Taiwan 2014

Day 1 – Taoyuan to Cingjing

Due to a typhoon in Japan, our scoot flight was delayed by 9 hours which was actually a blessing in disguise because I had more time to practice and fix some bugs in my game the night before the flight. Haha. Can’t sleep well anyway.

We arrived and took a bus and then the high speed train to taichung. We dabao 7-eleven for lunch. The 7-eleven here is qjite cool and different, they have some pasar malam tea egg and loklok kind of food which is quite good standard. Their drinks variety is awesome. We love the milk tea and giant size yakult bottle! The train is pretty cool, looks pike a variation of the japan toys I played when young. It travels at 230kmh but it doesn’t feel like it. Reaches our destination in half hour. Pretty awesome. We then got touted by a lady cab driver to take her cab, a toyota wish, to cingjing. She’s actually a very nice chatty lady and said she came to Singapore before 20 years ago. Haha. It was a longer 1.5-2 hours ride up to about 1600m above sea level. By the time we reached, it was almost sunset, but the mountains around the villa relax was beautiful and scenic. It’s a little bit like California, but not as beautiful I reckon. There are some pine trees but mostly mixed vegetation. After checking in, we walked uphill to a small complex with a few shops and ate 7-eleven (again yes) for dinner. We then played bridge and slept in early for the sunrise the next morning.

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Day 2 – Sunrise and The Thing we came here for

Couldn’t sleep well again as usual as I was nervous. Haha. The next day we woke up at 3am to go watch sunrise lol. It was a 30min ride up the mountain and we had some stargazing tour (albeit in Chinese which liz couldn’t understand most of the words) but fortunately the Google Sky Map helped. The stars were amazing, splattered across the whole sky, more than Bali, reminds me of the night I had in Utah. It reminds us of how Abraham saw the stars in the bible. We could see constellations like Sirius, Gemini, Orion, Phoneix and many more. We even saw a few satellites flying past. It was breathtaking.

After that, the van drove us further uphill to hehuan mountain to catch a better angle of the sunrise. Along the way, the driver gave alot of commentary in Chinese of which we could only understand half as the accent was quite thick lol. Finally, we stopped and it was pretty bright already. The green grass on the rolling hills in the golden hour look like the shire, reminds me of the sunrise I saw in Malang. The sunrise wasn’t as impressive as Bali, but it was still amazing nevertheless.

After sunrise, we have simple toast and eggs breakfast at our villa. One of the initial plans was to execute the proposal after breakfast but I decided not to as it was too hot and not conducive with so many people around. Besides, we were quite tired after waking up so early. So we all went up to take a nap for an hour or so, before we go to cingjing farm. We wanted to take the public bus up, but one of the private bus decided to tout us and charge us slightly higher. Lol. But it was a comfortable big Mercedes transporter. We ate some random lunch at the hawker area, with fried vermicelli, vegetables and some salty chicken. After that, we started our hike in the farm with the meh meh. It was quite a nice mild weather with hot sun. The sheep are not that white, pretty yellow. Haha. We strolled around the north section and sat under a shade to chill for a bit while lizzy drew. Then we hike downhill back towards our villa. Stopped by thr carton king shop in front of the swiss garden to look at cute things. They didn’t want to go into the garden though, too cliche. After that, kaiwen had to go back earlier to use the toilet, while me and lizzy strolled back slightly later.

And here’s how the plan began. When we reached back the villa, zx said the electricity and the water supply for the villa is down, so lizzy decided to stay at the front patio to play with the cats. I then deceitfully told her that I’m going up to the room to put our bags down, and then I took this opportunity to tell zx and kw that now, now is the perfect timing to execute the proposal! I declared success in prayer and kw put some anointing oil on my back, and we agreed that they will appear at 3pm sharp with the balloons and the ring. Meanwhile, I brought the ukulele down as a distraction. Hahaha

