Thursday, February 26

TAIhaoWAN


Right after my project in Santiago, Chile, I flew to Taiwan to reunite with my brothers for an important mission. The duration to get from Santiago to Taiwan must be the longest I've ever travelled. Forgetting the 30 plus hours on the plane, I also had two transits in Auckland and Sydney. Furthermore, my 14 hour transit in Sydney begun less than an hour before the Martin Place shooting last December. The entire day was thus spent hiding in the safety of my aunt's four walls.

Beitou 北投

My first stop in Taiwan was Beitou, the northern most district of Taipei city, where my brother's girlfriend resides. With all the tour buses parked outside hot spring hotels, it is no doubt a place where tourist flock to relax and enjoy the greenery. Xin Beitou (New Beitou) is where most of the hot springs and greenery concentrate whereas Beitou, which is only a few minutes walk away was the marketplace. The MRT now connects Xin Beitou and Beitou. However the best mode of transport between the two would be to walk, or use the public bicycles.


Known for its many hot springs, any tourist would be spoilt for choice. We went to a private one at a hotel, but the locals prefer the free and easy ones at the park. 

Thermal valley. 地热谷
Or as some of the locals call it - hell valley 地狱谷 due to the fact that before they fenced it up, many people actually fell into the valley and killed themselves. 


Amazing place to take pictures, with the dreamy background and all.


Travel note : Always pack a swimsuit. You never know when you'll need it. I made the same mistake in Budapest, and ended up not experiencing the famous Hungarian baths. 

Moving around in Taipei is easy with their metro system. Not only are maps and signboards sufficient in all their stations, everyone is also incredibly friendly. Be careful not to drink or eat while waiting for your ride to avoid getting a fine. After travelling to a neighbouring Chinese country after Taiwan. I can't help noticing how clean and civilised everyone is in Taiwan. Definitely made my trip to Taiwan so much more enjoyable. 


Taipei city
Before we arrive at the main reason why I was in Taiwan, we had the opportunity to stroll through the busiest part of Taipei city. 
Best Mentaiko pasta I've ever had at Dazzling Cafe 

When you order the honey toast, don't forget to watch how they cut it. They will manage to still keep everything in place although split apart. 

and oh their fruit teas are delish. I had the rose milk tea, which was amazing as well


Dazzling Cafe
No. 11, Alley 7, Lane 205, Section 4, 
Zhongxiao East Road, Da'an District, 
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
+886287739238

We could only afford minimal shopping around this area as everything spelt expensive. Take take picture in atas mall shall suffice. 
Next, on to our mission.

Taipei city

The best 85 - Diamond Tony's. A restaurant located on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. 
An amazing restaurant with an Asian-Western fusion cuisine. The wide selection of abalones, lobsters and top grade steaks left us all mouthwatering wanting for more. If only our my brother's wallet would permit. 

Not to mention the breathtaking view from the 85th floor. 
But food was not what we were there for, by the end of our main course, everyone was a little bit jittery, waiting for the moment. 

The saxaphone was playing in the background, a singer sang to some Elton John, all eyes were in the same direction and customers were expressing support and excitement. 

and that was how my brother scored himself a fiancee. 

Posing with the humongous bouquet of flowers. 

Continuing on with our travels the next day, 

Xi Men Ding
Shopped around this area and found that everything was rather expensive and not really worth the price. Managed to score a super cute winter jacket though but apart from that, I think there are other places in Taiwan for shopping. 

Shih Lin night market

One of the most prominent night markets in Taipei. 
Here, you can find simply everything. Just don't forget to bargain bargain and bargain ! 
Scored myself RM18 flats and some gorgeous high quality scarves under RM50 ! 
If you're not into shopping, food may be what would attract you here. By far, I've had the best Oyster mee sua in Shih Lin. 

Don't forget to find this stall. The auntie behind the pot makes the best meesua imho ! 

Pork intestines, oysters and overflowing flavour. 

Oyster omelette. 

Don't forget to go to the indoor food court at Shih Lin. Here you can find all kinds of food. Including bitter gourd smoothies ! Personally I hated it, but I guess it is an acquired taste because I know my mum and brother loves it. 

棺材板 
The name "Coffin Plank" is attributed to how the bread is cut, making it look like a little coffin. 
I know what you're thinking. What's up with all these odd names, Taiwan ?

You can pick your own ingredients, including minced pork, cabbage, cheese, sardines etc.

Travel note : Everytime someone gives you a price at the market, act surprised, as if you can't believe how expensive they are (even if you think it is reasonably priced). This usually helps with bargaining. 

九分老街 Jiu Fen old street

We got there by sitting the metro to Ximending, where we met a private driver who offered to drive us. Alternatively, if you are travelling with fewer people, there are buses you can hop on as well.

Known for its historical value, tourist buses flock this area. It may look dark and gloomy near the entrance with all the canopies blocking the sunlight, not forgetting the difficulty of getting through the crowd but I assure you, the squeeze will be worth it at the end. Many tourist end their journey to JiuFen after the first few shops. 

One of the best in jiufen. This treat is served chilled, and it resembles a peanut crepe. You wouldn't miss it as there is always a crowd gathered to watch how they are made. 

But the view at the end is amazing. Overlooking the mountains and the sea. 

Travel mates. After my trip to Chile and Taiwan, I am convinced that for those who frown upon selfie sticks obviously has not travelled in a group.

日月潭 Sun Moon Lake

We travelled to 南投 NanTou before hopping on a bus to Sun Moon Lake. However we made a mistake when we purchased the bus tickets from Taipei to Nantou. Instead of purchasing the express buses, a 3 - 4 hour journey, we bought the regular ones which took us on an almost 6 hour bus ride. Nevertheless, the bus driver was incredibly friendly and the buses were super clean and comfortable. We stayed in Nantou for about 2 days.

Travel note : Always plan ahead how many hours you need to get from one place to another, and always remember to confirm the details before purchasing any form of tickets.

The best way to enjoy this beautiful scenery is to rent a bicycle at one of the local shops. 

I got one of these Giant lady bikes and it made such a good prop for all the pictures ! 

I think someone proposed a few days ago 


There was a small market around the area so we took the opportunity to grab more local delicacies. 

Not sure what the name is but this is like a massive fried popiah, similar to the Chinese fried dumpling. The ingredients inside include mushrooms, cabbage, carrots and Chinese vermicelli.

Stuffed chicken wing

I really don't remember the name for this but basically it has some kickass pork wrapped in rice. And it probably tops the best things I've ever eaten. 

And who can ever miss the Taiwanese pork sausages ? 
Travel note : Remember the names of your food so that you can always come back for it in the future

溪头妖怪村 Xitou monster village
From Nantou city, we had a day trip by bus to Xitou Monster Village. The entire village had a Japanese vibe with Japanese monsters as mascots. It was a really serene place and it wasn't extremely crowded with tourists. 

A very entertaining show about the stories of these two monsters that mutated from animals. 

Double flavoured ice cream that definitely tasted like colouring and vanilla ice cream. 

Taiwan times village 宝岛时代村
A very unique recreation of olden day Taiwan.
The entire exhibit is indoors and all the stores although clad with old signs and worn walls, sells modern day goods. 

Childhood games 

Definitely worth the visit. There is a lot of olden day games and props for pictures. 

Taiwan Times Village 宝岛时代村
No. 1039, Zhongzheng Rd,
Caotun Township, 
Nantou County 542, Taiwan.

逢甲 Feng jia

Sat a bus to 台中 Taichung, which translates to the middle of Taiwan. Housing Feng Jia University, the area was flooded with students. Which is why it was my favourite destination during my Taiwan trip. Not only was everything reasonably priced, everything sold also leans toward suiting the taste of students like me. 

We lived right next to the Feng Jia night market. 

Which meant more food adventures of course.

Breakfast at Fengjia. I loved this town, especially in the mornings. Stalls like this line outside the University entrance and students can just walk past, pick up a sandwich (deliciously made) before heading to class. Not to mention how incredibly cheap the food is ! The night before my brothers bought a litre of winter melon juice for around RM1.

While we were at FengJia, we visited Taichung city to have the best hotpot I've ever tasted. 

The delicious "ma la" 麻辣 soup filled with pig blood curd. It was the first time I dared to eat this, and I instantly fell in love !! It's tasteless but the texture is really interesting. At this restaurant, you order the ingredients you want, and they will constantly refill soup and pig blood curd for you. 

Ding wang spicy hotpot
No.12 Jingcheng Rd, 
Xitun District Taichung City, 
Taiwan 407

Fengjia was our last time before I headed back to Beitou and back home. Before heading back, we visited a store to buy some souvenirs and snacks for our family.

一福堂 IF House
台中市台灣大道二段470號
We bought plenty of the Cozy Midi Lemon. Their store sells a variety of Taiwanese biscuits including  
太阳饼,凤梨酥,牛轧糖 etc
(Suncake, pineapple tart, nougats, etc)

For more pictures, check out my Instagram hashtag and follow me on Instagram ! 
#TaiHAOwan

Till next time, xoxo