Saturday, November 24, 2007

Back to Taipei : Taipei 101 and extras!

By the time we were back to Taipei, my Panasonic Lumix FZ-7 has run out of battery. Silly me but I kept the spare charged one deep in the luggage under the bus compartment.

So for now, I just got to rely on my Nokia N73 for a while until it run out of , battery as well.

First thing first, comes the most important attraction of Taipei which is the Taipei 101. HAI!!!

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Anyways, we paid like RM30 to get up to the 87 floor or so since our tour did not include that. Fortunately my colleage that recently came here told me that I should go up and say hi to the little wind damper.

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It took us like less than a minute and we were already up there. Hmmm... not so dizzy luckily.

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After a cuppa coupled with the Movenpick Ice cream, we hurried to say Hi to the wind damper

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According to Wikipedia:

A tuned mass damper, or harmonic absorber, is a device mounted in structures to prevent discomfort, damage or outright structural failure by vibration. Typically, the dampers are huge concrete blocks mounted in skyscrapers or other structures, and moved in opposition to the resonance frequency oscillations of the structure by means of springs, fluid or pendulums. High-tension lines often have small barbell-shaped Stockbridge dampers hanging from the wires.

More of the wind damper can be found here:

And the Taipei 101 here:

After that, we started visiting those must go places around Taipei, namely the National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine

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, and the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (Now known as Taiwan Cultural something something, no thanks to the current idiotic Primer Minister)

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As for dinner, we finally went to 西门町 (Xi Men Ding?) where the famous Ah Chung Noodle 阿宗面线 located.

A long que here even though it was merely 6pm when we arrived.

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The noodle is already too soggy, so making the whole deal like a cheap shark fin since the broth is thick. They sort of put a lot of the Japanese fish bonito flakes in it for extra flavouring. Yum!

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Most of the eatery here does not offer seating. Not uncommon to find customers standing all over the walkway eating. Besides, there won't be enough place to accommodate this many people as well.

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A must try I would say.

Location of Ah Chung Flour Noodle Place

So that concludes my trip to Taiwan. I hope you all have enjoyed it. Next will be me trumping all over Korea (erm, at least Seoul and Sorak San) hehe... do tune in soon!

Gosh, it is getting to be back logged too much and I really have got to work harder blogging.

Wu Jiao Chuan Ban (Five Dime ) 五角船板

I cannot help but let this restaurant to have its own post.

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That's my dad with his usual bright yellow raincoat, that he use it as his warm jacket (???)

In fact, I have passed by this restaurant on the 2nd day when we were in Taipei. I just simply brush off the fact that this could be a restaurant, when its outrageous outlook feature a dingy night club more than anything else.

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But here, we came to have a our lunch and enjoy the weirdest interior design of all.

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I don't know for sure if it is true, but the lady owner that started this place originally like to collect junk from all over and turn them into useful stuffs. One day, she stumbled on a plank of wood washed ashore. On the piece of log, she found a 50 cent. From that moment on, she dreamt that is she ever open a restaurant of herself, she will name it the 5 dime restaurant or in Chinese 五角船板.

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At here, from the table to the chair, to the walls, to the food containers, everything is unusual. It is hard to describe, so you see it yourself.

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The food weren't bad either. We were arranged with some common dish, e.g. the Kung Pao Chicken, stir fried four angle beans.

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Yum yum, rice with sweet potato

But if you are ever here, please do not forget to try their specialty - The homemade milk mochi. A form of soft milky glutinous rice cake. A classic itself.

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I would definitely come back here if I am ever in Taipei again, but I heard the reservations is long while the price of the food is not cheap if you ask for a la carte.

Here's the website to their restaurant (only in Chinese)

Apparently they have got 4 other branches now all over Taiwan. Wonder if the other places are just as strange looking

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hua Lian 花莲, Taroko National Park 太鲁阁and all about the aborigins

Waking up the next day, it is more bus ride for us! By this time, we are on way back to Taipei up north.

The surrounding of Hua Lian consist a lot of gorge, rivine, high banks, rivers. Apparently during rainy seasons, where typhoon strike especially, the amount of water that washes towards the sea is so huge that bridges gets destroys along with roads and railways!

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Our first stop of the day, surprisingly was the toilet stop. :P

The boastful tour guide was saying he was very thoughtful to let us stop at this place as it was a R&R operated by the Taiwan Sugar Ltd. The specialty here are ice cream made by them.

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The ice cream ain't bad for the price we paid. Pic shown here is peanut butter flavoured

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But one thing i like about the public toilet in Taiwan is that the flusher always uses the foot to step. The makes the whole weewee experience so much more hygienic without using your hand on the flusher.

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After that we continue with the journey to Hua Lian, eventually stopped at the Taroko National Park.

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While many of our Malaysian friends relate Taiwan to their small snacks and local entertainment scene, many of us actually did not know Taiwan has beautiful sceneries as well. Most of us would only think that of China when comes to getting such fantastic nature sights, but at Hua Lian here, the stony mountains seem just as hard to tame!

