Travel: Taiwan 2013

We left Australia on an overnight flight and arrived in Taipei, Taiwan the following afternoon.

We don't speak Mandarin or Taiwanese so we decided to use a private guide, so we could travel where we wanted to go. We used roundTAIWANround and I can't say enough about their service.

Day 1

Our guide, James, met us at the airport.  We easily organised a SIM with 3G at the airport.  They had different plans so you could pick one to suit your needs.

We jumped straight into sightseeing by driving straight to Chiang Kai-Shek's Memorial Hall where we watched the changing of the guards.

They train for many months before being given this huge honor which is for a period of 3 months.  The guards rotate between the Army, Navy and Air Force.  We also visited Taipei 101 which used to be the tallest skyscraper in the world.  We went up to the observatory on the 89th floor.  The outdoor level 90 was closed due to poor weather but I was happy to be inside.  Plenty high enough :)

After some dinner we headed to our hotel, The Landis Taipei. They were very fast checking us in and showed us straight to our room. We were in a superior room which was nice and comfortable. They had printed business cards and paper with my name which along with a fruit bowl, was a lovely thought. The staff were all very friendly.

The location felt a little isolated as no shops were open Saturday or Sunday night although the MRT was only a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

TWD8800 per night

Day 2

Our first stop today was at Yehliu Geopark. It was unbelievably windy and the waves were so big that part of the park was marked out of bounds. They had security around the park, making sure visitors don't touch the limestone formations.  That didn't stop everyone though. The formations are created by sea erosion and earth movements.

You can use your imagination to find shapes in the formations.

At the Candle formation you can see the waves coming over. On a better day you can walk closer to them.

This was the line up to have your photo with the main attraction - the Queen's Head. There was even a guard controlling the tourist flow. We gave this a miss.

Next stop was Juifen which is an old mining town high in the mountains.

This town is built on the edge of the mountain, so there are many alleys with stairs to move between the levels of the town. We tried many different Taiwanese delicacies here - pineapple cake and sun cake to start with.

For lunch, fish ball soup and bean noodles (winter noodles). While we were eating they were making fresh tofu which was filled with meat and sealed with the minced fish meat. Everything was so tasty!

Cost: TWD180 for 3 people

Across from the restaurant was a stall selling these ice creams with crushed nuts wrapped in a thin pastry. Very nice!!! We skipped the shallots on ours though.

There are many tea houses in this town but this one is famous for inspiring a Japanese animae. Some tea houses are hidden through tiny tunnels and are so peaceful away from the crowds.

Next up was Golden Waterfall, named because of the colour of the rocks.

The rocks are stained by the minerals in the water.

We went to a community lookout where you have this amazing view of the Shuinandong Smelter which is an amazing old building.The Smelter was left from the mining industry back in the Japanese Colonial era.

Next was the small town of Shifen which revolves around the railway line that runs right down the middle.

It is a working railway and in the time we were there 4 trains went through. Shifen is well known for releasing lanterns. In historical times they were used by the men of the town to notify the women it was safe to return to the town after fighting.

We sent off our own lantern which had 4 colours to symbolise health, wealth, happiness and love. You paint your wishes on them to be released to the universe.

We later bought some stinky tofu to try. This is a very popular dish in Taiwan. It tastes a lot better than it smells and I enjoyed it. You just have to get past the smell.

We then headed back to Taipei for another night at The Landis.

Day 3

This morning James drove us to Neidong Recreational Forest.

It was very peaceful as we took a leisurely stroll through the park. At the end there was a lovely waterfall which you could walk alongside up to the third tier.

We headed back to Wulai Old Street to have Atayal aboriginal food for lunch. James has been excellent at selecting dishes for us to try.

The bamboo rice has a very distinctive flavour due to it being steamed in the bamboo.

The deep fried shrimp were so tasty and reminded me of prawn crackers.

We also had stir fried fern with raw egg, mixed vegetable omelette, a wild boar and chicken dish.

And lastly we tried the pumpkin dumpling and banana dumpling. They were cooked wrapped in the leaf so they had an unique flavour.

