Mulberry Darley

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As per my previous post, I mentioned that I had just casually walked into a boutique at Takashimaya and came out nearly $1000 poorer. Tbh I had my eyes set on a Mulberry Darley bag after I had seen someone on social media post about the bag and her OOTD. It was just really a very random post and had I not seen this post, I wouldn't have known about this really chio bag as well.

I saw this post back in December, but the bag was quoted in pounds, so I figured that buying it in UK would be cheaper. I thought I could find a duty-free Mulberry shop back at Taoyuan Airport when I was in Taiwan last month, but nope, it was not meant to be. Grumps then wanted to ask his colleague to help me look out for it as she would be going to Europe for a holiday, but I rejected his idea outright, because while the picture did look good, I wasn't sure if the bag would suit me. I was really adamant on trying on the bag at a boutique first to see if it would suit me, and of course, nothing beats buying a bag and walking out of a boutique by myself. ;P

Since I was back in Singapore, I had put off visiting a Mulberry boutique until last Sunday, when our family had a huge feast over at Wisma Astria's Paradise Dynasty. I decided to drop by Takashimaya since these two buildings were just beside each other. I guess if it is meant to be, it'll surely be mine. It turned out that on that day I visited the boutique, they were having a 20% off storewide. On top of that, Takashimaya was running an additional 10% off for Taka card members, which le dibby is.

When I asked the store assistant (SA) to show me the bag, I was definitely sold, even more so when I tried on the oak grain bag on myself. I truly loved how it looked on me. And then, she brought out the bag in oxblood. When le sis, Clinty and Grumpy Cat saw it, they immediately said that this bag was really pretty and told me to get it. xD I also knew that I had to get it immediately, but the problem was, the Taka card member wasn't with me at that point of time. I immediately phoned dibby to come over to Taka and while she was shocked that the bag I wanted was so expensive (by her terms, and note that dibby ain't big on branded items), she relented after seeing the bag herself. ;P

And so, I'm now a super proud owner of the medium Darley bag, which apparently is the second last piece in the whole of Singapore. D; Even though it was the display set, I decided not to wait on it any longer as the discount would only last till that day, and who knows when the next round of good discounts would be. Retail price of this bag in Singapore is $1300, but due to the discounts, I ended up paying slightly less than $1000 for it, so of course mai tu liao! In fact, the price I paid in SGD was even less than the price quoted in pounds, so no need to fret about going all the way to London just to buy it at a discount.

I kinda bought this on the whim, especially when I saw it on social media just last month, but I'm so in love with it!

I brought this bag with me to an event with le ex-colleagues yesterday, and they, too, said that it was a good buy, and welcomed me to the luxury bag club. ;P One of them (her Hermes collection is cray) warned Grumpy that it was just the beginning. Of course it's just the starting only, Grumpy Cat. ;D

The purpose of this post is to hao lian about the first luxury bag that I bought with my own money. I have a Chanel bag, but it was passed down from my granny, so while that bag is gorgeous, it is rather small as well, so I can't really fit in many things inside.

Oo, and since I'm on the topic of bags, I do intend to have more Chanels, namely the 2.55 medium classic in GHW and Chanel Boy. I've been lusting after the 2.55 ever since I was exposed to Chanel as a brand lol, and it is a very timeless design that will not go out of fashion, so it's definitely a bag to keep. As for the Boy, it may be just a phase lah, because besides the design, I don't really think that bag is practical, but we shall see...

Grumpy's pay now is more than enough to buy me a 2.55 medium classic at current market prices, but the reason why I haven't told him about any of my bag lusts is because I don't want him to spend money on me just like that. Like quite frivolous leh. This is the reason why I have to keep working even though he says that if I want to quit, it is more than alright with him. If I was back at the ex-company, I would have quit without a doubt, but since this current company has a good work-life balance and I'm drawing a decent amount (though I'm gunning for a raise once I pass my last paper), I don't mind saving up to buy the bags that I fancy.

I'm glad that for now, my bag lust hasn't been that strong as compared to those people I see on social media, probably because I work in CBD and get to see people carrying branded bags everyday. Truth to be told, I hate almost all the bags that I see LOL, which made me vow not to ever get said bags. Less headache for me also. ;P

Foodtastic January

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Ever since Grumpy's birthday, I've been eating good food non-stop despite me feeling rather ill for the past two weeks or so. In fact, I got so ill that besides having to see the doctor twice in two weeks, with the second doctor prescribing me a super strong antibiotic, I ended up losing 4 kg as well because my throat hurt so badly that I could barely swallow anything, including my own medicine. I started feeling better as the week progressed, but have still not fully recovered yet, so as of now, I'm trying to limit my food intake, especially for spicy food.

