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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Taiwan Famous Food and Some Recommended Outlets

These are some of the famous food which we liked.  We would also like to recommend these particular outlets that are worth looking out for its food, taste and service.
In Taichung, we tried the famous braised pig trotters and came across a new outlet selling mango shaved ice [the original outlet is at Ximending].  These outlets are opposite each other and along the same road.

Famous braised pig trotter outlet menu at Meichun Road Sec. 1
The ice doesn't melt till the last spoon
No exaggeration - it is really good at this outlet.  Another outlet at Ximending, Taipei

Shaved Ice - Assorted fruits and flavours
In Hualien, we have the famous meat Jiaozi and juicy meat dumplings [siao loong pau] and sui kao.
Famous 'Bianshi' in Hualien
Here is where  to eat 'bianshi' in Hualien

Lukang, TaiwanTrip 2011

From Changhua, we travelled to Lukang by bus.  The journey was about 30 minutes [depending on the traffic].  As with Changhua, Lukang [Old China in modern Taiwan] also sees much development with factories such as Brand's Chicken Essence and a Glass Factory been established here.
Plenty of seafood rearing ponds
From 17th century, the Dutch used Lukang as the major commercial port. In the Qing Dynasty, Lukang was the appointed gateway between Taiwan and Cyuan Zhou [China].  Due to the early development, Lukang becomes a place with many historical heritage worthwhile to visit and hence called 'Roofless Culture Display Centre'.
Lukang Shuttle Bus - Bus stop opposite these 2 buildings
There is a Shuttle Bus that takes tourists around the popular tourist sites. The route covers these places, Longshan Temple, Folk Arts Museum, Matsu Temple, Brand's Chicken Essence factory, Show Chwan Health Park and Glass Exhibition Hall etc.  The journey was not so informative as the driver did not give us any information as  we passed by the various sites.  It should be more interesting is only the driver does his job well. 
After completing the journey, we visited the Matsu Temple by foot.
Matsu Temple [Queen of Heaven Temple] Lukang, Changhua County, Central Taiwan
This 1573 temple is devoted to Matsu, Goddess of the Sea, whose originally red face has been blackened by the smoke of incense offered by countless worshippers over the centuries and is now known as the black faced Matsu.  The temple's structure, paintings, wood and stone carvings make this an intensely artistic temple.  Among the historical and religious artifacts in the temple are wooden tablets written by Yongjheng, Qianlong and Guangsyu emperors of the Qing Dynasty.  The rear court of the temple now serves as as a museum with displays of the divine palanqiuns used by the Goddess on tours of her realm, her crowns and other artifacts.  Special religious exhibitions are held on an irregular basis.  The celebrations for Matsu's birthday on the 23rd of the third lunar month draws huge crowds every year.

Plenty of foodstalls outside Matsu temple

You get to see all these at Matsu Temple, Lukang, very fine art, I should say
Folk Arts Museum, Lukang.
This museum is housed in Renaissance structures that were once the home of a prominent landowning family.  The main structures are a western style Baroque building and a southern Fujian style Chinese building.  The more than 6000 items on display encompass architecture, furniture, food vessels and other valuable collections dating from the mid-Qing dynasty to the early Republican period.  The displays also include a traditional lying-in room, studio, accounts room, wedding room, all faithfully representing the way the local people lived in Taiwan's early years of development.
Brand's Health Museum - Lugong Road, Lukang Township.  The Cerebo's Company selling the famous Brand's chicken essence, with over 100 years of history, was established in Taiwan about 30 years ago.  Based on the thought of giving feedback to the public, the 'Brand's Health Museum' is thus established.  It is the largest health museum in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific Region.  It has implemented the latest interactive technology, vivid interesting three dimensional models with unique designs and offers free drinks.  It is a great place for families.
Show Chwan Health Park - Lugong Road, Lukang Township.  Show Chwan Health Park provides varieties of leisure facilities besides general medical treatments.  It has integrated exhibition space, coffee shops, gourment food area and shop area. In cooperation with National Museum of Natural Science, the modern Human Medical Museum Exhibition has been transferred into the park, guiding tourists to physically experience and discover the mystery of life, as well as transmitting the importance of human health.
Taiwan Glass Exhibition Hall - Lugong Road, Lukang Township.  Taiwan Glass Exhibition Hall was established by TMG Company in 2006.  The factory displays all kinds of artistic artifacts made of glass and would change your views towards glass.  The effect of 'Glistening from all angles, surprises everywhere' focuses on the special effect created from the art of glass integrating with the breathtaking river and mountain views such as the site of Moru Alley, together with special lightings it also offers dream like spaces such as glass effect maze, kaleidoscope areas etc. all aiming to provide an unforgetable environment decorated with glass art.
Food and snacks of Lukang/Changhua [central Taiwan] - The popular speciality food and snacks of Lukang are easily found around Matsu Temple.  During the Qing dynasty, Lukang was one of Taiwan's three most important cities along with Tainan and Manka [now known as Wanhua district of Taipei City].  As a major trading port on the west coast of Central Taiwan, Lukang was honored as second among the three and was home to counless businessmen, an abundance of merchandise and booming commerce.  This is where immigrants from mainland China flocked to, bringing with them all of their local foods.  After many generations, the residents of Lukang know well how to serve absolutely delicious seafood delicacies such as osyters, crabs, eels, clams,mullet roe and mud shrimps.
Popular local dishes of Lukang are squid soup, Taiwanese meatballs, thin noodle paste, pork dumplings, taro balls, shrimp balls, wonton, squid balls, oyster omelet. glutinous rice dumplings in soup, fried 5 flavoured soup, glutinous rice mochi, flour tea, almond tea etc.  It is also famous for its traditional tea snacks - phoenix eye cakes, mungbean cakes, ox-tongue cakes and deep fried glutinous rice cakes [mua lau].
Deep fried crabs, prawns and oyster fritters
Lukang - snacks and delicacies