And so, I went back and Lizzy was sitting on the red chair. We sat at the patio for a while and worshipped, with some random songs Broken Vessels, Whom Shall I Fear ans Magnificent. At about 2.55pm, Lizzy went to picked up another cat and we changed seats and I pretended to take some selfie with her on my phone. After that, I said, I’ve something to show her on my phone. So I began to show the interactive story – The Adventures of Lizzy the Blobosaurus on my phone. She thought it was just a random thing I do every month. When we reached the fake ending, I saw zx and kw hiding behind the bushes. Although we were facing them, Lizzy wasn’t noticing. The fake ending was to say “Happy 11 months” and Lizzy would think the game was just a monthiversary thing. I’m supposed to give the decoy gift: a pair of dino necklaces at this moment, but I forgot to bring it down. So nvm

Next strategic move was to put my phone on my table and start tapping my feet, hopping zx would notice. They approached us and I told lizzy, now for the real ending, and showed the real ending on my phone which ends with “Will you marry me” and as the text scrolls and she saw them approaching, on retrospect, she was thinking, oh no, is this for real? Is this the moment?

When the dinosaurs came, she was like, what is tizzz?? Haha. I took the ukulele and started singing the medley of songs – I choose you, You and I, and All of me.
However, just before the chorus of I choose you, I suddenly became very emotional and couldn’t control myself, and burst into tears. I was balling apparently, and crying louder and more than Lizzy. Lol. She’s crying of course. After trying to regain my composition, I attempted to sing You and I, and then burst into tears again, and then sang thru the tears for the remainder of the songs. Zzzzzz. So embarrassing. Not sure why I became so emotional either. I surprised myself. The only other time I’ve cried so much in my life was during my mum’s funeral. Tears of joy I suppose. All the while while zx and kw were videoing. Lol.

At the end of the songs, I was looking for the ring box, didn’t notice kw put it behind me lol. I knelt down and opened the box, and said, nothing else to say already. So Lizzy, will you marry me? After a few seconds of contemplation and disbelief, she said yes. She didn’t dare to look at the ring cos she had a dream about her not liking the ring. Haha. I slipped the ring unto her finger, it barely fits, slightly too small then I stood up and smiled. Zx say, hug and kiss! And so we did. Haha. Then I ask her to look at the ring. And oh there’s a dino on the ring! Haha she liked it a lot, and no one else would ever appreciate a dino on a engagement ring except her. It’s cute, it’s so her, and it had all the leaves thing she like. The diamond is not important (although it was shiny).

We sat on the patio for a little while to recover and talked. I told her about the inception of the idea. In July, deacon Sam met me after service and asked me when is my turn. He asked me to ask God for a specific verse. And so I did. The next morning, I randomly flipped open to Isaiah 61 and verse 10 popped out with the jewels word. Ring!

After all is said and done, we waited for the electricity to come back and then googled for a nice place to eat dinner. We ended up at a yunwu villa where there’s some yunhua chinese food. It’s not too bad, some cabbage, fried fish, beef and herbal soup. Then it’s 7-eleven again. We love the giant bottles of yakult with the huge variety of flavours and kw loves the malt milk which tastes like horlicks. Hahhaa.

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Day 3 – Out of Cingjing to Taipei and Wufenpu

The next day we all woke up early cos of the early morning sunrise light, like aftee 6am. After breakfast we boarded the van/carpool which brought us to the HSR station. Along the way, I sang the medley of songs again haha, and we just spent the journey singing praise and worship songs, and time flew. HSR to taipei takes about an hour, and our awesome H132 hostel is within walking distance of taipei train station.

After checking in, we took a train to houshanpi and started our shopping at wufenpu! It’s like a giant bugis-like area but much better. After the first alley, I already bought a few shirts and a pair of shorts and shoes lol. However, the place was very dusty and I kept sneezing. We took a teabreak at a nearby bubble tea and familymart, took a short walk and started our 小吃 adventure at raohe night market! It started with fried yam with duck, beef cubes, bbq chicken like a sausage, true blue Taiwanese sausage, oyster egg, quail egg fried with prawn (amazing invention), touhuey, and many more. It was also a day buying a lot of socks (all 4 of us bought 32 pairs in total lolol). It was a day with a lot of 收获。

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Day 4 – Jiufen

On Thursday we have a day tour with a taxi cum tour guide driver Phyllis. She drove us in a toyota wish to Yehliu geopark, which is a nature park with a lot of sedimentary rocks with holes and many many tourists. Too many. My friend was right, nothing beats utah. But nice breeze and waves of the pacific ocean.