Grumpy and his mum share the same birthday. Because Grumpy's bro wanted to treat the both of them, Grumps suggested going to Violet Oon Singapore for dinner. In fact, this boy didn't even know who Violet Oon was until I had casually mentioned that I wanted to dine here someday. I initially didn't want to join, but Grumpy's mum insisted that I come along, so I did. ;P

Since I had been wanting to dine here for quite awhile, I was quite at a loss when I saw the menu, because if I had unlimited money, I would have ordered almost everything on the menu. Unfortunately, dining here wasn't cheap at all (though price-wise, Fat Cow was a lot more expensive, but still, the average dish here cost at least $30++).

Pardon the sloppy pictures, because the table was really small and our dishes came faster than we could finish them. ._.

Violet Oon's purple menu.

Table setting.

I got myself the berry lemongrass chamomile, which tasted really refreshing and good!

The kueh pie tee was exceptionally good, and I never regretted ordering it. In fact, we got really hungry while waiting for Grumpy's mum and brother to arrive (they were stuck in the jam for 45 minutes), we finished up nearly everything. Grumpy's mum found this so good that she ordered a second serving of this, and guess who was the happiest? Yours truly! Highly recommended!

The ngoh hiang was super duper delicious as well. With prawn, crab and chicken all meshed together, it tasted very premium and warranted another must-eat from me!

The ayam buah keluak was good too, but extremely spicy for me who was still trying to recover, so I took a bit only.

The dry laksa was really good, but as with the above dish, I found it too spicy and could only take a bit before I asked Grumps to finish the rest for me.

The cod fish in laksa sauce was shiok too! I tried to eat as much of the cod fish without the laksa sauce though.

The beef rendang was exceptionally tasty and the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender! I usually avoid eating rendang because most rendang tend to be overcooked, resulting in the meat being very stringy and tough, but this wasn't the case for the beef rendang I had over here. Both Grumps and I agreed that the rendang was dope!

The beef kway tiao was also really good! This had strong wok hei in it, and I felt that I should have ordered this instead of the rest of the dishes, which were really spicy to the sick me.

I was anticipating this kueh dar dar the most, but unfortunately, this ended up being a disappointment. It didn't taste like how I had envisioned it to be, and I found the crepe really thick and too jelat for me. ;(

I also wasn't really a fan of the gula melaka cake, as I don't really fancy gula melaka, but the rest truly enjoyed this cake.

The best dessert for me would be this kueh beng kah, which arrived warm and toasty at our table. This was so delicious that I had harboured thoughts of ordering seconds, but I decided against it as I wouldn't be the one paying, and this wasn't exactly cheap too. ;P

The total bill ended up being over $300 as the food here was really very pricey, but I did feel that it was worth it as we had enjoyed almost every dish here. My personal favourites would have to be the kueh pie tee, ngoh hiang, dry laksa, beef rendang, cod fish and the kueh beng kah. In fact, that is almost everything I have eaten, which really does say a lot about the standard of the food here. Yummy! ;D

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Paradise Dynasty had just opened its new flagship store at Wisma Atria. To commemorate their opening, they were having 50% off all ala-carte items on their menu on 19th and 20th January 2019. We decided on having it for lunch today, and gave the dibbies a treat as well.

We had expected the queue to be long, but when we reached, the queue was really horrendously insane?! We were prepared to wait at least two hours to be seated, but the good thing was we were given a queue number immediately. Around half an half passed, before our number was called up and imagine our surprise when we were told we could be seated now. Wow, we just skipped at least 30 people to get to the front of the queue!

However, it was good that while queuing, we were already given the order chit so that our orders could be served quickly. The bad thing about this order chit was that the prices weren't indicated on it. @_@ However, since it was 50% off, we figured that the damage to our wallets wouldn't be that great, thus we decided to whack and I ordered whatever I fancied. ;P And as you could guess, we had many egg dishes. 🙃🙃🙃

First up, the eggy fried rice was so dope! In fact, Grumps and I agreed that it tasted better than Din Tai Fung's. Oh, and we ordered a plate of fried rice with crab roe not featured here, 'cos it was too far away from me.

The charcoal lava custard buns were dope too!

Scallop and crabmeat egg, courtesy of me. ;P

Fried gyozas which had soup broth in it, oddly. So-so to me as I felt it wasn't fried enough.

Their xiaolongbao specialty, of which I had the foie gras-flavoured one. Found it so-so too, especially when I had shiok foie gras two days back.

