Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles (PART 2)

Oops, sorry my break turned out to be longer than planned. Hehe anyways, welcome back! Here goes part II of my 9-day Taiwan trip 🙂

* * DAY 5 * *

This day we embarked on our proper tour around Taipei because we had engaged, through the hotel, a private driver to bring us to popular tourist destinations for just NT$3000 (exclusive of NT$200 hotel service charge). It was New Year’s Eve and we wanted to 放天燈 (light sky lanterns) at Pingxi, which was one of the places on the itinerary.

Before that, we had breakfast at our hotel for the very first time!

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread.. Not much variety. OK to give it a miss 🙂

Enough tables and chairs for all!

Enough tables and chairs for all!

Our driver for the tour was 杨先生 (Mr Yang) but we called him 杨师傅 (Master Yang :P). He drives a cab but he uses the vehicle to drive tourists around the country. He is also an excellent tour guide who really takes great care of his customers. For the entire time he kept feeding us with Taiwanese food LOL. You won’t need to take selfies on your own because he is more than willing to help you with phototaking! Most of the time you won’t even need to ask. He’s very initiative and he understands his passengers really well.

His cab is AWESOME. It has everything you need for the long tour: charger (for any kinds of phone but it charges very slowly so bring your own if possible), WIFI and bottled water. If you require any assistance, he would try his best to help! He really is that fantastic!

Yangming Park

This wasn’t part of the itinerary but Master Yang brought us there since it’s along the way. Many pretty trees there! Other than that, nothing really fanciful except for the huge flower clock at the entrance. There’s probably more to see because we didn’t delve further into the park.

Vintage-looking telephone booth

Vintage-looking telephone booth

A flight of stairs leading to..?

A flight of stairs leading to..?

Flower clock and us!

Flower clock and us!

Pretty scenery :)

Pretty scenery 🙂

Yangming Park map

Yangming Park map

Xiaoyoukeng at Yangmingshan National Park (小油坑)

Here you are able to see post-volcanic activities such as the post-volcanic fumaroles, solfataras, hot springs and landslide landforms. Hot steam can be seen filtering from the ground and the inactive volcano. Master Yang did an experiment to show us how hot the steam was on the ground by pouring water on it. Bubbles formed immediately!

10 degrees Celsius! But you won't really feel cold there cos of the steam.

10 degrees Celsius! But you won’t really feel cold there cos of the steam.

History of Xiaoyoukeng

History of Xiaoyoukeng

The place was filled with steam!

The place was filled with steam!

Pungent sulphuric smell in the air

Pungent sulphuric smell in the air

My camera couldn't capture the source of the steam.. but it was a bright yellow hole on the inactive volcano

My camera couldn’t capture the source of the steam.. but it was a bright yellow hole on the inactive volcano

Boiling water in the ground

Boiling water in the ground

Almost wanted to touch the ground water!

Almost wanted to touch the ground water! Phew.

Panoramic view of Xiaoyoukeng. Gotta admit that it's quite breathtaking even though I'm not a scenic tourist :)

Panoramic view of Xiaoyoukeng. Gotta admit that it’s quite breathtaking even though I’m not really a scenic tourist 🙂

Yay many nice couple pictures taken, all thanks to 杨师傅!

Yay many nice couple pictures taken, all thanks to 杨师傅!

Master Yang treated us to sweet potatoes after our visit to Xiaoyoukeng. Taiwanese call them 地瓜.

Sweet potato, courtesy of 杨师傅

Sweet potato, courtesy of 杨师傅

Ah Xue Oyster Omelette (阿雪蚵仔煎)

We were brought to this place for lunch and Master Yang ordered a set meal (dishes for 2 people) for us.

Squid with vegetables

Squid with vegetables

Fish slices and vegetables

Fish slices and vegetables

Vegetables.. not sure what kind. Haha

Vegetables.. not sure what kind. Haha

Seafood

Apparently 杨师傅 claimed that this eating house is quite popular in Yehliu area!

Menu on the wall

Menu on the wall

Quite a spread!

Quite a spread!

Just outside the eating house..

Just outside the eating house.. (ignore the moving motorcycle LOL)

There were more but I kinda forgot to snap some pictures. Hehehe eating is more important. The other dish we had were fish and a pot of soup. I didn’t like the soup at all 😦 The rest were still alright.

Address
No. 7 Yehliu
Gangdong Road

Yehliu Geopark (野柳)

This place houses the famous “queen head” hoodoo stone. They have an artificial and the real one at different places of the park. It was crowded with tour groups from Hong Kong and China when we went there. Security guards patrolled around the park to ensure that no one attempted to destroy the rock formations by climbing/stepping on them to take pictures because some tourists just loved doing that, I don’t know why. If they were not taking pictures, they’d SIT on them. Walao, it’s a GEOPARK. Stop harming the natural landscape!!

So difficult to capture a picture of this because it was continuously blocked by people.

So difficult to capture a picture of this because it was continuously blocked by people.

Spotted this stray dog on my way in!

Spotted this stray dog on my way in!

Artificial Queen's Head!

Artificial Queen’s Head!

Boyfriend 摆一个pose, act 一个 sentimental.

Boyfriend 摆一个pose, act 一个 sentimental.

Ah, ah, another one.. Can be model already!!

Ah, ah, another one.. Can be model already!!

All the hoodoo stones!

All the hoodoo stones!

Against the waters

Against the waters

Hey get your ass off the stones! Want to sit, find a proper chair to sit on la!

Hey get your ass off the stones! Want to sit, find a proper chair to sit on la!

Crowd of mass destruction

Crowd of mass destruction

We were only given an hour to roam around Yehliu which was more than enough la. Once we were done, we gave 杨师傅 a call using the cellphone he loaned us. On our way to the next destination on the itinerary, we got off the car twice to snap some pictures against some of the most gorgeous backdrops I’ve ever seen.

Not sure where this place was.. But nice fountains right? Lol.

Not sure where this place was.. But nice fountains right? Lol.

Our driver halted his vehicle and showed us this beautiful view! Look at the colour of the sea!

Our driver halted his vehicle and showed us this beautiful view! Look at the colour of the sea! Comparable to Maldives waters or not? (P/S: Rhetorical question only. Maldives lovers please calm your titties)

The perfect backdrop!

The perfect backdrop!

Another one against the sunlight. Hehehe.

Another one against the sunlight. Hehehe.

Jinguashi / Gold Ecological Park (黃金博物園區)

Jinguashi is well-known for its historic gold and copper mines. It was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Japanese occupation. Since resources have already depleted, there’s nothing much left to see. We only had 15 minutes to look around so we didn’t go further into the park.

Map of Jinguashi

Map of Jinguashi

Entrance of Jinguashi

Entrance of Jinguashi

Nothing much to explore there.. especially when resources have depleted. No more gold :(

Nothing much to explore there.. especially when resources have depleted. No more gold 😦

Jiufen (九份)

FINALLY a shopping and snacking place! Master Yang treated us to several stuff there (we felt so bad and obliged to give him more tips HAHA) and he also recommended some snacks to us to bring back to Singapore. Many food stores there but most of them are priced higher than those at Raohe.

We're finally at Jiufen!

We’re finally at Jiufen!

The narrow walkway in Jiufen

The narrow walkway in Jiufen

阿信?五月天的阿信吗?

阿信?五月天的阿信吗?

杨师傅 treating us to some Jiufen specialty, omg.

杨师傅 treating us to some Jiufen specialty, omg.

The literal translation of this is "Peanut roll with ice cream".

The literal translation of the name of the specialty above is “Peanut roll with ice cream”.

What a weird combi but strangely it works! Basically the Taiwanese are geniuses when it comes to mixing two seemingly incompatible ingredients together.

What a weird combi but strangely it works! Basically the Taiwanese are geniuses when it comes to mixing two seemingly incompatible ingredients together.

Actually the preparation process is similar to preparing popiah. Haha

Actually the preparation process is similar to preparing popiah. Haha

Quirky sausage seller

Quirky sausage seller

View from the Jiufen's dead end

View from Jiufen’s dead end

Shifen/Pingxi (十分 / 平溪)

Last but not least, we went to the place where we could 放天燈 or light sky lanterns! It was at a high altitude (coz the car kept moving up non-stop and my ears popped) and on a railway track. We had been planning for this since our first trip to Taiwan last year so we were very excited to be there!

Crowded on New Year's Eve!

Crowded on New Year’s Eve!

Colours and their meanings!

Colours and their meanings!

For those who prefer to read in Mandarin, here ya go!

For those who prefer to read in Mandarin, here ya go! This includes some mandarin idioms you can write on your lantern.. Very useful for people who are terrible in their Mother Tongue.

We opted for a huge sky lantern with colours that represent education, wealth, health and future. Our minds went blank when we were given the lantern so we turned to the guide beside us (pictured above) for inspiration.

Having fun scribbling on the lantern hahaha.

Having fun scribbling on the lantern hahaha.

Wealth side.. You know what goes on there.

Wealth side.. You know what goes on there. Ka-chingggggg! Just by looking at our lantern, you could immediately tell that we’re Singaporeans LOL. HUAT AH!!

Health side, basically wishing everyone to be healthy always!

Health side, basically wishing everyone to be healthy always!

Future side.. where all the unrealistic wishes go to HAHA.

Future side.. where all the unrealistic wishes go HAHA. Another obvious sign that we’re Singaporeans (especially the GPA 5.0)

Yay it's been lit up, ready to be released!

Yay it’s been lit up, ready to be released!

One more shot before it was release!

One more shot before it was released!

And off it went! An employee of the sky lantern shop was really kind to help us snap pictures and video the entire process down while we held and let go of the lantern.

Yayyyyy hope all our wishes come true!!

Yayyyyy hope all our wishes come true!!

Everyone so busy with their lanterns! Ours was probably the most untidy one HAHAHA

Everyone so busy with their lanterns! Ours was probably the untidiest one HAHAHA

Awwwww sho sweetz

Awwwww sho sweetz

Everyone had to leave the railway track when the train approached. I’m not sure how often trains come by but I only saw one train approaching when I was there so I guess the frequency isn’t very high.

