Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

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Yilan – Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋Just across Ji Mi Park in Yilan is Chalet Gelato, a cute little cafe serving gelato made from the season’s freshest produce.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋It’s also a great rest stop especially on a hot day to enjoy a well-deserved dessert.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋How does a lemonade topped with freshly plucked peppermint leaves or matcha freeze made with tea leaves from Shizuoka prefecture sound? :)

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋The floor to ceiling glass lets you take in the greenery surrounding the little cafe while staying cool.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋Really helpful to have the popular combinations of gelato flavours listed out on the board, and look out for the seasonal flavours. What’s your favourite?

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋All the flavours look just as tantalizing. The flavours are usually determined by what fruits or nuts are in season, and kept as natural as possible. When in season, they have an interesting dragonfruit flavour.

Nothing artificial is added when making the gelato, just lots passion and hard work. Can you imagine squeezing a whole bucket of oranges by hand?!

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋I chose a lychee rose and matcha flavour combination.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋Time to enjoy. The texture was smooth and not overly sweet, with nature’s taste filling your palate.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋Time seems to move slowly in Yilan, as you automatically slow down to take in sights of its mountainous naturescape.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋I enjoyed the refreshing peppermint lemonade.

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋And an affogato makes the day even better. Coffee, anyone?

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋

Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋
Address: 宜蘭縣宜蘭市和睦路鐵道一巷27號(宜興路與民權路交叉路口)
No. 27 Hemu Railway Road, Lane 1, Yilan, Taiwan
Tel: +886 3 933 3030
Opening Hours: 9:30AM – 6:00PM daily
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/chalet.gelato

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Yilan, Taiwan – Yoshino Cherry: A Minsu which feels like Home

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿A homely and comfortable minsu I stayed at while in Yilan was at Yoshino Cherry Minsu 吉野櫻民宿. The spacious two-storey house is the home of Chen-jie 陳姐, who stays with her family at a smaller house just behind this main building. The minsu is named Yoshino Cherry as Chen Jie’s husband likes cherry blossoms, and the minsu is also home to some cherry trees.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I like the feeling of being welcomed into a real home as opposed to checking into an unfeeling hotel room when I travel. The airy living room made me want to sink right into the inviting couch (which I did at night, chatting with my friends, Chen Jie and her husband before heading to bed).

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿There are only 4 rooms at the minsu, with one of them having 2 rooms (that’s why there are 5 keys here). Each room has a different theme, and opening each room door brings a gust of anticipation.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The Eiffel Tower room is the only room located on the first floor. It would be good for elderly who cannot climb up the stairs or couples who want more privacy (which was taken by the only pair of lovebirds in our group).

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I stayed at the Royal Earl Room. Something tells me it will be my kind of room from the crown painted on the room sign.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Woohoo! Grand-looking Victorian bed, red chandeliers and a silver couch – #like. It comes with a balcony too.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I was lusting after the Rose Garden Room too – just look at the gorgeous rose headboard with matching rose cushions!

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The Mediterranean Room comes with 2 bedrooms, so it would be suitable for a family or 2 couples.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I felt like singing “Under the Sea”…kids would like this room.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Welcome to Greece…well even for just a wall mural. I like the four-poster bed and cosy ambience.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Yoshino Cherry is surrounded by farmland so it would be lovely to have a leisurely high tea at your room balcony and basking in the serenity of Yilan’s naturescape.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Are those hearts I see in the garden?

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿High tea is served every afternoon, and Chen Jie prepares everything herself. One unique thing about this minsu is that it offers one free DIY activity for its guests daily – it can be baking pastries with Chen Jie, or a pottery class with your little ones.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Guests are welcome to use the kitchen. I can almost film a cooking show in this huge space!

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The big kid in me was pretty happy with the swing I discovered at the back of the garden.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿There is also a children’s play pool. I lost no time in getting pally with the resident Willy the whale. In addition, the minsu has some electric mini cars which are a big hit with kids so parents won’t need to worry much about kids getting bored. The minsu can also arrange for BBQ for you.

Places you can visit near the minsu include Luodong Night Market 羅東夜市 and Dongmen Night Market 東門夜市 which are about 15 minutes away by car, and Sophisca 菓風小舖 a popular DIY candy store is only 5 minutes drive. Kavalan Whisky Factory 金車威士忌酒廠 and several parks are also nearby (see their website under ‘Scenic Spots‘).

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿We checked out the field opposite the minsu after high tea. Look at those papayas! If only they were ripe…

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Most of the areas around were rice fields.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿There were small patches of vegetables grown as well, such as spring onion. They must be one of the plumpest spring onions I have seen.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Brinjals

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Time seems to slow down here where life is simple.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The highlight of this minsu for me is definitely their breakfast. It is one of the most delicious and nutritious meals I have had. Chen Jie serves Chinese or Western-style breakfast, and both are just as good. Chen Jie epitomizes the spirit of minsu owners very well – we feel her warm hospitality and passion to make her guests feel at home from every little detail at the minsu.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Yoshino Cherry presents their guests with a souvenir before they leave. Chen Jie used to be a special needs teacher before starting the minsu, and these handmade soaps are made by her former students.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The road ahead is long, and I know not what awaits. So just smile and enjoy the present moment :)

Yoshino Cherry Minsu 吉野櫻民宿
Tel: +886 3 922 7900; Mobile: +886 939 930 116 (Chen Jie 陳姐)
Website: www.sakurabnb.com.tw
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/YilanYoshinoCherryBedandBreakfast
Room rates start from TWD2,400 to TWD11,000 to book out the entire minsu (good for 12 pax)
Nearest Public Transport: Yilan Train Station宜蘭火車站or Yilan Bus Station宜蘭轉運站; followed by a short taxi ride (about TWD220 – abt USD6.80/SGD9.90)

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Taiwan – Experience a Scandinavian Getaway at Yilan’s North Zart 北方札特

Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿
From natural environments, cold/hot springs to a wealth of scenic attractions, Yilan is one of the best areas in Taiwan for a leisurely getaway with loved ones, and North Zart is one of the most unique and beautiful minsu in the region. Made entirely out of wood, it feels as if you were momentarily transported to the cabin lodges of Europe.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿North Zart is located about 15 minutes away by taxi from Yilan Train Station. It offers 13 rooms for doubles all the way up to 6 persons in a room split between two buildings. If you are travelling in a big group (more than 10), you can consider booking a whole building exclusively.

Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Santa Claus greets you as you approach the entrance of the wooden cabin building. Feels like Christmas all year round!Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Amazing sunshine smiling down at us. The minsu can help to organise BBQs outside here at night.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Lovely outdoor area to chill outYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The minsu built the palace theme building a year after the opening of the wooden cabin theme building. The owner conceptualized the design of the entire area, including the landscaping and gardens outside. Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Amazing living hall which comes with a deepsea aquarium and a TV capable of playing 3-D movies.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿For the literary ones, pick up a book from its library and immerse in a good read at a favourite corner in the minsu.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Lovely decor all aroundYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The fragrance of Chinese fir used to build the minsu permeates the spaceYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The owner Mr Lin, is a coffee aficionado – you definitely have to ask him to make you a cuppa coffee. We enjoyed chatting with him as he shared with us more about the minsu. I must say he is very meticulous, as you can see the thought and effort that was put into setting up the place, and all the little things done to give the place a warm, homely feel. His family helps to run the minsu too.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿How I am feeling right now – happily contentedYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Breakfast is served at the basement of the wooden cabin building.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿It offers a typical Taiwanese breakfast.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The double room was spacious and well-stocked with beverages and snacks.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The bathroom was just as spacious.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The Rrom for four persons came with a fake coconut tree lolYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿I loved the balcony which overlooks the garden.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Some of the rooms also overlook the rice paddy fields behind the minsu which belongs to Mr Lin.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿And one of the highlights of the minsu – a cold spring! What an amazing treat!Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The minsu by night looks surreal, and I am tempted to laze my vacation away all day.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿We got into a little mischief at Luodong Sports Park nearby (you can borrow a bicycle from the minsu for a nice ride in the morning) – with some fireworks and sparklers :)Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿We enjoyed our stay at the very pretty North Zart as well as exploring Yilan’s attractions. As public transport is not readily available in Yilan, I would suggest you book a car or take a taxi. By day you can explore numerous scenic areas such as Meihua Lake, Wai Ao Beach (black sand!), Turtle Island or attractions such as Lanyang Museum and Jimmy Plaza while by night you can visit Luodong Night Market for some local eats. Jiaoxi Hot Springs is also not too far away.

北方札特 North Zart
Address: 269, Taiwan, Yilan County, Dongshan Township, 廣安村廣興路682巷132號
Email: espcat@gmail.com
Tel: +886 918 612 581
Website: http://www.northzart.com.tw
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NorthZart
View Map https://goo.gl/maps/WgqGJNMR7pS2
Booking website: http://www.kitravel.com.tw/booking/northzart/index_en.html
Room Rates: http://www.northzart.com.tw/contact-fee.html
Getting from Taipei to Yilan

1) Kemalan buses (葛瑪蘭客運) at Taipei Bus Station Taipei Main Station. Fare: About NT$129 Travel time: About 50 mins. Website: http://www.kamalan.com.tw/route.php
2) Capital Star buses (首都客運) at Taipei City Hall MRT Station near exit 3. Fare: About NT$120 Travel time: About 50 mins. Website:

Taiwan Railways to Yilan Train station. Travel time: About 1hr 30mins. Fare: TWD 200 – 250
Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA): new.twtraffic.com.tw/TWRail_EN/index.aspx
Train ticket prices: service.tra.gov.tw/tw/ticketprice/excel.aspx

Getting from Taoyuan International Airport to Yilan
By Bus:
1) Take Kuo Kuang Express buses from the airport to Taipei Main Station. Travel time: About 1hr 10mins. Fare: About TWD 115
2) Transfer to buses to Yilan (See Getting from “Taipet to Yilan” above)

Getting from Kaohsiung to Yilan
1) Take THSR train to Taipei Main station. Travel time: About 2hrs. Fare TWD 1,490.
2) Transfer to buses to Yilan (See Getting from “Taipet to Yilan” above)

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Taiwan – A Japanese Feast at Yao Chuan Izakaya 堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 in Jiaoxi, Yilan

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)
Jiaoxi town 礁溪 located in Yilan county 宜兰 is one of Taiwan’s most favoured weekend hideouts. It is famous for its alkaline hot springs which is also known as a “beauty soup.” After a gratifying soak, indulging in a nice Japanese meal is the best way to complete the onsen experience. Our group of 10 came to one of the nicest-looking restaurants in town – Yao Chuan Izakaya.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The little town is surrounded by lush mountains and hot spring hotels, perfect for a weekend getaway

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The restaurant is located below a block of flats on the street level, relatively near to Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park 礁溪溫泉公園 (you can get a free foot soak there).

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Look what I spotted out of a window, what a cute owner :)

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The Fortune Cat outside the restaurant is a good location marker, and obviously well-loved by the people around.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The restaurant has an alfresco area just outside

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

The restaurant was opened in 2012 and is especially popular during weekends. It was also the scene for one of the Taiwanese idol dramas ‘A Hint of You’ 美味的想念.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Yao Chuan serves freshly caught seafood from the same area where Japanese fishermen get their catch, so you are eating the same high quality of seafood at a much lower price.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

I must say a lot of effort went into the decor, it’s just too pretty to be called an izakaya!

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Super love the shadows thrown out by the lamps

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Level 2 seating

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

We almost walked into this wall mural, isn’t it beautiful?

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

I was captivated by this light fixture which also doubled up as a plant container – and even a small aquarium for fighting fish!