Chilled tofu with century egg was really delish though. No prizes for guessing who ordered this. xD

Grumps wanted some greens, so he ordered his favourite green beans, which tasted quite nice though, but I didn't eat a lot as it was mildly spicy.

Ordered la mian, but heard from dad that the noodles were soggy as we had taken a long time to start on it. The prawn wantons were really fresh though.

And finally, the original xiaolongbao, which I also found so-so leh... DTF's xiaolongbaos are still nicer...

The original bill came up to be $195.15, but due to the 50% off, we ended up paying only $97.57. On top of that, dibby had a $30 cash voucher for Paradise Dynasty, so our lunch for 6 ended up being $65.57! Shiok die hahaha! Of course, I wouldn't have suggested coming here to eat had it not been for the great discount, because I'm still reeling from the damage I inflicted upon myself for Grumpy's birthday dinner.

But guess what, all these savings were in vain, because I went to a boutique at Takashimaya and couldn't resist buying this bag, which I will probably talk about in the next post 'cos it's so gorgeous that even le sis agrees! 🤦🤦🤦

Thank goodness this month is bonus payout month, but still, January has ended up being a truly expensive month for me. I better pass my exam ASAP so that I can get my pay raise soon. ._.

Grumpy's an old man

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Grumpy turns the big 3 this year, and I have always wanted to treat Grumpy to a good meal as it is considered a big year/milestone for him. Grumpy had brought me to fine dining before, so I wanted to bring him to one in turn as well.

I dropped a lot of hints to Grumpy during the past week, by telling him to wear nice clothes and that the restaurant I would be bringing him was at Orchard, but Grumps still got all the places wrong. ;P

This restaurant required prior reservation, so I had booked this restaurant 2 weeks back via Chope, along with a special request due to it being Grumpy's birthday.

We arrived at the restaurant at exactly 6 pm, and it so happened that Grumpy's good friend's shop was located at Camden Medical Centre as well. They had wanted to come down to kachao us, but in the end, didn't do so. ;P

Grumpy was really surprised that I would bring him to such a restaurant, and as he glanced at the menu, he asked if I had seen the menu beforehand, because he was really shocked at the menu pricing. xD

I told him that since it is the day he turns 30, I did not mind spending this much on him. Moreover, he had given me a nearly-all-expenses-paid trip to Taiwan (only because I had insisted on booking some stuff, and refused to take any money from him), which I am still extremely grateful for.

Without further ado, let's go on to the food that we had ordered for the night.

I suaku, so Grumpy had to tell me that in fine dining, the diner had to use the utensils from outside to inside. He was apparently atas enough to even attend dining etiquette classes when he was young. Wtf can't imagine how rich these ACS boys are. ._.

We were given the theatre seats, which meant that we could watch the chefs cook the beef or arrange the sushi right in front of us. Surprisingly, ventilation in this restaurant was so good that we actually left without any oil smell on us.

Grumpy was interested to try the crab cakes, so here we go. This was the cheapest dish that we had, at $32 for these two. The croquette was full of crabmeat, which was quite delicious, but as I had just recovered, I couldn't eat much fried food, so I ate only half before I gave the rest to Grumps.

Grumpy also wanted to try the Iberico pork namban, hence this order. The pork was lean and yet had a suitable ratio of fats, which was really melt-in-the-mouth good.

We had the saga beef at 150g, and this place really did medium rare so perfectly! Our beef was truly medium rare, and this was so good and melt-in-your-mouth. The condiments consisted of rock salt, chilli and garlic chips, of which all these complemented the beef so well. Super good! But of course, the premium beef did come with a price, which was $148. ;X

I knew about Fat Cow because I had seen my friend post about this donburi on Instagram before, which was why I also got the idea to bring Grumpy here. This was truly divine, and so well worth the $98! In fact, if I'm feeling high SES, I'd actually come to Fat Cow just for this premium bowl of goodness! This bowl came with truffle rice, onsen egg, wagyu beef, uni, caviar, ikura and foie gras! Grumpy and I felt that this was worth every single dollar! The beef was perfectly tender and had the right ratio of meat to fats, but the rice and foie gras were truly exceptional! In fact, we both agreed that of all the places we had foie gras at before, this place served the best foie gras. The foie gras was rich, creamy, buttery and hmm, just tasted super indulgent! Super yummy! ;D

Before that, Grumpy asked if I had prepared a cake for him, to which I said no, and he didn't believe me. Trust me, I really hadn't prepared anything as dessert for him. However, as I did mention in this post, I had actually put down a note when I was making a reservation at this restaurant. It did seem that they had taken note of it, and the waitress, seeing that we had already finished our meal, came out of the kitchen with a complimentary ice-cream for the birthday boy! Such a nice gesture! And if you were wondering if the ice-cream was any good, it was really shiok! Although we both couldn't quite make out what flavour the ice-cream was (tasted like plain old vanilla, but we were both really sure that they had added in something else to it), it was really such a good sweet note to the end of our dinner.

