Monday, November 12, 2007

Taipei Fantasy *Finally..

It's been years since I yearn to touch my feet down on Taipei and those 7 days were probably one of the most enjoying trips I had. It was a trip that left me restless a week before I walked down the aisle to my seat on SIA and embark on that long awaited holiday.


Unfortunately, one of our travelling partners needed a Visa to get through the customs and we were already trying to check in. After what seemed like forever, we were told the sad truth that she definitely needed a Visa or they might turn her away and fine the airline as well. It left us rather angry as we had checked online and asked the embassy but we were all told that one is not required. Anyway if you're wondering, she's not local. Luckily, the embassy was willing to rush out the Visa in a few hours but Joe and I had to catch the flight due in 1.5 hour time. We ran about aiding them in switching to the evening flight and faxing the necessary stuff they needed. SIA was really kind enough to do us a personal favor and left us a contact for our friend to reach as we were desperately late for our flight if we waited on. So with all 4 person's luggage and hand carry bags, we lugged them all and hurried to our gate.



Tiring? Yes but unexplainable fun. Maybe the fact that Joe and I have not taken a holiday together for a fairly long time, we were more excited about the bubble tea that we love at Taiwan. ;p


After all the rush, we were able to settle ourselves down for 5 mins before boarding and a look at the plane I was going to go aboard.

This is my favourite seat on the plane, right smack at the back where I can smell all the food. LOL!

*******

I wonder where am I ???


I got hungry even before the plane took off but luckily they served us lunch first. Perks of sitting near the back, 90% of the time I got my food first. ;p *drool* We each ordered a different set and I believe SIA's food catering isn't that bad. Although the pasta was a little bland but the salad was fantastic. Joe's oriental selection was even better!


After 1 movie or 2, we were near Taipei and a glance out of the window came a breath-taking view. Those clouds looked so pretty... ...


After clearing customs and taking a cab ride that felt like forever, as the peak hour jam was pretty bad. We set our feet down on land and welcomed ourselves to xi mending!!!!! I was so excited at the sights and sounds of it that I couldn't stand a minute in that hotel room. It's just a waste not to go down there to experience all the hype downstairs. In addition, it was a Friday night! Even lugging the 3 luggages to walk our way through the pavement to our hotel, did not hold us back from getting the first cup of bubble tea. (and) I thought I was a bubble tea fanatic, Joe was worse. ;p


Well, not a minute to spare - I had to taste the food!!! Glorious road side, authentic local FOOD! That was the first meal we had for the night. It was ordered at a small food stall downstairs and all of them were yummy!!! Next, we ventured around the shops while waiting for our friend to touch down but we got too anxious and ended up with ...


more food from the illegal road side stalls ...

Well, they don't pay rental, so they're considered illegal but no difference from those we saw at Shilin Night market. I got a bubble gum from 7-11 while purchasing water supplies for the next few days and we also ta bao fried carrot cake (bottom left corner) from the food stall we went earlier. While walking out of 7-11, the smell of bbq food attracted me over and so I got a big BBQ squid, together with the famous spring onion pancake. That is what I like to call the Taiwan version of Prata and not to miss out on another cup if bubble tea we bought at a stall less than minute away.

I ordered plum green tea with pearl and it only cost like 35NT, including real plum (not syrup!) and 1/3 cup of pearl. I will like to remind you that the cup is equivalent to a medium drink at our local fast food restaurant but they do have a smaller size one.

That was my favourite road side stall, where I got the BBQ squid. It's the best I had at Taipei and those at the night market wasn't even as good. If you're staying around Xi mending then you won't miss it and you can get bbq pig blood if you're a fan of it. ^^ It's a ban product back home but there, you can eat it easily anywhere. It was also the first time I tried it but I didn't like it. Besides the texture, it was just tasteless and the thought of eating blood turns me off. -.-

*******


Early (if 10am is considered early...) on the first morning in Taipei, we woke up with not only an empty stomach but empty streets as well. I suppose shops did not open till like 11 or 12pm. We wondered around and from the side my eyes I noticed a side road that had a large sign with food on it. I supposed it was a "sign" (oooohhhh) and we hoped down the stairs to see a restaurant that specialise in beef noodles. (yawnzzz) As you can see from the picture, there's no one else but us, and I thought we are pig heads that sleep endlessly. I'm one tired woman with heavy eye bags and an empty stomach.

