Visiting Taichung and Taipei

13346740_10153794782167746_1153649137424133019_n

Taiwan always topped my favourite countries list. With it’s amazing street food and friendly locals, I looked forward to visiting Taiwan and this time round, my third. I have included Taichung into my itinerary, as my family and I have never been there before and we heard so much about Feng Jia Night Market – one of the biggest night markets in Taiwan. I can say the shopping  in Taichung is so much better as compared to Taipei! Got most of my loots from Yi Zhong Street and Feng Jia Night Market.

Did I also share that I got my air tickets at a steal? REAL STEAL! SIN – TPE with luggage was $80 only! Why? – Cause I got an eDM from Jetstar on it’s Friday Frenzy Deal and there was no time for consideration whilst booking these tickets, it was at $0! Dates plugged in and paid immediately!

I will be sharing my itinerary on how I plan and where I go during this 7 days in Taichung and Taipei;

Singapore to Taichung, Day 1

We made our way to Taichung via the High-Speed Rail (HSR) which took about an hour and so. There were many other bus and train transfers however it was the fastest route southwards. We stayed at Plaza Hotel, it was highly recommended by a friend who was a frequent Taiwan traveler, it is centrally located and very convenient! 

Miyaharu (Gong Yuan Yan Ke)Love the interior of Miyaharu, it’s very vintage-looking with many wooden structures. It is well-known for their pineapple tarts and other pastries in pretty boxes. We tried their ice-cream too, in my opinion I thought it was mediocre. Worth visiting for photo-taking and souvenir shopping.

Yi Zhong Street (Shopping Street)13346740_10153794782167746_1153649137424133019_n

It’s just like Orchard Road but in Taichung version! This street suits the young, funky crowd and they have many Korean-looking outfits in very good quality. Me like!

Feng Jia Night Market13412885_10153805665332746_7085944878082844645_n

13407116_10153816161872746_3848470644738170117_n

13445440_10153816161902746_4446253244268858352_n

13406985_10153819022307746_701609478215193289_n

I cannot stop raving about the street food in Feng Jia Night Market! They are so good, unique and fresh! Those prawns and squid are fantastic, I have never tasted anything like that in Singapore or Malaysia. We eventually found the highly-raved water pudding too! Noms. Felt that Feng Jia Night Market has the widest range of shopping varieties, from sneakers to clothing to accessories. I spend most of my money here though, heh!

Taichung Day 2

Rainbow Village
13335928_10153796968457746_7948166173595622627_n

The story of Taichung’s Rainbow Village and its famous creator Mr. Huang Yong-Fu has become quite well known throughout the country and is a fitting example of how a battle resist having his home torn down. Vibrant and lovely place for photo-taking!

Cing Jing Farm (Green Green Grassland)13432160_10153814553217746_815753679064023869_n

13413054_10153819043722746_1656055506635297616_n

13327573_10153797306842746_2505101904641605211_n

13343060_10153797306857746_8484906877665454245_n

13406986_10153814553237746_4355039227448860740_n

Cingjing Farm is best known for it’s green pasture and fresh air. I think anyone visiting Taichung should come here! The downpour cleared up as soon as we reached the peak, thankfully. It’s scenic wild greenery and cloud mountainous view was breath-taking.

The Old England

Puli Winery 

We dropped by Puli Winery along the way, they are known for their Shao Xing wine. Personally, I thought we could skip this place of attraction as it’s really small and we can’t appreciate Chinese wine.

13418872_10153800766402746_1013870718625389580_n

At last, dinner was authentic local mee sua with oysters. I really enjoy Taiwanese mee sua as compared to conventional local mee sua in soup. Their broth is thick and very flavourful. I’m totally blown away with this mee sua our driver drove us to, he said if it’s not good, we don’t have to pay for it! I guess, he’s right. Too good we wanted nothing but more. Off to Yizhong street for more night market shopping! 🙂

Taichung, Day 3 –

921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan

921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan is dedicated to the 7.3 earthquake that struck the center of Taiwan at 01:47:12.6 TST on Tuesday, 21 September 1999. They preserve some of the remaining from the earthquake to serve as reminders to the public for them to be prepared in the future if such event happens again. Visiting this museum arouse many insights for me, especially fortunate Singaporeans. How natural disasters can be so close to us and how blessed it is to live in a safe country.

Sun Moon Lake 13343101_10153799211657746_4647591481646140727_n

13407224_10153800766387746_4830411342746901932_n

Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in Taiwan with it’s scenic clear sparkling blue water set against a picturesque mountain backdrop. I am mesmerized with it’s beauty, that’s no wonder its amongst one of Taiwan’s top tourist destinations. We went with the boat tour and I tasted one of the best tea braised egg (金门阿么茶叶蛋) – at Xuan Guang Si pier.

