Archive | April 2015

Sky Lanterns at Ping Xi, Taiwan

A lot of visitors who tour Taipei will also pop by Ping Xi area as it is a few hours drive away. Many years ago, I once release Sky Lanterns at night at Ping Xi, even though releasing sky lanterns at night is more magical as the glow from the lantern is more obvious, releasing sky lanterns in the day is much more festive! There were a lot of people there in the day and many shops too! Unlike in the evening where all shops are closed and there aren’t as many people.

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We picked a lantern which has 4 colours, and it costs us NT$200 (SG$9), there are those which is single colour at NT$150 or 8 colours at NT$350.

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Minsu: 日月潭山季花園民宿, Nantou

Staying in 民宿 (minsu, homestay) is part of enjoying Taiwan’s hospitality culture and this uprising of ownership and entrepreneurship. Unlike AirB&B where you may be staying in a room next to the owner, a lot of these minsu are professionally managed with a touch of homely feel. In my last year’s trip to Taiwan, we stayed in 歐風小鎮 (Europe Villa) at Cingjing and Flower Happiness Bed & Breakfast at Hualien. In this trip, we stayed in 歐風小鎮 (Europe Villa) again to the delight of his family!

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We also tried out a new Minsu which is driving distance to Sun Moon Lake and 九族文化村 (Aboriginal Village Theme Park) at Nantou.日月潭山季花園民宿 is another pretty minsu with a huge huge garden! Whenever I stay in a minsu in Taiwan, it made me want to sell off all assets in Singapore and setup a minsu in Taiwan too! I will then daydream hosting people from all around the world! Haha.

Here are some pictures for you to daydream too!

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They even kept a fat turkey in here! I hope it’s not to fatten up for Thanksgiving Dinner! Haha.

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Theres also a little hut for their 3 cats!

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Two of their cats.

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After taking a quick morning stroll at their garden, breakfast lovingly prepared by the owner is waiting for us! Look at the amount of food!

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Look at that the huge garden behind us! I hope AirB&B can be legalize in Singapore and I can rent out 1 room in my imaginary future home to people visiting Singapore! Haha.

Sicao Green Tunnel (四草綠色隧道), Tainan

In Tainan, other than feasting oyster after a learning boat trip, and drinking coffee after squeezing through those narrow doors, there are many other places to visit! However, most of the places doesn’t take up a lot of time and thankfully, we got a tour guide driver who can drop up and pick us up at whenever we need!

I enjoyed this short boat ride in Sicao Green Tunnel. It is a romantic ride and a picturesque green tunnel where it is formed by the mangrove tree naturally. Friends who loves photo-taking will love this place! One tip, get in the queue early to get a front row seat to get the best view. Otherwise, get the last row seat, you also get many chance to take beautiful pictures of the trees meeting together forming a tunnel and the reflection on the river. Wow. A simple ride but beautiful ride. Even though I don’t quite remember the names of the 4 types of mangrove tree introduced as it is all in Mandarin.

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According to Travel King, here is a short excerpt:-

“Sihcao Green Tunnel in Tainan was once a salt canal. 750 meters long and 20 meters wide, the canal was used to transport salt products from the drying field to the storage back in the days. The rich habitat of the mangrove the canal cuts through is the wetland environment with the most variety of species and plants in Taiwan. It is now organized into a tourism canal for visitors to examine and experience this well reserved wetland.

…The Sihcao Green Tunnel takes you into the canal to examine closely to the plants and the species along the way. The 30 minute raft ride through the well preserved mangrove with greeneries covering the sides and rare species resting randomly in the woods is very relaxing.” – Travel King

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The hat is provided for sun fearing people but a fear of head lice prevented me from taking one. Heh.

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This boat is called a raft and it has it’s own reason. Because the boat does not have proper seats. We were all sitting on a stool! Haha.

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Can you spot little crabs at the side? It’s white and orange!

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This is the best picture I took and I had to risk hitting my head on some branches! Haha.

Narrow Door Cafe 窄門咖啡, Tainan

After the crazy oyster feasting at Cigu Lagoon (you can read in my previous post here), lunch is far from our mind but we certainly didn’t mind stopping by for coffee and thus made an impromptu stopover at a cafe. For our cafe loving Singaporeans, this cafe will be a novelty not because of their coffee but because of where it is location.

Hole-in-the-wall cafes like these aren’t many in Singapore, especially not one stuck in an old building. This cafe, Narrow Door Cafe, has the narrowest entrance to a cafe I’ve ever seen. If you didn’t notice, you may walk right past it without realizing it.

NARROW DOOR CAFE 窄門咖啡

2F, No. 67, Nánmén Rd
Zhongxi District, Tainan City, Taiwan
臺灣臺南市中西區南門路67號2樓

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This is the entrance, right there, and in a way, it is also unofficially discriminating people on the not so skinny side. We walked in holding our breathe and sucking our stomach for fear of an unimaginable embarrassing moment or worst, scoring an abrasion on our fat arms.

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The entrance is not wider than half a metre and undoubtedly, such location will not pass the test of our SCDF (Singapore Civil Defense Force), can you imagine what will happen if there’s a fire? Haha.

But nonetheless, it is an interesting find!

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Alishan Sunrise, Taiwan

Last year we visited Alishan and on the first day, we enjoyed a light drizzle and had the entire forest to our own. Read more here on our previous forest walk last year. This year, blessed with no rain, we had to share the forest with 2 large tour bus group which disturbed the forest’s tranquility and beauty with their loud noise.

