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Thursday, December 24, 2015

CarmenXTW: 趣台北 第一天 野柳,淡水(渔人码头&不能说的秘密) +师大夜市 Fun Taipei Day 1: Yehliu Geopark, Danshui and Shida Night Market

Sorry for the disappearance, my midterms finals in NSYSU are coming real soon and I havent been studying at all. Really stressed out here, the syllabus is nowhere easier than NTU's. Praying hard that I could pass the modules. Okay enough with my usual rants on study life coz Exchange life is still awesome when it comes to traveling!! 

If you've seen my instagram, I spent another weekend traveling to Taiwan's capital city Taipei!!

Day 1: Yehliu Geopark 野柳 -- Danshui 淡水 -- NTNU Shida Night Market 师大夜市 

Getting to Taipei from Kaohsiung: To maximize our time at Taipei, we took a midnight bus of Ubus 统联 on Friday Midnight and reach Taipei around 6 in the morning. I suppose traveling by bus is the best option as you could sleep through the journey while the bus fare is only 800TWD for return trip. From Taipei's Bus Station, we walked towards our youth hostel which was a 10 mins walk and placed our luggage in their locker room before heading out for our journey! Will talk more about the accommodation in the final post. 

Breakfast: 永和豆漿大王 Yong He Soy Bean Drink 
Address: 台北市中正區衡陽路15號 Taipei City Zhongzheng District Hengyang Road No. 15 
One of the reasons why I love Taipei, in fact why I love Taiwan, is the breakfast culture here!!! You have breakfast joints almost everywhere. More so in Taipei, almost every 5 shop lots, there's one breakfast joint, either local Taiwanese breakfast or western brunch stores. For Day 1, we went to this local breakfast joint on the same road as our hostel. It was early in the morning and people were already lining up. The culture here seems to be take-away breakfast instead of dining in coz most of the customers made takeaway orders and there are many breakfast joints that are for take-aways only.   

蛋饼 Egg Roll -- TWD20

饭糰 Rice Ball (Roll) -- 25TWD
温豆浆 Soy Milk -- 18TWD 
Love the rice ball!!! It's actually the Yaozhaguai 油条 and Meat floss 肉松 wrapped with packed fragrant rice! Very filling and love the texture too. Soft and fragrant rice, crunchy youtiao and meatfloss that adds the salty flavor. I added their soya sauce for more flavor heh. 
The soy milk is their signature over here! To be honest I can't tell what's so awesome, but it sure taste good, love the aroma of soybeans and smooth taste plus it's not too sweet. 
Anyways, this hearty breakfast is just so cheap!!! 43TWD, omggg, that's like less than 2SGD!

From Taipei Main Station to Yehliu Geo Park: After our breakfast, we walked back to the direction of Taipei Main station and went to the Taipei West Bus Terminal (It is on the west side if you are facing the Taipei Main station). Took a Kingbus 国光客运 to Yehliu with Bus number 1815. It takes around 1.5 hours to reach, which was good for us coz we certainly need more sleep after the midnight bus journey. 

1. Yehliu Geopark 野柳地质公园
Compared to the bizarre looking stones, I was more shocked by the crowd over there! It's A LOT of people, I dare say it was the most tourist packed place I went in the Taipei journey. Kinda spoiled the experience to be honest. Anyhow, this geo park is a rather unique destination due to its rocky landscape in strange shapes and patterns, I would admit, it's something you can't find easily in other parts of Taiwan. 

But honestly speaking, I won't call it a must-visit place haha... It's just stones afterall, unless you are a geology enthusiast. Or else you would just be like me, meet Her Majesty and leave. 为了去而去,拍照打卡就走。Anyways there's an admission fee of 80TWD. Special rates apply to certain people.

You have holes in the ground

But at the same time...
You have stones sticking up from the ground
Mushroom land hehe

Stones that look like beehive

finally we caught sight of the Queen, but we didn't know there was a huge crowd waiting in line to meet Her Majesty. There were more who peeked at her from behind as well.  

I guess this was my favorite sight, another shade of Taiwan's ocean!

From Yehliu to Danshui: From the bus stop at Yehliu, take a Chungshing Bus 淡水客运 with Bus number 862 bound to Danshui MRT Station. Check the bus schedule first as there's a fixed time for each bus, and we were super lucky to have the bus arrive within minutes since we waited at the bus stop! Anyways the journey was another 2 hours as well. Good for us, we slept through the journey again haha but at the same time, it's hard not to look through the window and gaze at the beautiful sea! I love how this bus runs along the coast line for half of the journey!

