[Taiwan Series] Day 7 in Taipei: Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 and Bingirl 冰果甜心

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We actually had Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 twice during our time in Taipei. The last time we visited, we had tried Taoyuan Beef Noodles, which is also a nearby shop to Lao Wang Ji, but because it was closed, we ended up checking this spot out. It’s not too far from our hotel in Ximending – around a 10 minute walk, so it was no surprise we visited twice.

I think this might be my favourite beef noodle soup restaurant in Taipei. S got the Clear Broth Beef Noodle Soup which comes with loads of beef. The beef is thick but extremely tender and it falls apart! The noodles are cooked just right with a nice bite and the broth is clear but flavourful.

 

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The other option is to get the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup which is what I got. The spicy soup isn’t actually too spicy but I thought it was really flavourful! Just a touch of spice and I loved how the beef was soaking the soup in. On the table, there is also a bucket of preserved vegetables which you can add as much as you like. I do find that it tastes really great with the noodles! Overall, a must try in Taipei!

 

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Thirsty from lunch and the heat, we decided to get a Pudding Milk Tea from Ching Shin Fu Chuan 清心福全 which was in the Ximending area. Apparently they feature some healthier drinks and teas, but I don’t think this one was healthy! It was nice and creamy though. Not bad!

 

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After lunch, we decided to take the train to Taipei Main Station and do some shopping around the area. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi is one of the largest shopping malls with 4 buildings in total in the area. There is low end to high end shopping here.

 

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A nearby mall called Breeze also is worth stopping by. Especially if you like Line Friends! They have super picture worthy spots including this large bear!

 

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We also wandered to a nearby mall called ATT 4 FUN and on the top floors, they have tons of food and dessert shops. They even had a floor that was Peter Rabbit themed.

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We ended up trying a dessert shop called Bingirl 冰果甜心. We ended up sharing two desserts with the first being an Oreo Peanut Butter Pancake. The portions were pretty big but I found this to be a bit too sweet. The pancakes were okay but nothing special.

 

 

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I think the Mango Ice Cube is what they are really famous for though. There are a few other flavours but we chose mango and it is topped with kiwis and lots of aiyu jelly on the bottom. It is literally a giant ice cube of mango juice. Think of shaved ice texture but it’s been solidified! it’s also topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We definitely got a brain freeze from this and it’s a bit too much for two. I’d say two desserts would be good for sharing between 4 people.

 

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After dessert, we hung out with my friends for a bit at the arcade before looking for a quick dinner in the Ximending area. As we wanted something quick, we ended up getting some street food.

 

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Hot-Star has a large outlet in the Ximending area and always has crowds. They are famous for the large fried chicken and is one of S’s favourites. I cannot wait until they open the store in Vancouver!

 

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Other than the large fried chicken, they also have various deep fried snacks. We tried the cuttlefish balls and mushrooms before and they were both very good!

 

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A trip to Taipei also means checking out Ay Chung Rice Noodles 阿宗麵線. They are also located in Ximending but a bit away from the busier streets. There aren’t many chairs, so most people will just stand in front of the store to enjoy their food.

 

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The rice noodles are in a savoury broth mixed with intestines. We actually don’t eat the intestines just because we aren’t a huge fan, but the noodles and broth are absolutely delicious. To be honest, these intestines are also not bad as they don’t have any pungent taste to them. Just chewy, but the fact is I know what it is, so tend to stay away from them!

After our quick dinner, we headed back to our hotel to grab our luggage and headed to the airport. And that’s a wrap on our trip to Singapore and Taiwan! Until next time!

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[Taiwan Series] Day 5 in Taipei: Polar Cafe and Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市

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The next morning, we took the THSR to Taipei 台北. We hadn’t pre-booked our tickets this time, but it was easy to purchase the tickets on the spot at the machine. The ride just takes under 2 hours from Taichung and cost under $30. We ended up purchasing some snacks to enjoy on the train ride and I picked up Chun Cui He 純萃。喝 from 7-Eleven. I was attracted by the pretty bottle, but turns out this has been the hype in many Asian countries. I got the Green Milk Tea but they have various other flavours and it was very creamy and smooth. I wouldn’t say the tea flavour was very strong though. I liked how it was capped, so you didn’t have to finish it all at once.

 

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We arrived at Taipei Main Station which is quite a large station. We ended up booking an Uber to take us to our hotel but taxis in Taipei are also quite reasonably priced.

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We arrived at Westgate Hotel which we stayed at the first time we visited Taipei. Back then, the price was actually pretty reasonable but now it costs $160 a night for their smallest room which is called Cozy Room. It has no windows but still features a Queen sized bed.

 

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I was hesitant to stay here because of the price, but the location is extremely convenient being a minute walk away from Ximending Station and the bustling young atmosphere. The hotel itself is also very clean and modern with great service and free breakfast.

 

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When you walk in, the sink and mirror will actually be right in the middle, exposed. It’s a bit weird but works out great to save time when one person is using the bathroom. Even the shower and toilet is separate so it’s a pretty practical design.

 

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The queen sized bed was very comfy and spacious. As you can see on the left, there is a fake window with lights on the inside to make it feel like there’s natural light coming in. Still, we didn’t find the windowless room to be a problem.

 

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The toilet and shower are side by side with their own doors so very time saving when you’re traveling with another guest. No need to wait for the bathroom!

 

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The shower also featured a very nice faucet with strong water pressure. The size of the shower was just right without it being too tiny.

