Posts from the ‘Outing/Photo-taking’ Category

Osaka Trip 2012 – Day 1

First of all, I must apologize. My last post was in late last year, I was very tied up my new house renovation, wedding and then honeymoon. Its about time I get back to my blog again.

This trip to Osaka is part of my honeymoon. I spent the first half in Osaka then followed by Taipei. We have never been to Osaka, so this trip has been a real new experience.

I chose Jet-star for the flight since they fly to Osaka and Taipei and Jet-star allowed sports equipment as part of the checked in luggage. More of this later. Reached their Kansai airport and took a train to Kyoto. There, we deposited our luggage and travel light.

This is the Kyoto station. It is not just a railway station.

It is also a huge shopping mall.

We decided to settle lunch here, but most of the shops at level 1 and basement were western style. I insisted on having something Japanese, so we went up the escalator.

We went up till the 11th floor, where there is this ramen street…

and settled for this shop.

To order, we do so via a machine like this. Choose what we want, insert the money, press the respective button and get a ticket with the order printed on it. Then pass the ticket to the waiter at the door. This is very common in Japan.

The price list. What it says, is the main dish is this 德島 ramen. 味玉 means 德島 ramen with additional egg. 肉入 means 德島 ramen with additional pork slices. Last one means both. The three prices below each are for normal, large and extra large serving. The words at bottom right “生卵無料" means raw egg is free.

The free raw eggs are in the middle of the table.

Nice little cosy shop.

She ordered fried rice because we initially didn’t know if the meat slices were beef or pork. If we bothered to read the signs outside, we would have known.

My ramen. I find this even better than some of the nicest ramen I have had back in Singapore. I thought this was good.

After lunch, we made our way down to take bus.

We got this packaged ticket, which allowed us to take the bus services within the town area unlimited rides.

Along the way…

We missed our stop, and thankfully, one uncle who was fluent in English, approached us on the bus and asked where we were heading. He told us how to get back to where we should be.

After like fifteen minutes of walking up a slope, we finally reached our first destination 清水寺.

The sloping street that leads to the temple. Lined along the streets are many shops that cater to tourists, selling souvenirs and such.

One such shop is this one, selling the famous “七味粉" or “Seven Flavors Powder".

We walked for quite a distance before we were required to buy the entrance tickets. I find the idea of entrance ticket for a temple rather strange.

The tickets are in a very nice size for bookmarks.

Somewhere in the center of this photo, there was a lady in black walking towards the rock in the foreground.

The legend is that, if one can walk, with his or her eyes closed, from one rock to the other which is like ten meters away, one can then find his or her destined lover. That was what the lady in black is trying to accomplish.

One of the two rocks on the ground.

We left the temple and took a walk to the bus stop to go back to Kyoto station. From there, we went back to Osaka to check into our hotel.

This is the one. Grande Vista Hotel Osaka. Decently priced and comes with all the basic amenities. Location is pretty good too.

The Asahi “Dry" lighted advertisement is quite an icon here.

We settled here for dinner, its similar to Yoshinoya.

Again, its the same way of placing orders. Select the items we want from a vending machine instead of the waitor.

The famous Glico “Running Man".

At night, the streets near my hotel really come to life with all the neon lights.

This huge moving crab mascot is also a very famous landmark in Osaka.

This H&M occupies the all four levels of this building. There is Uniqlo which is like fifteen minutes walk away and also in a five stories building by itself.

福山雅治 in a giant advertisement for Toshiba tablet.

I got nothing to say when I saw this.

Walked past this shop and couldn’t resist buying takopuchi. Do you know that Takopuchi originated from Osaka?

This is the packaging for the Takopuchi.

Its really a bit over, we don’t expect the little balls of flour to be packed in some fancy box and then into a nice paper bag like this. You have to give it to the Japanese when it comes to packaging.

I said nice right?

This was all I expected actually. Haha…

I almost bought this to go along with my Takopuchi.

張學友 1/2 Century 演唱會 – 新加坡第二場

There are only a few singers whose concert I will attend. The reasoning is simple, if I am paying to sit for 3 hours and listen, they had better be the best. And when it comes to chinese and canto pop, Jacky Cheung is, in my opinion, one of, if not the best you can find.

The title of the concert is named 1/2 Century because this year, Jacky Cheung hits 50 years old and a remarkable 27 years in the entertainment biz. I had bought the tickets way back in Feb for this, which was the 34th stop, 71st concert for his tour.

Got to our seats without any fuss. I had only bought the cheaper tickets so the view is what you see here.

He began the night with some tap dancing. No introduction, no song.

Then it began with a musical, starting off with “花花公子".

The gigantic screen behind showed a clip starring Jacky and Shu Qi as the lead, while on stage, Jacky acted out the musical with his dancers.

