Review: Northbound Hop – Introduction

Introduction
KA 432 HKG – KHH 333 Y
Ferry Ride Cijin Scenic Area to Gushan Ferry Pier
Toong Mao Evergreen Hotel Kaohsiung
Exploring Kaohsiung
Jinzuan Night Markets
Exploring Tainan
Toong Mao Kao Shang Ching Hotel Kenting
Exploring Pingtung County
Kenting Street Night Markets
International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport
KA 437 KHH – HKG 333 Y

This trip was a school planned trip. Originally I could choose between Chiang Rai, Chifeng (Inner Mongolia) and Kaohsiung. Originally I had my mind set on Chifeng, but hygiene problems, sadly, eliminated that. I turned towards Chiang Rai, but right at that time there was a disease running through the area, so I had no choice but to turn to Kaohsiung. I don’t actually regret that, though the other trips look fun as well.

Taiwan is basically a New Zealand in Asia. True, it’s not nearly as stunning, but it still is. Wherever you are in New Zealand, you are less than 15 minutes away from somewhere beautiful (like Kearoa road was when we stayed at the Treetops Rotorua and Russelltown – 10 minutes away – was from the Waterfront Suites in Paihia), and in Taiwan that’s more or less true too (in fact, the sunset from the W Taipei was brilliant, and Cingjing – fifteen minutes up the hill from the Shangrila Music Villa – was stunning). Look at the views from Cingjing, Taichung (three hours from the airport, not ideal):

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Views from Cingjing, Taichung (August 2013 trip)

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Views from Cingjing, Taichung (2013 trip)

So I can’t really fault myself from choosing Kaohsiung this time. 😉

The school booked us on Toong Mao Evergreen Hotel in Kaohsiung and Toong Mao Kao Shang Ching Hotel Kenting. The former is a pretty good hotel, but the latter, I wish the school booked us on similarly priced Smokey Joe’s, as it seems like the worst hotel in Pingtung. This is exciting news, since after so much luxury (I’m eyeing Treetops Rotorua, Waterfront Suites Paihia and Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore for spoiling me), I get to try two hotel chain hotels – that’s not a typo, hotel chain hotels – that aren’t nearly as nice. Admittedly, I do get super excited when I get the chance to review mass chain hotels like Sheraton, Westin or Fairmont, but reviewing a hotel like this isn’t half bad.

Just for reference, I’ll mention the itineraries of all three trips (for a recap, they are Chiang Rai, Chifeng in Inner Mongolia and Kaohsiung):

Kaohsiung (my trip)

12/05 KA 432 HKG – KHH 08:50 – 10:20 333 Y
16/05 KA 437 KHH – HKG 15:05 – 16:30 333 Y

Chiang Rai

11/05 TG 629 HKG – BKK 14:10 – 15:50 772 Y
11/05 TG 140 BKK – CEI 18:20 – 19:40 734 Y
16/05 TG 2135 CEI – BKK 15:45 – 17:05 320 Y
16/05 TG 602 BKK – HKG 18:45 – 22:30 333 Y

Chifeng, Inner Mongolia

11/05 CA 102 HKG – PEK 12:45 – 16:00 321 Y
11/05 CA 1281 PEK – CIF 19:10 – 20:20 738 Y
15/05 CA 1282 CIF – PEK 21:20 – 22:25 738 Y
16/05 CA 109 PEK – HKG 13:00 – 16:25 333 Y

I described the hotels in our trip briefly above. The Chiang Rai team is spending nights in the Maekok River Village Resort, which isn’t half bad. (They seem to be staying in dorms which are more or less packed in a building, though, and it seems like they’re fitting 6 into a room, while I’m just sharing a room with another person.) The Inner Mongolia team is a little more active, with hotels ranging from the Xintaihe hotel in Chifeng (which I can’t find the f^&*ing website of) to yurt camps and homestays (look, these are destinations which don’t show up on the map). I’m much of a scenery person, but I’ve heard bad things about the sanitary aspect of Inner Mongolia, so I’m resorting to Kaohsiung (which I think is marginally better than Chiang Rai in terms of the scenery).

I don’t for a second regret choosing Taiwan, and actually believe it would make for a better report (and we did get some wonderful, wonderful views). Kaohsiung was scenic while having a vibe, Tainan was more beautiful but still had a vibe, while Pingtung was all about sheer beauty, and oh my god, did they deliver that. (Kenting, though…I’ll get to that later.)

I actually had a live review running, and that can be seen here.

Northbound Hop, LIVE: Pt. 1
Northbound Hop, LIVE: Pt. 2
Northbound Hop, LIVE: Pt. 3
Northbound Hop, LIVE: Pt. 4

Stay tuned for what’s upcoming.

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Dragonair A330-300 economy (!)

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Toong Mao Evergreen Hotel Kaohsiung Standard Twin Room

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Toong Mao Kao Shang Ching Kenting Delicate Double Twin Room (possibly Junior Suite)

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