Whirlwind Summer trip to Taiwan! First stop: Taichung (台中)

And so it goes again! Recently, I’ve been having difficulties in planning leave due to the crazy work load (not complaining! I love my job and in fact, I’m a workaholic :P), and hence whenever I foresee a few days of lull time, I’ll plan a whirlwind getaway to have a short break to get myself refreshed. Impulse trips are exhilarating. It’s liberating and if you are like me – single with no commitments, do try it! Book a ticket and fly ~~ it’s as easy as that and seriously, not knowing where you are heading to adds so much more excitement to the trips!! This is by far, my most impulsive trip yet. I booked the air tickets 2 days before departure and I settled my hotels hours before I got on the airplane. LOL!!

Taiwan is heading into summer now and temperatures are really starting to heat up! When I was there in early June, the skies were sunny and while the temperatures in Taichung (surprisingly) was a little bit cooler at ~30degC compared to Taipei (~32degC). I was told by my Taiwanese friends that the temperatures in the height of summer could reach 38degC!! Seriously… What?!? I’ll melt. (-_-);;; Though I stay in Singapore and should be very used to tropical weather (endless summer 24/7, 365 days), I had a tough time ‘aclimatising’ to the warm weather in the day times when I was there. Post-trip, I kept thinking about it and I finally realized why…I’ve actually been living in ‘Spring’ temperatures all year round as I hardly headed to the outdoors. Everywhere I go and at home, I am surrounded by cool air from the air-conditioners. Omg… note to self: time to reflect on my sheltered life.

Ok, ‘nuf said. Time for Taichung (台中)!

Upon arrival at Taoyuan airport, the first thing I did was to get a local telco data plan for my smart phone. This is a crucial part for last minute traveling as I needed to plan my trip on the go. Local telcos have counters set up conveniently at the airport where visitors could purchase local sim cards for use in Taiwan. I purchased mine from ‘Taiwan Big Brother’ (lol, translated literally from Chinese 台湾大哥大). While it was not the cheapest plan available compared to another telco (NT800 for unlimited 10day data usage with NT550 credit for calls), I found it to be more value for money due to the credits for airtime. After I got my local sim card settled, I went to look for the bus to bring me to the High Speed Rail (HSR) station to get to Taichung.

Taichung can be easily accessed via a 35min journey on the High Speed Rail (HSR), Taiwan’s equivalent of the shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan. From Taoyuan airport, I bought a bus ticket from the ticket counter to get to HSR Taoyuan station. The bus journey took about 10-15min. The ticket for the HSR  (NT540) can be purchased on the spot and everything was really convenient and fuss-free. I’m impressed with Taiwan’s HSR!! Momentarily, I felt like I was on the bullet train in Japan. The feeling was really similar. Well done, Taiwan!! 🙂

Upon reaching Taichung, I headed to Hotel Dion (鼎隆商務飯店) via taxi. Taxi is really cheap in Taiwan (as compared to Singapore or Japan) and I was quite prissy for this whole trip ie. taxis and more taxis XD. The main reasons for heading to Taichung were to get to Mt Alishan (阿里山) and also Fengjia Night Market (biggest night market in Taiwan), hence I decided to choose a hotel located near to Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市) for easy access. The reviews for the hotel was superb on Agoda and I am honestly VERY IMPRESSED with this hotel!! (Disclaimer: I am not paid to blog about this hotel, I also do not receive any discounts/favors/credits for this post) This is a 4 star property located very near to a shopping mall (新光三越) and on the ‘sun biscuit street (太阳饼街)’ where there are many shops selling the famous biscuit next to the hotel.

My comfortable room!! This whole comfy bed to myself!! Awesomeness~

My comfortable room!! This whole comfy bed to myself!! Awesomeness~

The service was impeccable. Everyone was all smiles and very attentive to customers’ needs. The stay came with breakfast as well and the food was of good quality and oh so delicious. Thanks, chef. You made my mornings very happy indeed.

Check this out! Welcome drink and snack included!! How lovely ~

Check this out! Welcome drink and snack included!! How lovely ~

After lazing around for a bit, I headed out to Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市). There are many night markets in Taiwan and this is the largest around. I was excited to munch all the famous street food! But being a small eater, I maxed out after trying a few dishes… how wasted.

