Ads: Mavic Cosmic Elite S For Sale

Wheelset is sold.

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I have just upgraded my wheelset to Zipp 303 and I am letting go of mine 1 year old Cosmic Elite S. I barely use it as I am on my MTB most of the time. I clocked about 2500 km only. I am letting it go for RM950 (Malaysia Ringgit) which includes 2 pretty new Mavic Yksion Comp tires.

You can read about the review here.

If you are interested please drop me a message. Price is negotiable.

And stay tune for my Zipp 303 review…

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Travel: Taipei, Taiwan – Day 4

Day 4 was a lesser activities but more on the road. We traveled out from Taipei to Keelung (基隆) by train and we took a bus out to Gold Museum, New Taipei City (新北市立黃金博物館). Or it is famously named Jinguashi (金瓜石). This was an old gold mine and it turned into a museum. You can experience how they mined gold by walking into one of the tunnel, the equipment used to pump in/out the air and how they excavated the gold. The entrance is free except if you wanted to walk into the tunnel which is NTD$100. They will provide you a hair cover and safety helmet. Beside the gold mine, here you can see a lot of Japanese style structure as it was used during the Japanese occupation and as a POW camp during WW II. There is a Japanese shrine/ruines you can visit too but make sure you are fit in doing so. It has quite a climb and steps are not even. Some are higher steps than others and we had like 8kg backpack with us too. By the end of the museum, there is a building displaying a huge block of gold weighing 220.3kg and worth NTD$251,802,900 (at the time I visited). Yes, you can touch it but you can’t bring home. 🙂 There are trails you can walk around and definitely not the time we went as it was drizzled for the whole morning. They said the best time to trek is during June – July time frame as you can see the Pacific Ocean. To get here: Take a train from Taipei Station to Keelung for NTD$41 and then take the 788 bus to Jinguashi for NTD$15.

Taipei Station

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Keelung Town

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Jinguashi

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The Japanese structures

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The mine tour

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Trekking

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The trekked was definitely worth it. At this elevation, all I got was nice cool breeze and great view.

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Some of the food you can try while you are in Jinguashi. Generally, I find the coffee in Taiwan are pretty good and the tofu fa (豆腐花) here is soft.

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From the same entrance you can take another minibus out and around the place. Too bad as it was drizzled quite heavily during the day we traveled. There is a waterfall and the coast you can visit during a nice weather. It should be spectacular.

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Since it was drizzled whole day and we couldn’t do much things, we headed to Jiufen (九份). There are multiple buses you can take and you can refer to the pic above. The distance to Jiufen wasn’t far away but the traffic was terrible as it was a weekend when we visited. You may want to avoid the place during weekend as a lot of people are getting away from the city during that time. It was really nothing much there except the Old Street and Ah Mei Tea House (阿妹茶楼). But, it was really a nice place to relax as the street emptied out by 8pm at night and cool weather. The famous dessert you should try here is the Taro Ball. There are 2 famous stores here and they are Lai Ah Po Yu Yuan (賴阿婆芋圆) and Ah Gan Yi Yu Yuan (阿柑姨芋圆). The Lai Ah Po store was easily found as it is located at the old street. Ah Gan Yi was a bit hard to find as it is off the old street and you will need to walk up a few steps before finding them. Personally I prefer the Ah Gan Yi as the taro balls taste better. We ordered the mix balls which has Taro, green tea and sweet potato.

Lai Ah Po Yu Yuan

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Ah Gan Yi Yu Yuan

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More food… Taiwan is all about food!

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Ah Mei Tea House and surrounding

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Old theater

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A busy street turned into deserted street within hours… All the 5 pictures here taken at 8pm.

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After the 2nd round of taro balls we headed back to our hostel as the stores were all closed and nothing much around the place too. Of the 8 days, this was the only night we call it early. To get here: Take the 788 bus to Jiufen.

By the way, the hostel at around Old Street is not any cheaper than getting a room just a few more steps off the main street and up on the hill.

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Review: Bike Service at Faizal Dreamwerkz

Hmm… let me get a break from blogging my Taiwan trip. Let’s talk about bicycle. About a month ago I had my bike sent for fork service as I have not done anything to it for 3 years. As far as I know there is only 1 guy in Penang who does all the fork service regardless of what brand that you may have. His name is Faizal and used to work for Specialized shop in Penang. He was the local mechanic for Team Mtn Qhubeka when they were here to race in Tour de Langkawi.

There were 3 things I wanted him to do and they were fork service, adjust my RD as it was bent due to crash and suspected headset problem. I have tighten the headset nut and yet still have movement. I left my bike with him before Christmas and it was not done not until Jan 13. The delays were due he caught a dengue fever, he was traveling to KL and wrongly service my bike. All the things I wanted him to do was not done instead he cleaned my bike and changed my BB as the bearings were worn out. So, I had to wait for another couple of days to get my fork serviced. Luckily I sent my fork for service as one of the rubber seal was damaged and the air leaked to the bottom shaft of my fork. No wonder my fork was quite hard when I went off road. He rebuilt my fork with all the parts from Racing Bros and it has 1 month warranty for any oil leaking.

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Parts replaced.

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My total damaged were RM400.

  • Fork rebuilt – RM280
  • BB – RM90
  • Gear setting – RM30
  • Service – Free? Probably he acknowledge that it was his problem or probably added partially to the gear setting?

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His overall service was very satisfied and I am a very happy customer. If you have only 1 bike to ride or there is a race coming, my only advice to you is to make an appointment with him and make sure he has the time to do it for you.

He can be contacted at 019-571 2866, Faizal.

Travel: Taipei, Taiwan – Day 3

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Every day was a new and exciting day in Taipei as there were so much things to do and it surprised me each day. We got up early again had a simple breakfast. I had Chinese cruller or youtiao (油条) with soy milk and it is very common breakfast for Taiwanese. You can pretty much find it every corner of the place. I also ordered a small plate of dan bing (蛋饼) or egg biscuit. It was plain and simple but not entirely healthy as it was all deep fried or pan fried. 😛

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After breakfast we headed to National Palace Museum where they kept the national treasures from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. A full story of how they transported out the artifacts can be read here – http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/Article.aspx?sNo=03001502. The entrance fee for the museum is NT$250 and no photos are allowed inside. Be sure to be there as early as you can as there are many tour groups flocking there and a lot of them are not very nice. There are a few key items that is a must see such as the Jadeite Cabbage, Meat-shaped Stone and Chinese calligraphy on a grain of rice. To get here: Take red line MRT to Shilin. Then take a mini bus S18, S19 or S1 to National Palace Museum. Price for the bus is NT$7.

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Our next destination was Tamsui which is located at Northeast of Taipei. We didn’t explore much of the Tamsui Old Street (淡水老街) and from I saw it is a place where they sell souvenirs and lots of food stores. The picture below is the Tamsui Old Street with scooters parked along the road. Taiwan is basically a “Scooterland”.

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A short walk from the street will lead you to the Tamsui harbor where you can take a boat ride to Yu Ren Ma Tou (漁人碼頭). It is advice to go this place in late afternoon to watch sunset. On a normal clear sky you will see a beautiful sunset at the harbor. This place is like Santa Monica in California, where you have a pier people can sit, walk or fishing. Some romantic guys may even propose to their girlfriend here.

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Coming here without taking a photo of the Tamsui Lover’s Bridge is like you have not been here. This bridge is well popularized by bloggers or travelers like me. To get here: Take red line MRT to Tamsui then walk to the Tamsui Old Street. You can either cycle to Yu Ren Ma Tou or take a boat ride for NT$60. You can take a bus back to the Tamsui MRT station by this yellow gate.

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From here, we took the blue line MRT to Mengjia Longshan Temple (龍山寺) for another visit. Aside from the temple there is another famous night market here. Huaxi Street Night Market (華西街夜市) is near the Longshan Temple and this is the place where they sell snake soup and meat. But, according to my Taiwanese friend, it is getting lesser shops now comparing with years back. Coming to Taiwan without having little snack here and there means you have not been to Taiwan. There are so many foods to try and explore your taste buds.

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Xiaonan Zhengji Tainan Wanguo (小南鄭記台南碗粿) or literally translation is Tainan Rice Bowl Cake. Or the Taiwanese called it “wa guih” (碗粿). It is actually a dish that is eaten in Tainan but they brought it to Taipei. There are 2 things that you have to try here are the “wa guih” (台南碗粿) and fish ball soup (虱目魚羹湯). I never had something like this before and the texture and taste will blow you away. The shop is located next to Mengxia Park and near Longshan Temple (龍山寺). This place is definitely recommended and thanks to my new Taiwanese friend that introduced that to us. To get here: Take blue line MRT to Longshan Temple.

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From here, we headed to Ximending for more food. We tried the Ya Rou Bian (鴨肉扁). It is actually selling goose and not duck but the word “Ya Rou” is actually meant duck. I have no idea why they called it duck. They serve slice goose meat accompany with a bowl of noodle soup and they claimed they are the only shop in Taipei. To be honest, I still prefer the way they prepared goose in Hong Kong.

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Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodles (阿宗麵線) is a sticky noodle serve w/ salty cure pork intestine, sliced bamboo shoots and cilantro. I find it a bit hard for me to swallow as I am not a fan of intestine. Don’t let the line scare you as they serve pretty fast and again you can find them in Ximending. The only problem here is there is no place for you to seat and eat. So, basically you have to carry your bowl and eat as you walk or stand. Don’t worry the rest of the people here are doing the same thing.

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Lastly, we washed down all the foods we had with a cold cup of Chengdu Carambola Ice (成都楊桃冰). It is a preserved  star fruit, pineapple or plum that make into a drink. I ordered a star fruit ice and it has its sweet and sourness taste. It was definitely a good drink after a long walk as it cools down the body. By this year, this shop have been in business for 50 years.

