Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Taiwan - Dec '14

Day 1 - Taipei

We arrived at Taipei around 1pm, checked in hotel and had late lunch at Gao Ji

In the evening, we went to Yong Kang St 永康街 - a cuisine's mecca 
Besides restuarants, Yong Kang St is good for shopping too

Mango shaved ice at Smoothie House - Yong Kang St永康街.  There are many branches for this popular joint

Taiwan street food - fried squid and fried chicken - yummy!

                 Adjourned to Ning Xia Night market via subway for more food....

Taiwan night market staples - oyster mee sua, stinky tofu and oyster pancake

The clear clam soup with ginger was very sweet and refreshing as the clams were very fresh - slurps!

Skip the touristy Shilin night market. You can get all the yummy Taiwanese street food at Ningxia Night Market though it is smaller compared to Shilin.

Day 2 - Sun Moon Lake - Water Villa at Puli

We engaged a lady driver, Phyllis from Day 2.  She is a taxi driver and do guided tour on ad hoc basis.  We planned our own itinerary and booked our own accommodation.  Phyllis basically provided the transport.


 Paper Church 紙教堂, en route to Sun Moon Lake. This church was meant to be a temporary church building constructed with paper tubes after a massive earthquake.  The church is still functioning.

The interior

We had a very healthy lunch at the cafeteria next to the church

Thereafter, we headed to Sun Moon Lake日月潭.
Different aboriginal tribes of Taiwan

There were a lot of owl themed shops

Phyllis booked us a complimentary Sun Moon Lake cruise which stopped at an island to view a temple.  That place was super crowded with tourists.   Phyllis was so nice to queue for the popular Tea Eggs sold by an old lady on the island.
             View from the top of the island.

SML is beautiful but certain area was overcrowded and touristy.  But there are still nice, quiet area around the lake if one takes time to walk around and explore.

A posh 6 stars hotel nearby Sun Moon Lake - the surrounding of the hotel is quiet and peaceful - away from the hustle and bustle of tourists

Street lamp with a sun and a crescent moon

     Our accommodation  at Nantou, Puli 松園山莊 /水鄉

Dinner and breakfast were provided at the accommodation, which was home-cooked style. 

Day 3 - Aowanda - Cingjing

Before breakfast, we walked around the village surrounding the villa.  Puli has very good quality water which serves good irrigation for farming

 At the villa

The exterior of the lodges at the villa

Breakfast - home cooked porridge

En route to our next destination, Phyllis recommended us to stop by a grand temple with picturesque surrounding.

Betel nut trees.

Dessert fix - ice-cream and hot drinks at a popular ice-cream joint - Feeling 18 (18度C巧克力)

Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area.

We trekked up the Forest Park Trail to Aowanda Suspension Bridge.

The stunning view from the bridge.

Our next destination was Lu Shan Hot Spring 廬山溫泉.  We checked in to a hotel to experience the Taiwanese onsen.  Not quite the same as the Japanese style.  We had to wear cap and swimsuit in an indoor pool.  It was a good and relaxing soak.

Finally, we headed to our accommodation for the night, Star Villa天星渡假山莊 at Cingjing 清境 , a mountainous area in Nantou.

We had our dinner at Carton King- 紙箱王, a cardboard-themed restaurant. The restaurant was also decorated with cardboard figures and they had a shop selling cardboard toys and souvenirs as well.
          The cups are made of paper and we get to bring home the soft drink cardboard cup as souvenir.

                    The chairs, lighting....all made of cardboard

The exterior of the restaurant.

Day 4 - Cingjing Farm - Swiss Garden

The stunning view of mountains shrouded by clouds in the morning. 
          Fantastic view from our accommodation

Our first stop for the day was Cingjing Farm.觀山牧區 -青青草原

Sheep roaming freely, even at the spectators stand. They usually hold sheep shows here. 

Feeding the sheep.

There was also a horse acrobatic show featuring special breed horses and horse riders from Mongolia.

Basking in the "Sea of Cloud" marvelling at God's creation - Awesome!

 Phyllis recommended us to a restaurant that grilled chicken in clay urn - very yummy! The glove is for "tearing" the chicken :)

Next, we went to Swiss Garden 小瑞士, a quaint little garden that is Swiss-themed. It got a bit misty when we were there.

Enjoyed high tea at Old England老英格蘭, an old hotel with old English decor. Lovely ambience.

Watching beautiful sunset from our room. 

     Awesome view  from our lodge - "Sea of Cloud"

The owner of the lodge, a young chap, brought us for stargazing at the rooftop of the lodge. The remoteness of the location meant that the night skies there were especially dark, making it easy to see the constellations.

Dinner at a mall in Cingjing 清境商場

Day 5 - Cingjing - Taroko Gorge

Scenic drive to合歡山 

 Bai Yang trail 白楊步道

Coincidentally, we met Janet Hsieh, host of a travel programme - Fun Taiwan filming at Taroko Gorge. Next to her was her then boyfriend, now husband.  She was very friendly and obliged us to take a few photo shot with her.

