To Miaoli for food [YQasia Day 15 Oct 10]

miao li

Location: Taichung, Taiwan

It was a weekend so my uncle brought everyone out to Miaoli for a meal of Hakka food. My aunt’s sister and her family came along in another car.

Before we had our lunch, we dropped by two housing areas to take a look at the latest Be A Weekend Farmer craze in Taiwan. These housing areas cater to city folks who want to grow their own organic vegetables and don’t mind dropping hundred thousand NT$’s for a little patch of land.

Be a weekend farmer
Be a weekend farmer

Developers fence up the plots and include a little one-room house and a webbed area for planting which also includes a sprinkler. Those who buy these plots probably envision themselves driving two hours out into the suburbs during weekends and collect the fruits and vegetables of their labors.

One of my uncle’s concern for such a place was that hobos would come and stay there while the owners are away. The developer assured that residents can hire security guards for their neighborhood to patrol and avoid such problems.

After the house seeing, we drove for another 30 minutes to the famous Hakka restaurant where meals are cooked for multiples of 4 persons. We had the 8 person set which included noodles wih pig trotters, a whole fish, chicken, radish cake, veggie and soup.

Hakka food in Taiwan
Hakka food

After our stomach-exploding meal, it was back to Taichung.

Over excited little old dog with protruding eyes
Over excited little old dog with protruding eyes

During the night, we met up with my mom’s friend and ex-classmate, Aunty Wu. She brought us out to dinner at a Japanese izakaya-like place. Unfortunately, the photos of the restaurant and food were not transferred to my computer so you just have to imagine.

We had thick slices of sashimi, steamed egg, yakitori on sticks, a salad (which I did not touch) and soups in little teapots.

Post-dinner, we visited Aunty Wu’s manfriend (the guy is about 70, I can’t still call him boyfriend, can I?). He was delivering goods but was hit by another motorcycle and broke his leg quite badly. He was put up in a nice private ward and had the whole room to himself.

After a brief chit chat, it was time to head back to my uncle’s. My aunt bought 2 cans of Taiwanese flavored beer for me to try. I tried the pineapple beer first. The aftertaste of beer was much stronger than similar stuff from Japan.

Encouraged by the beer, we went to bed early.

Read more about the Taiwan trip:

Day 0 Flight to Taipei cancelled because of typhoon
Day 1 Flight to Taiwan, bus to Taichung
Day 2 Staying at a hot springs resort in Dongpu
Day 3 Outlet shopping at Sunshine Plaza in Taichung

Outlet shopping at Sunshine Plaza in Taichung [YQasia Day 14 Oct 9]

taichung shopping

Location: Taichung, Taiwan

I have quite a silly travel regret: I do not go to outlet shopping enough.

Wait a minute, you ask. Aren’t you a miserly traveller? Why do you even want to go to outlets? Plus, why didn’t you go in the first place so you won’t regret not going?

Let me answer your questions one-by-one:

1. Somewhere in my miserly mind, I associate the discounts from buying at outlet stores as savings. (Nevermind that I would save more if I don’t buy anything in the first place.)

2. I never went to any outlets in Paris, Barcelona, San Francisco or Tokyo because the outlets were far away from the city and I would rather sightsee more than head out to shop.

So I finally had the chance to indulge in outlet shopping when my aunt and her friend brought my mom and me to Sunshine Plaza in Taichung. Well, my mom had the chance to indulge in outlet shopping, I mean, since I don’t have a job yet I cannot afford to buy.

Coach outlet at Sunshine Plaza Taichung
Coach outlet at Sunshine Plaza Taichung

The saleslady at the Coach outlet was really nice as she probably has a good commission. She even allowed us to put our backpacks along with our purchases behind her counter while we went for a small lunch and a walk around the outlet mall.

In contrast, the saleslady at the Fox shoes outlet was a pain. She grudgingly gave me too sizes to try. I didn’t like the designs to begin with but my mother insisted that I try them out. While I put them on, I complained that the sizes were either half a size too large or small.

Fox Saleslady then mumbled really loudly about people who do not know how to wear shoes and that sizes are fixed anyway. I felt like being a bitch back at her but bit my tongue.

I got my consolation later. As we were heading up the escalator after applying for tax refund, I saw Fox Sales lady talking to her friend. Her reflection was in the mirror at the wall and I was reflected as well. This time, I didn’t hold my tongue but rather stuck it out at my reflection. I think she caught me doing it but I brushed past her back and went up the escalator.

I think I’m still too childish.

In the end, I managed to get one pair of shoe at Sunshine Plaza. It’s actually a triumph because I rarely find shoes that I actually like.

The beginning of the day…

I took a bath in the hot springs tub behind the room before heading to breakfast. The breakfast buffet was quite amazing with a spread of Taiwanese food including porridge, pan fried dumplings, organic soy milk, century egg, tofu, stirfried veggies and so on.

Later, we took the 10:20am bus to Shuili and then another bus to Taichung. Halfway through the journey, an old lady realized that the bus was not heading to where she wanted to go. The bus driver kindly went out of the way and dropped her off before

When we reached Taichung station, we found our way to Sunshine Plaza and did what I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

Taichung Second market
Taichung Second market

After our shopping trip, it was my aunt’s time to head back while mom and I waited for my uncle in front of a shopping mall. The sky turned dark and the lane in front of the mall was semi-clogged by cars dropping off and picking up passengers.

Our uncle arrived finally and brought us to a little place for freshwater fish. Then we retired for the night.

Small eatery in Taichung
Small eatery in Taichung

Check out the YQ in Taiwan series:

Day 1 Flight to Taiwan, bus to Taichung [YQasia Day 12 Oct 7]
Day 2 Staying at a hot springs resort in Dongpu [YQasia Day 13 Oct 8]

Staying at a hot springs resort in Dongpu [YQasia Day 13 Oct 8]

hot springs in dongpu

Location: Dongpu, Taiwan

My mom decided not to join the tour group organized for overseas Chinese and instead to go with the flow. Today, the flow (my aunt, no pun intended) brought us to a hot springs resort in Dongpu.

We met up with my aunt’s high school classmate at Taichung train station. The train station is a beautiful colonial building and its internal structure reminded me very much of the train stations in Japan.

Taichung train station
Taichung train station

In fact, did you know that that Taiwan was colonized by Japan between 1895 and 1945? Quite a few people are still enamored with the Japanese rule and hope to return to “the good old days”. (“Quite a few” being a handful few older folks that I’ve met.)

The train rolled through the Taiwanese country side, bringing us visions of rice fields, tall betel nut trees, mountains and one scene of hundreds of ducks. I thought the countryside looked a bit like ours back home in Sabah with betel nut trees swapped with coconut trees.

Our final destination was Dongpu (东埔) so we stopped at Shuili (水里) for the 1pm bus. We walked on the narrow streets and had an early lunch before having an ice cream. Then we headed to the bus station.

Shuili train station
Shuili train station

When the bus came at 1pm, we queued to get on. Strangely, the bus queue stopped moving so we thought that the old lady in front was holding up the queue.

A quarrel on the bus

Suddenly, the bus driver got out of the bus and went into the office. He brought out one of the station employees, saying, “A passenger said he wants to ‘fix’ me!” He got back on the bus with the lady in tow and shouted for the man to reveal himself.

We eventually got on the bus but the driver was still having his one-sided shouting match. He threw a tantrum and said that he dared not drive since the man would beat him up. An old lady with snowy white hair kept apologizing on behalf of her 50-year-old son. From her pleas, we learned that the son had mental problems and was angry when the driver required his mother to show him her senior citizen pass.

Some of the passengers also tried to calm the driver down, saying that the passenger’s mom had already apologized and the driver should forgive and forget. Still, the driver did not budge.

We all sat in the warm bus while the driver made calls to the police, announcing loudly that a passenger had “threatened” him. Soon, a police officer who also looked in his 50s arrived. When he got on our bus, he said, “Hey, why is it so hot in here.”

The driver turned on the engine and cool air rushed out of the vents. My mom clapped once. Upon hearing the clap, the officer asked everyone to clap for the driver. We all did clap and cheered.

The police then heard both sides of the stories. In the end, he gave the driver a choice of filing a report or suing the passenger. The driver probably chose the former. Finally, the drive started.

A hot spring resort

Even though Google Maps said it would take 24 minutes to reach Dongpu, the bus stopped multiple times so it took about an hour to reach our destination.

Our room was on the lower floor of a wooden structure. Behind, there were two small pools, one for hot spring water and the other for cold water.

Dongpu Hot springs
Dongpu Hot springs

The Taiwanese also inherited a love for soaking in hot springs from the Japanese. Taiwan’s mountains are filled with these mineral-laden hot water so it makes perfect sense to cultivate such a tradition.

We didn’t do much in the resort. We watched TV, took turns in pair to soak in the little tubs and had dinner. Then I went to the open air pools with my aunt’s friend where we soaked in 40 degrees Celcius hot spring water.

Open air hot springs
Open air hot springs

Life is good.

