Monday, March 07, 2011

E-Da World

Located in Da Shu District, Kaohsiung City, E-Da world is a community that incorporates recreation, education, estate development and health care. E-United group, in cooperation with Eliter Corp, spent 25 years planing and constructing and invested more than 50 billion to build a community that has 2 hotels (Crowne Plaza and E-Da Skylark Hotel), the biggest outlet shopping mall in Taiwan, the first Greek themed amusement park, E-Shu University and international high school, Eliter Estate (Earl's District) and its own public transportation. E-Da World was test operated on June 19th, 2010 and the grand opening was on December 18th, 2010.

I visited E-Da world during the new year holidays and checked in to the Crowne Plaza. Off the freeway No.1, the width of roads to E-Da world started from 3 lanes each direction down to a 1 lane winding mountain road, with the new year crowds I was amazed that I didn't get stuck in traffic. After parking, I gave up on checking into my room because of the crowds in the Crowne Plaza lobby and headed to the outlet mall (Mon-Fri: 11:00-22:00; weekend/holidays: 10:00-22:00). The 19 thousand meter square outlet mall is divided into 3 sections. Section A, 7 floors and a ferris wheel on the roof (NT$200; free ride if you have a ticket to the amusement park), sells designers collections, interior decor and housewares. Section B, 2 floors, has a Fontana di Trevi replica and painted dome that attracts most of the attention in the mall. The roof of section B is an open-air market and restaurants where live performances take place every night. Section C, 6 floors, is where all the fun starts. Rock climbing, ice skating, baseball, basketball and a movie theater. This section is also the ticketing and entrance of the amusement park.

E-Da theme park (NT$899, Mon-Thu 09:30-17:30; Fri-Sun 09:30-19:30; NT$ 650 after 14:00(Mon-Thu),15:00 (Fri-Sun); tickets sold before 17:30) is the first Greece themed amusement park in Taiwan, the park is built according to the Acropolis, Santorini Mountain City and Trojan Castle styles. Acropolis has an extravagant opera theatre that can accommodate 1800 guests. Santorini mountain city creates an illusion of being actually in Greece. The giant wooden horse in front of the Trojan Castle recreates the scene of the famous story that has been told for thousands of years. In the castle, flying over Taiwan simulates hangliding over scenaries of Taiwan. There are 47 recreation facilities in the park including an U shaped roller coaster, a spin that goes up to 55 meters above ground and a roller coaster goes into water, etc. This is the place where you can have fun untill you throw up.

I went back to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and was suprised by the crowds in the lobby waiting to check in at 18:00. I've never seen anything like this: guests in every counter of the reception were complaining about the sluggish checkin procedure; a woman was screaming at the manager, it was so loud that everyone in the lobby could hear her and a group were taken into the manager room as they were banging on the table; people who waited in lines were total strangers but acted as they were the best comrades and were planing a riot. I waited an hour and finally it was my turn. After checking my reservation and ID the receptionist told me that my room was not ready yet and suggested that I should have dinner first and come back later! I asked the receptionist to send my key to me at the Italian restaurant in the hotel, 30 mins later, my key was sent to my table and my room was upgraded.

Despite the incident of checking-in, the hotel amenities of Crowne Plaza were fabulous. Water fountain show right next to the restaurants, sauna, swining pool, gym and espresso café machine in the room..., it was a great acommodation.

Transportation: shuttle buses commute between Taiwan High Speed Rail Zuoying station and E-Da World (NT$37; 06:20-23:00, timetable in details),

Sunday, March 06, 2011

2011 Taiwan International Orchid Show

The 2011 Taiwan International Orchid Show (TIOS) is now taking place at the Taiwan Orchid Plantation in the Huobi District of Tainan City. I bought a pre-ordered ticket from 7-11 ibon (NT$90; the full price for an adult is NT$150) and drove about 50km from Tainan city to the venue. I was affraid that I'd be traped in the traffic and would end up seeing nothing but tourists at the exhibition but to my surprise, the traffic was smooth and the venue was well organized: cars were directed to drive in from one direction and out from the other; parking lots were set far away from the exhibition and lots of shuttle buses were taking visitors back and forth seamlessly. I got to take some amazing photos of even more amazing orchids.

Magnificent landscaping made from all kinds of orchids can be found right at the entrance of the gallery that also exhibits the wining orchids to welcome visitors. this gallery is the highllight of the orchid show. The well designed exhibition and tour routes allow an enjoyable tour despite the crowds. The grand champion of this year is Prince Edward of York, a Paohiopedilum.

The show will continue from March 5 to the 14th at the Taiwan Orchid Plantation (325, Wushulin, Wushu Village, Houbi Dist, Tainan) from 09:00-18:00.