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Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


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Taiwan – Tamsui 淡水:Of Romantic Sunsets & Tantalizing Snacks

Tamsui Travel

The scenery was so awesome at Tamsui – I was tempted to do a mock commercial here LOL

Travel in a Day: Beitou -> Fisherman’s Wharf -> Danshui Old Street

The laidback coastal town of Tamsui (also known as Danshui) located to the north of Taipei and named after the Tamsui River (meaning ‘fresh water’), serves as a quick getaway from Taipei’s busy city life. Located at the end of the Tamsui Train Line, the former fishing town is famous for two things – viewing gorgeous sunsets along the dock or Fisherman’s Wharf, and signature local snacks at Gongming Street/Tamsui Old Street. We combined our day travel with a hot spring visit to Beitou before heading to Tamsui in the afternoon.

Tamsui Travel

Take in mountainous view of Bali township on the train journey to Tamsui
Bali makes for an enjoyable afternoon in the sun. Rent a bicycle and cycle along waterfront, head to the beaches to spot crabs or feast on freshly-caught peacock clams.

Tamsui Travel

Tamsui at a glance
Most of the main sight-seeing spots are within walking distance. The famous Gongming Street, also known as Tamsui Old Street 淡水老街 is just 5 minutes away.

Tamsui Travel

Historically Tamsui is a significant place in Taipei history, where it was one of the main settlements for the Spanish in the 1600′s and one of the biggest ports in Taiwan in the 19th century. The waterfront promenade is now a pedestrian-friendly street lined with shops selling interesting knick knacks, old-school game stalls and local snacks.

Tamsui Travel

Very interesting shop selling things of yesteryear. No I don’t recognise any of them….*pretend pretend*

Tamsui Travel

Adorable beyond words

Tamsui Travel

Lucky postbox

Tamsui Travel

Streetside snacks and seafood galore
I am steering clear…the face gets rounder by the day, sigh.

Tamsui Travel

Giant sausage!
Even the aunty can’t resist a bite. ;)

Tamsui Travel

Taking a ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf
You can either take Bus Red-26, 836, or 837 (from Tamsui train station) or a ferry (pier behind the train station) to Fisherman’s Wharf for sunset viewing. We chose to take the ferry which cost about 100TWD round-trip. The journey by bus or ferry is about 15 minutes.

Tamsui Travel

Our ferry is here!

Tamsui Travel

SO, this is the famous Lover’s Bridge 情人桥
The 196-metre white-colored cable bridge derived its name from its launch date of 14 February 2003 (she’s 10 this year!). The bridge has quite a reputation as a romantic spot to view breath-taking sunsets. We came on a rainy day, so we saw none. Might as well, since all of us were ladies, no hanky-panky!

Tamsui Travel

Hello doggy, will you be my Valentine?

Tamsui Travel

I must say the bridge is quite fun for photography :)

Tamsui Travel

While having sightseeing and leisure facilities, Fisherman’s Wharf still functions as a harbor for fishing boats.

Tamsui Travel

Keeping the love bytes alive at Lover’s Bridge
We almost died laughing posing for this shot. After that we quickly scooted back to mainland before anyone reported loonies at the bridge.

Tamsui Travel

Off to feed hungry tummies at Gongming Street/Tamsui Old Street 淡水老街
Fun fact: It is called ‘Old Street’ cos’ many old Japanese colonial style buildings from the 1900′s still stand nicely preserved along the street, and one of them now houses Teng Feng Fishball Museum 登奉鱼丸博物馆. Wow, fishball is really big business in Tamsui.

Tamsui Old Street, a short 5 minutes stroll from Tamsui train station, is excellent for its street food and traditional local snacks. It’s also a great place to get some unique souvenirs/snacks home. The must-try snacks here include Ah Gei, iron eggs, fishballs and tower ice cream. Exotic-sounding huh.

