Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day Eight of My Taiwan Trip 2014: Wulai, Chiate Pineapple Cakes, Yu Jan Shin Milk Pastry & the Humongous Shilin Night Market!


Despite watching movies till the wee hours at CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I (新驛旅店), we were up pretty early to catch the train to Xindian MRT Station where we had to take a bus to the remote Wulai district! 

The bus stop was just outside the station, to your right. It would be hard to miss with those people queuing up in an orderly manner! To make it easier for you, note that Huxuzhang has a branch right across the road! 

Arrival of bus number 849! I read the following from a blog somewhere; sit on the right if you are those who enjoy the views of natural scenery. In the case of Alex, he would be better off on the left where he can snooze throughout the journey.

Just two photographs to pique your interest! The trip wasn't as long as i expected and took us roughly about thirty minutes before the bus pulled the brakes at the last stop; the rustic town of Wulai.

It might appear boring but there was so much one could do at Wulai! Let me explain further even though i would strongly recommend that you click the respective hyperlinks for more information! 

1. Ignore the old street especially if you are early since most shops would only open later in the day. To gain knowledge of the indigenous Taiwanese tribe, Atayal, please step into the ATAYAL MUSEUM located right in the middle of the old street. 

Looks like there was some media hype on this man. Oh well, local politics wasn't my concern anyway. 

2. Take the toy like WULAI TRAM and save your feet some energy for a lot more walking later!

3. Marvel at the beauty of WULAI WATERFALL and wonder why no one is bathing / enjoying / playing at the base. p.s. i am unsure if it is possible but i sure didn't see anyone when i was there. 


4. Take the GONDOLA LIFT for a splendid view of the waterfall and the surrounding scenery. 

5. There is another reason for taking the gondola; a visit to YUN-HSIEN PARK & RESORT (雲仙樂園) that remained stuck in the era when i was a kid. I doubt it would attract much attention from the youngsters nowadays but it brought back fond memories of my first visit to Genting Highlands!

6. Soak yourself in the FREE HOT SPRING by the river and enjoy the relaxing activity of people watching (note: mostly ajumma and ahjussi).

7. Walk along WULAI OLD STREET and gorge yourself crazy! 

Time to be back at Taipei! As it was already the second last day of my incredibly fun Taiwan trip, i had to make some time for a trip to Chia Te Bakery (佳德糕餅). Situated along the long Nanjing East Road, don't bother taking public transport; in fact, i was so glad to have taken the cab! 

Our incomplete haul from the bakery (i was holding on to another two bags of pineapple pastries at the same time)! By the way, you may save yourself the hassle by calling in for a delivery (minimum spending of NT$1,200; delivery charges may apply). For more details, check out the website (Chinese only). Oh, before i forget, an advance notice of seven days for delivery is recommended.

We stepped into another bakery nearby; Yu Jan Shin (裕珍馨) !! In my next visit to Taiwan, i am going to stock up on the milk pastries (奶油酥餅) from this bakery as they were just way too delicious!!! I am known to be a rapid eater but when it comes to this delicacy, i only wanted to slowly savour every bite!

Even though we didn't buy a lot (an early premonition our luggage might have breached the limit), the service staff was so kind as to help us put all our purchases (including the pastries from Chia Te) into a box! 

I am impressed by the high service standard in Taiwan yet nothing beats the one we experienced in Yu Jan Shin! By the way, a branch could be found at Raohe Night Market!

Given the load we had, it's cab time again so that we could unload everything at the hotel! After taking a well-deserved bath, i am out on the street again! Chanced upon a branch of the famous pepper buns from Raohe Night Market.

Bo'Ai Street - also known as Camera Street for the many shops that cater to photographers. I should have gotten a wide-angle lens from the shops there; pity time wasn't on my side.

The historical North Gate [known also as Cheng-En Gate(承恩門)] that hailed from the 1800s and the only one out of five gates in Taipei to have retained its original appearance! Location: Start of Bo'Ai Street. 

Taking the train where we passed by the Grand Hotel once again; no, we were not on our way to Beitou

Destination would be Jiantan MRT Station. Why? Because the world famous Shilin Night Market (exit from Exit 1) was beckoning us to pay it a visit! 

