Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Christmas 2023 - Unwrapping the Presents

It's more than a month since Christmas 2023 but as I was overseas (to Taiwan) and had been busy with work (and a study arrowed by my big, big, big boss); it was only in recent weeks that I finally got time to unwrap the Christmas gifts! 

Interestingly, I got many large parcels this year and befitting the more common environmental theme, some friends did away with wrappers and just put the presents in unsealed paper bags. p.s. that's fine for me actually. 

Some were double wrapped though! Like this humongous, and heavy, box that I had a hard time bringing home from work! Note that my commute from work to home is about an hour! 

Unwrapped presents, including mug, chocolates, tea, coffee, biscuits, spa treatment products; latter was likely because this particular friend was aware of the increasing stress I am having nowadays. I should also pamper myself by signing up for a snorkeling package to Tioman Island

Don't be mistaken by assuming this would be a perfume. It's perfumey alright although the purpose was more for your poo! I might be full of shit but how did this colleague know that my shit can be so insanely smelly that this would likely dampen the stench?! 

Two piggy banks to add to my stash! Just a note: I like piggy banks in the shape of pigs; even though the left one looked more like a reindeer, I believe drawing a pig snout might change its intended species. 

Orange rinds filled with white chocolate, from the famous Jeju oranges! This would be the kind of supposedly psychologically "healthy" snacks that I could indulge in. 

These were unhealthy but who can resist the delicious bar chocolate from Royce?! You know what's another thing I can't resist from Royce Chocolate? The potatochip chocolate and this is coming from a guy who doesn't crave for potato chips!

As a kid, there were things I told myself I would buy when I am older, and can earn my own money. Plasma balls were one of them and another would be the Sandscape Moving Sand Picture display! Only problem is that I don't really have much space for these displays, and I don't use night lights too.

Another reason why I was so delayed for this gift unwrapping post. I met up with a few friends recently and Christmas gifts were also passed round the table!

Thermal mug, tea bags from Gryphon Tea Company (where I typically paid S$5 per tea bag in ice cream parlors) and silicone straws; I am going to pass maybe one or two straws to my parents as they would be much safer than those metal straws.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Yixin Vegetarian Stinky Tofu (一心素食臭豆腐) @ Feng Chia Night Market in Taichung [Taiwan]

In my most honest opinion, stinky tofu is the best representative of Taiwanese street food and that's exactly the dish I was seeking for at Feng Chia Night Market on day two of my second trip to Taiwan.

Seeking the advice from KK, our friendly tour guide, I was made aware of this old time eatery; Yixin Vegetarian Stinky Tofu. Maybe because it was a Tuesday, there wasn't much of a queue but I soon realized there was more than ten orders before me! 

My queue number on the receipt. 

Look out for the number that appeared on the LED display. Since I am not keen to eat on the go, finding a table would be essential. Thankfully, diners didn't linger after eating their fill. p.s. picture taken after my meal; hence the displayed number was 154.

Finally got my hands on our box of stinky tofu! While it's not that uncommon to have stinky tofu in Singapore, what I had recently from the night markets in Singapore had been a disappointment, and I can't wait to try the ones from Yixin!

I think five or six pieces of deep fried stinky tofu, topped generously with pickled cabbage and shredded cucumbers! Interestingly, the stench wasn't as obnoxious as I thought it would be, although the smell was secondary to the taste.

Took a bite with the teeth tearing through the thinly crisp skin before reaching the juicy insides; the taste buds excitedly reacted to that signature yet totally irresistible pungency that I craved from stinky tofu! It was delicious although still not to the standard of the epic ones at Shenkeng

Absolutely loved the refreshing crunch from the cucumbers, which were not common toppings for stinky tofu. It's more the norm for pickled cabbage to be added to stinky tofu but the ones from Yixin were, sadly, quite bland-tasting and raw.

Remember to sort your trash after your meal! 


461巷, No. 2號, Fuxing Rd, 
Xitun District, Taichung City, Taiwan 407

As above.

As above.

Stinky Tofu - 60 TWD
p.s. factor in price increase of 10 TWD from 1 Jan 24

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Day One of The 8 Days 7 Nights See Iconic Taiwan Anew Tour Package via Chan Brothers

Detailed Postings for Day One

With the continuous drive for self automation, I was stuck when I attempted the baggage tag printing after managing to check in at the automated kiosk! Turned out I still had to get them printed at the manual counters. Why!? 

The line was so long! According to the service staff of Chan Brothers, who met us at the airport, tour groups would usually have to go through the manual counters and since we were flying Scoot, not a full service airline, we can't have group check in as well.

