Monday, March 31, 2008

Conquering Taipei | D5 ~ Jiufen & Shihlin NM

Jiufen is our next destination. It's quite far from our hotel and we need to use lotsa transportation to get there. Grabbing the quickiest breakfast around Longshan Temple - healthy sandwich & soya , we head to Taipei Main station via MRT.
My breakfast

Search for the railway station. It's very easy as it is at the same place as the MRT station. Not like Malaysia, have to cross dunno how many roads to reach another type of transportation. Anyway, let's get back on track. Need to find the Railway station ~ TRA Taipei Station.

We used the automatic vending machine to buy tickets to Rueifang (actually an uncle helped us to buy). There are 2 types of tickets NT52 (no seating number) and NT80 (numbered seating & faster train). But for my case, we bought the NT52 tickets coz the schedule shows that the train was reaching soon. However, we wasn't fast enough and the next train is about 45 minutes later. We decided to get on the NT80 train coz it comes in 10 minutes. So, we topped-up our ticket on board the train. Easy, rite? Topped-up NT 28.

The train stopped 3 stations (Yuen Shan, Badu and Sihjiaoting) before we reach Rueifang. 40 minutes later, we reached our destination (YEAH!) So, where is Jiufen? Crossed the road in front of the Rueifang station to the bus stop. Take a bus to Jiufen. Quite straight-forward rite?

Rueifang station

The ride is similar to our Genting Highlands. But safer! Bus driver has great skills and bus got POWER! Hahaha. Jiufen is not as "ulu" as I thought. It's actually very towny feel. Houses along the hills. Cars going up and down as if its like nothing. View was breathtaking!

Finally, we reached Jiufen! Why this is one of the must go place? According to my research, the famous staircase is a must see as well as the authentic cinema. See it yourself!
The famous Jiufen staircase

The authentic cinema

Besides this staircase, shopping is surely there. Mostly are foods and souvenirs. This place was filled with people. It's like "pasar malam" at M'sia. We have a quick bite at one of the shops. The beef noodle was unforgetable. Food price at Jiufen are slightly higher. It's a tourist spot, mah.

Some other foods @ Jiufen

By 5pm, we took the public bus back to Taipei. Didn't want to take a chance to miss the train again. It took nearly the same time as taking the train, 50 minutes to reach Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station. Without wasting time, we rush to Shihlin NM! Stopped at Jiantan station NOT Shihlin station. It's nearer here.

Food and non-food are seperated at Shihlin NM. There is a food court opposite Jiefen MRT station. This is where you'll get all the food. Crossing the road next to this food court is the non-food shopping starts. Shoes, bags, clothes, accesorries, etc. You name it, they got it. But in between those you still can get food and drinks.

Shihlin Food Court

As for dinner, we tried the "Malat Fo Wuo" Spicy Steamboat. It's not as spicy as I thought it would be. Our Tom Yam has more kick. NT183, buffet style. Oh yea. Taiwanese has love to use this sauce called "Sa Cha". Very tasty, actually. They like to use it it most of thier food.

"Malat Fo Wuo"

Without further ado, we head to Shihlin NM and shop! Did I mentioned that you can bargain for better price? YES! You can! This is the place for you to practice your negotiating skills. My Mandarin definately improved! In the middle of this road, there are a row of sellers. I think these are without licence coz when the police come, they will run and hide at the backlane. They can really run. Within a few minutes, they will disappear and reappear. Just like magic.
You noticed that I don't have any photos on shopping coz I'm busy shopping and no time to snap photos. Sorry ya! You need to come and experience it yourself! There is no words can describe it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Conquering Taipei | D4 ~ Danshui - DanJiang High School & Fisherman Wharf

Before leaving our hot spring hotel, we can't resist for another dip. Did I mentioned that our stay includes breakfast too? It does! So, after the breakfast we all went in to "cook" ourselves again. By 12pm, we bid goodbye to Broad Way Hotel. (sob!sob!)
Broad Way Hotel breakfast
Next on the list is Fong's destination - PS Bubu Fusion Food. It's from the Taiwanese series Meteor Garden. For those who doesn't know this, the series starred by F4. So, it's an ancient series.
P.S. Bubu Fusion Food

To get here, from Xinbeitou MRT station to reach Beitou and exchange to any line to Shipai station. Get on R19 bus to reach Tianmu Village. The restaurant is easily seen at the main road. Not like Mr J II. . . Food was nice too. Priced nearly the same as Mr J II. Serving fusion food. We ordered a few types of pasta sets. (NT2,915 to be divided by 8)

We took a bus back to Shipai station to catch MRT to Danshui. Reaching Danshui took about 30 minutes. First thing comes to my mind is to search for Danjiang High School~Jay Chou's high school + shooting of Secret movie. Took R38 bus,reached the high school within minutes and a few minutes walk. It's open to public as it is an historical school. Closing time is 5pm so, I got 2 hours to spend.

