Archive for 2009 年 01 月

Day 5 & 6 of my 跨年 trip

Its back to taipei after spending like two days in 高雄 and its time to do some serious shopping. But before that, we had to retrieve our luggage from the Deposit center opposite the Taipei main station and check-in to the third and last hotel.

The hotel was 懷寧旅店 or Keyman’s hotel. On the map, it looked like a 5 min walk is about all you need but something i have come to learn from taiwan maps is that they tend to shrink the scale until one get very disillusioned with the distance. The hotel website even stated that it was 3 min walk from the station.

It was a good 5 min walk from the station exit 6, but the station exit 6 is like 10min walk from the moment you exit the gantry. Carrying all that luggage, it started to make me regret about choosing this hotel.

After throwing down the luggage, we went to 五分埔 which is known as the place to get trendy, cheap clothes. Take the 捷運 to 後山埤 should you want to get there.

Basically, its rows of small shops like these intersecting rows of similar shops. Plan your route if you want to visit all the shops and not get lost.

Its winter in Taipei during december and the clothes on the racks are mostly winter wear, jackets, long sleeve etc. Not really applicable for singapore weather and definitely not for a sweatbag like me. Didn’t manage to get anything.

After shopping, we went to the nearby 饒河夜市 for dinner. To get there from 五分埔, we need to go across the train station. The overhead bridge was sealed up and we had to skirt around.

The entrance to the nite market. There is a temple near the entrance and also the famous pepper biscuit (胡椒餅).

We visited this nite market before so we had some idea of what to eat and what not to. We avoided the 臭豆腐 stalls and whatever beside them. The smell would ruin the appetite.

Sausage. Classic case of 10 points for looks, zero for taste.

Taiyaki. One of my fav snacks but so hard to find in singapore. Only NT$20.

We had ice jelly and grilled squid at these two stalls.

Ice jelly. NT$35.

Grilled squid. NT$40. Nice but still prefer the one i had at 旗津.

The sign on this stall says literally “salt water chicken". I guessed the chicken was steamed with salt water.

Cannot see clearly from here. I picked the drumstick and the uncle chopped it up, add some sauce and shallots. Its not easy to eat while walking as the skin has turned tough and we found it hard to chew. This is the first time we tried this 鹽水雞 and probably the last, haha. Somemore very expensive, one drumstick cost NT$50.

水煎包 or water fried bun. NT$10.

When one comes to this 饒河夜市, there is something which is a must try.

This is the famous 胡椒餅 that you can find at the entrance of the nite market. Just take a look at the queue and you should have some idea on its popularity.

I still remembered last year when i brought 66.6% of my readers here to try but they saw the queue and gave up. How dumb.

We bought two because its just too good a thing to share. NT$45 each.

We tried this pepper bun before when we first came to this nite market at 2006. That time, my gf’s best friend recommended this to us and we were hooked on the spicy meat fillings inside.

This time though, we felt that things have changed. Firstly, the stall now has four stoves to cook the buns in, instead of just one we saw. The buns now got bigger and the meat fillings were not as spicy as before. Somewhat a little letdown.

We left the nite market and headed towards the river nearby. There is this rainbow bridge which we saw online and felt it should be a good place to sit down and relax.

It looked smoky because some kids were playing with firecrackers.

We left the place, feeling full and satisfied from the day’s shopping and feasting. There is more to come the next day.

The next morning, we were kinda lazy and decide to have breakfast just across the street at this shop 郭蒸餃 (located at 懷寧街, within walking distance from Taipei main station).

Fried carrot cake.

Pan fried dumplings.

With a cup of warm soya bean drink. All these for NT$110. I like the fact that the dumplings are very tasty and not that oily.

While writing at this point, i realised that i did not take many photos on that day. Reason being that we went to mostly shopping centers like 誠品, 光華商場. I liked going to the 24hr 誠品 bookshop located 忠孝敦化站, i can laze around the 5 storeys bookstore all day and won’t feel sick.

I bought a book there and parked myself at the cafe in the store to relax. Its so relaxing to just sit, sip my hot tea and immerse myself in the book.