Walk out of the station and follow the clearly marked signs! If not, just follow the crowd; almost everyone would be walking towards the direction of the night market.

For my review of Shilin Night Market, click here! I was so bushed by the time i left Shilin; i just wanted to take a hot bath and sleep! Night and look out for the blog post on my last day in Taiwan! 

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For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) - Abundance of Food & Shopping! @ Taipei [Taiwan]

Enough has been said about the father of all night markets in Taiwan and i don't want to bore all of you with a regurgitation of what you can find in many online articles and blogs. 

Hence, be prepared for many photographs of Shilin Night Market! By the way, i think the term night market is a misnomer here as you don't get that many makeshift structures, unlike some of the more traditional night markets in the country. 

Having said that, it sure didn't diminish the enjoyment we totally had at Shilin; we were there for around five hours yet we still get the nagging feeling there are a lot more we had yet to check out!

I could never understand the fascination the fairer sex has over sour stuff; mom, for one, would gladly spend a long time trying out the different products before deliberating on her decision! She is not even pregnant for goodness sake!

There were many fashion shops but i guess age has caught up with me; i am slowly turning into an uncle. Nothing beats comfort and like any true blue Singaporean, i am most relaxed when i wear berms and t-shirts (polo tees too). 

Drawstring bags - these used to be the rage when i was younger. Looks like the fashion might be coming back as i remember seeing a similar product for sale on deals.com.sg.

Umbrellas for sale (like again)! I am not too sure what this specific action was about until it dawned on me that Taiwan is notorious for its typhoons and people on the streets would definitely welcome a brolly that could withstand the insanely strong wind. 

Taken along the main ingress of Shilin known as Dadong Road; when i was searching for directions, i didn't quite understand the lack of an official "entry" point to the market. Turned out there was none; just follow the crowd from Jiantan MRT station!

Carbon Barbecue - doesn't exactly sound very healthy even though there was easily around 8-10 persons in the queue. Furthermore, which salivary gland could deny the nice BBQ aroma!?

Spring onions wrapped with bacon barbecued over charcoal; to be honest, the sizzling meat was really hard to resist for any passersby and i knew i had to wait in line just to have a few down my throat.

At NT$10 each, the bacon was seriously delicious! The only downside was the spring onions; they were too spicy for my liking and i eventually had to remove them so that i could fully savour the yummy bacon! 

The street was lined with quite a number of food stalls but this wasn't the famous Shilin Food Street. For those who are still unaware, the 'street' was located underground and i would get to that shortly.

Gigantic clams!! 

Kids wear! I don't really know how to choose clothes (note my self-declared fashion sense in the earlier paragraph) although i might still buy for my niece and nephew should the design be unique (and not so expensive).

Remember what this is? The dirt cake!!! Singapore has quite a number of cafes that offered it and one of them was Vanilla Bar & Cafe! Could not comment on the taste of this Taiwan's version but it sure was cheaper at only NT$60 (less than S$3). 

Had the best Taiwanese sausage at Ma La Sang! For more details, please visit http://cavinteo.blogspot.sg/2014/08/ma-la-sang-wild-boar-sausage-in-shilin.html

White bittergourds! It was frankly not as bitter as their green cousins, albeit with a manageable bitter aftertaste and i guess would be a healthier alternative over other type of juices. 

Queue for Hot Star Shilin Mega Chicken (士林豪大大鸡排)! This brand already has a presence in Singapore and was one of my family's favourite! 

At its home country, variety was limited with only one option; "original" (at NT$60) which was very juicy and incredibly satisfying, especially in the cool climate! Personally, i would prefer the "sour plum" seasoning available in their Singapore's operations. 

Taking the stairs to Shilin Underground Food Street! 

As the name suggested, the entire basement was filled with food, food and more food! After the bacon, sausage and fried chicken (with Alex contributing a minimal effort), i had to be very selective on the stalls i am going to try.

No more seafood though. Once bitten, twice shy and to have another deep-fried item down my throat would not be recommended given the amount of food i had been having for the past week. 

The concept wasn't our usual food court and seating was available for each stall. It was surprisingly not that crowded when we visited at about 7pm; many people were also more interested in checking out what was available at each stall. 

No idea what these were; the stall had a queue though.