During this time, he sang the songs “小姐贵姓", “初吻" and “你是我今生唯一传奇".

This scene was during the song “你的名字我的姓氏".

But as the story goes, things didn’t turn out well after marriage between Jacky’s and Shu Qi’s characters…

From a rocky marriage to finding out why they loved each other was told by the songs “情愿", “一滴泪", “人在雨中" and “三分拍".

The ending was a heartwarming clip, showing some old photos of young couples and with their present looks.

“如果爱".

“天气这么热"

“吻别(ROCK版)" followed by “LET ME GO" and “我应该".

After which, the screen started showing some shots of “肥姐" or “沈殿霞" or Lydia Shum, a famous Hong Kong celebrity who passed away in early 2008. She was also the god-mother of Jacky Cheung.

Song title is “月巴女且". Its actually taking 肥姐 and separating the characters to form the song title. He also did a leg split at the end of the show, which was a trademark move of Lydia, reminding us the professionalism of her despite her body size.

After the song, he chatted with the audiences, talked about his last album “Private Corner". He then went to the front of the stage, beside a piano and performed some jazz hits like “迷你", “情网(JAZZ版)" and “情人的眼泪".

The jazz section ended and he followed with “我真的受伤了".

What came was a short cartoon clip summarizing Jacky’s life so far, ending with the song “LIFE IS LIKE A DREAM".

He went on to perform “DOUBLE TROUBLE", “李香兰", “每天爱你多一些", “情书", “她来听我的演唱会" and “心如刀割".

And then came three of his best known rock hits. Before which, he said he had better dance while he still can.

The helpers getting Jacky ready for his coming dance and songs.

“饿狼传说"

“头发乱了"

“这个冬天不太冷"

More classic songs like “一路上有你", “遥远的她" and “一千个伤心的理由". When he got to the song “只想一生跟你走", nearly everyone sang along. I never felt more moved by the atmosphere before.

The band at the sides of the stage revealed.

After thanking the backstage workers and everyone who made the concert possible, he performed the last song of the night, “祝福(JAZZ版)".

This is my first ever concert, and I was glad it was Jacky Cheung’s. He continued to entertain with his vocal power, his ability to make the audience feel with his songs and although at 50 and not as energetic as before, his commitment towards his singer career continues to show. He really lives up to, what others call him, “歌神".

Taiwan 2010 – Day 15 (Recovery)

I named this day as ‘Recovery’. Reason being that we were so emotionally and physically shagged out from the countdown this morning, and this was the last full day we have before going back home. It was all about recovery for the day’s agenda.

By the time we woke up, breakfast was unnecessary so we head for this well known place for lunch.

The queue was already there but this was an expected sight. Afterall, its not easy to find unagi rice as nice as this.

Grilled to perfection. My all time favorite Japanese dish.

Chicken and egg rice, she don’t fancy unagi.

Grilled and fried chicken sticks.

There was this building near our hotel which housed a lot of shops selling anime and mange related toys, there was also a official Gundam shop.

In between lunch and dinner, we did a little last minute shopping, got some local food stuffs for our parents and friends back home. Can’t stop eating too.

For dinner, we went to this shop famed for its braised minced meat rice (魯肉飯).

I don’t find it any more special than those I can find at roadside stalls. Kinda disappointing actually.

Pigs’ trotters.

Taiwan 2010 – Day 14 (Taipei Countdown)

Its 31st Dec and Taipei, like all major cities around the world, take the New Year countdown as a big deal. We had experienced this before, few years back and we were back to enjoy the Taipei Countdown once again.

The last breakfast for year 2010.

Been having this egg pancake for the past few days and still can’t get sick of it.

After breakfast, we went to the post office to send some of the stuffs we bought home. Although we had upped the luggage limit, it felt like we will exceed (It did, we were 1kg shy of the total weight allowed. Lucky we sent 7kg of the stuffs like books and cosmetics back).

This is one of the old main gates left in Taipei city.

After we sent the parcel, we went back to hotel to do some laundry and came out again later for lunch and some food grabbing.

I was introduced to this dumpling shop from my Taipei guide book. It didn’t disappoint, the dumpling was rich with fatty meat and mushrooms and other fillings. Something like this standard will cost $5 and I only paid NT$55 for one.

Some meatball soup to go with it. Not the usual combination back home, but it works nonetheless.

We got some 飯團 (rice balls?) from the nearby 7-11 and went back hotel. Its time to sleep, because we got a long day ahead of us.

7pm.

This was what it looked like. Its like 5 hours from the countdown and we were unable to get to 200m from the stage.

The last time, I had a pretty good spot beside some raised platform. It was already crowded by the time I got there so no luck this time round.

From the positions I could get in front of the stage, I cannot get a good view of the artistes performing nor the fireworks coming from 101 later. So we skirt around the building and got onto this wide road leading to 101.

