Taiwan Trip Review: 野柳,九份,基隆 (Yehliu, Jiufen, Keelung 1 day trip) Part 1

Sunday, August 31, 2008 Posted by YY on 11:29 AM comments (0)

We were due to travel on a 1 day's trip with our Taiwan cabbie guide, Meeky Yang today (23th June '08)
Our group woke up promptly at 7.30am and went down for hotel breakfast cos Meeky arranged to meet us at our hotel door step @ 8.30am ~_~ *so early*

Trip details:
Date : 23/06/08
Duration : 0830 ~ 1900
Cabbie/Guide : Meeky Yang *we got his contacts from Trip Advisor Forum*
Cost for hiring guide: NT3000 for the entire trip (regardless of hrs and no. of pple)
Places of interests visited:
野柳 -> 九份 -> 金瓜石 -> 黄金瀑布 -> 鸳鸯海-> 基隆中正公园 -> 庙口夜市(基隆)
(Yehliu -> Jiufen -> JinGuaShi -> Huang Jin Waterfall -> Yuanyang Sea -> Temple @ Keelung Park -> Miao Kou night market)

- Meeky's car takes about 4-5 pple excl. himself
- Advanced booking via email/phonecall about 1-1.5months would be gd :D
- Mode of tour is driving us to a location, give us a rough estimate like 1-2hrs to explore. When we are done with that location, give him a miss call and he will pick us up at where he dropped us.

4 of us(3 in the pic only of cos) @ breakfast since 7.30am @_@ sleepy eyes..

The cabbie license displayed in Meeky's cab..i took the pic in case anything happened to us >_>''

Meeky's contacts, please note his taxi no. has changed. And yes, Meeky speaks simple english.

After about one hour drive from East Dragon Hotel(at Ximenting), we reach Yehliu Geopark. Tickets are required at about S$5 per person -_-

It's a very hot and sunny day..This pic above shows the coastal view of Yehliu Geopark and the special (beehive like holes) rocks that are formed naturally. *For more info on the formation of rocks, you needa do a google search*

Clear waters in the geopark

The main reason for entering Yehliu Geopark, to take pictures with the Queen's Head rock. Everyone posed with it, but sorry no you cannot touch it cos its shrinking from all the human touch. And besides, I don't think you want to be listed in Taiwan history for destroying one of the famous attraction =X
There is this white painted footprint on the wooden bridge to tell you which angle to best take the Queen's head from (so that it looks like a Queen's head basically).

After visiting the Yehliu Geopark under the big hot sun, Meeky came by to fetch us and drove us to buy 槟榔 (betel nuts). The 槟榔妹 (betel nut seller) was not scantily dressed though..they cleared up their act alot as compared to the past. Pic above shows the box cover and the betel nuts contained in a plastic cup(for us to store the remnants(槟榔渣) after chewing it.

Warning! Eating betel nuts may cause cancer.

Close up of the betel nut(in green) together with haw flakes (山楂). The haw flakes which tastes sourish, is supposed to make the overall taste less bitter.

From my expressions, the haw flakes certainly didn't work. And chewing betel nuts stains your teeth..so i spat it out after awhile XD

After about 30-40min drive, we arrived in Jiufen. This is a tourist spot where you can get some local specialities like 莒弱, 凤梨酥..etc to bring home. There were hoardes of tourists hanging around the local specialities shop so we went out of the Jiufen tourist spot, to get our 凤梨酥 at 李仪饼店 (现做现卖) instead.

There was this shop that offers hand-made clogs @ about S$20. So I went ahead to make a pair of Japanese sandals cos we planned to go to JAS's natsu matsuri 2008 event. I chose this blue base with reddish prints color straps then they started making my sandals on the spot. They were done in less than 5mins :O

Another Jiufen speciality is the yam balls (芋圆). Along the Jiufen streets, there was a shop selling hand made yam balls and desserts. The pic above from leftmost top, clockwise: Workers making the yam/sweet potato balls; working area for sweet potato balls; this dessert is mainly ice with pearls, yam balls, sweet potato balls and barley; another dessert we had was ice with red bean with 莒弱,sweet potato balls. Personally, i prefer the sweet potato balls to yam ones.

