Sunday, April 29, 2012


Sarah, my baby has finally reached her 21st birthday on the 22nd April. Jeremy was unable to attend the party as he had gone back to Melbourne on 15th.  I had just came back from my Guangzhou trip with my sisters.   As my sister May was going back to Melbourne on the 21st, we decided to host Sarah's birthday party on the 20th at Shabu One at Lot 10.

Homemade invitation card by Sarah herself has been given out to my family.

As it was on a Friday night, the traffic was jammed everywhere.  We had to go over to the Jalan Imbi to pick us the birthday cake which I had ordered from the Australia Cake House. Yes, I had to order a cake for her as there was not enough time for me to bake her one.

Tonight dinner was just together with my family members.  She would be having another celebrations with her friends on her birthday.

My eldest sister with her daughter and son-in law and grandchildren.
My niece Qiqi,  nephew Kenny with his pretty wife Nicol

My sister, Jennifer, brother Yu Chuan with his son Chee Ken and wife Siew Leng.
My sister, May, brother KK and wife Serena, nephew Wai Khuen and Aunty (Serena's mother

Sarah's 21st Birthday Cake - very old school cake decorating from The Australia Cake House.
With my nephew Jason.

Together with Esther

Together with all the cousins
with all the aunties
With all the uncles


DAY 4 TAIWAN TRIP 7/4/2012

Our itinerary for today:

After breakfast, we left for Yang Ming Shan .  Knowing its a weekend today, we had to make an early start.   By the time, we reached the Jiantan MRT Station, there are already long queues for the buses to Yang Ming Shan(YMS).  There are tourists as well as the locals.

There are a few buses going to Yang Ming Shan.  We took the red line Bus No.5 which came first. Bus No. 260 also goes to YMS.   The seats were taken up by the seniors and we have to stand all the way.   The fare is only about $15 each and it takes you right to the base of YMS.  From the depot here, you pay $60 each to take the Bus No. 108 which is the Hop-on-Off bus which goes around YMS.

This seems to be a popular place for weekends.   There were groups of ladies and men all geared up for hiking and picnics too.   We got on the Bus No. 108 and as we were going uphill we had to hold on for dear life as the bus turned round and round up the hill.  It just reminded me of the first time that we went up Gentings Highlands when it was newly opened- the buses were overloaded and everyone was clinging on.

 We had missed the Cherry Blossom season (March).  Now it is the Calla Lily season. These calla lilies were given by a gracious lady who brought her daughter to YMS for the day.   She was so helpful telling us which places we should stop and view and which ones we can skip.  Her daughter bought a few bunches and gave us a bunch. What hospitality!
     Young bamboo shoots for sale

These calla lilies have been sprayed with artifical colours- also for sale.
The first stop, Zhushilin- the Bamboo Forest.
Notice the young bamboo shoots sprouting out of the ground.  If these young shoots are not harvested, it will grow into a bamboo tree.
In such tranquility, it just put you in a mediatative
Don't play with me!

Next stop, the Calla Lily nurseries.

From here, we hop on the Bus No. 108 again and went on the next destination- the Siaoyuekong-

Before the bus turned the corner, you can already smell the sulphur- geothermal outflow of sulphur valley.
Gorgeous view -
Can see the sulphur flowing out of the cervice behind May.  She likes this place (YMS) a lot- there are plenty of open fields and mountains for her to walk/hike.

See the bubbling hot water from the ground nearby

Awesome sight- notice the yellow sulphur at the bottom right hand corner. 
One last look and then it is back to the hop on bus to our next destination-

The Grassland- these grass were introduced the Japanese  for cattle rearing in this area.

It was very windy here.  Sarah getting all rosy cheeks from walking in the sun (though not bright sunlight as it was still cloudy today).

May went for a hike up the mountain slope here whilst we got some Chinese Tea Eggs and relax in the wind.

