Travel: Penang Street Arts

This is my 2nd blog after I have stopped for many months. I would like thank all of you who are still following. Hope to get back onto my 2 feet and get some posting rolling.

If you a fan of street arts and have been following the arts around the country, then you will need to come to Penang for these 2 magnificent pieces. They are located in Balik Pulau with the GPS coordinate 5.351705, 100.235621 or you can refer to the map below with the red dot. It is pretty easy to find as it is painted the whole piece of the wall.

Since you are here, get a bowl of asam laksa and a fresh nutmeg juice. The famous laksa is just beside the street arts and a big car park. Or, may be some durians since this is the season for durians.

These are my blogs about other street arts.

KL Street Arts
Penang Street Arts
Penang Street Arts 2

Travel: Kuching, Sarawak

If you only have a day in Kuching and what can you do? For most Asian, we will find food. Head to Carpenter Street at the old town, you can have a bowl of Kueh Chap. It is basically a mixture of pork intestine, meat and deep fried tofu in an herbal soup. While you are at it, order the famous pork satay too. It sure is delicious. Not many places in West Malaysia can find pork satay and the way of cooking is different also. This place is not difficult to find as the food court is right front of a Chinese temple at Carpenter Street.

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Ok, now you are full. How about a river cruise? There are a few types of river cruise that you can opt for. From a budget sampan to a beautiful boat with meals offered. Of course, we were the adventurous people and we took a small sampan that ferry people across the Sarawak River. It only costs us MYR50 for the whole sampan and a total of 5 persons. It took us about an hour for the whole journey but don’t expect any introductory narrator. Anyway, our purposed was to kill time before our flight. Head to one of the wharf below and you can see many of these sampans.

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The cruise itself… It was all quiet except for the motor on the boat and our laughter.

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Alternatively, you can also opt for this type of river cruise.

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More time to kill? Well, take stroll around the city center or have a cup of drink at Starbuck in the Plaza Merdeka.

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Before ending the day, head to Topspot Food Court for a delicious fresh seafood. We ordered Giant River Prawns (Udang Galah), fried squid, a medium size fish cooked in curry and the famous Paku-Pakis Midin vegetable. And all that, only MYR40 per person. They open at 5pm every day.

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Trail: KL Car Free Day

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This is mainly for recreational or fun ride, so it is very suitable for family outings. Part of the KL city center is closed for 2 hours (7-9am) from traffic for people to enjoy the outdoor outing. They used to hold it once a month and always on the 1st Sunday of the month. Now, it is twice a month and on the 1st and 3rd Sunday. You can get additional info here: http://www.klcarfreemorning.com/index.asp. The loop covers about 7km long so you can do about 2-3 loops of leisure ride.

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Don’t want to ride? Well, you can join a bunch of joggers or you can walk also. Basically it is opened to all people except for motorized vehicle. But I saw a bunch of noisy motorized scooters. I guessed it is allowed.

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As said, this is fun ride for families. Therefore, you can’t ride your bike fast here as there are people jogging in the middle of the lane, slow cyclists or some will just stop in the middle of the road without giving any warnings. You will need to be alerted at all times or ride at the most outer lane.

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The route covers the iconic Petronas Twin Tower (KLCC) and Menara KL (KL Tower). Lots of people (including me) stopped for photos. So, do watch out for those people. If you do stop, please stop at the side of the road.

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Do remember to stop for pictures at the Merdeka Square.

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Hungry? Food trucks are ready to serve you.

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If you are staying around the area and don’t feel like driving out, then this is a place to bring your children to ride. I would consider quite safe if your speed is slow. Or, if you are a tourist and wanted to join the crowd, the OCBC bank has donated some bikes that you can borrow it for free. Just don’t expect they are giving you Trek, Speicalized or Cannondale bikes. They are rideable but some are in bad condition. So, be there early to choose your bike and have fun.

Travel: Food in Kaohsiung

As we traveled >350km down south, the food preparation and taste was slightly different from Taipei. The only thing still taste the same was the Taiwanese Sausage. It was Kaohsiung city, our last destination before heading home.