We also missed the Cherry Blossom season in Alishan by almost 3 weeks and all that is left is on a tree or two.

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Despite not having to enjoy a peaceful forest walk or the full bloom of Cherry Blossom flowers, we were truly blessed to enjoy clear sky to enjoy sunrise! Here are some photos to showcase a little of the actual magnificent view of the sunrise at Alishan.

Here’s a little tip! When catching the train, do get on the first trip and proceed to the last cabin! Because the last cabin is the cabin closet to the stairway towards the viewing platform and once you get off to the platform run to the front! There will be a guide there to tell you which angle will give you the best view as it varies from season to season!

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We had to wake up really early at 3.40am to be ready for the first train at 4.30am. Look at my sleepy face without makeup on!

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At some point in time, the sun is so bright that you just have to look away!

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After watching the sunrise, there are some booths here selling hot french toast! The best after the cold long wait!

Oyster Farm Tour in Cigu Lagoon, Tainan (七股潟湖龍海號+烤蚵)

In this trip, we visited Tainan and unlike Taipei, Tainan is laid-back and you hardly see much vehicles or people on the street. We visited many places in Tainan but the highlight was definitely the tour to the oyster farm in Cigu Lagoon!
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We took the Long Hai Hao Raft where they tour around the living habitat of the Taiwan oysters!

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The boat captain invited some passengers for hands on experience!

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You see that ball of rock looking stuff? That’s how they farm the oysters in the Lagoon! When you pull them out, TADAH, there are a whole lot more below the first ball!

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This is followed by the much anticipated oyster feast!

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The oysters are smaller than those farmed in Australia and even though I am not much of an oyster fan, I stuffed more than 15 oysters in my face. They were so fresh that by eating it as it is after a simple grill over charcoal brings you on an oyster high. BBQ Oyster with a little Wasabi is my favourite!

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Slurps. I’m salivating right now.

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We also ordered a grilled fish which the staff helped grill to perfection! This was one of the meals which we really eat our hearts out!

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For a mere NT $ 330, which translate to slightly over SGD 14, we had unlimited supply of oysters for an hour. Don’t understand that 1 hour, one of us armed with 2 cans of Heineken, ate almost close to 50 oysters.

Yang Min Shan: Calla Lily Season and Xiao You Keng

Comparing to 2014 Taiwan trip with my family, there are about 40% places of interest which are repeated compared to this year’s itinerary. Hence, I will not be sharing the places by Day but by some of my favourite places which we didn’t visit last year. If you are keen to find out where we visited last year and this year, just go click here.

During our trip in April 2015, we visited Yang Ming Shan, a dormant volcano, which is in the vicinity of Taipei. Even though we missed the cherry blossom season by a month, we are blessed to be right there in the middle of Calla Lily Season!

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Calla Lily season starts from March to May and it is where many Calla Lily farms open up the area to the public at Bamboo Lake (Zhu Zi Hu). The owner of the farms reaps most of their business within these 2 – 3 months, harvesting Calla Lily and collecting entrance fee. There are some farms which open to public and earn by selling the flowers. Visitors can pay NT 100 for X number of Calla Lily handpicked by the visitors. As for the farm we went, we paid NT 150 but the farm do not allow visitor to pick the Calla Lily to ensure there are a lot more for viewing. Out of the NT 150 entrance fee, NT 100 can be used to buy flowers already prepared for sale or for food and drinks. The reason why we picked this farm is because we went during the mid season and because of their strictly no picking rules, they have a lot of lilies left unlike those farm which allow visitors to pick them.

For once, this place looks better than it is here in photos!

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Gosh, I look like I’ve got a beer belly in this picture. Heh.

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On top of visiting Calla lilies at Yang Ming Shan, we also popped by Xiao You Keng which is a small area where you can smell sulphur and witness hot steam coming out from the ground! It reminded me of Hell Valley in Hokkaido which we visited last year! It stinks really bad.

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Brr, it’s extremely cold and windy. Look at my awkward smile. GAH.

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Self Planned 11 Days 10 Night Taiwan Family Tour Itinerary

I’m back! It has been three months since I last blogged, like huh?! Where did those three months went? I just came back from an 11 days 10 night self planned road trip to Taiwan and I’ve a lot to share!

Similar to last year’s trip to Taiwan with my family, we engaged the same guy who is our tour guide/driver/ part time photographer for our trip, Mr Chen Zhong Xi (Xiao Xi)!

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We shared with him on some of the locations we intended to visit, while he planned the rest of the itinerary, proposed the hotels and recommended various local dishes to eat along the way. For his service, we paid him NT$ 61,500 (approx SGD 2,700) for the 11 days of transport in a mini van for 6 of us! He is definitely not the cheapest driver around because is also a licensed tour guide and a photography enthusiast.

He is not a chatty person, but someone who is reserved, responsible and yet sincere. So if you are looking for someone to plan your itinerary for your family and drive you around Taiwan, you can contact him! He can communicate in English via email and whatsapp too! Find more of his details in the file or drop me a note.

Here is the itinerary for our trip! –> Taiwan Trip _Finalv2

Drop me a mail if you can’t seem to download the file, I can email it to you. If you follow my older posts, here is the post on the itinerary for our last trip back in 2014.

Just click on the Taiwan tab under Category on the right, and you can see more details and attractions of various sites!