Baiyang Waterfall 白楊瀑布

Water curtain 水濂洞 - visitors can walk through it, but the path is narrow and slippery. Recommended to bring ponchos as it is very wet.  We had a near accident just outside the Water curtain - one of us was hit by a falling rock while we were drying ourselves after the walk.  We were fortunate that the rock was not big. To play safe, helmet recommended.  


Our accommodation, Crossing the Rainbow Bridge 走過虹橋 near Taroko Gorge - very comfortable beds, clean and cosy decor.  Downside - need to carry luggage up the stairs, no lift

         Trying to catch sunrise at our accommodation

Typical Taiwanese breakfast with porridge

Day 6 - Taroko Gorge - Hualien

Qi Xing Lake 七星潭

    雲山水 -  Very Scenic


Travel along the beautiful Hualien East coast to Shitiping 石梯坪 

A cafe 拙而奇咖啡 (near Shihtiping) with intriguing wood carving art on display and for sale. Even the tables and chairs we sat on were specially carved as well.

Dinner at a famous Zhi Qiang night market at Hualien.
Rou geng - meat ball thick soup

A popular stall selling spring rolls.

星空與嵐Star & Mist B&B at Hualien - cosy cottage

Day 7 - Hualien - Yilan

                                                           Breakfast at the B&B
   Beautiful Hualien

Qing Shui Duan Ya 清水斷崖

                                                              Cultural Village 傳統藝術中心

The candy wrapped in spring roll skin with peanut and spring onion is very delicious


心曠神怡溫泉飯店 Hotel in Yilan with a spa in the the hotel room.  Yilan is known for hot spring.


Walking around Yilan downtown at night.  
                                                                  Chilli ice cream

Footbath is available at the mall open area

Day 8 - Yeliu - Ju Ming Museum - Jiufen


Wine tasting at the whisky distillery

A rainy afternoon at Yeliu Park 野柳.  Very touristy.


The famous Queen Head, in which you had to queue up to snap a photo of.

The replica of Queen Head - no queue :)

          A man was proposing to his girlfriend in the rain at Yeliu Park

 A satisfying lunch at 金山老街.  The famous stall we had lunch is near a temple - crowded and busy.  Food was very good

Teresa Teng (a famous Taiwanese singer) tomb - en route to Ju Ming Museum

A museum displaying the works of famousTaiwanese sculptor, Ju Ming 朱銘美術館.

The open air museum is well worth a visit

Jiufen 九份.
Popular Jiufen fishball soup張記傳統魚丸.

Famous alleyway of Jiufen. 
The famous Ah Mei teahouse - it was made famous by a Japanese movie. We noted many Japanese tourists at this place.

Jiufen is dotted with many teahouses which are lighted up with beautiful lanterns at night.  We stayed a night in Jiufen so as to enjoy this wonderful night scene.

Day 9 - Shifen - Yang Ming Shan - Taipei

                                                                 黄金博物園  Gold Museum

  南雅風化石, 鼻頭角 Enjoyed the wonderful rock formation along the northern coastline

陰陽海 The sea appears to have 2 shade of colour (green and blue)  thus called Ying Yang sea

Setting off sky lanterns at Shifen十分放幸福天燈.

Taipei - Yang Ming Shan陽明山國家公園

Many wild cows grazing at the hills of Yang Ming Shan

Milk pond, which got its colour due to sulfur. 冷水坑(牛奶池)

Qingshan Suspension bridge菁山吊橋.

One of Sun Yat Sen's residencies at the foot of Yang Ming Shan which is now open to tourists.

Day 10 - Taipei - Maokong cable car 

Breakfast - sweet and salty beancurd and fried you tiao
Queue snaked from the stall in a food court on 2nd floor to the street.....we had these for breakfast 2 days in a row cos it was so good.

Maokong cable car貓空纜車. You can take a cable car to Maokong station, and there are two types of cabins - regular and crystal cabins. The crystal cabins have glass floors as seen below. There are fewer crystal cabins hence longer queue time

There are tea plantations, restaurants, cafe around the Maokong station.

The mountainous area is dotted with restaurants and cafes.  It was good to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying the fresh air and good view at a cafe.

 The restaurant served dishes cooked with local produces like tea leave fried rice - the food was very delicious.

                        Pepper pancake胡椒餅 is an icon of Raohe night market 饒河夜市

Walking around Taipei city in the evening.

     忠孝復興,忠孝敦化商圈, 誠品書店

Day 11 - Taipei - Ximending
  西門町 - shopping mecca

Trip to Taipei would not be complete without eating the famous Ah Zhong Mian Xian 阿宗麵線 at Ximending.  We rounded off our Taiwan trip with very fulfilling bowls of mian xian and boxes of pineapple tarts to bring home for souvenirs.

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