Two Nights in Taipei: Chaiin Hotel Review

Starting the Taipei travelogue series with our stay at Chaiin Hotel, and yes, it’s spelled with two “i”s.

During our last visit to Taipei, we stayed at the Ark Hotel, and we would’ve considered staying there again, but unfortunately it was already fully booked for the Easter weekend. Given that Taipei is incredibly tourist-friendly, there were plenty of other options available regarding accommodation, and finally we decided on Chaiin Hotel.

We stayed in a Superior Room with a double bed. A Standard Room would’ve been cheaper, but I didn’t want to stay in a windowless room. Having natural light in the mornings is a necessity for me, and I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for that.

Also, you can’t really tell, but there’s a mini-fridge under the writing desk. In it were two complimentary bottles of water.

Note: the glass walls for the bathroom are translucent, and there’s no additional curtain or cover, so hopefully you’ll be staying with a significant other, or someone whom you’re really comfortable with.

Slippers and hairdryer provided.

The sink was located right next to the door. All the basics were provided, and then some. These included:

  • towels
  • mugs
  • bar soap
  • shower cap
  • razor and shaving cream
  • toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and facial cleanser
  • comb
  • cotton buds and cotton pads

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a hotel provide facial cleanser, so I’m really impressed. I didn’t use it (as my skin is sensitive), but the fact that it’s there is much appreciated.

In my hurry I actually forgot to take a picture of the bathroom – d’oh! It’s simply a WC and a shower with a glass door. The shower area itself was fairly spacious, with a little cubby hole of sorts to hold your toiletries.

Electric kettle, coffee and tea. And my favourite Lotus biscuits!

View from our room. We stayed on the 12th floor, which was the highest.

One of the best things about Chaiin Hotel was its location. Dongmen MRT station was literally steps away, and the famous Yongkang Street was within walking distance. There was also a HSBC ATM located nearby, which was quite the lifesaver for us as we had to withdraw more cash!

I was also really stoked about staying across the street from Tienren Tea, until I tried the tea and it tasted nothing like the one in Hong Kong. The green tea just tasted like regular Chinese tea, whereas the HK version has a subtle sweetness.

Complimentary breakfast buffet. Aside from the usual scrambled eggs and sausages, there was also soup, congee, fried noodles, and strangely, nuggets and french fries.

Bread and cereal station.

Did a bit of a food hack and created my version of toast with butter and condensed milk.

The “orange juice” was really fruit punch, and it was so bad I almost spat it out. Luckily, the mocha from the coffee machine was tolerable.

I don’t have high expectations for a hotel breakfast, especially since this isn’t a five-star resort. Aside from the punch, the rest of it was fine. I’m the kind of person who wakes up famished and must have breakfast within minutes, so being able to fill my belly without having to walk too far is a definite plus.

The one negative about the hotel was the elevator. It was painfully slow, and given that we were staying on the 12th floor, walking up and down the stairs wasn’t exactly feasible, especially with luggage. Some genius decided to give people some incentive to take the stairs by installing some artwork and calling it a vertical gallery.

We did walk two flights of stairs from the lobby to the ground floor. If you’re travelling light and don’t mind walking, the art is worth checking out.

The total cost of our stay was HK$1272, which works out to HK$636 (~US$81.80/~S$114.30) a night. Like I mentioned earlier, the location was great, probably the best thing about the hotel. The room was alright, and service was impeccable (I can’t praise Taiwanese hospitality enough!). The downside was the elevator that travelled at a snail’s pace. Aside from that, we had a pleasant stay.

However, I should mention that we probably won’t stay at Chaiin Hotel again, but there are other factors at play here. It’s the second time we’ve stayed at the Dongmen area, and we’ll probably choose another area the next time we visit Taipei so as to experience more of the city.

http://www.chaiinhotel.com.tw/

Friday Night Snapshots

Thought I’d put up some more photos from Natasha and Derek’s trip in Hong Kong, featuring Sohofama, Little Bao, and Quinary. This isn’t strictly a review, mostly pictures with lazy captions. Let’s go!

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Natasha’s cocktail, which goes by the name of something like Imperial Palace.

Smoking Chamomile. I didn’t take a picture of this, only a video. This is a screenshot of the video, hence the poor image quality.

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SOHO Squid (which is really just 椒鹽鮮魷, fried squid with salt and pepper) and 酸辣湯 hot and sour soup. There’s also a glass of San Miguel in the background.

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Chicken soup with wontons, probably the healthiest thing we had that evening.

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New Zealand clams in sake broth.

