Sunday, December 30, 2012

Taiwan Alishan

Alishan's young men are strong as the mountain, Alishan's girls are as beautiful as water.  This is a famous folk song about Alishan.  Chinese around the globe have mostly heard of this famous and it shapes their impression of Alishan.  But, just to disappoint you, you find no Alishan young men or young girls waiting for you at Alishan :P

Entrance to Alishan National Scenic Area.  The famous Alishan Railway runs right across the two steel bridges  in the picture.

Before you get to the entrance of the Alishan National Scenic Area, you will pass by an abandoned railway station, the Fenqihu Station.  This abandoned station is famous for its railway lunch box, or bento in Japanese.  I ordered the wild boar set lunch.  The taste was not bad, and it cost me NT170 (~SGD$7.40).

And then of course we need to have a 'been there, done that' group photo.

I am not really a big fan of all these forest railways, bento, etc, but I like the natural environment in Alishan.  The air is fresh, the trees are tall.  I just love it there.  And when I saw the clouds in Alishan, I simply fell in love with it.

You see it like this at this moment.

The next moment you look at it, it has already changed.

We also witnessed a wonderful sunset.

This sunset itself is worth all the efforts for this trip to Taiwan.

The next day, we attempted to catch the sun rise.  Well, if you have already witnessed the beautiful sunset, and you also see the beautiful sunrise, don't you think that's too perfect?  Perfection is never what nature encourages.  So we didn't have a beautiful sunrise, instead, we witnesses a race of a puma and a lion.

The good stuff does not end here in Alishan.  It has even more to offer.

We took a walk in the sacred forest, with the distinct Taiwan Cypress trees lining the paths.  The one in the photo is already 2000 years old.  Taiwan Cypress is one of the best kind of wood in the world.  During Japanese occupation, Japan cut down lots of cypress trees which were older than 800 years, and brought them back to Japan.  Now in the famous Meijin Shrine in Tokyo, you could see some of the trees being used in the structures.

We didn't see the beautiful Alishan girls, but Alishan herself is already very beautiful.  I love it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Taiwan Roast Chicken

Taiwan Roast Chicken, it is the best English translation of the actual name that I can think of.  We had lunch on our day 3 Taiwan trip at Hehuan Mountain.

In the shop front, there was a row of 4-5 big, traditional ovens.  The roast chickens were prepared right there, hot from the oven.

Here comes the famous roast chicken.  The skin was crispy and the meat was still tender and juicy.  And you need someone with strong arms to tear the chicken apart :)

We ordered the set meal for 8 people, at a price of NT2500.  To me, it was a very good deal.

This is the Taiwan version of the famous 'Dragon Beard' vegetable.  I had an argument with my parents whether this vegie was the same as what we had back in Guangzhou.

Another one of my favourite dish was the fried stream shrimps.  The shrimps were tiny, after being deep fried, they were very crispy.  I simply liked the taste.

Friday, December 28, 2012

CingJing Veteran Farm

CingJing is a very popular place for tourists, famous for its sheep and horses, and the other natural produces.    To me, the blue sky, the green grass are good enough.

Wonderful landscape and natural environment.  The air was so fresh that you can put it in a can to sell it.

The great mountain views.  And the wonderful and lovely sheep.

And friendly horses.

And they also have a circus from Russia as residence circus to perform the daily horse show.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mountain Residence

We stayed in Hehuan Mountain over night at a place called Mountain Residence (山居).  It is a guest house by an indigenous Taiwan tribal man and his family.

On our way there, we passed by a restaurant that had be featured in one of Taiwan's good food TV programs.

Mountain Residence is located at a very unexpected place.  On one side it is the high mountain, on the other, a steep slope.  How to get there?  You need to leave the winding mountain road, then drive along a narrow path that seems like hanging on the cliff!

As the reward for the risk, here is the view from the guest house.  Houses in a valley surrounded by mountains.  Early in the morning, clouds flows in from a nearby reservoir.

It is so beautiful.  I almost mistook it as a fairy tale land.  The mind was kind, the breath was smooth, the air was fresh.  What else could you ask more?

CingShui and Puli Brewery

We started our second day in Taiwan early in the morning for a long drive.  The first stop was CingShui service area.  It is a service area for people driving along the highway.  CingShui service area is also famous for its night scenes, but then we were there during day time :)  However, there is still good food for us to sample - The famous CingShui Steamed Rice Tube Pudding, well, I would say it is rice cake.

