Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day 5-6 @ Taiwan (15-24Jun15) - 新竹怎么玩?Hsin Chu Fun (Part 2)

For those who enjoy old street ambience and local food like me, I believe you will enjoy yourself a lot in 内湾 just eating and eating and eating, as there are many famous old stalls and authentic Hakka food restaurant in 内湾. If you like to do this, it will be good to stay over at 内湾 for a night to maximize your "food tasting" venture.

Otherwise, you can consider a one-day tour to visit the Lavender Forest (薰衣草森林) in the morning, drink tea at 樱木花道 cafe in the afternoon and eat at the old street at night. If you come over from Taipei, you just need to take TRA from Taipei to 竹中 and change to 内湾线 and take all the way to 内湾 TRA station will do :) 

Or you can do what we did - is to spend the first afternoon to night exploring the old streets in 内湾, eating the authentic Hakka food and relaxing at 樱木花道 cafe. Then stayed over for the night. 

We slotted in the Lavender Forest (薰衣草森林) on the next morning on 20/6, just before we headed toward Hsin Chu City (新竹市) for another round of feasting. 

We kinda of understand why our Air bnb need not provide breakfast for us. There are so many stalls selling yummy food from early morning that we were spoilt for choice. We woke up early only to realize the first shuttle bus to the Lavender Forest was at 10am. With ample time, we  went around for few rounds of good breakfast...

We had each a bowl of 八宝豆花, 客家板条/客家米粉, shared a 野姜花粽子 and each had a drink too. We even bought green mangoes to eat on the way to Lavender Forest. Oh Gosh, I cannot believe we had so much for breakfast! 




Super 细的新竹米粉

The shuttle bus to Lavender Forest is available every 30minutes, costs NT100 each which include two-way bus rides and entrance fees.

If you like flowers and great views you should visit the Lavender Forest. Look at the following photos to have a feel of the place...

waiting for shuttle bus

The merchandise

Flowers and insects 

Great View

Nice Photoshoots!

We headed towards 新竹市 in the afternoon at 1.05pm via TRA (NT41 each). 

新竹市 is all about eating too to us because we didn't have much time to do sightseeing. And we heard so much about the famous 新竹城隍庙. Plus, by now we are pretty exhausted from all the walking on the mountains and rushing around for the last 3 nights. Generally our pace for this trip is pretty slow. But as the days tick by, our pace gets more relaxed. There were many occasions we just want to laze and relax indoor in cafes. Maybe the hot weather plays a part too. If the weather is slightly more cooling, we maybe more willing to move around ^^

We reached Hsin Chu city's hotel before 3pm and realized the check in time for this hotel is actually 6pm. We decided to wait and relax at the hotel lobby until the sun is not that hot. However, lucky us were informed at 3.20pm that a room was ready for our check-in. This allowed us to take a short break, sprayed on the sunblock and insect repellent before we set off for our food venture in Hsin Chu city.

As we walked toward 城隍庙, we saw this cream cheese dessert stall and wanted to give it a try. Yummy! Super nice! Made me wants to DIY cream cheese desserts (NT45 each) when I returned to Singapore. 

Due to the hot weather, we decided to "hide" in the nearest shopping mall, 远东广场 till evening time for the food. 

I learnt something new about Qiuling during this trip :P I noticed she likes to go around tasting food and would not feel bad if she didn't buy anything despite the sales person's effort in promoting the items. Unlike me, I am generally a soft hearted person who will buy from the sales person if I feel they are sincere and put in a lot of effort in promoting the items. 

But it was a good buy for both the ice cream and the many beautiful products we got from the mall. There are many ingredients in the ice cream so gave it a unique taste. 

The Aqua texture of the range of facial products we bought is something I like very much. Coz usually most of the other products have a gel sticky feel or oily creamy feel when apply on the face. But this range of products we bought is water-based and would immediately dissolve and absorb by the skin when applied on the face. Yes lah, we started to use the products in hope to lighten our luggage and to test the effect of the products. Not only so, we started to put on the 3D facial masks we bought from Cingjing to 补水 on our faces. Next time I know Liao, I no need to bring any facial products to Taiwan coz I can find so many good ones in Taiwan ^^

50% of these are mine Lolz...

We walked past this shop and couldn't helped but wanted to eat there. Missing all the sesame galore I had during my confinement!!! 

We ordered a dry and soup 麻油面线 and a 综合猪内脏 dish (NT280). This is my first time eating pig heart and it tasted like pig liver to me. But I think the liver shouldn't be too cooked (熟) so it still pink on the inside when you bite it. The texture and colour for good pig liver should be like medium rare steak! Haha!

Haha! By the time we finished our food, Qiuling couldn't eat anything much. Hence we only managed to eat the famous 新竹肉圆 (NT40) and da bao the rest of the food we wanted to try back to the hotel for supper. 

There were so many food stalls at 城隍庙 selling very 到地新竹 local food. If you come to Hsin Chu city, must definitely come here for the food!!! It's not to far from Taipei too via TRA.



See our yummy supper back at the hotel!! 蚝煎 for NT60 and 贡丸汤 for NT40. We also had 金桔柠檬 NT40. 

Hahaha, that night we packed our luggage until Siao because of the additional load :P And we know we still want to buy more things in 九份! Hahaha! But well, we didn't regret lah! Coz the products and masks we bought so far are really good to use! 

