Company trips are one of the special perks that large companies and enterprises offer to their staff, especially to those who have achieved significant success or who have been loyal to the business for years.
Cloud Employee has only been on its 5th year last May. Despite being a young company, CEO Nick Hargreaves didn’t hesitate to reward some of his long-time staff a one-of-a-kind prize for their loyalty and hard work, especially for their contribution to the company during its early years and their dedication for more than half of its existence.
As such, Nick created the 3 Up Club, which is open to everyone who has been with Cloud Employee for three years or more. Members of this club get to enjoy an extra perk—which is a special trip abroad. But to show Nick's genuine appreciation, he's not just sending them away; instead, taking them to the trip himself. (Know more about the 3 Up Club in this quick blog.)
With 10 developers in, the 3 Up Club along with Nick set on a flight to Taiwan last May for their first official overseas trip.
When they first heard of this great news, the developers were pretty much excited.
“I was surprised, and I felt very happy when I knew that we’re going to Taiwan and we’re going in a group, because most of them have become my friends,” according to .NET Developer Dennis Don.
“I never imagined that we can have this extra perk for staying at the company for a long time. Time passed by so quickly. I've been at Cloud Employee for almost four years and I didn't expect something new. But Nick made a difference this year as he added more perks for us, like having dinner with him and now, travelling abroad with him. It's not an ordinary trip because it’s an all-expenses-paid trip with pocket money, and we stayed in a 5-star hotel”, he added.
We may not have been there with them to enjoy the trip, but they brought back home loads of pictures and stories we can all enjoy looking back at. Let’s retrace the steps of the 3 Up Club’s Taiwan trip!
Before boarding, the guys all took a quick commemorative photo at the airport for the 3 Up Club’s first-ever flight abroad.
From left to right: Robert Marasigan, Mckein Tayag, Dennis Don, Erwin Acosta, Aleks Daloso, Nick Hargreaves, Jace Maniquis, Lauro Dela Cruz, Cris Rioflorido, and Jayson Ragasa.
After 2 hours and 15 minutes on air, the guys finally landed in Taipei.
After landing, the guys checked in at the Caesar Metro Taipei. For four days and three nights, this 5-star hotel has been the guys’ resting place after a long day of touring the cities of Taiwan.
From left to right: Robert, Dennis, Aleks, Erwin, and Jace at their hotel room.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Right after check-in, the guys didn’t waste any time and immediately went to their first location—Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. A Taiwan trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the country’s most prominent historical landmark.
Here are a few photos from their first destination.
The 3 Up Club snaps a photo in front of the national monument Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
From left to right: Mckein, Cris, Jovel, Jace, Dennis, Erwin, and Robert.
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall spans 250,000 square metres.
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall towers at 279 feet.
National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
After a 10-minute minibus ride from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the guys visited another memorial landmark. Spanning 29,464 square meters in a 115,000 square metre open space, the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall was built as a tribute to the founder of Modern China. It also houses Sun’s accomplishments during the revolution. Today, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is a meeting place for various educational, cultural, and social events.
Check out these quick snaps:
The 3 Up Club looking through the historical relics.
Next up, to get the best view of Taipei, the guys challenged themselves to hike up to the top of Elephant Mountain. The hike includes loads of stairs and takes an average of 15-20 minutes to reach the top.
The hike was long and tiring, but for Dennis, it was worth it. Out of all the places they’ve been to, he enjoyed seeing the view of Taipei from the top of Elephant Mountain.
Dennis enjoying the view of Taipei 101 from the top of Elephant Mountain. Credits to Dennis Don for the photo.
The view from Elephant Mountain. For Dennis, this was the best photo he took during the trip.
As nighttime came, the gang did not miss the chance to see Taiwan’s most famous building, the Taipei 101. For .NET Developer Robert Marasigan, this was his unforgettable moment because it was when the whole group gathered again after splitting into groups for a few hours.
Taipei 101 was also the most memorable place for .NET Developer, Larry Dela Cruz. He said, “I’ll never forget the terrified look on someone’s face, whose name I will not mention, when we were on the glass floor of Taipei 101.”
Dennis also recollects the same memory and adds, “He cannot do even a single step on the glass/mirror floor at the 89th floor of Taipei 101 building. Yes, it’s a mirror and not a transparent glass; all you can see is just a reflection.”
