Hello First-time Travelers!

 HotelTravel.com – Worldwide Leader in Hotel Bookings with Guaranteed Lowest Rates and Discounts of up to 75% Off!

Are you going on a trip to a particular place for the first-time? Will you be setting foot in a foreign and unfamiliar soil? Rest assured that you have fellow travelers on the road who are embarking on new journeys.

I have been to many places, and the first time I stepped into unfamiliar territory I had to feel my way and rely on what I have on-hand especially when all I had were travel books, maps and print-outs from the web. My friends and I make our own itinerary. It is truly advisable to check out anything about the place before going on a trip.

Yet, you need not necessarily hire a travel agent or tour guide to get you around every time you visit a place for the first time. A little help from locals can add spice to your first-time travels. It can give you the freedom to explore the place and enjoy the feeling of not spending much, based on my own travel experiences.

You can take my word on some tips and information on the places I visited but feel free to be creative and be adventurous. I may offer some advice here and there but, as they say, “experience is the best teacher”. So, read on and find out more about my first-time travel adventures.

I want to make things easy for you. If you want to view the articles I wrote in this site, click the Table of Contents tab.

Photos used in this site are taken by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

The EcoArk at the Taipei Expo Park

We had to include the Taipei Expo Park in our itinerary because one of our companions have watched on TV about this building built out of plastic water bottles. I searched online and came upon the EcoArk, which is part of the Taipei Expo Park.

The Taipei Expo Park

The Taipei Expo Park.


The Taipei Expo Park

This was the site of the Taipei International Flora Exposition.

From the Martyr’s Shrine bus station we checked out which bus would take us to the Taipei Expo Park and waited whichever bus number arrived first. The bus came in a few minutes and as we boarded it, it took us only about five to ten minutes until the Fine Arts Park Area came into view.  I looked to my right and instantly saw the EcoArk. I pushed the “stop” button and signaled to my companions that we have to get off.

Eco Ark at the Taipei Expo Park

We got off the bus and this greeted us immediately.


EcoArk at The Taipei Expo Park

A wall of PET bottles. The exteriors of EcoArk.

As we stood there at the sidewalk, we were amazed at the structure standing in front of us. The EcoArk is a nine-story building (the highest point) made out of 1.5 million recycled PET bottles.  When I did my online research, I found out that those who came up with this idea were young professionals. At that time, they might have sounded crazy but, as I stood there in awe of the building, I would say they are a bunch of geniuses.

EcoArk Taipei Expo Park

Isn’t this giant water faucet amazing?


The pavilion was built for the Taipei International Flora Exposition. It was amazing how they built it with little carbon footprint, such as using water and natural wind to ventilate the building. We wanted to get inside and see its various features but the building was already closed at that time as it was already past five o’clock in the afternoon.

EcoArk Taipei Expo Park

A closer look on the walls of EcoArk.


Within the Taipei Expo compound are many stores and food stalls as well as attractions and parks for the entire family. I would have wanted to explore the entire compound but it will take a day or more to be able to see all that is being featured here. Still, I am glad to have seen up close this amazing EcoArk building.

EcoArk Taipei Expo Park

See the sprinklers on top? Water runs down and provide cool wind to enter the pavilion.


See more photos of EcoArk and the Taipei Expo Park in my Facebook Album page. Get more details on EcoArk and the Taipei Expo Park in its website. You can also get in touch through their following address and contact information:

No.1, Yumen St., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 104, Taiwan (R.O.C.)


EcoArk Taipei Expo Park

The building from afar.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

It’s this time of the year once again when it is fun to go to the Provincial Capitol Grounds in Bacolod City and check out the many fresh and organic products of farmers in Negros Island and neighboring islands in the Philippines.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

The entrance to the Organic Festival.

 Together with another blogger, we roamed the North Capitol Road and the driveway in front of the Provincial Capitol Building for the 10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival. This will last until November 29, 2015, Sunday, and my mother has already made plans of going this Saturday to see what she can buy and bring home to us.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

Many booths display their various organic products.

