Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Food! Food! Food! Everybody loves food! After having a hard time coding the program for a machine problem in Bioinformatics, I suddenly felt dizzy. The project was difficult and I need to go somewhere to relax. Going to a night market was my to de-stress.   I have been to Raohe Night Market and Shilin Night Market before and this was my first time to visit Ningxia Night Market.  

You can get to this place via the Shuanglian Station of Taipei MRT's Tamsui Line.  I have my Taipei Metro Tourist guide with me so I was able to find this night market.  The nearest exits are Exit 1 and Exit 2.  I was at first disappointed with what I saw because Ningxia Tourist Night Market was smaller than Shilin and Raohe but the good thing about this place was that it wasn't crowded. 

I have prepared myself for going to this place and I didn't eat any food after my holy 3:00 pm snack time.  It was around 7:00 pm when I arrived at Ningxia.  So it was 4 hours of fasting and I was ready to indulge and commit one of the seven deadly sins. 

The first food that attracted me was this grilled giant squid and it cost NTD 100. The vendor packed the sliced squids in a plastic container. I was not able to say immediately that I want to eat the squids in the available tables. I brought along the packed sliced squids with me until I saw a kiosk selling hot and spicy stinky tofu.  

Stinky tofu is one of the must-eat foods if you are visiting Taiwan.  There was an English sign telling 'hot and spicy stinky tofu' and I just point my finger at the display.  The lady vendor knew how to speak English and I learned something new today, that if a sign in a night market has an English label then the vendor knows how to speak English.  Some of the signs in food kiosk were only in Chinese so it will be difficult to talk to the vendors on which food they were selling are the ones you want to eat. 

The hot and spicy stinky tofu cost NTD 65.   After ordering,  I was assigned to a table by the lady vendor and I ate my barbecued squid there together with the stinky tofu. It was not really stinky in my opinion but it was really delicious.

After that heavy meal, I need something sweet and I found this sugar-coated strawberries on a stick. The strawberries looked very attractive and I bought one. I was a little bit surprised that it cost NTD 50.   A little expensive but it was good to eat.  It was my first time to ate such strawberries on a stick.  

I become thirsty so I look for a vendor selling fruit shake and I found this lady selling strawberries with a blender one her table.  We couldn't understand each other and I just point to the strawberries. She asked me if I want 'strawberry milkshake' and I just nodded to tell her that I want that kind of drink. The strawberry milkshake cost NTD 60 and that drink bloated my stomach. 

Going to a night market was a nice way to relax after a hard day's work in Taipei.  With my beloved city's 17 night markets,  there are lots of Taiwanese street foods to satisfy my stress-eating.  Haha! 

Ningxia Tourist Night Market.  The food and the taste. Ah! I will always remember these memories of taste buds!

Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市) [Taipei kong mahal 180418: Memories of Taste Buds]

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Someone sowed some magic seeds in one corner of Taipei.  You won’t believe it! Plants that can grow as tall as humans can be seen near the MRT Shilin Station.   Imagine yourself to become small like an ant and they become the legendary tree in the children’s story “Jack and the Beanstalk”.   With their large flowers,  passersby can’t stop themselves from taking pictures of blossoms that can only be seen in the city every spring.

Alcea rosea.  Commonly known as the hollyhocks, they are the other flowers of Taipei when most people go crazy in Zhuzihu for the calla lilies.    Pink, purple or white.   Their large flowers open widely and let spectators look at their pollens.  Anyone who gazes at them instantly becomes a botanist.

If you want to see them, just board the MRT and alight at Shilin Station.  They are planted at the corner of the busy road of Section 5, Zhongshan North Road and Fulin Road.  If you have been to Shilin Official Residence, then you must have passed by this street.   Buses coming from Yangminshan like R5 and 260 will also pass on this spot in the city.  Those who are quick enough to notice the flowers at the  MRT Shilin Station( Zhong Shan ) [捷運士林站(中山)] stop can press the alight button on the bus to get off the vehicle.

