CLARK. AirAsia launched on July 12 its first flight from Clark International Airport to the Taoyuan International Airport of Taipei, Taiwan. (Maria Elena Catajan)
CLARK. AirAsia launched on July 12 its first flight from Clark International Airport to the Taoyuan International Airport of Taipei, Taiwan. (Maria Elena Catajan)

Taiwan secrets

AIRASIA Taipei flights from Clark International Airport opened the gateway for the Northern Philippines to enjoy the hidden wonders of Taiwan.

The first flight from Clark to Taipei was launched July 12 with pilot in command and AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer, Captain Dexter Comendador flying guests to the Taoyuan International Airport.

Comendador described the inaugural flight as a return of AirAsia to international skies with Clark as a base reaffirming the commitment to easy access for travelers in the Central and Northern Luzon area.

“It feels so good to be back where we started. From two planes in Clark in 2012 to 20 jets as of today and we expect our fleet to grow to 70 planes in the next 10 years, we are thrilled to be here again and begin another journey to serve, empower and enable every traveler to dream big and connect across Asean, Asia and the world.”

The two–day adventure began with transport and tourist partner, Tripool, a company founded by two partners James Huang and Grant Lee, welcoming the delegation at the airport.

Tripool has made inland travel in Taipei easy for visitors without the high cost of public transport. Tripool is a transport service which boasts of cutting costs by more than half, comparing to taxi services in Taipei, giving the convenience of point to point escorting to any destination you may think off.

Tripool with Judy Tang and Ellie Chang steered the media team from Baguio, Dagupan, Pangasinan and Pampanga, showing a quick glimpse of the arts, culture and heritage Taiwan to AirAsia’s first passengers from Clark!

Papa Whale

On the first night, checking into the Hotel PaPa Whale proved to be a picker’s wonderland with odds and ends of vintage items flanking the entire hotel, giving a rustic yet ultra-modern feel.

A former movie theater upcycled and preserved by the Hai Pa Wang group, the hotel has 300 rooms for solo travelers, couples and big groups at the heart of the Ximending area.

Yilan City

The second day signaled the short travel to the township of Yilan, an urbanized city with rich agriculture (with shallots as the main product) and a gateway to nature adventures like trekking, swimming, hot springs and surfing.

An hour’s drive from Taipei passing through the longest manmade tunnel spanning twelve kilometers made to traverse the Yilan Mountains, taking a decade to build connecting Yilan to metro Taipei.

Yilan is being promoted as a rising destination offering scenic and exciting destinations for travelers who want to divert from the usual Taipei sights, combing the nature and urban sights for those willing to go deeper into the country’s culture.

Yilan has over 200 hotel and still a growing number of homestay accommodations being set up to cater to the influx of visitors exploring the city and countryside destinations.

The Westin Yilan Resort

Lunch at the Westin Yilan offered a world class dining experience with their signature buffet which offers duck as its highlight.

The duck is roasted, seared and carved right before your eyes by in house master chefs proven to become a favorite in the extensive array of Chinese, Japanese and Western fusion.

Homemade ice cream in almond, mango and expresso flavors offered a sweet treat after enjoying the freshest salads paired with homemade pickled vegetables and seafood from the bayside.

The Westin Yilan features 85 guest rooms and 6 pool villas equipped with fresh, natural hot spring water.

National Center of Traditional Arts

A visit to the center will offer a treasure trove for the unique traditional arts crafted by artisan right before your eyes.

The area houses exhibitions and performances with a collection of cultural antiques in a setting visitors can tour leisurely.

Making traditional arts like dough figurines, handmade soaps, glassmaking and glove puppetry, traditional dyes, jewelry, embroidery, wood crafts, visual arts, traditional food, chinses spices and herbs as well as contemporary arts will fill your day.

The Kavalan Whisky Distillery

Hailed as the best single malt whisky in the world, the Kavalan Whiskey Distillery will walk you through the process of making the best brew, the traditional way using oak barrels which are fired and charred to give the distinct flavor only the local company can offer.

Since the world hailed Kavalan as the best [in the 2016 World Whiskies Awards], the quiet factory has become a tourist center to marvel the grain storage tank, distillation site and cellar.

Discarded oak barrels painted with art line the pathway of the factory as you walk the path to the tasting room and photo of distillery, visitors will have a front row view of the oak barrel’s firing process behind the glass panels as well as production method seen while strolling.

Guan Xiang Century Photo of Hotel

Checking into the Guan Xiang Century Hotel, General Manager Mr. Su graciously welcomed the delegation for dinner and a tour of its unique amenities.

The Guan Xiang Century holds the distinction of being at the center of the Jiaoxi Hot Springs, discovered during the Qing Dynasty, and is considered one of the eight scenic wonders of Lanyang.

Equipped with 80 guest rooms all with personal hot springs tubs in each, weary travelers can take a relaxing respite after a day of touring.

The hotel also has 16 hot springs bath houses, with close to a dozen pools heated by natural hot spring water.

Smaller pools will offer tea and herb treated spring water aimed to sooth and relax while another pool designed for kids is equipped with slides and water games, for adults, another area is lined with a water massages and varying levels of heat, all from the natural spring.

I-Cake Museum

A trip to Yilan is never complete without a visit to a small quaint shop making the thinnest biscuit in the world.

So a quick trip to the quaint shop was made to sample their delectable biscuits handmade and paper thin and described to be shaped like an ox-tongue.

The store packages your purchases to be airplane ready, making the decision to bring home goodies easy.

Faddism hotel

The last day at Yilan was made for the delegation to experience the newest trend, a “menu-less” meal.

Taking the stress of ordering and deciding which dishes to pair away and allowing yourself to be pleasantly surprised with the spread inspired by the Western and Eastern influences of the Yilan prepared taken from the freshest market ingredients of the day.

General Manager Xiao hosted a carefree lunch starting off with a beautifully crafted traditional Japanese seafood plate, highlights of the traditional meal were the Curried Crab with freshly baked Soft Bread and the dessert of Sticky Rice Dumpling with Chestnuts. In between the seven course meal, a refreshing Fruit Vinegar Smoothie was served.

Faddism Hotel has huge Balinese inspired rooms and villas accented with bamboo and a personal garden in each aimed to relax and refresh.

The trip was made extra special by Unite Traveler, which upon arrival at the Taoyuan International Airport, saw to it that personal routers were distributed.

Unite Traveler is the largest Wi-Fi router provider in Taiwan with 3G and 4G portable Wi-Fi routers allowing connections to the world while in Taiwan.

The device, manufactured by ZTE carriers Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone with a data cap of unlimited 4G data plan and speeds of 150Mbps / UP 50Mbps capable of servicing five devices at a time and a battery capacity of 2300 mAh and has a maximum working time of 8 hours.

Unite Traveler, founded in 2014 has served over 500,000 customers and can be easily accessed at the airport counters when arriving and returned before departing, making your stay hassle free.

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