With the theme of “Farm to Table” (or “Halin Talamnan, Tubtub Kalan-an” in local language), we are literally going to eat fresh produce straight from those farms as we prepare them on our dining table.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

I purchased this oyster mushroom at P60 only.

I have already purchased oyster mushrooms, pickled mushrooms, fresh lettuce, and a pesto sauce. My mother cooked the mushrooms and served it for lunch.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

Vegetables are aplenty.


10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

Fruits and products from fruits are also available at the festival.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

Organic beauty products are also found in the many booths.

The Negros Island is heavily advocating for organic farming, bringing back the natural way of cultivating and preparing food. With so many chemicals used in most of our food products that often result to various illnesses and diseases, it is truly advisable to go natural when it comes to food consumption.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

Different kinds of plants can also be found on display and for sale.

During the Organic Farmers Festival, you will find various food products and other organic commodities on display and for sale to the public. It is an event that I hope to continue for many more years. So, if you haven’t been to the Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival, make sure you go to one (which usually happens in November). Always check out the website http://www.organicfestival.negros-occ.gov.ph every now and then for updates and details. See more photos in my Facebook page album.

10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival

There are various choices when you go to the Organic Festival.

First-time in Taipei’s The Red House

We got to the Red House unexpectedly. We came into the Ximending area not knowing it was so close to our hotel. As we were looking for the Ximen MRT station, a red-brick octagonal building that looked interesting came into view. We decided to take a closer look and crossed the street. Only then did we realize that we have already chanced upon the Red House.

The Red House

The Red House at the Ximen area.

It was built in 1908 and was Taiwan’s first market. It’s unique architecture, which combines the octagonal and cruciform shapes, is not commonly found anywhere. Now, it is managed by the Taipei Culture Foundation and houses a tea shop, a boutique area, a theater, and central display area.

The Red House

Students coming from the Red House.

Their information center has several brochures and reading materials that aided us during our exploration of Taipei. The upper floor, where the theater was located, housed an exhibit at that time. Postcards, magnets and other souvenir items were on display and for sale at their boutique shop.

The Red House

A tea shop inside the building.

The Red House

The theater at the 2nd floor.

The Red House is a historical landmark as well as a commercial attraction. Located at No. 10 Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00am to 9:30pm.

The Red House

The center area.

For more information, you may e-mail them at service@redhouse.org.tw or visit their website http://www.redhouse.org.tw. To see more photos of our visit, check my Facebook page Red House album.

The Red House

Some items on display.

First-time in Taiwan’s Martyr’s Shrine

It was late in the afternoon when we got to the Martyr’s Shrine. It was easy to locate it. From the MRT Dazhi Station, we crossed the intersection towards the bus station to get the buses heading to our left. The bus station posted a list of bus numbers and their route. We chose I13 as it was the earliest to arrive. Yes, their bus station reveals the time of arrival of the buses plying that route.

Martyr's Shrine

The arches at the Martyr’s Shrine.

When we went off at the bus stop near the shrine, the Grand Hotel, which is approximately a five-minute walk, loomed at the distance. The hotel is built in typical Chinese architecture.

Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel.

We walked a few meters from the bus stop to the entrance of the Shrine. An impressive paifang, or Chinese arch, stood at the front, with beautiful artworks all over it. There were three arches, which provided us with a view of the entrance building of the Martyr’s Shrine from afar and the mountains adding a serene backdrop to the whole picture.

Martyr's Shrine

The entrance building is visible from the road. The mountain serves as a beautiful background.

While I was taking photos of the arch, a guard was placing some removable bollards in front of me and directed me to enter by the side entrance. A portion of the open area was cordoned off and visitors arriving flocked outside the cordoned area.

Martyr's Shrine

The guards march towards the entrance building.

There I realize that they were preparing for the ceremonial changing of the guards. We excitedly flanked the length of the crowd and waited for the guards to emerge. A shout came from the side of the gate, signaling that the ceremony was about to begin.

