#160317 Taiwan Day 3: Alishan, Beimen, Tainan

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Hello! It has been a while since I posted but I’m back to blog about day three of my Taiwan trip!

Dad and I woke up extra early on day three, at 3.40 am, because we wanted to go catch the sun rise. (Well, my dad mostly. I’m more of a sun set person because I hate waking up early. Furthermore, it was extremely cold that day as we were up on the mountains. 😩)

We took a shuttle bus provided by Alishan Guest House, to the Alishan train station. It was a thirty minute ride from the station to Zhu Mountain (where we would be waiting for the sun to rise). Tip: Get in the train queue early and grab seats as fast as you can because if you don’t, there would be 0 seats left in no time. We only managed to get 1 seat so my dad and I had to take turns sitting down LOL. I slept throughout the ride because I was so sleepy. 💀 And cold. I was under prepared as I thought Taiwan would merely be sweater weather, so I didn’t bring a winter jacket… I was wearing a sweater, jacket and a down jacket but I still felt like it was freezing in the train… And of course the fact that it was the early morning made it worse.

When we got there, we were told we still had to wait about half an hour or one hour? (More waiting… Urgh) I was so cold and bored while waiting but I couldn’t leave to hide in the shelter since my dad and I were at the front aka one of the best spots to view the sun rise sigh. Now I can say I very much prefer to wait in hot and humid weather than cold weather.

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Took this while waiting for the sun to rise

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Okay so the funny thing was, more than one hour had passed and the sky was brightening, but there was still 0 sun rise. I was so puzzled but the in-charge said to wait a while more and the sun would rise. But,, the sky is already bright, doesn’t that mean the sun has already risen?? ❔❔❔

My dad and I waited a while more but we realised the sky was already as bright as day and it’s impossible to see the sun rise at this point so we decided to give up and leave LOL. It was such a fail and I felt so cheated. I was like, “Okay somebody please tell me why I woke up at 3.40 am for this??”

But at least I got to witness the beautiful 云海 (sea of clouds) and took some pretty photographs so I didn’t go there for absolutely nothing. And I was so glad that whole process was over. I could finally escape into the warmth and eat my breakfast!!

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Omelette, cream pasta, fried mantou, burdock, and some other vegetables! The only meat was the ham from the omelette but it was still a delicious breakfast!

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Breakfast with the greenery!
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Coffee section with 6 different kinds of flavoured syrups which I was impressed about!
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And their coffee machine with a wide variety of coffees!
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Coffee + Yakult in the morning = Perfect recipe for constipation
After breakfast our driver drove us to this tea plantation called 阿里山邹族文化部落 (Alishan zou zu wen hua bu luo). The entrance was very well-decorated!

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Visit to their cultural museum
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Picturesque tea plantation
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Weird-looking orange fruits in their garden
We were taken by our driver to the tea plantation’s shop/tea house to learn more about Alishan tea and the tea brewing process! But before that, I was given a small sample of the Alishan instant milk coffee and I fell in love at first sip… It was mildly sweet, mildly bitter and milky. I liked it so much that I even purchased a small pack of it even though they specialise in tea not coffee. 😂 What can I say… I am coffee trash… Coffee over tea any day ☕️💓

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Alishan coffee hehe
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One of the staff kindly sat down to go through the whole tea brewing process with us. It was very calming listening to him talk and trying the different kinds of tea the shop offers.

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The reason why there are two cups there is because the long and thin cup is for tea smelling. The tea is poured in there for you to smell first, then, you put the rounder cup on top of the thin cup, flip it over and drink from the round cup. I also learned that 1) it is better to throw out the first pot of brewed tea as it isn’t good for the body 2) the tea leaves in tea bags are actually tea leaf ‘crumbs’ and not whole tea leaves crushed into small bits lol so it’s better to purchase tea leaves in bottles and not tea bags.

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Left: tea leaves after they’re soaked in hot water Right: tea leaves before they are soaked
Our session got interrupted as it was time to go watch the dance and singing performances by the Zou zu tribe.

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It was quite interesting to watch the people wear their costumes and perform their cultural songs/dances!

After the performances, it was time for lunch. The restaurant only offers set meals and you can choose from different sets depending on how many people you have. We ordered the one for 2-3 people and the portions were SO BIG.

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Me with an ‘A’ chair and some sakura flowers!
After lunch, we went back to the tea house to continue trying different teas! That time something interesting happened. As we were listening and chatting, a group of middle-aged Koreans suddenly came and sat themselves down with us though they couldn’t understand chinese. They conversed in Korean and I could actually understand some of it.

“What tea is this?”

