Christmas and New Years in Taiwan

Disclaimer: Pretty lengthy post!

Can I just say, long over due post, AS ALWAYS! I should really start my first post of 2017 by stating that one of my new years resolution should be to update my blog as frequently as I can. I also have this habit of leaving everything to the last minute, which looks really bad and really messy for my blog.

Anyways, I’m back from my travels… for now. I just returned from a few places, so my first post will be on Taiwan! The last time I visited Taiwan was around 10 years ago, I don’t remember much except for the good street food and cheap shopping so this trip refreshed my memories of the many things I loved most about Taiwan.

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Every year during Christmas and New Years, I would always spend it abroad with my big and happy family, you know, over 30 members, no biggie lols. So this year we decided on Taiwan. We spent a few days in a few provinces such as, Yi Lan City, Hualien, Taitung, Kenting and Taipei.

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Day 1: Shi Fen Waterfalls, Shi Fen Old Street, Jing Tong Station, Jiu Fen Old Street and Market – (Yi Lan City)

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We started the first day with a lot sight seeing and little activities in Yi Lan City. But mainly we enjoyed being in the bus filled with our closest family members, so you can imagine just how noisy the bus would have been. Poor bus driver and 2 of our tour guides, they had to endure us the whole 10 days. The waterfalls had a spectacular view filled with greenery, it was chilly and I quite liked how the weather was pretty gloomy as well considering it was winter and all.

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We couldn’t help ourselves with riding the animal statues. Young at heart, forever!

The Shi Fen Old Street used to be a very old train station and I guess it still works to this day, but it’s now mainly for foreigners to gather and to write and release the lanterns in the sky for good luck. Legend has it, if the lantern successfully manages to fly into the sky, all wishes shall be granted. But if they fail and fall to the ground, I guess not so lucky.

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Well, my list considered basically every thing girls want, a little superficial, but I love it!

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Lunch was at a near by restaurant which consists of drunken chicken, prawn, meat and tofu.

Jing Tong Station is also a really old train station that is still in use, but it’s now where foreigners come to check it out and not necessarily ride the trains.

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Jiu Fen Old Street and Market area was quite an adventurous route, it took us into the belly of the beast within the market of food and shops. It was narrow, smelly and jam packed with people. A definite tourist destination stop. Jiu Fen Old Street and Market is quite famous according to the locals, as the director, Hayao Mizayaki, was inspired by this area in his animated film Spirited Away. And people come here just to take this shot. It’s quite mesmerizing.

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Our first night at this amazing Air BnB mansion called Kuan Pin The Best Villa, really took everyone’s breath away. It is an 18 bedroom and 18 bathroom house with a swimming pool, 2 living rooms and 1 ginormous dining area. We were so privileged to have stayed here for not one, but two nights.

Day 2: National Centre for Traditional Arts, Ka Va Lan Whiskey Factory and Onion Farm.

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The second day was a bit more laid back, we went to see a museum of traditional arts and really learn so much more about the history of Taiwan and their local people. Sometimes, you just gotta have a little fun at museums.

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We arrived at this cute little place for lunch, I cannot remember the name but it was like a green house buffet style of restaurant. There were plants and animals around, the sky was filled with natural light. I was really feeling this atmosphere!

This day was the best day for my father and his brothers because we went to a whiskey factory, shall I say whiskey heaven? All sorts of whiskey was sold here and they taught us how it was made and of course we got to try a sample of it. Not a fan of whiskey, neat, I prefer mine on the rocks or diluted with lots of mixers!

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The onion farm was next on our to do list, it was where we got to dress in farmer boots and hats and pluck our own onions to make some traditional onion bread. It was very messy, but entertaining as well. I had the pleasure of unleashing my inner Phua Chu Kang, for those Singaporeans out there, y’all know who I’m talking about! (The Ah Beng king)

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And dinner was at such a fancy place, we weren’t expecting the food to come in such cute dishes, it made it hard for us to eat! Snapchatting here and there!

Day 3: Taroko National Park, Chi Shing Tan Beach, San Jhong Night Market – (Hualien)

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We packed up and moved onto our next state, Hualien. Yet another busy day was ahead of us, we arrived at a park to have lunch at a traditional restaurant.

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Next we would walk along the road and see the cliffs and water stream from down below. Honestly, I thought this was pretty pointless, it’s not like we’ve never seen rocks and water from nature before… but it did burn some calories so that was a bonus (I guess).

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The moment we arrived at Chi Shing Tan beach, I swear my heart was whole again as I saw the CUTEST most LITTLEST Pembroke Welsh Corgi!! Reminds me of Cooper 😦 Can’t exactly remember this border collie’s name, I was way too focused on little Ti Pi!

The beach was nice, it was a pebble beach, I’m still in shock because I’ve never been to a beach where there wasn’t any sand… like at all… so strange.

Night market on Christmas day was something definitely very different to our normal Christmas nights from previous years. It was the first Christmas without turkey, mash or presents. But it was a real eye opener that Christmas is about spending time with our loved ones despite not having any of that glorious turkey with gravy 😥

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Our second accommodation was at Chateau de Chine, it was pretty mediocre so it did not deserve a photograph.