Once we were done with our sky lanterns, we bought some fireworks to play with. What’s new year without fireworks? Hahaha!

Anyway before 杨师傅 drove us back to our hotel, he went to buy MORE food for us omg. He promised to fatten us up before we return to Singapore. He’s really a man of his words (noooooo…)

杨师傅's treat part 1 of 2

杨师傅’s treat part 1 of 2. It’s a special kind of toufu.. coated with peanut crumbs O_O

杨师傅's treat part 2 of 2

杨师傅’s treat part 2 of 2. This was waaaaay better than the one I saw at Raohe. I forced myself to eat this even though I was already very full from all the food 杨师傅 kept feeding us with

Where the awesome sandwich was bought! Anyone knows where??

Where the awesome sandwich was bought! Anyone knows where??

Our driver accepts advance booking if anybody wants to have a private driver-cum-tour guide in Taiwan.

He can be reached at +886988228490 (Whatsapp, LINE or Tango) or e-mail a0988228490@yahoo.com.tw.

He can’t understand English so you gotta type in traditional Chinese 🙂

* * DAY 6 * *

#21 Goose and Seafood Restaurant

This was a last minute addition to our itinerary as we only came across this while flipping through our Lonely Planet book in our hotel. I was a little wary about eating goose meat as I had never eaten one before. Sorry, unadventurous eater here. Hahaha.

We were greeted with an array of seafood and vegetables at the entrance. Orders were also taken before we were seated but you would still be given a menu when you’re inside.

The restaurant

The restaurant

Goose model on the menu

Goose model on the menu

Price list for those who care!

Price list for those who care!

Here’s what we binged on that night:

Fish! The most expensive dish on our table.

Not sure what kind of fish that was but it’s more expensive than what the restaurant is famous for. I would suggest not ordering this at all and just go all out on the goose meat! This fish came with white pepper salt dip which absolutely complemented each other.

A dish just to make us look like we're eating healthily.

I also forgot what kind of vegetables this was HAHA apologies for my poor memory. I was so guilt-ridden for eating unhealthily for the past few days so this was ordered to make myself feel better (and also coz I was suffering from constipation which ALWAYS happens when I’m overseas and boyfriend was suffocating from my fart lololol so hopefully veggies could make me poop). For the record, I dislike greens but this was rather nice so I managed to finish everything. YAY ME!

Yay greens!

Greens!

Goose meat without flash

Goose meat without flash

With flash!

With flash!

Second serving. The quantity looked more here.

Second serving. The quantity looked more here.

Shiokkkkk!

Shiokkkkk!

Goose meat was surprisingly GOOD!! It tasted like duck but more tender and juicy. After we were done with it, we went on to order another plate! Seriously damn nice can!!! Arghh I’m craving for it now!

Prawns.. oh-so-lazy to peel.

Prawns.. So lazy to peel 😦

Seriously, just order the goose meat and drop everything HAHAHA and maybe some greens if you cannot defecate like me 😛 Prawns, though fresh, were nothing to wow about. Or maybe… I’m just prejudiced because I had to peel them before I could eat them.

Close up! Very fresh though.

Close up! Very fresh though.

We paid no more than S$60 for the very satisfying dinner! They do not accept credit cards so do bring sufficient cash if you’re going to dine there.

Address
21 Jinzou Street
Taipei, Taiwan
Nearest MRT: Minquan W Road

* * DAY 7 * *

Tian Yue Quan Springs

We left our hotel pretty late that day and went to Xinbeitou for our hot spring session! We returned to the same place where we had our first hot spring the year before. Our regular private suites were fully booked so we chose the deluxe double room.

The bathroom

The bathroom which seemed kinda eerie to me to be honest.. It looked like a modern gas chamber in Auschwitz :/ But anyway who needs to shower when there’s 2 hot spring tubs by the bed?

Japanese style dining area?

Japanese style dining area?

100% relaxation

100% relaxation

Hot water on the left and cold water on the right

Hot water on the left and cold water on the right. This time round we played cheat by making the hot water not-so-hot. LOL

Panoramic view of the beautiful room

Panoramic view of the beautiful room. A night’s stay there would probably wipe out my entire fortune (not like I have any to begin with hahaha)

Shower essentials provided! Includes shower cap and rubber band for girls who don't wish to wet their hair

Shower essentials provided! Includes shower cap and rubber band for girls who don’t wish to wet their hair

The entire room just gave me the Japanese vibes

The entire room just gave me the Japanese vibes

After our hot spring session, we went to the hotel restaurant for our complimentary dessert. We were given 2 different flavours of cake and 2 cups of drinks.

Our complimentary dessert after our hot spring session

Our complimentary dessert after our hot spring session

Boyfriend's complimentary cake

Boyfriend’s complimentary cake

Complimentary drinks!

Complimentary drinks!

Feeling very lazy to leave, we ordered a set meal at the restaurant to share.

Clam chowder, I think

Clam chowder, I think

Loved the salad!

Loved the salad!

Salmon for starters

Salmon for starters

Seafood Baked Rice in Italian Style

Seafood Baked Rice in Italian Style

A spoonful of cheese!!

A spoonful of cheese that came with the baked rice. I’m a cheese lover… this is obviously not enough. Lol

Dessert

Dessert, which was the same kind of cake we got for free earlier

Address
No.3
Zhongshan Rd., Beitou Dist.
Taipei City 112, Taiwan
Website: http://tian-yue-quan-springs.hotel.com.tw/eng/

The light dinner at Tian Yue Quan Springs obviously wasn’t enough for us so we planned to eat street food at Tamsui to fill our tummies. However we didn’t know that it was also the day where the Taiwanese pray to the heavens. On such days, most shops are usually closed for the day. Thus, Tamsui was relatively quiet but we walked around to see if there were any Taiwanese titbits to buy for our folks back home.

We chanced upon this Hello Kitty-themed shop. Seriously, Taipei is like Japan – so crazy over the cat with no mouth LOL. There would be at least one Hello Kitty-themed shop in each area. We entered one of them and bought quite a handful of stuff!

Hello Kitty lollipop

Hello Kitty lollipop

Shop banner

Shop banner

Pineapple cakes

Pineapple cakes

Hmmm not sure what this is.. Probably a bigger version of pineapple cake

Hmmm not sure what this is.. Probably a bigger version of pineapple cake with different flavours

Some Hello Kitty footwear

Some Hello Kitty footwear

Other merchandise

Other merchandise

Butter biscuits! Major love

Butter biscuits! Major love

Prawn crackers! Probably the best we've tasted!!

Prawn crackers! Probably the best we’ve tasted!! This picture only depicts half of the amount we bought hehehe.

Hello Kitty cake.. These are just for display

Hello Kitty cake.. These are just for display

After our purchase, we headed back to our hotel by cab. A nominal surcharge was imposed for boarding at Tamsui (can’t remember how much it was). It was a rather long distance, comparable to that of Pasir Ris to Jurong here 🙂 We put all hauls in the hotel and went for a foot massage, a daily activity for us in Taiwan!

Our massage ended past midnight and our tummies started rumbling so we asked one of the masseurs if there was any eatery still opened. He directed us to a 24-hour beef noodles stall just 2 roads away.

Fu Hong Beef Noodles (富宏牛肉麵)

Shop banner

Shop banner

It wasn’t difficult at all to spot the stall as it was the only one along the stretch of shops still operating at that hour. Its bustling crowd was also a sign of its popularity. Apparently the Taiwanese also like having supper like us. Hahaha!

We had the choice of skinny or fat noodles. We got ourselves a bowl with fat noodles to share because we were afraid that we wouldn’t like it but NO, it was as good as the one I had in Singapore (used to be at Lavender Food Square). Soup was orgasmic but a tad too oily which I think is common in any beef noodle soup. After awhile I kinda felt this disgusting bitter taste lingering around my throat, especially when I swallowed my saliva. If you had experienced it before you would understand what I mean :\

Nevertheless, I’d totally have it again if I’m near the area! But I’d opt for skinny noodles next time because fat noodles is such a mouthful.

Beef soup

Beef soup.. Just the soup.

Anyway the shop owner (also the one taking orders) probably knew that we were sharing because she gave us an additional bowl of soup with beef in it OMG (never charge extra some more) probably so that we didn’t have eat from the same bowl. It didn’t make sense for her to give us another bowl when we ordered the soup version, right? Plus, we looked around and didn’t see anybody having an extra bowl. Oh my God lor I was really touched by her kind gesture!!!! 台灣人,你們是最棒的! ! !我愛你們!!!

Close up of beef noodles

Close up of beef noodles

Beef noodles is a must-have if you plan to eat like a local in Taiwan!

Address
No. 45-6
Luòyáng St, Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen

* * DAY 8 * *

Taipei Zoo / Maokong (貓空)

Another sightseeing destination on our itinerary! Boyfriend was very reluctant to go because he had just gone to the Singapore Zoo. -_- I had to force him to go with me. The zoo is very accessible as compared to ours as it has its own metro station. After touring the zoo we planned to take the gondola lift to Maokong.

The usual price of the admission ticket was NT$60 but because I had the Youth Travel Card, I only had to pay NT$30! I had gotten the card during my first visit but never used it until now.

For NT$30, you’re able to see many different kinds of animal, including giant pandas. If you’re lazy like me, you can take the internal shuttle train to get to different parts of the zoo for only NT$5 (exact change). Boyfriend and I paid using Taiwan’s EZ-link card 😛 Almost everything in Taiwan can be paid by EZ-link card by the way which makes tourists’ lives even easier! Don’t have to figure out the value of each coin when paying -_-

You will never get lost in TW with these well-placed and noticeable direction signs

You will never get lost in TW with these well-placed and noticeable direction signs

Taipei Zoo train station along the Wenhu (brown) line

Taipei Zoo train station is along the Wenhu (brown) line

Taipei Zoo train station

Taipei Zoo train station

"Tapping" out

“Tapping” out

Banners leading us to the zoo from the train station

Banners leading us to the zoo from the train station

Life-sized animal art!