Getting around Danshui area: Once you step out of the MRT Station, you will certainly be greeted by the Danshui river and there's this promenade along known as 金色水岸(Translates into Golden Riverside), see picture below. The whole promenade has a boardwalk which doubles as a cycling track as well! The cycling track leads to the Fisherman's Wharf which makes cycling the best way to explore the Danshui area! There's plenty bicycle rental shops around, we rented our ones from a rental booth at the promenade right next to the MRT station, which charges by hours. We rented the bikes from 3pm to almost 7pm and it cost us only 50TWD per person! But it was a Friday so the rate was cheaper. Anyways a tip here, for anywhere you go, just cycle along the track (don't even think about cycling on the mainroad) and park your bicycle at the promenade as well, and walk to your destination from there. Well we wasted quite sometime cycling along the main roads of Danshui which was rather tiring due the slope and there's loads of cars so we had to be really careful. It was my bad, I didn't know about the cycling track before. 

Really love how Taiwan has all these cycling tracks, where you actually have such an awesome view. Danshui's track runs along the danshui river and it's beautiful to view the city skyline of the other side of the river. 

2. 淡水老街 Old Streets of Danshui
From Danshui MRT, the Danshui Old Street (which is actually Zhongzheng Road) is just a few minutes walk away. Just follow where people are going, and you will see a narrow street with loads of stalls lined up. The street was a very lively one! Great for shopping coz you pretty much can find all sorts of shops over there. And of course, time for loads of food! You will have a difficult time choosing due to the amount of snack cart and restaurants over there. 

Many red bricked shop lots along. 

阿香虾卷 Depp fried Shrimp Roll -- 20TWD 
Simple snack that taste delicious with the fresh and sweet taste of shrimp and crunchy outer layer. The garlic sauce was so aromatic and goes really well with the shrimp flavor. 
Address: 230號, Zhongzheng Rd, Tamsui District

The owner of the shrimp roll stall recommended this to us, which was just opposite her shrimp roll stall. Well thanks to the samples, we totally fell in love with this simple yet so delicious cake. 

源味古早味现烤蛋糕 Original Baked Cake -- 80TWD
80TWD for this cake that looks like a pillow!! N it's super delicious
When we were at the shop, I was having a hard time stopping myself from eating the samples. It's fluffy and the awesome aroma of eggs, butter and milk just burst out as you chew, without being too sweet, it's really just the amazing combination of flavors of its ingredients. Keeps you wanting more and you won't get sick of it. 
Address: No.145, Zhongzheng Road 中正路145號

83号咖啡 (No.83 Coffee) 招牌特调咖啡 (Signature Coffee) -- 35TWD
I was totally drawn to the shop when I saw the big sign saying 35bucks for brewed coffee. 
Well when I look at the menu, most of the items were more than 60TWD and the 35bucks coffee applies to takeaway order only. It's been a while since I had brewed coffee, plus the price is actually quite appealing! 
Address: No.83 Zhongzheng Road (Pretty obvious isn't it)

Bought the coffee, placed it in the bicycle basket and cycled to the beautiful Aletheia University.
Savored the coffee in the middle of the beautiful European style buildings! Haha perfect place isn't it?  The coffee taste great! Super smooth, aromatic and it's not acidic or bitter. Just the aroma of roasted coffee beans and frothy milk. But I guess I should have asked for less syrup coz it was slightly too sweet.
Anyways the photo shows you the size of the coffee. Btw the dog you see on the sleeve, it's a real dog and it's the symbol of the coffee shop!      

晴光红豆饼 Red Bean Cake -- 10TWD
Can you see that amount of filling? That's what really caught our attention at the stall. Loads of redbean paste in the middle of the thin crust. The redbean paste was literally overflowing the moment you bite. The redbean filling wasn't too sweet, which makes it yummy to eat on its own without the cake crust. Plus it's so cheap! Super satisfying sweet treat.   

3. 真理大学 Aletheia University
Actually my initial plan was to visit 淡江中学 Tamshui Junior High School which is the movie set for 不能说的秘密 Secret (by Jay Chou). But unlucky for me, the high school was not opened for visitors.  But according to my friend, she managed to enter the school without any barrier on a weekend. So I guess you have to visit on a weekend, where there will be no classes. Feeling sad, I walked further down with the hope of there might be another entrance, turns out there's no more but the beautiful Church of Aletheia University came into my sight! And everything around it is just as beautiful!

Look familiar right? This narrow road appeared in the movie as well! 

Oxford College which dates back to the 19th century.

The beautiful church!

Can't just leave without taking enough photos haha, forgive me LOL

Yep it's the same building! Apparently, the piano room scene was filmed in one of the rooms in this building as well. The building is called 姑娘楼 which means Ladies' Building. 