After like an hour or so, i reluctantly left the cafe since my gf was bored. We went to 光華商場 known for its shops selling IT stuffs, anime and comics. Do check out this link to know when they close for business, you won’t want to waste a trip down although there are quite a few buildings around it that also sell IT stuffs. Just come out from exit 1 of 忠孝新生站, but do take note that most shops there open at 10 and close pretty late at 9pm.

While walking there, we went past this shop selling DVDs, VCDs of anime, drama (japanese, korean, hong kong, taiwan etc). This shop has become our favourite haunt because the prices are lower than what we can find inside 光華商場.

After like shopping for a three hours, we left the place satisfied but deep down, we knew we will come back to this place again before we leave taiwan.

On the way back, we took a small detour to get this rice dumpling.

Its from this shop as shown, 王記府城 located at 漢口街一段8號. Although it was stated inside my guide book that they open at 10 every morning, we got disappointed that morning when the auntie told us they were not ready yet. So in the afternoon, we went back. This is a must eat for me.

The dumpling was big and here, one eat dumpling covered with some sweet sauce. Something different from how we eat in singapore but the sauce was good. The dumpling was also full of fillings like meat and egg yolk. NT$55 each.

Also got one 水煎包 from another shop on the way back. NT$12 only.

We went back to our hotel room. Our yields were too heavy to lug around so we came back to freshen up.

In the evening, we decided to visit another nite market.

This is the 臨江街夜市. To get there, take the 捷運 (mrt) till 六張犁站, then come out and walk along 基隆路二段 for 5 min till you see the sign above. Sounds easy but we got quite lost and had to stumble around before we can find the nite market. Somemore it was drizzling.

It was actually quite empty. Good thing since its easier to walk around and get things to eat.

Saw some people queueing up at this shop selling fried stuffs. Decide to try the fried chicken pieces.

Can see that the chicken pieces were seasoned before fried. Its very tasty at first but as you get to the bottom of the pack, you start to feel greasy and i guess this means its not really good.

Empty streets.

Eat some fruits.

We went into this little stall.

On the left is fried squid soup, 花枝羹. The smaller bowl is 嚕肉飯. We simply loved the 嚕肉飯 because its such a simple dish yet got us very addicted.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel as we were pretty worn out from the shopping. Still, we were in the mood to eat so we grabbed a couple of instant noodles.

廣告

雪上加霜

My desktop chose a very very bad time to show signs of its age and impending doom. On the eve of chinese new year, it froze and won’t restart.

Over the next few days, until yesterday, i was feeling lost without a working desktop. I couldn’t surf net, couldn’t write a review on the lousy show i watched. I am feeling the withdrawal symptoms of a internet-addict.

Today though, my desktop miraculousy worked. The startup till the windows loading were smooth. I was even able to play a few skirmish games of COH without any hiccups. Must be 回光反照. So while its good, i hurried to write this post in case i go missing for quite some time.

This post is titled so because this is an extremely bad time for my desktop to die. I can’t think of any time where the death of my desktop can be good but i am facing a sick prospect of taking pay cut or even worse, kenna retrenched.  Already i am putting off my plans of getting a new bike and maybe a new phone. With a dying com, i may have to start skipping my lunch too.

The rest of my 高雄 trip

It was the second day of our trip at 高雄. The hotel we booked impressed us once again when they send breakfast to our room. Breakfast, should be taken in bed.

After lazing around for as long as i can, we then go to the island just off 高雄 and otherwise known as 旗津. To go there, we need to take a boat from the 鼓山渡輪站 which is just a short walk from the 西子灣 station. Something to take note of, the tap & go farecard which one use in Taipei cannot be used in 高雄 as the companies operating the services are different.

On the boat to 旗津.

Approaching the jetty.

旗津渡輪站.

You can rent this motorised tricycle to move around the island. Recommended if you plan to visit the whole island (which is like a long strip of land).

The sand is drak greyish in color. Not a very nice beach lah.

Streets of 旗津.

When one comes to 旗津, seafood is a must try. One of the more famous snacks at 旗津 is the bbq squid (aka 烤小卷). Both me and my gf are squid lovers, so how can we possibly miss them out?

But my lazy gf decided to find some shade and hide. It really was a hot day even for us and i got to cross the road to find a stall that grill the squids using charcoal. According to my gf, stalls that use charcoal are better supposedly.