Next stop is jiufen. The driver was nice enough to bring us on a short heritage walk and showed us the first old school theatre in Taipei. Then we climbed up the steps and walked the old street. The best find was a shop full of cute cat things! From postcards to stickers to souvenirs to tshirts. Lizzy bought many many things of course and she was truly amazed. Everything was ‘so nice!’ Hahha.

We walked down, bought some yam pastry and ice cream popiah and pineapple tarts. All super good.

I asked the tour guide if she could bring us to the small town with many cats which I read online, and she said sure, 30 minutes of cats! Lol. So she drove us to houtong train station, a small town named after monkeys but now famous for cats. It started to rain though so there weren’t many. But still, everything in the station was cat-themed, from the toilet signs to the maps to the shop and statue. There were a few molest-able cats. And even cat-themed penny coin machines. #toomuchcutecats

Our last stop was Shifen where we get to release the lanterns, or tian deng. It was actually drizzling quite badly but people were still doing it anyway. The strange thing was the activities were conducted on a live train track where a train passed by every now and then. Lol. We chose a multi-coloured one and drew some bible verses on it, Liz drew Psalm 23 while I wrote Isa 61:10. We let it go after taking some photos. After that, we had the great idea of getting a white one and writing No Other Name and Jesus on it, along with Chinese characters. Haha. It was quite funny. Alot of people were staring at it too, some probably know what it is, some of them even read it out. Pretty cool moment. Still raining though.

All in all, Phyllis was a very friendly and great driver. I’m also amazed how she has wifi in the car, a tablet to showcase maps and photos, and also a little GPS which she also uses to watch TV (while driving, yes). She even tried to print out photos that she took for us, but that day her printer went out of ink. It was supposed to be a surprise gift. Haha.

At night, something happened at home and kw needed to fly back one day earlier.

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Day 5 – Design week and shida

The next morning we walked around to hunt for breakfast again. Ended up buying 蛋饼 and carrot cake from a roadside stall. After that the plan was to find a cafe to chill. Couldn’t really find any as everything only opens after 11. We decided to go to 101 and see if we can go to the secret starbucks, but alas, now they need reservations. We then started shopping around at Eslite, which is like a giant departmental stall with very well curated cool brands and a huge bookstore. They even have a enormous food court with alot of Jap style food. Amazing place which Lizzy found a lot of ‘nice’ cute things again haha. After that, we walked to songshan creative and cultural park for the taiwan designer’s week (twdw2014), which is held in some old Japanese tobacco warehouse building. There was a young boy who sold us early bird admission tickets, so we saved some money. Quite a number of cool stuff inside the exhibition, which includes furniture, print, cloth, interactive and many more. We spent a couple of hours looking at the nice things and the adjacent exhibitions on industrial universal design, social design, creative expo etc.

After sunset, we took a train to shida night market. We walked along the main road and then realised the night market is in the alleys. There were many people queuing for this fried yong tau foo like things, which I later found out it is yan shui ji and yan shu ji which is fried or salty chicken with many other side dishes which look like yong dau foo. Haha. But we ended up eating porridge instead as we were will quite full. We shopped around and found out that there’s more dresses and clothes suitable for Liz here at Shida. We also found a very well designed taiwanese bag brand – rite. We were sold by the promotional words of the salesgirl, with pretty prints and many ways of carrying the bag. Of course, Liz bought one haha. It was drizzling though, which wasn’t very pleasant for walking.