Anyways we were in a hurry to reach Fisherman's Wharf before sun down, I didn't expect this place to be so pretty that I spent so much time taking photos haha. Missed some other historical sites of Danshui like Fort San Domingo, Red Castle and Tamshui Church etc etc Gotta come back again!

4. 渔人码头 Fisherman's Wharf
The main attraction of Danshui district! Well other than being a place to park speedboats, the whole area was pretty much a recreational and dining hub for people to chillax by the seaside. Despite the large amount of tourists and locals roaming, the area looks very peaceful to me, probably because of the calm riverbank and the rather romantic boardwalks and bridges with tall streetlamps along the way.  

With my bike, cycling here is so fun and free. 

At the famous Lover's Bridge 情人桥
I didn't cross to the other side though

And it get's better at night!! There's illumination on the bridge and the whole place looked really romantic. Plus the restaurants nearby had live music that could be heard throughout the area! Singers performed our favorite mandarin love songs and just sang along to it and enjoy the beautiful night view. 

made a wish at the Lover's Bridge
hope I'll come back again with a..... 

Cycling back to Danshui MRT station was a bliss too, not only the night view is amazing, the chilly weather felt comfortable as we were wearing long sleeves haha. 

From Danshui MRT to Shida Night Market: Took the MRT from Danshui Station 淡水 (Red) to Taipower Building 台电大楼站 (Green). From there, the Shida area is just a few minutes walk away, look for Shida Road 师大路. 

5. 师大夜市 Shida Night Market
Shida is actually National Taiwan Normal University 师范大学 which is one of Taiwan's elite universities. The area round its campus have hence become a shopping district targeted to its students and young adults in Taipei. Instead of big brands, you will find the streets lined with many individual fashion boutiques, selling apparels at much lower price with wide range of styles suitable for the young adults. Of course, when you have students, food stalls and cafes will definitely appear as well, you have anything from street snacks to hipster cafes and restaurants, basically anything young people could indulge in.  

See, all young people, especially young ladies. Totally can feel that I belong to this place haha.
好好味港式菠萝包 Hohomei Hong Kong style Polo Buns
Saw crowds forming in front of this small stall on a small lane
It mainly sells Polo Bun which has always been one of my favorite snacks but you can hardly find good ones. 
Address: No. 51, Lane 26, Taishun Street, Taipei City 

冰火菠萝油 Ice Fire Polo Bun -- 35TWD
Such a simple thing, just a bun with a piece of cold butter but the flavor is just so satisfying haha
Sue me, I love buttery and all things fat haha 
Love the crunchy outer layer of the bun which is also fluffy and bursting with the buttermilk flavor. The piece of cold butter melts and smears on the fluffy bun, releasing it's aromatic buttery taste. The softened and smooth butter against the fluffy buns omgggggg......that texture haha

大台北平价卤味 (Da Taipei)Braised Food
Another stall with a long queue. I immediately gave up the thought of trying this when I first saw the long queue! But later at night, there's less people and I told myself I must try it haha. 
Sorry I don't have a nice photo of the variety of veggies and meat provided there. But it's definitely a lot to choose from. All the meatballs, tofu, fishballs pretty much everything you find from steamboat haha. And there's veggies as well. 
Address: No. 54, Longquan Street, Taipei City

I had meatballs (3 in 1stick), Fuchok (Beancurd Skin) and Seafood Tofu (3 in 1 stick). All these for 60TWD ONLY!! The beancurd skin is a lot, almost equivalent to the volume of a maggie mee. I think it's delicious, they actually garnished with lots of spring onions and preserved veggie that really gives a refreshing taste to balance off the salty flavor from the braised sauce. 

Just to give you an idea on the variety, there's actually more on the right side of the stall
Photo source:

Didn't manage to shop a lot over there, I was window shopping most of the time coz most of the shops do not allow trying on their clothes. Plus the boutiques here are really pretty and the clothes are more towards the hipster and artistic style, nice to look at, but don't think I'm gonna wear those haha.

Manage to peek into NTNU when we're waiting for the bus infront of the main university building. 

The university of long history is made up of many ancient buildings with European architecture. Wished I had more time to explore its beautiful redbrick campus.  

Took a bus from Shida back to our hostel at Hengyang road and that sums up our first day!
I would say Danshui is really worth visiting and deserves one whole day to itself. It's a place to explore on Taiwan's colonial era while also enjoying the beautiful view. You may even find a nice coffee shop along the Fisherman's Wharf and spend a quiet afternoon over there. This is one place that I wanna go again! :D

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