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Fried rice with Spanish chorizo.

We also had truffle xiaolongbao and beef sliders, but I forgot to take photos of those. 😡

We went to Soho with the intention of having dinner at Little Bao, but we were told that we’d have to wait for more than an hour to be seated. We were famished, so we walked round the corner and discovered Sohofama, which was such a blessing in disguise. Food and service was lovely, and I’d definitely go back for more. It was on the pricier side – the bill came to HK$1309 (~US$168.40/~S$235.30) for four people, but it’s worth considering for special occasions and gatherings.

LITTLE BAO

We headed there after our meal at Sohofama, because nothing says “indulgence” like a second dinner, no?

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Pork belly bao.

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Szechuan fried chicken bao.

Ice-cream bao with green tea ice-cream and condensed milk.

While the food was great (the ice-cream bao was the bomb), I wish I could say the same about the service. The front of house, or whatever the equivalent at Little Bao, was disgustingly rude and condescending. I half-wanted to leave, but I’d heard such good things about the food so we decided to just give it a try.

Now that I’ve ticked it off the list, no meal is good enough to overlook service as bad as this, and I probably won’t be returning. I’d definitely reconsider if there’s confirmation saying that guy isn’t working there anymore.

QUINARY

Otherwise known as the home of my favourite cocktail.

Clockwise from top left: Glenfiddich 18 years (if I remember correctly), Quinary Sour, Aperol Spritz, Lavender Meringue Pie.

I adore Lavender Meringue Pie. It’s the drink I order whenever I’m here. Hahaha it sounds like I frequent Quinary all the time when in truth this was only my third visit. But I love it that much, possibly because it’s essentially a dessert in cocktail form.

The drink on the top left corner is Edwin’s and I know for a fact it’s whiskey because he fancies himself a connoisseur and doesn’t touch anything else when at a bar.

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So Edwin and I have just returned from our Easter getaway in Taipei, and I promise not to procrastinate as long as I usually do with the blog posts. After this one goes up, I’ll be sorting out photos from the trip, and arranging the various souvenirs that we bought (did a lot of damage this time round). Between this and other pending posts, I’ve got quite a bit on my plate. Also, because I’m the overly ambitious type, I’m hoping to get all this done by the end of the month. I’ve got some plans for May, mostly regarding Le French May, and we’ll be travelling again too! Exciting stuff, so watch this space!

5 Trends I Just Don’t Get

I’d like to start off by saying that I have absolutely nothing against anyone who wears any of the items listed below. If you love these fashion trends, good for you! I just happen to find the following things perplexing:

1. Choker Sweaters

“I want to keep my neck warm but my décolletage must be visible at all times, never mind the cold. Also, my elbows aren’t dry enough and need to be aired.”

2. Cold Shoulder Tops/Dresses

This trend is everywhere. It seems like everyone and their mother has one of these, but I simply don’t get it. If it’s warm enough to bare your shoulders, it’s warm enough to bare your arms. Maybe it’s got the look of an off-shoulder top but feels more secure due to the two straps holding it up? From the way some of these are cut, you’d have to wear a strapless bra underneath. Where’s the fun in that?

3. Distressed Jeans

Another insanely popular trend that I don’t understand. I’d never spend money on an article of clothing that looks like it’s been in an accident.

Also, because ripping apart perfectly good denim isn’t enough, pairing said denim with fishnet stockings is now apparently a thing.

4. Sheer Dresses

I don’t mind those romantic see-through dresses that are meant to be worn over slips, but the casual variety boggles my mind. This outfit would have been perfectly fine if it were just the T-shirt, jeans, and boots. (I’m even willing to overlook the distressed denim bit.) But let’s throw a sheer asymmetrical dress on top, because… fashion?

5. T-shirts Under Slip Dresses

To me, it looks like a stop-gap solution for when you want to wear a slip dress but don’t want to compromise on modesty. It’d seem a lot easier to just get a T-shirt dress. Less laundry to deal with.

Bonus feature!

Nude Shoes with Black Stockings

I’m not listing this as a trend because it doesn’t appear to be one, although it apparently was a thing back in 2010, and even SJP did this back in the day. It’s also something that I see every single time I head to to Central and some OL (Office Lady) sports this look, and it looks more accidental than intentional. Nude shoes are meant to elongate the legs, and bare legs at that. A similar effect can be achieved with black stockings and black shoes, so why deviate from a tried-and-true formula?

