Saturday, December 22

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 4 Hualien Ho!

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 4 Hualien Ho!
[ continued from Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 4 Jiufen 九份 Old Street ]

After spending the morning walking the old streets of Jiufen, we went down to one of the main local bus stops to pick up our luggage bags. The lady owner of SunRoom Minsu was very nice and brought our bags(which we had stored at the minsu lounge after checkout) to us with her scooter. From Jiufen we went back down to Ruifang and bought ourselves a couple of train tickets to Hualien.

As it was going to be a 3 hour ride on the train, we walked over to a nearby indoor food market to grab some munchies for the trip. At the entrance was a couple of bun stalls selling pepper buns. "Hmm... what are those?" we thought.

Seems like this was not a Taiwanese thing. The signage says these buns are from province of Fuzhou which is in China. They use the round cylindrical drum thing to roast the buns much like an Indian tandoori.

There were stacks of nicely tied shallots all around the place. On of the critical ingredients I guess.

This was the final product - Basically a roasted bun filled with minced pork, shallots and cabbage, flavoured heavily with black pepper, then topped with sesame seeds. It tasted kinda wierd the first time we ate it as we were used to associating black pepper with crab or beef dishes.

Not posting any pics for the train journey as most of my pics turned out blurry from the moving train. I have to mention that we did pass by some nice coastal scenery but nothing spectacular as the train bypassed some scenic areas by going into the dark tunnels along the coastline.

Well after arriving in Hualien and stepping out of the train station, we were "sprung on" by quite a few "salesmen" trying to get us to rent scooters from them or stay at their hotels. We stood our ground and instead went to a couple of hotels to check out the rooms and prices. We did find okish clean rooms for about NT1000 but finally settle for a hotel very near to the train station.

We were quite lucky that day as the man who got us our rooms also managed to get us a scooter for the day. Scootering in downtown Taipei can get a bit hairy but in a smaller town like Hualien it is quite safe to a certain degree. Unlike the roads back home, Taiwan roads are right hand drive. Which does get a bit of adjusting to. It started to rain just as I was getting the hang of riding the scooter, so we quickly put on some handy disposable raincoats that came with the scooter rental and went down to a night market which was pretty close by to get our dinner cum supper.

This night market was called Zhiqiang Night Market 自强夜市. It is one of the two night markets you can find in Hualien city. As it was raining quite a bit and it was a weekday night, there weren't many people at the night market.

Ziqiang Night Market 自强夜市

Have you ever heard of Coffin Bread? Well only in Taiwan. This store specializes in that. This food item is a custom made piece of bread which is fried and then the top cut off to form a flap. You can then choose your filling from a few dozen choices on the menu and once the filling is in the flap is closed much like the lid on a coffin. Well they do have a toilet inspired restaurant in Taipei so Hualien's Coffin bread I should say, is not out of the ordinary for Taiwan.

We also got ourselves some Takopachi from this store.

Taiwanese takopachi comes with wasabi paste in addition to the usual mayo and bonito flakes. I think its much more authentic than the M'sia/Singapore versions. And yes they use proper big pieces of octopus.

The First Barbecue Food Community
+886 0939-533337
Ziqiang Rd., Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan(R.O.C).

Despite another BBQ store next to it, this was probably the most popular BBQ store as there were actually people lining up to get their food even on this rainy night.

Simply choose from a selection of meats or veges and put them in a metal tray. Prices as marked over each item. NT20 for a chicken wing. There are also delights like duck tongue and pig blood cakes.

Then hand your metal tray to the stall guy and they will get their crew to BBQ your food.

The BBQ pros at work...


This is a result of their sweat. We had a BBQ squid, skewer of shallots wrapped in bacon and a skewer of duck tongues. It all tasted pretty good but the coffin bread which we had bought first had gotten cold and a bit soggy by the time we got back to the hotel.

Well we ate our food and watched some Taiwanese news on the old cathode ray tube TV and did some internet surfing. This was when we realised how fast the broadband at this hotel was! Imagine going all the way to 20+Mbps, I would usually only get 1Mbps in M'sia and 8Mbps in Sydney. Wow Taiwanese internet is fast!

Tomorrow we scooter up the Taroko Gorge!
[continue reading  Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 5 Tzu Chi on the way to Taroko Gorge ]

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