“Sit down”

“There’s a procedure for this you can’t do it your way.” (this one was funny haha)

Quite a few people asked what tea it was and I couldn’t take it anymore so I tried to answer them in my broken Korean HAHA. All I said was “balgan cha” which is direct translation for ‘red tea’ because I didn’t know what red tea was in Korean. 😂 I only knew green tea was ‘nok cha’ LOL. And then the staff asked me to help tell them the price in Korean but I was so nervous that I totally forgotten how to say the price in Korean RIP. And then they left but my hands were still shaking like a leaf 😂 Oh gosh how am I gonna order stuff in Korean when I go to Korea next time 😂

But anyways,, we finished the session and got some Alishan tea and coffee!! Not surprisingly, the Alishan coffee is diminishing faster than the Alishan tea because I keep making it for me and my dad at home 😂 Probably also because it’s easier to make since it’s instant…

Due to the several cups of tea we tried, I had the strong urge to go to the toilet but we were already in the car travelling elsewhere (yes, I did go to the toilet before I left) so I had to try my best to go into zen mode and try not to think of my bursting bladder. 😂😭

Our next location was the 水晶教堂 (shui jing jiao tang / crystal church) in Tainan.

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It’s so pretty and transparent like a crystal. 😍 There were also two cute red hearts stuck on the walls of the church. ❤️️ Unfortunately, the church was cordoned off and nobody could enter the church so I could only take pictures with it at a distance.

Then, we drove down the road a bit more to get to the 云嘉南风景区北门游客中心 (yun jia nan feng jing qu bei men you ke zhong xin).

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Aww so cute.
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I love bright and colourful buildings.
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Amazing rainbow of wall drawings.
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Close-up hehe.
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Old-style provision shop
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Read as 钱来也 (qian lai ye). Apparently it used to be a provision shop too.
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Then it was time for dinner! We went to Flower Night Market (花园夜市).

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We got there before it was dark so many of the stalls were still in the midst of preparing to open.

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Korean egg bread which was good!
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Fried chicken with sweet sauce. It was so popular that the stall owner had to put queue line barricades for people to queue in!
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This bowl of udon was really mediocre.
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Cutely shaped egg breads!
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Forgotten it’s name but it tastes like fried fish paste.
I also bought a big cup of pearl milk tea which tasted nothing like milk tea so I threw it away before I even reached 1/4 of the cup… Personally, Flower Night Market isn’t a night market that I would like to visit again because the variety of food and drinks didn’t stand out to me. You can find those in other night markets.

Finally, it was time to return to the hotel to rest!! This was a hotel that I booked online and I was glad that my father liked it! The name of the hotel is Golden Tulip Glory Fine Hotel. It was a small but cozy and modern hotel room. The decorations are more homely than hotel-ish. There were also free apples to eat so I took one to neutralise all the oils from the food I ate at the night market.

That’s all for day 3!!

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#150317 Taiwan Day 2: Chia Yi (嘉义) & Alishan (阿里山)

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Before the fun from day 2 officially started, dad and I had breakfast at the hotel.

The view from where we had breakfast was really pretty… I think I have a thing for pastel/dull coloured buildings.

The breakfast from this buffet spread was not bad, and I liked the ice lemon tea! It was the first time I saw iced tea being served at breakfast but tea is a very common drink in Taiwan and you can find it almost everywhere.

After breakfast our first stop was Hinoki Village (檜意森活村). The village looks Japanese as it was a place where Japanese people stayed in during the Japanese Occupation. Many of the cottages were shops selling souvenirs and food, and it was a pity that almost none of the shops were open when we visited. 😦 The whole place was really nice to explore, though.

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This is a really pretty cafe that sells pancakes and egg waffles! The food on the poster looked good but it was closed. 😦
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Really unique and majestic horse statue made out of wood.
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Me with an old carriage.
There were also many flowers and greenery surrounding the cottages. I really liked the entire place as it gave off a relaxing vibe that you have when being out in nature. There were also very little visitors since it was a weekday, making the tour even more peaceful. Before leaving the place, dad and I stopped by a souvenir shop (probably the only shop open when we visited) to buy some souvenirs! Dad got a cool wood massager and a key chain in the shape of what Taiwan looked like on the map while I got some irrelevant things like 2 washi tapes…….. What are priorities ha ha……

Then we went to visit some temples and the Tian Chang Di Jiu Bridge in Alishan (天长地久桥).

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Posing with my zodiac, the rabbit!
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So beautiful.
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Tian Chang Di Jiu Bridge
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There were a lot of stair-climbing so I ended up getting a little sweaty and breathless. It was good exercise before we continue eating rubbish though.

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Taiwanese sausages & pork cutlets
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These are charcoal-grilled Taiwanese Sausages. It was the best Taiwanese sausage I have ever tried in my life. It was a little too oily but when you bite into it, it was so juicy and flavourful. It was also warm since it was fresh off the grill. This wasn’t originally on the plan but I noticed many people queuing up for this and decided to suggest it to my dad, knowing he wouldn’t say no. (He loves junk food as much as me LOL).

Then it was lunch time~

The driver recommended this place that specialises in bento boxes. It’s called railway bento (木桶型铁路便当).

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What the shop looks like on the outside
I just realised I didn’t take photos of the railway bento and I don’t know why I didn’t photograph such an important thing??

Maybe because before eating I went to use the washroom, and the female’s washroom only had 2 cubicles, one squatting and one sitting, and it was so small, wet and smelly. Then when I got out, I wanted to wash my hands and quickly get out of the place but I couldn’t because someone vomited into the sink and there wasn’t any public sinks I could use… After that whole experience I myself felt nauseous and that was probably why I just wanted to quickly finish lunch and get out of the restaurant.

