Sunday, March 02, 2014

Taiwan Day 1 - 2: Hualien

Hello March!!! Didn't post much because I was away 2 weeks at Taiwan in Feb!!!
Booked way in advance like half a year ago because it was dirt cheap. Okay, maybe not dirt cheap but it's CHEAP!!! $200!!!
Without further delay, I shall start typing down this fabulous trip!

Our trip: 13th - 24th Feb 2014 (11 Nights)
Destination: Singapore-Hualien-CingJing-Sun Moon Lake-Alishan-TaiChung-Taipei-Singapore

How to get to Hualien from Taoyuan?
Anyways, finally this day arrived. We took the midnight flight on 13th Feb and arrived Taoyuan Airport early in the morning at 6AM. Our first destination is Hualien, so we had to buy bus tickets to Taipei Main Station which is an hour ride from the airport. We chose the Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 and arrived at Taipei Main Station around 8AM.
Because GGH already pre booked all the train tickets that we needed, we went to collect the tickets altogether. It's better that way so that you need not rush for ticket counters every where u go.  
Had a 7-11 breakfast while waiting for our train ride to Hualien. We took slightly later just in case our air flight was delayed. Bought the 9.20AM Taroko Express to Hualien arrival at 11.30AM. The taroko express is not the cheapest, but the timing was the crucial factor in choosing this. Plus, it's faster (shorter route). Finally, at 11.20AM, we arrived at HUALIEN!!!!!

Our minsu owner picked us up, brought us to buy bento box before going to the minsu to settle down.
The rice is super nice! Every grain is full and round! And me not being a rice person, actually started eating more rice in Taiwan than Singapore! Almost everyday I had a rice meal!
Taiwan's rice is similar to Japanese rice. It's called "Zhen Zhu Mi" "Pearl rice", cause it's like pearl. 
My start of eating like a pig.  

Review of Minsu
Our Minsu: Hualien Bay, Mr Andy Chen 
It's near to the beach, so it gets chilly at night, and can see sunrise from our room.
We stayed at the highest floor, which i think is the attic.

The cleanliness was okay only, abit dusty. Very basic amenities.  
Plus points: Super friendly owners, nice breakfast, near beach, free bicycle.

We rested for awhile before braving the wind + rain and cycle to 七星潭 (Qi Xing Tan). It's a costal area which faces the Pacific Ocean! Cycling was very tough during that day as there was cold surge of wind. This doesn't happen frequently, but this year apparently it came. News were all over warning everyone about cold surge of winds.
Nonetheless, we peservered and reached our destination! It was like a 4 hours of cycling against the cold surge. It was bad, very bad. But seeing the beautiful waves made up for all the difficult travelling.

Sadly, we didn't take much of the scenery because firstly, we were struggling and fighting our way through to make it to Qi Xing Tan. Also, when we reached there, we went near the waters, and out of the sudden, the waters came rising up and got me all DRENCHED!!! I may be smiling below this pic, but I was very very cold.

It got dark very soon and very cold, we wanted to take cab back, but too bad we had 2 bicycles with us. So.. no choice. We had to cycle back with the wind coming onto our faces.
Finally, we reached our destination! The famous Gong Zheng Bao Zi! And this is the best of all the many zhen baos I had in around Taiwan, and probably the best ever. We tried eating other places ones, but couldn't beat this.

Don't be deceived by the looks of it, it's damn good!
Their xiao long bao is actually made of those normal bao skin. Not those Din Tai Feng type of xiao long bao.
The not-so-commmon xiao long bao. Should try, but I prefer the normal ones.

We then cycled around the district. The NanBin night market (南濱夜市) had closed down as the government is renovating the area. So, the tenants moved to Cai Hong night market. Hmmm.. not worth to visit. Quite small. Before heading back, we went to their cultural centre to watch the aboriginals performing a dance.

Day 2

We booked a tour with the minsu owner and chose the East Rift Valley path. Our first stop was one of the oldest temple in Hualien. And it's special because the temple was built in a Japanese structure. They were actually under Japanese for 50 years before independence.

Along the way, there are several pitstops so one of the more popular is Liyu Lake (鯉魚潭), the largest lake in the eastern Taiwan.

Then we saw the red mask duck!!! We wanted to take picture with the duck and the pretty deco, but there was something going on. When we went there, the organizer told us we have to take queue number, and do something then can take picture.
So, since we were tourist, and we probably never gonna see this place anymore, we decided to just go ahead!

So... there was an MC who asked us where we were from etc... and we had to do a 10sec kiss.
And we thought that was over. But when we were about to leave, a reporter came to us and started interviewing us like why we are here and how we knew about this. We honestly told them.... We actually just wanted to take picture with the duck, we didn't know about your event beforehand! lol... We definitely weren't the best people to interview. haha... Probably that's why we were not in the news, but picutres instead? haha.

We got a duck face cupcake as a gift...

Next we went to Lin Tian Shan Forestry (林田山). It's a old logging area where people who stayed here mainly did logging. The driver told us even after the Japanese period, people stayed here continued to do lumbering until when Taiwan governement banned natural logging. So now, it's almost a deserted place, except it has a few little musuems showing wood carvings which were very pretty.

And then, we were brought to Rare Seed Ranch. Many milking activites were going on but we were not allowed to take photos.

Of course, not my favourite place... but GGH tried milk pudding. Yucks. haha.

Thereafter, we were brought to a place to do hot spring! Super shiok especially with the cold weather. We were quite tired actually from all the travelling etc. So damn good timing.

That marks the end of the day tour. Our driver brought us to central as requested. We specially told him to send us to the famous Zha Dan Cong You Bing because the shop closes at 7pm.
We ate it all up before even taking a picture! And we regretted not buying 2! Please go try it if you are there. There are 3 shops, 2 shops closes at 5pm.

There are two dinner recommendations: One being the famous Ya Pian Noodle, or Lai Cheng Pork Rib Noodle.
We settled for pork ribs because we tried the Ya Pian in Taipei last year, doesn't fit our likings.

We shopped around town area and our driver came and picked us up back to the minsu and ended the night early because the next day was super early tour to Taroko. Our driver for tomorrow called us up to tell us it's snowing and the mountains will be closed by 5pm, so we have to make it over before that.
Super exciting!!!

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