Friday, November 29, 2013

Report from Taipei, Taiwan

Ok! Found the picture of my most favourite Taiwanese delicacy at TWD40 a rather medium sized tube for 1 person.

The Green Onion Kiddy Ice Cream and yes, it does taste like green onion. After 2 of these, your entire mouth is green onion and it was the single most delicious everything from Taiwan and a must try.

Worst meal was the following;

The chicken was ok, even had to pull them apart myself. But seriously, for all the hype, being ok is not ok. The worst meal and not worth it. Rather pay for 10 more tube of that wonderful green onion ice cream.

Most beautiful scenery was the unexpectedly beautiful blue Pacific Ocean;

Really looked like my Second Life home. Wow.

Anyway the wuxia like temple.

And finally my hotel room. 

Gorgeous eh?

I am back!! Very tired. Anyway how was my trip you asked? Frankly, and I am being totally honest here, unexpected. I didn't find Taipei city interesting at all. I find it lacking an identifiable something. In HK I see a building I know it's HK. Same with China, Singapore, etc. In Taipei, I find it rather bland. I don't find the people friendly either. The younger ones tend to be rude as well and I couldn't believe a shop assistant just told me "Look there, it is there" when she didn't have other customers to attend to. Food shops' owners were unhelpful either. Menus in Chinese so I wonder how westerners ever order anything? The older ones were more friendly, more helpful and quite often rather chatty. The taxi drivers were all competent and efficient. The city is clean, air is good but lacking dustbins for reasons I do not know why. The toilets were mostly very very clean and can be found everywhere.

There were many tourists, too many tourists from everywhere, especially bus loads from China. From what I can hear and see, Taiwanese do not like China tourists much. They have nothing good to say about them except they bring in money. I often heard other tourist guides saying "Tourists from China, please have manners. Please read the signboards. Please do not step on the grass! Have a bit of manners please!". I think I head this in every park I went to. And guess what?Everyone turned a deaf ear! I must admit, these tourists by the bus loads were exceedingly rude. I went to China 2 times and I can tell you, these are a different breed.

Anyway I went to many places and I can tell you, Taiwan is not disabled people friendly. Stairs after stairs, hills after hills, so darn tiring. The only good thing is the weather. It is not just merely cold, or chilly, it is (even right now) very very very windy. My skin got very bad because it was windy, chilly and wet. Not a good weather to be in but better than hot.

I disliked Jiufen. I cannot understand why at 6pm or so the shops all close when that is when tourists come to see Jiufen at night. The so called Spirited Away walkway is crowded, difficult to walk and like 10 flights of stairs. I gave up after 2 flights. I love the Taiwan's countryside. That was the shocking aspect. I can see cat tails blowing in the gentle breeze, beautiful waterfall, golden copper stones, big mountains, misty at the top. That ain't no pollution but true mist. Taiwan has beautiful countryside and the air is so very fresh. I also went to Taroko Gorge and that was what took my breath away. I was surrounded by tall tall talllllllllll mountains. In fact so tall I can't see over the mountain stones at all. Felt like I was surrounded, in a beautiful way. So very wuxia feel. The natural stones and stuff were great. I couldn't walk much so I didn't walk any trails but did do some tunnel walking and it rained so thanks to some useful advice by fellow reader, I got ready with raincoats. The Yehliu park is gorgeous but too many people. My main purpose was of course the National Palace Museum and the special exhibition was Emperor Qianlung. It was fantastic. I visited every room at every floor which was why my leg strength was gone on the very 1st day itself. I however hated the crowd. I had to line up just to go to 3rd floor to see the 2 most celebrated jade carvings, that vege thing and that pork thing. The front of me was a tourist guide for China and he took so long explaining things, I walked in front of him and I was accused of cue cutting! When I wanted to back up to see some piece again, even the palace customer service guy said I can't since I have walked in front. It was like 1 way ticket and I was so mad I said in my broken mandarin "I wasn't cue cutting. I did not want to stand for minutes to listen to that guide talk since I am not with them anyway". When the crowd was less, I backed up to see that same piece again but it was such a terrible fun killing experience to know I had to line up like some buffet line that I can only enjoy once. My sister told me 7 years ago the museum was quiet and elegant but now is like some wet market. I strongly feel the museum should be like Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. Limit the entry per day so that everyone can enjoy the pieces in peace, quiet and without cue cutting. The quieter place was the Miniature Museum of Taiwan which was fun to go especially to those who love miniature stuff. Other than that I visited Taipei 101 (ugly building but exciting stuff - didn't go to the top because too many people) and funny, I didn't go to any night markets but I took their MRT, went through 18 stations to go to Tam Sui and it was one of the best trip ever. First, Tam Sui has a lot of local and other tourists BUT no bus loads of tourists from China and it was peaceful. The river is gorgeous, weather very chilly and windy and the food's great. Like that Ah Keg I think, some kind of tofu with fish paste filled with glass noodle in red sauce. It was amazingly delicious. So was the squid on charcoal. The people were friendly and if you an cycle, a lovely place to cycle. I was very impressed with Tam Sui and I had good feeling for it like how I had for Yonghe Palace in Beijing and Yuen Long in HK. A sense of peace, quiet and nothing rushed.