Stalls selling this delicacy are everywhere along the streets.

You can choose to have two big ones or three smaller ones for NT$50. Quite a bargain.

A special sauce was used to coat the squid, a dash of sesame seed finish the job. The squid was very fresh, so you can really taste the sweetness of it. A must try for seafood lovers.

You can also see a lot of these seafood shops.

We eventually entered one for lunch. Beware though, some shops have earned quite a bad name for exhorbitant prices. Do check out the prices before you decide to patronize any shops.

Rows of fresh seafood for your picking.

We ordered just a few dishes since only two of us, can’t eat much of a variety anyway.

Fried rice, fried silverfish, fried kang kong and a steamed fish.

I am not sure if the total cost of this meal at NT$470 is considered expensive or not. But given that the fish was real nice, i didn’t want to complain.

We walked back to the jetty after lunch. We wanted to walk to the other end of the island but we underestimated the distance and the weather.

Saw this outside a temple.

Back to the mainland, we took the train to 三多商圈站 where the IT show was held at the nearby 85大樓.

Although the IT show covered quite a few floors and was really packed, i was very sian because i cannot find the phone i want at the ASUS counter.

We left after like 20min there because it was too crowded.

The next place we went was the 夢時代 shopping center. We alighted off 凱旋 station and realised that we came late.

Just before we reached the station, there was a public performance and carnival that was part of the daily events that lead to the finale 2009 countdown. As you can see, the street that was blocked off was empty liao.

The 85大樓 as seen from somewhere near the 夢時代 shopping center.

Remaining performers of the carnival.

Seeing that we had missed out the fun part, we went into the shopping complex which is one of the largest in 高雄.

We skipped the shops inside and went to the topmost storey where the Hello Kitty ferris wheel is located.

The queue was rather long and since both of us were not that really keen, we just stood around and take photos instead.

Beside the ferris wheel, there are also several stalls and even a merry-go-round. Its something like a mini carnival on top of the shopping center.

It was soon dark at around 6pm and its the time to visit the local nite markets.

First off is the 瑞豐夜市.

To go there, one need to take the train (捷運) to 巨蛋站 and then 5min walk from the station.

It was really really very crowded. No chance to get a seat to eat. Had to buy and find some spot to stand around.

酥香雞 or fried chicken.

小龍包.

Grilled chicken.

Grilled pork ribs.

We bought a few things at the nite market, some socks for my niece and my gf’s nephew, a pillow for gf to hug in the car (it transform into a blanket as well!) but it was really too crowded so we left.

Our next stop was another nite market. We took the train to 美麗島站 and stopped by the exit to take photos of the lighted ceiling.

We took a short walk to the famous 六合夜市.

I didn’t try out this. I don’t enjoy seeing the live prawns struggle to their death, skewed on a stick and slowly turning red.

This stall is supposedly famous for its grilled stuffs.

We bought one stick of the grilled chicken to try. Not fantastic, should i say disappointing despite the hype.

Looked a bit the dry rite? Ok, so i didn’t eat it on the spot and brought it back to my room to go with the instant noodles, but i still was expecting more.

Went past this stall.

You choose from one of the sticks of corn displayed and they will grill it for you.

But this is expensive loh, i thought all are the same price, so i chose a big corn and my eyes got wider and wider when i saw them weighing the corn and telling me it cost NT$80. Fuck, thats like almost S$4 loh. For a stick of corn?!

Then my gf pointed out that it is organic corn, tats why so expensive.

Tell that to my tongue and stomach. As if they can feel the difference.

I have to say though, it looks good and taste as well. Pricey but worth it.

We also bought Takopochi.

More fried chicken pieces.

Dinner was about all these. I think one of the things i enjoyed most is to being able to walk around and get to eat and shop at the same time.

The next day, we didn’t have much time to shop around cos we need to go back to Taipei in the afternoon. Its a pity because i feel that there is still so much to see and do in 高雄.

Another breakfast in bed.

But the shops are closed early morning (i mean like 10+ am) so there was really nothing i can do before getting on the train. In the end, i went back to my comfy room to nua.

Its then time to get ready to go back to Taipei. We checked out of the hotel reluctantly and bought some food to last us on the train journey back.

They are selling this lunch box at the train station.

Cost NT$60.