Everyone just camped on the road – its closed anyway –  and turned their cameras towards 101. To these people, the fireworks meant more than the performance.

It was very cold. No matter how much we wore, it always didn’t seem enough. The air was cold, the wind was bone splitting, and we couldn’t leave our spot because as the night went, more and more people came, hoping to get a spot around us. Our area got smaller and smaller…

but when the time came, it didn’t matter anymore…

Taiwan was also celebrating their 100th year.

After the countdown came the taunting task of getting back. It wasn’t easy. Tens of thousands of people leaving at the same time, the nearest few MRT stations were closed off, there were no public bus except the chartered services. We were lost, cold, hungry, thirsty, tired but excited at the same time.

The concert continued after the countdown, for some, this was the main draw of the event.

It took us 30 minutes of walking to get to the chartered bus designated stop, and another 30 to get us back to our hotel room. As per our own tradition, our first meal of 2010. Haha…

We slept like we haven’t done so in a month.

Taiwan 2010 – Day 13 (花博)

We were lucky that during this time of our visit, we were able to visit the Taipei International Floral Exposition. Before going anywhere though, breakfast is a must.

Sandwiches, toast, and not forgetting my favorite food of the week, 蛋餅 (egg pancake).

There were a couple of MRT stations that we can alight to go to the exhibition. Tickets were not cheap, NT$300 per pax.

Once we got pass the queue to get in, its just flowers and flowers and more flowers.

We then came along some exhibits by individual countries.

The one by Singapore was very bad, so bad I didn’t want to take a photo of it. Had the introduction taken instead.

Saw some small children, apparently on their school excursion. Poor things, made to dress up like this.

Lunch was something simple from one of the many stalls.

Glutinous rice with mushroom and shrimps.

Meatball soup.

After spending like half a day there, we went back to the hotel to rest. And so some laundry at the same time. But not before we had something to snack on.

Around late evening, its time to go Shilin night market.

And I simply had to go to my favorite hotplate stall for my fix.

The soup and tea come free with the main dish.

Hotplate pork chop with rotini pasta.

Here is the price list. Pork chop or chicken chop for NT$150. I find this a bargain.

Now, this stall is supposedly very famous for its cheese baked potato.

And this is how it looked like. A bit too heavy for me, especially after my hotplate pork chop. Still, I cannot quite understand why it’s so popular.

Can’t wait for tomorrow. Its the last day of 2010!!!

Taiwan 2010 – Day 12 (侯硐)

Its day 12 of our trip, nearly coming to an end. We were staying at this hotel where its just opposite the 郭蒸角. W have had breakfast many times here before, its cheap and nice. Just right before we go anywhere.

and my favourite 蛋餅.

Carrot cake.

Soya milk.

This is the price list outside the shop. Sandwiches start from NT$30, egg pancakes (蛋餅) start at NT$25. Very economical.

This was seen inside the shop. I loosely translate this as ‘Note to Ding Tai Feng, good food need not be expensive. To dear customers, your body and wallet need not strong flavors.’

Think the owner got something against the famous Taiwanese restaurant Ding Tai Feng, haha…

After breakfast, we went to get our train tickets for the destination of the day.

And waiting for our train to come.

Taking trains in Taiwan isn’t something like taking MRT. Each train has their own individual destination, so one have to really look carefully at the train signs before boarding.

Finally arrived at this place, Houtong (侯硐).

One will wondered, what’s so special about this place? Never heard of this on those Taiwan tour programs or seen anyone mention about this place before.

Me too, when my gf first suggested we come here.

We came to Taiwan a couple of times. Touristy spots we have been to many, yet we have rarely go onto places where the locals would go on their off days. Its nice, for a change, to see the rarer sights of Taiwan.

The sign on the left indicated that this place was an old, disused mining station. This place started being named as 猴硐, when the population of monkeys here prompted the miners to gave it this name. That was somewhere in the 1920s.

The current name vs the…

old name.

Map showing where Houtong is. The popular tourist spot 九份 (Jiu Fen) is not far from here.

A hand-drawn map of the whole Houtong, showing where to walk to see the scenery.

One of the resident cats at Houtong, on the table where you can get the stamp that is unique to this station. A nice way of telling others that you have been here before.

Another one of the resident cats.

Now, the real reason why we came here, beside able to see this old small town, was actually to visit this very small village known as Houtong Cat Village (侯硐貓村).

You see, my gf is infatuated with cats. The day before, we visited a cafe where the owner’s cats were free to roam. Now we are here, after an hour’s train ride, to come to this ulu place where the population of cats probably exceeded humans. Haha…

A sign suggesting, its better not to come visit this place with a dog. Haha…

More signs…

A villager feeding the cats.