Life-sized animal art!

Queueing up for the tickets

Queueing up for the tickets

We got our discounted tickets!

We got our discounted tickets!

Year of the snake

We were there in the year of the snake!

Cute animal lockers!

Cute animal lockers which we didn’t use.

Childhood candy found in Taipei!

Remember this irritating candy which you’d need at least an hour of sucking to finally detach it from the stick? I know.. you guys ended up biting it off right. That’s what we did.

Always very excited to see horses! They're so elegant haha.

Always very excited to see horses! They’re so elegant haha.

Miniature horses! It was their feeding time.

It was their feeding time and I managed to take some carrots from the stable to hand-feed them :D. Look at their hair la omg, so suave.

Domestic Water Buffalo

Domestic Water Buffalo

Lovely camel came to my side to be petted!

Lovely camel came to my side to be petted! But I was also afraid it might suddenly sneeze at me so I kept my distance most of the time LOL

Literally "my humps, my humps, my humps, my humps"

My humps, my humps, my humps, my humps. My lovely lady humps.

Stuck up koala bear that never took a single glance at us while we were there :(

Stuck up koala bear that never took a single glance at us while we were there 😦

Happy Feet in real life! We waited for awhile, hoping to see them jump into the water but none of them did :(

Happy Feet in real life! We waited for awhile, hoping to see them jump into the water but none of them did 😦

Yellow headed tortoise at the Amphibian and Reptile House

Yellow headed tortoise at the Amphibian and Reptile House

Omnomnomnom veggies omnomnom

Omnomnomnom veggies omnomnom

Choo choo train that took us around the zoo

Choo choo train that took us around the zoo

Shut our eyes completely since our eyes can never be seen on photos anyway LOL

Shut our eyes completely since our eyes can never be seen on photos anyway LOL

Gonna take the cable car up to Maokong!

Gonna take the cable car up to Maokong!

Up to Maokong we went!

Up to Maokong we went!

Queue barriers to separate the ones exiting and entering the station.

Queue barriers to separate the ones exiting and entering the station.

At the convenience store in Maokong station.

At the convenience store in Maokong station.

Did Hello Kitty just migrate from Japan to Taiwan? The amount of Hello Kitty-inspired designs there is just too high!

Did Hello Kitty just migrate from Japan to Taiwan? The amount of Hello Kitty-inspired designs there is just too high!

Coming out from the cable car station

Coming out from the cable car station

Maokong literally means empty (no) cats.. Perfect excuse to use Hello Kitty as a mascot.

Maokong literally means empty (no) cats.. Perfect excuse to use Hello Kitty as a mascot.

There were 2 kinds of cable car. One is normally designed while the other has a glass floor! We took the normal one on our way up and the glass one when we’re heading back to the zoo station. We should have done it the other way round because by the time we left Maokong, it was already dark! -_- We saw nothing through the glass. It was pitch black most of the time. (Anyway, it was acrophobic boyfriend who insisted on this arrangement LOL)

Some pictures at Maokong which supposedly should have many tea plantations. I don’t see much plantations but there were many tea houses.

Nothing spectacular at Maokong if you're not a tea lover.

Nothing spectacular at Maokong if you’re not a tea lover.

One whole stretch of tea houses.

One whole stretch of tea houses.

Never take the crystal cable car at night.. You'll see nothing lol.

Never take the crystal cable car at night.. You’ll see nothing lol.

* * DAY 9 * *

Boyfriend and I woke up waaaaay before check-out time because our chauffeur-cum-tour guide promised to take us to the best (according to him) beef noodle stall in Taiwan before sending us to the airport. We were wondering if he would take us to the stall we went to on the night before. Hahaha!

However the chauffeur forgot about our appointment and had already taken up another sight-seeing tour. He was very apologetic and immediately arranged for another chauffeur to take over his job. Was quite upset at first because I could have slept longer…. But since he was so nice and sincere, I guess 算了啦 🙂

Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles (老王記牛肉麵大王)

Surprisingly the “best beef noodles in Taiwan” is very near to Ximending! We had stayed there for 9 days but we never knew that we were surrounded with so many good food. Someone needs to compile a list of food recommendations in Ximending la.

We were at Lao Wang Ji at about 11am and there were already people eating inside! Our driver said that we were very lucky to have seats because this shop is always fully packed! True enough, all tables were almost occupied by the time we were about to leave. No photography of the entrance/open kitchen (non-strategically located by the road) is allowed for fear of (what I thought) recipe theft. However our driver added that because they are doing so well, they were actually afraid that people would go and create havoc and hence they try to be as low profile as possible. After all, Taiwan is also a country where triads flourish, right? That doesn’t make sense to me though. How to be low profile when you have such delish beef noodles huh!?!

Their kitchen/shop front O_O

Their kitchen/shop front O_O

Spicy beef noodles! Just by looking at the colour of the soup is enough to sting your tongue LOL

Spicy beef noodles! Just by looking at the colour of the soup is enough to sting your tongue LOL

And my original beef noodle!

And my original beef noodle!

I can’t remember if they had slim and fat noodles though but they had the option of spicy or non-spicy one. We went for the spicy one as recommended by our driver but we requested ours to be not too spicy.

Our verdict: definitely better than the one we had yesterday. What won our votes was the beef. They were cut in thick slices and yet so smooth, soft and tender which totally reminded me of the chasu in Ippudo’s tonkotsu ramen hahaha! LOVED IT. It was a great way to end our Taiwan trip and we certainly left with happy and satisfied tummies. Hehehe!

Address
No. 15 Táoyuán St, Zhongzheng District
Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Nearest MRT: Ximen, Exit 3
No reservation. For enquiries, call 0937-860050 or 0910-074193

I forgot to mention some 7-eleven stuff that can’t be found in our local stores! If you’re going to Taiwan, I’d highly recommend these:

Milk tea! I feel that this tastes the closest to the teh I have in Singapore. Not too diluted, not too sweet. Just nice!

Milk tea! I feel that this tastes the closest to the teh I have in Singapore. Not too diluted, not too sweet. Just nice!

Cartoned papaya milk and hot spring egg. The papaya milk can be found in Singapore's 7-eleven though!

Cartoned papaya milk and hot spring egg. The papaya milk can be found in Singapore’s 7-eleven though!

1 packet contains 2 hot spring eggs!

1 packet contains 2 hot spring eggs!

Really delish! Like what you'd have in your tonkutsu ramen :P

Really delish! Like what you’d have in your tonkutsu ramen 😛

I figured that the picture is only complete with me in it! Hehehehe

I figured that the picture is only complete with me in it! Hehehehe

Okay this marks the end of my 6000-word entry! School has started so I’d want this to be published ASAP. Hope this entry serves as a helpful guide to people who are planning to go to Taiwan 🙂

Oh and by the way, HAPPY (BELATED) LUNAR NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

祝大家 马到成功 马上发财 马上升值 马上GPA5.0 马上结婚 马上生孩子!

Read Part 1 of “Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles” here.

 

Read also:
Taiwan, the Heart of Asia 2012

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Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles (PART 1)

Deciding upon our travel destination for our year-end holiday wasn’t an easy feat for boyfriend wanted to go to Japan while I wanted Hong Kong. We even resorted to playing Scissors, Paper, Stone (our way of making decisions coz we’re too cool for coin flipping) but boyfriend backed out when I won because he didn’t want to go to a Cantonese-speaking country due to his inability to speak/understand that dialect -_- Smelly.

So we settled on Taiwan! It would be our second time there which I didn’t mind at all as I absolutely loved that place. In addition, we could also experience their winter season since it was summer when we went there 2 years before.

I know Taiwan isn’t the “official” land of smiles (that’d be Thailand) but I personally feel that the friendliness and kindness of the Taiwanese beat the Thai’s hands down. No offence to Thai people and their supporters 😦

However because we were both financially broke, we only booked our flight tickets and hotel two weeks before our trip when we had saved enough LOL! Talk about super last minute. So obviously the rates weren’t very attractive, maybe except for the hotel which was on discount on Expedia. We actually took DAYS to finalise our lodging plans because all the hotels available were either too expensive (FX Hotel S$1000+ per night wtf) or too lok-kok (rundown). I’m super particular about hygiene and cleanliness so I wouldn’t want to stay in places where there isn’t daily room make up. But looking at the choices we had then, we could only stay in serviced apartments so bo bian we booked for one. Then days later, I found a better deal in a legit hotel located at a shopping district some more. So 还想什么?TAKE!

We spent about S$1700 each for transport and accommodation for a 9-day-8-night trip. Not too bad la hor? *self-comforting*

We flew with Jetstar this time because it offered the lowest rate among all the budget airlines. SCOOT Y U NO HAVE CHEAP TICKETS IN DECEMBER!? As it was our second time flying with that airline, we knew how miserably small the legroom is so we paid more for extra legroom seats on our flight to Taiwan especially since we were on an early morning flight (at 7-ish am) and we wanted a more spacious seat to sleep on. Even after adding in the extra charges, Jetstar’s tickets were still the cheapest. 5 hours in the air flew by very quickly because we were dog-tired.

We arrived at Taoyuan Airport close to noon and spent the next hour queueing up at the immigration counter and getting our SIM card. We spent NT$1000 on taxi to get to our hotel at Xi Men Ding (coz once again 梁少爷 a.k.a the boyfriend is too lazy to take public transport).

GoSleep Hotel Hankou

GoSleep Hotel (Hankou) – our home for the next 8 nights!

I actually did a search on the hotel before the trip and found some undesirable pictures of the lobby LOL. They got me very worried because they made the hotel seem very shady. I mentally prepared myself and boyfriend (kept telling him that the hotel looks la sam) so that we wouldn’t get a rude shock there.

Building directory

Building directory

Signpost by the road

Look out for this signpost if you’re going to this hotel for the first time!

Go Sleep shares the same building with other facilities not owned by the hotel, such as night club, bowling alley and ice skating rink on the first few levels. Hotel rooms are all on the 7th, 8th and 9th floors which you’d need to scan your hotel room card in the lift to access. However one of the lifts (there are 2) had a faulty scanner so anyone could access these levels without the card. The hotel also provides rooms at hourly rates…… Thus, this hotel is probably shady. LOL but my stay there throughout the trip was rather pleasant. Never did I once feel my safety threatened so okay I deem this hotel safe to stay in!