Danshui MRT station and Danshui view@ Danjiang High SchoolRemember any of these scenes?Was told that Jay used to study at the 2nd floor
It was really a nice place to study. There are still classes going on there. But I can't find the room that stores all the pianos (in the movie). According to the students, that scene was not shot there. True enough, I found the that building in another school/uni next door.
After running around the school like kids, we head back to the main road and grab bus 836 to Fisherman's Wharf (Yu Ren Ma Tou). The view was nice. Too bad the weather wasn't that good and we couldn't watch the sunset.
Fisherman's WharfFood @ Fisherman's Wharf@ Old Street (Lau Jie)

Lau Jie is a must walk. Full of foods and things to see. Too bad that we couldn't finish the whole stretch as it started to rain. Well. it maintained clear sky for 3 days. We can't ask for more. So, we heading back to Taipei Main station and exchange back to Longshan Temple station. What a day!

After reaching our hotel, there are a few of us still eye wide open. Fong, Siew, Weng and Me heading back to Ximenting to have a drink. We bear through the rain. Actually we took the taxi (NT70 +NT20 extra charge)

Fish House was the name. We just have a drink and chat. Most of the shops are closed (11pm). By the time we head back, it was on the last train! Luckily enough we squeeze through. What an adrenaline rush!

Conquering Taipei | D3 ~ Yangmingshan & Beitou

Okay. We're supposed to go to Yangmingshan yesterday. Sudden change of plan because of Taiwan's election day is on Saturday. According to the locals, it's better to stay away from the city on the eve of election day. So, early morning we headed to Yangmingshan. It's a nice move coz the weather was just nice to go uphills. From the weather forecast, Taipei is supposed to be raining. But THANK GOD! It was sun, cloud and breeze for these 3 days!

(P/S: Chen Sui Pien party lost in the election and Ma Ying Jiu party won. Ma Ying Jiu is the opposition party. And the citizens of Taiwan are really happy with the opposition winning this election. Makes me wonder about back home...)

Let's head back to our journey to Yangmingshan. It's like our Cameron Highlands but a few times bigger in size. We took MRT to Shihlin station and boarded bus R5. The bus staion is at the left side of the Exit 1 Shihlin station. Bus stops in front of a Family Mart store.
(Note: Buses numbers starts with "R" are buses heading to MRT stations. So, if you ever got lost, get on bus starts with "R", you will reach a MRT station)

It took about 30 minutes to reach Yangmingshan Terminal. After that, another bus to reach "Zhuzihu" Bamboo Lake. This is one from the 6 main attractions at Yangmingshan. Too bad that we only went to this one only. The season now is Lily flowers. But sakura and "mei hua" also can be found around. We walked quite a bit, up-hills and down-hills. It was tiring but the view was spectacular. Even the locals come to see the flowers. At this point, I can see that the Taiwanesse loves Taiwan a lot!
Scenery of Yangmingshan
Lilies of "Zhuzihu", Yangmingshan
After reaching the Bamboo Lake small town, we head to food! On the way, we stop by a fruit stall. Fruits are fresh and yummy. We ended up buying a lot of fruits (NT100 per bag). All the restaurants are the same, serving nearly the same food. We choose the one that has a lot of people in it. We ordered set lunch (NT2500 per set means NT312.50 per pax) Food OK OK ler.
Busy buying fruits

Lunch time

Burb! (Excuse me...) It's time to make a move if we want to look for a hot spring hotel ("fan dien") to stay a night. On our way back down, we stop at one of the florist. Flowers are fresh in this kinda climate. Makes me want to buy some too... But travelling like this won't allow me to carry a bouquet of flowers around. It's cheap too. Just like buying flowers in Cameron Highlands.

Don't you feel like buying some?
Seeing the bus stop swarming with people, we opt to take taxi to Beitou. Well, it was a rip-off. As usual lah, at these kinda places. (This is the only time I felt cheated) It cost us NT100 per pax. Sigh... Nothing else we can do. Lazy to wait for public bus.