Frankly if you ever plan to go to Taiwan, do go to Tam Sui, Yehliu Park and Taroko Gorge. Don't be stingy; even if the taxi can go several places in one day, make your life easier and dedicate at least half a day to sayyyyy Yehliu park.

The food in Taiwan is at best average. The better food is the one NOT recommended by TV shows and all. I tried the Shiling Night Market's sausages and they were god awful. The better ones were out of Taipei. The best food for me was the ... "chung"? That green grass thing? I will add the english name later. The ice cream was epic. The rest of the food were only so-so. This ain't HK, land of great food.

Anyway I find Taiwan very Japanese. They may say Chinese, etc but I feel everything is very Japan-influenced in a subtle way. It is not weird since they were ruled by Japan for 50 years or so, they had have good and bad governors so I understand why Taiwanese are very Japan-oriented.

Anyway the trip was good for what it is worth. I won't rush to go back to Taiwan though. However I am still in awe of Taiwan's natural geography; the stones, the nature, the background and oh yes, the blue Pacific Ocean in different tones. I never knew Pacific Ocean was so beautiful until my 3rd day in Taiwan. I feel if you're into nature, Taiwan is the place to go.

Oh, I brought back some momentoes. Go join my contest and win some Taiwan stuff!

In TWD it may sound expensive. TWD100 for a keychain?! In Malaysia, delete 1 decimal point for an approximate sum and the keychain is only MYR10. Same with food. Most expensive was locally made nougat. The rest are fairly priced.

My entire energy spent on taroko gorge. Am really tired that When I saw the hilly Jiufen and I went NO! Lovely countryside. Have yet to try their famous mee suah. So far frankly Taiwanese food are so so only and  their TV is dead boring. But the awesomeness is in their natural geography, rocks, hill side, blue Pacific Ocean and their cold but not punishingly cold weather. Their people are a weird mix. The older generation is friendly but the younger generation is quite rude. Reminds me of HK. And they have very low opinion of China tourists. They also love stairs. Standard stairs is at least two flights down or Up. Not very disabled people or old people or lazy people friendly. But prices are ok. Will write more about my most favourite place and food later on. Anyone coming to Taiwan now, please take note it is cold and slight wind with possible rain in morning and very cold and very windy at night. Sun goes down at 5pm and by 6 it looks like midnight in Malaysia. Worse is like in Jiufen most shops close by 6pm or so. To me that is baffling since tourists do come for night views and it defies business sense to close so early. About food like I said not fantastic. To me their best is to me at most a good average except for one thing. Will reveal that later.

I have just 3 more days to go in Taiwan, having been here since last Friday. I am dead tired. Very dead tired. Not yet dead but very tired. I will write more when I am back in KL. However I have lots of gifts for you my fellow netizens and followers of my blog so be sure to come back end of the week on how to win those very special Taiwan only gifts. They sound super expensive in Taiwanese dollars but good quality, cute, quite rare and very Taiwan. I am sure if you love my previous momentoes you will love these too!

1 comment:

  1. Funn,
    Wonderful to hear that you are traveling! Enjoy the rest of your time in Taipei!