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kaohsiung, Taiwan Trip 2011

My husband and I have a strong liking for this place, Kaohsiung, probably because of the hotel's location which is just less than 5 minutes walk from the railway and MRT stations.  The bus stations are also around the area and food outlets are plenty.  The hotel is also within walking distance to Nanhua Night Market [hotel is on Nanhua Street] and Liouhe Tourists Night Market.  The hotel we stayed is also the best hotel during this holiday trip because of its location and friendly hotel service.  The rates are also very affordable.  We extended our stay to four nights and made a day trip to Tainan instead of staying at Tainan.
If I do visit Taiwan, Kaohsiung will be my first stop if I can get a direct flight there.  It's so convenient place with MRT routes covering all the spots you would like to visit as a tourist.
One of the many bridges over Love River
Kaohsiung Railway Station
The city and most tourist spots are also well linked with the MRT Orange and Red Line service and it is easy to explore most areas by foot.
Communication wise, we had no problem as the local Taiwanese dialect [Minnan dialect] and Mandarin are widely used.  There is a sense of closeness when we speak the same dialect.  
Weather wise is considered good with occasional rain but sky is hazy all day for days when we were at Kaohsiung.
Places we visited are:
Cijin Island - Take MRT Orange line to Sizihwan Station, leave the station at Exit 1 and walk a short distance [8 minutes] to the Gushan Ferry Pier.  Take the ferry to the island [about TWD 15 one way] just opposite, journey is about 10 minutes.
Gushan Ferry Station - All sorts of shaved ice and snacks are served around the area.  Visitors can sample all of the street foods and cool off from the heat.
Cihou Tianhou [Matsu] Temple - about 5 minutes walk from Cijin ferry terminal along Miaocian Road, Cijin Island.  This temple has its history way back to 1673, is the oldest and most historic temple in Kaohsiung city.  Designated as a National Grade 3 historic heritage site.  The engravings, clay sculptures, porcelain works of the temple are classic and refined.
Cijin Island waterfront
Ferry at Gushan Ferry Pier at Binhai Road, Sizihwan
Trishaws on the island providing leisure rides
 around the vicinity
Cihou Tianhou [Matsu] Temple, Cijin Island
Beautiful temples around Cijin Island
Beautiful joss paper burning furnace at Cijin Island
Coastal area of Cijin Island, beach areas are not well kept
Kaohsiung Harbour - After the deregulation of the Kaohsiung Port area, a landscape development project soon followed.  The area has been transformed completely.  The former west side harbour railway has been changed to the most romantic bike pathin Taiwan.  While riding against the wind on a bicycle, riders are enchanted by the scenic port views.
Former Banana Warehouse - This colossal warehouse by the loading dock was built by the Kaohsiung Harbour Administration in the early days for banana storing and loading as an effort to support Taiwan's banana exports.  Now various items are displayed at the warehouse.