It was a really expensive dinner, but I am glad that we both really enjoyed the food here.

Happy birthday to my forever date! Chu are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I truly wish you nothing but the very best. Continue shining at work, faster join the SLT club, and I really can't wait till we both have our own house. Love chu bb! 💖💖💖

#台好湾了

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Grumpy had booked me this almost-all-expenses-paid Taiwan trip last year, as it was meant to be my birthday cum anniversary trip. We were meant to go for it in the first week of May, but as I was really tied down with work back at le ex-company, after much consideration, I suggested to him to postpone the trip to end December instead. He had thankfully bought non-discounted tickets, so all he ended up paying was $50 to pay for the change in ticket dates.

Since our departure timing was around 8 am, it meant that we had to reach the airport at 6 am, so I decided to stay over at Grumpy's. I entertained myself by playing Mario Kart on his Nintendo Switch, and ended up with cramping thumbs again. ;X

While I was still looking forward to this trip, perhaps because I did not feel as drained in my current company, so even it has been nearly 5 months since I last went overseas, I wasn't so fixated on counting down when my next overseas trip would be. I take it as a good thing. ;)

All prices quoted are in NTD$, unless otherwise stated. At the point of exchanging money, SGD$1 = NTD$21.75.

Wednesday 26/12/2018 (Day 1)
I slept on and off, probably because we were both afraid of oversleeping, and then finally woke up at 5.30 am to get ready. I hadn't woken up this early in months lol.

Since we reached the airport pretty early, I got to visit the Harry Potter decorations at Terminal 3. However, as it was too early, most of the interactive sections were not opened, which was quite sad, because from what I saw on social media, Changi did go all out to mimic the exact Harry Potter scenes. ;( The effort that went into reconstructing Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts corridor was so impressive though. The Potterhead in me approves.

After sharing a kaya toast set with Grumpy, we boarded the plane.

I think I was really zonked out from the lack of sleep, because I watched Crazy Rich Asian (CRA), but ended up falling asleep and rewinding back to where I missed off three times. When I finally finished CRA, I decided to just play some music because I was so sure that I would fall asleep again should I start on another movie. I really ended up falling asleep again. *facepalm*

Hi Golden Bird, we meet again!

Taxiing on the runway.

I had this braised chicken fried noodles, which didn't taste really good lol. The noodles had some kind of alkaline taste to it. ;(

When we finally landed in Taipei, it was so cloudy and gloomy, just as I had expected. I had been to Taiwan at this time of the year 3 years back, and it was perpetually rainy and gloomy as well. I had only hoped that the weather in Taichung would be slightly better.

We took around 1 hour to clear immigration, and during then, a colleague suddenly had problems with her bank token and I had to help her settle it under unreliable Wi-Fi connections. Oh bother...

We were to spend the night in Taichung instead, so after clearing immigration, we took the train on the airport line to Taoyuan HSR station, where we took the HSR train to Taichung proper. Grumps had bought our tickets off Klook, which proved to be much cheaper, especially when he bought those during the November/December sales period. Our tickets did not have any specific timings, which was really good, because we were held up unexpectedly long at the immigration. The only thing was that we were not guaranteed seats, but that didn't really bother us, because once we reached the next stop, many people actually got off, so we had seats for the rest of our journey.

We shared this Japanese curry baked rice, which was really good.

Once we reached Taichung, we Uber-ed to our AirBnB for the night. Our AirBnB, while small, was really very homely and tastefully decorated. It was a pity we would only be staying for one night though. Our first agenda of the day (or rather, evening) was to head over to Fengjia Night Market, which Grumps apparently hadn't been to before.

Fengjia was still as bustling as I remembered it to be. Oh, and thank God it wasn't raining!! Imagine walking through the night market in the rain argh!!

The entrance of Fengjia, probably my favourite night market in Taiwan.

I had seen this stall during my last trip here, but didn't order it for some reason. This time round, with Grumps along, I decided to order the eggy shallot pancake with their homemade special sauce.

Oh gosh, this is LOVE. Regretted sharing it with Grumps. ;P

We ordered takoyaki from the stall besides Minglun Pancakes, which also had a snaking queue. This was also very shiok leh! We got the wasabi-flavoured one, which was so potent that it cleared our blocked noses. ._.

Grumps loves his braised pork rice, while I'm not really a fan of it, so we just ordered one bowl to share. He said that this wasn't bad.