After having dessert, we saw another yummy stuff..grilled squid! They all love squid except me..cos you can give me chewy items like this and it remains in my mouth for the next 30mins @_@ My teeth can't chew well T.T

Grilled riversnail which K loves.

Grilled whole squid and the 3 of them went gaga over it..buying 2 different flavours.

Comes with spicy powder and lemon juice which tastes fantastic with the grilled flavour.

Time for some real food to fill our hungry stomachs and to rest our tired feet..
Ordered 卤豆干,卤肉饭, 卤肉干面, 贡丸汤 all in small portions to split within 4 persons isn't alot so we were 70% filled >_>'

After this meal, time's up so we missed call Meeky and our next destination is continued in my next post...

Taiwan Trip Review: 淡水/ 渔人码头 (Dan Shui)

Saturday, August 30, 2008 Posted by YY on 3:53 PM comments (0)

It's 26th June(past midnight of 25th) ..4 days before we leave Taiwan T_T, its also K's birthday today.

YH and YJ actually bought cakes to celebrate his birthday hehe~
We off the lights when he went to bathe and he came out with a O_O look while saying,"What?? What??"

There's K with his '?' birthday candle.."Happy Birthday UNCLE!"

The following day(still 26th June), we(k with me, YH with YJ) went separate ways to shop. Me and K went to Taipei main station underground mall. Seriously, there's nothing to shop there for people who do not play console games -.- BUT K being an avid gamer and nearly didn't wanna leave for Dan Shui. But K didn't buy any games in the end cos he concluded he had TOO MUCH games to play, with TOO LITTLE time -__-' *later back in SG he keeps regretting not buying it zzzzz~*

I had to literally pull him away and shucks we are still late in meeting YH,YJ,
And this resulted in LOTSA $$$ wasted in international calls.. f**k!

We took the 淡水 line and went to the very last stop, 淡水站.On the way there, there were several announcements on cable car services being terminated due to heavy rains..it was then we saw the huge downpour at Dan Shui area zzzz~ This is pretty bad considering we had night market, boat ride and fisherman's wharf to explore.

After meeting with YH and YJ at MacDonald's, something disruptive happened while we were waiting for the rain to stop.

YJ (the run-away poly student, who joined us on the trip did not tell me that school has started and she had outstanding FYP duties to perform) received an alarming sms from her teammates (on their FYP report being rejected by their FYP sup). As such, she had to find an internet terminal immediately to check her school email for more info and this nearly drove me up the wall >=0

*Back in SG, the bills incurred for checking her school email via K's hp thru GPRS was S$53 !!!!!!!!!!!* Ok I am still mad over this.

While YJ went to an internet cafe, we went to get the Ah Gei before it closes at 6pm. Eventually, we met up with YJ to share the Ah Gei and this lightened the mood for the rest of the evening, cos K got to eat the Ah Gei finally.

Nice view(Dan Shui Park) outside the Dan Shui MRT station although it was drizzling.

Starbucks occupies one whole building on its own! *Mac has one too*

This is Dan Shui's local speciality, 铁蛋 from the stall named 味来香.Several flavours are available like original, black pepper, spicy and 麻辣. There's two types of eggs to choose from, normal chicken eggs or quail eggs. The eggs are braised over long hours in the gravy, resulting in the egg whites being chewy and full of the gravy flavour, and the crumby yolk just tasting great.
*As you can see the above description is added by K*

Another special item at Dan Shui night market, the very tall ice cream.

K bought the 20cm version(there's 50cm version), its quite stable actually when you lick it. I thought it would be creamy and NT10 for a 20cm tall ice cream is damn cheap, but its not. It tastes like sorbet -.-''

Walked briefly around the night market and we decided to take the ferry to Fisherman's Wharf before its too late, cos the Lover's Bridge lights up at 7pm..but we were late in the end -_-'

On the way, two persons dancing on the streets caught my attention..wth is that? It turns out to be a service provided by shop, live recording and burning of YOUR music video into cd/vcd/dvd o.O ..The two persons were singing to Jolin & David Tao's song(TV is showing the live recording) and acting it out XDDDDddd

We were puzzled as to whether to buy the ferry tickets and it turns out that youyou card will do the job.

