Sunday, 30 December 2012

travel: Bandar Lampung 2012 part 2


It's such a great feeling to go back to the house you have spent your childhood and teenage years in. I felt so much at home that I had dreamless sleep last night, with full belly after bouts of eating.

I honestly don't know what to do here in Lampung, except for eating - like - 7 times a day. I am very afraid to step on the scale provided in my current room.

Even in the morning, weather in Indonesia is still hot and humid. I like to take a stroll in the garden my mom has done such a great job in taking care of.

Then off to more eating... .

Stop no. 1 for today: Sendok Mas. Fried noodles (we call it "Mie Tek Tek" - both stir fried & soup style. Both were equally delicious), grilled fish, Ox-Tail Soup, Fried Duck with green chilli.

Definitely all stuff that usually would be impossible to find in Sydney, or would taste mediocre if compared to this feast.

Stop no. 2: Durian hunt.

Ah yes, the pungent almost putridly smelled fruit that would put stinky tofu to shame. People will either love or hate this fruit. Needless to say, I am a maniac. I grew up never missing this fruit every season without fail. Though there are durians sold in Australia - the big Thai imported varieties (Monthong), the local durians are smaller in size, but IMHO, more fragrant and taste better (if you could find good ones, that is).

Can I just say: I felt such euphoria when eating these stuff (good ones), it's worth the exorbitant calories it contains (durians are definitely not fruit to be consumed for diet purpose).

Our loot

zomg. The best durian I have had for such a long long time
Stop no. 3: Sweet pancake - Indonesian Style. (Martabak Bangka).

Oh yeah, slap more butter in that baby over there.

Stop no. 4: Grilled corn on cob. They had different topping/flavours. I had the spicy one, and it was very delicious :-)~

Stop no. 5: Khuai Lok restaurant for a bit of chinese food, but 1/2heart mainly just wanted the eel dish. It was cooked with fermented red rice. (Named "Lindung Cah Kumak")

Saturday, 29 December 2012

travel: Goodbye Taiwan 2012, Hello Bandar Lampung, Indonesia part 1


We had a flight to catch to Singapore, then to Indonesia - Jakarta at noon with Singapore Airlines again. It's time to say goodbye to Taiwan, with our wallets lighter, our belly considerably bigger after only 4 days in Taipei (yeah, those weight we lost during our 9 days excursion around Taiwan with Grant & James from RoundTaiwanRound? We gained them all back just in the span of 4 days in Taipei).

And may I just say our Taiwan trip was totally awesome. The food was great, RTR was great, people were friendly even when they couldn't speak English, they always tried their best to help us out.

And apparently, we were considered Japanese, as people keep trying to talk to us with their limited Japanese after trying to talk mandarin to us was met with our blank look.

Continue on... .

The morning was spent just by waking up late 0-o, breakfast, then hanging around in our room at Palais de Chine until it's time to take a taxi to Taoyuan International Airport. Taxi costed TWD1200.

big Gundam at a shop at Taoyuan International Airport
On board meal: Pork & Rice for Oriental Selection, Fish & Mash for Western selection

Had a bit of layover in Changi Airport, Singapore, before we continued on another flight routed to Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta.

On board meal: Fish & Mash for Western Selection, Beef & Rice for Oriental.

My little brother picked me up at the airport and he had arranged an overnight stay at FM7 Resort Hotel, located around 10 minutes drive from the airport. The hotel had shuttle to take us to domestic airport the next morning, so it was quite convenient. Didn't take any picture of the room, as we were knocked out as soon as we checked in.


breakfast at FM7 Resort Hotel, Jakarta

This morning, we continued on a Garuda Indonesia flight routed for Bandar Lampung, a town located on the south of Sumatra island - and also my birth town.
The aim is to hibernate eat as much food as possible, and of course spending New Year's Eve with my parents.

My brother and I have been arranging this trip to Lampung since a few months back. All my parents knew was that my brother was going to Lampung - but knew nothing about me & 1/2heart coming over.

When we walked out of the gate at Raden Intan - the domestic airport for Bandar Lampung - they still did not realize that we were tagging behind my brother. o_0; They only saw my brother and turned their back straight away on us. Only until they reached the car and I tapped my mom's shoulder, they were very shocked (my mom was in the verge of tears) to see us. LOL.

I would cherish the memory forever.

And so, let the hunger game begins, with Food Pit Stops for today.

Stop no.1: Mie Inti, for some not very light breakfast (again) of noodles. And some fish  balls, wontons, and soy milk

Stop no.2: Shereen cakes, for assorted cakes and snacks that would be very hard to find (and taste horrible) back in Sydney.

Stop no.3: Rumah Kayu, a very charming garden style restaurant with lots of yummy food.

You know the whole point of this blog is really not to make my dear readers jealous. (well, yeah it kinda is), but more-so, I want to cherish these times forever (and the memory of the food. glorious food) and to always be able to re-read my blog and drool all over it.

And then, when you saw a JCo shop at a shopping mart... . You shall not pass without buying some donuts.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

travel: Taiwan 2012 Day 13: Wulai, Taipei

After breakfast at Palais de Chine - a sumptuous feast like yesterday - we hit the metro to reach Wulai.

Wulai is a hot spring town located south of Taipei, whereas the other famous hotspring town as well - Beitou - is up north.
To reach Wulai, we simply went to Taipei MRT station - only located next door to the hotel - and took the MRT to Xindian station (Xindian line). Xindian station is the last station on the line, so you don't need to worry to overpass it. After arriving at the station, look for bus 849 - usually the one with the most people queuing up.

