Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The perfect couple retreat- Wulai 烏來

Wednesday, 18 June 2014
For couples that love nature or simply want a quick getaway from city life, Wulai 烏來 will be a great place for you.

Well, I didn't go with my prince charming but I wished I did! This place has amazing fresh air and beautiful scenary. It can aid in resolving any conflict you two might have prior the trip ;) HAHA I'm just kidding. But well, no harm trying!

Wulai 烏來 is pretty near Taipei city and a one day trip will suffice. In fact, depending on what you do there, half a day might be enough!

How to go:
The fastest way I feel will probably taking the Metro's Red-Green (Xindian) line to Xindian, the very last stop. From there, take a bus right outside the station (turn right). Hop on to 849 where the last stop is Wulai so you don't have to worry about getting lost! HAHA

The only bad part is, you prolly won't get a seat if you are going on a weekend. The bus is normally cramp and packed with people going up! The good part is, it's approximately 30-40 mins so it isn't that long a ride!

See that bridge behind?
Hehehe decided to climb up!
And take a jump shot... (Sigh, obviously tourists HAHA)

There are 3 things Wulai 烏來 is famous for:
#1: Wulai 烏來 is famous for their delicious food in their 烏來老街

What I'm holding on in the previous picture is actually this sticky rice cake (taste and texture is abit like our Muachee) that they grill it over the fire. Can give it a try if you like sticky stuff. There isn't much taste to it though, just sticky HAHA maybe thats why I didn't really enjoy it but it's famous! So do pay NT35 (SGD 1.50) for the experience HAHA

Well, since Wulai is famous for their Hotspring 溫泉, its not surprising they sell Hotspring egg 溫泉蛋. This is like a MUST EAT. For just NT10 (SGD 0.40) you get to taste yummy eggs with their soft half boiled center! If you love those tamago (eggs) which they put into your Japanese ramen, YOU WILL LOVE THIS. While you're here, try out the eggs soaked in wine as well. They taste equally awesome.
This isnt a must try in Wulai but I gave it a shot as this guy was entertaining. He will dance while BBQ-ing his pork sticks so I thought I would give him some credit for trying to attract some attention HAHA. Well, he was nice and gave me an additional pork stick for free!
Last but not least, you got to try the Taiwanese sausage from this stall! THIS IS WHY YOU CAME TO WULAI. Yes, just to have a taste of this famous sausage. HAHA. This store is located right at the end of the Wulai old street 烏來老街 so you wouldnt miss it! There will be lots of people queueing for it.
While you're queueing for the sausage, get one of the pork thighs to try as well. They taste pretty good.

So there, the end of a little food introduction. Now comes Wulai's second specialty:
#2: Their hotsprings!
There are many hot spring shops all around Wulai's vicinity. They are a private pool and you can go there with your partner for a dip. The price ranges from NT300-NT1000 (SGD 12-40). The wide range in prices is due to the type of services they provide (e.g. whether there is a time limit, whether there is food provided, whether you get a room to yourself etc etc.) So do make sure you ask first!

Sigh, I wish I was able to take a dip with my prince charming too... But thats alright, all you readers out there can enjoy it for me! HAHA

Hehehe no private hotspring, why not try the large common pool? The 大眾泉 is a place for everybody to dip their feet into the water, or even swim in it. Lots of locals do that and they water is really clear. Clear not equals to clean so if you're a clean freak, then maybe not. But it was definitely a refreshing experience and I'll recommend you to go down!

You'll see lots of locals there and its hard to miss it. Some other stuff people do in Wulai will be River Tracing. But you'll need to wear shoes and not be afraid of getting your shoes wet! Reason being there are lots of rocks and pebbles at the bottom so you wouldnt want to hurt yourself!

#3: Last and final of Wulai would be their waterfall 瀑布!
As you walk to the end of  Wulai Old Street, you'll reach an intersection where you'll see this!

