• Taiwan Guide – Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake
  • travel |    5 December, 2017  |    No Comments    |   
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  • In this third segment of my Taiwan adventure with hotels.com, the team and I set forth on a 3-hour journey to Nantou County, spending 2 nights at The Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake. It is my second trip to Sun Moon Lake, and I don’t think I will ever tire of this picturesque serene place. If time permits next year, I definitely want to re-do this Taipei-Taichung Itinerary with my dad, especially so that he can enjoy what Ri Yue Tan (“Sun Moon Lake” in Mandarin) has to offer. A bit of history on Sun Moon Lake: Besides being known for its scenic landscape, Sun Moon Lake is home to an ancient community of the Thao tribe, one of Taiwan’s many indigenous minorities!

    With two nights allocated to Taichung for this trip, we had ample time to explore the sights and sounds located around the 3 major ferry points of Sun Moon Lake. If you are here alone or with your partner, I reckon a night’s stay at Sun Moon Lake will suffice – but give yourself plenty of time during the day to walk around! However, if you are a nature-lover, or are looking for a place to unwind, or if you are coming with family (especially with kids or grandparents), then 2 nights will be perfect!

     

    How to get to Sun Moon Lake

    If you are coming from Taipei City, take the Taiwan High-Speed Rail (HSR) from Taipei Station to Taichung Station, standard reserved seats will cost 700 TWD (~ $32 SGD) one way. Afterwhich, you can either arrange for a taxi to send you directly to your hotel at Sun Moon Lake for approximately 2000 TWD (~ $90 SGD) – this might be the better option if you are traveling in a group of 3 or 4 with plenty of luggage – or, you can catch a shuttle bus from Taichung Station, which will cost you 190 TWD (~ $9 SGD) one way, you view the shuttle bus timetable here.

     

    Hotel

    I stayed at the Lake Room, which did not disappoint. It had the most perfect view of the lake, as you can probably tell from the pictures we took! Waking up to undisturbed tranquility every morning was just the best.

    Handy phones are also provided in our rooms so you can have access to unlimited local and international calls (to certain countries), free internet access as well as speed dial to hotel services! With various services tailored to the specific region, you don’t have to worry about navigating a foreign/new county!

     

    Location

    The Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake sits on the bank of Taiwan’s largest body of water, and is a 5-minute walk to Ita Thao Pier, where you can join the lake tours. Ferry passes retail for NT$100 (~S$4) per person. The boats depart every half an hour (Operating hours may differ depending on the season), and travels in an anti-clockwise direction round the lake, stopping at each of the 3 main wharfs for 10 minutes, every 15 minutes.

    On our final day, we took a walk along Ita Thao Lakeside Trail, admiring the mirror-like lake’s surroundings and taking in the soft sunlight. Don’t worry if you don’t have a map, just keep a lookout for signs along the way to direct you.

    Feeling peckish after the walk, we visited the nearby food market just a street away from our hotel. The food market spans across Yiyong and Wenhua street and gets quite busy with tourists in the morning. Some of our favourite finds from the market include the quintessential Lu Rou Fan from 蒸開心 (Zhen Kai Xin), Elsie’s and Puay Fang’s choice of milk tea and pearls from 大甲芋頭牛奶 (Da Jia Yu Tou Nu Nai) and my preferred milk tea and pearls from 头目的店 (Tou Mu De Dian).

     

    The Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake’s seamless and hassle-free stay, coupled with Sun Moon Lake’s breathtaking landscape and quiet evenings made for a leisurely and unhurried 2-day “work vacation”. Don’t forget to book your stay at The Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake via hotels.com to capitalize on its proximity to Sun Moon Lake’s attractions. Alternative, check out this list of hotels around the lake hotels.com has partnered with for exclusive discounts and deals!

     

    Next up: Top 6 spots to visit in Taichung!