I remembered eating really good sweet potato balls in Fengjia before, so after the braised pork rice, we walked to the other end of the market in search for it. When I saw the snaking queue, I knew this was it. We waited really long for our turn. I missed it so much that I decided to get the big packet. xD

It seemed that there were many other stalls selling sweet potato balls too, but please only buy from this stall. It's really da best!!!!

I got Grumps hooked on this too! I was so glad that we bought a big packet to share heehee.

While waiting for my sweet potato balls, Grumps even had time to buy this salt and lemon calamari, which was so damn shiok too!

After walking off our calories, we decided to queue for the grilled oyster mushrooms as well.

This stall was located nearer to the entrance, and had a really long queue as well. Grumpy's reasoning is to buy from stalls with long queues as their food is fresher.

Mushrooms waiting to be grilled.

Brushing le mushrooms with marinade.

Finally got our seaweed-flavoured grilled mushrooms, which was really juicy and good!

Instead of papaya milk, we got taro milk at 30% sugar level, but tbh, we couldn't taste much of the taro, mainly because taro itself doesn't have much of a flavour. We had initially wanted 0% sugar level, but the store assistant warned that we wouldn't be tasting much, so we got it at 30% instead. But still, couldn't taste much. ;X

We walked till our legs nearly gave way from walking too much, before we decided to go back to our AirBnB and rest since we would be having an early day tomorrow.

It felt so good to have a thorough wash-up after being on the road for more than 12 hours straight. With that, we chilled and watched the Percy Jackson series that was showing on TV.

View from le apartment.

Thursday 27/12/2018 (Day 2)
After checking out of our gorgeous AirBnB, we headed over to the Taichung Railway Station as we had booked a shuttle bus to Cingjing from Changi Recommends. Again, tickets from here were cheaper as Grumps had booked them during the 12.12 sales. As our Uber ride neared the railway station, I thought that we were in the wrong place, because when I came here 3 years back, the railway station was extremely dilapidated and old-looking. However, it turned out that in these 3 years, they had actually built another railway station, and the old-looking facade was actually just located around 50m from the new station. o.O'''

I was feeling slightly regretful that I didn't manage to eat my lok lok in the convenience stores in Japan, so when I chanced upon a 7-11 that was located opposite the railway station, I made Grumps drag his luggage across the road with me. Thus, we had brekkie settled.

I'm finally having my lok lok in the cold weather (OK tbh Taichung wasn't really that cold lah, probably sweater weather) and it was so damn good!

One of the reasons why I love North-east Asia so much! I am in LOVE with their convenience stores because of things like this!! Super duper legit-tasting rice ball that has Japanese curry, cheese, egg and chicken with it! Ahhhhhhhhh~

After pigging out at 7-11, we proceeded to area where the shuttle bus would be picking us up, but imagine our surprise when there were many other people who were way earlier than us. Thankfully, there were still seats for us although it was a mini-bus. Thus began our 2-hour bus ride to Cingjing, whereby I fell asleep along the way.

As the shuttle bus would drop us off at our accommodation in Cingjing, I decided to be more alert and listen out carefully as the driver read the names of our accommodation at every stop he made. A couple in our bus actually booked the super luxurious Old England Manor, where average room rates per night is actually USD$500?! D; As I knew that our accommodation (which I will hereby term as minsu since it's shorter hahaha) was just right beside the Old England Manor, I told Grumps to get ready to get off.

We reached the minsu at around 12.45 pm, but as our room wasn't ready, we decided to just drop off our luggages at the check-in counter while we proceeded with our itinerary for the day, which was to explore Cingjing. We paid $160 each for the ticket to Green Green Grassland. The view was indeed gorgeous, but the sun was also very strong, hence I did feel quite hot. I regretted not bringing my sunnies along though.

It is said that Cingjing is like a mini Switzerland. If this is what Switzerland truly looks like, sign me up already!

Meh meh eat grass.

Super gorgeous views, but OK the weather was really great here as compared to gloomy Taipei.

I love how kawaii their cartoons are too. I feel that Taiwan actually takes cues from the Japanese culture quite a bit.

Mountain view.

The windmill was pretty, but due to the backlight, the picture didn't turn out really great.

My cat and I. We'll go to Switzerland one day Grumpy!!

We sat around in the arena while waiting for the sheep show, but sadly, while the sheep did come over occasionally to steal food from the people around, there wasn't any sheep show for this day. ;(

After deciding to leave the Green Green Grassland, we explored other parts of Cingjing and saw Carton King, which I had visited 3 years back. I honestly didn't know that Carton King was located in Cingjing as well. We did walk a lot, including the 487 steps of staircase which was so steep that I thought I was gonna fall. Thankfully, we were walking downhill, not uphill.