Cost: TWD1000 for 3 people

The store attached to the restaurant sold handmade mochi balls in all different flavours. We got some of each, cherry blossom, taro, strawberry, peanut, chocolate, melon, green tea, sesame seed. The cherry blossom were the best! The photo wasn't those best as I'd lost light before I had time to take the photo.

Taiwan is definitely a delight for foodies. We headed to Shilin Market for dinner where we tried a number of different things. There was the steak hot plate, fried chicken, deep fried soft shell crab, braised bean curd and tempeh and lastly toffee strawberry. This was the best, the toffee was still warm so the strawberry was juicy inside the crunch of the toffee.

Cost: TWD530

Day 4 

Today we left James and Taipei. We caught the MRT from our hotel to the main station where we caught the train to Hualien. I was just hoping that we didn't get terribly lost or miss the train. We had allowed extra time just in case but as it turned out it was very simple and we were early. The MRT was only TWD20, same for any shorter trips. Each platform has a board advising how long until the next train arrives and what stations are in the direction your travelling.

I had ordered our TRA tickets online using Alec's Travel Guide. It was very easy to follow and I only had to present the pick up form at the ticket window to get our ticket. Just before the train arrived a tour group rocks up and they are all made to sit on the platform in rows while waiting for the train to arrive. It was very orderly.

The train carriages were clearly marked so you could easily find your seat. There were toilets and a steward who sold food along the way.

Cost: TWD418 each

We arrived in Hualien on time and Will our next tour guide from roundTAIWANround was waiting out the front of the station for us. It was almost lunch time so we headed straight to lunch at Hualien's famous wonton soup shop. They only had pork wonton's (I don't normally eat pork) but I decided to give it a try and it was worth it, they were delicious.  I may be converted.  Mmm, no not really.

With our bellies full we started the drive out of town to East Rift Valley. It didn't take long to be out of Hualien and into countryside. We had to stop at the police station to get a permit to travel any further into the valley. There are only 600 visitors a day allowed into Mukumugi, normally 300 in the morning and 300 in the afternoon. As we found out the roads were narrow so you wouldn't want many cars in there.

The river runs through the valley and has created these beautiful pools.

Waterfalls can be seen across the valleys. A lot created from landslides as a result of large amounts of water from typhoons.

The roads are covered in many places to protect them from landslides in the earthquakes and typhoons.

Next was Yunshanshui, which is a beautiful lake surrounded by forests. Some of the trees are growing in the water. There are large houses around the lake, some of them used for holiday rentals. It would be a peaceful place to stay.

We had booked Errantry Lodge in Hualien.

This was a fantastic choice. We absolutely loved our stay here. The room was called the Japanese room. It was large, clean and very comfortable. There was even music playing which was very relaxing. Arthur who owns the B&B was a pleasure to meet and get to know. He made us tea and coffee later in the evening which was very kind of him. He also gave us the option of a Chinese or western breakfast for the next morning. We wanted to try the Chinese breakfast which his wife had already started preparing.

Cost: 2900TWD

Day 5

This morning we had a traditional Chinese breakfast made by Arthur's wife, Teresa. It included stir fried greens, deep fried mushrooms, deep fried tofu, a prawn, rice porridge, plus a bowl of seaweed & tofu soup and to finish fruit. It was very enjoyable. It think they should start cooking classes.

The Japanese room also had a little garden out the door which really added to the serenity.

Will picked us up at 9:00am. It's lovely having all the sleep ins. We stopped at Qixingtan which is a black pebble beach. We spent quite a bit of time looking at all the rocks with their different colours and shapes. Behind the beach is the Air Force base. We could hear the jets so were taking our tome hoping we'd see them take off. We were lucky enough to see 3 jets take off over us but they were so fast I had no chance of getting a focused photo. And you definitely can't point the camera in the direction of the base, they madly start whistling at you.

We stopped at the cross island highway arch which marks the entrance to Taroko National Park.

Next stop was the Eternal Spring Shrine. There were a few tour buses there but they only visit the toilet take a photo and back on the bus. We walked along the path round to the shrine. we were lucky to see a Green Bamboo snake along the way. It isn't normal to see snakes here.

The shrine commemorates the death of 226 personnel during the building of the central cross island highway.