Popiah (spring roll) and bak chang (glutinous rice dumpling) are rarely seen in Taipei but here can be found quite easily. The one I had was next to Centre Hotel. The popiah has a lot of ingredients in it and it tasted really good. The bak chang was eaten with a type of source on it and it was sprinkled with grounded peanuts. It was so delicious that I had it 2 times.

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Price: *

Taste: *****

Where: Next to Centre Hotel near Formosa Boulevard MRT Station

Try the grill cuttlefish from street store at Cijin Island. It was full aroma after it was grilled with charcoal. And, not only it was full flavor, it was so fresh and sweet. For garnishing, we were allowed to choose either chili, pepper or garlic powdered.

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Price: *

Taste: *****

Where: Cijin Island

Follow by a cup of cool sour drink from a plant. I have no idea what was it but it was good. Look out for this fruit and ask for one.

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Price: *

Taste: *****

Where: Cijin Island

Along the road to Gushan Ferry Pier, there are a lot of these shave ice dessert stores. Again, we can’t resisted but to sit down and ordered 2 bowls. The 1st few bites was nice as it was cooling and the ice was very smooth. I find it too big for me to finish it alone.

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Price: *

Taste: ***

Where: Gushan Ferry Pier

Kaohsiung Night Market (美食大街) is like a mini Ximending. We had the Gua Bao pork bun (割包) and I find it not as good as the one I had in Taipei. The one in Kaohsiung has a strong bamboo shoots taste and the meat was not seasoned real well. I guessed that was not the best store we went.

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Price: *

Taste: **

Coming to Taiwan, everyone must try the papaya milk (木瓜牛奶). It is thick and sweet at the same time. Soothing to your throat especially after a long hot walk. Look out for this brand or cart.

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Price: *

Taste: ****

What attracted us to eat at this store was actually the sign. It said Taste of Tainan (台南口味). We had a bowl of noodle topped with minced meat and a mushroom. It is something light and perfect for the night.

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Price: *

Taste: ****

Where: 美食大街

Well, with all these foods I had in 8 days were good enough to increase my weight by 3kg. 😦 Means more riding to burn it off.

Travel: Food in Jiufen and Shifen

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. I had these 2 while visiting the Jinguashi Museum.

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Price: ***

Taste: ****

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Price: **

Taste: ****

Where: Jinguashi Museum

The famous dessert you should try in Jiufen (九份) 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 can be found at the old street. Ah Gan Yi is 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.

Ah Gan Yi Yu Yuan

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Price: **

Taste: ****

Lai Ah Po

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Price: **

Taste: ***

Where: Jiufen (九份)

When you are in Pingxi you have to try the Ah Ma’s Taiwanese Hot Dog wrap with glutinous rice, onions, spring onions and veggie. It is wrap in a way that you don’t have to open up the wrapper. All we had to do was to twist and turn the wrapper and it pushed up the hotdog. No mess.

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Price: *

Taste: *****

Follow by a bowl of tofu fa (豆腐花) just at around the corner. The tofu fa in Taiwan is very different from Malaysia as you can add additional ingredients to it. Besides the normal sugar, they have ginger sugar too. Very creative.

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Price: *

Taste: ***

Where: Around the Pingxi Train Station.

Also, get a cup of good Americano at Family Mart for just NT$35. Generally, you can just walk into any convenient shops and you can still get a good cup of coffee. There… breakfast is served.

Travel: Food in Taipei

For those who loves to eat like me, I am compiling all the food I had in Taipei over here. It will be easier when referring what to eat over there and I have put some rating here based on my taste buds. 1 star means low and 5 means high.

This is so far the best Gua Bao (割包) I had as the meat is seasoned to its taste and the fatty portion is just the right amount. Anything more will be yucky. Also, the bamboo shoots didn’t cover up the taste of the meat and sauce.

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Price: *

Taste: ****

Where: Section 2, Daan Rd. It is just a 3 mins walk from Daan MRT Station. Walk east towards Taipei 101 at Xinyi Rd.