Pretty plum blossoms along the way while climbing down the 487 steps.

Mission accomplished!

I felt that Cingjing wasn't a very big place to begin with, and that we had covered almost every place which we had wanted to go. At Little Swiss Garden, we decided to fill our stomachs at 7-11.

So tough to get this shot without having anybody in it! I waited so long OK! But the steps were all painted on. So pretty!

We couldn't get enough of lok lok, so this time round, we got the mala soup, which tasted really legit too!

Dope cheese sausage which was yums as well!

We ordered the taro milkshake again. This time round, this tasted of taro. Must be because we asked for the "normal" level of sugar, which I shudder to think what it was. It was really delicious though.

We went over to the Cingjing Plaza which is just directly opposite the Little Swiss Garden, and headed over to the 7-11 there, where they sold the salted egg snacks which have been quite the rage here. I scooped up 3 packets in one go. As it was nearing 6 pm and the sky was already dark, we headed back to Nina for some shiok hot chocolate, which tasted exceptional in the weather which had now turned pretty cold.

We shared a cup of hot chocolate, which tasted really comforting in the cold weather.

I bought this hugeass scallion pancake, which tasted superb as well.

With that, we settled our dinner for the day and decided to head back to our minsu even if it was early, at around 7 pm. The reason why we decided to go back earlier was because we had booked ourselves a sunrise tour to Mt Hehuan, in which we had to be up at 4 am the next day in order to join the tour. The tour for each person cost around $400, and we got our tickets from the check-in counter of our minsu. I do suppose that most minsus in Cingjing provide this kind of tours.

After washing up, we decided to catch a bit of TV before KO-ing for the night.

Friday 28/12/2018 (Day 3)
We had set the alarm at 3 am so that we could wake up on time for the sunrise tour at Mt Hehuan, but we both ended up lazing about till around 3.25 am as the weather was just too cold. We ended up rushing like crazy after that 'cos Grumpy has this weird habit of always bathing just before he steps out of anywhere. -.-''' The tour would depart strictly at 4 am, and I was so afraid that we wouldn't be able to make it on time.

After running up the multiple flights of stairs, we finally got to the ground level. We waited for a while more before the tour bus came. The weather was extremely cold though!! 0°C leh don't play play. I honestly wasn't dressed for this kind of weather because I was like "Aiyah, only a few hours what". Don't make the same mistake as me guys! Cingjing can get really extremely cold especially when the sun is down. Brrr... After we got onto the really warm and toasty bus, off the bus-driver went, picking up other tourists along the way. My bus had so many Hong Kongers and Singaporeans on board though.

So up and round we went... Our bus finally came to a stop, but it was just too dark for us to make out where we were. It turned out that the bus-driver stopped so that we could observe the planets and stars, which really looked very magical. Of course, while he did sound very knowledgeable, it was all in Chinese, so both Grumps and I couldn't quite catch what he was saying at times, especially when he used Chinese terms for the planets and when he explained why we could only see certain stars at certain times of the year. I ended up having to Google whenever I heard terms which I was unfamiliar with. The bus-driver even had a super strong laser light which could shoot out beams that seemed to reach the very star/planet that he was talking about. Imagine those beams shooting at my eyes. Sure blind I tell you. @_@

We then continued our journey towards the peak of the mountain. The further up we went, the very much colder the weather became. The winds were very strong as well, and 1 minute outside the bus was just pure torture to me, especially when I felt severely underdressed. The tour bus did provide us down jackets, but it did little to retain whatever heat I had left.

I remembered coming to Taroko too when I was in Hualien 3 years back!

3070m above sea level. And really damn cold.

Le tour guide said if you didn't take a picture here, you haven't been here. ._.

So take lor. It was reallllllly very cold up here though.

Grumpy is someone who loves the cold, but even this was too cold for him to tank.

Don't play play ah!

It was just too cloudy, so the bus-driver/tour guide actually made a few stops that was supposed to give us the best view of the sunrise. However, the clouds moved too fast, and before we knew it, the sun had already risen. I was expecting some kind of magnificent sunrise, but I guess it was just not meant to be. Being up this early to chase the sunrise was an experience by itself though, so to me, it was money not wasted.

Le sun playing peekaboo with us.

OK, I see sunlight but where's the sun?

OK, the sun has officially risen, so nothing left to see already. ._.