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Day 6 – cafe and ximending

The next day, they wanted to go to a floral market. So we decided to find a cafe to chill for abit. Went to dongmen area, found another random place for breakfast. Breakfast here is mostly beancurd, or sandwiches and hamburger, or egg crepes thing. Later we found a rooster coffee place and sat there. There are so many hipster cafes in different parts of taiwan. They’re everywhere we went and everyone seems so legit. We chose this one cos it seemed to have nice beans. Over the next couple of hours, she drew while I read the bible.

We met them for lunch at Daan where I found some tainan claypot ee mian, which is slightly different from ours but still pretty awesome. We then walked to New Life church and took a peek.

After church, we went to ximending. The drizzling rain kinda dampened the moods but it was still super crowded on a Saturday night. We didn’t really shop as most of us already shopped enough. So we hunted for food (again). First was the most legit mee sua with big intestine. Then was 大肠包小肠 which is a sausage wrapped with some rice roll. And also some cheese potatoes and egglets. Fooooodddd. We walked around a bit but we all felt tired and decided to go home early.

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Day 7 – creative markets and tonghua

Today is the last day. In the morning we went for a breakfast hunt for some beancurd I found online but the queue was like hundred people long. Ridiculous. Seriously. Fortunately there was the famous Yong he across the street (which singapore has a branch but is not as good). We had super awesome you diao, beancurd drink, fried egg crepe wrapped around a you diao, fried biscuit, onion egg pancake (like prata), and xiao long bao. Super awesomest breakfast ever.

Zx had to send kw off, while liz and I went to fuzhong for this Fz15 animation and art gallery. It’s like a small museum space which they showcase films and some art. Nothing much though. We walked around the smaller eslite there before going to this Maji square at Yuanshan, which is somewhat like their turf city pasarbella equivalent. There was a lot of angmoh food, lots of hipster stuff, and a small creative market. A good find online the night before for taiwanese night markets. Even the chairs at the food court are vintage hipster chairs. We walked around, lim kopi, and then found out that in the expo area inside the old stadium, there’s a beef noodle festival going on! Another accidental find. And so of course we joined the longest queue for beef noodle which was pretty awesome and had yummy soup. We also bought a egg crepe that wraps around some beef and bbq sauce. Super delicious as well. Great detour.

The sun came out and we walked out of the car sales area into the park and sat under the tree for a while. Talked about our future. It was a nice chill afternoon in the park. From afar, the elevated train station looked like almost like our chinese garden station.

Next, we took a train back to 101 area for simple market, which is like their public garden equivalent. It is held in an old military barracks kinda courtyard, with vintage hipster-looking concrete and brick walls and doors. Plus a cho cafe that sells bagels which are supposedly so good that they are sold out. Fortunately we came this second as the things at maji were cuter and money was spent there. After walking a short round, we just sat on the grass slope and watched the sky turn dark.

At 6pm, we walked to tonghua street for the smaller night market there. Finally ate the fried chicken and fried sweet potato plum fries which were really awesome. And we also queued for some jian bao (fried dumplings in bao shape). Also bought some clothes from a shop which was surprised that we tourists are there because tonghua is not as popular as the other markets.

Our last stop was to go to Yong Kang st near Dongmen station for the mango slush ice at the famous Smoothie House. It’s super big an awesome, the snow flakes are more flaky and less icy. We even managed to dabao some for zx.

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Day 8 – home

The last morning, I found another tau huey place within walking distance. We tried the salty beancurd for the first time, which tastes like chanwanmushi (beancurd + soy sauce + spring onions) and also tried soya bean drink with egg (wow?), peanut drink (like the peanut paste back home) and the awesome pork chop egg fried biscuit (shaobing). Super delicious. We bought our final round of snacks before heading to the airport.

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It felt like a super long trip, especially in taipei. A good mix of both countryside and urban shopping. Taiwan is better than Hong Kong because it is easier to communicate in Chinese than Cantonese (albeit with traditional chinese words which are hard to read), less hustle and bustle, and less crowded. Food is awesome and transport is similar to ours in many ways. No wonder many singaporeans like to come here. We can totally fit in here!

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