Taiwan, probably the only place in the world where you could have an entire building of KTV
A buddy of mine went to Taiwan today for a week of study exchange, and I can't help but to be reminded of the fantastic trip I had with friends a year back. Taiwan is a Singaporean's favourite, particularly among students for its cheap expenses and pop culture. A five hours flight would bring you straight to the exciting city of Taipei, and another hour of coach ride towards its hip, shopping district of 西门町!
Where I stayed, and a 鼎茶 outlet conveniently located beside its entrance
Popular among Singaporeans, Rainbow Hotel was situated smack in the centre of 西门町, room rates were very affordable at less than S$60 per head per night for a 5-person room (Two double, one single). Amenities were decent and clean, providing you with a comfortable good night sleep, waking up to a simple complimentary buffet breakfast and very friendly/helpful receptionists.
One of the main streets, shopfronts and a mega KFC
In some way, 西门町 reminded me somewhat of Hong Kong's shopping areas, with the colourful neon lights, rich "2nd-level-shops" culture and clattering of voices and music everywhere. The crowd here leaned towards teenagers, with many fashion/lifestyle shops, gaming arcades, cinemas and fuss-free dining.
Speaking of food, these two were highly recommended by our guide book, both having their own rich history and loyal supporters. The Large Intestine Mee Sua was simply the best I had eaten, which the alternatives in Singapore came nowhere close!
Smelly tofu, street vendors and instant noodles in 7-11s
There were also dozens of other street snacks for you try. Grilled sausages, braised items, fried dumplings, scallion pancakes, the list went on! Operating way past midnight, what particularly amusing was the sight of street vendors running away from Police patrols at regular intervals, who were really just appeasing rent-paying shop owners with no real intention to detain anyone at all.
Even the convenience stores here seemed so much more shoppable! Interestingly, there were so many of them that Taiwanese came here for their daily essential needs. The beef noodles that I raved about? Get cartons of them here!
Product launch, a typical eatery
Weekends at 西门町 were always happening: mini-concerts, album launch and book-signing events, live dosages of Taiwan showbiz! And when you got tired of star-gazing, you knew that there would always be something tasty nearby to fill you up!