We made our way downhill, but Grumpy got quite carsick and I was so worried for him because we both had forgotten to pack the motion sickness pills in our haste to rush out this morning. D; When we finally reached our minsu at around 8 am (the tour was about 4 hours from the time we left), we had some Chinese breakfast (came with our minsu booking) and sat in the cafeteria for quite a while so that Grumpy could acclimatise back. The breakfast spread, though not big, tasted really homely.

I got myself lots of eggs, some mushrooms and nuggets.

After breakfast, we headed back to our minsu, where I got Grumps to wash up first and he KO-ed after that. Poor boy. I fell asleep after washing up too, and we only woke up after 12 pm.

The view from our room. So damn shiok to wake up to this and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

We woke up feeling more refreshed, and Grumpy no longer felt sick. The original plan was actually to go to Sun Moon Lake (SML), but since Grumpy had just recovered from his bout of motion sickness, I figured that he probably wouldn't be able to tank another long and bumpy bus ride to SML. I had been to SML before, so I was OK with giving it a miss this time round. We decided to just take things slowly.

In a bid to clock our Vitality steps, we headed over to the Sky Trail, which we saw yesterday but decided against paying for it in the interest of time. However, since we had so much time today, we decided to just take a slow leisurely walk and admire the scenery which we would definitely not have the chance to see back in Singapore.

We dropped by Hla'alua, a restaurant selling tribal food. Grumpy had mistakenly thought that it was a restaurant selling Indian food (I know you Indian boi but *facepalm*) when we passed by it yesterday. Since we had nothing much to do for today and were feeling quite hungry, we decided to have lunch here.

Signboard of the restaurant we had our lunch at.

I ordered the grilled pork fried rice, which was SO DAMN GOOD. The wok hei was there, and it tasted so homely!! Super good and we wiped the plate clean.

Grumps ordered this tribal lunch set which was supposedly one of their bestsellers, but apparently, he didn't really like it as it was not to his taste. The portion was huge too, and he barely managed to eat half of it. There was some meat wrapped in leaves that didn't really appeal to his palate (the one in the middle). I didn't dare to try it after he spat it out lol, so no comments from me. The fermented cabbage that they served here tasted like kimchi though, so it was still OK.

After lunch, we headed back to Carton King, where we bought a few souvenir cards back.

Got this as refreshment and 'cos well, single digit calories hahaha.

Since we really had nothing much to do, we decided to head over to Little Swiss Garden for real and paid the entrance fee for it.

First stop: FOOD lol!!

Cat boss. The sun was really nice against the cold weather though. This cat super enjoy life sia.

Grumps wanted to try the polo buns here as this little cafe had touted it as their bestseller. And yes, the polo buns were really legit!! As good as the ones in HK! ._.

Unfortunately, the lavender milk tea was shit lol. Too sweet for me argh! I just realised that Taiwanese do really like their stuff to be sweet. Bad for health leh!

Boss wake up liao.

Pretty pavilion in the Little Swiss Garden.

The Little Swiss Garden itself wasn't very big, so it did not take long before we left the place. As it was going to be sunset soon, we decided to just head back and have an early night. Of course, we bought our dinner from 7-11 before heading back haha!

Mentaiko and salmon onigiri! I super love the choices of food they have at the convenience stores in North-east Asia!!!

Black sugar ginger mlik and hot chin chow for the cold night.

Pure fruit juices to aid in digestion and super-legit-tasting instant soups for dinner.

We washed up after dinner and snuggled under the heated blanket watching Avengers lol. The heated blanket was really a God-send for the otherwise cold weather. I just wished that the minsu installed portable heaters as well, 'cos besides the bed, the rest of the room was cold. D;

Saturday 29/12/2018 (Day 4)
It seems that most people do not spend more than 1 night in Cingjing, because like what I have said, Cingjing itself isn't very big, and had I known that Grumpy would be so carsick and not be able to withstand another bus trip, I would have also stayed in Cingjing for only 1 night as well. All the familiar faces from yesterday's tour were gone from the cafeteria.

After eating our breakfast, we headed back to the room to pack up our stuff. Since our bus back to Taichung would only be picking us up at 1.30 pm, we decided to just check out and get the counter staff to drop us off at Cingjing Plaza.

I was really fixated by the poached pear chamomile Teavana that Starbucks offered, so utilising our discount coupon, we bought 2 cups of such tea for $210. The tea was really very good and tasted refreshing! Good choice to be enjoying such a cup of tea in one the of the highest Starbucks stores in the world, at 1782m above sea level.

Such a good drink, made even more refreshing in the cold weather.

