Thursday, October 29, 2015

Taiwan Day 5 & 6 - Sun Moon Lake and Taichung City

In a blink of an eye, we're on our 5th day in Taiwan!
As usual, we will have breakfast nearby our AirBnb and this time, we tried the doujiang (aka soya bean drinks) with you tiao (aka yao char kwai or eu zhar kuey) which is located right next to our AirBnb.

Honestly, the soya bean was a little bland, almost tasteless. We were supposed to wrap the you tiao in the roti canai-lookalike dough but we didn't we ate them separately hahaha.
Still disappointed though. :-/

Our breakfast for 3!

Then we checked out from our lovely AirBnb and headed south to Sun Moon Lake (SML)!
To go to SML, you'll have to take the High Speed Rail (HSR) from Taipei Main Station to Taichung HSR Station (NT$700 each way, you can use credit card for this).
From there, take a bus (we used Nantou) for slightly more than NT$100 one way to head to Sun Moon Lake straight. No transfer is needed.

We stayed at Doris Home which was amazing (will share the photos at the end of the post)!
Greg, the host was so welcoming and he made sure that we had all we needed. Definitely the best host I've ever come across.
We even got ferry tickets prepared for us by Greg so after a short rest at Doris, we headed to the pier for a ferry ride around SML.

Shuishe Pier at SML.

First stop was a disappointment. All we did was walked down from the ferry and bought each a tea egg. THAT'S ALL. I didn't even bother to take any photos because there were too many people around and it was a little uncomfortable tbh.

2nd stop was slightly better. There were shops selling food, snacks and souvenirs but it felt like a deserted little town..

The stretch of road with the most food stalls.

I think we walked for about an hour and decided that it's not worth our time anymore. Haha!

On the ferry while heading back to the main side of the island.

At night, nothing is ALIVE..most shops close at 9pm and the only shop still opens (besides 7-11) is this bar called Sunny Lake Wonder.
Loved the vibes and cooling weather though. :)

In the next morning, we woke up at 5am to cycle around the lake.
It costs NT$200 for an unlimited riding hours as it easily takes up to 2 hours to return (NT$100 for an hour).
The view was really worth it! So if cycling is part of your itinerary, do remember to wake up earlier (maybe not as us), the bicycle shops open at 6.30am.

Beautiful scenery early in the morning but the sun was already so high up..

Group pic one last time!

Before ending this post, let me show you how Doris home looks like:

Entrance to the guestrooms.

Lovely breakfast prepared by the host!

The name of the room we took.

That's all for our Taiwan trip! To head to Taoyuan Airport from SML, you can take the same Nantou bus and reach Taichung HSR.
From there, you can take the train to Taoyuan (NT$590/pax) and pay NT$30 for the bus ride to Taoyuan Airport. It's cheaper that way!

Oh actually we went to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi shopping mall to kill time when we reached Taichung HSR before heading to the airport.

Beautiful sunset on our last day in Taiwan. :)

Till then,


Monday, October 26, 2015

Taiwan Day 4 - Eating & Shopping at Yongkang St., Zhongxiao Dunhua and Taipei 101

4th day in Taiwan! The days in Taiwan seem a little draggy now because we were quite tired from all the walking and roaming around Taiwan on the previous days but it's ok! That's what we were here for anyway!

OOTD includes striped dress from Zara and denim jacket from H&M.

Shopping day is finally here! Our main shopping venue is at Yongkang Street, which is easily accessible via the MRT at Dongmen Station.

Walk out towards Yongkang Street exit and this is what you'll see:

Noticed Taipei 101 in the distant?

There's the Din Tai Fung restaurant a few shops away from this exit, on the right.
Can't really see in the photo above as it's blocked by the tree with the 4F sign.
So if you're a BIG fan of DTF like yours truly, do take note!

For breakfast, we went to 永康牛肉麵 which is a block away upon turning 2 rights from the exit.
I think the shop is literally called Yongkang Beef Noodles.
We had the spicy and non-spicy beef noodles plus the sweet potato rice (I think).

The beef was delish! I only tried the non-spicy one because I don't want to mess with my boss (my tummy rules my mind).

Walking out from the beef noodles shop, you'll see this "CNN recommended" Taipei food, which is this flaky scallion pancakes. Not very nice according to my friends. Haha.

Looks pretty much like roti telur minus the tossing.

Cross the road and you'll find a dessert shop called 18degree.
I'm not a snack nor dessert person so I can't comment much on the taste except that this shop has pretty nice surroundings!

Us outside the shop.

Actually we were expecting Yongkang street to have more shopping but too bad, we didn't manage to find that side of the street.
Part of the day's itinerary was also to do cafe hopping so our first cafe (after a disappointing search of the shopping street) was at Eating Time.

Really nice interior (only on the side of the cafe facing the street unfortunately)!

This is how the entire cafe looks like. Inside is pretty dimmed.

Before leaving YK Street, I just had to do this!

Left with disappointment, we headed to another shopping district which is Zhongxiao Dunhua (ZXDH) in hopes of finding more places to shop.
ZXDH can be reached via MRT line as well with the stop having the same exact name.

They have lots of big brands at ZXDH including Zara, Forever 21, Mango, Uniqlo and GU.
Other than that, there were also lots of individual boutiques once you cross the road to the opposite side of the station.

The range of clothes there is priced from RM100 and above.
I'm not the kind who will shop at boutiques because I think the style is a little too extravagant for me.
I prefer those which are plain, simple yet elegant like those in Zara. :P

Guess who shopped the most on that day:

Not me, of course! Haha! Both of them win equally I would think.

Oh and we had dinner at DTF at YK Street because I really can't leave Taipei without having their DTF, can I??!
After that, we went to Taipei 101 and found out that the shopping centre below is so very posh, just like Pavilion in KL.

The good thing is, we stumbled upon Agnes B. cafe which was subconsciously in my to-go cafe list and rested there for a bit before continuing to walk around.

After walking about at Taipei 101 shopping centre, we walked to the opposite of the street so that we can see clearly of the tower and realized that there was another shopping mall called Att 4 Fun!
This shopping mall is like the Midvalley we have in KL. Haha.

One with Taipei 101!
That's all for Day 4! 
To recap, Day 4 itinerary was:
Yongkang Street --> Zhongxiao Dunhua --> Taipei 101
We left Taipei on Day 5 to Sun Moon Lake!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Taiwan Day 3 - Ah Zhong Mee Sua, Shifen and Jiufen

Ahh, if I had to choose, out of our 6D5N itineraries, I was looking forward to this the most because we were going to one of the most beautiful places (at least in my opinion based on the photos I've seen) which is Jiufen!
We started the day off with breakfast at the infamous Ah Zhong Mee Sua or Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle as shown in the photo below.
The XMD branch is just relatively easy to spot. Walk into the same row as Family Mart which is located at the KFC/The Face Shop junction.
Ay-Chung Mee Sua is on the right side of the aisle.
Quite a number of people around. Standing and eating.

This is the mee sua!

The mee sua tasted a little like shark fin soup but nonetheless, I think it's quite nice especially since we don't get it back in my hometown.

Posing before eating! :)

Next was to go to Shifen which is famous for its waterfall and sky lanterns where visitors will write their wishes on the lanterns before sending them to the sky hoping they will come true..
Shifen is located in the Pingxi District. To get there, we will need to get a train ticket from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang Station. From Ruifang, buy another ticket to head to Shifen.

Taipei Main Station (MRT) ---> Ruifang District Train Station ---> Shifen Train Station

Train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang.

The train was quite a nice and relaxing one with ample space to recline your seat as it will take about 40-50 mins to reach Ruifang.

At Ruifang, exit the station and on the left there will be a counter to purchase the train tickets to Shifen.

Ruifang to Shifen was a slightly shorter train ride but nevertheless, try to get a seat if you can because your feet will need a lot of rest after Shifen. :-/

First look of Shifen upon reaching the station.

There were a lot of people roaming around the station when we arrived on Monday noon.
Once you cross the railway track, there will be lots of stores selling souvenirs and snacks along the way.

Sky lantern souvenirs. Get them near the famous Shifen waterfall for cheaper deals! 

I don't think the cats are for sale though..

On our way to the waterfall.

One of purposes of going to Shifen is to visit the Shifen Waterfall, which is apparently the broadest in Taiwan.
I have read articles saying rainbows will form as the water splashes down but we had no luck that day..

From the station, it takes about 20-30mins leisure walk to reach the waterfall. You can opt to get a cab to bring you there which will cost NT$100 but we didn't think it's worth it so we walked instead. :P

There you go! Shifen Waterfall right before our eyes..

To be honest, I was expecting something more majestic so when I saw the waterfall, I was a little disappointed.
Nonetheless, it's a must see in Taiwan so why not! :)

Upon leaving the waterfall.

Next on our to-do was to write our wishes on the sky lantern but before that, we came across an empty railway track for photography opportunities!
If you want to take such photos too, do it far away from all the crowd by walking slightly further away from the station but do be careful because there might be trains coming your way!

On our way back from the waterfall, we decided to get the sky lantern from the first few shops instead of those nearer to the station.
There were less people and you can write your own wishes without having people walking behind you or staring at your wishes as you write!
Each color on the lantern represents different thing so be wise! :P

The owner of the lantern shop was kind enough to offer help to snap photos for us as we posed and released the lantern to sky.
I actually wanted to take a video of our lantern flying but the owner kept saying he's not done yet wtf because he wanted to take a photo of us releasing it. Damn. Haha.

More snacks to fill our tummy before heading to Jiufen.

Remember to get these really unique postcards to send to your loved ones! Each of these cost NT$80 and to send back to Malaysia, it'll cost you another NT$50 each.

We had to head back to Ruifang and take a bus to Jiufen which can be pretty stressful because you will have no idea where the bus station is unless you ask.
We waited for about 5-10 mins before knowing that we were at the wrong bus station and we ended up with the cab for NT$250 one way to Jiufen to save all the hassle since it was getting late.

By the time we reached Jiufen, it was about 7.10pm and 70-80% of the stores were already closing!
Not sure if the shops close at about 7pm daily or it's just on weekdays so be sure to be early if you want to see the pretty lanterns and Santorini-like buildings over the edge.

First snack in Jiufen. This is not bad at all.

OCY wanted to go to a famous tea place but it was only left with tea and no more food for us so we left for another restaurant that was still open.
Food was pricey and not delicious at all! >:(

Apparently this building inspired the Spirited Away animation. Everyone was taking photos from this same angle!

I really wish I could take more of the beautiful steps in Jiufen...

After dinner and a short walkabout, it was already too dark to roam around (only 8pm but the day is very short during fall, skies get dark at about 5-6pm) so we headed back with cab as well for the same charges (by meter).

Back to XMD and we finally found the giant macaroon ice cream store!
It sells the cute mini melts (originates from Korea from my knowledge) and also the huge macaroon ice cream below!

Tadaaa! Took me quite a while to finish because I just can't seem to finish the thick ice cream..the macaroon wasn't even delicious pun.

That's all we did on our 3rd day in Taiwan.
So our 3rd day itinerary was:

Shifen ---> Jiufen

You can exchange between the two depending on how you arrange your time but then again, remember that Jiufen shops close early!

On our 4th day, our itinerary was SHOPPING!

My Traveled Map

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