Sun Moon Lake Wen Wu Temple (文武廟)

Along the way, we stopped by a temple namely Wen Wu Temple – on the Northern bank of the lake. The exterior was magnificent and we were in awe despite the rainy evening.

Transport in Taichung:

We booked a vehicle for Day 2 and 3 transport and å¼ å¸ˆå‚… is really kind and friendly, he brought us to many additional places out of our itinerary and was very fast to react on our requests. He is highly recommended and you can reach him via Whatsapp or Line at (+886) 919-037251.

Taichung to Taipei, Day 413394029_10153816161907746_255355654415959277_n

Time for Taipei! ❤

We departed Taichung to Taipei via High-Speed Rail (HSR) and Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) with a traveling time of approximately 1 hr 45 mins with all the waiting and transferring which is very much comparable to buses which takes about 2.5 hours with smooth traffic. One-way HSR from Taichung to Taipei costs SGD29, not that cheap thou. So I would advise anyone traveling to check on the traffic conditions before deciding which option to take.

Xi Men Ding Shopping13344714_10153805665342746_17867455502928921_n

13413534_10153805665472746_5051694760628778338_n

13445514_10153816161927746_8318120605198234708_n (1)

A definite must-go place in Taipei. The day and night crowd buzzing and the main point is our favourite must-eat  Ah Zong Mian Xian (阿宗麵線)! We did most of our masks shopping in XMD as there were many big brands here! Shopping in Taipei is as cheap as compared to many years back, but relatively still affordable as compared to Singapore.

Shi Da Night MarketImage Credits: Google.com

Shida (師大) night market is named after the nearby university of the same name, the crowd is definitely geared to the younger adults. That also brings out the shopping bug in us as there were many trendy and inexpensive shopping choices. As it is relatively smaller than other night markets, there were lesser food choices around however we did tried the best Polo Bun ever! It’s so crunchy on the outside on a soft bun! (The one with the longest queue, should be easy to find!)

Taipei, Day 5 –

Jiu Fen
13346525_10153805665467746_7884518432581126940_n

13434789_10153805665522746_2024143188080053637_n

One of the attractions that I stay truly fond of is Jiu Fen. I enjoy strolling through alleys of shops with many eateries and they were all selling my favourite handmade taro balls dessert! Yums! Along the way, we tried out the famous shaved peanut ice-cream and rice cake too!

Golden Waterfall & YingYang Sea

As we are heading to our next destination, we dropped by Golden Waterfall and Ying Yang Sea – it was indeed a splendid sight for us! The origin of the name was attributed to the contrasting colours of blue and yellow of the sea.

Shi Fen13418935_10153805665907746_8832927493456159450_n

13315712_10153816161967746_2904193033596215466_nThe most well-known place for sky lanterns in Taiwan is definitely, Shi Fen. Along this railway track, you can find many shops selling food, souvenirs and mainly lanterns. Soaking up the sky lantern atmosphere and joining the fun was so easy. Most shop owners even offer free photo-taking services too!

Shenkeng Old Street

Shenkeng Old Street is best known as Tofu street! It was my first time visiting and we could all smell stinky tofu from afar! I really thought this is a less touristy place and nice to explore! They have really special tofu food you can never find them elsewhere! I had the most delicious tofu mochi ever!! Too yummy we bought a few back home!

Wu Fen Pu Shopping Street

I was utterly disappointed with the shopping at WFP, unlike 4 years back. Things were cheap and there were many quality clothing! But why?! There were literally nothing to buy as the service and clothing quality was bad, really bad! All the prices were jacked up and shopping at night markets were so much a better experience and enjoyment!

Rou He Night Market  

One of my favourite night market in Taipei! They have the yummiest and freshest barbecue seafood such as prawns, oysters and clams! Not forgetting grilled abalones, scallops, mushrooms and the most delicious long-queue pepper bun! Love the filling! Noms.

Taipei, Day 6 –

Addiction Aquatic Development 上引水產13427798_10153816161832746_3669107607295211465_n

13417671_10153816161822746_509451355340316437_nHeard so much about this large Japanese-style supermarket with it’s fresh seafood and aquamarine products and many restaurants and kiosks! We just had to see what’s in deal for us! We waited for our turn at the Seafood bar and literally drooled over this huge plate of Uni that cost less than SGD50! There’s no seats at all for Seafood & Sushi bar and the crowd management could have been better I thought.

Best advice: Avoid public holidays and weekends!

Shi Lin Night MarketOne of the most renowned night market in Taipei, it’s indoor food area seems very much like Singapore’s food court. Shilin is the longest and largest standing night market! Oh and that’s the popular street food called the æ£ºææ¿ – Coffin Toast Bread!

Get ready to spent about 2-3 hours shopping and eating here!