Martyr's Shrine

From the entrance building, the main shrine appears grand.

We watched as five guards marched the whole length of the open area, their feet aligned at the brown line on the ground that seem to have been a result of friction from metal and the paved stone. We followed as the guards continued their march to the entrance building.

Martyr's Shrine

The guards perform their exhibition acts.

Upon reaching the main hall of the shrine, they made various exhibitions with their bayonets. It was captivating to watch them did all of these, which lasted for about 30 minutes in total until the old set of guards marched back to the arch.

The Martyr’s Shrine was built in 1969 for the 390,000 soldiers who offered their lives defending their country during the Chinese Civil War, Sino-Japanese War, and other engagements like revolutions and crises. The location was at the Chingshan Mountain overlooking the Keelung River in the Zhongshan District. The architecture of the Martyr’s Shrine was inspired by the Hall of Supreme Harmony of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Martyr's Shrine

Inside the main shrine.

The Martyr’s Shrine is located at 138 Beian Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City. For more photos of our visit at the Martyr’s Shrine, see my Facebook page album.

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum in Taipei is located near the hilly portion of the metropolis. It was an easy commute taking the MRT Wenhu Line. We got off at the Dazhi station, walked a few steps towards the tofu store and caught the B13 (Brown 13)bus. It was about a ten to fifteen-minute ride before we alighted right in front of the National Palace Museum.

National Palace Museum

The bus stop has information on which bus to take to the National Palace Museum.

Our friend who has been to the museum before told us that the National Palace Museum displays the history of China. That is because the National Palace Museum could trace its roots during its establishment as a Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City after the expulsion of Puyi, the last emperor of China.

But the civil war divided the administration of the Palace Museum. As the Nationalists sent most of the artifacts and treasures to Taiwan, the Communists were able to seize the Palace Museum in Beijing. The National Palace Museum in Shilin District, Taipei was constructed in 1965 to house the collections that were brought from mainland China.

National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum view from the gate.

The National Palace Museum was a grand sight from its gate. There’s a long walkway with manicured trees on both sides of the pavement. As the museum loomed from afar, we were enamored by the scenery, although we failed to completely check out the nearby amenities and attractions but, instead, focused on the main building. There’s the Zishan garden within the museum complex which we weren’t able to explore its grounds. The same as the Chang Dai-ch’ien Residence, which we have not visited due to limited time.

National Palace Museum

The entrance to the Zishan garden.

We paid NT 250 (app. USD 7.70) each to enter Exhibit I or the main building. Credit cards are accepted but audio tour gadgets, if you want to avail for one, have to be paid in cash. But before we entered the exhibit areas, we first took a snack, which was sort of an early lunch, at Xianjufu Café, located at the first floor of the main building.

National Palace Museum

The lion statues guarding the beginning of the walkway to the National Palace Museum.

Since there were so many displays in the three-story building at that time so we had to carefully choose which gallery we will visit. At that time, there was also an exhibit on the 90 Years of Collecting: a Selection of Fine Works of Art Acquired by and Donated to the National Palace Museum. It featured interesting artworks, including a miniature birdcage with Chinese inscriptions on its tiny columns. The inscriptions were microscopic so I commend the artist for such ingenuity.

National Palace Museum

The main building or the Exhibit I.

There was also a Special Exhibition on the Imperial Collection of Rare Books and Documents, which, interestingly, displayed old maps of China and its territories. Oh how I’d want to get a copy of those maps. Not only am I very fond of maps, but it also showed that no Philippine island was part of China.

We also breezed through the gallery of paintings and art pieces in the hope that we would be able to see as many artworks as we can in so little time as we had to head to other landmarks and attractions in Taipei.

National Palace Museum

What a lovely sight the National Palace Museum is.

We finished our tour of the National Palace Museum and exited using the green sidewalk which was a refreshing experience, walking underneath tree branches on a wooden pathway. At the entrance, we caught a bus back to the Dazhi station so we could head next to the Martyr’s Shrine.