We boarded the ferry with other tourists and it was a very very bumpy ride due to strong waves after the heavy rain. Everyone was either busy grabbing the poles or shouting in excitment/fear...as for YJ, she enjoyed the ride thoroughly and I think that was the best part of the trip for her since she stepped into Taiwan -_-

As we got nearing to Lover's Bridge..and its already 7.18pm! The bridge had lit up already =(

The bumpy ride finally ended.

Me and YH felt abit nauseous after the boat ride, so we decided to take a walk around Lover's Bridge first before dinner as we thought about reading some info on live seafood being available at Dan Shui.

Beautiful lights along the bridge.

But we didn't even find a single seafood restaurant on this part of Fisherman's Wharf..so K was disappointed cos his birthday turned out quite uneventful.

We passed by several eateries each selling foodcourt stuff until this restaurant...so I thought since its K's birthday, why not have something good?

Upon stepping in 水湾 (restaurant name), we were struck by the beauty of the restaurant located by the jetty.

Greek style deco, white washed walls with some cat drawings on the wall and a live band(only available on fri/weekends)

Up the short flight of stairs, the customers were sitting facing the windows that would have allowed them to watch the ships/sea view during the day.

The waiter ushered us to this sofa seats(at the 1st level) that was very comfy.

Water was served in this special glass bottle..
After looking through the menu, we decided to order one set of Kebabs, pork slices and beef.

The kebab set arrived and we were going "Wow~"
From leftmost to right: great chicken wings but too bad alittle small; prawns that were grilled with their shells..marvellous taste; mutton kebabs that were slightly spicy and most importantly not overcooked, texture was just right; grilled bananas; grilled cherry tomatoes and brocoli.

The waiter introduced the dip provided, coconut cream with dried jackfruit flesh..interesting~ To my surprise, the rice was butter rice, not pineapple and really great..loss of words to describe XD

The kebab was done very nicely, every item had the nice grilled flavour. The grilled bananas item was the one that had the most impact on our tastebuds cos we never knew grilled bananas + coconut cream dip would taste this great!

After splitting the kebab set into 4 portions, the pork slices arrived and presentation was great and so was the taste..flavourful stuff~

Then came the beef with garlic slices which was equally great, seriously I have no complaints for anything ^_^ and K was a happy man cos his birthday was celebrated with great food.

This is YH's expression at the end of the meal, "T_T the food is finished and it was fantastic" look. From the timing of the pics, we finished in 30mins time..talk about being nauseous at first from the boat ride -.-''' There's YJ's 'V' sign trying to vie for attention lol~

The waiter asked if we wanted desserts and K ordered this rose coffee latte which came with rose petals on it. K described the coffee's taste as the following:
"Coffee taste when it enters mouth..very smooth texture, with a hint of rose fragrance after taste"

We decided to call for bill cos the last ferry may have departed from the jetty! Shit~!
Luckily, the waiter told us there's a bus that operates till 11pm plus and it takes us back to Dan Shui MRT station *phew*

Bill came and was surprisingly cheap to us for a fantastic meal experience *expensive in Taiwan context though, since a 卤肉饭 costs only NT30*
Breakdown of bill:
1.) Kebab - NT750
2.) T-Bone steak (deboned) - NT300
3.) Matsusaka Pork - NT250
4.) Iced Rose Coffee Latte - NT170

No GST, only service charge =D
With 10% service charge, total came up to NT1617 = S$73.50
=> S$18.75 per person !!

After leaving the restaurant, we took a 5min walk to the nearest bus stop and headed back to hotel via MRT cos we have to wake up at 5.30am the next day for Hualien trip ~_~

Here's their namecard with all their branches opened near waters :)

Taiwan Trip Review: Cafe Dog and Cats (猫花园)

Friday, August 29, 2008 Posted by YY on 12:12 AM comments (0)

Shop Name:猫花园
Location: Opposite 芝山(mrt station)捷运站
Operating Hours: 12noon to 12mn
Minimum spending: NT100(weekdays) to NT150(weekends)
Other Review Links:
* June 2003 review (Japanese Site)
* August 2005 review (Japanese Site)
Note: You can see the dog and cats "baby pics" inside these reviews!!