We then visited Quingshui cliffs. The sea was so blue even though there was no sun. Behind us were cliffs that were hit by the last typhoon and you can see part of the cliffs are white from water running over the rocks.

Anytime we've been near water there is always a buoy.

There are local tribes living up in the mountains so they use this trail to bring out produce they've grown in the village. The boulders are absolutely huge and have beautiful patterns. We walked the Shakadang trail for over an hour.

Plum blossoms were falling from the trees. The flower a little later than cherry blossoms which I was hoping I'd get to see.

We skipped lunch this day so that we were able to make the different sights before the loads of buses arrived. Next stop was Swallow Grotto. It was a little grey with there being lots of rain in the previous week stirring up the water and it was a rainy day as well. You can see the road running around the mountain again.

On this trail you have to wear hard hats and you can see on the railing here exactly why.

Next stop was Buluowan Leader Village for a drink now that we'd finished the main sights that the buses visit. They are aboriginal to this area.

Cimu Bridge

Xiangde Temple at Tienxiang in the Taroko N.P.

Silk's Place Resort is located right on the river. It was very peaceful and we had a view of the gorge from our room. You could hear the roar of the river all night.

The room was very nice, although we didn't spend all that much time there.

We were starving by the time we got there and with meals included in our package we headed straight to the restaurant. We opted for the buffet and you can see how amazing it looks here. These were just 2 of the stations. There were another 2, including one making fresh noodles and soups.

Later in the evening the hotel does an aboriginal performance around the fire pit. It was really lovely and the music was great. They laid blankets around on the seats and then gave each person a second blanket to put over the top. It was very cosy.

Cost: 7258TWD package

Day 6

The breakfast at Silk's Place was beautiful just like dinner. There was plenty of choice. Once we finished breakfast we wandered around the hotel. They have both an indoor and outdoor pool as well as fitness centre and times for children DIY projects.

The indoor pool had masses of rubber ducks lined up.  It was very cute and I can just imagine the children would have them everywhere by the end of the day.

When we were checking out we could hear a bird singing and this little guy was hidden in a display in the foyer.

Fire extinguisher on the side of the road in the tunnel. There always seems to be safety devices around the place.

This was the start of the Baiyang Trail in Taroko N.P.

There are lots of these signs along the walk. We have to wear the hard hats for part of the trek. This trek was over 2 hours.

Again you can see the layers in the rock and how they are being pushed up. With travelling in Taiwan at this time of year there is the advantage that the water level is lower in the river so you get to see more rock formations.

There were many caves to walk through.  A couple of them had bats.

This was the great waterfall. In the foreground you can see the suspension bridge which leads to a lookout area. I am not normally afraid of suspension bridges but this one I got half way across and couldn't take the photos. I gave Paul the camera and ran to the other side. It was rather high so not sure if it was the combination that got me.

After our trek we headed back to Tienxiang for lunch. I had read that food wasn't very good here so I wasn't expecting much but my goodness it was tasty. We both enjoyed all the food.

Along with the fried rice and beef stir fry we also got Chinese sausage and beef noodle soup.

Cost: TWD430

The clouds were low and meant we couldn't see far. On a clear day the view is apparently gorgeous.

The fog covered the road and in many places it was thicker than this.

We arrived at Song Syue Lodge that was supposed to be our accommodation for the night and I went straight onto the oxygen for altitude sickness. After being on it for a while we made the call to descend that afternoon instead of staying the night.

It was absolutely freezing up there. I had a singlet, shirt, merino wool jumper and a duck down jacket and I was still cold.

We had to take a photo of this photo that shows Hehuanshan in clear weather. A lot prettier than the sheet of white we saw.

We found this very amusing. All the used cigarette butts at the base of the statue. The memorial was for an aboriginal from that town, who apparently loved smoking hence they put the butts there. At memorials you are meant to put a fresh cigarette though.

You can see along the valley as we are approaching Puli.

With the change of plans, Grant from roundTAIWANround, kindly found us new accommodation near Puli. Rippling B&B was just outside of Puli. It was clean, comfortable and has very thing you'd need for a one night stay. They didn't speak English so Will translated for us until we were settled and then he headed home.

