Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Taipei Hot Spring Experience

Hot Springs? Huh? I didn' t think much of it at first.. in fact, I wanted to skip it altogether. Hey, Im visiting a city, and I didn't think that hot spring would be part of it.

But then, some friends mentioned that I had to visit them in Taipei.. so I checked it out, and base on their raving reviews, I made a point that yeah, I should! (it's like if you didn't visit the hot springs, you didn't visit Taipei kind of thing).

My journey started with a ride on the MRT station, all the way to the Beitou station.

We then had to change MRT.. sitting in this beautifully decorated train, and yet also one of the slowest MRT rides (the short distance between the 2 stations must be the reason).

We arrived only to be greeted with a full list of hot springs that we could go... now which one to go to? Basically we had a few choices - the public public hot spring or the hot springs provided by the hotels - which are then also divided into public or private, which are smaller rooms for individuals or couples.

Not wanting to make a rash decision, we decided to see what's in store.. so rather than going into the first hot spring, we decided to take a walk uphill, walking alongside the stream. It was a lovely walk.

Along the way, we passed by this library, which I thought was quite cool. It looks cosy yet well designed.. (imagine going to the library surrounded by hot springs..!).

We stopped a little bit here & there along the way (the journey is not short), and chanced upon this hot spring lake.

Walking further & more uphill, I then saw this scooter too.. and thought I'd grab a photo with it. I mean, hey, scooters are like the 101 tower with Taipei.. so I just had to take one shot with it!

Walk walk & walk... and we got a lil lost. Asked some workers who were renovating a building. He first pointed up further on the hill (we were looking for some authentic cool building that was on the map). I asked if he was going upwards as he had a lorry (was hoping to hitch a ride)... but he said he was going downhill instead. Too bad - I thought.

Anyway, uphill we walked.. but then realised that the place we were looking for wasn't in that direction.. and guess what? The guy actually came up back to fetch us, as he too realised that the direction he gave was wrong. So at the back of the lorry I sat - going downhill!!! woo hoo!

He fetched us to the building.. but it wasn't what we expected so we left quickly. And continued to walk till we saw this teahouse.. As our legs were tired & it was raining, hence, we decided to pop in.

The owner cum tea lady made very good teas.. which costed a big bomb! Yeah, way above the cheap but cool jacket I bought! (the tea in her cute teapot costed NT400!).

Anyway, after a few sips & playing with her dog, we walked again.. this time round, to get to what we came for.. the hot spring.

(captured this while walking downhill)

And so, finally we ended up in one of the hotel's hot spring.. and guess which one is it? The very first hotel from the MRT.

Ok, I couldn't take pictures of the hot spring of the hotel (*censored!).. but all I can say is that it has 4 tubs at varying degrees. One tub was super cold while the other 3 had different hot temperatures (there's a thermometer that shows how hot it is). It was very relaxing and clean, though I think the amenities could be upgraded a bit to make it more prestigeous. But the experience on the whole was good. I spent a good 2 hours or so there.

Btw I also checked the private rooms, and find them a lil small... unless you are going as a couple, I'd suggest instead to go for the public one (seperated by male & female).

While the epitome was really me soaking in the hot water from the hot spring, but the real plus is the whole journey, which to me is what made the hot spring experience fully memorable! And when I do go back to Taipei, I'll definitely visit em hot spring again - but maybe minus the hill hike the next time round. :)

*I was also informed that there are many other areas in Taipei that has hot springs. But this is one of the more popular areas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Cheap But Cool Taiwan Jacket

Two years back, I remember visiting one of Taipei's most popular night market - the Shilin Night Market. I had a good memory of the place because it do have quite nice items, and if lucky, one can get some good deals.

(the road beside the night market)

So, when I came back again this time round, I visited the night market on my first night. I didn't had much in mind to buy..

Most of the time, I just walked past the shops, with lil intention of buying anything, but then I heard this rather unbelievable deal. A guy was using a speaker
shouting that his shop is selling jackets at NT180!
I couldn't believe what I heard and asked him about what he just said.. and he said yes, it's true!

With such pricing, I thought to myself that I just had to get one, or two! So, in I went and browsed the jackets. Initially, I thought the jackets didn't suit me.. and most likely is the reason they are throwing the prices.

But after a bit more browsing, and a few tries.. I actually got one that I think is rather cool!

And here, me with the new jacket - which I started wearing the very next day (hey, where else can we wear a jacket anyway? hehe)

Yeah, I kinda like this jacket lots - one for its design, and of course, for its cheap pricing! Took a few other shots with it - and here is one of them too (yeah, I know its cam-whoring.. but oh well.. like I said, when else can I wear this jacket again? haha!) :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cock Shaped Hot Dog In Taiwan

Was at the cool Ximending area, and my Taiwanese friend mentioned that there's a hot dog stall which sells some unique hot dogs.. Didn't think much at first, but then, we bumped into the signboard...