Even here in YMS, there is a chinese temple.  May placing the Calla lilies as an offering.
There are a  total of 12 places of interest which the Bus No. 108 go around to.  We missed the hot spring and decided not to stop at the others due to lack of time.

We took bus No. 108 back to the depot.  From there, we walked out to the main road and waited for the Bus No. 230 to Xinbeitou MRT Station.

coming next- Xinbeitou

Thursday, April 26, 2012


When Jeremy came back for his holiday recently, he wanted to have all his old time favourite food.
So, we went for Bak Kuat Teh at Yew Kee, Taman Midah.  This stall is on the main street and has been around since he was small.  Nothing much has changed except maybe the owners had aged a bit.

We ordered their Claypot Bak Kuat Teh
Sarah and myself like this stall as the pot has enoki mushroom, fu chok and chinese cabbage and they alway have the you-tiou (crullers). The taufoo-pok have to be ordered separately.
Every time we would ask for extra refill of the soup  which the lady boss graciously allowed us, though it is the standard practice to give only one refill of the soup.

Instead of the white rice, we chosed their Yam Rice. Fragrant fluffy rice with bits of yam and dried prawns.

You got to order their piece-de-resistance- BRAISED MUI CHOY PORK BELLY.
My goodness- the pork belly just melts in your mouth! Talking about high cholesterol- never mind! There are only around 6 pieces per serving anyway. Very very delicious.

When you have been oversea, you start to miss the old time favourite and Jeremy confirmed that this is the taste that he can recall and like.

DAY 3 TAIWAN TRIP 6/4/2012

Our itinerary for the day:-
1. Along the North Coast Road - Jinguashi
2. Juifen-Shifen waterfall
3. National Palace Museum

We had our breakfast at the hotel.  To visit these places, the best way is to book a taxi for the day to save time.  So we walked out to the Jiantan MRT Station and flagged down the taxi.   The price for day vary and we managed to get a Mr. Chong's taxi for the dat at $3,000.00 which was reasonable for the day till 5.00 pm.

Mr. Chong is an affable middle aged man and we took the North Coast Road.   This is one very long drive - almost 2 hours.   I suggest that you can skip this road and go direct to Jinguashi instead by another highway.  The main attraction along this road is the Yin-Yang Sea but then you will have more time to go to Shifen Waterful and the Pingxi, which sadly we had to miss due to lack of time.
Altenative, you can go by train - from Ruifong Station, take the Pingxi line for Shifen Waterfall and the rest of the stations along this train line, which infact was recommended by Sarah's friend.

As we were travelling along the road, Jeremy inquired about the betel nut ladies.

We were informed by Mr. Chong that if you see those blinking neon lights, then that stall is selling betel nuts. We could not see any bikini-dressed ladies as this road is not a highway.  Mr. Chong kindly bought us a packet for us to try.

 A packet of this cost around $100.00. Mr. Chong told us that he was an addict to this habit and had practically lost most of his teeth!

Jeremy sinking his teeth into one of betel nut. He said it is like biting grass.  Sarah could not stand the taste and smell and immediately spew it out.

A plastic cup is given along with the purchase and you then spit out the betel nut which oxidizes into the red colour.

The Yin-Yang sea- note the 2 different colours of the sea.  This is due to the minerals from the gold mine especially iron, that flow down from the hills.

The scenery along the coastline. We also passed by a cementery where it holds the memorial of Theresa Teng. As the taxidriver was not sure of the exact location we skipped this and went on our way. 

As the taxi was climbing up the hill, we turned a corner and this spectacular sight is right front of us.
The Jingushai Golden Waterfall. We felt so happy though it was raining!.

 The rushing stream -the rocks here are golden coloured due to the mineral contents.
One last look before we continued on our way to Jinguashi.

We finally arrived at Jinguashi- a former gold mine.
The mining quarters

  The wide expanse of greenery and fresh air was so invigorating despite the slight drizzle of rain.

The very steep and arduous stairs leading to the Japanese shrine

There is also a Japanese Shrine

The railway tracks used for the gold mine.