Well, as much as I don’t understand these trends, it seems like some of them are here to stay. Okay, end of rant! This is a sure sign that I have become a cranky old lady who complains about what others are wearing. Still, this was all done in good humour, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the post. I’ll try to get at least one more up before going on holiday, so stay tuned!

Adorable Dim Sum Brunch at Yum Cha

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It’s not your grandparents’ dim sum, but it’s definitely photogenic!

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My absolute favourite, crispy fried tofu with salt and pepper.

Googly-eyed custard buns. It’s great fun to poke a hole in one of these and squeeze till it “throws up”. Childish? Maybe. Hilarious? Always.

Matcha custard buns. I preferred the other type, but these weren’t bad either.

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Piggy buns filled with (what else?) BBQ pork.

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Crispy shrimp wontons with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, served in a little metal box. It’s a little on the hipster side. Then again, this whole establishment is aimed at a younger crowd, so what do I know?

Yum Cha (Central)
南豐大廈 Nan Fung Tower, 2/F, Nan Fung Place,, 173 Des Voeux Rd Central
Tel: 3708 8081

DisneyBound Outfits: Alice in Wonderland

Returning once again to my all-time favourite DisneyBound theme. I did an Alice in Wonderland DisneyBound post a long, long time ago, but since I actually got to dress up in real life on a recent trip to Disneyland, it really inspired me to do up another one. Moreover, I’ve now included menswear in my Polyvore ensembles. Disney fun for everyone!

Cheshire Cat

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Caterpillar

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Mad Hatter

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Alice

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Queen of Hearts

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Royal Afternoon Tea at Walt’s Cafe, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

After spending a glorious day at Disneyland, we headed over to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for an afternoon tea at Walt’s Cafe, and to take a much needed rest!

While we were on the Disney shuttle bus, I caught glimpses of the newest hotel, Disney Explorers Lodge, which is due to open at the end of the month. I’m so excited about it, and you can bet that I’ve got every intention of staying there in the near future!

Situated in the stunning Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel (I believe it’s modeled after Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa), Walt’s Cafe is similarly themed with elements of Victorian architecture, paying tribute to Walt Disney himself. The menu comprises mainly of Western dishes, with a few items from various Asian cuisines to satisfy a range of palates.

As mentioned earlier, we were there for afternoon tea, and since there were four of us, we decided to try two different sets – the regular Leisure Tea Time set, and the limited edition Beauty and the Beast themed Disney Royal Afternoon Tea (available till 28th May 2017).

Pictured here is the Royal Afternoon Tea, presented by Pandora, in case the yellow pastries haven’t already given it away. The set comprised of Boston lobster and mango salad on toast, smoked salmon and ricotta cheese sandwiches with caviar, cherry tomato and beetroot mousse on wild pork rillettes, lemon cookies, rose-flavoured strawberry mousse, and mango passion fruit mousse cakes.

As usual, I preferred the savoury elements to the sweet ones. You can’t really go wrong with classic flavour combinations. I’ve yet to meet a mini toast/sandwich that I didn’t like. The mousse + rillette combo was the most interesting, taste-wise. The little brownie base underneath the strawberry mousse was a pleasant surprise, and gave me the chocolate kick that I craved. To me, an afternoon tea isn’t really complete without chocolate.

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The Royal Afternoon Tea set also included scones (with clotted cream and jam) and what I can only describe as a Chinese-style soup, which contained Alaskan crab meat, steamed egg white, maitake mushroom, and crab roe. The soup was the only hot dish out of the lot, and we enjoyed it the most. I could definitely finish a much larger bowl of the stuff!

The scone, on the other hand, was a bit too dry, and I didn’t like the taste of the accompanying clotted cream. Loved the Mickey shape though.

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The Leisure Tea Time set was served in the classic three-tier stand. Can you spot all the not-so-hidden Mickeys?

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More scones.

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There was a different assortment of mini pastries, including a vegetable quiche tart with braised crab meat cream sauce, caviar and sour cream on dark rye pancakes, mini sausage rolls with onion marmalade and sun-dried tomatoes, poached quail egg and sauteed spinach on a filo tart with cheese sauce, a ham and cheese sandwich with mango, and a smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade with black truffle.

I do apologise for the poorly taken photo, which makes it hard to make out the various items mentioned above. In any case, they weren’t as memorable, and nothing really stood out.

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Les desserts! There were macarons, a lemon tart, Stitch cookies, a Swiss roll, a crunchy chocolate cake and a blueberry cheesecake. I wanted to fall in love with the Stitch cookies, given that Stitch is one of my all-time favourite characters, but the cookies were rock hard. 😦 The others fared better, though I didn’t taste the cheesecake, as I generally dislike cheesecake and didn’t bother trying.