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Our biggest disappoinment of the whole trip came when we were told that this is the only place of the whole of Taroko National Park that we were going to visit. There were other beautiful sights e.g. the Cihmu Bridge, Jiucyudong (Tunnel of Nine Turns) Trail, etc that laid along the Central Cross-Island Hwy.

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What makes the highway special, was that it was constructed by Kuomingtang army with simple tools at the post war era. General Chiang Kai Shek was worry that the army troupes would do silly stuffs when there aren't any war for them to fought. The whole area of the route are by the high hills looking deep down into the dangerous valley.

But too bad, we didn't get to see any of that. Instead, we were first wisked to the Lingzhi shop then to the marble stone (cum semi precious stone) factory later on.

For you guys that is curious how beautiful the Taroko National Park can be, here's a link towards some of most scenic spot at there.

After dinner, we went to the Amei Cultural Dance Night. The supposing natives danced their traditional steps, playing their simple tunes. Can't say it is very exciting really.

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One thing make me thought for a long time was that their dancers, this is especially for the boys as they seemed a little too young. Apart from that, hardly any of them look beautiful or handsome, very much unlike what sung in old folk song 高山青. I guess finding dancers with peanut pay ain't easy these days!

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Happily, my dad finally found his CD comprising of the Amei aborigine folk song 山地歌.

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If you are ever there, don't forget to visit the toilet, as the men's toilet has got this little surprise for you. It showcase a rather simplistic art form of human anatomy.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hakka Village, Biggest Sea World in Asia, Hot Spring Resort...

The next day pretty much is another long day driving for us.

At first, we came by this Hakka Village - Mei Nong Hakka Culture Village 美浓客家村

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Not much here really, except people would use the Hakka culture as a kind of attraction which I find it highly fascinating. Seeing that there are so many Hakka people walking around in Malaysia, no one would be interested to know them more.

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Then again, there are many Malay people in Malaysia too but still many curious white foreigners would set toe in the Malay village to learn about Malay livings and believes. So I guess anything goes as long as you know the means and ways to market it.

Anyway, one of the attraction at this village belongs to this uncle. He has a ability to play tunes using various UNUSUAL object as his music instrument : Lately he is into playing strings with his wood saw, and sometimes he blow weasel with a small bit of leaves. Apparently he has been invited to perform on the television many time with this skill. My dad and somehow feel a little cold and scary when he started playing with the saw, it resembles the sound effect of a ghost appearing in a haunted movie!

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So then our next destination was to the biggest aquarium in Asia. On the way there, we stopped by to get some fruits -- In Malay we call them Jambu Air, or Sui Wong 水蓊 in Chinese. But the Taiwanese call them Lian Wu 莲雾here. Big and Juicy, YUM!

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We also had the mango ice blended which was not bad, loaded with a lot of mangoes for RM10 or so.

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Arriving at the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium, the weather turned to be rather sunny. Somehow making us feeling lost in planning what to wear, as we were told that last area of the museum are open air with different exhibition.

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But if you ask me, I'd say there isn't a need to plan that much since there aren't that many things to see inside there. Though the are might seem big, but the number of worthy exhibits are few to remember -- namely the Beluga Whales, The big seaweed tank... erm... haha... really not much. Even the biggest conveyor belt showcase tank proves to be dull and lifeless, with few fishes and no corals. A big disappointment compare to Singapore Underwater World.

Anyways, we did say Hi to some of these stuffs. My mom was making hell lot of noise not being able to see the whales feeding show as it was close due to overcrowding.

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Coming out from the aquarium, we then start on a long drive to Hua Lian. It was drizzling a lot throughout the drive. Further more, large part of the coastal road located right next to a high cliff making the journey looking extra scary. Surplus to that, the roaring sea waves with a dark sky just makes our journey seemed so perilous per se. No photos here as surrounding got too dark for a good photos.

But anyways, we stopped by at another fruit stalls sampling two types of local fruit -- Sour Soup and the other one 藩荔枝, I too don't know what it is named in english.

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After visiting so many places, it was time for a good night rest. We checked into a hot spring resort.

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Outside here is a full strenght hot water for curious one to boil egg. While customer staying with the resort can go for a spa like hot spring treat.

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While many others decided to shy away from the mini water theme park style hot spring, my parents and I did brave the cold weather for a relaxing dip here. We were told that swiming attire with cap is a must if anyone wants to use the hot spring facility. There are strong water jet to massage the shoulder area, bubbling water like a jacuzzi as well.

By the time we got out from our 15 min dip at the 41 degree water, we were so hot that we just walked back to the room without needing anymore sweater!

But the night just doesn't end there. We all decided to have a night out at a small family bar just down the road. Everyone cheers and eat and sing till exhaustion.

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Wild Boar Meat

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Veg from the Mountains

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Another variety of wild boar meat

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Deep fried salty peppered century egg

AHH!! That conclude a long day today. Tomorrow we will be heading to Hua Lian, where the beautiful Alisan girls and boys stays~ kih kih kih