(We wonder who that person is?)
For reference, this was the glass floor that Larry mentioned:
Glass floor on Taipei 101 Observatory deck. Credits to Dennis Don for the photo.
Here are a few snaps of the guys at Taipei 101.
Taipei 101 at night.
The guys take a photo at the Taipei 101 Observatory.
View from Taipei 101’s Observatory deck
Raohe Night Market
Next up, the guys explored one of Taiwan’s oldest night market, the Raohe Night Market. The traditional Taiwanese night market stretches to a 600-metre path full of food, snacks, shops, and even carnival games. Check out the pictures below.
The busy street of Raohe Night Market
All kinds of interesting and fun shops at cheap prices can be found here.
A variety of mouthwatering street food can be found.
Interesting snacks available at every corner
Mouthwatering authentic Taiwanese street food
And that wraps up the 3 Up Club’s first day in Taiwan!
For their second day at Taiwan, the guys continued to visit popular tourist spots and attractions. First up was Longshan Temple.
Built in the 1700s, the popular Longshan Temple is one of the oldest and largest temples in Taiwan. There’s no entrance fee but the temple accepts donations to maintain the temple.
Longshan Temple entrance
The temple has stood the test of time, withstanding several calamities and wars.
The community continues to maintain, improve, and renovate the temple.
The temple honours both Buddhist and Taoist deities.
Inside Longshan Temple
The Longshan Temple is one of the ‘Big 3’ temples in the Wanhua district.
Yangmingshan National Park
After a 35-minute drive from the temple, the guys arrived at Yangmingshan National Park. Located between Taipei and New Taipei, it is one of the nine national parks in Taiwan and one of the most popular tourist destinations because of its great number of parks, hiking trails, and famous hot springs.
Japanese-inspired landscapes can be found around the area.
The guys in front of Yangmingshan’s Flower Clock.
One of the many waterfalls found in the park.
Various flora can be found on the mountains such as acacia trees, black pines, and Formosan sweet gum.
National Palace Museum
For their next destination, the 3 Up Club went to the National Palace Museum which is home to almost 700,000 ancient Chinese artworks and artefacts.
From left to right: Jace, Dennis, Aleks, Robert, and Erwin strike a pose in front of the palace.
Watch out, they might become the new hottest boy band!
Inside the National Museum Palace
A gilt bronze statue of the Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva holding a child.
Shilin Night Market
When night time came, the guys once again explored Taiwan’s popular night markets. This time, they went to one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan. The Shilin Night Market is filled with alleyways offering local and international cuisine, street food, and merchandise.
Entrance to Shilin Night Market
Locals and tourists flock to the market for a variety of food and merchandise.
Must-try blow-torched steak
Addiction Aquatic Development
Next up, the guys had to wait in line for almost 30 minutes to have dinner at the famous Addiction Aquatic Development. The chic seafood superstore consists of live seafood aquariums, supermarket, and seafood-themed eateries ranging from sushi bars to oyster and wine bars, among many others.
The guys take a picture while waiting in line.
Nick bought some food while the guys wait in line just to curb their hunger.
Nick bought Peking duck, sashimi, and fish for the guys.
The 3 Up Club finally takes a seat.
The 3 Up Club and Nick at Addiction Aquatic Development.
Guangzhou Street Night Market
Before their night ends, the guys made sure to visit another popular night market, the Guangzhou Street Night Market. Compared to other modern night markets, this one has a more authentic local Taiwanese style. The Guangzhou Street Night Market is packed with amazing food and fun games that will surely entertain visitors throughout the night—which surely did for the 3 Up Club.
Travellers will find different shops at Guangzhou Street Night Market.
Interesting Taiwanese cuisine and street food are available as well.
For their third day in Taiwan, the 3 Up Club made sure to make the most of their last day touring around Taiwan by booking a tour package. These are the places they went to.
First on their list is a must-see spot for all tourists when visiting Taiwan. Regarded as a premier destination in Northern Taiwan, the Yehliu Geopark is known for its unique geological formations—the most iconic being the ‘Queen’s Head’.
Here are just some of the guys’ photos.
The guys pose at the entrance of Yehliu Geopark.
A ticket to the Yehliu Geopark costs 80 Taiwan dollars for adults.