Hotel corridor

Hotel corridor. This photo doesn’t do the hotel justice.. It’s really not as bad as it seems upstairs 😛

Our room door

Our room door

Room toilet

Room toilet. Not that bad right? The bath tub is the biggest I’ve seen in a hotel so far. Toilet is also well-kept.

Our room

No cupboard/wardrobe but hangers are provided for your convenience! I don’t use hotel’s wardrobes anyway (cos they tend to have this rotten smell inside).

Near the exit of the room

Room door is magnetic. The door hanger was made of paper when we first checked into the hotel but they have since switched to using magnetic ones after the new year 😛 That’s my huge-ass luggage you see there, almost exploding. (Yup these pictures were taken on my final day in Taiwan)

Not bad, the room is very modern looking. It’s clean and well-maintained too!

Every room is designed differently. I had seen the interior of other rooms on my way out as well and I must say those with windows are damn gorgeous. They totally do not look like what you’d expect in a hotel with a dubious-looking lobby Hahaha!!

My hotel booking comes with daily breakfast but we only had it once there because we’re not morning people. There wasn’t much variety anyway so I didn’t feel like I missed out a lot. The only nice thing there was probably the DIY braised pork rice.

We didn’t have to worry about food at Ximending because there were food vendors at every corner of the street. At night, there would be a pushcart near our hotel lobby selling sausages cooked on the spot at just NT$30 per piece. We had that for almost every night! The smell was just too tempting and irresistible.

The makeshift TW sausage pushcart

The makeshift TW sausage pushcart. NT$30 for either a normal sausage or rice sausage. NT$60 for a 2-in-1 sausage. The pushcart is manned by a mother and her daughter. They’d be there til about 4am everyday!

Close up!

Close up! 现烤现卖!Walao damn hungry now.

Happy me with TW sausage

Happy me with TW sausage. Ate it almost every night! 肥死我

Pigeon egg

And along Ximending at night (before 11pm), you can spot pushcarts selling pigeon eggs (as pictured above), pancakes and other stuff. ALL WERE SO YUMMY!

US

US! Deng deng deng, me without make-up cos we took an early morning flight and I was absolutely too lazy to do anything to my face! Look at my uneven brows hawhawhaw.

Artsy fartsy at XMD

Artsy fartsy at XMD

Honestly this Taiwan trip is rather impromptu. Our half-past-six 9-day itinerary lacked proper research (planned to go Taipei Zoo at 2pm when it closes at 4.30pm HAHA WIN!) and we also didn’t follow it very closely. It was really an own-time-own-target trip, going to places as and when we liked. Dusk fell more rapidly duing cold weather and it would be already be dark by 5pm! Moreover the coldness outside made us very lazy and on certain days we’d just bum around in our hotel room until late afternoon to have dinner. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a holiday LOL. Hence I’ll just cover places I hadn’t been to during my first Taiwan trip, sorted by day.

* * DAY 1 * *

Cafe Wakuwaku (Xi Men Ding)

It was an hour too early to check into our hotel so we left our luggages at the reception and proceeded to have our lunch elsewhere. We walked around the area and found this cafe which served mainly western food. We went up (it was on the second storey) despite wanting to eat something truly Taiwanese because we were starving!

On the stairs up!

On the stairs up!

Posing with the menu..

Posing with the menu..

Boyfriend had Mexican Style Chicken Risotto while I ate their signature fried rice. Both dishes came with a set meal which included soup of the day, a drink and dessert.

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup – surprisingly good!! Didn’t mind having another bowl.

Soup of the day was pumpkin soup. Yumtums!

Mexican Style Chicken Risotto

The Mexican Style Chicken Risotto that received two thumbs up from the boyfriend!

Fried rice

Fried Rice! Finish every single bit of it.

Calamari

Crispy fried calamari with mayo dip! I can’t remember if I liked it.. which isn’t a good sign. Haha oh wait maybe I did!

It was a great start to our trip because we enjoyed our food very much! They were pretty darn good! *kisses fingers* Each set comes in rather generous portions and most importantly, they are really affordable! Less than S$10 per set and you leave the cafe feeling like you ate at a buffet table. Hahaha! Free wifi (I believe it belongs to the building which houses a hotel called inHouse and apparently this cafe also belongs to the hotel) is also available.

Dessert

Dessert! I still have no idea what this was.

I’m not sure what was for dessert but it has a little coconut taste so it could be coconut cake.

Address
2nd floor
No. 107, Xining S. Rd.
Wanhua Dist.
Taipei City, Taiwan
Nearest MRT: Ximen

* * DAY 2 * *

Ah Zhong Mian Xian

Ah Zhong Mian Xian

Ah Zhong Mian Xian

To start off our 9-day authentic Taiwanese diet, we went hunting for Ah Zhong Mian Xian’s flagship store at Ximending which was just a stone’s throw away from our hotel. Boyfriend wanted to try it so badly so I just tagged along even though I wasn’t very eager to have it (I’m not even a mee sua fan at home.. they just smell and look so unappetising to me). With a vicinity map provided by our hotel, we managed to find the shop without breaking a sweat.

Cashier

Cashier

I had always thought that it would look like some traditional mee sua shop (it must be the “Ah Zhong”) with proper dining tables and chairs. But contrary to my assumption, the serving area and kitchen take up the entire unit. There are (very limited number of) chairs but no table so everyone either eat with the bowl in their hand standing up or sitting down.

A long queue had already formed when we arrived but it also moved very quickly. Our turn came within a few minutes of waiting and our mian xian was also ready for collection right after we ordered. So efficient man. There were also sauces (vinegar included) somewhere which you could add to your mian xian.

One bowl first to try!

One bowl first to try!

Boyfriend ordered a large bowl so that he could share it with me. I reluctantly took a spoonful and was surprised to find myself liking it as well. It tastes like some low-grade shark’s fin soup you find in pasar malams but better lah. But what spoilt the dish for me were the pig’s intestines. I’m not a fan of animal intestines as I think they taste as bad as they smell and their rubbery texture really gross me out.

The gravyyyyy

The gravyyyyy

Boyfriend loved it so much, he ate there four times throughout the trip. Dining in Ximending can be expensive so if you’re looking to satisfy your hunger pangs with something not-so-unhealthy (Hot Star is nearby also) yet filling, you should consider trying their mian xian! 🙂

Address
No.8-1, Emei St.
Wanhua District
Taipei City
Nearest MRT: Ximen, Exit 6

Some pictures of Ximending before we move on to the next destination:

Welcome to Ximen!

Welcome to Ximen!

First shot together in XMD

First shot together in XMD

Lots of hustle and bustle!

Lots of hustle and bustle!

A pictorial evidence that HotStar is indeed from Taiwan :P

A pictorial evidence that Hot-star is indeed from Taiwan 😛

More of XMD

More of XMD

One of the many cinemas in XMD

One of the many cinemas in XMD. Movie titles are all in mandarin and nobody would understand you if you mention the English title of a western movie at the box office 😦

Very tempted to dine at Watami (also available in Singapore) but then I told myself, "No Singaporean food in Taiwan for the next 8 days!"

Very tempted to dine at Watami (also available in Singapore) but then I told myself, “No Singapore food in Taiwan for the next 8 days!”

PANCAKE with cheese! Damn nice.

PANCAKE with cheese! Damn nice.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

The entire building

The entire building

Entrance

Entrance

Prior to the trip, boyfriend kept reminding me not to plan a shopping itinerary and to include more sights and attractions so that we could stretch our dollars. Last Taiwan trip, we went near-broke on the third day of our seven-day trip because of my excessive shopping LOL. We had to rely on credit cards in the end. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself 😛 We’ll see..

So yup, we arrived at one of the well-known memorial halls in Taipei. The history of the memorial hall, which was built to honour the Republic of China’s National Father Dr Sun Yat-sen, can be seen all over in the building. If you’re a history junkie, this is the attraction for you. But I was too lazy to read so I surrendered after reading those few near the entrance.

If you think this is a museum of Sun Yat-sen, high five! That was what I thought too but .. it isn’t LOL. Bimbo moment. It is, somewhat like our Esplanade, a multi-purpose social, educational and cultural center for the public. We saw many youngsters having their dance practice near the entrance which revitalised the traditional-looking building.

Taipei 101 behind me!

Taipei 101 (which I never had the chance to go… thanks to my acrophobic boyfriend) backdropped my #ootd photo 😛

A compulsory shot for tourists!

A compulsory shot for tourists!

With a bed of PINK flowers whuttttt must camwhore!

With a bed of PINK flowers whuttttt must camwhore!

Made boyfriend camwhore with Dr Sun too!

Made boyfriend camwhore with Dr Sun too!

Dr Sun Yat-sen

Dr Sun Yat-sen

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FYI!

FYI!

The map.. if anyone's interested

The map.. if anyone’s interested

The main highlight of our trip there was, however, to watch the change of guards. If you plan to visit any memorial hall, be sure to stay until you see the guards change shifts. They happen every hour (e.g. 1pm, 2pm, etc.) and we were lucky to be able to catch it the moment we stepped into the main hall (second level I think. When in doubt, just follow the crowd HAHA).

Change of guards! So hard to get a good view.

Change of guards! So hard to get a good view.

Guards marching. Apologies for the poor quality!

Guards marching. Apologies for the poor quality!

Almost the end!

Almost the end!

The other memorial hall I know is the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall which was on my itinerary but due to our laziness, we didn’t go in the end. LOL Maybe next time!

Raohe Night Market

In order to get to Raohe we had to cut through Wufenpu (what a perfect excuse to go there TEEHEE!!) so we spent some time rummaging the garment market for things to buy BUT because it’s the cold season there, majority of the stuff sold were not suitable for Singapore’s humid climate so we didn’t buy much. I accidentally bought a pair of army print flats at S$70 because I heard the price wrongly!!!! It’s pricey because the salesgirl claimed that it was imported from South Korea which brings me to my next question… (please ignore blockquote if you’re not in the mood to read my rant)

WHY ARE ITEMS IMPORTED FROM KOREA ALWAYS SO EXPENSIVE?