Cost: TWD2500

Today we said goodbye to Will. He was an awesome guide and we had a lot of fun with him. He had a great understanding of the attractions and the best time to be there to miss the bus loads of mainland Chinese which we greatly appreciated.

Day 7

This morning we were picked up by Grant from roundTAIWANround and were off to explore around Puli.

Our first stop was the Chung Tai Chan Monastery.  This is a very modern monastery cost millions to build.  

We had an English speaking guide to show us the main hall which was really interesting.

Behind the laughing Buddha in the lower halls are the four guardians who each hold a different form of protection.

We then headed into Puli to have some lunch.  It went really fast it was so yummy.  It included pepper beef, braised tofu, onion pancake, shrimp and stir fried fern with raw egg.


Once we'd finished gorging ourselves we headed off the Puli Winery.  They make Shaosing Wine here.  It was quite interesting but a little disappointed they had no tastings.

Our next stop was Guangxing Paper Mill where we were give a tour of the factory.  We then had an opportunity to do this traditional form of painting.

I did a map of Taiwan which we attached to a scroll.  Had an afternoon of childhood fun :)

We also stopped at Liao Mayer Black Tea factory.  This is still a working factory although not this day.  We did do flower tea tastings.  They were very nice and refreshing to have something a little different.

Our next stop was at Sun Moon Lake, Wenwu Temple.  Across the road are this set of 365 stairs.  One for each day of the year and each step is labelled so.  You get a bell, write your wish and then walk to the stair for your date of birth and attach the bell.

Wenwu Temple

This is the cutest machine.  You put in a coin and she goes back into the house to collect your prediction.  You can take the piece of paper to a fortune teller nearby to help understand the meaning.

We are staying at Sun Moon Lake's Fleur de Chine for the next couple of nights.

It was a large and comfortable room with a great view of the lake.  It's still raining so a little cloudy but still lovely all the same.

It is quite a large hotel with half the rooms facing the lake.

We thoroughly enjoyed our teppanyaki dinner and unlike in Australia there was no throwing rice at you I'm pleased to say.  All the food was fantastic!

 Scallops and Fish

Salmon and Prawn with Hawaiian Rock Salt

We will be having dinner at the hotel again tomorrow night so hopefully it is as enjoyable.

COST: TWD26620 including breakfast and dinner

Day 8
This morning we enjoyed breakfast at the Sky Lounge of Fleur de Chine.  Although it was cloudy and misty it was still lovely.

The tables were beautifully decorated and each table had a little alcove with cushioned day lounges around it.

First was Apple and Pumpkin Soup with mushroom rice balls which were delicious.  I could've just had them for breakfast!

Then there was the omelette, sausages and a bread basket with different gourmet breads including a chocolate one.

And lastly was the fruit plate, beautifully presented.

After breakfast, Grant picked us up and we headed to Cien Pagoda.

It was very misty up at the pagoda which was a 700 metre walk up from the carpark.  We were the only visitors there.

We were very lucky that the clouds cleared for a moment so we could see Sun Moon Lake in the distance.
Following that we headed back to the lake.

We caught the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway across the mountain to Formosa Aboriginal Village.

The village was across a large area so we took our time walking down the hill.  There were lots of gardens which on a sunny day I can imagine being filled with people having picnics.

There are 14 aboriginal tribes recognised by the Taiwan Government at the moment.  They have displays for the different houses throughout the park.

This one was built down in the ground so we decided to walk around it to have a look inside.  Bad idea.  We got to the back and were slipping and sliding on the rocks.  Obviously no one goes around there.  We were in fits of laughter.

On the way back we did see this massive snail.  Now we wish we'd put something next to the snail to show just how big it was.  I've never seen one this large before.

They also had a Koi Pond where you could feed the fish.  There were so many of them.

There were also a lot of amusement rides which we skipped past.

On the lowest level was the European Gardens.  They were very nice, very picturesque.

When we finished at the Cultural Village we headed to Shuili Snake Kiln.

This was the original kiln which was damaged in an earthquake.  The pottery was baked by a wood fire at the end.

A lot of pottery would've fitted in there.