Yehliu Geopark’s Mushroom rocks
From left to right: Erwin, Jace, Aleks, Robert, and Dennis at Yehliu’s promontory.
After this, the guys travelled toward Jiufen village, a small town rich in history and culture. The village is full of Chinese and Japanese-style cafes, tea houses, and souvenir shops along a beautiful view of the ocean.
Bustling street of Jiufen Village filled with shops and food stalls.
Taste local Taiwanese delicacies.
Popular must-try fish or meatball soup at Jiufen Village.
Various shops and cafes can be found at Jiufen Old Street
The view from Jiufen village.
Next on their list is the Shifen Waterfall. Located in the Pingxi District in New Taipei City, the 40-metre waterfall is regarded as the most scenic destination in Taiwan, especially when it makes rainbows as the water splashes into the lake.
From left to right: Erwin, Aleks, Jace, and Robert pose in front of the Shifen Waterfall.
Travellers shouldn’t miss out on seeing this majestic waterfall.
Shifen Old Street
After taking in the beautiful view of the waterfalls, the guys went to Shifen Old Street next. Just 30 minutes away from the waterfalls, Shifen Old Street is known for its Sky Lantern Festival which draws tourists year round.
Below, the guys couldn’t pass the opportunity to light a lantern. For Robert and Dennis, this was one of their most memorable experiences from the whole trip. Dennis said, “I remember those old days where I can only see this place in the movies.”
The guys are posing with their lantern in commemoration of their Taiwan trip.
The lantern says: “#3UpClubSuccess #CloudEmployee Aleks, Dennis Don, Paulo P., Jace”
The lantern says: “2019-05-12, More success to come! CAREER”
From left to right: Dennis, Jace, Robert, Erwin, Aleks, their tour guide, and Paulo (videographer/photographer).
Din Tai Fung
Next up, the guys went on a little detour to taste the internationally famous Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine of Din Tai Fung. Among its list of delicious meals, the xiaolongbao, a soup dumpling, is the most popular dish among all.
The original Din Tai Fung outlet in Taipei.
The guys are ready to have their dinner.
Din Tai Fung’s world-famous xiaolongbao.
Ximending Shopping District
For their last stop in Taiwan, the group headed to the Ximending Shopping District, a massive shopping haven consisting of various shops from fashion and clothing to a range of restaurants and bars.
Ximending Shopping District’s busy streets
Lots of interesting food stalls and shops can be found in Ximending.
The guys are already tired from all the shopping.
After three whole days of touring around Taiwan, it was time to head back to their hotel and prepare for their flight the following day.
Jovel Casais, an Android developer, said, “In general, Taiwan is beautiful and rich in the scenery and cultural aspect. But my favourite part really was the nice hotel we stayed in because, at the end of the day, you want to relax that tiring body with a can of beer after exploring the day.”
True enough, some of the developers couldn’t come to most of the attractions because they opted to rest in the hotel, while some had their own plans.
Nonetheless, the whole experience of being on a trip with colleagues outside the workplace was another whole experience for the guys and one that is surely for the books.
“I got to know how similar we are in our diversity. I'm the oldest in the group and I think the youngest must be some 30 years my junior. Yet, just like me, all the family men in the group were into shopping for 'pasalubong' for their kids. And we all enjoyed good food. I think most of us also used some of our free time to go to that digital plaza building to look at some computer, electronics and gadgets. Just goes to show boys will be boys no matter what age.” Larry said.
For Robert, he believes that through this trip, he became closer to his colleagues and Nick.
“For me, it shows that Nick genuinely appreciates all our hard work,” he said, “The company rewards loyal employees for excellent years of service, and I am looking forward to more incentives like this!”
Meanwhile, Dennis had a different takeaway. He enjoyed the trip so much and what piqued his curiosity is the white bitter melons he saw.
“Aside from pineapple cakes, One thing that grabbed my attention while walking along the night market is the white bitter melon. I bought seeds of it and I plan to plant it in the province. That’s my takeaway from this trip.”
White bitter melons. Photo by Dennis Don.
To the first members of Cloud Employee’s 3 Up Club, we thank you for being with us for three (and more) fruitful and successful years! Here’s to more years to come! Cheers!
And to those who will soon become members of the club, we’re looking forward to having you on board!
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