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  • Hair Accessories To Own To Jazz Up Any Hairstyle
  • beauty |    5 December, 2017  |    No Comments    |   
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  • Whenever I’m overseas and I go shopping, I like to buy hair accessories that I feel are unique, or hard to find in Singapore. In this blog post, I share with you some of the hair accessories I’ve acquired over the years, and how I wear them! So forget hairbands or scarves, time to change up your hair-drobe!

    Gold-Coloured Bobby Pins

    I turn to these gold-coloured pins if I want something understated, but still eye-catching enough to give you an overall elegant look. If you have bangs, wear them on the side. If you have longer hair, try pinning your whole fringe to the side!

    How to achieve this look:

    1. Take the Dyson Supersonic and the diffuser attachment, on low heat and low speed, dry your hair in a downwards motion from the roots to the ends.
    2. Once completely dry, backcomb the top half of your hair for volume.
    3. Side-part your hair.
    4. Depending on which side you want to pin, leave a one-inch hair section aside. With the remaining amount of hair, twist and roll it upwards, secure with U-shaped pins.
    5. If you have bangs, take a round-shaped comb, and blow dry your fringe inwards with the Dyson Supersonic and its styling attachment.
    6. Secure with your desired pin!

     

    Large Gold-Coloured Statement Pins

    For larger or more unique pins (i.e. A cat-shaped one for instance), I sometimes wear them centered on a low bun. This hairstyle will be perfect for a bridesmaid-role, or if you are heading out for a nice picnic!

    How to achieve this look:

    1. Apply ­­­­sea-salt spray/ wave spray onto your hair and dry with a diffuser. Scrunch up your hair while drying to create texture and wavy curls.
    2. Split your hair into two sections, twist and roll your hair in an inward motion.
    3. Taking either sections, continue twisting the hair as you secure it with a U-Shaped pin. Don’t lose the curls!
    4. Top it all of with a statement pin, pull some hair strands out for that “ethereal” feel.

     

    “Dumbbells”

    I was pretty excited to try these dumbbell-shaped pins because they are so unique. Whenever I wear them out people will always ask where I got them from, and how to wear them. You can wear these pins with atop a low ponytail as well, but for this post, I went for a more elaborate braided-bun. So suited for an engagement photoshoot or a garden wedding!

    How to achieve this look:

    1. Apply sea-salt spray onto your hair and dry with a diffuser. Scrunch up your hair while drying to create texture and wavy curls.
    2. Work a French braid into the top half of your hair, secure with a rubber band.
    3. Tuck the end of the French braid in, securing with a U-shaped pin.
    4. Leave two small sections on either side of the braid.
    5. Loop the strands over the braid, secure with either a bobby pin, or a U-shaped pin.
    6. Accessorize with your pins!

    In case you were wondering, most of the hairpins were bought from Taipei or Tokyo. If you are in Singapore, trying shopping at COS, they occasionally have really nice and simple hair pins! In Taipei, try the clothing boutiques at Zhongxiao Dong Lu, or Shilin Night Market. When in Tokyo, head to Shibuya 109 or Luminest!

    Love,
    Drea

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  • Taiwan Guide – 7 Things To Do in Taipei
  • travel |    1 December, 2017  |    No Comments    |   
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  • In the second edition of of my Taiwan trip for hotels.com, I share with you my list of Top 7 Things To Do In Taipei City! This list is mostly cafe/ shopping centric and is ideal for a 1-2 day trip. I have more nature-based suggestions below, so read on!

    November is said to be the best time to visit Taiwan to encounter Autumn-hued foliage but we were too early to witness the change in season. Despite that, we filled our time exploring Taipei’s bustling cafe and shopping scene.

    Eat: One-Fifteen 初衣食午

    Address: No. 90-92, Sec. 1, Daan Road, Da’an Dist., Taipei
    Opening Hours: Daily, 12 – 9pm

    Home Hotel Da-An’s manager recommended this “Instagram-famous” cafe-meets-fashion store, which is just a 5-minute walk from Home Hotel Da-An. The garden-themed glasshouse-structured cafe deserves a visit and creates artful backdrop for any Instagram Post!

