Travel News

Thailand bolsters exhibition ties with the Philippines 

It’s time for Filipino businesses to showcase in Thailand and take advantage of the exceptional standards and attendance in Thailand trade shows. 

This was the premise of the recently-launched “Thailand Extra Exhibition”, a trade show mounted by the Thailand Convention and Exhubition Bureau (TCEB) in cooperation with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CPPI). The trade show promoted Thaikand’s seven leading professional exhibition organizers in automotive & logistics, food & agriculture, energy and health & wellness. 

TCEB exhibitions and events director Ms. Jaruwan Suwannasat (middle) joined by former DOT secretary Mina Gabor and representatives from the top exhibiiton organizers in Thailand

 The new global marketing initiative, dubbed “Thailand Extra Exhibition” is being launched to offer the Philippine businesses with extra benefits and better connections with Thailand’s wide spectrum of services. The initiative underlines the country’s strengths and privileges through a number of core initiatives that will be implemented in 2016 to emphasize Thailand’s value in the next stage of the ASEAN connectivity and show Thailand’s huge potential as a marketplace for exhibitions and with that, unrivaled business opportunities. 

The Philippines and Thailand enjoy a close and win-win partnership when it comes to commerce and trade. To expand trade value between the two countries, TCEB together with international trade show organizers from Thailand banded together to step up its efforts in marketing and enhancing cooperation in the exhibition industry. 

In her message to attendees during the press one, Suwannasat highlights the growing trade potential between the two countries, “Thailand Extra Exhibition is the latest initiative to come from the team of the Thailand Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), showcasing three key attributes of doing business in Thailand. These factors, combined with the TCEB’s world-class’s support and service infrastructure, position Thailabd as a marketplace with outstanding potential for the exhibition industry, and by extension for companies looking to access markets in the ASEAN and Greater Mekong Sub-region.”

Currently, the Philippines is considered one of the priority countries for Thailand due to the long-established trade relations and growing trade volume between the two countries, at $8.4 billion in 2014. Thailand was the Philippines’ eight largest trading partner while the Philippines is Thailand’s 6th largest trading partner in ASEAN and 18th biggest in the world. 

Present during the presentation of the Thailand Extra Exhibition are representatives from seven of Thailand’s biggest exhibition organizers including UBM Asia (Thailand), Impact Exhibition Services, NEO Exhibition Organizers, Nishio, Bangkok Exhibition Services, VNU Asia-Pacific Exhibitions and VICTAM. 

Impact, for example, also manages what is currently the biggest exhibition area and venue in SouthEast Asia – slated to be a venue to some of the most successful series of trade shows.

TECB highlighted one of the growing exhibition markets for the beauty and cosmetics industries, as well as the agriculture sector. For the beauty sector alone – one organizer Impact has already organized for two major exhibitions, with usual attendance of 11,000 exhibitors and guests from across 50 countries. 

Exhibitions in Thailand reached a milestone with a record 103 trade shows in 2015. This year, the country expects to welcome 190,400 international exhibition delegates generating a total of 17 billion baht. 

The continuing emergence of Thailand as an exhibition destination also poised questions when it comes to safety of delegates. TECB assures the media of their continued diligence and coordination with the police for any threat that might poise risk for tourists and attendees. TECB underscores the importance of constant communication with the authorities as well as constant sharing of info to delegates and exhibitors alike as key to ensuring peace of mind of the many attendees of the numerous exhibitions in Thailand. 

For more information or to get a complete list of trade shows, visit www.businesseventsthailand.com

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Taiwan, Travel Diaries

Review: Diary of Ximen Hotel – Ximending

I will be very honest. Diary of Ximen is not our first choice after it has been confirmed that we are going back to Taipei. 

Our heart belongs to City Inn Plus Hotel Ximending, a boutique hotel who captured our loyalty with first class, five star service and personalized approach to guests. However, City Inn Plus was fully booked on the week we were supposed to visit. With our heart set on staying in Ximending district, we had to look for alternatives. 

Diary of Ximen, located on the 11th floor of an aging building a block away from the exit 6 of the Ximen MRT station, served as a good alternative.   