 

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When you walk out of the hotel, you are just steps away from Ximending which is one of our favourite areas to chill. It reminds us of the Shibuya of Japan, with lots of young people, shopping, and street food. As we had visited Taipei recently, we did not do too many touristy things this time around. Instead, we visited spots that we enjoyed last time and some new spots we found.

 

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The last time I visited, I was obsessed with the pineapple cakes from ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅. The bakery is a bit out of the way with not much to do in the area though. It is near Songshan Station so I suggested we take a trip there so I could purchase all my souvenirs. However, as we approached the shop, it had the longest line up ever. Not sure if it was because people were also purchasing some limited edition items for Mid Autumn Festival since the day was approaching. We decided to skip this unfortunately. You can read more about this bakery from my previous visit.

 

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Since we were in the Songshan area, I suggested we check out Polar Cafe which I first found on Instagram. If you know me well, you will know I’m obsessed with polar bears. Well, for all you polar bear lovers out there, you’ve got to check out Polar Cafe when you’re in Taipei. It’s all polar bear themed inside!

 

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I mean, look at this little light on the oustide!

 

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Polar Cafe is a cozy cafe with mostly coffees and some other beverages. The interior is simple but check out their little kitchen area. There are polar bear things everywhere up top! Even their soap dispenser is a polar bear…

 

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I ended up getting a Black Sugar Latte which was $180NTD and paid an extra $80NTD to add the polar bear marshmallow. The drinks here are definitely not cheap at almost $8 CAD for a latte. The marshmallow itself also cost another $3CAD. But if you’re crazy for polar bears like me, then it’s all worth it. Even the sleeve and napkin are so cute!

 

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S got the Mango Slush which was $150NTD, so around $6.50CAD. It was pretty good, but nothing special. But it also came in a super cute cup!

 

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I think the cutest thing is there are polar bear plushies lying around the tables and chairs. And you can enjoy your coffee with one of them! This themed cafe definitely has higher prices, but it’s justified by the amount of thought they put into making the ambiance filled with polar bears! A cute cozy spot to relax for the afternoon for all you polar bear lovers like me.

 

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As we were getting hungry, we decided to head to Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市 for dinner. This is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei and also closer in the city than Shilin Night Market which is another favourite of ours. Just for convenience sake, it made more sense to go to Raohe this time.

 

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It’s no surprise that S’s first snack would be Fried Chicken Cutlet. We found a stall tucked away in the side called Monga 艋舺ㄟ雞排. Turns out it is co-owned by a celebrity host and therefore has many autographs of other celebrities who have visited the stall. They offer a variety of deep fried goods like chicken, mushrooms, and nuggets.

 

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Of course, S got the big Fried Chicken Cutlet that was the size of a face. The chicken was piping hot, so unfortunately we didn’t get a good picture of it. However, you can choose different seasoning flavours as well, but we stuck with the classic salt and pepper. Crispy and juicy!

 

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Feeling the heat, we decided to go for some cold dessert which had sit in space. This dessert shop featured mainly shaved ice with pretty much any topping you could think of.

 

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Of course, we had to go with the signature Mango Shaved Ice. So much mango with condensed milk and syrup on top of a pile of fluffy ice. A great way to quench your thirst!

 

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Before we headed out, I noticed a bun stall at the entrance of the night market with a long line up. Of course I had to see what was going on! Turns out it was Fu Zhou Shi Zu Pepper Buns 福州世祖胡椒饼. They are translated as Black Pepper Buns. The vendor prepares the buns on the spot, by filling the dough with minced meat, scallions, sugar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Then they are baked in front of you in these well looking ovens. It’s pretty cool because they just stick the bun on the side of the well and it cooks! The line moved quite quickly as once a batch was ready, a bunch were ready to be served. We ended up taking this back to the hotel to enjoy as I was already quite full and these were still piping hot and absolutely delicious! It’s a bit spicy because of how much black pepper they put but the bottom is very crispy because of how they cook it. A must try at Raohe Night Market!

[Taiwan Series] Day 4 in Taichung: Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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The next morning, I woke up not feeling well. This sort of ruined our plans as we spent the morning looking for medicine and trying to rest up. There are many attractions that are nearby Taichung but require you to drive or bus for a significant time to get to. One of these included Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 and this was actually the sight we decided to go to that day. As it takes around 2 hours by bus, we had planned to leave in the morning to make the most of our time. But since I wasn’t feeling well, we ended up leaving around noon.

If you have a group of 4, I suggest looking into hiring a private driver for the day. They can drive you to multiple attractions and honestly doesn’t cost too much. However, as were only a group of 2, the best option to get to Sun Moon Lake was to take a bus. If you get to Gancheng Bus Station, you can take the Nantou Bus to Sun Moon Lake. The first bus runs at 7:45am with the last bus at 7:45pm. Be warned that the last bus back to Taichung from Sun Moon Lake departs at 7:25pm so plan wisely. The bus costs $360 NTD roundtrip and takes just under 2 hours. Look for the above shop and purchase the ticket from the staff. They can be a bit pushy to sell you some VIP type of bus, but just be persistent. They also sell some packages which includes boat tours and bike rentals, but because we arrived so late, we weren’t even sure how much time we would have. We ended up just buying the bus tickets to be safe.

 

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The bus ended up being quite comfy. It’s essentially a charter tour bus so you can even bring luggage on if you decide to stay at the lake.