Now a days they use a small kiln with wood fire and they also use a gas kiln.  The gas kiln is a lot faster and they are able to regulate the temperature on it.

Tonight we had a Chinese Set Dinner included in our accommodation package.  After the teppanyaki last night we had high expectations.

The appetisers consisted of shredded tofu, bamboo shoots and fish skin.  Yes fish skin, very rubbery but it tasted pretty good.

That was followed by Fish Balls with Truffle Sauce.  You may think the picture doesn't match the name and that was exactly what we thought.

Fried Pork with Phoenix Eye Nut.  By this stage we were looking at the menu we'd been given wondering if we were getting what was on it.

Fried Takula with Corn Soup

Sticky Rice with Chicken

And lastly Red Dates Longan Tea.  This was probably the weirdest and the one neither of us could consume.  Maybe if it had been hot I could've done it but it was cold and a little too much for us.

Day 9

We had a buffet breakfast this morning but were wishing we could enjoy the Sky Lounge again.  Quite a few tour buses had come in the afternoon before so it was very busy.

This morning it looked like the clouds were clearing and for a little while we did have a view of the lake.

This morning we drove to Chiayi which took a few hours.  We enjoyed the local specialty, turkey rice for lunch and then headed to Chiayi Park.

Chiayi Park was established many years ago when Taiwan was under the colonial rule of Japan so you will see many of their influences here.

We then headed to Chiayi Prison which isn't far from Chiayi Park.  Entry is only with a tour guide.  We caught the 2.30pm tour, there was also a 9.30am, 10.30am and 1.30pm tour.

The prison closed in 1994 and is now a museum.

A Cell

Bathing Room

The doors to the prison are larger then the archway.  Many years ago there was an earthquake and there weren't enough bricks to rebuild the arch the original size so they just made it as high as they could.
There was lots of driving today.  After the prison we started our drive to Alishan.

We stopped on the way at Chokou to get supplies at Family Mart.  If you visit Taiwan you don't need to worry about convenience stores.  There is one on every corner just about.  7Eleven is very common along with Family Mart.  We also had a quick look at the temple here before jumping back in the car.

We decided to have any early dinner at an aboriginal restaurant on the way to our accommodation.  The restaurant name was Yupasu Cafe.

Outside there was a fire for cooking Chinese Sausages and Pork fillets.

From inside there was an amazing view over the valley.

We had to try the Chinese Sausage after seeing it cooking outside, we had the BBQ pork as well as pumpkin vermicelli noodles.

There was also stir fried birds nest fern.

And pig skin salad.  The texture was a little weird.
While we were eating we could see the sun on the mountains across the valley.  We decided to make a run for a viewpoint to see if we could catch the sunset.

And we made it!  At Xinding we were able to see the sun setting.

Once we finished taking photos of the sunset we headed to our accommodation.

Tonight we are staying at Alishan Tea Garden - Tuscany in the Lemongrass room.  It was a lovely room and a fresh, clean bathroom.  The owner only speaks a little english but was very friendly and helpful.

Cost: TWD 3400 including breakfast

Day 10

Sun beautiful sun!!!

We woke up to this beautiful morning with the sun shining and the clouds had cleared.

There was this amazing view out of the window of the breakfast room.

And the front of the house is gorgeous with gardens full of flowers.

The view was amazing.  There were even chairs and tables outside so you could sit and soak it all in.

Couldn't have asked for a more perfect morning.

We headed further up the mountain to Alishan National Scenic Area.  Once we'd parked we headed to the railway station and caught the train to Zhaoping Station.

From there we walked through the scenic area including Sisters Ponds.  This is the elder sister which is larger.

The love heart tree.

Giant Trees boardwalk.

And I was so excited when we saw a tree with cherry blossoms on it.  I had been hoping that they would have a late bloom but wasn't that lucky.  They are really beautiful.

We were so lucky on our way back to see the women picking the tea leaves in a plantation on the mountain side.

We stopped at Sheng Le Farm and had a tea ceremony which was a lot of fun.

The tall cup is the one the tea is served in, you cover it with the small cup and tip it over.  You need to be quick or it spills.  We tried both their oolong and winter green tea.  I preferred the winter green tea which was very delicate.