At the time of this writing, flowers near the bus stop that I have mentioned are in full bloom.  But there are still plants that are yet to grow.   A plot has been allotted so when the first batch already withered, new ones will start to appear.   They would soon bear flowers like the others with large petals that clearly shows their sweet pollen grains.   

So when you visit Taipei and decided to go to Tamsui, Beitou or Yangmingshan, have some time to take a stroll near MRT Shilin Station.  The flowers are already there and have been waiting for you. [Google Map].   Go now and behold the hollyhocks.

Taipei kong mahal 180411: Behold the hollyhocks

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Autumn colors in April? Red maple leaves appearing in Taiwan after the cherry blossom season?  Is this world really getting crazy?  Relax and don't panic.  This is not made by climate change.   It's just the spring maple season in Taipei's Shilin District.  Every year during the month of April, a change of color happens.  From the pink petals of the yoshino sakura that flourished in Yangmingshan Park,  the red leaves of the Japanese maple will take the spotlight, after most of the cherry blossoms have lost its beauty. 

Japanese maple leaves at Taipei Aowanda.  How many leaflets do you see?

Experience this fall scenery in a private garden called the Taipei Maple Resort.  Also known as the Taipei Aowanda, it is the best place to see the Japanese maple leaves from late March to May.   The name Aowanda refers to the forest recreation area in Nantou which is considered to be the home of Taiwan's maple trees.  Bring the autumn foliage to the capital of Taiwan and it becomes Taipei Aowanda.  Nice name.  Haha!

Timetable of Bus 303
How to get to Taipei Aowanda?  Board the Taipei MRT and alight at Shilin Station.  Wait for Bus 303 in front of the Shilin District Farmers Association Building [Google Map] and get off the vehicle at the Xia guo xi (下過溪) stop [Google Map].  The gate of the Taipei Maple Resort is 230 meters from the bus stop.

Visitors waiting to enter Taipei Aowanda

The menu.  I ordered a cheesecake and coffee to use my voucher.  Total cost is NTD 260 so I added NTD 10.

I was assigned to Table 3-1 in the B hut.

The B hut

B3-1 table

My cheesecake.  I was actually very hungry when I came to Taipei Aowanda so using my voucher to get food was a wise decision.

After eating, I then explored the resort.

As of April 5, 2018, adult tickets cost NTD 250.  It's quite expensive but the entrance fee also serves as a voucher which you can use to buy food in the restaurant inside.  So you get to enjoy the maple after getting your stomachs full.  They have an English menu to help foreigners decide their orders with friendly staff to assist you if you have any questions.   After ordering, visitors are assigned to table numbers in various huts/picnic tables.   My most favorite place is the stream area where families can enjoy eating while listening to sound of flowing water.  

After getting done with my cheesecake and a hot cup of cappuccino, I explored the Maple Trail.   Taipei Aowanda has a mini-forest where tourists can wander and take pictures. 

Oh that foliage of Taiwan, it feels like Japan!  With the warm smiles of the Taiwanese that will surely melt your hearts, the color of the Japanese maple leaves appeared to be redder in the eyes of every foreign visitor.   So what are you waiting for?  Visit now the Taipei Maple Resort before all of the leaves turn green.

Rejoice!  They are already here.  Taiwan's spring leaves.

Taipei Aowanda (臺北奧萬大)
address: No. 19號, Lane 10, Pingjing Street, Shilin District, Taipei City, 111 [Google Map]

If waiting for Bus 303 takes a long time, visitors can board Bus R5 and get off the vehicle at Shan Zai Hou Police Station (山仔后派出所) [Google Map], and then wait for Bus 303 at this bus stop.  An LED screen at this waiting shed will help tourists make most of their time because of nearby convenience stores and restaurants.  Another option is to board Bus 260 [Google Map] at Taipei Main Station and then wait for Bus 303 at Shan Zai Hou Police Station (山仔后派出所) stop.

Taipei Maple Resort/Taipei Aowanda (台北奧萬大) [Travel in Taiwan Maple Series 180405: Spring Leaves]

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