Tamsui Travel

Ah-Gei 阿给
A speciality food originating from Tamsui, ah-gei is basically friend tofu stuffed with glass noodles and sealed with meat paste. It is typically served with a plain soy-based or a sweet chili sauce. A-gei is commonly eaten with a bowl of fish ball soup in the winter or cold soy milk in the summer.
The name ah-gei was derived from aburaage (油揚げ), a fried and stewed Japanese tofu packet from which the ah-gei is made. According to Wikipedia, it was created in 1965 by Yang-Zheng Jinwen (楊鄭錦文) who combined various food items sold at her Zhenli street (真理街) food stall to sell as a new food item.

Tamsui Travel

A sight to behold – tower ice cream (TWD25). I’m trying not to let my thoughts run wild. You go, dude :D

Tamsui Travel

Another place I would recommend to check out – are the 24-hour convenience stalls. They are pretty localised, tempting me with all sorts of snacks. I’m gonna get fat if I stay in Taiwan!

Tamsui Travel

Hong Ma Sour Plum Soup 洪妈酸梅汤
I was attracted by the cute momsy character. Turns out – it was the best thing I brought home.

Tamsui Travel

These jars of spicy preserves were DELISH! I am still thinking about them and how I can order online :D They go really well with porridge and Chinese dishes. I’m gonna mail a carton back next time.

Tamsui Travel

And the most famous Tamsui specialty – Ah-Po Iron Eggs 阿婆铁蛋 at 135-1 Zhongzheng Road. This is the original stall – remember Grandma’s face!
Iron eggs were reportedly created by Huang Zhangnian 黃張哖 who sold noodles by the seaside dock about 50 years ago when Tamsui was a fishing town. When Grandma Huang had less business, she had to continually re-cook the braised eggs which were continually blown by the sea breeze. The repeated recooking and drying process eventually resulted in eggs that were dark, chewy and flavorful. The eggs were a big hit with the locals who referred to them as ‘iron eggs’.Ingredients used include chicken/quail eggs, five-spice powder, rock sugar, soy sauce and salt. The eggs go through many cycles of braising and drying until the egg white shrinks and turns chewy.Grandma Huang eventually founded a new business based on her iron egg recipe, selling them under the brand Ah Po Tie Dan. It was also a convenient food for fishermen who were out at sea for long periods of time. See – every cloud has its silver lining ☺

More on Taiwan:
Taiwan: Blooming Delights and Cultural Richness in Daxi 大溪
Taiwan – Nature’s Wonders at Yehliu Geopark 野柳地質公園
Taiwan – Jiufen’s 九份 Golden Nostalgia
Taiwan – Urban Respite at Beitou Hot Springs 北投溫泉
Taiwan – Jingguashi 金瓜石:Goldmine of Yesteryear
Taiwan – SHIFEN十分放天灯: Sending Wishes to the Sky
Taiwan – Sun Moon Lake 日月潭: Picturesque Nature

Explore Taiwan with Spunktitud3!

Getting to Tamsui
Take the train to Tamsui station on the red Tamsui line.

Getting to Fisherman’s Wharf 淡水漁人碼頭/Lover’s Bridge情人桥
Take Bus Red-26, 836, or 837 from Tamsui train station. Alternatively, take a ferry from Tamsui Ferry Pier.

Tamsui Sights (if you are opting for a full day trip)

Historical attractions:
Hongmao Castle/Fort San Domingo (No. 1, Lane 28, Zhongzheng Road), Mackay Hospital, Tamsui Presbyterian Church (No. 8, Majie Street), Huwei Fort (No. 34, Lane 6, Section 1, Zhongzheng Road), Old Oxford School, Residence of Dr. Mackay, Tamsui College

Natural sceneries:
Lover’s Bridge, Mangrove (Hungshulin) Conservation Area, Cape Shihhu, Chunglun Jetty

Temples and churches:
Longshan Temple, Herzhong Temple, Catholic Church, Tamchian Church, Xingchung Temple, Fuyou Temple


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Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Have a rwarrING good time with colourful lanterns at Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens on 13-22 Sep 2013!