Day 4: White Water Rafting

This was pretty much the best day out of the whole trip I would say. I’m not normally the type to do loads of outdoor activities and especially the ones that involves a lot of sun time. BUT this was definitely the highlight, so much fun competing with family and it was a surprisingly hot day. I love competition.

A quick lunch after rafting with a few new friends.

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Day 5: Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch, Bala Ecological Fishing Method – (Taitung)

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It was a fun day at the ranch seeing animals such as camels, racoons, hornbills and monkeys, etc. But what made it more fun was riding on these bad boys (golf carts), this made walking look like a chore!

The main tour guide at the ecological fishing place was hilarious, I swear, you won’t find anyone funnier than this guy right here! He taught us a lot about the history of tribal men and how they would fish for food.

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And we had a pit stop for some ice cream: yam, vanilla, durian and mint.

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And yet again, we met two more new corgis!! I love Taiwan and their dogs, I might just consider moving to Taiwan 😛

dscf6564_zps6d4qfldjAnd yet again, we met two more new corgis!! I love Taiwan and their dogs, I might just consider moving to Taiwan 😛

Papago Resort in Taitung was another beautiful villa and hotel. It was like our own individual house, we got our own private swimming pools, two guest rooms and with a private living room as well. It goes up to around $400 per night so it is pretty pricey!

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Day 6: Rice School/ milling rice, Luan Shan Tribe Tour, Hot Pot dinner.

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This was another pointless activity, a rice farm, where we learnt to collect rice using a bag. I’m not even gonna say more on that.

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But we did visit the Luan Shan Tribe where men would cook the food and would serve the food to the women, I quite like that idea. And the Tribal tour showed us how to make mochi which is a local sweet dessert that consists of rice, pumpkin and peanuts. And went for a lovely but long hike in the forest to see the scenery.

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Hot pot for dinner on a cold winter’s night was the absolute icing on the cake for me.

Day 7: Eastern Water Prairie – (Kenting)

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A new state in Kenting took the longest to arrive but along the way we managed to stop at a few pit stops and watched some of the family members do some traditional dance in the paddy fields.

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Le Chateau was the most congested but cutest hotel room in Taiwan by far. There were mirrors were it shouldn’t be and sinks where we needed it to be but was never there.

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Also the night life in Kenting was… very interesting… but that’s for another time! Street food was great and very lively with lots of local people and tourists! Also, lots of smelly tofu everywhere 😛

Day 8: Eluanbi Light House, Kenting Intertidal Observation Experience, Go Kart, National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium.

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We wanted to make the use of our last full day outside of Taipei. First we visited one of the oldest light houses in kenting.

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We also went to observe some sea creatures that lived within the rocks at the intertidal area, which was strange and quite pointless as we didn’t find anything but just rocks.

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Go Kart was very fun and again, competitive. If there is any fun activities with 30 family members, surely there will be competition and lots of snickering… especially coming from me! I don’t play nice with others unfortunately, because I love to win 🙂 Cousins against cousins racing, and uncles against male cousins. It was such a fun filled day with laughter that could only make our own bus shake.

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I found the national museum and aquarium quite relaxing as well to watch real life animals swimming around. I do love me some penguins!

Day 9: Taipei and Room 18 Club.

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I think this day was what everyone was most looking forward to: CIVILIZATION! But no, in all seriousness, we did enjoy our time in the boredom and nature with our family, but it’s 2017 so here comes the wifi and endless shopping!

Some of us waited near the Taipei 101 building at 11:45pm to wait for the New Years count down and fireworks! There was hundreds and hundreds of people all anxiously waiting to see some sparks, sadly, it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be. 5 minutes of disappointment and tax payers’ money in the air to celebrate the new year of 2017.

But Room 18 was very fun, and I’m glad I got to spend my new years with family and especially with my 7 other cousins at a night club, which is what we do best on every New Years around the world. Get pissed drunk and have one hell of a time celebrating our youth. As generic and cliche as it sounds, but we really only live once and are young once, so why not do it the best we can so we don’t have any regrets!

Day 10: Xi Men Ding and Shilin Market.

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Our final day in Taipei, and there is one way to do it which is shopping and food! We decided to go to Xi Men Ding outdoor area for some cheap and bargain shopping hoping to get some clothes or shoes… but being old aunties that my sister and I are, we ended up getting some umbrellas instead. I know I know, but they were on discount! And then buying shit loads of make up to cheer ourselves up.

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Taiwan is famous for their beef brisket noodles!

Shilin Market is one of the most commercialized markets known for luring in tourists, and it is also one of the biggest night markets in Taipei which has endless food and shops.

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This trip has really taught me so much on spending more time with family because the older we get, the older our parents will get and we may not know how long we might still have them around. So there was a lot of family bonding, which is what I sometimes take granted for. But not everyone is as privileged or as lucky as my family to travel around the world as a huge group and it’s something I should consider reflecting upon because I have something that’s so pure and good and not everyone has that. Also, I feel like I haven’t seen most of Taiwan yet, so this should be on my list to come back to Taipei and possibly Kaoh Siung to see what is out there to be seen… or even be eaten!

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I’ll be back Taipei, I miss you already. Until, next time… save that smelly tofu for me!

Now, where shall I head off to next?

Ling x

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