The rice cake set meal came with a plate of Chinese cabbage.

And a bowl of wanton soup.  Both are not bad.

Then it was our super star, the CingShui steamed rice tube pudding, or rice cake.  To put it simply, it is gluten rice with special sauce.  The taste was good.  Smooth and sweet.

Our next stop was Puli Brewery.  We went in two cars.  One arrived almost an hour before the other.  The reason?  The GPS played trick and brought us to a route which was long and detouring.  We ended up getting to the brewery one hour later than the other car!  Be careful about your GPS.  I still remember last time we went into some dead end road led by our unreliable GPS!

This is a brewery of Shaoxin rice wine, and it is also a museum of rice wine, telling visitors of the history of the brewery.  The place is a bit run down but still an interesting place to visit, especially if you like to drink :)

The rest of the day was way too exciting to be described here, including having a Yunnan style dinner at 2044 meters above sea level and driving in the dark in the Hehuan Mountain.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Taipei in A Day

We arrived in Taipei early in the morning, a cloudy gloomy morning.  Our first stop was an unexpected place for any tourist - China Telecom 中华电讯, as we wanted to have a local mobile line for easy communication and internet connection.  The deal was not bad, NT600 for 7 days of unlimited mobile data.    However, the process was long.  We waited for more than an hour just to get all the paperwork done.

Next, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.  I was here 8 years ago, and the Chinese words on the arch was something else, but now, it is FREEDOM SQUARE.

Luckily Chiang's bronze statue is still in the hall, intact with the change of politics in recent years.

Of course, the point of focus here is always the change of guards, which happens once an hour.

The change of guards ceremony somehow has this magic potion that it catches the fancy of tourists all around the world.  From Bangkok's grand palace, to UK's Buckingham's Palace, to whatever other places you can name, the ceremony guards always draw the attention of tourists from all walks of life.

Anyway, poor guy.  He has to standstill for an entire hour.

The ceiling is decorated with the Nationalist Party's symbol and also a symbol part of the Republic of China's national flag.  The blue represents the blue sky, the white represents the bright and shining sun.  Together, they symbolize the Republic of China to be a country with no corruption, no injustice, all citizens will be equal and government will be clean.  It is a vision we also hope to achieve.

In the memorial hall, there are some artifacts on display from Chiang's era.

Chiang's Limo 

Chiang's Office Replica

There were quite a lot of tourists from mainland China.  It is fascinating for them to see all these, as Chiang has almost always been described as the bad guy on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.  

Coming out from Chiang's Memorial Hall, it is the old city gate of Taipei, JingFu Gate.

Directly after the gate, it is the President's Office.  The building was previously the Governor's building duirng Japanese rule.  

On our way to the President's office, we met a guy with a big lens and camera on his neck.  He was very kind to show us the way, and informed us that on some days, the President's Office is open to the public each week.  He could even tell us that the president now is out for tea!  

50 meters away, it is the Bank of Taiwan, the de fanco central bank.  

After such a long walk, it was time to sit down for a cup of coffee.  Right opposite the Taiwan ChengHuang Temple, there is the Astonia Cafe.  

Taiwan ChengHuang Temple

Astonia means Star?  The Chinese name of the cafe means star.  The cafe is said to be a popular place for the scholars and people in the culture industries, such as writers, movie directors, etc.  Its famous patrons include the late Mrs Chiang Ching-kuo.  That also explains why there is a Russian bias in the cafe.

Russian Coffee

Russian Milk Tea

It so happened that some movie director and related people were sitting next to our table.  They were discussing some movie stuff, and from time to time, some actor(s) would drop by.  It was however strange that the actor spoke English, with a SE Asian look rather than local Taiwanese.  

Christmas was just around the corner, how could I leave out the Christmas lightings in Taipei.  

Merry Christmas to you!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lao Zhang Beef Noodle

Our first meal in Taiwan is at Lao Zhang Beef Noodle at YongKang Street (永康街).  YongKang Street is  another place for shopping and good food in Taipei these days.

Dishes offered on the menu are mostly Sichuan cuisine, famously for its use of spices and being spicy as a result.

You can pick your side dishes as you wish.

Pig's Ears 

Red in the Snow(Reddish Leaves)  



The pig's ears are a bit on the fat side, so I don't really like it very much.  The cucumber is not bad.  

And then here comes my main dish, which is the beef tendon noodle.  I have a special liking of beef tendon.  It is chewy and good for your skin.  Haha...I am not a girl, but I still like to have smooth and silky skin.