Phew, finally I get to update my blog and share my trip to Taiwan not long ago (just returned last Friday) Tell you what, summer is definitely the worst time to visit Taiwan, or maybe Taipei only I don’t know.
The air is super humid, weather is like KL and it always drizzles without any warning. It’s like the whole city is trapped in a huge sauna lol. Just making a few steps out of your hotel and you would already sweat like hell! It feels damn miserable too to hold your camera on one hand, and use a umbrella on the other.
Weather aside, it was a nice trip overall with plenty of food eaten and interesting places visited. It’s impossible to share the summary of the trip in one single post so I have to break it down to daily basis.
Thanks to MAS for sponsoring the air tickets to Taipei, definitely my top choice of carrier in Malaysia. If you are interested to visit Taiwan, the best time is during October and November. Conveniently there’s a Deepavali holiday in October so you can plan a trip at that time. I just did a search for October’s flight and there’s plenty of options. The cheapest return ticket price including tax is only RM778 per pax. Do check it out.
It’s easy to pass time in the plane, as there’s plenty of things to do. You can take a nap (which I did), watch some latest movies like Red Cliff 2 or even play games!
Since our flight was at 9.40am and it takes 4.5 hours to reach Taipei, brunch was served. A choice of either chicken with potatoes, or..
Fish and rice. Do you notice the cup of red wine I requested?
Once we touched down Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.. guess who’s the first to greet us. None other than the cute pig, Pukii! lol what a name, this pig will never have its name approved in Malaysia.
If you are between 15 and 30, the first thing you should do after reaching the airport is to apply for a Youth Travel Card at the Tourist Service Counter. Just provide your passport and fill in some forms and you will get it.
The card is very beneficial to tourists like us because it provides more than 500 special discounts on transportation, accommodations, restaurants and recreation. For the list of the 500 discounted things, a booklet is provided as reference.
Took a bus to Taipei Main Station for NT$80 (RM1 = NT$9) There’s plenty of express bus companies to choose from at the airport.
The accommodation we stayed for the first 3 nights in Taipei, Taipei Key Mall Traveler Hostel @ NT$1500 per night. I kinda regretted staying here for so long, as there’s many other nicer looking hotels with the same price in the area like CityInn.
Besides, the owner is a bit freaky and weird, and the worst thing is that they don’t accept credit card! Thanks to that I had to spend NT$4050 already on the first day, burning off 25% of the total cash we brought. And you know what, they even require a deposit of NT$300 for the bed sheets. I have learnt not to fully trust the positive reviews posted online now.
The only good thing about this hostel is its location. It’s located directly opposite the Taiwan Railway Station and is only 2 minutes away from the Taipei Main MRT station.
Since it was already evening when we reached our hostel, we decided to pay the night market a visit. And of course it gotta be Shihlin Night Market! Costs only NT$20 via MRT from Taipei station to JianTan station.
I have to say the MRT is what impressed me the most in Taipei. We never had to wait for more than 3 minutes for the train to arrive because the trains come so frequently. Our public transport is a joke if compared to theirs.
First thing that caught our eyes when we entered the night market, a lady selling sticks of candies 糖葫芦 made using huge strawberries. And I mean huge!
Some fruits that you must try in Taiwan are mango, lychee, guava and watermelon. Their watermelons are not round and longer in shape, not as juicy as ours and pack more crunch in the flesh.
This 生煎包 stall had lots of customers queuing up so we figured that it should be good. NT$12 for a meat bun and it was nice. Tasted like the ‘Dai Bao’ found in our dim sum restaurants, but with some vegetables inside. In our visits to the night markets, we chose the stall solely based on the number of people queuing for it.
A very famous drink in the night market is 粉圆, or the bubbles found in the Bubble Tea. It’s basically some transparent ball shaped jelly used to compliment drinks mostly.
In Taiwan they are also called 青蛙下蛋 eggs laid from the frog because of the similar look. This cup of Aiyu + Fenyuan drink cost NT$25 and to be honest it didn’t taste anything special to me.
Next to the Fenyuan stall was 郭记葱油饼, very brisk business indeed.
葱油饼 (Onion Flavored Biscuit) @ NT$23 with egg added. Crispy on the outside and much tastier when eaten together with the egg, which was fried to attach to the biscuit nicely.
