December 8, 2014. I booked a plane ticket to Taipei much earlier this year, almost spontaneously, right after I decided to go on a trip to Cambodia. I had since then planned this trip to cap my year, just right after classes in law school ended for 2014.
I arrived in Taipei (Taoyuan Airport) from a red-eye flight just past midnight. With my check-in time at the hotel more than half a day away, I decided to wait until morning at the airport. It was a silly decision (not to book the night at the hotel to cut cost), as I realized no amount of being spendthrift could replace a good night’s rest in bed, no matter how short, if I intended to walk all day the next day. By sunrise, I felt so tired from the lack of sleep.
At the break of dawn, I took the bus from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei central station. I got myself a three-day pass in the Taipei Metro, then rode the train to Ximending district and asked my hotel if I could check in much much earlier. Fortunately, a room was ready and they accommodated me at no extra charge. I ended up sleeping the whole morning.
By noon, I rose up to begin ‘exploring’ Taipei’s landmarks. Availing of the Taipei Metro pass was a great decision, as the trains were a very convenient way to get to all the interesting parts of the city.
It was an overcast day, but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my first full day in Taipei.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Chiang Kai Shek is the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the President of the Republic of China (ROC) who established the ROC government in Taiwan after KMT’s defeat by the Communists in the mainland. The memorial hall itself is only part of the larger public square called Freedom/Liberty Park which has two Chinese theaters, beautifully manicured gardens and a uniquely-designed gate.
April 23-28, 2014
. The past days have been a blur. At the heels of a week-long trip to Australia, I had not fully recovered from disorientation. I had not taken a lot of pictures the past days because my phone’s screen was already a mosaic of shattered pieces of glass precariously held together by some inherent Samsung adhesive, and one crack had covered the front camera. And aside from that, I have been un-inspired, suffering from a specie of ennui the past weeks. I’m not sure why, and I don’t really want to answer the question.
Together with my incoming and outgoing co-officers in the student council, we went to San Juan, Batangas for a beach outing, right before some of us flew to Zamboanga to attend the national convention of the Association of Law Students of the Philippines (ALSP). The trip to Batangas was a comfortable one. I ended up with a big bruise on my buttocks after falling off from the staircase, but it was all fine. The trip to Zamboanga on the other hand was punctuated by such an uncomfortable bus ride from Dipolog to Zamboanga City as we traversed Zamboanga peninsula in an effort to board our flight back to Manila.
April 19, 2014. It was our last full day in Australia. We had booked a city tour of Melbourne, and the guides took us to the standard sights around downtown Melbourne, including some shopping arcades. We were eventually dropped off at Victoria Markets, somewhere uptown. That afternoon was spent packing up for our trip back home. With a whole night to spare, I decided to take a walk, as I often do, around downtown, for a few hours that night.
April 18, 2014. The ten-hour train ride to Melbourne went by quickly as we slept through it during the night. We woke up on a Good Friday morning in Melbourne, our hotel just almost across the train station. Upon checking in, I took a walk around downtown by myself, as I often do, only returning to the hotel to join my family for lunch. I took another walk that afternoon after taking a nap, that time taking my little sister with me. Since it was Good Friday holiday, most of the establishments were closed. I was guessing the number of people in the streets that day, numerous as it seems to be at times, was less than normal.
April 17, 2014. Greeted Mama with a birthday cake as soon as I woke up. I had secretly bought one the night before when I went out with a friend. It was our last day in Sydney, and we had the day to ourselves, no tours booked whatsoever. Guided with GPS and Google Maps powered by prepaid mobile internet on my phone, we wandered around downtown Sydney, did a few shopping, before hopping on our ten-hour train to Melbourne.
April 16, 2014. We were booked on a tour to the Blue Mountains, a national park west of Sydney. Spectacular views. We were likewise brought to a small zoo where we were able to interact with some kangaroos, koalas and emus. Instead of taking the road back to Sydney, we were ferried on a, well, ferry along the Parramatta River as the sun was setting down. I met up with a childhood friend and her sister for a night out in Sydney.
April 14, 2014
. One reason why my family chose Australia as our destination for a family vacation this summer was that I had told Mama that being in the Southern hemisphere, temperatures in Australia would be much colder as their seasons are opposite those of us in the ‘North’. Borrowing a tagline from a popular television series, “Winter is coming,” to Australia, for real.
Our first day was spent walking around Darling Harbour in Sydney. We went through the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, ate at McDonald’s, and celebrated my younger brother’s birthday at a Japanese restaurant a few blocks from our hotel.