Taipei to Singapore, Day 7 – 

Exploring Taipei on foot was really easy with our pocket wifi router, we even had our morning run around town! But I must say the air in Taiwan isn’t as clean as compared to Singapore and it could be the amount of motorcycles on road or the petrol they used. Therefore we concluded Taiwanese always had masks on them! With lesser greens around, their air quality is really not too good. So, before heading out for a jog – think again okay!

13419172_10153809222492746_1501789821421692354_nHappen to chance upon Pablo Taiwan near Taipei Main Station and we packed 1 back! This cheese tart is so huge and 4 of us struggle to finish it off! It was soft and delectable but I prefer savory cheese dessert! Boo 😦

13435319_10153809222542746_5583866737227895305_n

Traveling seems to be my best stress reliever and being happy is so easy. I truly enjoy traveling with my loved ones, it’s nothing but blissful. Traveling need not be expensive and the truth is – it can be really cheap if everything is well-planned and budgeted for!

*Top tips for budget traveling

  1. Sign up for airlines eDM (Electronic Direct Mailer) and grab the promotional deals soon as possible! Return from Taiwan at $80, trust me! Plus, don’t miss out without calling respective tourism bureau to check if there’s any travel freebies up for grab! For Taiwan, you can reach Taiwan Visitors Association via phone 6223 6546 or visit this blog for more information!*
  2. Do as much research as possible! Know which route to take before heading out aimlessly. By having a plan, you will be able to tell which is the cheapest route to your destination!
  3. Wifi router is so important for free and easy travelers! Always check for the best deal on renting or the cheapest SIM card that provides sufficient data roaming while traveling. Having a wifi router allows you to search and navigate like a local! Uber VS Exorbitant taxi fares! We saved quite a bit on this too! (Changi Recommends offer great discounts on certain travel location and we got UNLIMITED WIFI for $5 per day only!)

xoxo ♥

Recipe: Taiwanese Taro Balls

Taiwanese Taro Balls Recipe

jiufen-food

I love TARO balls! Fell deeply in love with taro and sweet potato balls during my first trip to九份, Taiwan. Renowned for their famous QQ balls! In Taiwan, they are basically served with red bean, cream milk, grass jelly and black pearls!

I decided doing some home-made taro balls as it is not cheap eating them outside with miser serving. I would love to see a mountain-ful of chewy taro balls. They are also known as yuyuan (芋圓) which is made with taro, or diguayuan (地瓜圓 or 蕃薯圓) which is sweet potato.

Ingredients

Taro Balls

  • 1 taro about 1.5 pound
  • 1.5 cups sweet potato flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice and cut taros into pieces and steam till soft (about 15 – 20 minutes).
  2. Test the steamed taro by using a fork if the taro breaks easily, proceed to next step.

P1080040 P1080042

3. Smashed taro and add in sugar. Do this while the yam is still hot for ease-sake; it’ll be easier to mash and mix with sugar while it’s warm.

4. Add sweet potato flour to the mix and (optionally) a bit of water. Dough should be mashed up evenly, feeling elastic and smooth. If the taro mixture seem dry, add more water (1 spoonful), otherwise if it is too wet add in more flour.

10273656_10152175124202746_1580698100135801744_n10347506_10152175124332746_2325370436723877030_n10257428_10152175124257746_2176410769905137233_n

5. Continue mixing all the flour with the taro mixture and continue kneading it until mixture becomes dough-like.

10367747_10152175122357746_1454605547515638911_n10369728_10152175123412746_5646992376561436606_n

6. After which, you may roll up and chop taro mixture into cubes (like what I did) or roll it up like an ah balling! The texture, regardless of shapes will taste the same if taro mixture is properly mixed and kneaded.

10298866_10152175122012746_7445355262039005333_n

7. You may toss taro balls in cornstarch, before cooking to prevent them from sticking together. Do place them to a container to store if you are not cooking them right away, as to prolong the freshness of the taro balls.

8. Cook the taro balls in a pot of simmering water for several minutes until they float. (If you are going to cook the frozen ones, there is no need to defrost them)

9. Toss the cooked balls into a bowl of iced water. By doing this, taro balls will be cooled down quickly and taste more chewy = QQ texture.1506990_10152175121792746_2863391857271064140_n

1609943_10152175121822746_393893256129223644_n10251985_10152175121672746_8678865561549243041_n

In this case, I cooked them with brown sugar (after Step 1-9)! I prefer cooking uncooked taro balls in water and cooked them again with brown sugar. In this case, the taro balls preserve it’s chewiness and the base of the dessert will not have additional flour taste.

10311365_10152175121502746_5954180152704344283_nHere you go! Yummy tummy taro balls! Best with grass jelly and coconut milk! This recipe is simple to follow and hope you all enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