We stopped at Xinbeitou MRt station to wait for the others. Beitou is a town which is famous for its hot springs. On "Wen Chuan" road there are lotsa hot springs hotels and a public hot springs. Hot springs hotels prices varies but public ones cost cheaper (NT20-40) No worries, in public hot springs there is no need to be nude.
Beitou Public Hot Spring

We decided to stay a night at "Bai Le Huei" Broad Way Hotel. This hotel has its own hot spring BUT you need to strip off! Well, everyone has a first time. Hehe. It was akward at first, but everyone was just being normal. We took the family room which fits 6 people and they gave us extra matresses. It has a private hot spring too. But I didn't manage to try it. Cost: NT10300 for a night. NT1300 per pax. Good deal. Thanks to Mr Lim (pst! He's from Penang, M'sia) That's why we got a good deal. According to one of the locals, this place is quite new.
(Note: Do not soak too long in the hot spring. 10 minutes in hot and cold alternatively for maximum 3 times each.)
"Bai Le Huei"
Opss. Sorry, there is no photos while we're in the hot springs. X-rated lah.

As dinner time came, we creep out and look for food. There is a small market down the road. Makan lah! Apa lagi? But I can't seem to find the courage to eat "chou dofu" smelly tofu. Maybe later??? Hahahaha!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Conquering Taipei | D2 ~ Taipei 101, Mr J II & Wufenpu

Here we are at Day 2! Started the day off with a nice porridge breakfast. Yummy! It's called "chou chi rou chou dien" Chow kei meat porridge shop, just a stone-walk from our hotel The "char siu" very nice. In total NT80 per pax.
Chou Chi Rou Chou Dien
We headed to town after breakfast, taking the MRT to Taipei City Hall station. Note: Do purchase their Easy Card "Youyou" Card. It's like our Touch N Go card. Cost: NT500 (NT100 for deposit) Went to 101 Taipei, right behind the MRT station. It's B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. There is an observation level but the price is NT400. So, we didn't go in. Just browse through the souvenir shop and the shopping complex around there. Oh yea. Most of the stores opens at 11am.

Taipei 101

Hunger strikes again. Next on the menu is my target: Mr J II French Italian Restaurant. I only have my map and common sense to guide us to that restaurant. We walked around, I think for an hour and finally found it. Thanks to Weng. My advise: get a cab and go to the Taipei Medical University Hospital. It's just behind it. I was so happy to see that restaurant! And knowing that Jay will sometime drop by. But at night. There goes my chance to bumb into him.

Mr Jay II French-Italian Restaurant
The restaurant is themed after the movie Secret. Hence, the piano was there. All the posters are there. Ahhhhh...... "Jie Lun!!! Wo AI Nie!!!"
Food there was great too! Prices like TGI Friday here. I ordered the Tomato Chicken Pasta set (NT180) + Munchies set-salad/soup, drink, desert (NT49). Oh yeah. And I couldn't resist to buy Jay's poker cards (NT100) and 2 Jay candies (NT60x2). I wanted the authographed deck but the staff said I couldn't. But they were kind enough to have their photos taken. Hehe...

Heard that books are cheap in Taiwan. So, after filling our tummies, we grab a taxi to Eslite Bookstore "Chen Ping Shu" down the road (NT85). It's actually a heaven for those Chinese bookworms. Don't get me wrong. I'm a bookworm myself. It's just that the books here are mostly Chinese. But I did manage to grab 2 books.

With all the purchases in bags, we heading to the famous Wufenpu for shopping! Note: Wufenpu is closed for public on Mondays. It's for distributors only. Took MRT to Houshanpi and walk across the road. And there you'll have it!

Before our shopping spree, we need to refill our energy. "Lu Fan" is very nice at this restaurant - Formosa Chang, NT26. Ordered "Tang San Pork Rib" (NT55) and "Chai Tou" Soup (NT30). Funny enough, restaurant in Taipei does not serve drinks.

Formosa Chang

Here we go shopping!!! I shall not say anymore here about shopping. I bought my boots here and s0me shirt-dress. Cheap, cheap! All starts at NT100. Some shirt-dress cost only NT150. Talking about it makes me all tingling again! Muahaha!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conquering Taipei | D1 ~ Ximenting & Huaxi NM

The day started early @ 5.45am in Lin's house. Didn't know that sleeping on the sofa can be comfortable too. Dredging to wake up while taking turns to use the bathroom did buy me some time to catch another 10 winks of sleep.
KLIA limo arrived @ 7am sharp and we started our 45 minutes journey to KLIA from Puchong. It was a van which fitted all 8 of us plus luggage. Cost: RM115.30.

Reaching KLIA was easy but queuing up to check-in was a nightmare. We managed to check-in all our luggage @ 9am (more than 1 hour! Thanks to the so-called people working there). Grab a quick breakie & we're off (at final call without knowing it) We're the last ones to board the MH95. *paiseh*
Here is the gang

Touch down @ Taiwan Taoyuan Airport at 2.15pm. Quickly we checked-out and head for the bus stop. Read from someone's blog saying taxi will cost a fortune. So, we bought tickets from Freego Bus to our hotel. Cost: NT140 per person. (NT10 = RM10 approx.)