And next to the Onion Flavored Biscuit stall was another stall with long queues, 蜜酥鸡排 (Crispy Honey Chicken Chop) We queued for it too.
It was so so so so so much nicer than those Chicken Chop sold by the Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks franchise in Malaysia. The chili powder was not spicy at all and added much required kick to the chicken chop. It numbs your lips too. NT$50 only.
起司马铃薯 (Cheese Potato) is a very popular food in the night market as well after being featured in many Taiwan food TV shows. We didn’t try it because the portion looked big and we wanted to save space for other stuff.
Next to a cinema is Shock Tea that sold 珍珠奶茶 (Bubble Tea). I had pretty high hopes but the taste was a let down.. basically just some teh ais we could get anywhere, added with bubbles. So, no it didn’t shock me or syok me at all, NT$25.
Stalls selling fruit juice were everywhere. And one of the specialties is the honey bitter gourd juice, see the white color fruit?
Quite surprised to know the night market also sells Bak Kut Teh and Hainan Chicken Rice lol. And they claim it’s from Sentosa, Singapore too.
Although it’s a popular food in Taiwan, Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐) is one thing I couldn’t stand. The taste, the smell, everything about it. Besides being barbecued, you will also find them being cooked in 麻辣 (Ma Lat) style and hot pots.
Luckily Taiwan’s stinky tofu smell is not as strong compared to the KL ones.
I think I will never ever be able to like Stinky Tofu. I just couldn’t tolerate the stench it emits.. and it felt like eating garbage while munching it in your mouth. Sorry to those Stinky Tofu lovers out there. This is my fourth time eating Stinky Tofu and I swear it will be my last. NT$25.
Barbecued bird eggs @ NT$20 a stick. Nothing special here, just like normal fried eggs.
The Spring Rolls had ingredients and preparation methods closely resembling our poppiah.
I was surprised to find 阿宗面线 (Ah Chung Flour-Rice Noodles) at Shihlin because from what I knew, it was only available in Xi Men Ding.
Didn’t waste the chance and grabbed a small bowl immediately @ NT$40. Wow it was nice, especially the soft and tender 大肠 (intestines) Put in some vinegar and hot sauce for the extra kick that will give your throat a burning sensation.
The good thing about Shihlin’s Ah Zong Mian Xian is that you get to sit and eat with tissues provided. Compared to the main branch at Xi Men Ding, you have to stand beside the road.
Due to the huge crowd, people are forced to walk near the main road. If you are not careful you might get hit by the incoming cars, scooters and worse still, buses! See the bus number 616 in the background? It was only inches away from the pedestrians.
Besides food, shops selling clothes, either branded or non-branded are widely available at the night market. I noticed that Taiwanese like to shop at night markets more than at shopping malls. Totally different from Malaysia.
The huge pot of jelly is called 爱玉 Aiyu Jelly, usually displayed with halved lemons on it. They do not melt easily even at high temperature.
Taiwan is blessed with lots of seafood, and barbecued giant squids like these were around almost every corner. Due to the huge size again, we did not try it.
Opposite the JianTan station, diagonally opposite the Shihlin night market is the old Shihlin Market – a food court like building. Some of Shihlin’s best food can be found here like 豪大大鸡排 (Hao Da Big Chicken Chop) and Oyster Omelettes.
Shaved ice desserts is the other attraction here, which you can only enjoy while seated.
After surveying around, we found 阿忠冰店 (Ah Zhong Ice Shop) had the most customers.
Our first shaved ice in Taiwan, 草莓芒果冰 (Strawberry and Mango Shaved Ice) @ NT$80. The way the desserts were prepared was very straightforward – just place the fruits on the shaved ice then pour the evaporated milk, syrups and condensed milk over it.
The thing that made it so special was the shaved ice, made with milk and had the softest and finest (软绵绵) texture ever. They don’t melt easily too.
There were many stalls selling 蚵仔煎 Oyster Omelette so we were kinda torn on which stall we should try. Since 大头龙 (Da Tou Long – Big Head Dragon) was featured in many Taiwanese shows as depicted at their stall front, we chose them.