We continued on to Taichung that afternoon.  We checked into the Tempus Hotel which was very nice.  There were a lot of business men staying at this hotel so it was busy.  

Cost: TWD3570 including breakfast

We were only a 10 minute walk from Sogo which was handy.  At the entrance to Sogo they have this musical clock which, at each hour, turns the figurines around.  It plays a tune while they make little movements and one by one they all turned around so the clock was just a clock again.

Day 11

Today we headed out of Taichung.  Our first stop was the Great Buddha of Baguashan.  The statue sits on the hilltop overlooking the city of Changua.  Inside you are able to climb the 3 levels which have dioramas telling the story of Buddha.

Not far from there we visited the Fan-Shaped Train Garage which is the only one in Taiwan, plus there are no more than 3 preserved in the world.

We were really lucky to be there at the right time to watch a train come in to the moving platform and turn until it was on the new track.

Next stop was a little cafe that sold these meatballs.  They were covered with glutinous rice in a jelly consistency.  Very yummy!!

We then headed to Lukang which boasts over 200 temples dedicated to various dieties.  Each of the temples we visited were very different.

We then walked to the Mazu Temple which was very busy.

As we were leaving there was a parade coming into the temple.  It was very interesting as the main guy hits himself on the back with different sharp implements so the spirit would enter his body.  He then enters the temple followed by the rest of the procession.  Everyone else in the procession was wearing pink hats.

There are many small allies around this area with wonderful old houses with so much character.

After we had some lunch we headed to the Longshan Temple, which is the largest in Lukang.  It is now over 300 years old and beautifully preserved.

The colourful paintings are fading and give this temple real character and feeling of history.

This afternoon we caught the High Speed Rail from Taichung to Taipei.  We have never been on high speed rail before so it was a real treat.  At one stage we were travelling at 194km/h and it really didn't feel like it.  We were in Taipei within an hour which is just amazing.  It'd be great if we had this in Australia.

We checked into the Hotel Eclat, which will be our home for 3 nights, until we leave Taiwan.  The room is really lovely, a little quirky which makes it all the more interesting.  The bed is super comfy and with a choice of 3 different pillows, there is something for everyone.

Day 12

Today we met back up with James from roundTAIWANround and headed to the Mengjia Longshan Temple in Taipei.

The temple was very busy when we arrived with many people involved in a ceremony and many more watching on.  It is located in one of the oldest areas of Taipei.

We took a walk to a nearby street where people set up flea markets on the road.  They sold all sorts of things.  I loved this guy with his beaded ankle.  Both ankles were the same.

In the afternoon we visited the Taipei Zoo which was really good.  It was surprising how large the zoo was and after spending 4 hours there we still hadn't seen everything.

The black bear used to be seen across Taipei but now it is easier to see them at the zoo.

The main reason I wanted to go to the zoo was to see the Pandas.  Because the day was quite warm they were indoors.  As we arrived they had just finished setting up one of the enclosures with hidden treats and food for the Panda.  It walked out and headed straight for the blue barrel and pulled out some bamboo.

There were beautiful displays around the zoo including this one of the lizard with plants to create it's body.

Yesterday I mentioned that our hotel was a little different so here are some pics of the lobby.

There is the most amazing lighting chandelier that is mirrored in the walls around the elevator.

There are quite a few statues including this pig.

And in our room is this twisted clock.  At 6.00 in the morning it is hard to get in focus.

Day 13

Today is our last full day in Taiwan and we had some business to take care of.

My niece had asked me to visit the Barbie Cafe in Taipei for her.  So this was number one on the list of things to do, actually it was all that was on the list that had to be done.

Thankfully there weren't many people in the restaurant when we arrived so I was able to take lots of photos.

My plan was to go to the restaurant to have cake, coffee and then out of there.  Best laid plans always go awry. 

It turned out that they had certain menus depending on the time of day you are there.  It was 11:30am when we arrived so that meant we were on the lunch menu.  I was a little disappointed but once I got my meal I was quite happy.  They were both very nice!

The interesting thing was that the menu didn't have children's meals and judging by the other diners this cafe isn't drawing children.  The majority were adults, quite a few of which were couples.