 

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Finally, we arrived at Sun Moon Lake! The bus will drop you off at the Shuishe Visitor Center so you will need to make your way towards Shuishe Pier. We ended up grabbing a quick lunch at MOS Burger which is located upstairs in the visitor center.

 

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The best way to explore Sun Moon Lake is probably to take one of these boats. If you purchased a package at the bus stop, you’ll likely have vouchers ready and can head straight to the boats. Since we were undecided earlier, we ended up just buying the boat tickets at the visitor center. The boat will take you to the three major piers – Shuishe, Xuanguang, and Ita Thao. A roundtrip costs around $300 NTD and I recommend taking the boat as you can hop on and hop off. I suggest getting the ferry timetable though as boats only come at select times despite a pier to pier ride only taking 10 minutes. If you miss getting on at a pier, you may wait up to 30 minutes before the next boat comes. I think another great way to explore the city is to rent a bike which is available at the visitor centre. I had originally wanted to do this, but due to the heat and also how late we arrived, we decided the boat option was more suitable. However, they have a very nice biking trail here, so perfect if you want a bit of exercise!

 

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Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest lake and is essentially in the centre of Taiwan. It is in the Nantou area where there’s lots of mountains. I believe the name comes from the shape of the lake. The east side of the lake is round like a sun while the west side of the lake is long like a crescent moon.

 

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To be honest though, S and I personally were a bit underwhelmed. I had saw pictures online of the lake but after seeing it in real life, I felt that the pictures were edited or filtered. The lake was not as blue as I imagined. Especially coming from Canada, we felt this was nothing close to the lakes we have back home. However, I think it is worth coming if you have some time as it’s a nice getaway from the busy city. I agree that it was still beautiful, but it just didn’t live up to our expectations we had in our mind from the pictures online.

 

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The first pier that you will arrive at is Xuanguang Pier. There isn’t much to do at this pier but the Xuanguang Temple but since we weren’t too interested at looking at temples, we decided to stay on the boat and skip this pier. Instead, we went to the last pier which is called Ita Thao Pier. There is a lot more to do at this pier as this was where the old village of the aboriginal Thao people of Taiwan used to be. Now, there are lots of street food and shopping along Ita Thao Shopping Street. If you want to take the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, which is a cable car that goes across the lake, you will also need to embark here.

 

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As we wandered away from the tourist shops, we found ourselves at a beautiful spot by the water. Quite picturesque!

 

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As we took the ferry back to Shiushe Pier, we got to enjoy the sun beginning to set. Despite the water not being as blue as we imagined, it was still a memorable and fun spot. We only wished that it wasn’t so hot that day!

 

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Walking back to the visitor centre to catch the bus, you’ll pass some shops and homes. Nothing else much to do around here though.

 

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When we got back to Taichung, it was already dinner time. We decided to head back to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市 as there was so much to see and eat! We decided to try the stall that sold Big Sausage Wrapped with Small Sausage. I had heard this is a famous Taiwanese snack!

 

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It is essentially a glutinous rice wrapped around a sausage with some pickled vegetables. It was pretty good especially since it was piping hot!

 

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Of course I had to get stinky tofu, but this stand sold Red Tea Stinky Tofu. Apparently, they soak the tofu in red tea before they deep fry it. A box comes with some pickled veggies, stinky tofu sauce which is slightly spicy, and a side of kimchi. I thought the tea flavour wasn’t super strong but you could definitely taste some of it. I liked how you could dip the tofu in with as much sauce as you wish as it was served on the side. Also, I loved how kimchi was a side dish!

 

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Aniki Potato sold 30 cm long fries! You can choose to drizzle different sauces and toppings on your fries.

 

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We chose the Fries with Seaweed Powder. However, we didn’t end up enjoying these. I think if we chose one with some sauce on it, they would’ve tasted better since these were a bit dry and flavourless without sauce.

 

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And to quench our thirst, we went back to Bei Hui Papaya Milk to get their signature Papaya Milk again. It’s so good!

That concluded our last night in Taichung as we decided to head to Taipei for the last leg of our trip. There were still quite a few places I wanted to visit in Taichung, but honestly, the transportation isn’t very good to get around. To hire a private driver for a group of 2 is also a bit pricey. I suggest visiting Taichung with a larger group so you can rent a driver to take you around at a more affordable price. The FengJia Night Market was definitely one of my favourite night markets in Taiwan so far though!

 

 

[Taiwan Series] Day 3 in Taichung: Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村, Miyahara 宮原眼科, and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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Our time in Kaohsiung came to an end and we were off to the next city – Taichung 台中. Taichung is located right in the centre of Taiwan. Again, the most convenient way is to simply taking their Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) 台灣高鐵. We arrived back at Zuoying THSR station which is quite a large station actually.

 

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Finally got a picture of the bullet trains as well! They are quite similar to the ones in Japan.

 

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The seating on the trains are also very comfy and spacious. Lots of leg room and you can eat on the train. We arrived in Taichung in around 1.5 hours.

 

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There aren’t too many ways to get around in Taichung despite the city being 2nd largest city in Taiwan. They do not have a MRT other than the THSR, so getting around can be a bit difficult. You can take a bus but it’s not super tourist friendly so instead I suggest taking Uber or the taxi. Prices aren’t super cheap, but it’s still much cheaper than in North America. Especially if you have 4 people, then it’s definitely a better deal. So after we got to Taichung HSR Station, we caught a taxi to GOGO Hotel 富盛商旅. The hotel is pretty centarlly located, although you’ll probably still need to catch a taxi to get around, but it would be a short ride. Hotels in Taichung aren’t too expensive and we got ours for around $70 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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Upon entering our room, we already felt that it was much more spacious than the other hotels we have stayed at in Taiwan. Tons of space around our bed to open up our huge luggages.