Check out the YQ in Taiwan series:

Day 1 Flight to Taiwan, bus to Taichung [YQasia Day 12 Oct 7]
Day 2 Staying at a hot springs resort in Dongpu [YQasia Day 13 Oct 8]

Flight to Taiwan, bus to Taichung [YQasia Day 12 Oct 7]

to taichung

Location: Shanghai, China -> Taipei -> Taichung, Taiwan

Background: My flight to Taiwan was cancelled yesterday because of typhoon. However, the airline company gave us each a bed in a nice hotel far away from the airport.

I set the alarm for 4:15am since we needed to check out at 5:00am. But I woke up before the alarm and spent 15 minutes lying in bed, not willing to get up before the alarm. Is there a word for this situation?

The hotel lobby was dark when I went down to check out. It wasn’t until 5:32am when the shuttle bus came to pick us up to the airport. Yesterday, there were 2 buses which brought us to the hotel. Today there was only one as many had probably left for their home in Shanghai.

Shanghai Airport

When we arrived at the airport, only one regular counter and the first class counter was opened. The queue snaked out of its boundaries. Soon, someone managed to put the queue in order.

As I was reaching my end of the queue, a lady with a ponytail went to the counter and made a loud fuss. Between her fake-like, dry crying, she asked the airline employee to “please, please let [her on]” since she wanted to “bring [her] kid home”. Then she dropped to her knees and started really begging him for help.

The airline employee looked uncomfortable and replied that he couldn’t help her if she did not bring her identification with her. Hearing this, the woman let out a loud moan. In the end, the employee said he would see what can do.

In the end, I did see her and her kid at the boarding lounge. So thankfully for that.

Another flight delay

When we were all gathered at the boarding lounge, we were still not asked to board the plane. I overheard that the flight would be delayed yet again. This was confirmed when the airline folks asked us to queue for our breakfast since the flight would be delayed again.

I never say no to free food.

I ate some of the biscuit and drank all my Coke and waited. Suddenly, we were asked to queue up for the shuttle bus to the plane. Hurray!

My seat was in the middle with four seats in the row. My seat mate was on the other end of the row so I sad comfortably.

For breakfast on China International Airlines, there was a choice of Chinese and Western breakfast. Chinese food was porridge while Western was eggs with one sausage.

I fell asleep for most of the flight so the 2-hour flight so it was very fast.

Back in Taiwan!

The last time I was in Taiwan was in 2010. It was a business trip so I didn’t enjoy a lot of the island. This time ’round, I will be joining my mom on a 9-day trip where we will see a lot and eat a lot.

Buy your 3G SIM cards at Chunghwa Telecom booth at the airport

Mom was already at the airport when I arrived. We headed to the mobile company booths on the left corner of the arrival doors. Here, we each bought a SIM with unlimited 3G internet for 10 days at a cost of NT$500.

We bought bus tickets to where we would meet our aunt. The bus journey was long and I even caught a few winks.

My aunt was waiting at the bus stop when we got there. We went to her place and settled our luggage before taking the bus to central Taiwan–Taichung.

Since I didn’t need to do any travel planning, travelling from Taipei to Taichung seemed easy. We went to the bus company and bought tickets for the bus leaving in 10 minutes.

Off we went to Taichung. Of course, this is also the best time for napping.

Tong Lian bus company

Let's go pray with incense

Miyahara ice cream in Taichung

Miyahara Eye Specialist Ice Cream

When we reached Taichung, my aunt brought us to a famous ice cream place. The building was previously a hospital but now it’s a really beautiful place selling ice cream and biscuits.

We bought three ice cream flavors (82% Ecuadorian chocolate, “half-dreaming-half-awake” and local guava) on a wafer bowl. With three flavors, we got four free toppings including cheesecake, pineapple cake, pumpkin seeds and caramel.

The shop also has a lovely space selling all sorts of wedding cookies. However, these cookies are packaged like books and are arranged on shelves.

Miyahara Eye Specialist cookie store

After desserts, we took the bus to the National Museum of Natural Science. While we were there, there was a promo for paying bus rides using payment cards. The first 8km of the ride was free when you use payment cards. Luckily, Taipei’s prepaid cards work here too.

Public bus in Taichung

National Museum of Natural Science holds fond memories for me. The museum was a place my mom brought my sister and me to frequently when we were in Taiwan as kids. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Monday so we ended up sitting at the garden behind the museum.


After bumming around in the garden, it was time to meet my uncle. When we got on his car, we found a walking sticks. Turns out he was knocked down by a motorcycle on his way to take the bus. He added that he rarely takes the bus.

Since my uncle could not walk far, we chose to eat inside a shopping mall. Our meal for the night was Hunan food, a bit funny since I just came from China and ate a lot of Chinese food there.

After dinner, we head back to uncle’s place.

Have you been to Taichung? Do you have a favorite sightseeing spot?