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Ok, you may have tried the beef noodle at Ding Tai Fong (鼎泰豐) and you think it is the best so far. Let’s try the Yong Kang Beef Noodle (永康牛肉麺). I would say these 2 have their own flavoring. The Yong Kang’s broth has a stronger flavoring whereas Ding Tai Fong is leaning towards lighter version. When you are there, order the pork ribs (粉蒸排骨) in bamboo container too. It is yummylicious. Oh, don’t forget the small side dishes.

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Price: ***(and half)

Taste: *****

Where: Lane 31, Section 2, Jinshan South Rd near Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

Beef Noodle

It is quite common to find green tea ice cream at anywhere but I hardly see red tea ice cream or a mix. I had the mix version at Maokong and the texture is very soft and smooth. It was decorated with a biscuit shape like cat. 🙂

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Price: *

Taste: ***

Where: Exit from Maokong Gondola station and it is just right across the street.

A typical Taiwanese breakfast is the Chinese cruller or youtiao (油条) with soy milk. Also, dan bing (蛋饼) or egg biscuit goes well with it. It was plain and simple but not entirely healthy as it was all deep fried or pan fried.

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Price: *

Taste: **

Where: Pretty much anywhere near the residential area or MRT stations.

If you are a pig intestines lover, then you ought to have this. Head to Yongchang and Minle Street and look for 永樂米苔目. According to my Taiwanese friends, this place is quite famous.

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Price: *

Taste: Sorry can’t comment as I didn’t have it.

Where: Head to Yongchang and Minle Street near Dadaocheng Wharf.

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) – In Taipei alone there are many night markets but the food served there are pretty much the same. Shilin and Ximending are the 2 most popular night markets in Taipei. Over here you can find lots and lots of food but not all are good. Generally, those stores have long lines are pretty good to eat.

Cuttlefish thick soup (生抄鱿鱼庚) is something ought to try as it was quite unique way of cooking and new to my taste buds. It has squid, bamboo shoots, cabbage and of course cuttlefish. The soup was very sweet as it got all the sweetness from the seafood.

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Price: ***

Taste: ****

I felt the quality of Hot-Star (豪大大雞排) chicken chop has dropped since I last visited in 2012 and not many people were buying from them but still quite famous. It was still a big piece of chicken.

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Price: **

Taste: **(and half)

This is the street store fried chicken which I find it better than the Hot-Star. Have a try…

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Price: **

Taste: ****

Have you ever had fried milk? This is something that is a must try. It is crispy on the outer shell and soft inside. It also has a sweet taste.

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Price: *

Taste: *****

Have a cup of white bitter gourd juice. Don’t let that scare you. It is not bitter at all and it is actually sweet and refreshing. They blended it together with the honeydew and some other fruits. It is a must try item here too.

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Price: *

Taste: *****

The herbal spare rib soup here which I find it nothing to shout about but this place is quite famous. The herbal soup does not have a strong taste as in Malaysia “Bak Kut Teh” (aka BKT). If you don’t like the strong taste, then this might suits you well. So, head to Hai You Shi Jin Pai Gu (海友十金排骨).

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Price: ***

Taste: **

Where: Take the red line MRT to Jiantan.

Ximending Night Market (西門町) –There are a few famous food stores here that a lot of food blogger blogged about it but I find them meh. Anyway, I will you judge on your own.

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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Price: ***

Taste: ***

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. 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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Price: **

Taste: **(and half)

Thirsty? Get 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. This shop has been in business for 50 years.

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Price: **

Taste: ****

Where: Take the Blue or Green MRT line to Ximen.

Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市) – choice of food is not much.

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The 1st store we hit was the fried oyster and I find it so-so only. I still find the fried oyster in Penang, Malaysia is much better.

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Price: **

Taste: **

Ok, this is something unique and made us wanted to try. We saw the queued was long and we thought it must be good. So, we gave it a try. I find it not very nice as it was dried and not much of a strong taste. Probably I do not know how to order as you can put any ingredients inside the rice.

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Price: *

Taste: *

The only thing that I like it here was the Taiwanese sausage which was pretty good and the line was quite long too.

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Price: *

Taste: ****

Where: Take the red line MRT to Shuanglian station. Exit at the Minsheng W. Rd and heading west.

Huaxi Street Night Market (華西街夜市) – This is near the Longshan Temple and it is also a place where they sell snake soup and meat.

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.

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Price: **

Taste: ****

There was another thing that suites my taste buds was the fried fish ball in a stick that garnished with wasabi or chili sauce.

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Price: *

Taste: ****

Where: Take blue line MRT to Longshan Temple.

Wan Kao

This summarized all the foods I had in Taipei.

Travel: Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Day 8

Day 8 was our last day in Taiwan. Time to say good bye but not just yet as we had 2 more places to visit before heading to the airport. Our 1st stop was the Takao Railway Museum. It has a few old locomotives for display and it is also on the way to the former residence of British Consulate of Takao.

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After visiting the train museum we went to the consulate. You can either take a bus or walk. It was a short walk as it is just 1.3km from the station. The building is sitting on top of the hill and you can get a glimpse of the National Sun Yat Sen University. Another part of it you can see the strait.

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To get here: Take the orange line to Sizihwan Station.

Time to head home. So far the infrastructures in Taiwan are very convenient as the airports are well connected with public transportation and it is cheap. To get to the Kaohsiung International Airport, you can just take the MRT and it only cost us NT$30 from Formosa Boulevard Station. To get here: Take the red line to Kaohsiung International Airport.

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For the whole trip, we walked about 21k steps per day but I didn’t lose any weight at all. In fact, I gained about 3kg there. 🙂

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People in Taiwan are generally very polite. They will say excuse me if they bump into you or need to get thru. I think I can leave in this kind of country. I really like it here except for some shop owners can be a bit sarcastic. I will definitely come back here to visit. My next destination will probably be Taichung. Hope you will find what you will need here to plan for your next trip to Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Travel: Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Day 7

Before heading Kaohsiung, I had a quick shopping at RT-Mart (大潤發) to get some stuff. This place is like Walmart in US or Tesco in UK. Thinking of residing in Taipei? Well, the price here is about the same in Malaysia probably except for the accommodation.

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One thing I like about Taiwan is that they have a lot of parks. There is a small or big park within a few blocks. It gifts a very warm community feel and relax.

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Time to head south… We took the high speed rail (HSR) from Taipei Station to Zuoying Station (Kaohsiung) and it took us about 2 hours only. The price can be fluctuated but not much. The day we took the train was NT$1580 with non-reserved seats. In just a few days after we took the train, the price listed was NT$1445. At least they revised their transportation cost when operating cost is lower. The train was very puncture, clean and comfortable. The seats have a lot of leg room and the time we took was quite empty. So, every other seat was emptied. They even have a place where you can charge your electronic devices and vending machine to purchase your drink while waiting for your phone to charge.

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Our 1st stop was to look for hotel and food (C’mon Taiwan is all about eating 🙂 )… The room here was cheaper and much bigger compared with Taipei. We stayed in Centre Hotel (中央飯店) and we only paid NT$1280 for 2 queen’s bed, a living room and a huge bathroom. So far, all the places we stayed in Taiwan is very near to the MRT and it was within a 5 mins walk. Love in it…

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Our 1st bite in Kaohsiung was the popiah (spring roll) and bak chang (glutinous rice dumpling). The main ingredients for the popiah are mainly vegetables and some fatty pork in it. It was so good that we had it twice in 2 days. The store we had is just next to our hotel.

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I would said the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station is one of the most beautiful station I have ever been to. The ceiling is covered with glass panels that are full of artworks. It was designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata and this station is also named Dome of Light. In one occasion, there was a pianist playing on a white baby grand which is something unusual to see in a train station. The train here was nothing like in Taipei. It was pretty much empty all the times. I don’t recall we ever stand at any occasion.