Holiday cruise just arrived at the harbour bringing tourist to the Banana Warehouse
Ample items on display at Banana Warehouse

Daitiengong temple at Sizihwan district with foodstalls lining both sides of temple
Museum of Labour - Take the Kaohsiung MRT Orange line to Yanchengpu Station, leave the station from Exit 1, and turn right at Dayong Road.  The museum is just by the Pier 2 Art Center.
Most of the items on display are transformed from recycled items.  The Kaohsiung Museum of Labour is located at Taiwan Sugar Corporation's C4 warehouse, just next to the Pier 2 Art Center.  It is the first museum in Taiwan to feature Taiwanese labourers and has devoted itself to the preservation of the cultural value of Taiwan's labourers.  The museum manages to maintain Kaohsiung's image as an industrial city from the perspective of labour culture and aims to share their achievements with visitors, especially labourers.
Museum of Labour - must see place
Art Piece at the side Pier 2 Art Center
Rose Cathedral - Take MRT to Central Park Station then a Shuttle Bus R 20 to the cathedral.  The cathedral is also quite nearby to Love River at Jianguo 4th Road.  This Catholic church is the only church that practices services in a foreign language in the entire Kaohsiung area.
Built during the period of Emperor Sian Fong of the Cing Dynasty, Kaohsiung Holy Rosary Cathedral Minor Basilica is the first and largest cathedral in Taiwan and one of the three major basilicas in Asia.  It is an aesthetically pleasing building that integrates Roman and Gothic architecture styles.
Elegant and classic designs in the church interior
Unconditional Love River - Day and Night - Take MRT to City Council station, leave at Exit 2, turn left and walk a short distance [about 10 minutes] to Love River. 
Love River stretches for about 17 kilometers.  Love River flows through Kaohsiung city and is a signature tourist attraction.  Its romantic atmosphere attracts people on dates, taking a stroll, sipping coffee, listening to music and enjoying the cool evening breeze.

    Enjoy the cool breeze at Love River by Night
    Fresh catch - 'Saba' fish
    Fishing at Love River in the morning
    Lotus Pond - Take the Kaohsiung MRT Red Line to Ecological District Station, leave the station from Exit 2 and transfer to shuttle bus R51.  
    MRT Station - Ecological District Station Exit
      Visitors who come to Lotus Pond to appreciate the beautiful view and enjoy the 'Lotus Fragrance from the Water' listed as one of old Fongshan County's Eight Wonders, can quickly find a large number of temples around the pond.  In fact, the old community of Zouying has one of the highest temple densities in Taiwan.  There are more than 20 temples in the neigbourhood, so 'temples everywhere' maybe the best description for this area.

      • Dragon and Tiger Tower - Dragon and Tiger Tower is one of the most well known temples around Lotus Pond.  The dragon's mouth in the entrance, while the tiger's mouth is the exit.  Entering the dragon's mouth and coming out from the tiger's mouth symbolizes turning bad luck to good fortune.  Inside the tower are traditional Chinese educational stories and paintings of deities.
      Enter  through the dragon out from the tiger 
      Paintings that are painted on the walls of the dragon and tiger
      •  Spring and Autumn Pagodas - The Spring and Autumn Pagodas were designed in the Chinese palace style and constructed in 1953.  These 2 pagodas linked by a 'nine turns bridge', are examples of traditional Chinese octagonal architecture.
        • The Temple of Emperor Yuan - Commonly known as Big Temple 'Da Miao' was erected during the reign of Yong-li in the Ming Dynasty.  This temple is dedicated to mainly to Beijixuatian but also houses other deities such as Zhongtan [Taiziyei], Heavenly Holy Mother [Matsu] and Land Deity.  The temple was renovated in 1973 and three ancient tablets and a couplet passed down from the Qing Dynasty are preserved in the temple.
          Temple of Emperor Yuan
          Another beautiful temple next to the temple of
           Emperor Yuan

          Local Taiwanese Food we had at Kaohsiung - Here are the pictures of  the food we tried while in Kaohsiung for breakfast, lunch, dinner and many local small eats.

          Bento Rice Set - TWD 65/set
          Above breakfast - TWD 20 per item
          Taiwanese rice dumpling - TWD 35
          Cijin Island - Noodles, seafood porridge, drinks for 2 - TWD 230 [expensive].  Poor service
          This dinner for 2, fish soup, blanched vege, boiled meat, rice and noodles - TWD 175
          Blanched noodles with braised meat sauce - TWD 35
          Ai Yuh - TWD 15/bowl
          Blanched Vegetables with Braised Meat Sauce - TWD 35
          A sumptous dinner for two at Lin Sen Road - TWD 220
          comes with noodles, rice, vegetables, soup and braised soya ingredients.  Taste and very authentic Taiwanese cuisine
          Beef porridge