Not bad taste lah. More of something of an experience.

They also sell lunch box on the high speed rail trains. More exp though at NT$120.

This about ends the 高雄 part of my journey and we were back in Taipei. Its time for my gf to start her shopping liao.

跨年旅行 – 高雄 (1st day)

The first thing i realised when i got off the train at 高雄 is that its fucking hot. Not as hot as Singapore, but compared to Taipei, its relatively hot like hell.

高雄 train station (aka左營) .

We managed to deposit our luggage at the 左營 station. They have this counter inside the station for locals and tourists alike to temporary deposit bags for less than one day. And the good thing is, this service is free.

After the loads were lighten, we went to the 蓮潭池 where there are quite a few attractions along the small lake. To go there, we took a mini bus 紅51. Thankfully for the helpful driver and fellow passengers, we were told of where to alight and walk to our destinations.

Our first stop was the 龍虎塔.

The entrance is at the dragon’s mouth, exit at tiger’s mouth.

The central staircase leading up the pagoda.

View from the top of the dragon pagoda. From here, one can see the other attractions along the lake.

As we continued along the lake, we could see many temples across the road.

A pair of Mandarine ducks we saw.

What you see above is an afresco karaoke. I realised that in 高雄, the locals really like to have karaoke in the public, even though they maybe under the sun.

Before we left the place, we had something at the mobile deserts stall.

On the right is peanut beancurd, right is green bean soup. They were the best thing for a warm sunny afternoon.

Our last stop along the lake is the 孔廟.

The entrance of 孔廟.

Now at this point of time, i was having really a very bad tummyache. Along the lake, i couldn’t see any buildings that may come with a decent toilet. I entered the 孔廟 half-heartedly.

It was really quiet and ulu inside. Very few people were actually visiting this place as all the rooms (including this big main hall) were closed. Very luckily for me, the toilet wasn’t.

We left the disappointing 孔廟 to look for lunch, a rather late lunch as it was already 3+ then.

From the guidebook we had, we planned to go to this restaurant nearby to try the curry rice which was supposedly very nice. The shop is called佛倫斯咖啡館 and its a short walk from 孔廟.

Address is at 高雄市左營區實踐路1號 (靠左營大路)

Walking to the shop.

My gf was hungry from all that walking so we were really expecting to get a good satisfying meal. So we were terribly disappointed and disgusted when the boss told us they were not ready for business yet. ARGH!!! The boss was very apologetic though.

Feeling hungry and tired, we had no choice but to take the same bus back to 左營 station to claim our bags and go to the hotel to check in.

The hotel we had booked online earlier was the 拉斯维嘉Life旅馆 situated at 高雄市三民區南華路237-1號 (國光號車站前7-11巷內). Its a boutique hotel so we were really looking forward to it.

They gave us a good first impression. The simple check in was done with us sitting at the sofa around a coffee table. Hot towels were served up almost straightaway.

The very polite receptionist then brought us to our room while offering to give us directions for wherever we plan to go.

We were impressed the second time by the room. It was spacious, clean, neat and the bathroom was big. There was no bathtub but we were not complaining; there was a rain-type shower head and also massage water jets.

Even the toiletries provided were beautifully laid out in this wooden box. So nice until i couldn’t bear to use them.

Despite the comfy of our room, we still felt the hunger so we left for this buffet restaurant on our plans.

迦南園精緻日式火鍋 situated at 高雄市左營區富民路432號.

Basically, its a steamboat buffet where you can choose from three types of soup base. The menu has a good spread of meat (more then 2 types of pork and beef), seafood (salmon, cod, tuna etc), veges and many others. And they are not stingy with the serving portions. The fish came in big chunks.

At NT$724 (tax included) for two person, i won’t say its expensive either. I think this is in fact better than some buffets in Singapore, for this shop has a good mix of different meat cut, deserts and the service is also very warm and friendly.

After dinner, we decided to go to the famous 愛河.

We bought tickets for a 30min boat ride up and down the river. NT$80 per person, quite worth it lah. Can listen to the guide tell us stories somemore.

One of the many bridges across 愛河. This bridge is called 中正橋 or 大橋 for the fact that in old times, only 大官 (high ranking officials) can use this bridge. Commoners like me are banned.