Ta-da!! Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市)

Ta-da!! Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市)

Famous in Taiwan: Big sausage wrap small sausage (大腸包小腸)

Famous in Taiwan: Big sausage wrap small sausage (大腸包小腸)

I did not try the ‘big sausage wrap small sausage (大腸包小腸)’ this time as the queue was just too long and I was feeling too hot for comfort. I’ve tried it once when I went Taipei a few years ago. For the uninitiated, it is actually a chinese bbq-ed sausage being wrapped within a hot-dog bun shaped glutinous rice roll. YES, it IS as calorific as it sounds. That said, find me a street food which is healthy and weight watch friendly. LOL.

Stinky tofu!!!! 臭豆腐

Stinky tofu!!!! 臭豆腐

The legendary stinky tofu!! Fried and sauced up with a topping of chinese parsley

The legendary stinky tofu!! Fried and sauced up with a topping of chinese parsley

This stinky tofu is not for the faint hearted. You WILL know it when there is stinky tofu near you. The smell of this fermented tofu is distinctively sewage like. I kind of like the taste of this when it is fried and doused in sauce, but I don’t think I will enjoy it if it is not fried. @.@

Not to be missed!! Fried chicken cutlet

Not to be missed!! Fried chicken cutlet

I tried this fried chicken cutlet. It is awesome. It is really delicious. So delicious that I had no chance of taking a photo for memories. I devoured it.

So cute!! Bear paw print steamed bun sandwich

So cute!! Bear paw print steamed bun sandwich

My Chinese language has much room for improvement and I kept reading this sign and couldn’t comprehend what they were selling. I read the words from left to right and it read (translated) ‘wrapped bear paw’. I was like, ‘What??!! Isn’t this illegal??’ After staring at this for a while, I finally got it… read from right to left in the traditional Chinese way (translated) ‘bear paw wrap’.. (-_-);;; [face palms].

Cute as toys... motorcycle helmets!!

Cute as toys… motorcycle helmets!!

There are many people riding motorcycles in Taiwan and they have a culture of having really cute helmets! The helmets are so adorable they would have been mistaken as toys. Can you spot the watermelon and strawberry helmets? 🙂

Ok, that’s the end of my Fengjia Night Market trip. I was too full and felt too warm to continue. That said, I have another recommendation for people heading to Taichung.

There is a really interesting shop called Dawn Cakes (日出) which is really big on packaging their foodstuffs. I was recommended by the hotel receptionist to visit this shop if I was looking to buy some snacks back home. It is famous for selling pineapple tarts and its tarts are supposedly not sweet but rather tangy. There is a shop near to Hotel Dion (3 min walk) and there is another interesting branch called Miyahara (宮原眼科) near the Taichung railway station (this is the train station, not to be confused with the HSR Taichung station). Miyahara is actually located inside a really old building and is supposedly rather interesting. However, I didn’t have a chance to visit Miyahara this time.

Back to Dawn Cakes.. I didn’t bring my camera along when I went to the shop, hence these are photographs of what I purchased. I was really impressed with the exquisite and unique packaging of all the food sold at Dawn. It’s really so pretty and innovative!

These are biscuits which are packed like CDs!

These are biscuits which are packed like CDs!

Another view of the CD biscuit boxes

Another view of the CD biscuit boxes

I'm a sucker for packaging. Really.

I’m a sucker for packaging. Really.

A peek at the biscuits in the boxes

A peek at the biscuits in the boxes

Simply lovely.

Simply lovely.

Another purchase: bean cakes

Another purchase: bean cakes

Pretty isn't it?

Pretty isn’t it?

Taste test wise, I would say the biscuits are rather average and is nothing much to shout about. But they are a feast for the eyes for sure!

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6 responses to “Whirlwind Summer trip to Taiwan! First stop: Taichung (台中)

    • Taiwan’s a great Asian city to visit. The city is full of energy, people are friendly and the street food is so YUMS! Watermelon’s a good choice – you’ll definitely be the coolest one in town. I LOVE the strawberry. I think I’ll make a good Ms. Strawberry Shortcake myself. 😛

  1. Lovely photos on Taichung. Next time when you are there, do drop by Chung Tai Zen Monastery (中台禪寺 ) at Puli,
    about 25 min-taxi from Taichung – second best Buddhist temple architecture in Taiwan, after Buddha Memorial Museum, near Kaohsiung.

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