#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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#211216 Finland Day 1: Grocery Shopping in Rovaniemi & Ranua Wildlife Zoo

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It is currently 5th March 2017 and after 23456789 years I am FINALLY blogging about my Finland trip.

We boarded Finnair at around 11.30 pm on 20th December. Since it was a midnight flight, I spent almost the whole flight sleeping… It was a pity because I couldn’t enjoy much of the on-board facilities like movies or shows… 😦

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At about 10:21 AM SG time breakfast was served. It was a rather simple meal consisting of a croissant, sausage, tomato, mushroom omelette, baked beans, yoghurt and some fruit. TBH this wasn’t a very delicious breakfast but I guess it was better than having no breakfast at all…

Shortly after, the flight arrived in Helsinki Airport. We still had to take a domestic flight to Rovaniemi before our itinerary could officially start.

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Once we touched down, the first place we went to was… I actually don’t know the name of the place it was just a place full of snow and I remembered there was a theatre there?? Basically we went there to take some photos of the snow (come to think of it I actually don’t see the point of stopping there maybe it was so that we could experience some snow before getting food?? I don’t know OMG my memories have become so fuzzy rip) and okay we did end up with some pretty photos and selfies.

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The whole ground was filled with snow!!!
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Me trying very hard to get a Tumblr photo of my Timberland boots LOL

It got very cold although the sky started to brighten (in Rovaniemi, the days only last for 3-4 hours so it was really hard to get bright photos and I was glad I didn’t live there because I prefer day time than night time) so we got up the bus and went shopping for grocery/snacks at the mall nearby.

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The vegetables were displayed really prettily

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I got this cinnamon round pastry and it was so good. Chewy, rich in cinnamon and not too sweet (I have this thing against overly sweet stuff). I would have preferred it if it was warm though, because this one was cold since it was displayed in the grocery store under the pastry/bread section. Imagine how delicious it would be if it was warmed up ahhh. The store had a wide variety of pastries though which I was impressed about.

img_24611 We also bought this and since the words were in Finnish we couldn’t understand it but we assumed it was milk so we bought it to drink, and the first time we bought it I didn’t drink it but my mom did and she said she liked it as it was really creamy and rich… Different from usual milk… And you know why? We later found out during the last day of the trip that it wasn’t milk but DOUBLE creamer… RIP HAHAHA once my mom found out she felt so queasy that she stopped us from talking about it any more LOL hahahaha.

Anyways,,,

After that we made our way to Ranua Wildlife Zoo where we had lunch before beginning our zoo adventure!!

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The lunch was buffet-style. There were salad, vegetable patty, mashed potatoes with berry sauce, salmon cream soup, reindeer meat etc. In my opinion Finnish cuisine isn’t among my favourite cuisines but it’s cool to try food from other countries. And yes, REINDEER MEAT. I thought it was mutton but after lunch someone told me it was reindeer meat and I felt so horrible because I like reindeers since they are so pretty… But reindeer meat is a common dish in Finland. They even sell reindeer jerky… But taste-wise I didn’t really like it as it was too tough and salty for me. Oh yes, the drink was berry-flavoured and was quite refreshing.

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Dessert was mint ice cream sandwiches, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. I liked the ice cream but the sandwich base was meh. And I didn’t finish the whipped cream because I can’t eat too much whipped cream without feeling queasy… I can’t understand the people that like spraying whipped cream into their mouths straight from it’s can…

After lunch, we began our wildlife adventure!

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I don’t know what animal this is but it reminded me of my cat Lychee with that fat ass ❤

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Halfway through the journey we came across this ice bar which was situated in an igloo and had a colourfully lighted ‘Ice Bar’ sign beside it’s entrance. We went inside to take a look and surprisingly, it was warmer inside than outside though there weren’t any heaters inside which I assumed was because the wind was blocked from the igloo’s walls.

One thing that I didn’t like about this trip to the zoo was that the snow on the ground was melting and hence it was EXTREMELY slippery to walk on, there were instances where we had to hold on to the railings and slide down the path since it was too slippery to walk normally, and many times where I almost fell… The sliding was scary and I didn’t dare to slide down at first but once I got braver it was actually quite fun… Like skateboarding?

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Super adorable doggos

At this point in time my phone died from the cold (they tend to die even at 30% or random percentages since it was too cold) so I didn’t take any more photos but I’ll try my best to describe what we did after that.

After the animals we went inside the dining area to warm up (it was VERY cold) then it got dark again. Our last activity for the day was husky riding/driving. Yes. Driving. According to CTC Travel (the agency we booked our tour from), that was the first time they organised a husky riding activity where tourists can control their huskies along the ride. There were 6 huskies per sled, and 2 people per sled. I went with dad and TBH I was a bit scared of controlling them as they went quite fast and were super excited and jumpy so I let Dad control the huskies for both parts of the husky ride LOL. He had to stand at the back and steer his body according to the direction he wanted them to go and press down on the brake if he wanted them to stop. The ride was quite short but it was fun!!

I got to touch the huskies and the ones in the enclosure were so mischievous… There were 3 huskies that came to people and try to steal hats or gloves hahaha but they were all really cute.

Dinner was at the hotel and was buffet-style. I had the runs and so I didn’t really enjoy dinner… I felt kinda sian because in Japan I also had the runs on the night there was buffet dinner but I recovered in time for dessert so… Bad start to the trip but at least I didn’t had stomachache again during the trip… That was all for Day 1 bye.