Friday, 20 March 2015

Family trip to Taipei, Taiwan in a nutshell

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Flew via SQ at only $540 per pax during their promotion and booked the accommodation via Airbnb this time round. It was cozy and located just about 5 minutes walk away from the famous Xi Men Ding! However, rooms are pretty small for 5 people and the bathroom door are kinda translucent which is quite uncomfortable. All in all, rooms are affordable and clean. If you're on a budget, Airbnb could be your choice. 

Settled down and head out to Xi Men Ding for our first meal in Taipei. It was winter, about 12 degrees out there, so nothing beats having steamboat & bbq on a cold weather (Y).

Unfortunately, foods weren't great. Given the price paid (About NTD 500 per person), I believe I can get better food else where. However, variety were kinda wide there and they even serve Häagen-Dazs ice cream as one of their desserts.

The next day ....

The dumplings which the family and I had it almost every day for breakfast. It was so good! 

Not forgetting one of my must-try when in Taipei - Ah Zhong Mian Xian. The beef noodle beside Ah Zhong Mian Xian is my new found love. Beef was tender, noodle was chewy & soup was great.

Ah Zong Mian Xian 阿宗麵線
No. 8~1 Emei St., Taipei, 台北市峨嵋街8號之1

Head over to yet another one of my must try and must shop places which is 胡须张 at Wu Fen Pu. To get to Wu Fen Pu, take train to Houshanpi MRT. Alight and follow their exit to Wu Fen Pu. 胡须张 is located just ahead of the MRT exit and the entrance to Wu Fen Pu is just located opposite 胡须张. It is really easy to find and also, Wu Fen Pu is a wholesale market which means the more you buy, the cheaper it is. And while at Wu Fen Pu, do not miss out on Rao He Night Market which is just about 10 minutes walk away from Wu Fen Pu. Follow the directions towards Song Shan train station and you'll be able to find Rao He Night Market.

Because it was the last day of 2014, we all headed to Taipei 101 for countdown and fireworks and oh boy it was so beautiful. But not forgetting the coldness we need to endure while waiting for the countdown and also the overcrowding of major human traffic during and after the countdown. After all, it was really an amazing experience experiencing countdown overseas and I would say, my 2014 ended in a beautiful note and 2015 welcomes me with an open arms.

To get to Taipei 101, take train to Taipei City Hall station.

On a side note, the last picture above are the duck's blood and to anyone who's willing to try new stuffs, please try it. Love it along with the spicy soup *thumbsup

Ended my 2014 with an almost 2 minutes long fireworks. What more can I say?

Started my first day of 2015 by going to Dan Shui followed by Shilin Night Market. To get to Dan Shui, take train to Dan Shui MRT. It's at the last station of the Red Line (Dan Shui - Xin Yi (red) line)

Shilin Night Market
The largest night market in Taipei and to get to Shilin Night Market, train to Jiantan MRT (剑潭). I recommend going on a Weekend as there are more stalls for you to see but also be prepared for the major human traffic. I repeat, MAJOR.

When at Shilin, must buy the baked potatoes with cheese. Always had it without fail each time I frequent Shilin. SO GOOD.

For this trip, I hire a driver as it was more convenient to go Jiufen, Shifen & Keelung with a car than travelling all by ourselves. I hired the same driver before on my previous trip to Taiwan recommended by one of my colleague. So for this current trip with the family, it was no exception that I contacted him too, but came to realize he's actually in charge of smaller group (4 paxs & below) so he helped me by contacting his friend to fetch us instead.

If interested, the driver's name 卓正隆 and can be contacted via LINE e0977241720. 

So as usual, while on the way to Jiufen, the driver would usually drop you somewhere along 阴阳海 and 黄金瀑布, which is one of their attractions for a few minutes before heading up the mountain to where Jiufen is. And boy it was SO BEAUTIFUL. Love anything nature but couldn't really enjoy myself that day because it was winter and the sea wind was too strong I literally stood there frozen unable to move even a fair bit. Brrrrr.

Not sure what flowers (?) is this but it blooms everywhere along the way to Jiufen. So beautiful.
Reached Jiufen soon after and the crowd there was M.A.D. Also, when in Jiufen, don't forget to try the Peanut wrap with Ice-cream, Jiufen taro rice balls and 紅糟肉圓, all of which is the symbol of Jiufen, in my opinion.

Famous for railway track and sky lanterns. Basically, all shops provide sky lanterns for sales ranging from NTD 120 to NTD 200+ depending on how colorful your sky lantern is. Different color represents different wishes. No matter what shop you purchased your sky lantern from, there will sure be photography services provided for you. So do remember to bring along your camera and get ready to shoot with your wishes. and the sky lanterns of cos! 

And not forgetting there will be times when you have to stand clear of the railway track for the train to go by. 

Keelung Miaokou Night Market
Located just about 30 minutes away from Shifen and boy was it crowded, again! Queues everywhere and you can't really get anything without queuing for at least 30 minutes.

On the last day of the trip, headed for Maokong Gondola as it was another one of Taiwan's attraction and also, the father heard from his passenger that when in Taiwan, must visit Maokong. So here we go. To get to Maokong, just train all the way to Taipei Zoo. Alight and walk towards Maokong Gondola directions. It's really easy to find. 

Sat the "crystal" glass cabin so the bottom was clear like this. Of cos you can also choose to purchase the normal cabin. The ride was smooth and after about 10 - 15 minutes, arrived at the Maokong Station located up the hill! Recommended to pre-purchase your tickets for the return trip because the crowd can get very massive too. 

Maokong is all about tea plantation and the culture so definitely must-try their tea when in Maokong. Headed to a random shop for lunch and also, tea drinking, and check out our awesome views from the restaurant! As I'm saying, Maokong is all about tea so all the foods served there are mainly associated with the word, tea.

Tried their signature Tie-Guan-Yin as recommended by one of their staff there and it was so good, so refreshing I highly recommend anyone especially tea lover, who plan to visit Maokong to give their tea a try. 

We were kinda clueless on how to prepare the tea so the staff came to help. Kudos to service like this! 

Tea Fried Rice / 茶叶炒饭

Tea Omelette / 茶叶煎蛋

Fried tea leaves / 炸茶叶 - One dish which I find very creative and amazing. 

Night views from inside the cabin while on the way back.

Shida Night Market
A popular night market targeted for young adults. To get to Shida Night Market, train to Taipower Building.
I personally prefer Shilin night market over Shida but my brothers preferred Shida over Shilin. Oh well. Can't deny items sold at Shida are indeed all trendy and fashionable but prices are a little on the pricier side, in my opinion.

When in Shida, MUST-TRY the famous 灯笼卤味. There were quite a couple of stalls there so I'm not sure which is the original authentic one but I always buy from this stall (not the one at the main roadside). This stall is located in the middle of the night market.

Ending this post with a picture of my voted no.1 favorite food in Taiwan, 大肠包小肠.

And that marks the end of my Taiwan trip. Till the next.