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We walked from Formosa Boulevard Station to Gushan Ferry Pier to catch a ferry to Cijin Island. It only cost NT$25/person each way. The bottom deck is for cyclists and scooters. For passengers you can enjoy the open air or enclosed area at the upper deck.

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A different view of the city from a different time.

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Cijin Island has a very wide black sandy beach and the sand is very fine. Also, you can watch the beautiful sunset on top of a small hill where the lighthouse is located.

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Hungry? There are plenty of seafood restaurant here but we didn’t had any as we wanted to save space for street food. We just had a grill cuttlefish from street store and it was yummylicious.

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Follow by a cup of cool sour drink from a plant. I have no idea what was it but it was good. Look out for this fruit and ask for one.

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Along the road to Gushan Ferry Pier, there are a lot of these shave ice dessert stores. Again, we can’t resisted but to sit down and ordered 2 bowls. The 1st few bites was nice as it was cooling and the ice was very smooth. Because the bowl was a very big and by the time we had half of the bowl, it was like ooohhh…. We really had enough. Try to share if you can though it was not expensive.

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Back to street food. We went to (美食大街) and it is like a mini Ximending. We had the Gua Bao pork bun (割包) but I find it not as good as the one I had in Taipei. The one in Kaohsiung has a strong bamboo shoots taste and the meat was not seasoned real well. I guessed that was not the best store we went.

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Coming to Taiwan, everyone must drink the papaya milk (木瓜牛奶). It is thick and sweet at the same time. Soothing to your throat especially after a long hot walk.

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One thing we didn’t have here is the Areca nut (Pinang Fruit). It will definitely stain my teeth if we had it. I also heard that it is very hard to chew on.

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Wanna have a penis pineapple tarts? I guessed they are trying to be creative to gain some sales here and there. I will definitely not put the whole thing into my mouth but I did try the taste after they cut into smaller pieces. It has multiple flavor such as lemon, yam, orange and many more. It wasn’t taste that great as the crust is hard and thick. The filling is not much. This type of trend is picking up in many other country. Now Malaysia have penis Kuih Bahulu.

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Tired of walking? They have a similar rent a bike like in Taipei’s YouBike too. We didn’t rent any bike as our time here in Kaohsiung was pretty short and we do not need one.

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Time flies when we had fun and we only have one more day before heading home. Stay tune for my last episode in Taiwan…

Travel: Taipei, Taiwan – Day 6

Day 6 was our last day in Taipei before we were heading south to Kaohsiung. I told my friend that we must visit Yehliu Geopark before we leave Taipei since I have missed it during my last trip and I don’t know when I will come here again. Also, a lot of these rock formations were eroded and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to see the Queen’s Head.

Again, we took a train to Keelung and one thing I found about Taiwan is that they are very bike friendly city. They allow bicycles in the MRT which are very convenient for commuters or cyclists that wanted to cycle in the outskirt.

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Upon reaching Keelung the weather didn’t look promising as it was all dark sky and started to drizzle. We didn’t care much and proceeded with our destination since we already in the train for about an hour. Luckily we did go ahead as the sky turned bright. We took a cab to Yehliu and we were able to stop for this photo.

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Yehliu Geopark is basically seeing rocks formation from the sea erosion. Different part of exposure will have different formation which it created a very beautiful rocks. If you look carefully, some these formation can actually represent a figuring. The famous ones are the Queen’s Head, Cute Princess and Ice Cream Rock. Probably, these are the easiest to spot. To take a picture of the Queen’s head, I had to lineup for about 20-30 mins.

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These are the less famous rocks but still a lot of people trying to take a picture of it.

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You can actually walkaway from the path and towards the edge of Gueitou Mountain. Along the way you can actually walk very close to the sea but just make sure that you don’t drop into the sea.

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Along the way you can see all these beautiful rocks formation.

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Beside looking at rocks, lots of people came here for birds watching and the locals came to fish.

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Once I climbed up to Yehliu Lighthouse at Gueitou Mountain and away from the crowd. I enjoyed every moment there as it was quiet and beautiful. The paths were easily access and it was not difficult to walk.

