With the bubble tea craze where you see millennials queueing for the highly raved Tiger Sugar, Xinfutang and The Alley, you will undoubtedly think of its origin: Taiwan.
The motherland of bubble tea might be one of Taiwan’s tourist attractions, but this country has much more to offer. I must admit though, my 8-day trip to Taiwan is one that I indulged in the most bubble tea in my life!
FOOD AND MORE FOOD
But other than bubble tea, Taiwan is also widely known as a food paradise. From street food to hotpot and local delicacies, here I am, sharing some of my interesting bites and sips:
Wulao Hot Pot / 無老鍋
This hotpot restaurant can be found in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung. It is known for its Layered Tofu Hotpot – slowly-stewed with a wide array of ingredients such as pork bones, ginseng, nutmeg, licorice and more. There are bottles of the tofu broth for you to add along the way and it also comes with something you’ll never find in Singapore – duck blood.
Good To Eat Hot Toast
BUBBLE TEA TOAST.
Yes, this is one memorable food item I tried – but no, I didn’t really like it. But it is something I’d urge anyone to try at least once because it is too interesting to miss! This can be found in Rui Feng Night Market, Kaohsiung.
Angel Chicken Cutlet / 天使鸡排
Before I knew about this stall, I have only heard of the Devil Chicken Cutlet which came to Shilin Night Market Singapore. Surprisingly, this is by far the best chicken cutlet I ever had! Also situated in Rui Feng Night Market in Kaohsiung, the stall had a snaking queue. I managed to catch the chefs in action while I queued excitedly. (Psst: I went on to try the Devil Chicken Cutlet at Shilin Taiwan later in my trip. The batter for both is similar, but the Angel won my heart with the tenderness of its chicken.)
Lin’s Family Pork Leg / 林家猪脚
This eatery at Wan Luan, Pingtung was recommended by our driver while we were enroute to Hualien from Kaohsiung! The pork leg or pork trotters in Singapore usually comes with dark, thick gravy. The Lin Family’s version is opposite – dry and not piping hot. I was surprised at how the piece of gem can be so soft that it melts in the mouth. I can never find anything close back home!
Chen San Ding Bubble Tea / 陳三鼎
This humble-looking bubble tea shop in Taipei is the originator of brown sugar bubble tea! Their menu is rather limited compared to the more commercialised brands, but I would say that’s their strategy of focusing on the best. Having tried Xing Fu Tang, Jen Ju Dan and Tiger Sugar, I must say I enjoyed Chen San Ding the most. Their pearls have the optimal texture and their brown sugar roasted at the perfect degree. I also went on to try a non-milk option: Lemon Brown Sugar and I loved it as much!
BEAUTY OF NATURE
Another thing to love about Taiwan is its astonishing nature. Hualien basically covered my cravings for sceneries and awed me with the wonders of nature.
Taroko Gorge / 太鲁阁
I love mountains and the calmness they bring to my heart. Taroko Gorge in Hualien is a huge national park that cannot be covered fully in one day. It was mainly a touch and go at each scenic spot within Taroko Gorge and I wished the weather had been kinder so we could’ve spent more time there. We had a driver, so travelling wasn’t an issue – it took about an hour from Hualien City Centre.
Qi Sing Tan / 七星潭
Also situated in Hualien, Qi Sing Tan is a coastal area famous for its pebble beach. We took inspiration from Instagram to have the stacking pebble shot! This is near Taroko Gorge, hence an on-the-way item in our itinerary.
Qing Shui Duan Ya / 清水断崖
We took a pitstop at Qing Shui Duan Ya, literally translated as Clear Water Cliff, while enroute to Taipei from Hualien. This was the most touristy spot out of all – I went to capture the moment of the train passing through the mountain while others were scrambling to take instagrammable shots with the clear water background.
All the feasting and hiking will exhaust you! Therefore, during my trip, there were chances for more chillax activities.
Fo Guang Shan / 佛光山
Situated in Kaohsiung, this mountain has different shrines and attractions which you can tour around freely. It was definitely a great retreat from the bustling city! It is also easily accessible by public transport – take a mrt to Zuoying Station and change to HAFO Express bus (哈佛快線 in Chinese) just right outside the station.
Here’s one of the activities I did! It was at their “Sutra Calligraphy Hall” and interestingly, I had to pick a stick randomly, and the assistant passed me a slip of paper. I then followed the instructions on the table and proceeded to trace the characters in calligraphy style. It was a zen moment as we are not allowed to make any noise in the hall.
This is the first Starbucks in Asia Pacific to be built using shipping containers, located in Hualien. The minimalist and chic looking store exterior has a drive-thru station. The containers are recycled after having been to 4 different ports in the world – Savannah, Baltimore, New York City and Hong Kong. They have decided to let Hualien be its final resting place!
This is how it looks like from the side. It was crowded but we’re lucky to have secured this perfect seat!
What a homely view from the inside!
We also visited many fruit stalls – from those at the night markets, to those at the roadside and of course, fruits by the co-operatives in Taiwan! I’m glad the period that I went was the season of mangoes and guavas!
Being a land of agriculture, Taiwan’s fruits are in abundance. The co-operative business model can help individual farmers to come together to have a centralised unit that helps to sell their produces to consumers. Can you imagine if the farmers have to harvest, look for places to sell their fruits to, deliver their fruits to various cities all by themselves? What will the quantity and quality of the fruits be like?
With a co-operative business model such as the Federation of Taiwan Provincial Agriculture Cooperatives, each farmer can concentrate on the farming and pass other areas of work to the co-operative. The farmers get profits from the co-operative as well!
This article was brought to you by Peggy Goh, a digital marketer who is also passionate about design and photography. She firmly believes that experience is the greatest teacher in life, and the greatest joy comes from being one with nature (be adventurous!). Follow her journey on Instagram here.