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6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 5 & 6

Ringggggg, ringggggggggg. the alarm clock shrilled. Time to wake up and get ready for the morning market! ‘Twas only 6am but the market starts from as early as 6.30am, a great time for a traditional Taiwanese breakfast.

At the morning market
The YongLe Market is just a five-minute stroll from Tainan Fushin Hotel, which makes Fushin a perfect accommodation, considering the early hour required to be at YongLe.

In my previous post, I had asked what are the popular food to try out at YongLe Market. Well, the answer is: spring rolls(春捲), rice cakes(碗粿), meat mantou (割包) and calamari rice vermicelli (小卷米粉). Don’t forget to wash your breakfast down with a cup of Taiwanese black tea(红茶).

 meat mantou from YongLe morning market in Tainan
meat mantou from YongLe morning market in Tainan

I toured YongLe Market (think of the wet market at UTC Ipoh and its vicinity) guided by Tainan Fushin Hotel Executive Vice General Manager Mr Solomon Lin, Sales & Marketing Director of Polo Holidays Co. Ltd. Ms Tammy Chien, and Golden Century Tour & Travel’s tour leader Ms Goh Suet Eng.

Although a tour of market is doable solo, I appreciated the local knowledge shared with me, making it easier for me to absorb its uniqueness. For this first trip, I knew exactly what I should eat and drink, while we walked around the block as the market came to life.

generous buffet spread at the 4-star Fushin Hotel in Tainan

Soon, it was time to return to Tainan Fushin Hotel for a second round of breakfast, this time a 4-star Taiwanese-cum-international buffet. One can never have enough of food, so even after a hearty breakfast at the market, one would still have space left in the tummy to tuck into the delicious spread.

Off to Taipei
Check-out was 9am, with a long road trip to Taipei City in the programme; 3.5 hours’ drive north on the freeway, with a pit stop at Qingshui District Highway Rest Area in Taichung City, the largest, most impressive R&R that I have ever seen.

a clown at the information counter of Qingshui District Highway Rest Area
a clown at the information counter of Qingshui District Highway Rest Area

With good road condition, moderate traffic and no tolls, we soon arrived at Taipei, the home of “Radio Taipei International”, now “RTI Radio Taiwan International”, of which I was a loyal listener and ardent QSL card collector more than a decade ago.

First stop
Time for lunch! Oh, what a scrumptious meal it was at this Taiwanese-Hokkien restaurant in the heart of the city, by the name of A Bi Han Ten (阿美飯店). Although I don’t have the menu, or the names of these dishes, I’m sure that you won’t go wrong if you just show the waiter this photo for the food.

lunch at A Bi Han Ten in Taipei
lunch at A Bi Han Ten in Taipei

Oh course, a meal is more enjoyable with the right company, which was what we had during this Taiwan trip, communicating in Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hokkien, Cantonese, English and even Bahasa Malaysia (or Bahasa Melayu to some).

The historical and cultural district
Once lunch was settled, it was time to explore the city! First item on the itinerary post-lunch was Bopiliao Historic Block, a stretch of old buildings featuring different architectural styles, now preserved by the city government as a historical and cultural district.

Already rich in these values, Bopiliao was further thrust into the tourism limelight following the filming of Monga, a gangster film set in 1980s Taipei, in 2010.

Monga’s lead actor, Ethan Juan (阮经天) won the Golden Horse Awards Best Leading Actor for his role in the movie.

graduating students at Bopiliao Historical Block
graduating students at Bopiliao Historical Block

During my visit, an annual city-wide school graduation celebration was on-going, so it was teeming with youngsters in high spirits, taking group photos and shooting videos, with their soon-to-be ex-classmates.

Manka Longshan Temple Taipei
A sister temple of the Longshan Temple in Lukang, this house of worship in Wanhua (formerly known as Manka), Taipei City’s oldest district, was opened to the public in 1740, following two years of construction.

front arch of Manka Longshan Temple in Taipei
front arch of Manka Longshan Temple in Taipei

Designated as a municipal historical site in Taipei City today, the temple has undergone various cycles of reconstruction due to damage. Manka Longshan Temple is the first temple in Taiwan to incorporate bronze dragon columns and sedan-chair style roofs on its bell and drum towers.

Tall purple building
Our accommodation for the night in Taipei City was Saual Keh Hotel, a tall, purple building that’s hidden from view from the main road. With the way this premises and Eirakucho Drum Tea House were built, it dawned on me the scarcity of land in Taiwan, an island.

Saual Keh Hotel in Taipei
Saual Keh Hotel in Taipei

Similar to Eirakucho Drum Tea House, Saual Keh, literally translated as “handsome guest”, has its main entrance at a side lane, which makes it difficult to spot. However, it is strategically located in Taipei City, within walking distance from an MRT station, and from there, convenient access to many of the city’s attractions.

Guizhou dinner in Taipei
Our dinner was a meal of delectable Guizhou cuisine, at Qing Tian Xai Guizhou Restaurant. Muslims can opt for Qing Tian Xai’s sister restaurant just across the road, by the name of 清真肆集 Halalan & Toyyiban Mart.

a signature double-boiled chicken stew served at  Qing Tian Xai Guizhou Restaurant in Taipei
a signature double-boiled chicken stew served at Qing Tian Xai Guizhou Restaurant in Taipei

Did you know that Guizhou, a mountainous province in southwest China, is well known for its Huangguoshu Waterfall, at 74 metres in height? With Qing Tian Xai serving traditional Guizhou specialities, using ingredients imported from Mainland China, there is no necessity to go to Guizhou for its famed food as they are available at Qing Tian Xai!

Bukit Bintang of Taipei
After a heavy dinner, it was time to walk off the calories, so we went to Ximending for what else, but SHOPPING! Ximending is like Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang, with street performers, souvenirs, clothing, food, etc., being offered.

The only difference? Similar to the rest of the country, people are free to take their pets out with them, including in pet-friendly eateries. Awwww I love this lifestyle.

Ximending street performer
Ximending street performer

Despite it being the final night in Taiwan, I ended up being empty handed. I restrained myself from shopping, on purpose, as I am trying hard to lead a minimalist lifestyle. At the end of the evening, I managed to not buy anything, but that didn’t stop my bag from putting on 5kg of weight throughout my trip!

Icy cool dessert
If you are up to it, you can give 3 Siblings Snow Ice (西門町三兄妹雪花冰專門店) a try. They are famous for their snow ice, topped with a variety of fruits of choice. By the time we arrived, it was close to 11pm.

snow ice from 3 Siblings Snow Ice in Ximending, Taipei
snow ice from 3 Siblings Snow Ice in Ximending, Taipei

I didn’t dare load myself with icy supper as I don’t have iron guts. Moreover, we were to fly out the following morning at 8.30am, so I didn’t want to put myself in an avoidable situation.

Sightseeing checked, shopping (or in my case, window shopping) checked, eating checked, exploring checked. We took a cab back to our hotel Taipei Saual Keh to pack, shower, get some shut eye, and check out at 5.30am, to catch our 8.30am China Airlines flight at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

It was past 1pm when we arrived safely at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I returned my Travel Recommends pocket WiFi at its kiosk that’s open 24/7 and we waited to board our YoYo airport shuttle home to Ipoh, scheduled for 3pm. Arrival at Terminal Amanjaya was 6pm.

See you again, Taiwan!
See you again, Taiwan!

So, after 6D/5N, it’s goodbye, Taiwan. Farewell is always so difficult but I believe we will meet again.

Read about: (links to be updated in due time)
1) Guohua St. @ Tainan, Taiwan
2) A Bi Han Ten (阿美飯店)
3) Bopiliao Historic Block
4) Manka Longshan Temple Taipei
5) Saual Keh Hotel
6) Qing Tian Xai Guizhou Restaurant

To recap:
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 1
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 2
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 3
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 4
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Days 5 & 6

This trip was arranged by one of Ipoh’s top travel agencies, Golden Century Tour & Travel.

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With love

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