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blue pin: visited; yellow pin: transit;

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day 7: Taipei (Taiwan) - Singapore

It was time to go home. I went back to Singapore on my own as I need to go back to work on the next day and he still had to stay for a few more days.

The flight was 7 am, I woke up at 4.30 am, freshened up and went down to wait for the airport bus. The bus stop is just in front of the hotel, so convenient!! But on that day, the bus was 20 minutes late, so I was quite worried that I would miss the flight. Once the bus reached the airport I quickly run to check in. Nobody was queuing at the counter, I guessed I was the last one to check in.

Finally, my holiday was really over. It started from France and then Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, UK, Thailand, and lastly Taiwan. 12 countries in three months! Without God's blessings, I wouldn't experience something like this.

And for this trip, to borrow the slogan from Hongkong tourism, Taipei is truly my 買東西 吃東西 買東西 吃東西 (shopping, eating, shopping, eating) destination. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 6: Taipei - Shifen - Jiufen - Taipei

Today was the only excursion we had outside Taipei. For the last few days I did my research on the internet of places of interest which were not too far from Taipei. In the end, I decided to go Shifen for the waterfalls and then Jiufen, a traditional village on top of the mountain.

Taipei Railway Station
It wasn't very easy to navigate if you didn't know how to read or speak Mandarin. :)

Taipei railway station

The regional train

View from the train

We bought second class tickets which didn't have any seat reservations. The train was packed but luckily I got a seat but he didn't and had to stand for the whole journey. On our train ride, I managed to make a small talk with an uncle sit next to me. I showed him all my Taiwan maps to get more info on the tourist places and he was happily explaining all the places that he had been to. :)

We alighted at Rueifang station and transfer to another train to Shifen. When the train passed through some small waterfalls, we moved towards the door to get better view of them.

At last, we arrived at Shifen station. The most interesting about this village was the rail track that cut through it. So instead of looking out for cars when crossing to the other side, we had to look out for trains. :P

Rail track that cut through the village.

Post box at Shifen

We decided to have a quick lunch at the only Shifen restaurant before going to the waterfalls.

Fishball soup

Fried rice and noodle

There is a local custom of writing some wishes on the lantern and fly it off. We saw a few lanterns that day. An annual flying lantern festival is usually held at Pingxi, not far from here.

It was about 20 minutes walk to reach the waterfalls. We had to go through suspension bridge, some stairs, another bridge, another fleet of stairs, I think it was hard for the old folks to make it there.

A suspension bridge

Another suspension bridge

Nice huh? This was not the main waterfall yet.

Another waterfall

Shifen Waterfall
It is dubbed as the little Niagara. I guess tiny is more appropriate eventhough I haven't been to Niagara. :P

The little Niagara

Rueifang station
We took a train back to Rueifang station, alighted here and took a bus opposite the station to go up the mountain to Jiufen village.

Rueifang station

The view from here was very nice, we were lucky to reach here just in time for sunset.

View from Jiufen

Jiufen is also famous for its local snacks particularly the taro balls. The village isn't that traditional anymore as it has become quite touristy.

A whole stretch of small shops selling local snacks and souvenirs.

This is the shop of the most famous taro balls dessert. It wasn't easy to find the shop as there was no accurate map for this village. We enjoyed the dessert very much plus the place had a nice view to offer.

Love it, don't mind coming back again for more. :)

Taro balls with green and red beans

Later, we took a Taipei bound bus instead of going back to train station at Rueifang. It was late when we reached our hotel so we decided to have an in-room dining. We ordered braised chicken with rice wine again and fried pork rib with fermented rice paste. Ahh... it was still yummy.

Braised chicken with rice wine and fried pork rib with fermented rice paste

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 5: Taipei

Pearl Liang, Hyatt
The interior of Pearl Liang was exquisite, the dim sum was so good as I could taste the freshness of the ingredients. Overall, all Hyatt restaurants were highly recommended.

Pickles and condiments

Char Shao puff

Siao Mai

Xiao Long Bao

Beehive pan fried dumpling

After breaking it

Carrot cake

Zhong Xiao Dong Lu
I continued shopping from where I left off yesterday. After walking for an hour without anything to buy I decided to go back to Wu Fen Pu for the cheap thrill. :) And yes, I bought a few more items there. I love shopping by myself, nobody nagging at me and I don't need to wait for others. I usually could cover a lot of places in a very short time.

Shi Lin Night Market
It was so crowded on Friday night. What made us come back again was the Ah Chung mian xian.

The crowd at Shi Lin

Ah Chung mian xian

Fried chicken with honey

The queue

It was a disappointment, not as good as the XXL fried chicken.

Suddenly, we saw several stalls owner quickly moved their stalls to the dark alley. The customers were also following them to the alley to finish off the transactions. We waited and waited but saw no police. Not sure whether it was someone crying wolf. :P