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Different view of Gueitou Mountain.

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Hungry? There are a lot of seafood restaurants around the area because it is a fishing village. But do check the price 1st before you order. I heard that you can adds up to a lot of money if you are not careful.

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To get here: Take a train from Taipei Station to Keelung for NTD$41 and take bus 790 to get there. We took a cab for NT$400 as we wanted to reach there quickly and we got a discount from the driver too as he was going that direction. Instead of taking a train back to Taipei, we took a bus at the main road. It took us about 2 hours to get back but it was no hurry for us. We stopped near Tower 101 for another visit.

Taipei 101 used to be tallest building in the world and now it is #8. Still a nice place to visit since it is still the tallest building in Taiwan. If you are one of those high end shoppers then this is the place you want to be as it houses a lot of these high ends shops.

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If you are not, there are more affordable places to shop around 101 tower and the food here was quite reasonable price too. There were street performers at night and some of them sang pretty well. You can support them by purchasing a CD from them. 🙂

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I guessed Christmas was not a big thing in Taiwan as I hardly saw any Christmas decoration except around this place. Hmm… To get here: Take a red line train and get off at Taipei 101.

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If you are a bookworm head to Eslite Bookstore (誠品書店). There are a few stores that are at least 2-3 stories tall filled with books. In fact there is 24 hours Eslite store you can visit when you can’t sleep at night. To get here: Take a blue line MRT and exit at Zhongxiao Dunhua and it is about 5-10 mins walk from the station.

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We headed back to Shilin Night Market for our late dinner. Our 1st stop was the fried chicken. Personally, I felt that they serve better chicken than Hot Star I mentioned in my earlier post. The taste is stronger and the chicken is just nice and tender.

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Have you ever had fried milk? This is something that is a must try. It is crispy on the outer shell and soft inside. It also has a sweet taste.

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Something to down all food you had and wanted something healthy? Try this. Have a cup of white bitter gourd juice. Don’t let that scare you. It is not bitter at all and it is actually sweet and refreshing. They blended it together with the honeydew and some other fruits. It is a must try item here too. To get here: Take the red line MRT to Jiantan.

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Travel: Taipei, Taiwan – Day 5

With a full rest on Day 4, we started Day 5 even earlier to catch a bus out to Ruifang then a train to Shifen. We stopped at 3 places – Jingtong (菁桐), Pingxi (平溪) and Shifen (十分). We had an hour only for each places as we were following the train schedule. If not, we will be stuck in one place for 2 hours. Also, we had to keep in tight schedule as we had to be back in Taipei at 2-3pm to meet up some friends. We have 2 very kind Taiwanese friends that accompanied us pretty much the whole day and one has to travel from Tainan (2 hours by bullet train).

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The train tracks…

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The typical attractions at these stations are the bamboo wish sticks and sky lanterns.

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Jingtong

This was our 1st stop for the line and also the last station for the Pingxi line. It is a small and quiet town and I am sure this is nice retreat if you want to get away from the bustling city and people. If you a time, have cup of coffee at the old street and enjoy the cool weather.

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There are a few stations here people will make wishes on the bamboo sticks and hang it around the train stations. Jingtong is one of them. In fact, pretty much all the stations we stopped have them.

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The main attraction here is the Jingtong Coal Memorial Park. It was active from 1918 till in the 1970s before it closed down for good. There are some structures still visible around the area so as the cart tracks. The trees and its roots are growing around the building structures which made it very unique. The place can be a bit spooky as it was just 2 of us.

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The next thing to visit here is the Lover Bridge. It is basically a red bridge with the bamboo sticks that hung around.

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Pingxi

This is a slightly larger town than Jingtong and it has nothing much to do besides letting go of the sky lantern. It is also known as Kongming or Chinese lantern. It is like a hot air balloon that made of paper. Normally, there are 2 places where you can release the lantern and they are Pingxi and Shifen. Shifen is more crowded, so the shop workers would want you to release them quick so that they can attend to another customer. I find the shop workers in Pingxi will give you more time or attention to you in releasing the lantern.