 Please do not attempt to walk up to the waterfall. It isn't that far up to be honest, but trust me. Take the stairs up.
Taking the stairs up will lead you to the mini railway train! While turning left at the intersection will lead you to the walking path up to the waterfall!
For NT50 (SGD 2) you will get to sit a one way ride up to the waterfall in this really cute train. IT WAS SO FUN! This also means that Wulai is a great place for the older folks to visit as well as transportation up the waterfall is convenient and they wouldnt need to walk!

Selfie on the super fast train HAHA skillz.

First sight at the waterfall and the first waterfall I've seen in my Taiwan journal. Took tons of pictures of the waterfall and me with it and god-knows-what-reason. Come to think about it, all angles of the waterfall are actually rather similar LOL.
Yup. HAHA similar indeed.

Wulai is a rather easy place to visit as you can't get lost! The place is really small and walking by foot will take you everywhere. Best part, its a rather straight forward route.
DONT TAKE THE CABS. It cost NT200 per cab to get you to the waterfall area, but that means you will miss the Wulai old street where the food is. Yes, you can always eat while on your way down but NT200? You can better use NT200 to sit the railway train and food up ;)
Then again, its up to you! If you have 4 people with you, then perhaps taking the taxi up will save you lots of time!

I haven't mentioned it before, but Wulai is where they are also famous for their aboriginal culture. Its not hard to notice that the type of clothes they wear, and the music they play is all very, hmm aboriginal. HAHA.

Wulai has a rich culture as well. This place used to be a mining area and men will often use the trolley (See above picture) to transport rocks up and down the mountain. Though you wont see them doing this anyway, they actually have demostration classes and a heritage museum at the waterfall area which you can go in and learn more about them for free!

Thats about it for Wulai. I hope you'll enjoy yourself as much as I did.

Bringing you the ultimate Taiwan experience.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Ever wished you could fly? Fly high in Taiwan!

Sunday, 15 June 2014
Part I: Ever wished you could fly like a bird?

That was my dream when I was young. I always admired how birds get to fly in the sky, traveling every minute of their lives, going anywhere they want, anytime they wanted to. Everytime I see a group of birds in the sky, I wished I could be like them. My oh my, I too, wanna travel around the world with my loved ones.

Wait what, sorry I think that was a flash back. HAHA okay I'm back to reality *Snaps finger*
SO, as I was asking, ever wished you could fly free like a bird? Cos now you can with paragliding! Best part? You don't have to flap your wings like crazy like a bird. HAHA.
If you have no idea what paragliding is, below is a short introduction video:
Didn't manage to take a video of my flight as the weather wasn't fantastic when I was there!

Basically paragliding is pretty comfortable as there's like a butt support for you to sit and lean back.
If you feel excited and want to try this out, there's actually two companies in Taiwan that offers such an experience. There's one in Puli and one in Wanli.

If you're in Taipei, you might want to choose the Wanli (新北市萬里區)option. It's about 1-1.5 hours away from Taipei and the company operating this is called 野馬飛行. As of 15 June 2014, the cost of each flight is NT 1200 (SGD $50). The duration of the flight ranges from 3-5 mins depending on flight conditions (such as wind and total weight of the flight instructor and you). Apparently the heavier the total weight is, the longer your flight will be. This is what I heard from my friends, not too sure if it's true though!

Paragliding is suitable for ALL ages so don't worry about whether you're too young or too old! I saw a 10 years old angmoh (caucasian) boy and a 60+ Taiwanese granny the day I had my flight so all is well hehehe :3

Here is the top of the hill where the instructor will test the direction of the wind and whether it's suitable for flight. Here is also the place where you take flight! I swear, this is the only tiring part of whole flight. You will have to run off this hill (like literally) and not stop till you're in the air HAHA.
You see the green hill behind? Basically thats where I flew from! HAHA quite exciting. Didnt take any pics during my flight though I brought my selfie stick along as I was too excited that I forgotten all about it! Will definitely take pics the next time I fly again!
Since no pics during flight, I took a pic with my parachute after landing HAHA. Better then nothing!

The best time to fly is in the morning and the best wind is around noon time! If you're in Taiwan, I heard from the instructor August will have good wind and your flight will be longer! Do try it out if you have the chance! It doesn't necessarily have to be in Taiwan, but pick a place where the scenary is good!