Though I couldn't read the characters, but I knew that is the stall my friend is talking about.. (no brainer here!).

Just less than a minute walk away, we then arrived to be greeted by a bigger signboard, this time in its 'full glory' (pun intended).

There wasn't much on the menu.. except 1 thing, and 1 thing only.. yeah, u guessed it! For that moment, I was kinda stunned.. even talking bout bugs & bees in homeland is in all pretense, but here, they dare to even cook it & make it into a food! And it doesn't help that the people manning the stall were all so cool about it.

In any case, my mind went: "Whooa, the Taiwanese are so open one ar...".

So how are the hotdogs made? First, goes the mixture into the unique moulds.

Next up, put in the sausage. Yeah, how could that be missed rite? LOL!

Close the lid, tightly (another pun intended!).. btw, just look at the moulds. The owner sure went into detail here!

Wait for a while, and the hot dogs are all hard (ooops!) and ready to be taken out.

And finally, add some sauce & toppings.. and tadaaaa, there it is, the Taiwanese hot dog all ready to be served (and eaten!).. and I sure had my share, which I was told so do many schoolkids, whose parents buy for them too!

Guess it doesn't matter for whatever shape it looks like, a hot dog.. is after all, a hot dog!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taipei, Im In Love With You..

Taipei, it has been 2 years since we met... and though the last encounter has been brief, but ooooh, the memories has been wonderful. You were the only city that I've fallen in love with - right away. No, not even Bangkok or Manila had that attraction you had...

So, when it was time to re-visit you again, you can guess how excited I was! I was excited from the night before.. on the plane.. yeah, just like this pic, I was on Cloud 9 - just the thought of seeing you, again!

Ok, so what were the things I enjoyed this 2nd time round being with you..

1. Super Cool Hotel: You Made Me Comfortable!

While I know hotels are not as cheap to some other holiday destinations like Bangkok, but still, I'm surprised with my find. Despite the room being a lil small, but the bathroom in this particular hotel rocks! I could watch TV while brushing my teeth, or while doing my big business. You sure made me comfortable, Taipei.

In fact, you made me so comfortable, that even breakfast was super! Your restaurant is so well decorated, making even the Queen envious, I'm sure!

2. Cool Weather: You Made It Just Right

It didn't matter that it drizzled in the few days that I was with you. The raindrops were a cool getaway from the humidity that I'm more used to back home.. but you know, I love cold (at times), and you made it just right at 18 degrees!

3. Smelly Tofu: You Made Me Learn To Smell

While some may go oooeeey gooeey with your superly popular dish, but to me, this is one delicacy I would never miss when I'm with you.. The aroma may take a while to get used to but the bites are crunchy and yet soft. And the taste.... ahhhh, what shall I say? :)

4. Baby Apples: You Made Me Smile

While I'm used to all things big, but you showed that when things are small, they can be just as good, or better. Yea, Taipei, you showed that Size do matter - in the opposite way!

5. Dumplings: You Made Me Full

From baby apples, you do seem to offer lots of other small round things.. like the dumplings. It was a daily intake for me - for it was easily available, affordable and of course, yummy!

6. Cool MRT Design: You Made My Eyes Open Wide

I've always loved the designs from you, Taipei. They are creative & unique... from your unique tees to even menu designs. But I've seen some of those my first time round. But what I didn't see was this well decorated MRT. You sure know how to wrap things up, Taipei!

7. Hot Springs: You Made Me So Pampered

And one of your attractions, Taipei, your hot springs.. While I must admit that at first, it wasn't on my top priority, but friends said that this was a must try... and I'm so glad I did. Your hot spring is well taken care of, and makes one so pampered.. with all things natural!

8. Fishing At The Night Market: You Made Me Remember The Simple Things In Life

While I'm rather used to night markets selling raw meat & vegetables, but it was one to see people play games like in the fun fairs and another to see one fish for prawns as a game.

It was just one special moment I won't forget that despite you being a city and all, there's still that part of you that is back to basics and to the simple things in life.

9. Signage On Your Road: You Made Me Stop

Just like your designs elsewhere, even your road wants attention.. with eye catching signs (at least for a tourist like me!).

10. Wide Roads In The City: You Made Me Feel Free

Talking bout roads, I love the size of your roads. They are so wide and seems to make traffic smooth. Sure some other places have them too, but somehow it's with you that I feel so free! (just like opening my arms wide despite it's not in the countryside!).