The restaurant sure looks nice, so can the quality of the meal match up? Well let’s find out… :)

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Wafu Seafood Salad 海鮮沙拉
First up as a big plate of seafood salad. What’s interesting is the use of fruits such as apple, dragonfruit and pineapple to pair with fresh seafood such as scallops, prawns and crab. I must say the seafood was really fresh, and we enjoyed the crunchy bite.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Yeah, it’s time to celebrate with freshly-brewed local beer
This giant beer dispenser was personally brought back from overseas by the restaurant owner, what an honour to be able to use it!

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Sashimi Platter 刺身拼盤
I almost fell off my chair (seriously) when our forest of sashimi came. The ooh-ings and ahh-ings went on for two minutes, following by endless shutter clicks. I must say am quite impressed with the food presentation, especially in a small town like this.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Seafood Pot with White Miso, Pumpkin and Milk Soup Broth 南瓜牛奶白味噌石狩鍋
The soup broth was POWER. It was smooth, wholesome and tasted so sweet. I could finish the entire pot by myself. I don’t usually fancy prawns, but these tasted so sweet I ate a couple of them. Must-order.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Local Fruit Vinegar 宜蘭員山金棗醋
Mid-way through the meal, a fruit vinegar was served to help cleanse the palate and get rid of any ‘oily’ feeling. We are ready for more!

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Cherry Duck Roll 櫻桃鴨肉捲
Cherry duck is a local specialty dish of Yilan, so no visit is complete without tasting this dish. The meat was tender and paired well with the cucumber and spring onion strips.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Grilled Lamb Chop 烤羊排
I normally don’t eat lamb cos’ I am afraid of the smell, but these tasted great. I didn’t even need the rose pepper salt to eat with.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Grilled Deepsea Prawn 龜山島鹽烤角蝦
This is another must-order dish. These yummy crustaceans were caught off local Turtle Island, 200 metres below sea level. Their shells were rock hard, the service staff offered to peel them for us. I feel so pampered…now if someone would feed them to me… ;)

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Sushi Platter 創意綜合壽司
And the feasting continues…I went straight for the salmon belly sushi

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Scallop Temaki 干貝手捲
It’s a simple scallop handroll, but nicely executed.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Steamed Local Fish 清蒸多寶魚
This was another favourite dish of the day – it was gone within 1 minute. The meat had a creamy texture, and I liked it cos’ it was steamed with my favourite Taiwanese ingredient 破朴子.

堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋 Yao Chuan Izakaya, Yilan (Taiwan)

Matcha Cake 抹茶黑糖糕
The finale came in a theatrical presentation of matcha cake. We were all intrigued how the forks could stay on the self-designed log (magnetic force!).

We went home feeling uber well-fed and satisfied. It’s a meal that will definitely be remembered and gushed about for a long, long time (I am still reminiscing about my sashimi forest). The price is also reasonable – you can order ala carte from the menu, or opt for omakase (no menu; catch of the day) which is 680NT/pax for lunch, and 880NT or 1280NT/pax for dinner. Definitely reasonable for couples, family/social gatherings and presentable for business entertaining. And, best to call to reserve on weekends, as well as to reserve beforehand if you have any particular seafood in mind (they sold out on my fave uni that night). Itadakimasu! :)

Yao Chuan Izakaya 堯川創藝日式料理居酒屋
Address: 宜蘭縣礁溪鄉健康路38號
Tel: 03-988 3258
Opening Hours: Monday: 11:30AM – 2:00PM, 5:30PM – 10:00PM; Wed – Sun: 11:30AM – 2:00PM, 5:30PM – 10:00PM; Closed on Tuesdays
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gyo.u.kawa
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I love Taiwan 我爱台湾!

Railway Jumpshot at Yilan Railway

Been travelling around Taiwan for a week now, and having the time of my life! I have seen so many new sights, made new friends and tasted so many local delicacies, I wanna leap for joy!

Hello Taiwan, it’s good to be back here :) Join me on my adventures ‘live’ on Instagram (www.instagram.com/spunktitud3) and Twitter (www.spunktitud3.com)

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