I love Mid-Autumn. It’s a time when I can be a child again, and carry brightly-lit traditional cellophane lanterns around with good friends without raising any eyebrows. This year, I had a visual feast of colourful lanterns at Gardens by the Bay which is hosting the Mid-Autumn Festival for the first time. And it’s FREE! :D

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Majestic Temple of Confucius in the middle of the Dragonfly Lake. How cool is that – premium waterfront living!

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

The dragon in this lantern display is made up of 80,000 test tubes filled with coloured water. All the lanterns are made locally by master craftsmen from China.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

I must say the cooled conservatories make a pretty nice backdrop for the lantern display

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Sky Lanterns

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

A series of charity events is organised in conjunction with Mid-Autumn Festival @ the Gardens to raise funds for President’s Challenge 2013. Visitors can purchase a sky lanterns or Loy Krathong (Floating Lantern) for $10 and all proceeds will be donated to President’s Challenge 2013.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

The cutest 12 Zodiac Signs I’ve ever seen

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Leo looks so cute, he can rival Hello Kitty!

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

The Dragonfly Bridge decorated with colourful arches

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

They look pretty good in the daytime as well

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

For visitors coming in the daytime, the Flower Dome houses a Mid-Autumn themed floral display featuring three dragonfly lanterns perched amidst a field of vibrant flora such as begonias, chrysanthemums, astilbes and celosias. For me – this would be the easiest insect macro I’ve ever done! lol

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Magnificent scenery at night. I stood still for 5 minutes just to admire this.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

It’s packed at the 101-hectare Gardens – amazing feat!

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Giant face masks

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

My fave lantern piece – Jurassic Park featuring 8 dinosaurs with movable parts. They scream too, haha.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Jurassic Park with a suggestive-looking plant

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

This evil-looking thing looks like it’s saying “I’m coming to get you!”

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Pandora 3D Exhibition
What’s more apt than an Avatar experience in the midst of mystical SuperTrees at Supertree Grove? Presented by Keppel Club, this unique exhibition offers visitors a 3D experience as they admire hand-made exhibits built from recycling materials by the staff of Keppel Club.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Inside the Pandora 3D exhibition

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Birds & Insects Paradise

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

More lantern set pieces at The Meadow

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Cute monks. I never thought I would ever say that.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

3 little pigs and a goofy-looking wolf

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Dong dong dong CHIANG! Let’s celebrate!

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Oh-so-cute wedding couple

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

I was quite amused with the ‘multi-racial’ lanterns. This piece pays homage to our Muslim friends.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

And our Indian representation

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Arabian Nights?

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

I got a bit hungry from all the walking and was quite pleased to find my fave snacks at the food stalls – smelly tofu and sour plum drink. Satisfaction. Heehee.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

It was nice to see families enjoying themselves and keeping the traditional of Mid-Autumn reunion & harmony alive.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Who says lanterns are only for the Chinese culture?
Our Malay friends came by as well, and everyone bonded together over a candlelight. These people didn’t know each other, and were just happy to lend a light. Awwww….I’m feeling warm & fuzzy again.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Winning Entries from the Creative Lantern-Making Competition
This piece won first prize. I must say I am quite impressed with the lanterns, all the twinkling LED lights and movable parts . I felt so archaic thinking of the lanterns I used to make in school.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

These must be Chang-e’s rabbits

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Hello Chang-e!

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

A snake made from fruit wrappers

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Psychedelic Peacock

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

This is my favourite piece – the use of recycled materials is superb! So pretty!

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Monkey sitting on a durian. Hmmm.

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Dragon

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

Phoenix

Mid-Autumn @ The Gardens 2013

And the Gardens’ biggest permanent lantern display – the SuperTrees :)