Costing NT$50 a plate, it comes with some medium sized oysters and was topped with a sweet tasting sauce. Taste wise, I am glad to say our version of oyster omelette is MUCH better than theirs.
My observation revealed that our hawkers are more skillful in cooking a delicious oyster omelette. The way they cook the oyster omelette is so simple that anyone can master it in a few minutes. Fry some oyster first, add starch, then beat an egg on top of everything. Wait a while for it to fry and flip over, that’s all.
Now, compare that with our hawker’s skill.
We had some barbecued chicken and lamb flavored with black pepper @ NT$80 (not impressive) before we called it a day and headed back to our hostel. The next day, it’s all walking, walking, walking and more walking lol.
Now, for some random photos from Day 1
The Shihlin Old Market (not the night market), where I had the oyster omelette and shaved ice. Once you get down from JianTan MRT you will see this on your left.
Some sights on the way to Shihlin Night Market
At the main entrance of the night market
A shop selling Taiwan’s popular pastries. The 凤梨酥 (Pineapple Biscuits) are MUST BUYS, great as gifts.
The frog laying egg thingy I mentioned earlier. WOW Frog Eggs! Do you still have the appetite to try it? lol
Some exotic stuff to me that I never bothered wanting to try.. Ma Lat Chicken Blood wtf.
A bubble tea stall
This stall is selling something like our Ipoh’s Salted Chicken, 盐酥鸡. A funny thing in Taiwan is that they like to use the letter G to represent the Chinese word for Chicken, 鸡, since they sound similar. (To be continued)
阿宗面线 (Ah Chung Flour-Rice Noodles)
葱油饼 (Onion Flavored Biscuit)
蜜酥鸡排 (Crispy Honey Chicken Chop)
I am tempted by these foods!!! I also want to try the stink bomb! Am not a big fan, I only tasted twice, once in USJ15 and once in Cheras Pasar Malam. I want to try both, the fried and in spicy one. Hehe
I wonder is the shaved ice something like the shaved ice found in some shop in Kuching, Sarawak called ‘Igloo’. Their shaved ice are nice too, but not nice enough for me to recommend to others.. Hehe
skol’s last blog post..
Their shaved ice is very special one.. but you gotta specify that loh.. if not you will get those normal ice kacang ice only.. not fine enough.
I am going to Taiwan 2 days more.. really love all the picture that you take at Shilin Market.. all food are so tempting.. and i really envy you that…you get sponsor for flying to Taiwan…. MMm i fly with MAS too this time…
all of them are tempting!!! tot u are going there with kbcg.
looking forward for more of ur post.
We were supposed to go together.. but there was a conflict in our schedules.. quite a pity
I was a bit disappointed when visiting Shilin last time… the food was below my expectation.
Not the market’s fault… Malaysians are used to strong flavours; Taiwanese food was a bit tasteless in comparison.
YeinJee’s last blog post..Ai Kawashima to build 100 schools for poor
For me, Shihlin Night Market wasn’t the best one.. FengJia or RaoHe was much better in terms of food.. not so crowdy too
Nice one here. And considering this is only the part 1, you probably had a “very full” trip to Taiwan. Would love to have an eatery trip there as well :P
And i wonder, whats your gear in taking those clear pictures? You mind telling me? Very nice pictures even though they are taken at night. Any flash used?
lilweiser’s last blog post..Random Shots : The Room
now you make me miss Taipei so much…. most of the places i went too! u can check it out here. =P http://limfong.wordpress.com/tag/taiwan
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HAHA…didnt know you went to taiwan. I had tried the 3 different chou tofu there. The malat one is the best. We went there during winter, so it was cool and nice. We had the beef noodles and goose noodles too. :D
And the night market also had many illegal stalls put up right in the middle of the road, making the place more cramped, like walking in a mini bus! Managed to buy some cheap winter jackets too at their clearance sale.
No pics of the taiwanese girls? very cute wan leh… ;)
Wah all the food look real nice and delicious! Eh how lar…if I go there me and my wife don’t know chinese much….sure tersesat!
JD’s last blog post..Memoirs of June
Yeah if you don’t understand Chinese it could be a problem.. but luckily there are tour guides and maps in English
阿宗面线 is good
WOw what a trip! everything looks so good!
