25 Sept 2013

Taiwan Travelogue(part 2) - Days 3 & 4

 Day 3:

We rested at our hotel: Taipei New Continental Hotel, for the night. The hotel serves a decent spread for breakfast. Like, really. It's decent compared to those budget hotels in Europe. However the free wifi in the room on the first night was crappy though :/

Since my mum and I couldn't sleep well that night, we woke up really early to have breakfast and had lots of time before our tour group set off for the day. So we went outside the hotel to have a post-brekkie walk.

Rows and rows of motorcycles along the pavement: A common sight in Taipei.

Did I tell you how much I love Taiwanese convenience stores? They sell like, EVERYTHING. And you can even purchase things using your train and bus pass. Throughout the whole trip I just kept using my Taipei transport pass to purchase items from the convenience stores because my smart mum decided to top-up NTD 1000 into both our cards and didnt know how to refund the money inside. So yes, you can imagine how much I bought from the stores just to use up the stored value: Coffee, ice cream, fruit beer, playing cards, snacks, cup noodles, banana milk, face masks, make-up, nail polish, yadda yadda.

Their vitagen/yakult is like, 1.5 times the size of ours.

I love all their quick-fix breakfast sets, how I wished Singapore had them too :(

The map the tour guide used to explain to us the course of our entire trip in Taipei. 4 天 doesn't mean spending 4 days in that place. It means on Day 4 we will head there.

The first stop of our trip was a major, I don't know how major anti-climax: The Baby Boss Museum/Theme Park/Playground/Place/Palace/I don't even know what to call it. It's probably a centre. Something like our science centre/ discovery centre but for kids. So basically the kids go inside there and dress up as various occupations and roleplay the tasks in that occupation. E.g. If they enter the doctor section, they will wear the doctor's white coat and maybe use a stethoscope and hear the heartbeat of a patient. I don't know. 

But anyway, the reason why it was a major anti-climax is because IT WAS ONLY PERMITTED FOR AGES 5-15 TO ENTER. Miss Lee here is 19 now (just turned 19 two days ago) and obviously is too old for such things. I literally felt a whack on my head for choosing this tour package as it was very clearly catered for kids, not for the adventure/nature-loving. So yeah, no wonder I'm the only teenager. 

I really thought very little of this Baby Boss thingum but once we arrived with those families in my tour group who wanted to go inside at the place itself, THERE WAS A FREAKING QUEUE. According to my tour guide, families actually arrive HOURS before the place even open to be first in line. 

And once the place opens (after a really lame song and dance by the staff there) everybody RUNS in like as if its the opening of H&M and everything inside there is free. 

I'm just like:

But ok if you have a 5 year old kid that has a decent command of the Chinese language, you might consider bringing him/her inside. However to be honest, I find this place even less worth it than spending a day at the now-defunct Downtown East Theme Park, not because everything is in chinese but the idea of it is just......... what on earth?!

Anyway, our really awesome tour guide Jacky made it up to us by bringing the remaining of the group (which is like 7/8 of the members, lol see how unattractive baby boss is) to see the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. There's a really nice garden in front where people gather to meet/play games/do tai-chi/dance. You can say it's like the Scape of Taipei, just more for everyone, not just teenagers. According to my dad, this place has been the gathering place ever since he was there studying in the 1970s. You could also get a very good view of the Taipei 101 there too!

*cues touristy photos*

To completely make up for the first anti-climax itinerary, our tour guide then brought us to Dazzling Cafe at Breeze Centre (near Zhong Xiao Fu Xing MRT). It was a really pleasant place to have brunch at and he kindly recommended us to try their Honey Toast! You can read my review of Dazzling Cafe here.

After a super filling lunch 30 mins after we gobbled down our brunch (we regarded our brunch as Lunch Part I), we had a 2 hour plus bus journey to another city in Taiwan, Taichung. Our only stop there was the Feng Jia Night Market(逢甲夜市). Was looking forward to it as the tour guide said it is much bigger and offers more food and shopping. To my absolute delight, it was true!

One of the must-try street snacks when you come to Taiwan is the 大腸包小腸. As its name suggests, it is indeed a bigger"sausage" wrapping a smaller sausage. The bigger "sausage" is actually made up of glutinous rice and inside it wraps the traditional Taiwanese sausage, pickled vegetable, pork floss, garlic, onion, chilli, soya sauce, wasabi, e.t.c. They have different fillings that you can choose from and this store above is the highly raved Guan Zhi Lin sausage stall at 逢甲夜市.