We arrived at Cafe Dog and Cats on a late afternoon. This cafe is just opposite the 芝山 MRT station *refer to map below* Cafe Dog and Cats is one of the highest rated cafes listed here and of course we must visit them.

This time YH and YJ will get to interact with A DOG..yah it reads Cafe DOG and CatS.

Upon entering Cafe Dog and Cats we found the ambience really different from Minimal Cafe. This cafe has the idyllic feel but yet its in a restaurant setting.

Then came a big burly moustached man(presumably the owner) who ushered us to our table. He told us to place our orders first then look at the cats..we meekly complied. We thought he looked kinda weird to be working with cats since he's such a boar. But our impression changed later when he actually picked up the shaver and groomed a cat right on the spot! He's a gentle giant XD

Relaxing afternoon for the cat who's staring out into the streets..watching passerbys.

I sneaked up behind this kitty and patted it, it didn't resist but just continued to stare outside.

The cat above soon came over to our table and sat on this chair that says "猫咪专用" (only for cats) The cats in the cafe were all well trained to sit on their designated chairs and food is prepared in the kitchen with no cats hanging around there. Another thing to note is that most of the cats in this cafe were more expensive(pedigree) than those in Minimal Cafe.

Another cat came by to investigate us @.@ One of the cats even mistaken K's leg as the scratching post and started "sharpening" its claws(no blood was drawn heh~) on him.

Very fat and round ginger cat. Pardon me for the yellowish photos, this is the mode with fastest shutter speed le.

As soon as we placed our orders for food, we started scouting around for cats. Tons of pics were taken and I think it actually exceeds the pics we take for any particular place of interest. *Tons and tons of photos were sieved through before compiling this blogpost and the cats were extremely hard to capture with slow shutter speed cameras*

Hmm dunno why there's a mynah here but its not to be trifled. It wanted to attack K when he tried to touch it -_-'' How about Cafe Bird Dog and Cats?

To feed the dog/cats here, you have to purchase pet snacks over the cashier. YH bought a pack and then something happened..a cat leaped up the table.

Food came and the cat looked on o.o
We ordered seafood spaghetti, cake and baked rice..pics of the food later.

YH: "Stop looking at my food..Don't come over ar~"

Then more cats came because they all want pet snacks..and YH,YJ got surrounded >_>
YH held the packet high up..and the nearer they came XDD

The dog came as well :D

Suddenly we noticed this cat who came to our table since we sat down..was staring at something 0.0

What's he looking at???

It's my cake! *We took great pains to snap a clear pic* We actually shifted the cake around and found its eyes following it..so cute >.<

Clearly the cat is not pleased :-(

He's such a beautiful long haired cat. Its a he! *Read from the Japanese site*
From the Japanese site, it says the cat's name is Meow Meow (ミャオミャオ)and it loves products with milk in it (乳製品が大好き) No wonder it stared at our cake with great interest!

We went back to Cafe Dog and Cats again on the day before we left Taiwan cos we missed the animals. This time it was raining cats and dogS *pun*

We realised that the cafe also stores photo albums containing baby photos and details(Name, DOB, DOD) of the cats that once lived with them, including those that passed away.

We wondered who this was at first o.O?? After comparing the pics at the Japanese Site, we realised this is Meow Meow~~ Kawaii!!

This is Butter when he was a kitten..

When he's all grown up =D
From the website, it is stated that Butter and 花花 has got a baby named 小乖 but we didn't really identify who it is -.-''

I ordered a pot of Chrysanthemum Tea which came in exquisite tea pot and cup set together with honey. Beautiful~

One of the main course: Seafood Spaghetti. Fantastic stuff! The tomato paste was just nice and the noodles were not under/over cooked.

Baked Rice. Not bad according to K.

It was a rainy day so most of the cats were pretty sleepy..all curled up in their beds.

Except for one vocal cat, 花花 who was more than glad to be patted. It stood on its hind legs trying to reach K(who was standing) and placed its paws on him. This is also Butter's mate o.O, parent of 小乖.

Overall, I feel Cafe Dog and Cats is pretty good in terms of food, hygience and types of cats available except there were no kittens. A must visit for all cat lovers =( o.o )=