My  victory picture backpack-.- SIGH

野馬飛行 is operated by a fairly large group of Taiwanese instructors (I remember seeing around 8-10) and the price is considered reasonably low.For an additional NT 400 (SGD$16) you can rent their GoPro and they will give you the SD card at the end of your flight.
The one in Puli which I mentioned earlier costs NT 3000 (SGD$120) and the price includes pictures (and videos if I'm not wrong).

I will recommend 野馬飛行, in Wanli after factoring in the price and distance I took to travel here. However, it will post a problem for you if you can't speak Mandarin. As they are all Taiwanese, they can only speak Mandarin and 台語 which is almost equivalent to our Hokkien in Singapore. If you have zero knowledge and can't speak a word of Mandarin, perhaps you can try the one in Puli where their instructors are native speakers= angmohs. HAHA.

If you're int in paragliding in Puli, here is the website:
The website is in Chinese so I'll translate a little for you.
Basically on the day you want to go for your flight, call 0932-926-289 after 9am and check if the weather is good for flying.
Once you reach Wanli bridge (萬里橋), call 0932-926-289 again and they will send their green mini bus to pick you up for free from the bus stop! So don't worry about it! No prior reservations needed.

Part II: For those that need directions to get the Wanli from Taipei, do continue reading

Make your way to Taipei Main Station and proceed to Exit 12 (Exit 12 might be hard to find and you might need to ask the info centre). Once you exit, the bus station is on your right!

Let's say you can't find exit 12, exit M5 will do as well. This exit is in your face. You can't miss it. Once you're out you need to walk a little further to the bus station.

The bus to Wanli is not located in the main bus station. It is located in the West terminal so don't follow the signs in the MRT that says Taipei Bus Terminal! HAHA. Ask people where is Taipei West terminal (台北西站)and from there, take bus 1815. You can buy tickets from the counter (NT 83) or use your EasyCard!

I got a sushi take out within the bus terminal so if you're rushing for time, dont worry! There's food everywhere in Taiwan!

Here's my sushi take out. It costs NT 10 (SGD $0.40) each and all I can say is, it taste like sushi. HAHA if thats good enough for you it's a pretty cheap choice for a snack and you can eat it in the bus.

The bus will annouce Wanli Bridge (萬里橋). Just press the bell and ask the bus driver before you get off if that is the right station. You should see 7-11 across the street!
Call 0932-926-289 when you arrive and get them to pick you up!
Easy peasy!

If there's any other questions, just leave a comment at the bottom and I'll try to help!

Bringing you the ultimate Taiwan experience.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Starbucks East Asia Hideout- Do you know where that is?

Thursday, 12 June 2014
The recent craze over the "Secret Starbucks Menu" resulted in an overnight popularity with hundreds of Singaporeans reposting links and write ups about baristas being able to make drinks that are not on the regular menu (If you haven't heard of it, this will amaze you).

In line with Starbucks constant little surprises, I wonder how many of you know about their East Asia secret hideout?
Ans: It is hidden strategically on the 35th floor of Taipei 101.
& the only way up is to know your directions in.

1. Take to Taipei 101/Xinyi Station, exit 4
Your arrival at Taipei 101 basement is your first step towards a completely free stunning experience

2a. Take the lift to Level 1 (When in doubt, ask the 台妹 at the Information Counter)
2b. Take the escalator thats in front of Tokyo Curry up to Level 1 (Tokyo Curry is located in the basement food court)
*Option 2b will lead you to pass a Starbucks (you're not looking for) and into the office building area

3. Proceed to the "Visitor Access" kiosk to obtain your Vistor's Pass
Somewhere in the late 2014, they realised their number of visitors multiplied in hundreds and decided to put a cap for each day (weekends especially). Now, you have to make an appointment at the counter next to these machines the day before or try your luck at the kiosk if you're there on non peak timings on a weekday

4. Obtained my Visitor Permit after being undaunted by the multiple failed dials using the kiosk
Proceed to the gate with a security guard and you're almost there to the finest budget experience in Taiwan
Once you're up at the 35F, look out for the Starbucks sign outside!