Before I went, I was told that beef noodles are a must try when I'm there. Well, it wasn't the best but neither was it bad. The only thing I didn't like was the thickness of the noodle. It was simply impossible to finish it. -.-

After our heavy breakfast, we took a train and bus to the famous...

so sleepy zzz zzz

Taipei 101... It was so tall that we could hardly get the whole building into the picture. Joe had to lie down on a bench to do it. *lol! Nevertheless, we had quite some fun travelling around with friends and walking around the branded boutiques inside. I had wanted to look for the Prada card holder but unfortunately the SA wasn't helpful and they didn't have much.

We headed back to the hotel in the evening and took a rest before we went to Shilin at night. Before that, it's time for some photo taking of our loots for the day.

Joe's new shoe and puma jacket.. that particular brand of shoes has quite some designs and I almost felt like buying one pair of "bling" shoes. Luckily the hope of finding a pair of leather boots pull me back.I got a hat, long long long socks to protect my legs from the wind and Japanese makeup from Watsons. Joe also got some hair products to color his hair when we were there. ;p

******* Shilin Night Market


What do we (ahem* I) love at night markets? Well, a picture speaks a thousand words. I gobbled it all upand it was a lot lor! None of them wanted to eat with me (boo hoo). You can have it in it's original fried form or there is also the grilled smelly tofu. All thanks to my parents for feeding me that on our Taiwan trip when I was just 10 years old. -.-"

After which we had the super huge sausages and spiral photo chips. I was already feeling like a pig, eating in such quantities but no one can blame me with all that temptation.


The Da Da Ji Pai and Hu Jiao Bing is also another attraction at shilin and you should really go there with an empty stomach or be as greedy as me. LOL! After all this food, we even headed down to the Hot springs to relax and once you're there, you just can't resist not going down into that water.

They have public and private hot springs. If you're daring even to bare it all for the whole world to see, then I suggest you head to the public side where there's hot and cold water with sauna facilities. If you're like me who loves privacy and the thought of showing your naked body from the locker to the dresser to the water is a big no-no, then the private rooms provide you with your own shower and heat adjustable spring water. I even had an open roof to add to the enjoyment. That's a picture of what my hot spring room looked like.


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Hsin Chu

After a nice warm breakfast, we took a short taxi ride to the bus station to hope on an express bus to Hsin Chu where we will meet a friend and take a walk through the flower market. The bus is quite comfy but we were sitting at the last row, so there's no comfort to mention. Except that I was able to view the television with no obstruction.

After an hour, we finally got there and headed straight to our friend's apartment. I had lots of food there but I only took a picture of the huge bread that somewhat looked like prata. The 5 of us shared like a quarter of it and I suppose it taste pretty normal but looks impressive. After that, I also had some sotong balls, which tasted really good (DoDo step aside!) and yummy smelly tofu. ;p Although I must say that the drinks there taste awful. The sugar had a funny taste to it and the passion fruit juice we had later on tasted more like 3/4 cups of syrup to 1/4 cup of water. Getting bottled drinks are safer..

After all that, I continued feasting on Da Ji Pai before heading to a restaurant for Chicken cooked in Chinese wine (lots of it!!). You can see there's a steamboat filled with stuff in it. I was amazed that people in Taiwan eat Roosters instead. The meat was tough and soaked with wine. I think I would have gotten drunk if I drank a bowl of that "goodness". We couldn't it anymore, so we requested them to burn off the wine (picture on the right). You'll be able to see flames on it and even after that, the soup still taste like wine. *hick!*

My loot for that day,

Make up base from The Face Shop. Prices are just slightly cheaper there and I find this really good. It not just acts as a make up base but it has moisturising ingredients and if you want a more natural look, it can be a tinted moisturiser. That pretty much summed up the day.