Around the corner was Hello Kitty Sweets which sells desserts or you can dine in at the restaurant.  We had a quick look and continued on our way.  I was still full from lunch.

After a few hours of shopping our feet were tired and we needed to offload the bags so we headed back to the hotel.  We had a bit of a break before heading to Taipei 101.  This time we got there during daylight so I was able to get some photos.  The building was the first to pass half a kilometre in height.  It's shaped to look like a stalk of bamboo.  

At the bottom of Taipei 101 you can find Din Tai Fung, you may be asking what is that.  It's the best dumpling restaurant we've ever tried.  Their specialty is xiaolong bao which is a kind of pork dumpling.  They are so juice and tasty (that I don't even mind that it's pork), we couldn't get enough.

The menu does cover a range of meals including the pork and shrimp dumplings in special sauce, also delish!

Then we tried some more dumplings, this time mushroom and chicken.

Then there were these pot sticker dumplings which were awesome!  They were the best I've ever had.

This was our third visit to this restaurant and each time we'd tried different things, this was the only time I remembered to take photos before we devoured everything.  We'd also tried the wonton soup, fried rice with shrimp and beef noodle soup.

This restaurant is super busy and you can see in the kitchen that the bamboo baskets are piled high and continously leaving the kitchen.  When you arrive at the restaurant you get a number and have to wait until your number is called.  While you are waiting they give you the menu and a tick sheet so you can select your meals before you are seated.   Very efficient way of increasing the number of patrons through the restaurant each night.

After dinner we went back out the front of the building for a night shot.  It really is an attractive building.  The coloured lighting on the tower changes each evening.

Tomorrow we leave Taipei and Taiwan.  We are sad to leave as we've had the most amazing time and a lot of that was thanks to James, Grant and Will from roundTAIWANround.  All the Taiwanese we met along the way were very hospitable which meant we had the best time.  Not even the frequent rain could ruin the fun we were having.  I really hope that we can get back there one day and see more of the island.

Day 14

Sorry I'm running a day behind but here is the last of Taiwan, the airport.

We arrived quite early at the airport thanks to a speedy taxi driver :)  This meant we had plenty of time to wander around.

After having a bite to eat we took a walk around and found this Hello Kitty check in counter and on closer inspection, Eva Air has Hello Kitty flights.

So you get your own check in area which is very pink!  Not sure if you'd be able to get your husband/boyfriend here.

All Hello Kitty amenities for the flight.

Even Hello Kitty planes.

Once we passed through immigration we were surprised at how large the terminal is.  There are shops everywhere you look.  They had this beautiful umbrella display.

And a mural of a waterfall, something Taiwan has plenty of.

It's a really lovely airport to spend time in.

We arrived in Singapore on time and headed straight to our hotel which was the Fairmont Singapore.

The room was absolutely beautiful!  The bed was big and so soft.  I could've just stayed in the bed forever.

Then there was the modern and very clean bathroom.  I really dislike when you are dying for a bath at the end of a long day to find when you get in there is mould around the edges.  That certainly wasn't the case here, in heaven :)

Tomorrow we are off to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore so stay tuned.

Day 15

My blogs have slowed down as we've been so busy and I've been too tired at night.  Only another few days in Singapore though.

This morning we checked with reception whether we could swap rooms for one that has a view of Marina Bay.  They were very happy to assist and for a small amount extra we had swapped rooms.

I think you would agree that this view is worth moving for.

We headed to Gardens by the Bay today.  We visited the Cloud Forest Dome to start with. It was nice to escape the heat in the cool of the dome.

There was such a great variety of flowers which we tried out our new macro lens on.  

The 35 metre tall mountain is covered in vegetation and there is two walkways that come out and around the mountain.  It also has the tallest indoor waterfall.

Next stop was the Flower Dome.  It was completely different to the previous dome.  Just inside are these fantastic displays.  Each flower has a television that shows the cycle of that flower goes through to bloom.

There was a fantastic cactus garden that my dearest hubby spend a lot of time in taking photos.  I thought he'd left me behind he was gone so long.

The dome is incredibly expansive and is broken up into different regions of the world.

