Friday, 26 June 2009

Taipei Day 2 and 3

DAY 2 (THU) Jun 18, 2009

Spent the early morning hunting down local breakfast places I had read about on the Internet and found them!
安东街 | Dong An Alley
0630 - 2100

台北市 大安区 复兴南路一段180号
No. 180 Fuxing South Road Sec. 1, Da-an District
0600 - 1900
捷运忠孝复兴站2号出口,步行約1分钟 | MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station Exit 2


After greedily gobbling up breakfast, I took a bus Jiufen on my own. The fare was NT$87. I boarded the Taipei-Jiufen-Jinguashi bus from the bus stop at the entrance of Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station Exit 1.

The ride took slightly more than an hour as it made several stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. I believe there is another bus which goes non-stop directly from Fuxing to Jiufen. I must have got on the wrong one. I was a little anxious at first.  What if I missed the Jiufen stop? The bus was an old one and didn't have LED signs to indicate which shop was next. I needn’t have worried. Not only were there many tourists alighting at the stop, the area looked very “touristy”. It was hard to miss.

Jiufen was once a prosperous gold-mining town. As you can see, it is now a tourist attraction. The quaint streets, teahouses and stunning views still live on.

The Taiwanese seem to be very fond of yam (taro). Yam cake, yam vermicelli, yam dumplings, all kinds of yam desserts can be found throughout Taipei. In Jiufen, yam balls (芋圓) and yam dessert (鮮芋仙) are available at every corner. I bought savoury yam snacks but thought they weren't great.

To return to Taipei from Jiufen, take a bus with its destination “台北”in LED sign display from the bus stop across the road from 7-11 convenience store. The bus goes downhill. The bus terminates at MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station Exit 1.

2PM:Checked out of Déjà Vu Hotel and took a cab to Hotel Flowers, where Tammy and I would spend the next four nights. We had arranged to meet at 3PM but she was held up at the airport and arrived at around 4PM.

The hotel was well-located, surrounded by restaurants, shops, convenience stores and within walking distance to Mitsukoshi, MRT Taipei Main Station as well as Taipei Railway Station.

The room is decent enough. It has a queen bed, a single bed, clean carpeting, crisp linens, a large bathroom and even a small flat-screen TV!

The hotel has 2 branches. We stayed at the new branch.

华华大饭店(分店) Hotel Flowers (new branch)
台北市 中正区 汉口街一段36号
No. 36 Hankou Street Sec. 1, Zhongzheng District +886 2 2312 3811, 2331 7392
捷运台北车站Z2号出口 | MRT Taipei Main Station Exit Z2

We gave ourselves just 10 minutes to freshen up before heading out to Ding Tai Fung (Old Shop) in Yong Kang.

Almost everyone and anyone I know tells me that the Ding Tai Fung (Old Shop) in Taipei is the best in Asia because it's the original shop where it all started.  At any rate, I think the food is far better than what we have in the Singapore DTF branches.

Just a few shops away from Ding Tai Fung is I-Mei Confectionery. I did not know it at the time but I-Mei was founded in 1934 and is renowned for its Taiwanese pastries as well as western cakes. Luckily I was smart enough to buy some for our people in the Taipei office (*pat self on the back*).

Close by our hotel is Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (Taipei Station Branch). Tammy purchased a pair of shoes that was on discount. We felt it was a good deal at that time and it was only afterwards that we realise the discounts offered by Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (Xinyi Branch) are even better.

鼎泰丰(旧店) Ding Tai Fung (Old Shop)
No. 194 Xinyi Road Sec. 2, Da-an District
捷运东门站5号出口, 步行約1分钟

仪美食品 I-Mei Confectionery

And as if we were afraid that some catastrophe might strike us during the night and we may not live to see tomorrow, we even went on to have dinner!

The area around the Technology Building MRT Station is famous for its late night eateries specializing in porridge. You can select from a huge variety of small side dishes to accompany your congee. Different styles of omelettes and vegetables are available for order as well.

This evening, I took my first MRT ride in Taipei. I was surprised to see passengers queue up in an orderly manner to wait for the train. And was even more amazed when they actually wait for alighting passengers to move out before getting in themselves!

It became evident that we Singaporeans have much to learn from our friends in Taipei. I mean, they even queue up to wait for the elevator! Geez, that’s never going to happen in Singapore!

大安区 复兴南路二段142号
No. 142 Fuxing South Road Sec. 2, Da-an District
1700 - 0600
捷运科技大楼站, 步行約10分钟
10 minutes walk from MRT Technology Building Station


DAY 3 (FRI) Jun 19, 2009


The district is the premier shopping area in Taipei, anchored by a number of department stores and malls. It is home to 4 blocks of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (新光三越) shopping complexes. Tammy and I only managed to cover Towers 4A and 8A. In Tower 4A, we saw the same pair of shoes which Tammy bought from Mitsukoshi (Taipei Station Branch) the evening before. It is NT$200 less here!

Other major attractions here include Taipei 101 and Eslite Bookstore (诚品书店).  It spans over 7 floors The bookstore has an expansive magazine collection (especially foreign magazines), a floor dedicated to children's books, a Japanese bookstore, art bookstore. The cookbooks section is equipped with a kitchenette for cooking demonstrations.  Adore!

信义区购物中心Xinyi Shopping District
捷运市政府站3号出口 | MRT Taipei City Hall Station Exit 3


Tammy introduced me to Heno Heno Moheno for authentic Japanese food in an unpretentious atmosphere. The restaurant has been around since 1982. Tammy and I shared cold noodles, grilled fish and tamagoyaki. I’m especially impressed by the asparagus hand roll (蘆筍手捲) - very fresh crunchy asparagus, crisp shredded lettuce and mayonnaise nestled together in a cone of crispy seaweed.

This quiet, leafy part of town is lined with cafes and Western restaurants. 长春旅館(Ever Spring Hotel) is across the street. Here you'll find Joyce West Café (No. 22). It has the best setting for an intimate wedding reception.  Also the perfect place while away a lazy afternoon.

福顏日本料理 Heno Heno Moheno
松山区 庆城街26号
No. 26 Qingcheng Street, Songshan District +886 2 27122007
捷运南京东路站  | MRT Nanjing East Road Station

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