They even have a notice board on the resident cats.

This is the bridge linking from the train station to the mines.

There is this shop near the station, supposedly famous for their noodles. Since it was lunchtime, it will be a sin not to try.

Doesn’t look like much, but they are tasty!

Braised toufu and eggs.

Meatball soup.

Pig’s tail. This is the only letdown in this meal. The meat and skin were tough and chewy, and to make it worse, this dish is cold.

Still, this poor dish (because I am not used to this local delicacy) doesn’t take anything away from the fantastic noodles. If you were to come to Houtong, this noodle shop is a must try. On the other hand, there isn’t many other shops for you to choose anyway.

On the platform, waiting for our train back to Taipei.

A little snack before going back hotel.

By nightfall, we decided to go to Shilin Night market (士林夜市) for some dinner and shopping.

The usual stuffs, oyster omellette and cuttlefish soup.

Something my gf always wanted to try, the pork/chicken cutlet with cheese fillings.

Shiok!

2010 Taiwan – Day 11 (烏來/師大)

Having soaked so much in the hot spring yesterday, we woke up feeling totally recharged. It felt better in the day, although it was cold, the sun warmed us up a little.

This was the public pool inside the hotel. Because the weather was so cold, I doubt anyone would want to use this over the one in the rooms.

Breakfast was provided by the hotel.

Nothing fanciful but enough to get us going. On to the streets we went the night before.

We came across quite a few stalls selling this river prawns and fish. I felt it was quite chek ark to eat, so didn’t try.

Hot spring eggs.

Shop selling wine.

The river which carries the hot spring water down.

We came to a small train station…

A brochure explaining the history of this train station as well as the stuffs we can see along the way.

The road ahead…

We reached the destination, which was like less than 5 minutes away.

The streets at the other side of 烏來.

Saw this beautiful waterfall.

Over at this side, there was really no crowd, very few locals and even fewer tourists. We walked one round and decide to make our way back.

On our way back to the hotel, we saw this friendly old lady selling sausages, coated with some special local plant called 馬告.

The sausage tasted like it was coated with ginger, but the old lady told us that was the taste of 馬告. Not too bad actually, something special.

With this, we ended our little side trip to 烏來 and began to make our way back to Taipei.

When we finally reached back Taipei, having collected our luggage and left them at the Taipei hotel, we were way overdue for lunch. Didn’t had the luxury of time to find so we settled for Yoshinoya. Not a bad choice actually, considering that the stores in Taiwan have something Singapore stores don’t.

Pork bowl!!!!

Pork and chicken combo!!!

After lunch, we hang around the area since we weren’t able to check in until 3pm.

The hotel we stayed is the 新驛旅店. Good thing about this hotel is that they provide washing machines and dryers for use for free. So the first thing we did after checking in was to do our laundry.

After taking a rest, we went to one of the night markets near the 師範大學 for dinner.

The night market would naturally be called 師大夜市.

We were spoilt for choices for dinner. In the end, we decided to try something we have never done before.

關東煮!

Usually, this 關東煮 is more commonly found in 7-11. Sticks of different kind of food will be cooked in hot soup and seems to be very popular among the students and working class because its cheap and convenient. I liked that too. But this was the first time I see a shop selling 關東煮.

The tags above the lady in red cooking, indicates the prices for different food items. I just took my pick, handed it over and went to my table to wait for my food to be served. In Singapore, something similar will be 釀豆腐, just that 關東煮 has much more variety of food and is nicer too.

My order. Note the blackish piece of 鴨血.

My gf ordered without the noodles. She wanted to keep her tummy half-filled for more later.

The soup was quite flavourful, and each piece of either fried toufu or fish cake or veggie complimented the noodles and each other very well. Did I mention it was cheap too? Something like this proportion will cost me much more back home.

After dinner, we walked around somemore…

滷味, or braised food, was something I still haven’t tried. First of all, I didn’t know how to order and I also didn’t want to make a fool of myself by ordering one or two items. But this remained a must-do thing the next time I go back to Taiwan.

There was this cafe that my gf found online, which we wanted to go try out. The cafe name is 極簡, or ‘Minimal Cafe’.

There was nothing fancy about this cafe, as the name implies. We wanted to come because besides the usual coffee and tea stuffs, it also houses many many…

cats. BTW, note the cute waitress behind the counter.

The menu.

If you want to come to this cafe, you first have to really like cats. I mean ‘like’, not merely accepting their presence. The cats are free to roam everywhere, from your lap to between your legs to the counter desk. Being the pets of the owner, they are nice enough not to climb up onto the tables and knock over the glasses. But you really have to like cats to come here.

A really interesting cafe. More so for my gf who adores kitties.

Supper – Grilled corn

Supper – 蛋餅 (egg pancake)

And that concludes our day 11.