     

    Bubble Tea: 小日子

    Address: No. 153-5, Yanji Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
    Opening Hours: Daily, 8am – 7pm

    Originally a magazine publication, 小日子 (Xiao Ri Zi) extended its brand to include namesake lifestyle cafes and retail stores. We stumbled upon their charming drinks-only Japanese-inspired cafe en route to Home Hotel Da-An and were impressed with their house-brewed bubble tea. We highly recommend their Milk Tea with Pearls, and Matcha Latte with Pearls!

     

    Shop & Eat: @ Niko and…

    Address: No. 142, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
    Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11am – 10pm
    Friday – Saturday, 11am – 10:30pm

    This Japanese retail behemoth has over 100 stores in Japan. The clothing, lifestyle and cafe brand recently opened its first store in Taipei (just a 10 minute walk from Home Hotel Da-An) stocks a multitude of modern and preppy items that would fit right into any millennial home. I even purchased some faux air plants to hang in my upcoming office space! I considered buying some tin crates, but something in Elsie and Puay Fang’s eyes said “No, put that down, we still have to go to Tai Chung”. So alas.

     

    Shop: Minis Mode

    Address: No. 34, Lane 161, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
    Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 1:30pm – 8:30pm

    This is one boutique I stop by whenever I’m in Taipei! Their classic, clean, and modern selection of clothes means you get timeless outfits for seasons to come. Prices are also very affordable for top-quality clothing. Follow them on Instagram @minis_mode to see what’s in store!

     

    Shop: Natural Kitchen

    Address: 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District, Alley 5, Lane 107, Section 1, Fuxing South Road, No. 12
    Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11am – 8pm
    Friday – Sat, 11am – 9pm

    Think of this as an upgraded Daiso. Quality and affordable kitchenware, lifestyle and decorative items can be found in this modest shop. P.S. I spent a good half an hour here shopping for kitchenware! Came out with close to 15 items for less than $70! This place is a definite must-go for anyone looking to spruce up their home or office!

     

    Eat & Shop: Fujin Street: funfuntown + Fujintree shop + Fujin Tree 353 Cafe

    Address: No. 353, Fujin Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
    Opening Hours: Daily 9am – 9pm

    Though it may seem like a quiet street, Fujin Street is home to cafes, quaint boutique stores, a musuem, . The Fujintree shop and Fujin Tree 353 cafe are neighbours, so we recommend you grab a bite here after shopping at Japanese clothing brand Beams down the street, or after perusing artisan furniture boutique funfuntown: With an inventory ranging from exquisite understated items like a candle holder to a peculiar broom with a low U-shaped handle, there is something for everyone looking to collect decorative furniture!

     

    Eat: Ningxia Night Market

    Other than the usual crowd pleasers like Mochi Ice, Grilled Chicken Sausages, and Peanut Ice Cream wrapped in Popiah Skin, you have to visit my favourite: Stall No. 60 Fang Jia’s Ji Rou Fan (Rice with Chicken), It is definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Taiwan. They close on Mondays so take note of that!

     

    Others

    Other places we visited worth checking out: Library cum cafe Boven (Located right next to Natural Kitchen), Wengu Cafe, and these establishments along Siwei Road: Swell Co. Cafe, KIITO Boutique, and September Cafe. If you have a bit more time and you enjoy botany, you can check out 有肉Succulent & Gift and the TOWN CRIER on the adjacent side of Diwei Road – though you can’t exactly bring the plants back home to Singapore, this place is perfect for any plant and/ or succulent enthusiast.

    I hope you enjoyed this list! Book your Taipei accommodation at hotels.com, especially around the Da An (read all about our Home Hotel Da-An experience here) area to be located within all the locations listed above.

    Next up: Tai Chung!

    Love,
    Drea

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