 

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I also really liked how the bed was king size! I rarely see such big beds in Asia unless you request for them. However, I thought the interior was  a bit dated and they could use some renovations. Carpet could be cleaned up a lot more.

 

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The bathroom was actually pretty nice and modern though. Again, it was quite spacious.

 

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Shower is enclosed in a glass door. Overall, not a bad hotel for the price and location. I’d say it’s a typical business type hotel. Has all your basics and necessities but don’t expect anything fancy.

 

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One of the spots I really wanted to visit in Taichung was Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村. Unfortunately, getting here is a bit difficult as it’s not in the city centre but rather in the Nantun District. There isn’t much in this area so your only options are to take a bus (which requires transferring) or to take a taxi/Uber. We ended up going with Uber and it still took almost 20 minutes from our hotel. I imagine taking the bus would take much longer and the buses also do not come often so you might be waiting around in the heat for a while. When we arrived, we were greeted by the colourful paint everywhere from the walls to the floor!

 

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Rainbow Village is free to enter, although they appreciate it when you leave a donation or buy some of their souvenirs to keep things running. The area is open from 9am – 6pm everyday.

 

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The village actually used to be where veterans lived, but as the government began moving veterans to new homes, the plan was to demolish this area for new developments. However, there was one last veteran who stayed here, who is known as Rainbow Grandpa! He began to paint colourful pictures to stop demolition of the remaining houses. Local students ended up discovering this spot and decided to help save and preserve this village.

 

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Whether you enjoy art or not, I think this spot will bring a smile to your face with all the vibrant colours. And of course, this is the perfect spot to get your Instagram worthy pictures!

 

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They also opened up a small souvenir shop featuring Rainbow Grandpa’s artwork. You may also be able to meet the famous Rainbow Grandpa here if you’re lucky since he still lives here!

 

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S decided to get a souvenir coin by pressing some coins in a machine. Cute! We probably only spent around 30 minutes at the village because the area is honestly quite small. It just depends how long you spend taking pictures.

 

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As we were leaving, we noticed there weren’t done painting! There were men up on the roofs continuing to paint the tiles. I bet it will look different the next time I visit again! Be warned that when you look for a cab or Uber when you leave, it may cost more as there are rarely any cabs around this area. The ones that are here are mainly bringing tourists here, so they seem to charge a bit more to come to this area.

 

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Miyahara 宮原眼科 was next on our list so we ended up cabbing here from Rainbow Village. The shop is unique because it was actually an eye clinic built by a Japanese optometrist back when the Japanese occupied Taiwan. Today, it is a dessert shop famous for ice cream, pineapple cakes, and other pastries.

 

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The architecture of this building is modern with a historical ambiance. My immediate thought was it reminded me of some Harry Potter backdrop. High ceilings with wooden furniture and many bookshelves and cabinets.

 

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Looking up, you’ll find natural sunlight peeking in through the glass windows with something similar to stain art.

 

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If you wish, you can dine upstairs. Our goal was to try their ice cream, which is a shop just outside the building. However, when we arrived, the line up was extremely long. Instead, we decided to sit in the restaurant for convenience. I believe there is a minimum spend though, but it’s not too hard if you each order something.

 

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The interior upstairs is also very unique. It had velvet chairs and you felt like you were taken back in time.

 

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Even the napkin had the logo on it!

 

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I decided to get the Miyahara Milk Tea. I liked how the pearls and syrup come separately so you can add as much as you wish. In terms of the milk tea itself though, I thought it wasn’t as smooth as some of the other bubble tea shops. Especially given the higher price, I would probably skip it next time.

 

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S got the Chocolate Berry Slush which featured a dark chocolate and it came with a shot of what we believe is some sort of brandy syrup. We ended up not enjoying this drink too much because the alcohol made the drink quite bitter.

 

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Moving on, we ordered some of their famous ice cream. It should be noted that if you sit in the restaurant, you can’t try all their flavours which are A LOT in their ice cream shop. They have so many varieties of chocolate ice cream and many other flavours too. If you sit in the restaurant, there are only 10 flavours you can choose from. Anyways, when our ice cream arrived, they had a rotating platter of toppings. Never had ice cream with such an assortment of toppings! We ended up getting the pineapple cake, suncake, a cacao ball, almond cookie and the butterfly pastry.

 

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This is the Moon Pavillion Sundae we got and it comes with your choice of 4 ice creams and 5 toppings. The sundae isn’t cheap at $450 NTD so almost $20 CAD! We ended up getting the Irwin mango, Heiye lychee, Lugu green tea, and Vanuatu 44% milk chocolate. So many special flavours! The ice cream sits on top of a waffle cone and the toppings we chose sat on top. It was definitely a lot for two people. I think it’s more for 3 people but this was the only size they offered for ice cream if you sit in. I suggest going to the outdoor shop if the line up isn’t too long since there’s so many more flavours to choose from and I think it’s also slightly cheaper.

 

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After dessert, we walked around some nearby malls and even played some indoor basketball at one of the malls. Yes… random but it was fun! Anyways, getting hungry, we took an Uber to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市. I believe this is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and I absolutely loved it! Definitely on the top of my list.

 

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It reminds me slightly of Dotonbori in Osaka with all the big in your face billboards for the restaurants. Love the atmosphere here. Ask your driver to drop you off at Fuxing Road 福星路 to be in the middle of the action.

 

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I know we’re not in Japan, but they had a large takoyaki stall and I was craving them.

 

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The Takoyakis weren’t bad but the ones in Japan are definitely better. I think these were a bit on the mushy side. Still, it satisfied my takoyaki craving!

 

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Of course, S had to get one of his favourite popcorn chicken from J&G Fried Chicken. We now have this in Vancouver but the ones in Taiwan still taste better. Perhaps it’s the chicken they use.

 

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We got a bag of the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken and it was piping hot and crispy on the outside.

 

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Getting thirsty, we looked behind us and found Bei Hui Papaya Milk which I heard is a famous chain.

 

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As their name says, they are famous for Papaya Milk, so of course got a cup of that. Wow – it was refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. I really enjoyed this after all the greasy food!

 

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We then walked further into some side streets. Fu Xing Road is their main road with tons of shops for clothing and food, but there are even more stalls if you walk into the side streets. These are smaller sized with less fancy advertising. There is also a section with tons of entertainment.

 

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As it was really hot that day, we ended up getting another drink and got a Brown Sugar Fresh Milk Tea. This was actually my first time trying a brown sugar drink, and now this hype is all over Vancouver. This drink was simple but delicious and I enjoyed the tinier pearls.

Overall, we had a great fun packed day in Taichung and I highly recommend checking FengJia Night Market out when you’re in Taichung. There is endless amounts to see and eat at this night market so I can see why it’s so popular!

 

 

[Taiwan Series] Day 2 in Kaohsiung: Cijin Island 旗津島, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔, and Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市

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Since we had already hit up many of the tourist spots in Kaohsiung on the first day, I suggested we go to Cijin Island 旗津島 which is just a short 10 minute ferry ride from the Gushan Ferry Pier in Kaohsiung. To get to the ferry termianl, you can take the MRT to Sizihwan MRT Station. Take exit 1 and you will walk around 5 – 8 minutes to arrive at the Gushan Ferry Pier. Line up at the entrance and you just need to pay $15 NTD or tap your EasyCard to get on the ferry. The price is less than a $1 CAD so a great deal! You can also bring your motorbike on the ferry.

 

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This is the ferry we got on. You can sit indoors or stand outside to enjoy the views. The ride is so short that you’ll be there in no time!

 

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Once you get off the ferry, you’ll find an abundance of shops where you can rent motorbikes or bicycles. They also had these 2 or 4 people pedal cars. If you want to really explore Cijin Island, I suggest renting some type of bike. The island itself is quite small, but walking could be quite tiring. The best way to explore is to rent a bike! We ended up getting a 2 pedal car but it is actually an electric bike, so even better!

 

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If you bike straight along Miaoqian Road, there will be shop after shop of food and souvenirs. This is the main street with the most people here. If you are walking, I suggest to check out this area. I liked how we could bike and just stop in front of a stall. However, it makes it difficult for two people to look at the shops since you’ll need to park the bike somewhere and not every place has a pole to lock the bike to.

 

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At the end of the road, there was an open area with lines of stalls selling snacks. It sort of reminded me of a mini night market.

 

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I ended up getting off the bike to purchase some snacks such as grilled squid, cuttlefish balls, and aiyu jelly tea to quench our thirst!

 

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We bought the snacks and decided to bike over to the beach side to enjoy the view. And yes, we somehow ended up with this lovers pedal bike. Pretty funny but was quite comfy with some shade on top. This electric bike was great since we didn’t even need to pedal. You just need to steer and brake!

 

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The Cijin Beach is quite enjoyable. A nice getaway from the busy city.

 

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After enjoying our snacks, we continued on Cijin 3rd Road’s inner bike path and biked along the water. It’s also known as the Oceanview Bike Path.

 

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We finally arrived at the Cijin Rainbow Church 彩虹教堂 and Rainbow Arch! This was actually on the top of my list as I had saw pictures on Instagram of this spot. Turns out, everyone else also knew about this spot, so there was a huge line up in front of us. We probably waited around 30 minutes before it was our turn. Some people ahead of us were doing serious photoshoots!

 

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The Rainbow Church is definitely photo worthy. It faces the water so it gives the perfect effect!

 

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Unfortunately we came at a time where the sun was out at an angle where it would cast a shadow so it was a bit difficult to take our pictures. However, still a pretty awesome view!

 

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To the right is the Rainbow Arch. This is pretty cool too! I noticed that some people come here for their wedding photos as well.

 

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After getting our pictures, we biked a bit further and found this area with two shells. It also made a picture worthy spot. There is also a shell gallery in this area, but we skipped it.

 

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I loved biking along this path as you got a nice breeze from the water even though it was burning hot that day!

 

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Continuing along the path, we found The Big Pearl Shell.

 

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And finally, we reached the Cijin Windmill Park 旗津風車公園. This is a pretty chill area where we found many people flying kites and enjoying the seaside.

 

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There were a few food stalls as well and I decided to get a strawberry ice cream sandwich. With that, our bike rental time was coming close as we are charged by the hour. We didn’t want to pay for an extra hour, so we ended up biking as fast as we could to get back to the store in time! We ended up taking the same route back in case we got lost if we went another way. Our intense biking paid off as we made it back to the stall just in time so we didn’t have to pay for that extra hour! We then took the ferry back to Kaohsiung.

 

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After arriving back in Kaohsiung, I suggested we visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at the Lotus Pond. Google maps suggested we take the bus so we did as it told. Unfortunately, it seemed like we missed the stop and we ended up going really far. After wandering around for a while trying to figure out the right directions, we gave up and decided to take a taxi instead.

 

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By then, it was already dusk, so the pictures were abit difficult to take. Here is the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔 at the Lotus Pond though! You are supposed to enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit from the tiger’s mouth. Apparently, this will get rid of your bad luck and give you good luck. Inside the mouths, you’ll find paintings of Buddhist and Taoist stories. To be honest, I found it a bit eerie in there, perhaps because it was getting dark. I think you can normally also climb up the pagoda, but it was closed when we went, probably because it was getting late. I suggest coming here during the daytime to get the best pictures. It’s  just not very well lit at night so it can get a bit scary.

 

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There are actually various other attractions around the pond such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣) and the Confucius Temple (孔廟). However, as it was getting dark, we decided not to visit the other spots.

 

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Instead, we decided to grab an early dinner by checking out the Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市. The night market opens daily at around 6pm and is located in central Kaohsiung. Just take the MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station and take exit 11 and you’ll find your way to the market.

 

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We found thsi night market to be a lot less busy than Ruifeng Night Market. In fact, there was tons of space to walk around and it wasn’t crowded at all. Even by the time we left, which was prime dinner time, it wasn’t very busy.

 

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We noticed many fruit stalls selling fruit drinks. There are papayas, bananas, oranges, watermelons, and bitter melon.

 

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I decided to get a Papaya Milk since this is a common drink in Taiwan. Deliciously creamy and refreshing in the heat! I liked how it wasn’t very sweet. Just the sugar from the fruit itself.

 

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We had wandered around the night market for a while to look for food, but to be honest, nothing really spoke to us. Perhaps, the food was very local and was not anything we were familiar with. We ended up with some beef skewers, which were good but didn’t blow our minds. I also got some stinky tofu but again, it was just average.

 

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Overall, we were pretty disappointed with Liuhe Night Market. None of the stalls really had line ups, so it was hard for tourists like us to decide which one was worth trying. And the food in general wasn’t really appealing. I’d suggest going to Ruifeng if you only have time to go to one night market in Kaohsiung.

 

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As we wandered around away from the night market to see if we could find any other snacks, a shop owner attracted me to go inside her shop. It turned out to be called 青草捌 and I can’t figure out what the English name is. The shop had a beautiful flower wall which was part of my attraction. I ended up with a Pineapple Tea which comes in this beautiful cup! The price of the tea was not cheap, but I can see why with all these details in the shop. We didn’t end up getting more food, so called it a night to get some rest!

 

 

[Taiwan Series] Day 1 in Kaohsiung: Gang Yuan Beef Noodles 港園牛肉麵, Pier-2 Art District 駁二藝術特區, 85 Sky Tower 高雄85大樓, and Ruifeng Night Market 瑞丰夜市

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Our flight from Singapore was to Taipei, so after getting off the plane, we immediately had to go catch the Taiwan High Speed Rail. We had actually purchased our tickets to Kaohsiung online beforehand because we wanted to take advantage of the early bird discounts for our longest ride. However, you can purchase at the vending machine or desk on the day of as well. Since we purchased it online, we downloaded the app and just scanned the QR code at the gate. From the Taoyuan airport, you need to first take the shuttle bus to THSR Taoyuan Station which only takes around 25 minutes. We then took the train from Taoyuan station to Zuoying station which is the closest station to Kaohsiung. It took just under 2 hours on the train and the seats were quite comfy and clean. Tickets were $1,330 NTD which is just under $60 CAD for this one way ticket, so not exactly cheap. However, it was the most convenient way to travel instead of getting on another plane. From Zuoying station, we switched to the MRT red line to Kaohsiung station where our hotel was just a minute away.

 

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We decided to stay at Airline Inn at Kaohsiung Station because of the convenience of the station. The price is also quite affordable with many rooms around $60 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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The design of the room is simple but smart because the size is extremely small! If you’re carrying just a small luggage for a short trip, then it’s no problem and probably pretty spacious. But we each had a large luggage, so opening our luggage on the floor was a nightmare. There really isn’t much room to walk after you open your luggage. We also chose a windowless room to save some money but it really wasn’t an issue since we didn’t really chill in the room during the day anyways.

 

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The design is cute with lots of airplane details. In terms of cleanliness and amenities, I don’t think we really had any complaints.

 

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When I say they save space, I really mean it because even the sink is outside. But it’s great because while S showers, I can still brush my teeth etc. Showers were on the opposite side and luckily they have a pretty frosty layer of glass so you can’t really see from the outside. We found this to be an issue with many other hotels in Taiwan where the shower room was quite transparent.

 

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We had arrived at the hotel past midnight so the first night was a write off and we went straight to bed. The next morning, we finally got to check out the surroundings. Our hotel is literally just across the street from the Kaohsiung Station which is their main station so this made it very convenient to catch the MRT. In term of things to do though, we didn’t find ourselves hanging around too much.

