Saturday, April 19, 2014

Damn Worth It Natural Raw Honey and Pollen @ Cingjing Honey Apiculture [清境养蜂场]

Mom had a strong hint for me before i left for Taiwan close to three weeks ago: "Taiwan has any honey? Can help to buy?" I didn't answer but i suspected it would not be difficult to find apiaries in Taiwan, especially in the mountainous areas.

My hesitation was because i knew it would be heavy for me to haul back honey and i have always maintained a principle that no matter how cheap an item is, it should never be at the expense of breaking my back!

Well, that principle didn't stop me from performing my filial duty to check as i stepped into the above honey shop at Cingjing Farm for a closer look. 

An expected sales pitch was given where he asked whether we knew the differences between real and fake honey (i answered it correctly; the consistency for the former is cloudy) and showcase a machine that can extract honey easily from the farmed honeycombs.

All these while, i thought honey was extracted by compressing the honeycombs using a machine! A manual method is available that involves placing the honey combs in a big tin (like the one above) and spin them using a handle; before long, honey would flow out via a pipe at the bottom of the tin!

I studied marketing in my polytechnic days and such sales talk would hardly entice me to make any purchase. It was when the uncle brought out these dead bees with pollen attached to their legs that i was more intrigued.

On its own, pollen was quite unpalatable and despite its supposedly health benefits, my family balked to buy any after taking a long time to finish one small bottle of pollen!

There's one way to improve the taste; add pollen to honey and mix with water! Look like orange juice right?! But i can tell you, it was a freaking delicious drink and i could no longer resist myself at this point...

2.4 kilograms of raw honey (picture above is just an illustration) and a bottle of pollen were soon packed into a bag for me to carry back to misty villa. The price was another factor for this hefty purchase; the honey cost only NT$900 (roughly S$40) and the pollen was merely NT$700! 

You know me; i could not bear missing out on good deals. Plus, the kind uncle generously gave us two bottles of the honey pollen drink so that we can quench our thirst along our walk!



At Market Place of Cingjing Farm (in between Green Green Grasslands and Mountain View Pastoral Areas)

As above (look out for the words" the honey shop".

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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden (清境小瑞士花園) near Cingjing Farm @ Nantou County [Taiwan]

The Great Kon has warned me then: "don't bother about the pathetic Swiss garden. You would be better off spending more time in the Cingjing Farm playing with the meh meh." p.s not his exact words.

As luck has it, we were waiting for check in and thought it might be a good use of time to visit the Small Swiss Garden given its close proximity to the minsu we had reserved. 

You really can't miss the Swiss-themed garden from the main road to Cingjing Farm; just look out for the big sized carton windmill on the right side of the motor vehicle you are travelling in.

Entrance fee for adults was indicated as NT$120 (roughly S$5) while discounted price for senior citizens, students, children, group of at least 20 persons and local residents was NT$90. It is open 365 days a year from 8am till 10pm! 

Map as appended above for your easy reference. The place wasn't huge (hence, the inclusion of the word "small" in its name) but made for a short, reinvigorating walk in the cool weather below twenty degree Celsius. 

I am not going to walk through the individual attraction spots in this blog as i didn't really adhere strictly to their locations on the map. Instead, i took the opportunity to simply walk around in a relaxing manner and take random photographs.

The mirror reflecting lake lives up to its name even though i would have named it more appropriately; like a pond or something. To say it is a lake would be questioning the dictionary definition for "lake". 

Cingjing is famed for being a lovers' getaway and targeting this important market is necessary to maintain its position. Remember the outrageously pink room i was assigned to for my minsu stay in Cingjing? That's another example. 

Moon-shaped wooden pathway; this was one end of the garden and the other end was somewhere near to the LOVE at the background. Again, i would like to remind everyone that it is not big at all. 

There were, however, a lot of photo opportunities for the price we paid. Well, someone can always argue that we can do the same thing in Botanic Gardens for free but perception differs from person to person and the temperature in Cingjing is already a clear winner over Singapore. 

