Thursday, April 02, 2009

Travellogue Taiwan: Taipei & Taichung

Morning call was loud and clear. I even thought it was a real phone call - I picked it up. I hopped out of bed, prepared myself for the day and took a picture of the view from my room window:

Ah, so the body of water on the right side of the frame gave our hotel it's name. Also, let me show you our mode of transport for the entire trip - this trusty bus with not so trusty seats:

First stop for the day:

It was undergoing renovations and we did not have enough time to explore the building up-close.

Surrounding this building is a park. In one part of the park, there were elderly folk having a jolly good time singing, exercising and enjoying each others' company. Furnished with beautiful trees, I was wondering what it was that was leaping from branch to branch. Oh, squirrel! So cute! I noticed they have rounder faces here compared to the squirrels we have at home, which have sharper faces.

Sitting on the other end of the park yet sharing the same compound is this building below. Okay, this pic is a little off-angled but I thought I'd point out that this is actually a performance theatre. Haha, you thought it was a temple, didn't you?

We took a group photo at the entrance of the theatre and I paid NT$200 for it although it was costly and wholly a money-making plot! Haha, because I thought I looked good in the photo!

Next stop of the day was the Fisherman's Wharf at Danshui. The only bell this rang was S.H.E.'s concert held here in appreciation of their fans. Haha, funny how it didn't form the impression of a fish market! When we alighted the bus, Uncle Ding asked the local tour guide: Can I go to my office now? Everyone had a bewildered look on their faces. He chuckled and asked as he was passing me, "You want to go? I allow you to use my office for free." Ah, then I understood. Office = toilet.

Here's me standing solitary at the Lovers' Bridge. So sad. Couples who walk this bridge together are supposed to have a relationship that lasts.

From the wharf (where action was no where to be seen), we moved on to Danshui Old Road.

Danshui Old Road is famous for food. Well, most places in Taiwan would be famous for food anyways so armed with the info I retrieved from Wikipedia, we started our food hunt. Along the way, there was another familiar sight:

Tian Ren Tea Cafe! Yup, yup! Why do I get so excited seeing them? I seriously don't know. Perhaps it gives me the feeling of wow, this is where it came from...

And so, our search for Danshui's famous A-Gei (what is it anyway?!?) continued. Apparently, the last shop on the right of Zhenli Street is THE shop to go to. We spent a good deal of time locating Zhenli Street, totally separating ourselves from the group. By the time we found the bl**dy shop, we were sweating and extremely hungry! When we saw what they were serving, we thought to ourselves: this was what we searched high and low for? Gosh!

We ordered one to try (I mean, we were there so might as well) and even added a bowl of famous fishballs. The A-Gei we order was of the lowest level of spiciness (we didn't want to show off how well we could take chilli...)

And then, we dug into our food and surprise, surprise, the A-Gei wasn't just a plain looking tofu swimming in clear soup and chilli sauce, it had noodles in it! After savouring it, we thought it wasn't too bad, really. I also enjoyed the fishballs - juicy and chewy.

Along the way back towards our meeting point, we stopped at Grandma's Iron Egg Shop to buy some.

Alicia wanted to try the tall ice-cream and I wanted to try their famous sour plum juice. Verdict: ice-cream was tasteless while the juice was full of the sweetish-sour flavour! I loved it! Anyone of you going there soon would have to try the juice.

Mongolian barbeque was on our lunch menu. I wasn't too keen on the meat so I had mostly greens and fruits. Venue was in town so we headed back into Taipei city. Having filled our stomaches, our next stop was the Taipei 101.

I was so excited as I had wanted to ascend the tower! In the end, only three of us from the group decided to head up to the top while the rest opted to window-shop the a very KLCC-like shopping complex downstairs. The view from up there:

The 101 has

And these were thoughtful in a cute way because you could post postcards or letters from the 'post office in the sky'.. hehe..

I would have done so if I actually remembered to bring my purse up with me! From there, we walked up two flights of stairs to reach the outdoor deck. I am unable to recall if it was the 89th floor or the 91st floor but we were pretty close to the top:

When we set foot on solid ground again, it was time for us to bid adieu to Taipei. By the time we arrived in Taichung, it was nightfall. After a long journey on an uncomfortable seat that called for a headrest pillow, soaking in the Chilinfong Hot Spring was music to our ears.

We tried nearly every pool there was! Yes, quite suagu, eh? The first pool we went in was incredibly cold! I was expecting it to be lukewarm.. so yes, the facial expression of both Alicia and I were hilarious. The pool next to it was warmer. Much warmer, in fact. Then, Nicholas came over to tell us that he just got out of a seriously hot pool. Okay, how seriously hot is seriously hot? We went over to try and gosh, it was SERIOUSLY hot!

After having relaxed our muscles and calmed our senses, it was time for some chow. Supposedly famous restaurant, Five Cent Driftwood House had a unique set-up, which made you feel like you were in a cave.

Interior and exterior designs were unique. Well, let you be the judges of the place:

You'd think that the guide would allow you to rest after a hearty Chinese dinner and not to mention a long bus-ride. Well, think again. We were ferried to an area situated right in front of the Fengjia University, apparently popular with Malaysian students. Yes, we were brought to Fengjia Night Market, famous for a delicacy called the 'Big Sausage Wrap Small Sausage'. Looking at the long queue at the stall (can you even see where the stall is?), we decided to give it a try.

And wait we did!

While standing in the queue, Alicia went off to buy more food and drinks for us to nibble while waiting. While I wasn't big on the tidbits, I enjoyed the pearl milk tea. The stall she bought from used fresh milk hence my satisfaction in drinking it. So to all other pearl tea sellers out there: use fresh milk!

Okay, so now back to that funny sausage thingy. Verdict: not worth the queue time. It basically was just a piece of Chinese wax sausage wrapped in a layer of glutinous rice. Wah, super jelak I tell you.... lemang with rendang is WAY better. But hey, at least we tried it.

By the time we got to Royal International Hotel at 11:00pm, we were literally drop dead tired. I don't know how I still managed to stay up to watch an entertainment program.

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