After all that shopping we finally headed to Taipei city, which was an hour away, to check in at our hotel.
On the way to the hotel while still in Taoyuan district we were fascinated with these small, seemingly empty stores with scantily clad girls. I asked Benjie what they were selling. He replied, “nga nga.” What? Nga nga, I learnt, was the Filipino term for betel nut. Taiwanese people loved to chew betel nuts.
From Wikipedia : Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, although the effects vary from person to person. The effect of chewing betel and the nut is relatively mild and could be compared to drinking a cup of coffee.
Benjie called these ladies “nga nga girls” but after some research I learnt that they were called betel nut beauties. Benjie said they used to dress in even more revealing outfits until the government stepped in. There must have been lots of car accidents. For more pictures click here. A documentary of these betel nut beauties was also made. They also sold cigarettes, water and soda on the side.
After all that roadside excitement we finally arrive at our hotel. I chose Hsuan Mei hotel from the reviews on tripadvisor and hotels.com. The location was very convenient. The MRT was a 15 minute walk away and taxi going to Taipei 101 was NT$150.
We chose the cheapest room which was the standard suite. We first booked the room through their site but they didn’t have vacancy for some nights. When we checked hotels.com the same nights were available. We finalized our reservation on hotels.com which gave us a better deal. Our room cost US$88 a night inclusive of all taxes and charges. It included daily breakfast too.
The room was small but we weren’t disappointed. It was really like the pictures on their web site. The room and bathroom was very clean. The sheets, duvet cover and towels were changed daily.
The light and temperature controls were accessed through a Chinese language touchscreen control box on top of the night table between the two beds. It was a guessing game every time I used it.
There were free bottles of water, sports drink and iced tea (but our room had water only and I kept forgetting to complain), crackers, tea and coffee that were refilled daily. There was free wi-fi but the signal was non-existent from inside the room. I had to stand in my open doorway to check my email or sit in the lobby. Warning about the tv. Aside from the local and international channels there were two extremely adult channels that couldn’t be blocked.
Even though the bathroom was small it was very modern and had a hi-tech shower system. Our only major pet peeve was the lack of towel bars or hooks. There was only 1 hook behind the door and we were extremely thankful for that. The towels were hidden in the cabinet under the sink.
I recommend this hotel. It would have been nice to have some stores nearby but it wasn’t bad at all since my cousins picked us up most of the time. Taxis were also available outside the hotel. We took a taxi to the airport and it cost NT$900. That’s the standard charge.