Finally got to try it and............. to be honest I'm really not used to eating Taiwan's chilli and sausages and I don't really like pickled vegetables (they call it cai po) so........... I didn't really like it. But I loved the glutinous rice, it was sticky yet had a slight crunch to it!

They sold Okonomiyaki! It was REAAAAALLY GOOD.

Bought like so many clothes from 逢甲夜市. Happy with my haul ^^

We were on our way to dinner when we saw this along the roadside. It really seemed like funeral wreaths, but actually those are good luck messages from parents to their kids placed outside junior colleges in Taichung for their finals before they enter university! Wow ok haha.

Had dinner at this really vintage place. They called it the Banana New Paradise ........... Um ok it's like all things weird are here in Taiwan now hahahahaha. But anyway the food was really not bad, though I was freaked out by all the vintage feels at the eating house due to the fact that the tour guide was just telling us ghost stories right before we got down the bus for dinner. O God I hate ghost stories I really hate them.

Loving all these vintage cameras, oh wait looks like my Pentax SLR is one of them. Can you spot it? :)

This eating house also has an old train right outside the front door for customers to board it and take photos:

Oh look who's been here! *cues fangirl screams*

We stayed at Taichung The Splendour Hotel that night. There was free wifi, gym and even a pool in the hotel! But I had a sleepless night after I felt a pinch on my back while trying to fall asleep at midnight..... and thought back to the ghost stories the tour guide was telling us.... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. One negative point about the room is that the bed was way too hard!

Day 4:
Finally fell back asleep and woke up at 6am automatically without needing any alarms. However I can't remember what happened but my mum and I took really long to pack up the room and came down for breakfast having only like 15 minutes to eat. :/ But anyway we still mangaged to sample everything for breakfast and the spread was the best out of the whole package tour!

Our breakfast room was on the 15F and we could get a really good view of Taichung from there....... Do you see a storm approaching? :S

Our first stop for the day was Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) at Nantou (南头) which is the largest body of water in Taiwan. The east side of the lake resembles the sun, whereas the west side resembles the moon... hence Sun Moon Lake. Overlooking the lake is a temple called Wen Wu Temple which we visited. The tour guide spoke a lot of fengshui stuff that's super creepy until I couldn't process/digest anymore fengshui stuff for the rest of the whole trip.

My mum bought two charms for my family and my studies. Hmm.

After touring the temple we went on board a cruise to tour the Sun Moon Lake. To be really really honest, this can't be compared to Hang Zhou's canals or 太湖. So if you are expecting something really epic and gorgeous, Sun Moon Lake will be sure to disappoint you. But if you haven't been to the canals and lakes in China then I guess Sun Moon Lake will be an eye-opener.

This is the puny island that lies in the middle of the Sun Moon Lake called the La Lu Island. It used to house an aboriginal tribe but now they have been relocated to somewhere else. 

Have you ever seen red bananas????????

Had lunch in the Sun Moon Lake vicinity and some of the dishes were served in bamboos! It really made the dishes more aromatic!

After lunching we moved on to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village which was basically a theme park and village showcasing the various aborigines in Taiwan. The highlight of this place I felt, was the cable car up to the top most point to view the entire Sun Moon Lake. There was also a One Piece theme park inside so....... if you are a One Piece fan you might really like the place! But the exhibition has ended end of June if I'm not wrong.

 We had to switch cable cars twice in order to get to the look-out point. 

The weather that afternoon was sweltering HOT so my mum and I were really very lazy to walk around anymore. I walked on to visit ONE of the tribe's huts and that's all. I didn't want to venture any further for the fear of heatstroke.

After coming back down to ground level, my mum went to get a drink at the fast food restaurant while I daringly went on a ride alone. 
And very obviously I scared the shit out of myself as it was something similar to Space Mountain in Disneyland and I'm not a big fan of that ride. After that there was still half an hour to kill so I wasted all my spare change on those arcade games that you can never win. :/

We took a bus ride up to the He Huan Mountains for the lodge that we were going to stay at the for the night. It was a lovely place with faerie lights in the garden - for all of you hipsters/tumblr-addicts out there. However it was all so misty around due to the heavy downpour and the visibility around was close to 0. We were just walking around amongst the clouds and the feeling was pretty cool :) The weather there was really chilly too, for a hot summer in Taiwan. Oh and the name of the lodge is Cing Jing Jun Yue Hanging Garden Resort. I think it's more of a lodge as no one is at the reception once past midnight so............. good luck to you if you find cockroaches in your room. :P 

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