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1 Day tour


We had an early day and a quick breakfast at MacDonalds that left me with indigestion. Muffins sure ain't my good friends... We were also 15mins late and the tour guide actually left without us. Luckily they were picking up others at a nearby hotel and that really didn't leave us with a good impression. I understand that it will be unfair to make others wait but she could have left a note since she was near by. That was a start of my hatred of her and there's more complains to come.

The coach for that day was even better than the one we took to Hsin Chu and I felt better after that indigestible breakfast. I usually throw up on a long road trip but surprisingly, I was fine even before we reached our second destination. *Phew* Along the way, I took random pictures of the mountain area where I wondered how one survives where there's no facilities in sight but it sure is beautiful up there.

Where to next ??

Soon it started to rain as we neared our next destination where we'll see the famous rock that so called looked like a Queen's Head aka 女王头. My first trip to Taiwan, I was just 10 and I remember vividly how the stone looked like. I was feeling excited going back there once again to see how it had been and I heard that the erosion may one day make it disappear. The rain looked heavy and the waves were strong along the coast. We took the umbrella available on the bus and the tour guide warned us of the bad weather and if we were to walk, we had to be careful.


Instead of bringing us to the stone, we walked just merely a minute away and stopped a distant from the stones viewing it from far. Joe and I decided to brave the wind and rain, getting drenched from head to toe just to get a closer look at it. I suppose it did look like a Queen's head from that angle and on the bottom left was a big rock that looked like a camel. My hair was soaked wet and poor Joe had his fleece jacket wet as well but we had quite a good time. Just look at the wave behind us, I felt like I was ready to run if any of them turned into a Tsunami.

We were the only 2 who walked all the way next to it and walked back only realising it after that. I was amazed at another group of tourist who were given rain coats and the guide took them around the stones, explaining in the light drizzle while my tour guide decided to take cover and simply bringing the rest into a room to watch videos instead. I suppose she didn't want to wet her Gucci bag or so call "rain" shoes. Even along the way on the bus, she was passing comments on Singapore and Hong Kong, which I think wasn't nice to say negative things of other countries and praising only that of her own. Even with her vast knowledge, her lack of human relations are a big turn off for me.

After all that, she dropped us off at another place where the taste of heritage was written all over it. The small cramp stone paved roads with shops selling traditional stuff. It was nice but we weren't able to finish that place with the 1.5 hour including lunch. I bought some dried goods at a shop with an interesting name and passed by a place where I saw customised wooden shoes. Although some (bottom right corner) do look scary... ...

As it was raining the whole time, the tour guide decided to bring us to Miramar Shopping Mall instead of the Presidents house and Memorial Hall. Initially, I thought it was too cheap an exchange for 2 cultural locations. Another minus point for her, I thought.

It was cute to see a Ferris Wheel on top of a shopping mall and it did look like the kids would enjoy the ride up there. The guide asked us why we didn't want to go up but I thought it was redundant to sit in such a kiddish ride and since we had taken the one in Tokyo, which was really impressive, we could just skip that and take a walk around the mall. She mentioned that we also have a ferris wheel coming along and said that ours looked kind of small. My eyes starred back at her wide open and I looked at the miserable Ferris Wheel next to us. I really wonder if she ever think before she speak. *faints* Another minus point added to all the other demerit points she had accumulated and I was so going to waive that but even after we told her how big and tall it was, she still looked at us in doubt that it didn't look 40 floors high. It's time she read the newspaper and stopped looking at the gossip section.

Off we went and I chanced upon this big Gundam figurine. See, I'm so tiny beside it... and it's as tall as Joe!!

We were lucky that the rain stopped and the tour guide took us to the Memorial Hall where we got lucky again. As they were just about to have the ceremony for their change in shift. Honestly, I know it's a universal act in almost all countries but I have no idea what's the purpose behind it. *shrug* Ah well, the guide mentioned that they were good looking chaps like Jay Chou, so no harm looking O_O.

