Sunday, 29 December 2013

Day 10 - Taipei

This trip, I didn't know we are going to be part of the history records. I only received the article from my Taiwanese friend later. 

The rainfall in Dec was the highest ever in more than 100 years! How is that for our holidays. Hahaha. 

Anyway for day 10, we cover the remaining sites in Taipei. 

Taipei Zoo

Before I go further, my rating is don't bother.  Maybe I was bothered by the rain but I felt it wasn't worth my time. 

The animals were poorly displayed and there are no close interactions with the animals. They didn't even bother to let you know that 团团 and 圆圆 will not be on display until Jan as they were renovating the panda enclosure and we were there to look at the political animals. 

Anyway, the zoo covers a wide area and poorly designed vis a vis our Singapore zoo although I have to admit that it is really much cheaper to visit Taipei zoo. 2 adults and 2 tickets based on my recollection was less than NT$200. 

Perhaps another way to describe it is that they didn't focus a lot on end users experiences. I will give it a miss. 

Maokong 猫空 

Compared to the zoo, I will say this is better in terms of user experience. 

My little tip is if you want to take the crystal cabin, do it on the way down as there will be less crowd and another tip is never try to take the cable car from inside the zoo! You will have to wait for a long time to get an empty cabin. Somehow they are not so flexible to send empty cabins up to pick passengers from the zoo. The station inside the zoo is the second stop. 

See the tea plantation below our legs? This is the crystal cabin for you. 

Anyway, there are many trails on top and you can wander around. However, not for us today as it was still raining non stop. 

We had a fun time snacking delicious sausages and oyster omelette at the top of Maokong station. After all, the breakfast at the hotel was bad...

If you are a Hello Kitty fan, this is the place for you! There are many memento  which you can take pictures of. The entire line is decorated with cute kittens. 

Ding Tai Feng 鼎太丰

This is after all the place where it was founded. The famous dumpling that won a Michelin star in Hong Kong. 

It started life as a cooking oil retailer until
the founder decided that it has to switch business for survival. And here you go, a flourishing dumpling business was created all over the world. I have to say that the standard was pretty consistent in Taiwan and Singapore. (Breadtalk holds the franchise in Singapore). 

Now this is something you don't get to eat in Singapore. The smaller "soupy" version (don't be jealous). It is only on sale on weekends and has limited supply. (We ordered in advance). 

You are supposed to dip the smaller
Dumplings (there are 20 of them) into the soup and then eat it. 

It is very very crowded and we waited one hour for it. Go early if you can. 

Le Jardin

To celebrate our last night in Taiwan, we decide to visit the French restaurant. (You can locate this from Tripadvisor). 

Amazingly we are the only family there compared to our visit to Osteria. 

The dinner is actually better than Osteria and it has a very comprehensive and impressive wine list. This is because the owner is the distributor of good wines from France. Don't bring you wine here, you can have a decently priced wine from its cellar. 

I always pre-judge a restaurant by the breads it served. I have to tell you the meat and butter served was simply heavenly. We asked for a second portion. 

I will just tell you what is good and what is to be avoided. The Iberico ham carpaccio is good. Can try

Skip the escargots. Too salty. 

 The pork ribs Tagliatelle is good. Can try. 

The mushroom spaghetti with truffle is average. Can give it a miss if you are not a fan. 

The ribeye was excellent. Cooked to perfection and medium. Best served with a french red wine. 

The creme brûlée and chocolate larva cake was great and even i am not a dessert person.


Taiwan would have been a good trip if not for the lousy weather. I have not anticipated 8 rainy days out of 10, otherwise I would have chosen another destination.  The weather always make or break a holiday. 

The Taiwanese are hospitable but I am always weary after hearing some much negative news about the tainted
food products which is badly regulated. Nevertheless, we still drank the bubble tea and ate the taiwan sausages.  

The hot spring culture in Taiwan was inherited from the Japanese. I have to say that I wasn't too pleased whenever I see some locals bringing their small towels into the onsen pool. It would have been a big No No in Japan and the hygiene level is definitively not as refined as in Japan. 

Overall a pleasant trip but not something I can do on an annual basis like how we
visit Japan. Think it will be a while before I return here and I will cover the southern part next time. :)

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