To take a cab from Xindian station to Wulai town, it would cost TWD 600. You can haggle with the taxi driver, as they also know that most people really would prefer taking the bus which only costs TWD 40 per trip. I heard the taxi driver offering TWD 100 per person if he could take 4 people on board.
We passed and just took the bus.

I have never got the hang on understanding the payment system of Taiwan bus. Sometimes you pay upfront, sometimes when you alight, sometimes both. If in doubt, usually I just follow the people in front of me o_0. This time, we paid when we got off the bus in Wulai, but when taking the bus back from Wulai to Xindian station, we had to pay upfront.


There are a lot of resorts/small spa places where you could hire a private room to enjoy the hot spring. If you are more daring, you can join the locals and other patrons in public hotspring just by the river.

try this wild boar sausage. It's good!

We went to a quieter spot, where people just built their own tub from rocks to trap the hot spring (so the cold river water would not get mixed with the hot spring water), and some of them just immersed there for a long time.
We just dipped our legs inside. It is very warm and definitely took the fatigue away.

For lunch, we went to Atayal Po Po, a small restaurant at Wulai street selling Atayal food. We had rice wine with yoghurt and spicebush & honey tea for drinks; as well as bamboo rice, spare ribs & taro soup, pork in garlic & basil,

and.. this:

Yep, we tried some bees - deep fried. They don't taste too bad actually, once you go pass the weird mental block that you were going to eat some insects.
Tasted like deep fried small shrimps, although a bit nutty.

After lunch, we walked the rail to the waterfall and took the gondola to Yun Hsien Resort & park on top of the mountain. The tram that should have taken people from Wulai street to gondola station was not operational due to some landslide, so we had to walk to reach the gondola station for around 20 minutes -_-

resident cats

The theme park.. erm... I wouldn't want to be there alone, night or day.

ghost house ride. Enter and you might just find the real thing.

The obstacle course is interesting, but showed signs of not being very well taken care of. We tried a few but skipped on most of them as some of them did not look very safe.

After a wholesome exercise at the obstacle course, we took the gondola back and walked again to Wulai street, then boarded bus 849 back to Xindian Station.

We alighted at Taipei Main Station and made our way to Dian Shui Lou - Huaning branch.

As always, we over-ordered... .

Salty pork & vegetable steamed rice was very tasty. Xiao Long Bao - ordinary and XO style - were so so, Tofu casserole was very soft & flavorsome.

Braised pork in plum sauce was very good - the meat was so tender and just melted in my mouth; chicken soup; scallion pancakes; salty egg yolk & custard bun which was a tad too sweet for me (Din Tai Fung's better)

Then we just walked around the malls surrounding Palais de Chine: Q Square, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, and KMall, where we spent some time at Gundam Base Taipei - a shop for some gunpla.. .

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

travel: Taiwan 2012 Day 12: Taipei: Taipei Zoo, Maokong, Wufenpu

Breakfast at Palais de Chine was a feast of all imaginable food - that will certainly satisfy even the most picky eater. They even had fresh sashimi for breakfast!

christmas deco

reception area

We went to Taipei Zoo today. Fare is TWD 60, which I think is pretty cheap, compared to the exorbitant fee patrons have to pay back in Sydney (I'm looking at you, Taronga Zoo and Wildlife World, you!!). The zoo is massive, but not necessarily chock-a-block full of animals. The size mainly is only land-oriented. It is pretty tiring to walk from one end to another, as all the exhibits are quite wide spread and far away from each other, unlike the usual zoos where animals exhibits almost touch nose to nose.

The butterfly kingdom was quite fun to walk through, I especially like to search for the tiny caterpillars (pre-pupa stage) inside their respective enclosures. It's like playing 'Where is Wally".

Obviously, we skipped the Australian section ... .

Then we went on the Maokong Gondola (TWD 50 one way, and you can use the easycard to pay for it). The crystal cabin does not cost any extra, though you probably have to wait longer as there is only one every 4 regular cabins.

At Maokong, there are a lot of teahouses, it is mind boggling.

We chose Yuan Xu Yuan Teahouse (緣續緣茶坊). You can't really miss the building. Just turn right as soon as you exit the Maokong Gondola station at Maokong.

The uniqueness of the place is, you have to hop on the stepstones over the koi pond to reach your tea cubicle, where every one of them open up to views of tea plantation or city skyline (you can see Taipei 101 from here. Heck, you can see Taipei 101 from almost everywhere, as long as you are quite high up)

Total Damage TWD 1100

Then we took the gondola back to Taipei Zoo Gondola Station, and board the rail to Zhongxiao Fuxing and change the line to reach Houshanpi for some retail therapy. 

We arrived at Wufenpu around 6.30 p.m. and initially planned to hit Raohe night market as well after some shopping.




Some shopping?? OMFG, I went completely nuts. Most of our spending money, we burnt them there.

We did not take pictures as we were too busy scouring 4 1/2 full hours going up and down the alley, grabbing this and that and try to haggle with our limited mandarin and google translate on iphone (haggling hardly bring the cost down beyond a couple of hundreds TWD). All in all, we spent quite a few moola, but damn, this could easily cost double even triple the price if bought in Australia (not to mention, most of the fashion style in Australia kinda suck).

So we did not have the time (or energy) to go to Raohe night market anymore, but came back to the hotel with full satisfaction.

Our loot for the night: