14th October 2016
My son Leslie had mooted the idea of having breakfast at Taichung 2nd Market so Ah Mang Ker brought us there. The 2nd Market at San Ming Road in Taichung city is an iconic octagonal landmark designed and built by the Japanese during the Japanese occupation. It is a wet market where locals buy groceries such as seafood, vegetables, fruits, sauces, and spices. Situated in the market are several popular and must-try food stalls.
From his Google search, Leslie recommended 王記菜頭粿糯米腸 (fried carrot cake and rice dumpling with sausages). True indeed, the radish cake wrapped in fried egg with sausage glutinous rice was not bad.
It is strange but in Taiwan, a lot of stalls do not sell drinks so after our breakfast, Ah Mang Ker drove to 85°C Bakery Café as we wanted coffee. 85°C Bakery Café is a Taichung-based brand that has outlets and in Taiwan, Australia, China and even the USA. We went to the first floor of the café to enjoy our coffee as it was cosier there.
After our coffee, it was time for shopping for the ladies so we went to Taipei Main Station Underground Mall. There are 4 malls at Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, namely Station Front Metro Mall (Z), Taipei City Mall (Y), Taipei New World Mall (K) and Zhongshan Metro Mall (R). The Taipei Main Underground Shopping Street parallels the Civic Street above, with a total length of about 825 metres.
We had tasted Uncle Tetsu Cheesecake during our previous visit to Taiwan a couple of years ago and found the cake to be quite yummy. The cake is cotton soft with a fluffy texture and a tantalizing cheese, eggs & milk aroma.So our first stop was at Uncle Tetsu to buy some cheesecake.
The sales staff at Benny Shop must have been delighted by our visit to their store. The store sells genuine Anello bags, a Japanese brand that is wildly popular among ladies. The ladies in our group (but not including my mother-in-law) bought 5 or 6 bags from the store.
One thing frustrating about Taiwan is that you only see Chinese wordings in hotels, restaurants, and on menus, signages, air-conditioner remote control, etc. So I often need to try to translate the names of shops or places when I wrote the blog articles about my Taiwan trip.
We bought several boxes of the famed pineapple tarts from Li Yi Biscuit Shop (my own translation). Pineapple tarts are a very popular item among tourists to Taiwan.
Lunch was ramen and dumplings at Ippudo. I like the ramen and finished the entire bowl.
After lunch, we headed to the mountain town of Jiufen. The roads that lead there are mostly steep, curving and narrow. I had an uneasy feeling each time we turned a bend and there were vehicles coming from the opposite direction. Ah Mang Ker likes to munch on betel nut when he is driving. He said it keeps him alert. During the few days he was driving us around, he stopped on a few occasions to buy betel nuts. On one occasion, the betel nut seller was a scantly dressed young lady. Our request for a photo was politely turned down.
With an unmatched old town atmosphere and seaside flair, Jiufen (九份) is a must visit spot when visiting northern Taiwan. It is always teeming with tourists. This is also a film mecca for lovers of Taiwanese film, especially fans of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “A City of Sadness” (悲情城市), which utilized Jiufen as the backdrop to the events of the 228 Incident.
During the first years of the Qing Dynasty, the isolated village housed nine families, thus the village would request “nine portions” every time shipments arrived from town. Later Kau-hun (meaning “nine portions” in Hokkien) would become the name of the village.
We spent hours in the town. The weather was a bit cold and windy with dark overhead clouds. I had a field day taking lots of photographs. It was interesting to see the food stalls and the wide variety of products in the shops that line the streets.
We tried the famous Lai Ah Po Taro Balls. It was nice and we had a chance to rest my tired legs.
We were also attracted by the shop selling peanut shavings ice cream popiah. The peanut are freshly grated on a peanut block and placed on the popiah skin. Two scoops of ice cream are placed on top and the popiah skin is then used to wrap up everything. It was quite a sweet and refreshing snack!
From a few lookout points, we had exquisite views of the sleepy mountainside town and Keelung Harbor. It was a pity the sky was so gloomy, Had the sky been blue, the views would have been even more breath-taking.
By the time we left Jiufen, it was starting to get dark. Ah Mang Ker drove to the @ Hotel in Yilan. When we entered our room at the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised to see a big Greece poster decorating the wall. The bathroom has a big bathtub for taking hot spring bathe.
After a short rest, we were ready to hit the streets of Yilan looking for food. The city is much quieter than Taichung. We did not see many cars and the streets were not crowded like Taipei or Taichung.I like the chilli female figurine and the male chilli figurine on one of the streets.
We entered a pastries shop as we saw a lot of customers inside. We always assume that stores with a lot of customers must be selling products that are popular. No wonder there were so many people in the shop. We could go round the store testing samples of the many delicacies and on top of the, we could get free drinks.
As we roamed the streets near our hotel, we keep a watch out for a good place to have our dinner. In the end, the ladies settled for duck meat but Leslie and I did not fancy duck meat so the two of us went for burgers at Mos Burger. We liked our burgers and it turned out the ladies did not enjoy the duck meat at all.
Yilan is a beautiful city situated in Northeastern Taiwan and is surrounded by both the sea and mountains. It is well-known as a historical centre for some of the many aboriginal peoples whose diversity has come to be synonymous with Taiwan. Geographically, Yilan County is characterized by rolling mountains, rocky seaside and heavy rain. The city of Yilan is located on Taiwan’s second largest plain – the Yilan Plain.
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at a stall to buy a peanut ice cream popiah for my mother-in-law as she loved it. This was her second ice cream popiah for the day as she also had one in Jiufen.
After a tiring day of sightseeing, nothing is more relaxing than a hot spring bathe. I stayed in the bathtub for about half an hour, enjoying the sensation of the hot spring water. I used quite hot water for the bathe; hot enough for me to feel the heat relaxing my muscles but not hot enough to get my balls half-boiled, haha! And definitely no photos for this!
Hmmmm…..a most satisfying close to a tiring day!