Taiwan, Taichung, 26-29 October 2013.
… continued from part 2 …
We initially bought Railway Train tickets from Taipei Main Station to go to Taichung. A day before setting off, we had some time to go to the station again to enquire about luggage deposit, only to find out that there was no space to put our big luggages in the train cabin. The only way was to pay extra to get our luggage shipped over to Taichung separately. The staff also warned they will not guarantee our luggage will end up in Taichung on time. Great thing was we were able to refund our tickets for a very small penalty, less than SGD3 per person. Then within the same Taipei Main Station complex, we managed to buy coach tickets to Taipei at a much cheaper price NT$230 and the traveling time was about the same or shorter.
The bus ride was really smooth. We alighted very close to CityInn Hotel in Taichung, just less than ten minutes walking distance. I loved this boutique hotel, it was new and comfortable and creative and very affordable at SGD45 per person per night.
Taichung is a really laid back city, less modern than Taipei and of course not as busy. There was no MRT, buses took us everywhere and were free within a certain distance. Taxis were not too expensive too.
First stop was to Gong Yuan Yan Ke 宮院眼科, situated at Zhong Shan Road, Central district. A very impressive pastry shop with stunning interiors and awesome ice-cream. This pastry shop was an eye clinic in the earlier days, now it’s transformed into an iconic landmark in Taichung.
Δ I loved how the mosaic patterns of the wall make a really interesting texture to my selfie.
Δ These chocolate ice creams were graded by cocoa percentages. I loved their names, like Tomorrow will be better, Bright days, The story of the sun … There were altogether 30 over flavours.
Δ Toppings for the ice cream.
Δ Ta da, 3 flavours of ice cream topped with liquor raisins, mango, pineapple pastry.
Δ As we ate the ice cream sitting outside the shop, a very sweet granny came over and offered to share her ice cream with us. A lot of other Taiwanese tourists came to ask us how much the ice cream cost. At about SGD10 or so, it was considered expensive by local standards.
Δ Sweet granny came from another part of Taiwan with her troop of friends. She asked that we took a picture of her and her ice cream. Steven, the auntie killer 師奶殺手 had them all covered and entertained.
Δ Highly recommended by Lonely Planet, home made style sandwiches from Hong Rui Zhen bakery shop 洪瑞珍餅店. The flavours available: original, cheese, ham & cheese, butter and jam, assorted … These sandwiches didn’t blow my mind but they sure were very fresh. Taste just the same as sandwiches made by mum.
Coincidentally the annual Taichung Jazz Festival is in its second day in Taichung. Our local friends told us that Taichung’s weather make a good local for outdoor events since it doesn’t rain as much as Taipei. The event was totally awesome. Imagine listening to beautiful jazz music sitting in the field in cool autumn weather. It was definitely one of the highlights in this Taiwan trip.
Δ Bands from different parts of the world gather here.
Δ Other artists gather at the Jazz Festival to promote their art. I do remember seeing this one on youtube.
Δ Fengjia night market. Honestly the food here tasted much better than Shihlin night market.
Δ My first grilled pig’s blood cake.
Δ There was a long queue for this stall, selling charcoal grilled chicken.
Δ I really liked the name and taste of this snack at NT$45, Moon prawn cakes 月亮蝦餅.
Δ Nice concept of cooking but I don’t think it’s a healthy way to cook beef. The guy simply sprayed fire over a hard piece of frozen beef. It was cooked very very fast, like 5 minutes so the beef was not too thoroughly cooked.
Δ The night market scene in Taichung was less glamorous than Taipei but very authentic and casual.
Δ Last activity in Taichung, a mani and pedi session. Steven did his manicure and made another Facebook friend.
Δ Steven booked us the ticket for Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) from Taichung to Taoyuan airport for NT$380 per person from the internet before the trip. The HSR was not exactly near to where we stayed, the easiest way was to take a taxi which cost us about SGD15. The train ride was about 30 min to Taoyuan airport with beautiful scenery outside the window. On the train, peddlers pushed carts selling food and drinks. And this time round, there was space for luggage.
My past impression of the Taiwanese are all based on her ruthless businessmen and chaotic political situation. This trip definitely changed my mind. Taiwanese are definitely one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever known. The average Taiwanese are very friendly and helpful, they have no qualms spending a bit more time talking to strangers giving directions and suggestions of where to visit. There’s a strong sense of comradship among them, they love their country, culture and people, are generally accepting towards the minorities. There are some places I’ve not visited and I’m definitely going back for another holiday.