Admiring flowers under such weather where i didn't even sweat would not be an easy feat in Singapore! Except for maybe air-conditioned Flower Dome within the Gardens by the Bay

This would have looked cool if there are bunches of champagne grapes hanging right above me! 

A sample of the directional signage, in mostly Chinese. I guess the problem with Chinese translation is that the English form would either sound funny or boring. That's the power of Chinese language; descriptive yet imaginative! 

Sakura Hill - damn was i excited since i remember seeing pictures of blossoming sakuras and it was such a breathtaking sight! For those who know me long enough, i was literally bouncing up the stairs! 

Wait, that's it!?

Fake flowers that appeared like sakuras were not the same! Anyway, i was already aware that the sakura season has ended by March even though i was still hoping that i could see some in the wilting stage of the flowering season. 

Spent a while on top of the hill overlooking the lake; comfortable to the max, especially when i was super tired from the morning Singapore to Taiwan flight i took earlier that day. 

Continuing my walk. 

Another elevated view facing the lake. 

Hungry? There was a little cafe "Garden Corner" selling drinks and snacks with sheltered seating. My admission to the Swiss Garden included an NT$20 discount that could be utilized in this cafe.

Menu as above! I was too full after having a pretty good bian dang (便当) at 7-11 right outside the garden and hence, didn't patronise the cafe.

Platform in between the windmill in the middle of the lake and the "LOVE" sign we saw earlier. 

The fortress like washroom! In Taiwan, they usually don't use the Chinese words "厕所" to refer to washrooms. Instead, they use the term "make up room" (化妆室).

Frankly, i didn't know what these two things were when i took the picture. Was surfing a friend's facebook album on her Taiwan trip that i was informed that they are OPEN Chan & 小桃; mascots for the 7-11 outlets in Taiwan! 

I did mention that there were ample spots for photo taking and it was largely due to the existence of wooden planks assembles, shaped like animals / buildings, dotted all over the area. 

Of course, it would be more realistic to have real animals in the area although you must consider the consequences of having them; from the operator's point of view, it would increase their expenses (the animals do need to eat / drink, visit the vets) and from the visitors' point of view, imagine the poo all around the place! 

No doubt those fake things did provide a pretty surrounding that would help to keep the streams of visitors coming in but not having any living animals would have made the garden quite lifeless. 

That's why there were ducks and geese. 

To get them to come close to you so that you can grab them by the neck for pictures, buy the feed from the hilarious looking vending machine! All food vending machines should sport a similar design! 

There were also the goats which were kept behind the fence at the back of the garden.

Another living thing in huge abundance, save for humans, was the pigeon. As they fly over you, do take note. They literally poo anywhere, anytime they want! 

Not all of them were as decent as the little chap above; it was defecating in the lake water. Morals of the story; cover your head if pigeons fly over you and don't ever touch the water in the lake!

Visitors feeding the ducks. Like this photograph as it shows a rather nice yet comprehensive view of the Small Swiss Garden with the pavilion halfway up the hill, the slow-moving windmill, the wooden cut-outs, the ducks, the humans and both real and fake flowers. 

When i first entered the garden, i was wondering why there were so many chairs facing the lake and they were the kind that could be easily moved from one place to another. 

Answer: Musical fountain performance which takes place hourly from 9.30am till 8.30pm (extra performance at 9.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays)

With all due respects, it was dated and could not even be compared to Sentosa's musical fountain that has since been demolished. To be fair, i believe the performance would be slightly more bearable to watch at night with all the different coloured lighting. 

Time to get out as i was getting bored!


Location Map
As above.

Close to two 7-11 outlets, Starbucks and even a Mos Burger! 

Additional Information
Your admission ticket is valid for the whole day. Get the stamp before you exit so that you can still pay it a visit at night, if you stay in a hotel / minsu as near as i did. 

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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