Pigpigscorner’s last blog post..Our Honeymoon – Bali Part I – Villa Ylang Ylang
Ahh…frog egg tea, a.k.a. pearl tea, a.k.a. bubble tea. Taiwan’s contribution to Asian culture :)
Hey this is Brian (co-founder/admin of PhotoMalaysia.com and resident of Taiwan). Welcome to Taiwan and enjoy your stay. If you have any questions or issues, you can email me or message me at PM.
I agree with you, both the fried chicken chop and mian xian are much better than the one sold in M’sia here. I also found the fried oyster in M’sia is much flavourful than taiwan as theirs is sweet.
cariso’s last blog post..Ah Joo Durian @ Sungai Batu
Our fried oysters are much tastier, no doubt about it.
Can really learn a lot about their food and presentation through your post…sure is very interesting, especially the giant squid.
ck lam’s last blog post..Penang Food – Braised Beef Noodle and Hainanese Satay
OMG! I so wanna go Taiwan!!!!
It’s a detail post and very informative for people who are planning a trip to Taiwan :) Can’t wait for the next part.
I’d like to try out the spicy chicken and shaved ice. I always like the texture of Taiwan shaved ice.
So, where’s your next destination?
allie’s last blog post..Apong Guan | Penang Hawker Food
I noticed the different between here and Taiwan. There mainly Chinese, so they compete with each other aggressively. They come out with their own idea, own packaging in order to attract customer.
Little Inbox’s last blog post..Song Yen Seafood (Revisited)
wah lau eh~
the street food is soooooooooooo tempting.
faster faster post the rest.. at least got more idea when goin there~:)
taufulou’s last blog post..Kenny Surprise B’day @ Boston, Mt Kiara
wow, the street side snack variety is overhelming and strange all together..I can’t wait for the second part of this Taiwan trip! thanks for the introduction to Taiwan :)
will on the look out on your blog. planning a trip in march, infact bought air-asia. couldnt get any for 778 like u mention on MAS, all around 1k plus. air-asia only 500ish..
looks like hotel can b quite exp hor? nt 1500 only got that kinda std?
lotsofcravings’s last blog post..Las Carretas @ Damansara, Jalan Semantan
there are many other better hotels in Taipei near the MRT station. I would recommend CityInn @ NT1560 (RM173) a night because they offer free self-laundry service, which I liked a lot. Besides that LCD TV and huge shower are provided too. Staff is very polite and helpful. And mention credit card is most welcomed. Only downside is the smaller room
The cheapest hotel I asked around the MRT is @ NT1250 a night, but they accept cash only.
Very memorize my taiwan trip few year ago. The food at shilin is quite nice.
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Wow! I really miss Taipei a lot! :) Your pictures are really beautiful! There’s this very nice Mango Ice place at Ximending called San Xiong Mei. It means…Three Brothers and Sisters in Chinese. Their ice is very special because it’s made of MILK! Ooh yum yum! :) I can’t wait to go there again! Ya i think maybe i will try to stay at City Inn next time! :)
Oh, I tried the San Xiong Mei :) It was OK, I felt the Tai Yi Da Niu Nai @ Gongguan was much nicer
hahaha i like the ‘pukii’ pig so cute, imagine what the pig mother called if in m’sia… hahaha
Yo dawg , typo error spotted dawg .
“They way they cook the oyster omelette is so simple that anyone can master it in a few minutes”
Should be The way they cook :) Not they LOL .
LOL dawg thanks to you I spotted another typo .. “delicious”
LOL … ok , nao where’s my present ?? hahhahahha lol ….
BTW , the min sin , the ricenoodle , i ate before in 1U , there’s a shop selling it , looks similiar but donno the taste same anot with taiwan’s .
that 1U d ricenoodle , one word , SUCKS ! hahahha
[…] from Day 1 of my Taiwan trip. We decided to skip the free breakfast provided by our hostel because I have made it a point to try […]
Hmm, planning to go for trip to Taiwan next month, this was exactly the info that I needed :)
Btw, normally do the hotels around the location you said got vacancy? Any reservations need to be made?