Etude House, The Face Shop, Laneige, Skinfood and the list goes on.. Things there are NEVER cheap outside of South Korea. It’s like shop owners capitalise on the k-craze and mark up the price of anything that comes from Korea. Please la, is Korea so dai sai (big whoop) until can be more expensive than European/American/Japanese products ah?! I’m sorry, NO! Having owned so many Korea-imported apparels in the past, I can vouch that the material is not as godly as people always claim to be lor please. Korean cosmetics are also not very fantastic leh!? I owned a Laneige palette, a Somang BB cream and used TFS face masks (which were ALL gifted to me thankfully) and I did not find anything so special about them that warrants the high price. Why are people so gaga over them when they’re so EXPENSIVE!?! Anyway, I swear that no matter how much I like a product, the moment the salesperson quotes me an exorbitant price and reasons it with “because it’s imported from Korea”, I’d leave the shop immediately. Period.

Whatever it is, that was my most regretful purchase from Taiwan. 😥

Ok back to Raohe, I mentioned about this place before on my previous Taiwan entry so I’m not gonna elaborate much on it. So allow me to indulge you with food pictures taken in Raohe. There were quite a number of new stalls there!

包雞蛋的雞蛋糕

包雞蛋的雞蛋糕

Bored while queueing up so we camwhored again!

Bored while queueing up so we camwhored again!

Egg on the left and cheese one the right combined to give you 雞蛋起司 (Egg-Cheese flavour)

Egg on the left and cheese one the right combined to give you 雞蛋起司 (Egg-Cheese flavour)

Preparing for the massive orders.

Preparing for the massive orders.

Got ours! YAY

Got ours! YAY

Couldn't resist the wild boar sausage! It's super yummy, nicer than the one at our hotel.

Couldn’t resist the wild boar sausage! It’s super yummy, nicer than the one at our hotel in fact.

Someone please bring these to Singapore..

Someone please bring these to Singapore..

Jelly popsicle

Jelly popsicle stall. Boyfriend literally went crazy went he saw this because he’s the ultimate 果冻 lover. You can see him at our local Chinatown every CNY lugging home a huge bag of 果冻 >_>

All the different flavours for you to choose from!

All the different flavours for you to choose from!

Boyfriend loved the jelly popsicle. He could eat 10 of them and not feel sick -_-

-_-

We went to this shop to get some steak...

We went to this shop to get some steak…

...on a stick. Steak on a stick! Innovative eh?

…on a stick. Steak on a stick! Innovative eh?

My new favourite stall at Raohe!

My new favourite stall at Raohe!

Going-to-be-grilled scallops! YUMMMMS. This made scallop lovers like me go bonkers!

Going-to-be-grilled scallops! YUMMMMS. This made scallop lovers like me go bonkers!

After it's grilled! I swear the seasoning was heavenly. Bought 10 sticks back to the hotel but I must say it's best when it's hot!

After it’s grilled! I swear the seasoning was heavenly. Bought 10 sticks back to the hotel but I must say it’s best when it’s hot!

Order chit or price list for your reference!

Order chit or price list for your reference! If you have no idea which flavour to go for, you can opt for “随便” or “anything” and the cook will decide for you! Hahaha gotta love the Taiwanese for coming up with such ideas for lazy thinkers!

Bought one of this sandwich-bun back and threw it away after 2 bites :(

Bought one of this sandwich-bun back and threw it away after 2 bites 😦

Saved a little stomach space for a cup of wintermelon drink!

Saved a little stomach space for a cup of wintermelon drink!

Their signboard. I'm serious!

Their signboard. I’m serious!

Saw this lion head backpack at almost every night market I went to!

Saw this lion head backpack at almost every night market I went to! I wanted to get one but it was so expensive.. at least S$90 -_-

This rubber ducky was all over Taiwan! Every product design would surely have one with the rubber ducky. It must be Hong Kong's influence.

This rubber ducky was all over Taiwan! Every product design would surely have one with the rubber ducky. It must be Hong Kong’s influence.

Address
Ráohé St, Songshan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 10567
Nearest MRT: Houshanpi, Exit 1
Nearest Railway station: Songshan

* * DAY 3 * *

Zhen Pin Yang Shen Fang (珍品養生坊)

We were craving for some hot desserts to keep ourselves warm in that chilly weather. As our hotel was situated towards the back of Ximending, we would have to walk past several food stores to get to the train station and this dessert shop was one of them (Yong He Dou Jiang is just beside it). Feeling famished and cold, we got ourselves a table and ordered a bowl of mini colourful glutinous rice balls with no filling to temporarily satisfy our hunger. But it was sooo good (maybe coz we were skipped breakfast and lunch lah, hungry like mad) so we ordered another bowl of glutinous rice balls with black sesame paste filling. It totally kept us warm for the next few hours!

First bowl we had we just plain glutinous rice balls with red bean soup

First bowl we had we just plain glutinous rice balls with red bean soup

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NT$80 for a bowl of sesame paste one

NT$80 for a bowl of sesame paste one

Sesame glutinous rice balls

Black sesame paste glutinous rice balls

Am I making you hungry yet?

Am I making you hungry yet?

Menu

Menu

More of the menu

More of the menu

The shop is manned by this auntie and another elderly man, probably her husband

The shop is manned by this auntie and another elderly man, probably her husband

Mandatory self-shot at every place we visited HAHA

Mandatory self-shot at every place we visited HAHA

On other days, we would also take away one or two bowls back to our hotel. Definitely a must-have if you’re there during the cold season!

Address
No. 46 Hankou Section 2
Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen

Dazzling Cafe

I planned to visit this cafe after Taipei 101 on day 2 since they are in close proximity. However boyfriend chickened out once again (we wanted to go there on our first trip -_-) due to his fear for heights and so the entire itinerary was changed. We wanted to try their highly-acclaimed honey toasts anyway so we rescheduled this to day 3.

Getting there is relatively easy as it’s just about 5 minutes walk away from its nearest metro station, Zhongxiao Dunhua. Hidden from the area with high human traffic, it’s tucked beside a rather narrow road. You’ll need to go behind the main shopping buildings to locate it. (When in doubt, use GPS) Once you’re there, you should be able to spot its huge sign display stand.

Zhongxiao Dunhua station

Zhongxiao Dunhua station

Hidden behind main buildings

Hidden behind main buildings

Entrance

Entrance

Operating hours, FYI

Operating hours, FYI

Like any other themed cafes in Taiwan, you’d need to make reservation prior to your visit because they are very popular with the locals and foreigners. Silly me didn’t do so so we had to wait for a few minutes (which was pretty fast actually) before we could get a table.

We shared one Dazzling Classic Honey Toast because we also read that a portion is able to feed 2! Very true indeed. One is just nice for our stomachs and we were probably one of those few who managed to clear our plate. Other patrons who ordered for each individual gave up after a few mouthfuls. On top of that, we also got ourselves each a drink as we also read about their one-drink-per-customer policy online. However when we were there, we weren’t advised so by the waitress so they probably changed it.

Ordered this because of the one-drink-per-customer policy. Not sure if this rule is still in place!

Ordered this because of the one-drink-per-customer policy. Not sure if this rule is still in place!

Boyfriend's drink

Boyfriend’s drink

What's inside my drink! Real strawberry :D

What’s inside my drink! Real strawberry 😀

Menu and price list (for the toasts only)

Menu and price list (for the toasts only)

After the honey toast is placed on your table, the waitress would give you time to take pictures of it before they proceed to cut down the “walls” for you. YAY INSTAGRAM TIME!! (no wifi there by the way *boo* so I had to tether internet from SIM card)

Our classic honey toast! I spent close to 5 minutes photographing this.. Ice cream melting already

Our classic honey toast! I spent close to 5 minutes photographing this.. Ice cream melting already

Pouring maple syrup over it

Pouring maple syrup over it. Walls had fallen by then LOL

The honey toast was really good in my opinion but overrated to boyfriend. Thus I conclude that it’s nice only to those who are suckers for sweet stuff HAHAHA. I thought the inner toast were really soft and they go really well with the ice cream! The “walls” are partly coated with sugar and I poured maple syrup over it. YUMMMMEH thinking about it makes me want to go back and try other flavours!

Honestly I think my appetite grew bigger since I arrived in Taiwan because I wasn’t very full after having the toast. I even wanted to order another one but I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish everything all on my own so I dropped the idea and got myself macarons instead!

Macarons! Lemon was sold out :(

Macarons! Lemon was sold out 😦

My rose macaron

My rose macaron

Can't remember what this is.. Perhaps vanilla

Can’t remember what this is.. Perhaps vanilla

They are not on the menu so you gotta go to the front counter to see their flavours! Too bad they ran out of lemon flavoured ones 😦 Macarons were nice and sweet but they crumbled really easily and messily unlike those I had at our Antoinette! Worth a try though if you’re dying to have something to chew on after eating so much bread.

Address
No. 11, Alley 7, Lane 205, Section 4
Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua, Exit 3
Website: http://www.dazzlingdazzling.com/eng/#home.php
For reservation, call +886 02-8773-9229 or e-mail dazzling@dazzlingdazzling.com

Flagged down a cab to get to a mall to catch a movie!

Flagged down a cab to get to a mall to catch a movie!

After our carbo-loading meal, we took a cab to a mall to catch a movie. Thereafter, we went to Shilin Night Market to have our late dinner/supper.

Shilin Night Market

Another repeated destination so I’m not going to explain much about it. However I must add that Shilin recently got another makeover (not sure if it’s another one or a continuation of what I saw 2 years ago) and it’s now pretty organised and clean! Ok enough said, let the food pictures do the talking:

The cleaner and neater Shilin Night Market now

The cleaner and neater Shilin Night Market now

Braised pork with rice! Not bad :)

Braised pork with rice! Not bad 🙂

Smelly toufu.. preferred the one at Raohe!

