how they somehow pasted the bun against a silver oven pot. The bun costs NT50 each.
Beware, it was SCALDING HOT. After I managed a tiny bite of the bun (just the crust), I saw steam gushing out non-stop from within.
Was it worth the queue? I think it was reasonably good, and the queue was efficient. But I didn’t think it was good enough to warrant a second try, unlike the Ah Chung Mee Sua in Ximending.
I also tried Quail Egg Prawn Balls (NT55 for six) which was easy to eat and good for egg-lovers like myself. You can choose between Honey Wasabi or Korean Kimchi flavors.
Desert was Plum Shaved Ice (NT50) at a store that came with seating areas. Great as a place to take a break for the tiring legs.
And that’s all a petite single female traveler could take in for a meal. Not to worry, as I planned to have my dinner here for the next two nights, heh.
TIP: Where to find toilet at Raohe Night Market? Near the entrance, there’s a temple. Use the toilet inside this temple. =)
Walked 21k steps today – 16km. Stay tuned to Day 6 of my Taiwan travel.
- Day 1 (pt 1): Taoyuan Airport, Taipei Main Station, 228 Peace Memorial Park
- Day 1 (pt 2): Get EasyCard, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Q Square Mall
- Day 2 (pt 1): Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
- Day 2 (pt 2): Golden Water Fall, Jiufen, Ximending
- Day 3 (pt 1): Maokong
- Day 3 (pt 2): Taipei Zoo and Shenkeng Old Street
- Day 4 (pt 1): North Coast Tour (Shimen Wedding Plaza, Shimen Arch, Jinshan Old Street)
- Day 4 (pt 2): North Coast Tour (Yehliu Geopark, Keelung & Miaokou Night Market)
- Day 5: Wufenpu, Raohe Night Market
- Day 6: Songshan Cultural Park, Xiangshan, Tonghua, Raohe Night Market
- Day 7: Taipei City Hall Shopping District, Wufen Pu, Raohe Night Market
- Day 8: Easiest way to get from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan Airport