Nonetheless, smiling would be a great way to manage the frustration! 

We cleared the line in 45 minutes and before stepping into the departure hall; a photograph of my dad who hadn't been on a flight since the trip to Guizhou in 2019

Greeting us after clearing immigration would be the eye-catching Louis Vuitton store at Changi International Airport Terminal 1. Thankfully I am not brand conscious and I think the most expensive branded in my wardrobe would be the Braun Duffel cross shoulder sling bag. 

Thought of checking out the Cactus Garden but it was drizzling! Quite a start to day one of our trip and I was hoping weather would be better in Taiwan, although I was aware of a cold spell just a few days earlier.

Proceeding to Gate D49; the furthest gate!

Interestingly, it's like a rainforest themed section with three combined gates; allowing for reduction of manpower and deployment of lesser luggage scanners. 

Don't think these were giraffes even though their placement enlivened the otherwise boring space. It's the things like this that made Singaporeans very proud of their airport. 

Dad again; be prepared for many photographs of him! 

The construction right ahead was for the upcoming Terminal 5. It would take a few years for completion and based on news report, around the mid 2030s. That's like ten years away! 

Getting ready to queue up to board the plane for flight TR896. Usually, you would see Alex and I being the last to board as we don't see the point of getting seated earlier in the tiny airplane seat, without the use of free Airport Wi-Fi. 

Readying our red passports; knowing how absent minded I am (some of you would remember I lost my DSLR in China back in 2019), I had to double and triple remind myself whenever I took the passports out of my bag! 

Seated and waiting for takeoff! Since it's been a while since my dad took the plane, I guess I would have to give up my window seat for him. Being his son, I guess I inherited quite a bit of his interests, like in photography, scenery, bird's eye view on the plane etc.  

The Boeing 787 plane took off after a short delay of about 20 minutes.

Meal was included as part of our tour package. Well, presentation wasn't to be expected for non-full-service airline but the oyako don was really a disappointment; there just wasn't enough eggs and onions! Accompanying cheesecake was surprisingly not bad though.

Problem with window seats; the sun! I just read recently of a heightened risk for cosmic radiation and UV exposure for air crew. Thankfully, we don't fly much.

Finally flying over the Land of Taiwan! 

5pm and the set was setting!? This reminded me of my visit to Hokkaido but it was more the opposite, when the sun rises at about 4-5am! That's disturbing for a person who wakes up when the sun is up, regardless of the time. 

Taoyuan International Airport! Although it was my second trip, I couldn't remember much of the airport as I don't remember really exploring it on our last trip back in 2014. I only remember our excess baggage of 20 kilograms! 

We were the last to meet up with the rest of our tour mates; numbering 19 in total, consisting of a family of five, two families of three, two families of two (including my dad and I), and a family of four sisters! 

Coach that would accompany us for the next few days. It's like a double decker bus but the ground level had no seat except for the driver's and tour guide. 

Since it was Christmas Day when we arrived, the local tour agency prepared a heart-shaped box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates for each of us! That's so sweet right?!

Given the sorry lunch we had at the plane, I was famished and the food stalls the coach drove past all looked so enticing. It didn't help that temperature was quite low and my tummy was looking forward for some warmth! 

I did get my wish granted as we had a satisfying shabu shabu dinner at 稻之屋鍋物, with free flow drinks and ice cream. 

Chanced upon this food truck selling custard apples and pumpkins and I kid you not; a basket of custard apples cost just 150 Taiwan dollars! That's like S$7 for about 6-7 custard apples! Did I buy? I didn't as I was skeptical of such great deals. :(

Boarding the coach again.

Checking in to our comfort twin room at Tao Garden Hotel (桃花園飯店). Among the six hotels that we stayed for the entire trip, this was, in my opinion, the least favorite. Breakfast was not the worst though but I am not that picky when it comes to breakfast. 

Dragged my dad out to explore the surroundings as it was only about 9pm, and I am not known to be an early sleeper. Temperature was a tad too cold for my dad; and as some of you are aware, I prefer the heat than the cold. Best temperature would be around 15 degrees celcius.

Random photos.

An anime club that seemed quite new. In my teenage years, I am into comic books but it's been a while since I last read any comic books. Honestly, I don't have the patience nowadays. 

Seemed like the Japanese Pachinko games parlor where users can partake in collection of little steel balls to exchange for gifts. Back in Japan, although gambling is illegal, pachinko is "an exception and considered as an amusement activity".  

Ending the night with the daifukumochis we purchased from a popup store under the brand: King's Handmade Treasure (大王千金). A sweet conclusion to our first night in Taiwan.