Wow!! Thanks for sharing!! I’m going to Taiwan next year during CNY (one of the coldest season there =..=) and Shilin Night Market is our first stop. If the weather is not toooooo cold, I’d like to try the superFINE shaved ice.
Oh man.. I can foresee that I’ll come back rounder from the trip to Taiwan.
I’ll go to Taiwan this coming Aug. Kinda regret as I dint know summer is the worst time to visit Taiwan. Anyway, ticket has been booked. Just go and njoy it.
I read ur blog, its contains lots of useful info.
Besides, when can we expect ur next update?
M looking forward ur update as m now gather those info b4 i go to Taiwan.
Wow, this is wonderful!
A few questions if you dont mind,
1. Are the taiwanese friendly and can they speak good english?
2. Is taking a taxi expensive?
3. Where in KL i can get Smelly tofu? Any place you can recommend?
4. Any detail/contact of the City Inn that you talk about? is it near the MRT Station as well?
1. They are friendly, I only spoke English to my tour guide. But they should be able to speak simple English
2. Taxi in Taipei and Taichong uses meter. Starting from NT$70 at Taipei and NT$85 at Taichong. Cheap if you have at least 2 people taking it
3. You can get smelly tofu in pasar malam at Kepong every Sunday. Asia Cafe used to sell it too but not sure if it’s still there.
4. You can google for it, just use CityInn as keyword. It’s about 2-4 minutes’ walk from the MRT station, very near
wow your pictures are all amazing. may i know what camera u used ? making me soo hungry! hehe
hi mac, I am only using canon 400D with a 17-70mm sigma lens
hi vkeong, wow.. u got your new lens ??? thousand plus right ??
cool .. hope to get 1 la .. wat’s the function ??
i follow your advice buy 1 50mm f1.8 d .. not bad huh..
and 1 question, if i wan the whole first plate of food to be clear and second plateto be blur then wat aparture i should set ?? around ??
lol my new lens is not exactly new anymore.. already 7 months old.. it cost 1300.. Sigma 17-70mm
Emm.. I think for the 1st plate.. f 5.6 to f7.1 should make ur plate clear, 2nd one if you want slight blur, f2.8 to f3.5 should be good. try and play around
oo ya .. thanks ya ..
all u do is in AV mode right ??? and the iso also auto ??
and 1 more noob question ,lol , if shoot fireworks , only need to set to tv mode ?
then change the shutter speed to 20″ like tat ?? how if it cannot find the focus point cause too dark ?
thanks for helping me.
yes, I do AV mode, iso is not auto. i usually use the less the better. day light 100-200, indoor 400.
tv mode is not only for fireworks as far as i know. but yeah I use TV mode for fireworks. 20″ is too long.. usually just 3-5 seconds, depending on how long the fireworks take to finish. usually we set to manual focus too infinity, or set to take landscape mode for fireworks
and your Sigma 17-70mm really do well in low light huh ..
all u shoot at night is without flash ??
yes, those night shots taken outdoor were without flash
[…] also tried their Fried Oyster @ NT$50. Although not great, it was heaps better the one we had at Shihlin a few days […]
[…] also tried their Fried Oyster @ NT$50. Although not great, it was heaps better the one we had at Shihlin a few days […]
Wow, Vkeong, thank you for such colourful & lively photos!
If u are looking for those good and tasty bubble tea that you can’t find even in taiwan, you can always come to Tea Milk at bandar puteri puchong, jalan puteri 2/2.
you will definitely enjoy it because we have modified the flavour that brought from Taiwan. ;)
I’m going to Taiwan next year, March. Your info is really helpful. By the way, could you please advise me on finding a reasonably-priced and ideally located hostel? You mentioned about CityInn. I checked with its website, I found they have four hostels. Which one would you recommend?
Really nice shot you got there
Hi! I haven’t been to Taiwan and I wrote about their famous chicken chop reaching my country. I hope it is okay if I used your photo as an example of chicken chops in Taiwan. I did not claim the photo to be mine. I acknowledged your website in my post. Please tell me if it is not okay with you and I will remove the photo.
Taiwan is located off the southeastern coast of China, at the
western edge of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and the Philippines.
Taiwan is well-known for one of top tourist countries in Asia region. Let’s explore the beauty of Taiwan with us!