Smelly toufu.. preferred the one at Raohe!

Boyfriend's favourite oyster omelette

Tanghulu a.k.a. candied fruit! Kept seeing this on Chinese shows but never had the appetite for it in real life.

Tanghulu a.k.a. candied fruit! Kept seeing this on Chinese shows but never had the appetite for it in real life.

BIG SAUSAGES. Don't think dirty yea. HAHA

BIG SAUSAGES. Don’t think dirty yea. HAHA

Hot-star Shilin Night Market branch! I first knew about Hot-star here 2 years ago :)

Hot-star Shilin Night Market branch! I first knew about Hot-star here 2 years ago 🙂

Hehe couple shot again

Hehe couple shot again

Shilin Night Market is notorious for having overpriced fruits! Stallholders can charge you more than S$10 for a mere packet of cut fruits. I'm glad the authorities did something!

Shilin Night Market is notorious for having overpriced fruits! Stallholders could charge you more than S$10 for a mere packet of cut fruits. I’m glad the authorities did something!

Address
No. 101
Jīhé Rd, Shilin District
Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Nearest MRT: Jiantan

* * DAY 4 * *

Hello Kitty Cafe

I know I had blogged about this before already but I.. just cannot exclude my second time there on this entry hehe. Hello Kitty cafe is probably the most popular themed cafe in Taiwan and you can almost never get a table if you haven’t made prior reservation. I did through e-mail about one week before the scheduled date and I received a confirmation from them within the next hour. SO EFFICIENT!

Anyway, the reservation was voided because I overslept (disadvantage of a free-and-easy trip lol). They had already given my table to another walk-in customer by the time I arrived (about 20 minutes later) 😦 But luckily they were kind enough to offer me a table albeit only available an hour later. In the meantime, boyfriend and I went to SOGO just across the street to get some Beard Papa snacks.

Taiwan's version of Takashimaya

Taiwan’s version of Takashimaya

SOGO! So got the Takashimaya feel

Even the logo is rather similar 😛

Pretty clock at the entrance of SOGO

Pretty clock at the entrance of SOGO

Panoramic view of the streets

Panoramic view of the streets

Panoramic view of the mall exterior

Panoramic view of the mall exterior (ignore the purple figure hahaha)

Beard Papa

Beard Papa

This combination is pretty obscene if you ask me. LOL BUT ANYWAY THEY WERE GOOD.

This combination is pretty obscene if you ask me. LOL BUT ANYWAY THEY WERE GOOD.

Custard inside! Beard papa's fillings never fail!

Custard inside! Beard papa’s fillings never fail!

Hellooo it's us again!

Hellooo it’s us again!

SOGO in Taiwan kinda reminds me of our Takashimaya (many departments, usually for branded stuff, and a mega mart) but they have many branches across the country.

We walked around the area after getting a quick bite and found our homegrown brand, Bee Cheng Hiang! Judging from the small crowd in the shop, I reckon that 肉干 (dried pork jerky charqui) or BCH is quite popular with the Taiwanese. Here in Singapore, you can hardly see anybody in the Bee Cheng Hiang stores here unless it’s the lunar new year, right!? Boyfriend wanted to see if the taste of the charqui differed in another country so he bought 100g of it to try.

Home grown brand in Taiwan!

Home grown brand in Taiwan!

Someone's so happy to buy bak kwa in Taiwan -_-

Someone’s so happy to buy bak kwa in Taiwan -_-

Conclusion: no difference at all. Hahaha!

We headed back to Hello Kitty Cafe and was given the same table as our first visit. The interior and menu seemed to have changed quite a bit. They removed smoked salmon from their appetizer menu but that’s fine with me because I could have it at Ikea any time. Hehe.

Operating hours fyi again!

Operating hours fyi again!

Menu cover

Menu cover

Same table as 2 years back

Same table as 2 years back

Deco has changed a bit since the last time I came. They used to hang a small Hello Kitty plushie from the ceiling light

Deco has changed a bit since the last time I came. They used to hang a small Hello Kitty plushie from the ceiling light

Huge Hello Kitty light on the ceiling

Huge Hello Kitty light on the ceiling

Panoramic view of the restaurant (tried my best!)

Panoramic view of the restaurant (tried my best!)

Price list for the set meal! You're welcome :)

Price list for the set meal! You’re welcome 🙂

Price list for the burger set meal!

Price list for the burger set meal!

Chicken wings.. tasted like the ones Pizza Hut

Chicken wings.. tasted like the ones at Pizza Hut

Cup and utensils

Cup and utensils

Our shared passionfruit juice

Our shared passionfruit juice

My hot tea

My hot tea

Anyway, we remembered going crazy over their smoked duck breast so we ordered 2 plates of it a la carte (at NT$100 each) and also opted for it for our appetisers as part of our set meal. Thus we had 4 plates in total! Actually it wasn’t a lot at all cos they only gave us 2-3 miserably thin slices of it 😦

Smoked duck breast

Smoked duck breast

Salad

Salad

Creme of mushroom

Creme of mushroom

I vividly remembered Boyfriend savouring his cheese bacon beef burger during our first visit so I wanted to try it this time! Boyfriend ordered Kitty Boston Steak Burger.

My cheese bacon beef burger

My cheese bacon beef burger

Boyfriend's Boston steak burger which steak was served cold.. I probably know why now. Coz it flew from Boston

Boyfriend’s Boston steak burger which steak was served cold.. I probably know why now. Coz it flew from Boston

Boyfriend didn’t enjoy his meal at all because the steak was strangely served COLD! We feedback about this to the waitress but she gave us the lamest excuse that it turned cold while on its way to our table. Like whutttttt… I normally have no complaints about customer service in Taiwan but it’s rather obvious how poor theirs is from this encounter. The cafe looked understaffed and the service crew was running around frantically attending to customers and it took quite awhile for them to take our orders.

Their food was their saving grace.

Hello Kitty soft bun

Hello Kitty soft bun

Pudding for dessert

Pudding for dessert

I felt my bowel movements (lol) once I was done with my food so I went to the ladies! No one was in there so I had the entire toilet to myself to camwhore LOL. The toilet is so pink and pretty! I felt bad smearing their toilet bowl with my faeces. HEHEHE JUST KIDDING.

Notice on toilet paper wastage

Notice on sanitary napkin disposal

Tap! This is cute yo.

Tap! This is cute yo.

A pink (omg) sofa for ladies who wish to wait for their friends!

A pink (omg) sofa for ladies who wish to wait for their friends!

PINK TOILET BOWL!!

PINK TOILET BOWL!!

The bill came up to NT$1529 which is equivalent to about S$65 (probably more than that since I paid by card and you know, the exchange rates offered by banks are crazy). Not very reasonable considering that they served cold boston steak. Pfftttt. Most likely won’t be returning again :\

Address
No. 90, Section 1
Da’an Road, Da’an District
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Fuxing, Exit 3
Website: http://www.hellokittysweets.com/
For reservation, call +886 2 2711 1132 or e-mail kittysweets@transgroup.com.tw

Topping up our card

Topping up our card

Zhu Ji Beef Steak Wonton (朱記牛排餛飩專賣)

At night, boyfriend was already on the hunt for another beef steak to make up for the awful cold one he had at Hello Kitty cafe. I searched online for recommendations in Ximending but they were all rather expensive and we wanted to preserve our funds for the next few remaining days in Taiwan. Then boyfriend recalled seeing an eating place beside our hotel building which served all kinds of steak! Fish steak, chicken steak, beef steak.. you name it, they have it. Hahaha!

I kept reading it as 牛猪鱼排排排..

I kept reading it as 牛猪鱼排排排..

Order chit / price list

Order chit / price list

Plum juice :)

Plum juice 🙂

The place was rather vacant when we went there. Being a Singaporean who associates queues/crowd with popularity for eateries, I have to admit that I was quite sceptical about the taste of their food at first. Boyfriend and I ordered beef steaks on hot plate. We expected them to just serve us just that because there wasn’t any indication on the order chit that it came with something else. Furthermore the price was also very reasonable for an a la carte menu.

Then the food came…

Corn soup!

Corn soup!

Break on top a bowl of soup

It came with a pastry on top

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

Beef steak with spaghetti gravy

Beef steak with spaghetti gravy

Beef steak with mushroom sauce

Beef steak with mushroom sauce

We were pleasantly surprised! Placed on top of the soup bowl was what we’d call the Taiwanese roti prata. The meal also came with a cup of plum drink and the beef portion was huge for a meal which costed only S$6!?! OMG MAN. If you’re broke and hungry in Ximending, I’d totally recommend this place for its very value-for-money food!

Address
No. 54-14, Section 2
Hankou St, Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen, Exit 3 or 6

* * *

GoSleep Hotel (Hankou)
No. 54, Section 2
Hankou Street, Wanhua District,
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen

* * *

That’s all for days 1-4! I’ve decided to split the entire trip into 2 parts because there are just too many pictures to blog about! Stay tuned for the next instalment 🙂

Read part 2 of “Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles” here.

 

Read also:
Taiwan, the Heart of Asia 2012

Taiwan, the Heart of Asia

Oh my god, guess what? It’s already December and this post was drafted in August! Hahaha oops.

I mentioned on my Beijing post that CTC offered my Bf and I a 1-for-1 trip to Taiwan in July BUT probably because of the bad timing (the June holidays had already ended) and the super warm weather there, they couldn’t get the minimum response to confirm the tour. So we had no choice but to take up their free-and-easy package (because our deposit of $1000 was stuck with them and we didn’t want to go through all the hassle of getting a refund) and explore Taiwan ourselves. It took us a lot of courage – okay maybe just me – to decide to go on our own because we don’t really like planning itineraries and prefer to let a third party settle everything for us. But I was still fine with it because I wanted to experience how it is like in Taiwan, and not travelling from places to places in a coach.

Bf and I have different purposes of going to Taiwan. If I am abroad, I would splurge on accessories or clothes that are probably cheaper or can’t be found here in Singapore. Bf on the other hand prefers to explore scenic places (gosh I hate those.. unless we’re in European countries – that will be a completely different issue) or anything that don’t require much spending. So imagine the bickering we had when we were planning our itinerary..  But ultimately shopping districts like Wu Fen Pu, Xi Men Ding still made it to our list! 😛 Oh and this was our first Taiwan trip!

The date of the flight remained unchanged even though it was no longer the 1-for-1 offer because we had already applied for leaves. But now instead of SIA, we travelled with China Airlines with in-flight entertainment. Nice and polite cabin crew but the experience was bad enough to deter me from flying with them again – especially at the return flight. Flight was delayed for at least 30 mins and air-con didn’t seem to work in the plane. Bf was sweating like a dog cos it was so stuffy! In-flight entertainment took forever to work so I gave up in the end. So yup, no China Airlines for me next time unless the price of the tickets is able to justify the kind of experience I get.

Touched down at Tao Yuan International Airport at 2pm-ish. The airport was undergoing a major makeover so it was a little challenging to get out as there were no visible directions but it’s alright. At the immigration counter, I was greeted by the immigration officer before checking my passport – wow! So unlike the Thai immigration officers the other time I went to Bangkok who were unfriendly and unwelcoming -_-

Taoyuan International Airport

Day 1

Our first plan upon arrival was to apply for internet access for Bf’s Ipad which was VERY IMPORTANT in getting us to places with its very fast, efficient and accurate Google Maps. While he was doing that, I went to apply for Youth Card (it’s a round red card with “aboriginal tribe pattern” that is meant for international youth aged 15-30) that may come in handy when we visit places like Taipei 101 and Taipei Zoo (no time to go both in the end) because the card would entitle us to discounts 🙂 We didn’t use the card in the end but I’m pretty sure it can still be used the next time we visit Taiwan!

Thereafter we were picked up from the airport (shuttle service) to Look Hotel, our lodging place throughout our stay in Taipei. It’s a very small but comfortable 4-star hotel located about 15-20 minutes walk from Taipei Main Station (TMS) with many many food stalls (小吃) around the area! But we didn’t want to be confined in just one area so we spent most of our time outside TMS. After we were done unpacking our luggages, it was already nightfall. We didn’t want to go too far from our hotel so we went to Shilin Night Market, just 5 stations away.

Look Hotel banner

Look Hotel reception

Our hotel surroundings

Food sold around our hotel

Taipei railway station

Station indicators. More accurate than the lousy Christmas lights MRT map in our trains -_-

The train station is probably the best place to understand and observe the locals’ mannerism and culture. It was a little of a culture shock to me when you really see them queueing up for the train and on the escalator (though they stand on their right), and leaving the priority seats vacant (trust me, those who took the seats and don’t seem to be old/handicapped/pregnant are foreigners. More dominantly, the PRCs judging from their accents). I was so amaaaaazed! Xiaoqing once saw a travelogue of Singapore on a Taiwanese channel and they marketed Singapore as a luxurious and well-to-do country. Imagine the Taiwanese’ shock and disgust when they see how we behave especially at MRT stations. -_-

Anyway, back to Shilin Night Market. From what I understand the night market also recently went through a makeover. It looked more organised as compared to the past (from pictures I saw online). Shall let the pictures do the talking:

We're almost there. View from the train station

Shilin Night Market - Welcome!

The revamped Shilin Night Market

Orh jian Taiwanese Version! Yumtums

Other yummy food we have yet to try! The sausages are HUMONGOUS in real life.

Shilin Night Market

Taiwanese really love their dogs! Another reason for staying there :)

Land of Ji Pa (Chicken Cutlet). Yum yum

Day 2

After reading so many reviews of Hello Kitty Sweets, I was so elated that I finally got the chance to try it! Anyone who has been to Taiwan would have definitely been to this restaurant and I can tell you that it’s not highly raved because of its theme (Hello Kitty) but because of its food! And for the record, I’m not a fan of Hello Kitty. Not at all! Xiaoqing who was there last year warned that the place is very popular even with the locals so reservation is definitely a must! Otherwise you’d have to queue with the rest or dine somewhere else because their waiting list is really MADNESS. Even if you get a table, you only have (I think) 90 minutes to eat? And there is a minimum spending of NT300.

So I heeded her advice and wrote in via e-mail to make a reservation for 2 in my horrible command of (traditional) Mandarin about 5 days in advance! Then I got a confirmation mail from them but if I didn’t turn up 15 minutes after the reservation time, the table would be given up to someone else. Because of this I was so kanchiong, took a cab down instead of the train because I knew I was gonna be late. Hahahaha!!

Hello Kitty Sweet is a VERY PINK restaurant so Bf felt really gay when he entered. But I, on the other hand, was a very happy girl because pink is my favourite colour! Hahaha. There I witnessed a family of 3 getting refused a table because they didn’t make reservation – even when they pleaded and assured that they would be done in 30 minutes – because there was no vacant table! So guys, please make sure you make reservation to avoid disappointment! They seriously don’t care if you travel all the way from America or Singapore to try their food. If there is no seats available, you’d have to dine elsewhere! (Yes I do agree they are pretty hostile)

Me at the entrance

What greet us at the entrance

The menu

Thousand Island Salad

I think this is clam chowder?

Salmon

Duck - don't be deceived by the poor appearance. It's really YUMMY

Apart from the gayness, the food was surprisingly good! Bf and I ordered a set meal each which came with salad, appetiser, soup and dessert (no drink sadly). There were I think 3 choices for the appetiser. Being kiasu Singaporeans, we wanted to try as many different dishes as  we could so I got myself salmon while Bf took duck (I forgot which part of the duck but it’s the only duck appetiser on the menu). Well, let me just summarize the appetisers in 2 words: NOT ENOUGH. Seriously, both were damn good, especially the duck! The salad was super yumtums too and I am not really fond of salad okay!! Oh, the soup also came with bread which is a common practice. BUT look:

HELLO KITTY IMPRINTED BUNS

Buns were soft like cushion and I loved them! I’m pretty sick of the hard, crunchy bread I kept having in Singapore so this was a refreshing change for me!

Even the drinks we ordered (a la carte) have Hello Kitty floating on them

Then came our main course! I had baked rice while Bf had this burger which I forgot what (sorry, it’s been awhile). They did not disappoint at all!

The burger Bf ordered. Even the bun is Hello Kitty shaped

My baked rice!

The carrot in my baked rice! Everything, everything is Hello Kitty

The dessert! The pudding is nice

Our takeaway cake

Us

I swear the food were simply delectable and the overall experience there deserves my 2 thumbs up even though I feel the hostility of the service crew. They were pretty reluctant to help take a photo for us but oh wells! They probably were too busy to entertain us! Nevertheless we left the restaurant with a very satisfied tummy AND a takeaway cake because it was so highly raved online as well! But we regretted later because..

Our next stops were Wu Fen Pu and Raohe Night Market. We tried clearing our bowels (hahaha) before entering into these food zones. When we were there we practically pigged out! I am very sure I gained a few kilos at Raohe. Thankfully as most people know, Wu Fen Pu has more wearables than edibles so by the time we went to Raohe Night Market, I was near bankrupt and couldn’t afford anymore food! But because Bf didn’t buy much stuff at Wu Fen Pu, he was still pretty loaded with NTD so I stole the food that he bought! *facepalm*

Civilised locals queueing up for the train! Singaporeans are getting there too

TW's very own fine notices

Going to Wu Fen Pu...

We're reaching! Do you see Cosmed? That's TW's Watsons! I got all my masks from there

We're near.. Because clothes are everywhere :D

Wu Fen Pu

Anyway Wu Fen Pu is really a shopping haven for girls (and dogs, because they really have nice, cute, CHEAP dog clothings)! You can find Singapore-based blogshop clothes (or potential ones) there at a much lower price but only after scouring the entire site. However I must say that there are still shops out there selling stuff at exorbitant prices, so beware! And do check for defects too. I’m saying this because I bought an ombre maxi skirt  from a makeshift stall without checking because I trusted the old lady that there should be no issues with a brand new piece in an unopened bag 😦 I only discovered the defect when I returned to Singapore -_- I also didn’t think of manufacturing defects at the time of purchase partly because we were in a rush to leave for Raohe.

Road to Raohe Night Market

Entrance

My favourite from Raohe - Sotong!!

What we Singaporeans call Sotong balls!

My sotong snack!

Mango/Strawberry shaved ice! A very popular dessert in Taiwan

Split sausage

Other than filling our mouths with food all the time at Raohe, we also spent some time at their mini arcade. Well, more specifically, on their toy-catching machines! I make it a point to grab some toys whenever I’m abroad (especially in Asian countries) because it’s just too EXPENSIVE to do so in Singapore! I realised I never blogged about my Batam trip that happened last year (because the experience was terrible and I just can’t be bothered to recount. I’ll probably do it one day) but yes, Batam’s toy catchers are mad cheap! The ones in Taiwan too are comparably affordable as well and Bf swept away most of the toys in the machine. Hahaha luck was just with us that day! Even the store assistant was dumbfounded.

Mini arcade.. Or rather, a place full of toy catchers

Bf working hard to catch some toys

And he's got it!!

Day 3

We checked out of Look Hotel and went to take a high-speed train to Kaohsiung! Even though both Taipei and Kaohsiung are in Taiwan, they look like completely different places altogether! Kaohsiung is definitely more laid-back and rural (I mean duh, Taipei is the city after all). When we bought the train passes we were told that we could choose between a super high-speed and a normal high-speed train. I can’t remember if there is any difference in the prices but the normal one definitely took a longer time to reach its destination (I think about 30 minutes more?). Because we were dead beat and wanted a short nap, we took the normal high-speed train! Hahaha. The entire journey took 1.5 hours if I am not wrong! Can you imagine that I take the same amount of time to travel from Bukit Gombak to Pasir Ris? And Singapore is SO SMALL? -_-

When the train bypassed Chia-Yi, I can’t help but to hum the theme song of 意难忘 HAHAHA. If you ever took a peep at your Mom’s TV at around 4.30pm during weekdays 5 years ago, you should know why! Actually 爱 is also relevant if I am not wrong 😛

The HSR station faregate but we used a special exit

the HSR mascot! Cute right!!

What we call EZ link cards. Yes, these are used to tap on the normal train gantry!

Having fun experimenting with the machine! It's about the same as ours

Koi's affiliate!

Hotel font

So upon arrival at Kaohsiung and getting accustomed to the new environment, we tried planning our itinerary! There was nothing much to explore at Kaohsiung so we ended up having dinner at another highly raved seafood place near our hotel (Ambassador Hotel) called Lai Lai Seafood. Contrary to reviews online, Bf and I didn’t find the prices low (probably because we ordered too much HAHA) The service staff were really amiable and welcoming. When one of them knew we were from Singapore (did I mention many thought we were from Hong Kong?), he tried conversing with us in English because our mandarin really couldn’t make it. I was struggling to find the mandarin translation for sting ray, describing it to the best of my ability. Trust me, I even brought in Steve Irwin into the conversation. In the end, he was like, “Oh, ray!” Haha, gosh.

What Lai Lai has (of course that's not all)

Clams

Prawns

What we Singaporeans call Kangkong (cos I forgot what it is called in TW)

Lai Lai's proudest dish because they claimed that the crab has some sort of eggs that other normal crabs don't

Fried fish

After dinner, we took a long walk back to the nearest (but not so near) metro station to get to San Duo Shopping Mall. We stopped by at some gelato store for dessert during our stroll.

:D

At San Duo, we bought movie tickets to watch Street Dance. Bf wanted to watch Ted (yes, it was out in Taiwan like eons before it was screened in Singapore! SO SLOW LOR) but all available timing were SOLD OUT! So we settled for my favourite movie genre – dance! 😀 I am also super glad Kaohsiung had churros (huge ones!) because they seem to be extinct in Singapore -_- Anyway the movie ended pretty late and we missed the last train back to City Council station where our hotel was. So we took the very last train and stop at whatever its terminal was and took a cab back. Hey guess how much their midnight cab surcharge is? It’s 1 FRIGGIN TAIWAN DOLLAR. Not SGD k! It’s NTD!! Walao I want to pack my bags and migrate to Taiwan NOW!!

Churros! Original and chocolate flavours

Day 4

Dream Mall front

Right after breakfast in the hotel we headed to Dream Mall! I think it’s just another mall designed for tourists because there weren’t many locals there. There was nothing special about the place other than their rooftop theme park and Sanrio-themed Ferris wheel.

Statue Man

Snake man!! So cute he even posed for a photo without me asking

Archery at the rooftop theme park

On the Ferris wheel

:3

Bf was finding high and low for a book store in Taiwan and we finally found one there. Why was he so eager to visit a book store there? Singapore don’t have meh? …

You're the Apple of my Eye book

Bf thought that it’d be more memorable and special if the book were to be bought in Taiwan, its origin *rolls eyes* Hahaha okay to be fair I also bought a copy for myself 😛 And from there, Bf and I lugged a huge bag of My Beauty Diary masks back to the hotel, for personal use and NOT for sale HAHA. I SWEAR IT’S DIRT CHEAP THERE. If I ever return to Taiwan (which I probably will! *fingers crossed*) it’s partly because I want to get more masks! (And also because I love the people there! They are really different :))

At night, we took a cab down (lazy tourists who refused to take the train like the locals) to 2 of the many night markets in Kaohsiung – Ruifeng and Liuhe Night Markets! To be honest I found the food there more appetising than those in Taipei! There is this very well-known papaya milk store at Liuhe which is endorsed by the Taiwanese prime minister/president (should be the former, but I don’t think the endorsement is still ongoing hahaha!). Indeed the papaya milk was super yummy! And I also had my first smelly tofu there! Well, it wasn’t as smelly as I thought! But I’m still not a fan of tofu 😦 Oh they also sold super big BBQ prawns! We bought quite a number back to the hotel. Hahaha fat die us.

Fishball soup at Ruifeng

Chicken cutlet at Ruifeng

Pig pancakes!

I don't know what these are but they sure look appetising

Taiwanese really love their dogs! They bring them everywhere they go

Chop chop chicken cutlet

This is a huge disappointment :( Not nice and too short also

Papaya milk everywhere at Liuhe

Smelly tofu!

The giant prawns!!

Even stallholders bring their dogs along to work!

Day 5

Left Kaohsiung and returned to Taipei via super high-speed train this time! The moment we stepped out of the train we could already feel the hastened pace of the city. We took a train back to our first hotel (Look) where we would spend our last few nights. We also left our luggages there for safekeeping so we only brought our necessities and valuables to Kaohsiung. We didn’t have to drag our heavy luggages back and forth! Yay for convenience 🙂

Then we took the train to Xin Bei Tou because that’s where all the hot spring resorts are in Taipei. Seriously, there was a whole stretch of them and we were spoilt for choice! In the end we patronised this resort which just commenced operations not too long ago (according to the receptionist) so it wasn’t on the map yet! We were led to this small hotel-like room and the hot spring tubs (one for hot water and the other for cold water) were at the balcony!

I can't really read the text so if you see this banner somewhere outside, this is the place!

One of the tubs!

It was a torture at first because the water was either freezing cold or boiling hot. But after staying in the water for more than 5 minutes, you wouldn’t feel like getting out of there. But sadly you have to after 15 minutes, to the next tub of water of the opposite extreme temperature. Oh gosh, it was like self-punishment every 15 minutes. And til today, I still do not comprehend the health benefits of hot springs, hahaha. But it was indeed a relaxation time for me on the overall. If I remember correctly it was a 3-hour package.

My green tea cake and earl grey tea?

Yummeh

Then we were treated to cakes and tea! We only know how to enjoy life there. Hahaha!

According to our (flawed) itinerary, our next stop after hot spring resort is Xi Men Ding. That was my die-die-must-go place in Taiwan and I literally pleaded the MCP Bf to add that into the itinerary. Just like Orchard Road in Singapore, it’s like their main shopping district, so how can you miss that when you’re in Taiwan right!? We also wanted to have dinner at Modern Toilet Restaurant and by the time our hot spring session ended, it was already close to 8pm!

Streets of Xi Men Ding

Xi Men Ding adverts

Xi Men Ding lights

Modern Toilet

One more at the staircase landing

As expected, the restaurant had already stopped taking orders the moment we reached there 😦 The restaurant staff must have seen my disappointed look because she told me that I could still enter and snap some pictures. Hahaha. But I didn’t la. So we took pictures of the exterior! But I told Bf that we die-die also must dine at this restaurant before leaving Taiwan! He said, “No, we have no time.”

The sukiyaki place

We are so pathetic that we requested for menu in English

Everything. Just dump everything inside!

Look at those meat! Free friggin flow

Deesert! This is super nice!

Feeling super famished, we looked around Xi Men Ding for alternative dining places! Then we spotted this sukiyaki restaurant not too far from Modern Toilet! I really think it was a blessing in disguise because WOW! Free-flow of everything on the menu, including meat! I tell you, after this sukiyaki experience you wouldn’t even want to step into any sukiyaki restaurant in Singapore because in comparison, they are so stingy with the meat and so expensive some more. And true enough, since my trip to Taiwan, I have NOT stepped into any one here so far. Hahaha. (Unless it’s someone’s treat)

Day 6

Skipped hotel breakfast for this! Bf went out just to get Dou jiang (bean curd), you tiao (fried fritters) and dou nai (soya milk drink)!

The original plan was to go to Jiufen to light sky lanterns but the next departing train to Jiufen was pretty late so we replaced this plan with..? Modern Toilet 😛 But unlike Hello Kitty Sweets, despite the interesting interior design, food at Modern Toilet was really blah. So you go there solely to camwhore, not for the food okay?

The only thing nice we ate there were the nuggets :/

My dish. Chicken cutlet with cheese

Not-so-nice ice cream :(

It was almost the end of our Taiwan trip but we had not bought anything for our families and friends back home! So our last shopping trip was to Tamsui where you can find all Taiwanese titbits there. Because we bought so many stuff, we actually requested for the items to be delivered to our hotel! 2-3 boxes worth of snacks! HARDCORE OR NOT?!

Tamsui station

Tamsui so happening!

Hi there cutie pie! Dogs, dogs everywhere! I love Taiwan <3

I don't know how to call this but it's pretty common in Singapore, sold in those Korean snack stores

Bf's favourite street food: quail eggs!

More sotongs (they call them Hua1 Zhi1, so chim lor) but I still prefer the one at Raohe :D

This

Tried their

Hong Ma's sour plum juice. Really sour!

At Tamsui we also found the Turkish ice-cream shop hidden near the river. You know, the Turkish guy who is out to embarrass you in public by refusing to give you your ice-cream while you attempt to snatch it from him? HAHA I WAS ONE OF HIS VICTIMS. Damn it!

Turkish ice cream described in chinese characters

Buyers usually get their ice creams after their 3rd attempt. Hahaha but he was really entertaining!

Fried milk? How is it even possible? Apparently it is possible in Taiwan! And it really tasted NOT BAD!! It's like fried balls with milk inside. WARMTH IN YOUR MOUTH!

There were many portrait artists at Tamsui and we went to the one offering the lowest rates! He was a very humble guy who wasn't really happy living in Taiwan, and kept saying how envious he was of Singaporeans (that our government treat us well). Had a conversation with him while he drew both of us on his canvas!

The last few kilos gained were from Tamsui because there were really just too many irresistible food around in that little town. I don’t know why this place isn’t featured in the Lonely Planet book but it’s really a place worth visiting!

Day 7

TGIF

Before heading to the airport, we had our final meal in Taiwan at T.G.I.F! The pricing is pretty standard like Starbucks and I blew a little more than a SG$100 there. 😦

Pricey but food was good! We were trying to eat as fast as we could because we were running late for our flight back to Singapore

It’s been 4 months and I still miss Taiwan. I will definitely be back again! 🙂

Hopefully in the near future, I’m also able to get a house there 😛

 

Read also:
Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles 2013 (PART 1)
Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles 2013 (PART 2)