Tired from the day’s travelling, we went back to the hotel to turn in for the nite. 高雄 has turned out to be rather different from taipei. I started to feel that maybe three days here won’t be enough.

Movie review – 赤壁 (下)

Saw the trailers while I was in Taipei and didn’t really expect much of this show given that the first one sucks. The fact that some of the characters inside were rather far off from their counterparts in the novel disappoints me.

This review contains spoilers! Do not read if you want to enjoy the show.

The show starts with 孙尚香 deep inside 曹操’s camp to get information. It then moved on to曹操 sending the bodies of his soldiers dead from typhoid over to 周瑜, thus spreading the disease over, sibei 老干. 刘备, seeing that his soldiers are dying even before the battle start oso sian. He then asked all his generals to leave, despite their kpkb. Actually, this is a ploy by刘备 and 孙权 to trick曹操.

诸葛亮 and周瑜 start to scheme against曹操 and oso challenge each other. 周瑜 blamed 刘备 for taking many arrows when he left and wants诸葛亮 to be responsible. 诸葛亮 thus promised to deliver 100,000 arrows within 3 days. On the other hand, 诸葛亮 had周瑜 promised to kill the naval generals in 曹操’s camp.

Against these two, that dumb and 咸湿曹操 stand no chance.

The dumb 曹操 planned to use fire as his main attack, given that the wind direction favors him. However, 诸葛亮 had predicted that the wind direction is about to change, he only need to stall the time for the favorable conditions. Time for 小喬 to use her charms.

Want some tea before you go kill my husband?

曹操, taken in by her charms, delayed the timing of his attack and everything fell into 诸葛亮’s plans.

1) Storyline – 18 / 30

I expected to see the 3 main tactics used by 周瑜 and 诸葛亮 but only two were shown. I expected to see the defeated 曹操 retreating and meeting all of 刘备’s generals but there wasn’t. Pity.

2) Entertainment value – 22 / 25

Even though i know the story and expected quite a few things, i still enjoyed the show given that its not all that serious and i had a few laughing moments (may or may not be intended). But what really impressed me was parts of the battle scene reminded me of the earth-shaking, limbs flying, blood spluttering of Band of Brothers. Now, Chinese can make a decent battle movie that is on par with those from the west in terms of effects.

3) Cast – 16 / 25

Same as the first. The director’s choice is not mine.

4) Pace / Flow – 18 / 20

The show went on pretty well without any noticeable slow moments. The ending can be a letdown though but at 2hr 30min, i have no complaints.

Overall: 74/100

Better than the first in almost every aspects.

跨年旅行 – 2nd day and going to 高雄

We started the day early, only to realize that most shops are open from 10 and it was quite hard to find shops selling breakfast in 西門盯. Found the 峰大咖啡 as recommended in our guidebook.

The set breakfast, as shown here, consist of two pieces of toast, scrambled egg and choice of coffee or tea. I chose tea (since i don’t drink coffee) but was disappointed when they gave me ordinary Lipton tea. The coffee my gf had was not fantastic either. Apparently, its not the special brewed coffee that this eatery is famous for.

We felt this eatery was kinda over-rated in the guidebook. The service standard was poor for taiwanese standards. The auntie behind the counter had this face that will make any breakfast taste bland.

Although we didn’t manage to try the special coffee its famous for, the not-so-spectacular breakfast and the poor service means we didn’t visit this eatery again for the rest of our stay.

峰大咖啡 – 台北市, 城都路42號

If you do physically drop by, pls do so later in the day to try the coffee.

Btw, its Christmas and its not a public holiday in taiwan. The streets looked real quiet and deserted.

After breakfast is to go to hotspring. We took the 捷運 to Taipei main station where we were supposed to take the 皇家客運 to 陽明山. While staring at the map in the station and trying to figure out where the bus stop is, a man who was standing beside me asked where i planned to go. I knew taiwanese are a friendly bunch of people, especially to tourists. He told me how to go to 陽明山 by taking a local bus from 劍潭 station.

At this point, i was stuck between heeding his advice or continuing to try to find the bus stop near taipei main station. In the end, i thought we should try something different since I had taken the 皇家客運 before and the ride was kinda tiring (took 1hr plus).