I didn’t get to taste the lemon cookie as well, as we were all stuffed towards the end. I kept it in my bad (wrapped in tissue of course) with the intention of photographing it while at the park. Naturally it was later forgotten, and when I got home it was all crushed.

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The drink on the far right was honeydew green tea, which came with the regular tea set. The other two drinks were called Rosy and Fancy Dress, though I don’t know which is which! These were part of the Royal Afternoon Tea set.

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This is what one of the drinks looked like after pouring in the pink soda. Despite the champagne and martini glasses, these drinks don’t actually contain any alcohol.

Do note that the Royal Afternoon Tea has to be booked at least 48 hours in advance, and it’s advisable to make a reservation at Walt’s Cafe over the phone. The Royal Afternoon Tea is HK$558 for 2 persons, HK$488 for 2 persons if you’ve got the Magic Access Membership. The Leisure Tea Time is HK$378 for 2 persons, and Magic Access Members get a 25% discount.

Cheers, till next time!

Walt’s Cafe
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Lantau Island
Tel: 3510 6000

Springtime in Disneyland

Finally got to make a trip to Disneyland with my Disney soulmate Natasha! Hopefully it’s the first of many. Can’t wait for us to hit Anaheim or Orlando someday!

Brought along our respective dates for a group DisneyBound. From left: me as Alice, Edwin as the Mad Hatter, Derek as the Caterpillar, and Natasha as the Queen of Hearts.

I’d always thought that Disneyland looks its best during the Christmas season, but the spring decorations are seriously lush!

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Colourful flowers everywhere!

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Seasonal pastries: Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh doughnuts.

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Can we just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of these flowers?

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Yep.

Gorgeous!

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As you may have noticed from the first picture, there were Disney Easter eggs making an appearance for spring. Literal Easter eggs, strewn all over the park. There were supposedly currently over a hundred of these eggs, but I only managed to find and photograph 54 of them.

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Hiro and Baymax on Main Street.

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Mike and Sully, also on Main Street, I believe.

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Darth Vader and Stormtroopers in Tomorrowland.

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One of these is not like the others.

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Iron Man outside the Stark Expo Shop in Tomorrowland.

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BB-8, C-3PO, and R2-D2. These are the Easter eggs you’re looking for!

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Edwin and I met Chewie and R2 at the Command Post last summer, but this was the first time we met BB-8. It was adorable!

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Mad Hatter meets BB-8.

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In Fantasyland, where I went on the teacups ride for the very first time! I had avoided it as I was afraid that it’d be too dizzying, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

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Why so serious?

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How do you get to Wonderland?

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I might have gone a little (or more than a little) overboard with the theme, but I don’t care. This is definitely one of my favourite outfits ever!

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I was in between poses for this picture, but since Natasha and her ensemble look especially fabulous here, you guys should see it.

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Eeyore loved Edwin’s hat! Even the people behind us in the queue were in awe, haha.

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Another picture where I wasn’t ready, but it’s the only one in which all four of us are looking to the camera.

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Rocket and Groot at the entrance of Tomorrowland.

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The cutest displays in front of the castle.

Obligatory castle shot.

2017 is turning out to be a good year so far!

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Olaf chilling out (pun unintended) in front of a store display in Fantasyland.

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Kanga and Roo in Fantasyland.

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Eeyore, Pooh, and Piglet, somewhere in Fantasyland as well.

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Ugh, get it together, Dopey.

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In all my visits to Hong Kong Disneyland, I’d never seen Aurora, who’s by chance Natasha’s favourite Disney princess. What perfect timing that we got to meet her during Nat’s visit!

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Stealing pose ideas from the expert. Also, I had to change out of my heels. After about 8,000 steps on uneven terrain, I was literally feeling the pinch. Luckily I had flats to change into, and a partner willing to carry my miscellaneous stuff.

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Nick and Judy in front of City Hall.

We had a glorious afternoon tea at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, and by the time we returned to the park, it was fairly dark and we only managed to catch a couple more rides before watching the fireworks show.

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Woody and Jessie at Toy Story Land. PSA: The attractions at Adventureland, Mystic Point, Grizzly Gulch, and Toy Story Land close earlier than those in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, so make sure you plan accordingly!

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Lumiere is a ball of light. How apt.

Et c’est tout, mes amis! I’ll blog about our afternoon tea at Walt’s Cafe in the next post, and until then, au revoir!