The notice outside states no longer then 90 mins of meal time and everyone is required to buy at least a drink
The Starbucks with an amazing view deserves a selfie!
Ok maybe two?

5. Here you go. Probably the most scenic view you can get while sipping on your coffee

So why waste SGD$20 on the Observatory when you can buy 3 Venti sized drinks?
Psssst! Besides, SGD$20 brings you only to the 89 floor and not to the 101 floor.

Bringing you the Ultimate (Budget) Taiwan Experience

Monday, 9 June 2014

One Piece lands in Ximending!

Monday, 9 June 2014
If you have heard of Ximending, you'll probably know that this is where all the most fashionable people in Taipei gather. Well you got to admit, the people you see on the streets are pretty fashionable, street wear for guys, translucent tops and killer heels for girls but maybe just not my style (or maybe I'm just not fashionable enough HAHA)

In any case, Ximending needs no introduction and if you are here in Taipei for a visit, I'm sure you would have already planned Ximending on your "to-do-list". The only "must-try" food would probably be the "Ah Zhong" mee sua. Then again, Ah Zhong mee sua (Shilin, Zhongxiaofuxin) is almost everywhere!

Having said all that, this is a ONE PIECE edition blog post for all the fans out there!

I didn't notice this shop till a group of boys accidentally hit me trying to rush into the One Piece Shop HAHA. It's two stories high and if you can see, it's pretty crowded.

I see what you're trying to do there *sneaky grins* hehehe. Placing a life size attractive Nami to attract all the *coughs* guys. Well, I'm not sexist. I was attracted by her too ;) HAHA

Store front when you enter the shop. There's an xbox for people to play One Piece games as well!

I quickly proceeded up the stairs as there were too many people on the first floor then I spotted a hanging Luffy! I must say, they really decorated this shop pretty well. I feel like a total One Piece fanatic (even if I'm not) the moment I enter HAHA

Some flags on the wall!

Second floor! They really sell EVERYTHING with One Piece characters on it. I'm not kidding! I don't mean the usual posters and figurines cos' thats a given. I meant from bathtowels, to utensils, to plates and cups to....

SLIPPERS AND SHOES. YES they even sell footwear. HAHA omg I can imagine IF I was a One Piece fan... I might grab everything considering it isn't that expensive. A quick glance at a tshirt price and it cost about 450NT (SGD18) which I think it's pretty decent for something you got from an official authorized store!

But it wouldnt be complete without life size One Piece Characters!
This calls for #selfie time with cute little Chopper (who doesn't like compliments but too bad I still think it's really cute) HAHA
Not forgetting Straw hat Luffy! Pardon the really awkward face cos Luffy is too tall and I had to tip toe just to take a selfie with him LOL
Of course, shuai ge (handsome) Sanji selling erm, plates and cups with his own face on it HAHA

 And as I was leaving, I noticed the shop had Luffy's straw hats hanging above! :O The decos are really pretty damn good.

They allow you to take pictures and will help you take a picture too if you ask them! HAHA well I didn't ask cos I was abit embarrassed but I saw many people doing that hehehe

Since I'm not really a One Piece fan and for those who are accompanying friends into this shop, you can check out the Papaya milk shake shop just a few steps away HAHA. I love it. I think it tastes really good and it's open by an old couple!

Yup, the shop name is like IN YOUR FACE. So there's no way you will miss it HAHA. You can sit inside and wait too if you like or grab a snack in the shop next door! Yummy fried chicken hehehe

How to get there:
It's in the further deeper part of Ximending. You've got the walk across the normal "more happening" part of Ximending (the part where you get off from the station exit 6) and cross the big street with traffic lights!
If you would scroll up to my first picture, it shows the street where the One Piece shop is at. There are 3 cinemas side by side on that street and thats where all the nicely dressed people are at too! The One piece shop is just opposite the row of cinemas.

Bringing you the ultimate Taiwan experience.