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When you are here, have a bite of the Taiwanese version hotdog. It is Taiwanese grill sausage wrap around glutinous rice, onions, spring onions and veggie. It sure was delicious and it was our breakfast too. The funny thing was, we didn’t have to open up the wrapper. All we had to do was to twist and turn the wrapper and it pushed up the hotdog. No mess.

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Follow by a bowl of tofu fa (豆腐花). Also, I got a cup of good Americano at Family Mart for just NT$35. It lasted me till late afternoon before I ate again. Generally, you can just walk into any convenient shops and you can get a good cup of coffee.

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Shifen

This was our last stop before we headed back to Ruifang to catch a train back to Taipei. Shifen is like a repetitions of the 2 towns we visited earlier. The sky lantern, the bamboo wish sticks and the sausages. The only unique thing is the train track is running along a busy shops. It is like the Maeklong Railway Market in Bangkok.

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As you can see from the picture below, the crowds were just too overwhelming. They were lining up to get their turns to release it.

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The good part is you can see a lot of them up in the sky at once.

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If you have time, do visit the waterfall in Shifen as we have missed it due to tight schedule. I saw some pictures posted online and it is quite beautiful. Also, if you are a cat lover, you may want to stop at Houtong Cat Village (猴硐貓村). According to some blogger it has like 100s cats there. I did see some cats here and there at the 3 stations we stopped.

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To get here: Take Bus 788 from Jiufen to Ruifang train station. Then, purchase the Pingxi Line & Shen’ao Line to Shifen. Make sure that you are purchasing a ticket that allows you to hop on and off at any stations. We saw a couple bought a single trip ticket to Shifen and they were not allowed to get back onto the train after hop off.

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Back in Taipei

When we were back in Taipei we went straight to Dihua Street which is near Dadaocheng Wharf to look for our friends. This area is mainly selling dry seafood or Chinese herbs.

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Sadly, you can still see a lot of shark fins being sold.

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We stopped for a small bowl of noodle and this place is mainly selling every part of the pig that you can think of. This is highly recommended by our Taiwanese friends but of course you have to like pig intestines and stuff. If you are, then head to Yongchang and Minle Street and look for 永樂米苔目.

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Our next stop is to visit some hot springs in Xinbeitou. There are a lot of hot springs around this area and some are open to public for free where you can soak your legs into the hot pool. There are places you can bath or soak your whole body in but you have to pay to get in. Do visit the Beitou Thermal Valley to view the 3500 square meters of hot springs.

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Before we left the place, we went to a Fuxing Park (復興公園) and soak our tired legs. It is not far from Xinbeitou MRT Station. It has 3 pools and each has different temperatures.

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To get here: Take the red line MRT to Beitou then change train to Xinbeitou. The Xinbeitou train is very unique compared with others.

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Taiwan is all about eat and eat and eat. Pretty much nonstop eating. We had our dinner at Shilin Night Market food court (士林夜市).

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Even the 7-Eleven stores has wide variety of food.

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Our 1st stop was to try the cuttlefish thick soup (生抄鱿鱼庚). It has squid, bamboo shoots, cabbage and of course cuttlefish. The soup was very sweet as it got all the sweetness from the seafood. Something ought to try as it was quite unique way of cooking and new to my taste buds.

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Next was chicken chop from Hot-Star (豪大大雞排). I felt the quality of this shop has dropped since I last visited in 2012. In fact, there is another roadside store is even better which I will talk about it more in my next blog.

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Our grand finale was the herbal spare rib soup which I find it nothing to shout about but this place is quite famous. The herbal soup does not have a strong taste as in Malaysia “Bak Kut Teh” (aka BKT). If you don’t like the strong taste, then this might suits you well. So, head to Hai You Shi Jin Pai Gu (海友十金排骨).

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Too full to go home and sleep? Play some games along the street stores. There are plenty of these stores here.

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How about catch some prawns?

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To get here: Take the red line MRT to Jiantan.