 

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First things first in Taiwan is to enjoy a delicious bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles! I had done some research and the restaurant I wanted to visit was in the Yancheng District. This area is pretty cool with old buildings mixed with modern ones. The contrast is pretty interesting to look at.

 

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The restaurant is tucked away in one of the older looking streets.

 

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The famous spot is Gang Yuan Beef Noodles 港園牛肉麵 and I’m told it’s a local favourite. Seems like many tourists come as well since they have English on their menu. The menu is simple with either dry or soup noodles and with beef, pork, or pork knuckles as toppings. Seems like there are some appetizers available for purchase too but they didn’t show it on the English menu so we skipped it for language barriers sake. I wouldn’t say a bowl is cheap as it’s still roughly $5. Seems like cost of living in Taiwan has increased overall though!

 

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The interior is pretty clean and the best part is it’s air conditioned! It was boiling hot outside and eating a hot bowl of soup didn’t really help. There is some communal seating but we just opted to sit against the wall.

 

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Beef Noodles

Since we weren’t big fans of pork knuckles, we both opted for the beef dish. I decided to try the dry Beef Noodles which has a light sauce beneath and you mix it so the noodles don’t clump together. The beef were definitely the star of the show. They were thick chunks but so tender! The noodles were also delicious with a nice bite.

 

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Beef Soup Noodles

S got the Beef Soup Noodles and he enjoyed the bowl as well. However, I found the dry noodle to be more flavourful as the soup was rather light.

 

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On our way to the beef noodles, we actually stopped by Formosa Boulevard Station 捷運美麗島站. We were just transferring stations, so we didn’t even need to exit to get this picture. This station is ranked the second-most beautiful metro station in the world and is known for its “Dome of Light”. It is the largest glass work in the world designed by an Italian artist.

 

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After lunch, I suggested we check out the nearby Pier-2 Art District 駁二藝術特區. Both S and I are not very artsy people, but I heard this is a pretty cool spot. The arts center used to be an abandoned warehouse site but now many workshops and stores are situated here. I love the vintage brick walls on the warehouses. If you enjoy modern art, this is the spot for you.

 

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You will find paintings on the walls of various buildings. I like how you can just walk around aimlessly and you’ll find art everywhere in this area.

 

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In the middle of the field, there are various sculptures just placed on the greenery. Pretty neat!

 

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There’s even a train! I think this may because there is a Railway Museum around the area.

 

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Look at this gigantic art piece!

 

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And even something that looks like a Transformers?

 

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We walked around for a while and to be honest, we were sweating from the heat. It was extremely hot that day and we were dying to go indoors. Luckily, we wandered to a warehouse with the Taiwan Beer sign.

 

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Apparently there was a Taiwan Beer pop up shop that day! We paid a small price for admission which includes this wristband where you can redeem 3 beer samples and 1 beer dessert!

 

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There were also many interactive games where you could win small prizes.

 

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I believe they were launching one of their new beers, but this Taiwan Beer brand is actually one of my favourites! It’s so pricey back in Vancouver and difficult to find, but so affordable in Taiwan! My favourite is still the mango or pineapple but the peach is also pretty good!

 

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They were also making some beer infused ice cream! But the line up was too long so we ended up skipping out on it. What a lucky day for us to coincidentally be at the Pier 2 Art Centre to enjoy this pop up!

 

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As we wandered away from the Art District, we found ourselves at the Kaohsiung Fisherman’s Wharf 高雄港漁人碼頭. You’ll get a bit of breeze here and you can enjoy this boardwalk with a view of the city.

 

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The view is pretty nice as you walk along the boardwalk. You can also spot the Love River 愛河 close by.

 

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We ended up taking this tram to go to the other city side. You can still use the same electronic card as the MRT. Kaohsiung issues an iPass but since we had an EasyCard when we were in Taipei a few years ago, that card also worked in Kaohsiung. It was a good idea to try the light rail because you get a pretty nice view of the city including the Love River.

 

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The reason we headed back towards the city was to see the 85 Sky Tower 高雄85大樓. This is Kaohsiung’s tallest skyscraper at 347.5 meters high. It used to be the tallest in Taiwan until Taipei 101 was built. The building is used as office and residential space, hotel, and a department store. On the 74th floor is the observation deck which we visited.

 

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I believe it costs around $180 NTD for admission which is decently priced at around $8 CAD. The view was decent, but because there aren’t many skyscrapers in Kaohsiung, the view was a bit flat.

 

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We also visited during night time so it’s usually a bit more difficult to see the buildings. Worth coming if you have some time but I wouldn’t say it’s on the top of my list.

 

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Getting hungry, we decided to look for some dinner. Dinner in Taiwan for us always means heading to the night market! We love roaming around with Taiwanese snacks in hand! One of the most famous night markets in Kaohsiung is called Ruifeng Night Market 瑞丰夜市.

 

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Ruifeng Night Market is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and definitely one of the busiest! I have never been to such a busy night market! You will be shoulder to shoulder.

 

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Of course S would suggest getting the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken. Can’t remember which stall this was from, but the chicken was juicy and crispy on the outside.

 

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Another favourite of S’s is the gigantic chicken steaks in Taiwan. We decided to try Devil’s Chicken Steak 惡魔雞排. They make it fresh to order so be warned you’ll need to wait a while. They give you a number so you can wander around in the meantime though.