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There are a lot of more foods here that we can’t stomach it. Hope to go back there again.

Travel: Taipei, Taiwan – Day 2

I would normally like to take a leisure trip with lesser itineraries and more reflection. But, not this time as we wanted to cover as much things as possible in 8 days. My excitement started on the 2nd day of the trip as our day started as early as 7+am till about 10-11pm pretty much every night. So, this is all depends on how you want to plan for your trip. You may lengthen or shorten it base on the activities I am going to blog here.

The best transportation to get around in Taipei is still the MRT. It is convenient, cheap, reliable and clean. During the peak hours, there is a train coming in every 2 mins or at least the station that I got on. Because of the frequency they have, the train was hardly pack. Below is the picture shown during the peak hours and believe me, I have experience a worse one in Shanghai. For your convenient sake, get an EasyCard (悠遊卡) as you can use it anywhere. I used for MRT, train and bus. It also gives 10% discount on fares for traveling distance less than 70km.

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We started our Day 2 by visiting Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall which there are a few things you can do here. The main attraction is of course the hall itself with the changing of guard on every hour from 10am to 4pm. You can visit the museum on the ground floor and there is garden that you can walk too. To get here: take the green line MRT and get off at CKS Memorial Hall Station.

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Walk a short distance from CKS Memorial Hall to have lunch at the famous beef noodle shop call Yong Kang Beef Noodle (永康牛肉麺). The main dish here is needless to say anymore as they are really good. The meat and tendon is so soft that basically melts in your mouth. Another thing that is a must try is the pork ribs cooked in the bamboo container (粉蒸排骨). There are many other side dishes you can try but I think there is nothing to shout about. For a meal like this is around NT$730 for 2 person but it is definitely worth it.

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Our next destination after lunch was Maokong Gondola (cable car). The total travel distance is 4km and it only cost us NT$50/person. I find it the cheapest ride I have ever taken. There are a few stations you can stop at any time. Please take note that they are closed on Monday. Once reached the top, there are trails that you can walk around but before you do, be sure to stop by the ice cream shop next to the station for a mix green and red tea ice cream. All the trails here were clearly marked and I would say the trail is not hard to walk. Factor in some time for the walk as it is a few kilometer walk but you can cut short at any time or take a bus back to the station. Before we headed back to the lower station, we stopped at one of the roof top tea house for tea. The view was spectacular and if not because of the haze/clouds that day, it would be even more perfect. Cost of the view: NT$610 for a small box of tea. To get here: Take the brown line MRT to Taipei Zoo then change to Maokong Gondola monorail.

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The trails are marked and most of it are nicely paved

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Before ending the day, we had to make another stop for dinner. Taiwan is very famous for night market and this is where you can taste the local food. We headed to Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市). I find the food here so-so only except the Taiwan sausage. If you still have energy, you can head west to the Dadaocheng Wharf. Along the way, there are a few bike shop you can visit (if you are bike enthusiastic like me) or even rent a bike from them. You can actually ride a bike, or run from here to Tamsui with about 30-35km one way. I will definitely try it if I am back in Taipei again. To get here: Take the red line MRT to Shuanglian station. Exit at the Minsheng W. Rd and heading west.

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Well, that’s end my Day 2 with more than 12 hours outside. A very tiring day…

Travel: Taipei, Taiwan – Day 1

This was my 2nd time to Taipei but I didn’t explore much during my 1st visit as it was a working trip. So, this trip was a semi-budgeted trip which I didn’t stay in Sheraton Hotel or took any cab whenever I wanted to but I still eat good food. Taiwan is basically a food haven aside of their beautiful country.

There are many ways of getting from the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to the city center. You can opt for High Speed Rail (HSR), bus, cab or may be subway. But the most convenient and cheapest way of travel will still be the bus and it is very punctual and clean. There are many buses go to the town but I chose the CitiAir Bus (大有巴士) as the stop was the closest to where I stayed. The fare is NT$145 and it takes about 40 mins from the airport to around the Taipei 101. Or you can opt for HSR which you will need to take a shuttle bus from the airport to the train station for NT$30. Then another NT$160 from Taoyuan Station to Taipei Station. From here you probably have to take bus or MRT again which can be very troublesome especially if you have luggage.

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I put up in one of the so call “inn” but I would consider it as homestay. According to my friends who stay in Taipei, for NT$1560 in Taipei is consider reasonable. The room comes with a small fridge, TV and attached bathroom (this is the most important item for me). The Come Inn Taipei doesn’t provide any breakfast but they do have water filter machine that you can use. Don’t worry about breakfast in Taipei as they are all around you. There is a barista coffee downstairs too if you need your coffee fix like me. This place does provide laundry service if you needed one.

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My 1st day in Taipei was pretty much nothing I can do except I went to Ximending (西門) for a dinner and a quick walk. Then I got back and called it a day…

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Stay tune for more adventures…