However, the bus took us to the city center and we waited for another bus to transfer us to the hotel. Took about 50 minutes.

It was already 5.30pm when we reached our hotel, Kilin Hotel "Qilin fan dien". After taking half hour break, we head for Ximenting by foot. I think it took us about 25 minutes. Wasn't a long walk coz there were many things to see along the way. Alternatively, can walk to Longshan Temple MRT station and ride to Ximen MRT station.

Kilin Hotel

Spent 3 hours there. Sure it was freezing 18 Celsius, we agreed to eat something hot. We settled at this shop, it's kinda like our Malaysian steamboat, "San Ma Chou Chou Wo" Cost NT100-120. Tasted good. We ordered a few flavours; pig intestines, fish head and duck. Not bad at all. One of them have the "chou dou fu", smelly tofu. Didn't eat much coz wanted to save some space for others. *hehe* Lot's to see, buy and eat at Ximenting. Be prepared to gain kg(s)
"San Ma Chou Chou Wo"

Next stop is Huaxi NM. It's at Longshan MRT station. Eat again! The sausages, the fried chicken chop, the bubble tea, the fried oysters. There are so many choices that cannot be resisted. Choose well, my friend.

Huaxi NM

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taiwan Aftermath

I'm missing Taiwan already... Just touched down this morning at 12.05pm. We all was really exhausted, slept all the way from Taiwan's Taoyuan Airport to KLIA. ~Yawn!~ I'm ready for bed, actually. But I can't resist of pinning down some stuff here first.

Well, the trip was a success. All places planned, we managed to get there. *clap, clap* I'll be jotting down all the detail later. But here you have it, the summary:

Day 1 - Ximenting & Huaxi NM
Day 2 - 101 Taipei, Eslite Bookstore (Chen ping shu), Mr J II French-Italian Restaurant & Wufenpu
Day 3 - Yangmingshan-Bamboo Lake (Zhuzihu) & Beitou
Day 4 - PS Bubu Restaurant, Danshui, Danjiang High School (Jay Chou's high school + filming place for Secret), Fisherman's Wraft & Danshui old street (Lau jie)
Day 5 - Jiufen & Shihlin NM
Day 6 - Ximenting, Modern Toilet Restaurant & Shihlin NM
Day 7 - Back to KL :(

Wanna see what I bought from Taiwan? Actually not a bad buy at all. Things are cheaper than KL. Mostly girls stuff.
Trophies from Taiwan
Cute stuff from Taiwan

Books from Eslite Bookstore

Just only a sneak preview for now. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Taiwan Countdown | 1 day (less than 24 hours)

Ow man! Wanted to go off early today. But suddenly got job to finish! Been bugging on that job from last week, only today send to me! ARGHHH!!!
Anyway, will not let that to ruin my day. Been packing and re-packing yesterday. To take this or not to take this? That is the question! Trying to limit the things that I'm bringing. Maybe by bringing less things, I can buy more things! Yeah!

Must bring stuff~

Passport & my precious N2

The "bullets" (not all mine lah)

I think I'm all set for the journey. . . Will update you all when I come back! ~ADIOS~

Monday, March 17, 2008

Taiwan Countdown | 2 days

"I've packed my bags and ready to go. . . "
OMG! The anticipation! the anxiety! It's killing me. . . In 40 hours I'll be heading to Taipei, Taiwan. As you can see, I'm going there with just one luggage. But you'll never know that I have another small bag inside *muahahaha*. So that I can carry all my shoppings trophy back to KL!
So, there you have it. My flight leaves at 10am, 19th March! Means that we need to be at KLIA by 8am. Argh! 7am to be out of the house! People might say 1 hour to reach KLIA from KL city? Crazy ar? But thanks to Celyn & Alex, we'll be sleeping over at their place @ Puchong! ~Shieh Shieh Nie!

After looking at those Taiwanese game show on TV, there are a lot of stuff to buy. I really hope that I can control myself from spending too much. (probably NOT!) One good thing is our RM price has rise a bit. This morning I saw Taiwan dollars selling at RM10.58 and not as high as last week at RM10.80! All of this because of the election!

So, here is a short summary of where we'll be going. Might as well put it all down now as tomorrow I'll be to busy waiting for time to pass by.
Day 1 - XiMenDing, LongShan Temple, Huaxi NM
Day 2 - YangMingShan, DanShui, BaiTou
Day 3 - ShihLin NM, MaoKong
Day 4 - Taipei 101, WuFenPu, Raohe NM, Jay Chou's restaurant (MUST!)
Day 5 - JiuFen
Day 6 - Ermmm... ShihLin NM
Day 7 - Back to KL
There you have it! You'll notice that there are some of the days are empty. It's reserved for MORE SHOPPING!