Okay! That's all for Hsin Chu! Next stop we are going 九份、十分 and 台北! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 5-6 @ Taiwan (15-24Jun15) - 新竹怎么玩?Hsin Chu Fun (Part 1)

think most people are not very familiar with Hsin Chu (新竹). I saw it on Taiwan variety or travel programmes but it is not one of the places that came across my mind during my last 4 Taiwan trips.

Qiuling was the one who was more excited about Hsin Chu when we were planning our trip and I took it as a pinch of salt, as I know nothing about it but willing to explore new places. I wish one day I can visit all parts of Taiwan, at least once! 

So what is there in Hsin Chu? It is a unique city which has both a rich history and also city life. We will be spending 2 nights in Hsin Chu (1 night in 内湾 old street and 1 night in 新竹市 city), so that we have a feel of both its 特色.

From this trip, I finally understand why most free and easy travelers prefer to tour the East coast of Taiwan. Though HSR stops at Chia Yi (嘉义), Taichung(台中)and Hsin Chu (新竹), it still takes another 1.5-2hrs just to travel up or down Alishan (阿里山)or Cingjing (清境). Thus, most people either prefer to go Yilan (宜兰)and Hualien (花莲)or they will spend minimum 2-3 days each on Alishan and Cingjing to make the transport time spent worth it. Haha! We chose the latter this time round. 

We woke up early this morning to watch the sunrise at 5.20am. It was beautiful though not as awesome as the one we saw at Alishan.

It was a long journey from Cingjing->Taichung->Hsin Chu->Nei Wan.

We set off from Cingjing (清境)at 10.30am via the shuttle bus (NT450/pax) arranged by our Minsu and only reached Taichung HSR station at 12.30pm. We were lucky we didn't have to wait very long before we get on the HSR (NT450/pax) at 1.01pm and headed towards to Hsin Chu station. 

As we would be spending tonight at Nei Wan (内湾), we had to walk over to Liu Jia TRA (六家)via the overhead bridge on the 2nd floor of Hsin Chu HSR station.

We travelled one stop via Liu Jia TRA station (NT34/pax) to Zhu Zhong TRA station (竹中)and changed to Nei Wan Line (内湾线). I was really surprised when I entered the train from 竹中! Oh Gosh! The themed train was so cute!!! I super like it! It reminds me of the Hong Kong Disneyland train I took when Laogong brought me to Hong Kong last June. 

I cannot helped it but kept bio-ing the Lion... How I wish to sit next to him! Hahaha! 

It took us about 1hr from 2.10pm to 3.10pm to reach Nei Wan. It was drizzling when we reached but we were lucky that Wan Yue Minsu (弯月民宿)was not difficult to locate. 

Entrance to Minsu


common area 

Our Minsu for tonight is nothing comparable to what we had for the previous two nights in Cingjing. And Cingjing is still one of the places I very much wish to revisit again (though this is already my second visit to Cingjing).Our room was a humble one with queen size bed and Aircon. This is my second time staying in a lodging with shared toilets/bathrooms, since my road trip in year 2005. Gosh! It has been ten years already! Time really flies! But it is still something I am willing to give it a try. After all, how many ten years do we have  to experience life? 




We were both very hungry by the time we reached Nei Wan as our last meal for the day was at 8.30am. Hence, we headed straight to the Hakka food eatery (NT260 for 2pax) on the ground floor of our Minsu. Yummy!!! Oh gosh! The food there was so nice and it was definitely not because we were hungry! Haha! 

There were so many interesting shops and famous food stalls. We tried to shortlist what we wanted to try by going around stalls to stalls for "food tasting". Thanks to Qiuling, the thick-skinned food taster, we were very full after a few rounds of food tasting. Hahaha! However, I still get to ease my craving for 黑山猪香肠 (NT30) and Qiuling get to try the famous 野姜花 and airflown (from Penghu, 澎湖) 仙人掌果 ice cream (NT50 for 2 scoops)! Yum! 

After filling our tummy, we decided to "hike" our way across the hanging bridge to the recommended 樱木花道 cafe. 

The ambience in the cafe was very cosy and comfortable. The pricing of the drinks are very reasonable too. I will definitely come here to stay if the boss were to open a themed Minsu here too.

I was actually a bit disappointed when I didn't get to drink my 伯爵奶茶 (Earl Grey Milk Tea) in Cingjing. Hence, I was very excited and all hands supportive when I saw it on the menu. We each ordered our drinks (NT150 per pot for me) and sat around till 6.45pm or when they sky is slowly dimming before we set off back to our Minsu.

Greedy us decided to try out the vegetarian 卤味 (NT100) , which is not common in Singapore. We also had desserts like 仙草蜜与古早豆花 (with 红豆, 芋圆,粉圆etc) (NT95 for 2 bowls). 

I noticed that most shops (other than night markets) in Taiwan were closed by 8.30pm, even in Sunmer. Wow, this shows how "work-life balance" Taiwaneses are. Because in Singapore, most shops (even on weekdays) would open until 9-9.30pm.

This 古早 themed toy and candy shop caught my eyes and I managed to buy some very nice gifts for Laogong and the kids :) Yay!!! Not posting the photos because it was meant to be a surprise for Laogong :P 

As the shops are all closed by 8.30pm, we returned to the Minsu to rest and bath. Tomorrow is another long day for us as we will be visiting the Lavender farm in the morning, try the famous 野姜花肉粽 to "celebrate” 端午节 and then move to Hsin Chu City in the afternoon. 

Stay tune for part 2 of Hsin Chu Fun!