Their eyes probably resemble Jay.C. ;p Very uniform march and I salute them for their ability to stand still for so long. Next up, Mao's House where the famous Yuan Zu Ming earn a living by selling the fabulous Ling Zi that Taiwan is so well known for.

If u see carefully, there is a lady in red standing next to an umbrella. She's the princess of the tribe and her features are really exotic, like those of mixed blood. Her daughter was running about and she will later take over her mother's title. Nice isn't it? ^^ We were seated and given warm tea, where a nice lady came to tell us their heritage and the goodness of ling zi. They passed slices of it around for us to have a feel of it and it looked so much like suede. Later on, she had a quiz and she asked, "At what age does the human mind starts deteriorating in memory?" I thought my memory was kind of bad and I just randomly said my age out for fun but *bing0* it was the exact answer. So I got myself a pollen face moisturiser. It's been so long since I last won something (lor). *So happy!* I tried it back at the hotel but it did feel a little oily. Maybe it will be ideal for mature skin types but I realised how pushy people in Taiwan can be.

In less than a minute of introducing some product, the lady asked if I wanted a new one. I was taken aback and thought it was ridiculous. I hadn't even stepped more than a foot away from where I was sitting during the talk and she expected me to get it the minute I tried it. The good thing was, she still remained friendly even after I walked off and she followed me out there still asking and I was left with no choice but to remain in silence hoping she'll get the hint.

After that, we actually headed to the late President's home but Joe mentioned that it was boring and we would be better off resting on the Coach bus. So we did and we were taken to a final destination where there were lots and lots of Jade figurines. I forgot what's the name of it but it's a feng shui animal, a dragon and it's suppose to bring luck or any other elements as required. Unfortunately the guide in that shop spoke Cantonese and with the majority of us who understood the language, a young couple were an unlucky pair who had to bare with it. Our tour guide was supposed to explain to them in Chinese but she didn't and I think they weren't glad about that. Yet another demerit point and more to come.

When all was over, we let them do a calculation of our names and soon we were pushed into buying stuff. I believe in all that and I thought Joe will need it more than I do as certain things are important to aid success. In addition, I didn't have a budget for that and I believe in getting it only when I'm comfortable about it. They just kept persuading me to get it despite my explanation and to make matters worse, the tour guide added oil to my fire. She kept pushing it to me as well and I can't deny that it is something I like but with all the pushiness, I'm just turned off from buying. More demerit points for her! It was obvious that not only I felt that way but the evidence of everyone not leaving behind a tip was one major sign of failure.

Nevertheless, we still had fun despite her laziness as we all had great company along the way.

My loots for that day, leather platform boots, dried goods and other little souvenirs I got from the tour.

*******

Fisherman Wharf

Early in the morning, Joe and I went down to the usual restaurant for some breakfast. It was superb and I'm salivating as I recall. ;p...

Hopped onto the train and bus, making our way down to Fisherman's Wharf. Where there's the lovely "Lovers Bridge", fish market and scenic views. I heard it's a nice place to go for seafood but we're reserving our stomach for a feast later on. *sinister smile* You'll know what I mean as you read on and I bet you wish you can hope on the next flight there.

As there wasn't much entertainment there, we decided to hop onto the ferry back to the MRT. Lovely view, isn't it? But the boat ride was ... ...

If you're a person who gets sea sick easily, I suggest you popped a pill before taking the ride. When we decided to hang around the side of the boat, we weren't expecting what was about to happen. In just less than 10 minutes into the ride and after shooting a few photos, the boat made a sudden turn and was swayed violently from left and right. The few of us who stood outside were stunned and I had to grab on for dear life or risk being thrown overboard. *faint* I wonder if it's the current or did the captain d0 that on purpose.. Nevertheless it was still pretty fun..and fast!

So to make myself feel better, I went to the nearest ice cream stall for some super super tall ice cream. Well, my friends had the larger one while I decided to go for a smaller version. As the auntie squeezed it out, she failed on the first attempt and had to throw it all away... so sad.

Yummy! I totally forgot about the boat ride and I actually like the ice cream there. If you ask me, I don't think there's even any trace of cream in it. It's like super fine ice with flavour. Good for girls who want to stay slim. We had a go at some of the game shops there and we each won a pikachu hammer toy. Honestly I'm not sure where's mine.. ;p

As we made our way down to the MRT, we saw a group of production crew filming a show. He may not be a big time star but I've seen him on the Taiwanese Variety shows. Quite a funny guy.


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Theme Food

! Warning: Before we proceed further, do tighten your seatbelt and have a full meal before reading on. Otherwise risk spending your hard earn year $$$ on an IMMEDIATE air ticket to Taipei.
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Presenting to you some of Taipei's famous theme food... ...

Mr. Baoz!!

I had spend time researching on some of the places I must visit for that interesting food ideas Taiwanese have. First stop, Mr. Baoz. The queue is acceptable but if you want fresh, yummy bao then don't complaint about the waiting time. Everything is done on the spot and we waited for about 30mins, 2 dozens of it. ^^ Cute right?! Want to have some right?! Unfortunately, all were eaten up within 2 days after I got home. YEs! I hand carried them home okay! =)

If S'pore had it, I believe it will be an instant hit and we can all wave goodbye to lng donut queues. ;p If you're wondering, these baoz not only look good, they taste just as good. It's best to eat it on the spot but even after I refrigerate it and steamed it again, I think it's still nice.

Following that, we hoped on a cab for a short ride to PS BuBu Cafe. It's a car theme cafe in a quiet street where I really wonder if I would have found it without taking a cab.

Exceptionally quiet but we can see that the owner has taken great pains in decorating the cafe. Every detail was all related to the vintage beetle and minis that we sat in. We ordered 2 set meals to share between the four of us. One look at the food, you might think it's nothing much but you be surprised at how nice it taste.

That was one set meal with an added side dish of baked mussels with cheese. All very well done and above expectations. Even the salad that look so ordinary had a nice, tangy taste to it (mango sauce seems to be their magic ingredient). The soup is normal but at least it's not out of a can. We had pesto pasta and we were quite surprised at how nice it turned out to be. Yummy! Except, I was hoping for more cheese on those mussels.

If not for the location, I believe it should be bustling every hour. I will say, this is quite a nice place to visit for some afternoon snack or lunch.

:: Loots ::

Now, to share some loots I got. Lots of eyelashes, cute handphone pouch, yummy plum sweets in adorable packaging and tons of my favourite holy grail magazines, Bling Mania!!

Now for the last and final SHOWDOWN!

Well, the sign board outside says it all. No! We're not planning to get toilet bowls in Taipei but to sit and eat out of them. LOL!!! Interesting right?! It may be a bit of a turnoff thinking about it but when you're there, it's more of a novelty and you'll soon start to fool around with their stuff. We order a set meal that feeds four person and the price is very reasonable. I reckon the meal can fit up to 5 or even 6.

What you see above is the main course and those in the urinal were our drinks. I had the jasmine milk tea and it was really superb. The food taste pretty good as well. It may not be the best around but it's reasonable. Not to mention we had so much fun there that food might even taste better than it should. ;p

I thought that was kind of funny... =x Seems like not only do our butts sit on the toilet bowls but *ahem*.. WHY are the bags IN the bowl?!?!?!

After the whole main course, we were really full already and in came 2 little poos of ice cream. HAHAHAHA~ Literally in a shape of a POO.

Then...

You see the 2 squatting toilets in front (black and white). They served those 2 choc and vanilla poo first before scaring us with that huge mountain of poo (oops =X). I mean ice shavings with lots of toppings. It was huge LOR! Unless you're really hungry, or else how does one finish that pile of ice and toppings?!!! We even invited the staff in the restaurant to sit down with us to eat. lol! They're really a cute and fun loving bunch.

Magnified Version

After all that, we sat around taking pictures and chit chatting with the staff before making our way down for more last minute shopping.

I Love Shopping ^^

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