Not sure if it was because of the traumatising experience, but the bento was pretty average to me. The food came in a metal round container, and had a chicken drum stick, pork slices and some vegetables sitting on top of a bed of rice. It was quite hard to eat as well since I was only equipped with a spoon and a pair of chopsticks…

Anyways, after the meal we stepped out into the chilly weather and I felt much better. We went to explore the street shops near the area aka 奋起湖老街.

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Ai yu bing (爱玉冰)
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Ai yu bing (Ai yu = a type of natural jelly, bing = ice) is a must-try drink in Taiwan, so we got a cup each when we saw this aunty selling them! (Ok, actually I thought I was going to share a cup with my dad because it was quite chilly and I didn’t want to have any opportunity to use that smelly washroom, but apparently my dad wanted a cup to himself, so in the end I got a small cup to myself as well…) This stall includes lemon juice and honey in their ai-yu, and you could also add chia seeds (or some kind of seeds I’m not really sure what they are called) free of charge, so we did.

They also served the ai yu warm, but both of us got the iced version. It was a very refreshing drink and I loved it!! The aunty selling the ai yu was very nice and friendly too, kind of like a mother figure. Ahhh looking at it now makes me want to have another cup…

Our final destination was the Alishan Guest House (阿里山宾馆). Since Alishan is on the mountains, the weather got 2 x colder when we went up. On the drive up, I also experienced pressure in my ears. (The same kind you experience when a plane you’re on starts to land.)

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But look at how pretty the hotel is on the outside ahhh.
After checking in to the hotel, my dad and I decided to explore the Alishan National Scenic Area beside the hotel before dinner. And… Not long after leaving the hotel, we spotted… SAKURA!!! I was so excited as it was my first time seeing a real sakura tree. In fear of not being able to see more sakura trees as we explored further into the forest, I spammed my phone with so many photos of these beautiful sakura flowers, wide shot, close-up, selfie, wefie, you name it and I can provide it HAHA.

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Everyone had the same fear as me as they were all trying to snatch spots near the tree to get photographs. It was difficult to get a spot but my dad and I managed to get one!!

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Trying to attempt a chio selfie but obviously failed… How do people do this so easily sxdfgh
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CLOSE-UP SHOT
After getting our fill of sakura photos/videos we finally walked further into the forest and I thought there wouldn’t be any more sakura trees,,, but GUESS WHAT THERE WERE MOREEEE.

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Was impressed because the shape of the petals were the same as the sakura drawings I see on emojis/other products
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Wanted to spam photos again over here as there were 3 trees together and looked prettier but there were gigantic bees flying around so I had to make it a fast one as I’m quite afraid of bees haha. I know they won’t harm people without reason but they are still scary…

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I got a herbal egg during the walk. Quite delicious.
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Three generations of treeeees
After walking for a while I thought we were going to go back to the hotel for dinner but it was nearing the time for sun set and my father seemed to want to wait for it so we ended up waiting (for quite a while… maybe 30 minutes or even an hour IDK I wasn’t counting) for the sun to set… I was quite bored since I couldn’t surf the net using my data (as my phone was going to run out of battery and I wanted to save them for the sun set) and I was getting so impatient and cold and mentally hurrying the sun to set LOL. But the sun finally set and it was breathtaking.

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Sun setting + sea of clouds = breathtaking
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I overheard a local tour guide say that we shouldn’t just leave after the sun sets as we would be missing out on the equally beautiful pink sky, so both of us stayed til the pink sky appeared and I gotta say, no regrets man.

After the sun set we finally walked back for dinner and it was quite scary as the whole place was almost pitch dark and we weren’t familiar with the park. It was also getting EVEN COLDER since there was no sunlight to bring us warmth. Thankfully my dad somehow knew the way back and we arrived safely.

My dad made a dinner reservation at the hotel for 7.30-9 pm, but when we got back it was only around 6.30 pm I think, so he went to bathe while I caught up with my Korean drama heh. Currently chasing Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and it has been really promising so far. I’ve seen the teaser for this week’s episode and I can’t wait for it to be released!!

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Dinner was average… Edible but not really delicious… Except the mushrooms though, the mushrooms are really good.

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They did have a really large variety of food to choose from, and they even have a coffee machine that served drinks like mocha, matcha milk and matcha coffee WHAAAAT. I was so impressed by that that I couldn’t pass up on the matcha milk for dinner. The quality of the matcha milk was good too! I really enjoyed that warm and sweet cup of matcha milk.

After dinner we went to learn about constellations since the hotel offers free lessons. We even went outside to observe the stars and there were so many stars and the entire sky looked so beautiful. 😍 But it got too cold and I didn’t bring my jacket with me so we had to leave shortly to escape from the cold… I felt so bad for my dad because he seemed very interested in the constellations… 😕 Sorry dad…

But anyways that’s it for day 2. Stay tuned for day 3! Bye~