  • Location 

To get to the hotel from the Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, you have two options: 

A. Convenient transfer: If you are arriving on a late flight (or God-forsaken early morning) courtesy  of Cebu Pacific, you have to arrange for transfers from the hotel. Their transfers rate is 1,500NTD for two persons with two luggages (roughly 2,100 Philippine pesos). A bit expensive but worry free especially since the airport Terminal 2 where Cebu Pacific is assigned is unusually quiet and abandoned by midnight. 

B. Cheap transfer: take the KuoKong bus from the airport to the Taipei West Bus Terminal. From the bus terminal, take the MRT ride to the Ximen station. Take exit 6, make a small u-turn to your right, and walk straight heading to the direction of the high way. You will go past 2 Ximending side streets, a Converse and Doc Martens branches. The 12 story building beside the department store is where Diary of Ximen is located. Take elevator to the 12th floor where reception and check in is located. 
Diary of Ximen  shares the building with two other hotels: Muzik Hotel and Diary of Taipei(which occupies many floors), while Ximen has 10th,11th and 12th floor. 
Beyond the reception is an extensive dining floor where the daily breakfast buffet is served: 



  • Food 

The meals can be repetitive sometimes (in a course of 4 days) but the selection is strong and varied – there is bread, choice of spreads, various Taiwanese dishes with heavy emphasis on use of fresh veggies, a salad station, wanton noodle station, congee and fruits. There’s also choice of coffee, juices, tea and water at the many vendo dispensers on the beverage section. You get your money’s worth and you will have a full stomach when you go or to sight-see. The hotel will issue you food stamps which you have to present per day during check-in.

 

   

  • Hotel premises: 

Hotel is situated in the fringes of Ximending – exit 6 where most of the crowd are is just a 5 to 10 minute walk away. It’s along the highway so it’s safe – we usually go out even at 2AM for a 711 or a FamilyMart run and it’s safe and quiet. 

  • Security 

You have to tap your room access card in the elevator in order to get to your floor. So it’s safe and you still get a certain level of exclusivity even if the hotel shares the building with other establishments. 

  • Room Specs 

   
    

  

The room is big enough for two, with enough space to move around and even for me to lie on the floor to rest my very tired feet after a day of roaming around Taipei and the countryside. 

The bed is big and comfy, with enough space for two; pillows are soft and comfy as well as the sheet. Aircon is cold and can be adjusted based on preference. 

Bathroom is situated in an elevated area near the bed; encased in frosted glass. The hotel provides free shampoo/conditioner and body wash plus the usual hotel amenities of comb, toothpaste and toothbrush, shower cap, soap, cotton buds and free bottles of water and tea which came in satchet. 

  • Sound quality 

Our room had no windows so we are pretty much isolated from the craziness of Ximending. There are instances when we can hear people talking outside our door but maybe it’s because our room is so near the elevator. 

  • Transfers 

We arranged our hotel transfers through the hotel and found that we were quoted NTD1500 when it was promoted as NTD1000 on the dining floor. Maybe because we arrived very late  at night? 

  • Cost of stay 

We paid PHP13,000 for four nights stay – roughly PHP3,200 for two people. This already includes buffet breakfast for four days. Considering we were in Taipei right smack in the midst of the Holiday season, this is already a steal. 


My verdict 

Diary of Ximen is a good alternative and good option if you want to stay in the Ximending District. Sure, it sharing a building with other businesses (including an office!), but the safety measures the business has put in place makes up for it. 

We were initially taken aback by ads offering three hour stays for a different hotel in the lobby (its proximity to Ximending where people meet must be a factor) but considered it irrelevant to our stay. 

Honestly, we had the foremost pleasure of staying in Diary of Ximen and will not hesitate to recommend it to friends. 
Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. My stay in Taipei is a personal expense. 

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Taiwan, Travel Diaries

Spirited Away in Jiufen: An adventure in Yubaba’s Land 

The first thing you will notice upon reaching is the cats. There’s a number of them: lazing away on the village generator while giddy tourists take tons of pictures of them; there are cat posters and cat painting and little ceramic figures made up of cats. 

In a tourist town made famous by a drama (City of Sadness starring Tony Leung) and a legendary animated film Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away – the cats, without a doubt, are the resident queens of Jiufen. No offense to Yubaba. 

    

When I finally had the chance to return to Taiwan, on top of my list was to see Jiufen, a small town on top of the mountains of the Ruifang District of New Taipei City near Keelung, Taiwan. 

Jiufen (or “nine portions” from the nine families who first settled in the area) used to be an old mining town from the late 1800s to the decline of the gold rush by the 1970s. When the mines was shut down, Jiufen faced decline, with the town possibly going the way of forgotten settlements. That is until it was featured as location of the seminal movie “City of Sadness.” The interest came after the release of the movie saved Jiufen from being a forgotten town. The interest only further intensified after the release of “Spirited Away” by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. Jiufen was credited as the inspiration for the winding steep roads, the lantern laced alleyways and the magnificent bath house owned by Yubaba as seen in the animated film. 

 

Chihiro looks for hef parents in Spirited Away


 

Trying to find my way in the many alleys of Jiufen

  

How to get there 

There are two ways to get to Jiufen. First is you take the High Speed Railway going to Riufang county. From there, you can either take the cab to Jiufen or contract a fan who will serve as your tour guide to the many sights of the province, Jiufen included. Prepare to shell out at least NTD3,500 to rent the whole cab. 

Or you can do it my way, courtesy of mad research skills: 

Here’s a cheaper and more painless alternative to the option above. From where you are staying, take the MRT to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station under line 1. Take MRT exit 1, as you come out of the stairs, make a U-turn heading to the direction of the elevated walkway. The large SOGO Department store should be on your right hand side, with you facing the elevated MRT. 

Take the first left to the immediate intersection which you will reach in less than 60 seconds. Walk a few steps and you should see the pick up point for the 1062 Keelung bus headed for Ruifang and Jiufen. 

  
During weekends, expect a long line of local and foreign visitors waiting for the bus as Jiufen is a popular weekend destination. Ignore the touts offering their contracted service by saying there’s no bus going to Jiufen. Have your EasyPay tap card ready or NTS90 to cover the fare.

Eventually, the highway will melt away to reveal a rustic and peaceful rural scenery. 

   
    
 
The mural above celebrates the heritage of Jiufen as an old mining town. When you passed this, you are less than five minutes away from reaching Jiufen Old Street where you should alight. 

  
 As soon as you see 711 and the marker – this means you’ve reached Jiufen. It’s now time to explore the inner bowels of this town. 

The best way to enjoy Jiufen is to get lost and just enjoy the little nooks and crannies of the town, then marvel at the little discoveries you have along the way: 

Note: photo heavy post

   
    
    
    
     

And then you start seeing placed which remind you of  of Spirited Away:

   
   an old tunnel used by miners before   

   

    
    
    
   

Of course, the piece du resistance was the Ahmei Tea House, which bear a striking resemblance to the Spirit Bathhouse being ran by Yubaba. 

  

Here is the Ahmei Tea House in Jiufen: 

  
   
    
   

To say that I squealed when I found it was a gross understatement. I was so happy to find it (thanks to the hubby) after walking to the many windjng streets of Jiufen. The only let down is that dining inside the Ahmei Tea House is quite expensive: they expect diners to order a tea set for NTS300 or if it’s lunch, have the lunch set at NTS400. There are no Ala Carte order or an English menu. We chose to take our lunch elsewhere. 

When in Jiufen, you will be assailed by the delicious smell of cooking meat or the sweet aromatic smell of herbs anywhere you turn. It is a foodie’s haven and there is something for everyone, regardless of their meal preference:   

   
    
   
Our sumptuous lunch: rice with meat topping (NTS30) and a stick of sausage (NTS35)   

   
   

Jiufen is a good place for a day trip. However, there are also those who choose to spend the night here. There are many guest houses or home stays in Jiufen. All one needs to do is ask. Like the rest of Taiwan, the people of Jiufen are unbelievably nice. 

I can’t wait to go back to Jiufen someday. Maybe stay a bit longer? I hope it retains that authentic and quaint little town vibe that-in spite the hoard of tourists – makes the town a sweet place to live in.
  
 
 

 

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