Those planning for night market visits in Taiwan should consider going to the overseas tourism office of Taiwan at Chevron House (next to Raffles Place MRT station) and secure vouchers like the above that can be used at some of the night market stalls!

I used them on the oyster omelette! 
Click here for my review on the Big Head Dragon!

There were so many selections for juice; only one caught my attention. The custard apple juice which turned out to be okay tasting; better to eat the fruit than drinking it though.

Right above the underground food street was a sheltered area with stalls selling a variety of items like souvenirs, tee-shirts with cute designs etc. I have a strong recommendation to make here.

Not the fruits; go for the freshly made almond and peanut candies in the background! My sister specifically told me to get her a few tubs and i absolutely should hit myself on the head for not getting more! 

Those interested in games can consider the air gun; shoot at the toilet paper holding up the money. Once it drops, the money is yours to keep! How cool is that?!?! Someone should consider having this in Singapore! 

Hedgehog bags - maybe this would help to deter commuters from standing too close to you in MRT trains. 

Hm.... on second thought, you might be able to create your own personal space if you carry these adorable bags on your back too! People might think you "ki siao" mah. 

Super long Taiwanese sausage! Would you dare to try it? 

Candy candy in the shape of a duck! I previously touched on a stall selling cotton candy in the shape of a flower even though i believe the crafting for a duck would be much more difficult compared than a flower!

Truthfully, i gave up on navigating the many streets at Shilin Night Market after a while. Just follow the boundary of the main road and you know you haven't veered off from the area.

Another jumbo-sized item - the ear biscuits! Mom just asked me two days ago where i could buy them; didn't have the heart to tell her i actually chanced upon them in Taiwan. :P 

Clothes, shoes, boots, watches. You get the picture.

糖葫蘆 - didn't try this. 

Another game worth giving it a try! The staff would throw water balloons down the tube and you are required to hit them with the wooden mallet. Win a prize when the balloon bursts! 

Sound easy yet hard to achieve! Alex failed the mission, miserably! 

Claw machine! Thank god the prizes were not attractive enough for Alex to waste his money. Wait, i might have spoken too fast as he did win on two separate occasions in Taiwan and they were won within two attempts!

More shirts for sale. I am selective when it comes to buying tee-shirts; there must be a dressing room where i could try out the piece. Given my short stature, i have a hard time finding fitting clothes.. :(

Dadong Road again; this time, it was overflowing with loads of people! Really people mountain people seas (人山人海) even though i got the feeling Fengjia night market was worse! 

There was even space for people to lay their wares in the middle of the road! Items appeared cheaper and in order to bargain, you have to get in between the vendors to avoid creating a human jam.

Doggie having a snooze that got me really jealous! 

There was one thing i regret not trying when i was in Taiwan; steaks! A large slab of sirloin steak was said to cost less than S$8 (NT$180) and i gathered from the expression of those celebrities hosting the shows that they must be thick, juicy and absolutely worth the calories! 

Way toooo many things to eat; i couldn't stand the fact that the pricing for most street food wasn't exorbitant and i could afford to have a lot more if not for the tummy with its limited capacity. 

Alex opted for a foot massage while i continued exploring the rest of the night market, including the lanes that continued to be full of vibe and filled with shops and boutiques! 

Crossed Wenlin Road and came across a restaurant i should have patronised, given how shitty i really am; the Modern Toilet Restaurant! At that time, i am looking to release the chocolate ice cream rather than increasing its already humongous size.

Cap store!

A poodle that badly needed a haircut! Speaking of which, i do need to visit my hairdresser soon; my hair has gotten quite unmanageable nowadays. Should i keep my hair long so that i can tie it up? 

I was exhausted by then and badly needed a place to rest my feet! Had to trudge back to Shilin Night Market to meet up with Alex as his foot massage session was only about 45 minutes.

Bloody asshole extended by another 15 minutes!!! Something good came out of this delay; i had a serving of delicious stinky tofu from this stall (known as Jihe) right outside the massage parlour! Not the best (the one in Shenkeng remains unforgettable) although still rank second in my opinion! Click here for my review.

Another plus point with credit given to Alex (he commented it was the best foot massage he ever had); i got to play with the owner's long haired dachshund! 

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Location
Shilin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan
[Drop at Jiantan MRT Station and NOT Shilin Station]

Location Map
As above


For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

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