I am one of the teenage girls who dreamt of being San Chai during the airing of the Taiwanese series – Meteor Garden. For those who have not watch the series here is a little background. Meteor garden aired back in 2001 in ABS CBN, it is a Taiwanese adaptation of the Japanese Manga series – Hana Yori Dango which is a story of 4 rich boys and 1 poor girl, the story revolves around the friendship of the 4 guys and the love story between San Chai and Dao Ming Xi.
In short, I am a fan girl of this series and to complete my fantasy, I decided to dedicate this whole day of our travel in visiting the places where Meteor Garden shoot back in 2001. We went to National Chung Cheng University in Chiayi province of Taiwan and PS Bubu in Taipei.
Chiayi is a province located in Southern part of Taiwan; you can reach it by taking the provincial bus, which will take you more or less 6 hours or ride a HSR – High Speed Rail (bullet train) which is costly compared to bus travel but will only take you about 1.5 hours. One-way fare from Taipei Main Station to Chiayi Station via HSR is 1045NTD and same amount going back. We are lucky since Klook offers 3 day unlimited pass for HSR here. We availed this voucher, you need to claim the tickets in the HSR ticketing booths in the station, just show your mobile voucher and your passport; you also need to tell the customer service when you want to start your 3-day pass. You need to be precise on the dates since you cannot change it anymore. You can also asked for an advanced seat booking which we did on our first day in Taipei.
We took the 9:10 Train to Chiayi with ETA of 10:40AM in Chiayi Station. It is our first time to ride a High Speed Train and it is fascinating. The top speed of the train is 300km/hour, with this speed, it amazed me that we do not feel any bumps inside the train; I can compare the experience to the Amtrak trains in US minus the speed. The inside of the train is nice, since we had our seats reserved we were able to secure a good seat, we saw that in other part of the train for non-reserve car there are people who do not have a seat, they need to stand until someone free up the space. Just like airplanes, they are selling food and drinks in the cart. There are no chargers on the seat, but they do have a public charger in cars 4 and 12, there is a booth where you can charge your device. The individual charging port per seat is only available for business class.
We arrived at 10:40AM at Chiayi Station. We forgot to check the bus schedule going to National Chung Cheng University, we thought it will be available every few minutes but unfortunately, it is not. There are only 4 schedules from of the bus 106 in Chiayi HSR Station and the next one closest to us is 12PM, we check on Taxi Fares but they are offering 500-600NTD compare to the bus fare which is 114NTD for adults and 57 for kids which is just 342NTD. So we just decided to wait for the bus and while waiting, we bought our lunch in MOS Burger. We also booked our HSR seat going back to Taipei at 5:30PM, we learned from the Visitors’ Center that the last bus from NCCU going to HSR Station is at 3:48PM, with that we only have more than 2 hours to explore the University.
Bus 106 will park at Bus Platform 1 just outside the HSR Station, there bench available for the passengers to sit while waiting. The bus arrived on time and it took several stops and approximately 1 hour before we reach our destination.
I felt mixed emotions when I finally saw the Ying De University. The Meteor Garden scenes suddenly flashback on my memory. I feel like I want to run around and explore every single part of the University but my husband tried to keep my sanity and asked me to be calm and just visit the places that are accessible to the public since it’s a weekday and there are students having classes.
Our first stop is the Tranquility Lake since it is near the bus stop, we took the photo similar to San Chai and Shing Ha overlooking the bridge in the tranquility lake. This is the scene when Asi saw Shing Ha and San Chai together which makes him mad because of jealousy, and in the end Sing Ha gets a red card from F4. The place brings back a lot of memories from the series and it makes me more excited to explore the area.
Next we went to the Activity Center, that wide stairs is where F4 walked several times in the series. The bridge where San Chai and Sing Ha first met in Ying De University. There are a lot of students in this area since they have an activity in front. So after few pictures we decided to go and look for the next spot.
While walking and looking for the NCCU Library we saw the Administration Building near the Central Fountain. I took a photo in front of the Admin Building. The rooftop where San Chai and Lei went is on top of the Auditorium building but we decided not to go there since there are classes on going.
Finally, I saw the NCCU Library. I read in some blogs that anyone can enter this building, even though my husband is hesitant to enter, I persuade him to since this is my favorite part of the University. The library is huge and there are a lot of students going back and forth. I read from the blogs that the famous lockers are located in the basement. From the entrance, we turned right and saw the circular staircase going down the basement. We quietly walk in the staircase and voila! the Meteor Garden Lockers are right in front of us. I hurriedly took photos of the lockers and look for the locker number 150 which is the locker of San Chai in the series. I have printed a picture of the Red Card, I took it out and happily asked my sons to take photos of me with the Red Card. It feels good to be in this place, I still can’t believe that the fantasy that I had during my High School Days are now in front of me. To reward my obedient sons in taking good photos of me, I bought them cold drinks from the vending machine which is few steps from the lockers. We stayed for few minutes to rest.
We continue walking to look for the Living Road which is located at the end of the main road of NCCU. The Living Road has tall trees facing each other that makes the road unique and beautiful. This is the scene where San Chai drives her scooter and usually breaks down. This is also the road where San Chai and her friends are walking. We took some photos here and had a Facebook live video as we walk back to the bus station.
We finished exploring NCCU for less than 2 hours, now its time to wait for the bus to take us back to Chiayi HSR station. We still have less than hour to wait so we decided to go to the Family Mart inside the activity center to have some snack.
The bus 106 came on time, we board the bus and paid the same fare which is 114 NTD for Adults and 57 NTD for kids. It took us 1 hour to be back in HSR station, we bought drinks and snack before we board the train since it will be another 1 hour and 45 mins travel time.
We arrived at the Taipei Main Station at around 6:45PM, we still have one more place to visit to complete our Meteor Garden project … PS Bubu.
From TMS we board the Tamsui – Xinyi Line towards Tamsui and alight at Shilin Station, without our Fun Pass the train fare cost us 20NTD each. From Shilin station we can either take a bus or ride an Uber to PS Bubu but since we are already tired we just book an Uber to PS Bubu which costs us 135 NTD, the travel time is about 25 minutes.
We arrived at PS Bubu at about 7PM the usual dinner time. This the place where Asi and San Chai had their first date, inside the Pink Bubu (pink Car). The place still looks the same in the series, there are few people occupying the car type tables so we were only placed in one of the usual tables they have. When the couple in the Pink car left, I asked the server if we can transfer in the Pink Car but she said no, you can only use the Pink Car if you reserved prior to your arrival, but she said that we can take pictures before the next guest occupy it.
We ordered 2 pastas – Lasagna for Kurt and Lester and white sauce pasta for me (I forgot the name) and pancakes for Ashing. The food is a little pricey, we spent 1350NTD, but the food is great sumptuous. Customers can bring their dogs here while they are eating.
After dinner, we book an Uber to our hotel.