The National Palace Museum is located at:

No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 11143, Taiwan (R.O.C.) .

Tel:+886-2-2881-2021, +886-2-66103600 E-mail: service01@npm.gov.tw

Website: http://www.npm.gov.tw/en

For photos of our visit at the National Palace Museum, check my Facebook page album.

National Palace Museum

The green sidewalk.

First-time in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Taiwan’s rich history can be traced from its founder and former President, Chiang Kai-shek. The Republic of China (ROC) has made Taiwan, formerly called Formosa or beautiful island to the Europeans, its seat of government when Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalists) moved to this territory after the Chinese Civil War. ROC now governs the island of Taiwan and its minor islands.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

The gate opposite the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

I believe that my travels have come full circle. My first trip in China was in Guangzhou, where the Kuomintang was established by Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China. He was a close ally of Chiang Kai-shek.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

The view of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Memorial Hall from the garden.

My next trip brought me to: Shanghai, where Sun Yat-sen was once exiled; Beijing, the seat of the People’s Republic of China wherein prior to Sun Yat-sen’s rule, the last emperor of China, Puyi, and the Chinese Communist Party of Mao Zedong held office; and Xi’an, home of the terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who united China.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

People converge at the CKS Square.

Finally, I have arrived in Taiwan and its history, which traces its roots in China, made me recall my travels in the mainland. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a testament of how the Taiwanese revere their great leader.

Chiang Kai-shek square

The National Theater.

The CKS Memorial Hall is not difficult to find and is easily accessible via MRT. Just take the red or the green line and get off at the CKS Memorial Hall station. Right at the exit, you will find the National Theater visible from the street. It is the southern part of the CKS Square. Across it is the National Concert Hall. Farther in the east is the CKS Memorial Hall.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

The CKS Square with the National Theater at the left and the National Concert Hall at the right.

As we walked from the square towards the CKS Memorial Hall, I could make out the silhouette of  a giant figure seated on a chair, providing me a similar vision of the Lincoln Memorial. I had to climb several steps to get to the main hall where the large bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek could be found. We were just in time for the changing of the guards as people piled up in the entire entrance of the hall. After the ceremony, my friends and I had the opportunity to view the statue closer.

Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek’s monument.

Behind Chiang Kai-shek were the Chinese characters of Ethics, Democracy and Science etched on the wall. The ceiling reveal an intricate work of art with the sun, as shown in its national flag, visible at the center of the dome.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

The sun beneath the dome.

Two doors were seen on either side of the hall. We entered one and found a room displaying various memorabilia of the late Chiang Kai-shek. We found a flight of stairs and descended on each floor until we reached the ground area. There we passed by two women doing calligraphy and painting. A younger lady told us to get a bookmark for free. We asked her the meaning of the inscriptions and when she interpreted each quote in the bookmarks we chose, this piqued our interest even more.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

With volunteers of the Tzu Chi Foundation at the Jing Si Books & Cafe.

It was the Jing Si Books and Café, run by the Tzu Chi Foundation. I have first encountered this foundation when I volunteered in Tacloban, Leyte after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) where they distributed cash and goods to typhoon survivors. She also gave us magazines and we also bought books of inspirational sayings at the bookstore.

The ground floor, which also has exhibition rooms, also has an information center, souvenir shop, restaurants and other amenities.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

The pond.

The door led us to the park where we walked under a row of trees with birds resting on their branches. Locals were having picnics. Some were strolling with their dogs. We found a pond with a bridge and decided to take some snapshots there. As the sun was starting its descent, more and more people fill the square and the parks surrounding the Memorial Hall. It was good to walk down history lane and know of the people who helped shape this nation.


No.21, Zhongshan S.Rd., Zhongzheng Dist.
Taipei City 10048, Taiwan (R.O.C)
For more photos of our visit in the CKS Memorial Hall, check out my Facebook album.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Looking up to the majestic Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.