Monday, January 11, 2016

Republic of Chocolate (宏亞巧克力共和國) [Taiwan Day 862: Luo-Mu Jie and the Chocolate Factory - Jan. 10, 2016]


Willy Wonka would panic if he found out that there is a “chocolate factory” that could rival his own chocolate kingdom. The golden tickets of this factory are scattered around convenience stores in Taiwan. Just look at the back of those NTD 10 chocolate nougat bars packed in orange colors and you would see the web address of Hunya Foods Corporation. Asia's first chocolate museum is welcoming you for a visit and I went there to make to have a travel adventure full of chocolatey goodness. 











The Republic of Chocolates (ROC) stands like a big slab of chocolate that fell from the heavens and is located in Taoyuan. How to get there? Just ride a train to Taoyuan Station and then walked to Dalin Road where the Taoyuan Bus Station can be easily located. Bus 5053,5090, 5000,5044 and 5060 would take you to the ROC bus stop. The Taiwan Tour Bus (Bus 502) can also take you there and the fare would only costs NTD 36 in the tourist bus. Alight at the Republic of Chocolate bus stop and walk in the Chocolate Road until you enter the premises of Hunya Foods Corporation where its factory and the ROC building is located. To not get lost show the bus driver the Chinese name of the chocolate museum which is 宏亞巧克力共和國 and the driver will gladly assist you in reaching the Republic of Chocolate.
 















 
The seats were like big chocolate bars!




Even the toilets were chocolate-themed.
I paid NTD 200 at the gate and I was given a NTD 100 coupon which I can use to buy some souvenirs at the Gift Shop, eat something at the ROC Cafe or get a discount for a DIY activity. There was a fountain with children playing in front of the huge chocolate-inspired building and I enjoyed taking pictures of myself and the building. I then entered the building and went directly to the Visitor Counter where I registered for the DIY activity. The Republic of Chocolate holds many chocolate classes where people of all ages will enjoy. There was a basic class and an advanced class. I opted to register for the basic class and after paying I was given a green sticker with my assigned DIY room number, time and seat number. I still have one hour before the DIY class and I used the time to explore the other areas of the “chocolate factory”.






a cacao fruit hanging on the tree.
Chocolates come from the seeds of cacao trees and these trees can be found inside the Republic of Chocolate. Light from the sun enters the roof the ROC building in the third floor making it possible to have a greenhouse. Cacao trees requires specific temperature and humidity levels in order to grow and sensors inside the greenhouse keeps the glass chamber suitable for the planting these trees. The greenhouse was locked at first until I saw of group of tourist entered the facility with a tour guide. I joined them and listened to the Chinese lecture pretending that I understand what the guide was saying. The tour guide suddenly pointed her fingers to a portion of the tree and I was amazed to see a cacao fruit hanging on the tree. 






I was hungry when I arrived at Republic of Chocolate and its ROC Cafe was the perfect place to eat something chocolatey. A menu was given to me by a waitress and the prices of the food were a bit high so I just ordered a chocolate drink. My chocolate drink arrived in my table in a few minutes and I enjoyed the hot chocolate in fancy funnel shape glass for NTD 150. I set up my tripod to have a photo with my hand raising my drink. Cheers for the second travel adventure of the year and for the continuous growth of my travel blog!



liquid dark chocolate

liquid white chocolate



the greenhouse as seen from the third floor








The chocolate class DIY would start at 4pm and I went to the third floor where I have a bird's eye view of the whole building. Decorations in the lobby can be seen down below and also the greenhouse. Parents and children were already waiting outside DIY Room A and I joined the queue as female instructors inside the classroom prepared the needed materials for the lecture. Everybody got excited when one instructor went out with a megaphone and announced to the whole building that the lesson would start in a few minutes.
 


the starting materials for the DIY activity

liquid dark chocolate

liquid white chocolate


view from the mirror above the instructor's table




A pair of a parent and child were the usual students for the basic chocolate class but I was able to participate in the class although I was alone. We were standing on a long table and we were given a tray containing donuts, cookies, chocolate chips, toothpicks, a cup of hot dark chocolate and white chocolate. There were also colorful toppings to add beauty to our chocolate products. Everybody listened to the instructor and following the Chinese instructions were easy since I can see clearly what the instructor was doing. A large mirror above the instructor's table allows the DIY students to watch the instructor in a top view perspective.




















I poured the dark chocolate to one of my donuts in a zigzag motion until I covered the entire surface of the bread with a layer of dark chocolate. It was really fun to do it and it was then followed by the white chocolate. I got a pinch of toppings and then dropped it on my donuts. They looked colorful and tasty to eat. The cookies were the next to be done and I poured dark chocolate at the center. It was a bit difficult since we have to make some decorations using a drop of a white chocolate on the dark chocolate cooling on the cookie. I went near to the instructor table and I saw that my teacher was able to make heart designs. Wow!











I just poured the white chocolate to make a large round lollipop.
The whole class was instructed to pour white chocolate on the chocolate chips in a zigzag fashion to create a 'net' on the surface of the chip. As the class proceeds to work and I continuously document the events, I noticed that my liquid chocolates were starting to cool and harden. Oh no! So, I hurriedly poured the slowly cooling dark chocolate to my tray in shapes of a cat and spaceship. I then put a toothpick at the end of my cooling chocolate shapes to make them a lollipop. Decorating the faces of my cat chocolate lollipop requires a lot of skill but I was satisfied with the eyes and nose of my cat lollipop. haha!
 
at the end of the DIY class










my hardened dark and white chocolate


I also placed inside the box my hardened dark and white chocolate.


Wash your hands after the activity!
In the corner of the classroom were more chocolate works of art



selfie time...

At the DIY Room B...

people were making a Christmas house!


We were given green cardboards at the end of the class which we folded to make Republic of Chocolate boxes and I placed my items inside including the extra hardened dark chocolate and white chocolate. Everybody left the DIY Room A and I suddenly saw that there were people inside DIY Room B. What were the people doing? They were making a chocolate house. It was the advanced class and that fun activity costs NTD 400. 





























chocolate galaxy










Free taste!













I explored ROC's museum galleries after the DIY activity and I learned about the history of chocolates starting from the Mayans, Aztec and Olmecs until it found its way to Europe where kings and queens enjoyed chocolates like it was made only for them. My tour ended at the Gift Shop where a large variety of chocolate products can be bought from chocolate bars to chocolate candies. I bought a giant box of chocolate nougats and I kept the the carton packaging as a souvenir. A few minutes before the ROC closes I took some photos with Giant Chotty & Cotty. They are the face of the Republic of Chocolate and can be regarded as ROC's Willy Wonka. My trip in ROC was far away from what ‘Charlie’ had in the movie but at least I have made Taiwan’s versions of a chocolate travel adventure . So forget about the 2005 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' because this 2016 the whole world will remember 'Luo-Mu Jie and the Chocolate Factory'.
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