One of his cactus flowers.

They change the displays each month.  We were there for the Easter display which was very cute.  They currently have Tulipmania happening which would've been awesome too.  Not sure I'd be allowed to fly back each month to check the displays out.

Then there are the super trees. They are massive and range in height from 25-50 metres.

We went up one of the 25 metre trees to walk across the Skyway which is 128 metres long.  I would've loved to have gotten back at night to see them all lit up in lights but we just ran out of time.

When we finished at Gardens by the Bay we walked across the road to the Marina Bay Sands to have a drink at Ku De Ta on the 51st floor.  It has magnificent views!

We headed back to the room to have showers before going our for dinner.  We have been to this restaurant on a previous trip and the food was so good we decided to go back.  This time we had a set dinner which was altered a little as we weren't keep on Shark Fin Soup.

We had Fried butter lobster which was delish.  I am not normally a fan of lobster but this one changed my mind.

White Pepper Crab which is a specialty of Singapore.

Crab Fried Rice, my husbands all time favourite that I can't see to recreate at home.

The No Signboard Seafood restaurant is on Clarke Quay (there are others around the city as well) so we took a walk along to see the river.

Day 16

We had absolutely nothing planned for today other than taking it easy and have a bit of a rest after the last couple of crazy weeks.

We decided to do a High Tea at the Mandarin Oriental.  They do two sittings each day, the first one at 12:00 noon.  We thought we could double it as lunch so we booked in for the early session.  We could walk to the Mandarin Oriental through the CityLink Mall so there was no rush.  Before we left we watched this storm roll in across the bay.  It was amazing to see the sunshine disappear and the dark clouds fill the sky.

The High Tea was beautiful.  I do love tea and decided to try something different.  This is a white tea with jasmine flowers.  It was very nice!  I loved the teapot too!

It started off with a Champagne Jelly with berries.

Followed by the 3 tiered stand filled with Champagne Cassis Mini Gateau, Tiramisu, Choux Pastry with Mango Cream, Fancy Macaroon, Ham and Cheese Sandwich, Egg and Mayonnaise Sandwich, Parma Ham and Mozzarella Wrap and Cucumber and Chive Sandwich.

Then there was delicious Fruit Tarts and Pecan Ovale along with citrus scones and chocolate pearl scones.

Once all that was cleared we went onto the next course which was Smoked Trout Tarts with Creme Fraiche, Scallop Ceviche and Truffle Potato

I missed photos of the Mushroom and Thyme Puff and Bourguingnon Beef Pie.  I was too full by that stage!

And lastly they finished with Pralines.

The best thing about high tea was just sitting and relaxing while enjoying good food.

COST: SGD45 per person

Afterwards we needed to work off some of what we'd eaten although all we felt like doing was lying down like sloths.  We headed down to Chinatown, in the rain, and had a wander around.  I love the colourful buildings in Pagoda St.

We were back in the room to watch the sunset over the bay.  It's lovely watching all the lights of the city come on.

We decided to head across the road to Chijmes for dinner.  This old convent has been renovated into an entertainment precinct.

There is plenty of choice with restaurants including an Australian one, Hog's Breath Cafe.  They are all over Singapore now.  We don't eat there in Australia so decided to give it a miss.  

Day 17

This morning we headed off to the Singapore Art Museum which was only a short walk from the hotel.  It is housed in the incredible building that used to be a school.  In the renovation they knocked down classroom walls to create all the galleries.

There was some fantastic art there.

This painting was quite incredible.  Depending on which end of the painting you are standing the painting looks different.

For the rest of the afternoon we shopped.  Things have gotten a lot more expensive in Singapore since we were last there so there weren't too many purchases but it's always fun looking.

Tonight we caught the Marina Bay Light show.  There is a water show that goes with it if you are down on the Promenade by the bay.

It was great watching the buildings change colour and the lasers in the sky.

That was our last night in Singapore and last day of holidays.  Tomorrow we are on the plane back to Australia.

It has been an awesome trip and I feel so fortunate to have experienced so many amazing things over the last couple of weeks.  We also made new friends in Taiwan which is priceless.  We hope they visit Australia in the future.

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