 

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The chicken is as big as my face! It was piping out so it was difficult to pull it out for a picture. They also do not cut the chicken steak here but it’s quite enjoyable to just bite this large chunk of meat. We found the chicken steak to be thicker cut than the ones in Taipei and the batter was very crispy!

 

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To quench our thirst, we headed to 鴛鴦奶茶 as I heard raving reviews about this spot. Not sure what the English name is but look for the orange and white booth! There was a long line up but it moved quick.

 

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I believe we just got a classic Milk Tea but they use fresh milk here. It was so creamy and smooth with a strong tea flavour!

 

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One of the most interesting items we tried was at Sweet Cool Round Powder Packe 甜心涼圓. I saw a few stalls selling these and was very curious what they were. I aimlessly pointed at some flavours and hoped they were good. They turned out to be jelly like substance on the outside with fruit in the middle. My favourite was the melon! These were very refreshing to enjoy after some greasy food.

 

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The market not only has food, but also many clothing stalls. They also had a massive entertainment section with tons of games! Overall, we really enjoyed this night market as there is lots to see and a large variety of food! But be prepared for the crowds as it’s very busy here!

 

 

Sweet Memory

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Sweet Memory is the sister restaurant of Memory Corner and I’ve heard great things about this spot. The interior transports you to olden days in Taiwan as it is dimly lit, even on a sunny afternoon. They mainly offer Taiwanese desserts, but they also have a few savoury dishes. The decor is really interesting, with the wooden tables and benches, but to be honest, the seating is not the most comfortable.

 

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They even have a little food stall where there is actual food kept in there. Super cute! They give you free wintermelon tea in a silver pot, and the tea is extremely good! Free refills too.

 

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Homemade Brown Sugar Cake

To start, we ordered the Homemade Brown Sugar Cake which is sort of like a jelly but dusted with brown sugar. Not for everyone as the boys at our table did not enjoy it. However, I love these jelly type of desserts, so I found it quite tast. It also comes with these two cherry tomatoes which are filled with this plum type of filling. Quite interesting, but not my favourite.

 

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Jasmine Jelly with Three Coloured Taro and Yam Balls

My favourite was the Jasmine Jelly which is topped with condensed milk. You can choose a variety of toppings such as pearls and beans. We decided to go with the Three Coloured Taro and Yam Balls which are hidden under the jelly. The jelly was really refreshing and lightly flavoured with jasmine tea. They also have Coffee Jelly or Grass Jelly.

 

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Tofu Pudding with Pearl Barley

We also tried the Cold Tofu Pudding of which you can also customize with different toppings. This time, we got the Pearl Barley. The tofu pudding is not very sweet so I quite enjoyed it.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the desserts, but the guys actually didn’t enjoy them. They thought the desserts were too bland. If you enjoy desserts that aren’t too sweet, then you’ll enjoy these. We did have an issue with one of their drinks though. The guy both ordered a Mango Slushy and it was the worst mango slush I’ve had before. It was extremely diluted and tasted like mango water. However, we let the server know and they quickly said they could remove it from our bill. So in terms of service, they were pretty nice about fixing things for us.

Pros:
– Desserts are not too sweet
– Great variety of traditional Taiwansese desserts

Cons:
– Mango slush was not well executed

Price Range: $10-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking Overall: 3.5

 

Sweet Memory Dessert Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Boba Boy (Kerrisdale)

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media event, but all opinions are my own.

Boba Boy opened up their Kerrisdale location earlier this year and also recently opened one in Burnaby. The boba shop started back in Ontario and has expanded to Vancouver. They are known for their freshly made tapioca balls.

 

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The Kerrisdale location has a few two seaters up front with more seating in the back for larger groups. The space is modern and clean and lit with natural light.

 

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Who can resist the cute logo of the Boba Boy! Guess where the funny hair style comes from? Of course, it is inspired by the tapioca balls!

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The shop has a variety of drinks from smoothies, teas, milk teas, and fruit teas. As for their freshly made tapioca balls, you can choose from original, taro, matcha or sesame. The original balls are clear instead of black.

 

 

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Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls

The first drink I tried was the Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls. The smoothie was creamy but I’m pretty sure the taro was powder as the colour was too purple. As for the tapioca pearls, they are quite different from the ones from other chains because they are handmade. The pearls are more chewy and can get a bit tough if they sit in the cold drink for too long. They also stick together more but I actually don’t mind them knowing that they are hand made. They probably don’t have as many additives or preservatives so it’s much healthier. The matcha flavour is also quite strong and has a bit of a bitter taste but I like that strong tea taste.

 

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Strawberry Milk with Pearls

T got the Strawberry Milk with original pearls. How pretty is this! I didn’t get a chance to try this one though.

 

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They also offer two containers – one is a plastic one-time use cup and the second is a reusable bottle. You are required to pay an extra $2 for the bottle, but if you bring it back, you get a discount on your bubble tea. Not sure how often you’ll remember to bring the bottle though as I usually get bubble tea spontaneously, so not sure if the bottle is that worth it. But this is great if you need to carry your bubble tea around.

Overall, the drinks itself are nothing too special compared to other bubble tea chains. However, their tapioca balls which are hand made is what sets them apart. I think the chewiness is a personal preference since some people may find them on the harder side. But, overall, still a very unique feature and great that they are healthier than the usual pre-packaged tapioca.

Pros:
– Handmade flavoured tapioca balls are a unique feature

Cons:
– Some people may find the tapioca balls to be chewier than usual

Price Range: $5-10 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 3.5

 

Boba Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato