Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind

This is my first time traveling abroad with mi mejor amiga of 11 years (and still counting!). Our destination is none other than Taiwan-The Heart of Asia. This is my 4th time going there and no, I will never get sick and tired of it. 
Why, you may ask? The food alone is enough to lure me there:)
Our purposes in going? Eat and Shop non-stop, simple as that:) Oh and not forgetting, counting down in another part of the world.

Our first scoot experience. I didn't know Scoot doesn't fly to Korea directly. They actually stop for transit at Taiwan Taoyuan first. Anyway, got to say that we have been lucky and blessed for the seating arrangements.
I will say among all the budget airlines I have taken so far, Scoot is definitely the best. The airplane is big, the seats are comfy and the legs area is spacious-no complains:) Only issue is their services-flight delay, no apology, nothing. Apart from that, all else is fine.

After 4+ hours worth of flight, we have finally landed at Taoyuan International Airport. Godfather came to pick us up and drove 2 over hours to 台中(Tai Chung), his home town. But because we were famished (budget airlines don't provide food unless you buy or pre-order), he brought us to a night market to curb the hunger pangs. His friends have a stall there and TADA, my Taiwan network increased.

This is very good! Basically they fry the chicken chop first before grilling it. I was told that this will enhance the taste and aroma of the spices used. Major thumbs-up!

They have a lot of game stalls like this and can be found practically in all of the night markets. I would say this is the best definition of cheap thrills.

Don't belittle our little friend here. He is an expert in catching toys like these. Why do I say that? The following photo is an evidence for my words.

He caught these 2 toys for us within 6 coins (TWD60, SGD2.61)! We, on the other hand, can't even catch a Chopper with 17 coins! Fail max, I know. Thank God there wasn't anyone around to witness this embarrassing sight. 

Time to retire for the night and we were brought to a car motel operated by Godfather's wife's client. It wasn't so bad plus it was cheap (TWD1,300 per night, SGD56.64). The room is furnished with air con, television with multiple programs, WIFI etc. Oh and a Family Mart nearby, what more can I ask for?:)

I think it says Manhattan 5 stars car motel. There was a competition once and the Taiwan guys took up all of the rooms because it was such a good deal. 

Breakfast was provided, exclude the yakult and papaya milk.
Let's just say, 有的吃就好了!

Day 1 in Taiwan.
Godfather was nice to act as a host despite his busy schedule. He picked us up in the morning and brought us to 九族文化村 (Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village). The park consists of three main themed areas: the amusement park "Amusement Isle", an activities area "Aboriginal Village Park"-home of the 9 aboriginal tribes and a European garden.

This whole place is beautiful beyond words. The scenery, the atmosphere...WOW! Just by taking a breath of air rejuvenated me. Photos do no justice for this.

Because the oiko insisted that I should have a photo taken.

Imagine having your teeth being plucked this way, ouch!

Taken by me in one shot

Taken by oiko...in many shots

UFO Adventures-Taiwan's tallest free-fall ride at 280 ft (85m).
I get the chills just by looking at it. No thank you.

After exploring, we have decided to take the cable car up and enjoy more sceneries.

Transit onto the next cable car. While queuing, friend suddenly suggested a guessing game. Random, I know. She guessed that we will be riding in a red cable car whereas I chose blue and...I got it right. Off to Sun Moon Lake we go!

The Famous Sun Moon Lake(日月潭)

Breath-taking sceneries and I find myself enjoying the few minutes of peace-peace that you will never be able to find in Singapore. Taiwan is definitely one of the choices of countries for retirement.

Yet another friend made-a principal of a school this time. Actually the population in a school is pretty small because they have so many schools around to cater to different areas. Godfather's school has only 47 students-1 class with only 2 students! Amazing right? The one thing I admire about the schools is that they clean the school themselves, both teachers and students. That's right, they don't have cleaners to clean up the school for them. Students are not spoiled and they learn how to do housework. If Singapore were to adopt this system, we will have many filthy schools. You get my drift?:)

On a lighter note, they actually introduced a 24 years old guy, who is working in the school, to me! Do I look unwanted? Do I give off the vibe that I will be left on the shelf in future? If I do, I should reflect and do something about it. HAHAHAHAS!

So after the failed match-making session (just kidding!), they brought us around for food-hunting and gastric made a special appearance. I didn't inform them about it because I didn't want them to worry. Due to the overwhelming pain, I couldn't eat a lot yet at the same time, the food kept coming non-stop. I hid and eventually my awesome best friend ate most of the food, including my share. I don't know how to thank you man:') 

This is a must-try item (again,I was told) and they were right. Mushroom bun (direct translation from the signboard) is a big bun wrapped with vegetables, mushrooms, vermicelli etc. It is deep-fried and you put in the amount of sauces you want. Shiok max!

Though it is a street side stall, I am surprised by the amount of effort they put in when it comes to hygiene. It is a self-serviced stall-you use the tongs provided to put the mushroom bun in the paper bag and put the cash on the table.   

I promised to advertise for them so do drop by their stall if you happen to be around the area. You won't be disappointed!

You put the 'level' and amount of spiciness you want. This is no joke man. I began to doubt their definition of mild spiciness against my own definition.

Another must-try item on the list-Chicken wing rice roll. The chopped chilli, spring onions along with the rice and meat;goodness! One will never be enough!

Stinky tofu (臭豆腐)
Actually it tastes like any other ordinary tofu, it is just the smell that puts you off.

I realised all the schools I have been to has a brewing tea set in every principal's office. It seems like they really do enjoying sipping teas. They even taught me the art of buying tea leaves. It was said that if you want to buy tea leaves from Taiwan, you have to get from the right source of people. 
Thanks to them, I had tasted different kinds of teas and my knowledge has been broadened.

The adventure continues with exploring museum this time. I didn't know what was this museum about and neither do I know the name of it.

Musical boxes!

This was how they polish shoes in the beginning of time. The person who polish the shoes will sit on the right and the person, whose shoe is being polished, will be standing with his shoe on the left. Just try to picture it.

Who ever knows the flame of the bunsen burner can get so big?

It was time to head to Taipei so with our heavy luggages, we took the High speed Railway.

We opted for the free seating (cabin 10-12). Got to say, the 1 hour journey was good with comfy seats.

We did that because we were bored. Don't mind us.

Finally we arrived in Taipei and we were L.O.S.T. We couldn't find our rented apartment and the people on the streets were not sure about it either. In the end, we sought the help of a police man from the police station. But because it was quite a distance, we ended up asking for directions again from a passer-by. At that time, I just kept praying to God to let me find the place because 
1) My gastric(yes, since afternoon) 
2) I was tired of pushing the luggage, not forgetting
3) The box of 15 Tchoukballs I have been carrying
4) I have to check in before 9pm

Praise the Lord and we found the hidden place. Settled the payment and we were free to rule the place for the next couple of days. It is quite a nice central service apartment- strong WIFI, television with multiple channels, stove, fridge, bathtub and even a washing machine! They even provide washing powders!
The concept is somehow similar to Singapore's Studio M.

Actually the apartment is not that far from the metro station, about a 10 minutes walk. Nearest metro station is Shuang Lian, which is 2 stops away from Taipei Main Station. Pretty convenient to travel around.

Dinner was settled at Ningxia Night Market, near our apartment. 

I can't get enough of this! Cheese and potato-one of the best combinations created

Braised pork rice (滷肉飯) 
"A Taiwanese saying goes, "Where there is a wisp of smoke from the kitchen chimney, there will be lurou fan" (braised pork with rice). The popularity of this humble dish cannot be overstated."
Need me to say more?

Stay tuned for Day 2!

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