Stepping on history- the railway sleepers are really old.

The handle-less Teapot Mountain.

Getting a warm reprieve from the rain- hot bean curd in ginger syrup.

After this we went on to the museum to see the larget gold ingot. Sad to say I cannot the photo!!!

The village of Jinguashi was very prosperous in the 1950's but now it is a sleepy town after the gold rush.
From Jinguashi, it is a short distance to Juifen. This place has been made popular by a movie and now dozen and dozen of tourist flock to this place.  The place is quaint with old buildings and beautiful scenery otherwise it  mainly caters for street foodies!  Traffic is both ways and you can imagine the traffic jam with the tourist buses and taxis but then the people are so patient and they do give way - there is hardly any irritable honking !

    Some sort of coffee distillery. - of course selling Taiwan coffee.

Some of the eye-catching displays-
Buttery pastry sticks

Tasty balls with squids in the middle served with bonita flakes.
This is interesting- this whole block is peanut brittle- the vendor shave bits off the block and place them on the popia skin.  He then place 2 scoops of ice cream and wrap it up.  You bite into the nutty bits and then the ice cream- yummy.  One of the stall even add some coriander - strange combination.
This one was very good.
Another tasty food - grilled mushroom

Grilled Escargots- chewy

Big cauldron with simmering Chinese Tea eggs

They called it "chong yau go" which is cut into thin slices and then served with some oil and soya sauce. (like "woon chai go")

Looking down to an alley from the Taro Balls Dessert Shop.

You just follow the crowds- the shop with the most people, go and get your food from them.
This Taro Balls were made right in front of the shop.  The yellow one is sweet potato, black sesame and taro (yam) in red bean sweet soup- delicious.
This is taro and black sesame balls in hot ginger syrup.  Ginger is good to dispel the chills.
As I had said, the Taiwanese must be very patient people. Look at this tractor trying to inch its way (in reverse gear) from the narrow streets. We quickly moved out of the way before it blocked the street.

Mr. Chong told us that we may not have enough time to visit the Shifen Waterfall as it  could take around 2 hours to and from from here.  So we had no choice but  to give it a miss- next time it will definitely be on the itinerary.

He took us back to Taipei to see the NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM instead. By the time we reached there, it was nearly closing time and yet there are still large groups of tourists. You have to pay for the admission and no bags are allowed- be prepared to hand over your bag to the counter and they will give you a paper bag to carry your important items only.  The museum has a lot of artefacts from Mainland China.  These were taken from the Imperial Palace during Chiang Kei Shek's when he went over to Taiwan. Be prepared to spend some time here as the museum is so huge. But there are 2 must see - the Jade Cabbage and the "piece of meat".  The intricate craving is really a wonder- lookout for the small and larger grasshopper on the cabbage.  The "piece of meat" is dye and craved to resemble the layers of the pork belly! Really amazing.  Another must-see is the intricate craving within a small olive stone!

The main building of the National Palace Museum.We did not have enough time to view the whole building and its garden.  Be prepared to spend 2 hours at least.

The gateway to National Palace Museum.

We were having dinner with Sarah's friend who is studying here at the Jiantan MRT Station.
She is a petite lady and has already been in Taiwan for more then 2 years.   Pray that she will succeed in her university here. 

Appetiser- Century Egg served with cold taufoo and bonito flakes.

Aromatic Fried Pork Loin- they called it "spareribs". This is to be served with the bowl of plain noddles- "spareribs Noodles".

This is the "spareribs Noodles" very filling.
Another version of Beef Noodles
"Jia Cheng Mee"

Dumplings in Hot and spicy sauce.

After our dinner,  the young people wanted to go clubbing, so we split up from here.
May and I then went for some shopping at the undergound shopping at the Taipei Main MRT station before hitting back to the hotel.

Cute window display at Underground Eslite Bookstore - one of the largest bookstore in Taipei- but then mostly Chinese books.
Thus ended another wonderful day in Taiwan.