So we went to 劍潭 station and took a local bus 紅5. Bad mistake. The bus took us to 陽明山 but the wrong side. We ended up at the 陽明山 main bus station and it looked really ulu.

In the end, we got directions from some locals and still had to take the 皇家客運 outside the 7-11.

We missed the bus (the frequency is hourly) so we sat outside the 7-11 and grabbed something to eat.

You can get this 關東煮 from 7-11 all over taiwan.

Didn’t look very appetizing because they aren’t. Don’t taste fantastic even though i was quite hungry.

The bus eventually came and we finally managed to get to the hotspring we want. Could have reached by 12 and because of the mis-adventure with the local bus, we were delayed by almost 2 hours.

No pictures from the hotpring because i can’t take photos there. The crowd this time was better as they are some young ladies that day with us. Much much better than the obasaans i saw last year.

The hotspring is 天籟溫泉會館. You can find out more by clicking here. We had this for free, thanks to the free 溫泉 vouchers we got from the taiwan tour agency back in singapore.

After the hotspring, we felt re-charged even though we haven’t done anything at all. Went back to taipei station and started looking for something to eat for dinner.

Yoshinoya! Chicken bowl on the left, pork bowl on the right.

The hotspring made us very hungry so just a bowl from Yoshinoya won’t be enough. Just a couple of shops down was the 八方雲集, a chain of shops selling steamed and fried dumplings and gyozas.

The top 2 is normal fried dumplings, the bottom 2, more yellowish in color were the curry flavours.

Steamed dumplings.

Its actually very affordable. Four fried and four steamed dumplings cost us only NT$40 which is less than S$2.

After dinner, we were kinda lethargic to do any serious shopping. We can’t anyway, don’t want to buy so much before we come back from 高雄. We walked around 西門盯 and got some magazines and gifts for 66.6%.

We can’t buy, but we can still eat!

These were what we had for supper.

Pressed rice 飯糰 with Hokkaido salmon. First of many to come for this taiwan trip.

Instant miso soup. Didn’t taste nice but came with some small pieces of scallop meat.

I really liked instant bowl noodles in taiwan. Not only are there more choices, some of them comes with a packet of 燜肉 which one don’t see in singapore.

Don’t remember how this one tasted like. Must have been not nice.

The next day was the trip to 高雄 so we slept early.

To get to 高雄, we need to take the 快鐵 Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR). But we don’t intend to bring along all our luggage since we only planned to stay at 高雄 for 3 days.

My gf had found out beforehand that we could deposit our excess luggage at the Taipei Railway Station Carry-on Baggage Center (台北站行李托運中心) which you can find by exiting from East3 exit and crossing the road. Fees are very cheap, NT$17 per day.

After depositing the luggage, we went to collect our tickets which we had booked online earlier.

And this is the train.

Its much like taking budget airline except that one get much more legroom and its more comfortable. If you got more moolah, you can get the business class which has even more legroom and better seats.

As you can see, the seats are reversible so if you are travelling in a big group, you can turn one row of seats around. Saw something similar in japan trains.

The post next will be on 高雄.

跨年旅行 – 台北/高雄

I have planned and waited for this trip to end the dreadful 2008 and hopefully bring a good start to the bleak 2009. Eleven days in all, S$1.5k on air tickets, ~$1.5k on hotel, this is the first trip we are going to spend christmas and new year countdown overseas (not that we have been celebrating in style locally).

We took Jetstar so if you have taken one to Taiwan before, you would know the arrival time is already late afternoon. By the time we reach 桃園airport, its all dark like 8+ in singapore. We took a bus to our hotel at 西門丁, jettisioned our bags and went off to 士林夜市 for dinner.

As per the last time and the time before, i must have the 鐵板 for dinner. Highly recommended because of value for money.

This is the 鐵板豬排.

Comes with a bowl of corn soup,  cup of cold tea and a soggy bun.

This is the 鐵板面.

Even though these were quite filling, we were too hungy to stop here.

蚵煎. The sauce on top taste like our satay sauce. Very nice.

After dinner, we walked around the night market across the junction. Christmas to taiwanese is just another ordinary working day so even though it was eve, the crowd was not as packed as what i had expected.

Went back to hotel after that since the cramped ride on board Jetstar was really tiring.