11. Open Mindedness: You Made Me Less Shy (*blush)

Coming from a 'conservative' country, you breathe fresh air, Taipei. There's no hush hush about things.. In fact, you take one step further, and dare to show it in the open - living the spirit of "have it, flaunt it" - and to add, make it creative along the way.. just like this 'hot' dog here!

12. The Buzz: You Made Me Excited

While some cities try to liven up themselves, you just have it from within. The busy streets added with big bright & attractive neon lights make youself full of life & energy, that even rivals the many other Asian cities I've visited!

13. 'Picturesque' Streets: You Made Me Go All Fuzzy Inside

When not on the big wide roads, but instead on your smaller roads & streets, I can still feel you. There's a certain cosiness in these streets - the signboards, the creative spills, and maybe also the friendly Taiwanese that when put together makes oozes a sense of warmth inside.

There you have it, Taipei. Revisiting you has been one of the highlights for me this year. It's really great to be connected with you again.. And though, I'm now back, I do hope that I'll get to see you soon. For really, I'm in love with you...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Hello, Her Name Is Alice (And She Calls Me Hot!)

alice teh bloggerKnown blogger & avid reader, Alice Teh for a while now though we've yet to meet. Anyway, recently, she invited me to guest post on her blog, which she shares a lot of her passion of reading.

"You can talk about your book projects and insight on reading from a male's perspective."

I thought this was a cool invitation.. I'm on to share anything lil or much that I know with regards to the media industry.. and besides, she calls this segment as the Hot Guy Reads! So, hey, I can't pass this up! LOL!!

So, after I got back from Taiwan, I handed over my 'homework' (as Alice says).

If you'd like to read what I shared on the book industry and a lil bit more about myself & how I got involved in this book biz... head over to her blog: Hello, My Name Is Alice: Hot Guy Reads Books (And a Published Author!).

*Took bout 2.5 hours for the post, part of it came from "wanting to capture a shot of me & my books - in a unique, and hot way (ehem!!)"... tried many poses.. and this is the one I shared with her! :)

batik inspirations, 50+1 malaysia

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Read All In One (Using RSS)

Some of you most likely love to blog hop & newspaper hop eh? How do u remember all those many sites you like?

I remember there's Google Reader, something you can use to bring all the RSS into one place - without having to then remember the urls no more (on a side note, I used to do that last time too before I got overload with workload & online information).

Anyway, locally, there's a new player with similar functions - iTalkWhoa. Already a system to make calls, iTalkWhoa has this additional feature so that yeah, your favourite site's RSS feeds (just think of it as news feeds) can go directly to this account of yours.

So goodbye clunky long urls or the many urls one needs to remember..

Now, will u use it? I'd say why not - if ur an internet info junkie, and if you already use iTalkWhoa! :)

*Now if ur keen to using this, here's a step by step on how to configure RSS feeds on your iTalk Whoa’s account:
1. Select the RSS Feeds under Mail panel and click on New Group to create a new category/group
2. Pop up box [RSSFeed Category Name] will appear and please input any name for the new group –
example News
3. Then click on button [Add]
4. To input any info on News category, just search for RSS News site/ blog site that interest you.
In the example, the feeds gather from non other than yours truly. ehem!

i. Select the RSS Feeds under Mail panel and click on New Group to create a new category/group
ii. Pop up box [RSSFeed Category Name] will appear and please input any name for the new group –
say, Favourite Blogs
iii. Then click on button [Add]
iv. To input any info on this category, just search for RSS from the blogs u like/ read often.
v. For example, see the RSS icon on top right of my blog

rss logo
vi. Just right click on the RSS icon and select ‘Copy Link Location’.
vii. Go back to your iTalk Whoa’s account and highlight the Favourite Blogs icon, input ‘QuaChee's Blog’ under ‘Feed
Description’ and paste the url copied previously.
ix. My blog RSS url will appear and click ‘Add New’ button and all my blog RSS will appear!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Ni Hao, Taipei!

Well, saying ni hao might be a bit too late. As I've actually just got back from the capital of Taiwan, last night.

I've visited this city before, and have loved it... putting it together in the league of Thailand & the Philippines for best holiday destinations... so was ready on what to expect. Or maybe more.

I was overly excited, as this was my 2nd holiday trip this year after Krabi, and like nearly all my holidays, I had a great time! No, make that, a Super time!

And while it may seem a lil short in some ways, but the 5 days has been just AWE-some... great weather, cool places to visit, extra nice people and yummylicious food!

The trip has left me me very contented, inspired... & most of all, renewed my belief of going for my dreams..! :)

*More of the beautiful Taiwan trip, soon!