We just walked around aimlessly and I finally felt hungry enough to buy a roasted sweet potato from 7-11. While the sweet potato was comforting, I think I'm being spoiled rotten by the Japanese sweet potatoes that Don Don Donki sells back in SG. One of such sweet potato costs nearly SGD$3 though, so of course the sweet potato from 7-11 can't be compared with it. ;P Ended up buying another Coco Curry House wrap from 7-11 too, which was so fugging good! We also bought black sugar ginger sweet potato so that Grumpy wouldn't feel so carsick on the bus trip back to Taichung, but guess it didn't work for him.


Finally eating a roasted sweet potato in winter after so long. The last time I ate it, I was still in Korea.

Just take my money lah!

We made our way slowly back to the minsu to await our shuttle bus, but as it was the weekends, the roads tend to be busier, so our bus was late for 20 minutes. When we finally settled down, I KO-ed.

After 1.5 hours, we finally reached Taichung, and the next course of business would be to book our Uber ride to this AirBnB which I had been so looking forward to staying in ever since I booked this a few months back!

However, due to my lousy Chinese or the host's poor instructions, we actually went on a merry-go-round and entered two wrong buildings before we finally found the correct building, which we had passed by but overlooked, because omg, the exterior of the building totally did not match the pictures of the interior on AirBnB? In fact, right up to the point we took the lift up, I was still doubting whether we had found the correct building or not. Nearly 1 hour later, we finally found the correct apartment and wow, did this house really blow my mind. o.O'''

No time to waste though! We immediately unpacked and started washing all our dirty clothes first HAHAHA. #priorities Before AirBnBs came up, I shudder to think how did I manage to rewear the same few clothes without ever washing them. Eeks!

We took an Uber out to the city area, where Grumps wanted to try the ice-cream at Miyahara. I had suggested this place because Grumpy's mother loves pineapple tarts as much as dibby, and I remembered that dibby did enjoy the tarts from Miyahara back then when I brought it back home. However, after trying the pineapple tart that came with our OTT ice-cream, Grumpy thought that his mum would still prefer Chia Te's rendition, so he ended up not buying any pineapple tarts from here. I decided to just buy one box back for my family though. Luckily I had taken some out and saved it for Grumpy's mum to try, because heehee, she ended up liking Miyahara's pineapple tarts more than Chia Te's. Neh neh ni poo poo.

Extremely poor lighting as it was dark already, but here's featuring our OTT ice-cream from Miyahara. 3 scoops of ice-cream was $275 if I remember correctly. The ice-cream flavours we chose were pretty good! 82% Uganda chocolate, raisin mascarpone and assam tea with mint.

One of my must-dos in Taichung would be to visit Chun Shui Tang, dubbed as the original creator of bubble tea. We endured a 15-minute walk, including walking down dimly-lit pathways that looked dodgy af before we finally arrived. Chun Shui Tang did serve food too, but nothing caught our fancy, so we decided to just get the bubble tea and leave.

This reminded me so much of Cheonggyecheon in Seoul.

Finally here!


Our original bubble tea. It tasted rather good, but it was nothing memorable to me though honestly. The pearls were small and chewy, quite different from the ones back in SG.

We stumbled upon the Second Market, which was also on my to-go list, but I had intended to leave it for tomorrow instead. Since we did not have dinner yet, we decided to tour the Second Market, but most of the stalls were already closed. However, as we walked further in, there were a few food stalls which were still opened, so as typical Singaporeans, we joined the one with the longest queue, which happened to be at 李海魯肉飯. xD Never regretted queuing though, because the dishes that we ordered tasted so homely! I'm not a fan of braised meat rice, but I must admit that this was really delicious, even if I left most of it to Grumpy.

Super legit braised meat rice!! And omg the tomato egg was dope!!! ;D

When we were looking out for Chun Shui Tang earlier on, we had passed by 东东芋圆. Since I was craving for some good orh nee and I remembered enjoying my dessert 3 years back, we decided to stop by for dessert before heading back.

Still as good as ever! The yam paste was so fragrant!! And I didn't get any yucky beans in it. ;P

We also passed by an old-school bakery called Hong Rui Zhen. I never knew that Grumps loved bread so much until this trip. ._. In fact, once he went in, he came out with 3 sandwiches. Seriously boy?! But anyway, while I'm not as fond of bread as he is, I did have a bite and the sandwiches honestly did taste really good! o.O''' There was some light hint of cream or mayo in them though, but thankfully the taste wasn't that strong to put me off.

After this, we walked back to the bus terminal, where we hailed another ride back to our luxurious AirBnB.

And guess what we did? Washed more clothes while watching Avengers. ._. #futurelifestyle We slept late because we were busy washing 3 days worth of smelly clothes LOL. Can't believe that we spent our last night in this luxurious AirBnB like this, but hey, training le Grumps to do housework next time has to start ASAP. ;P It was really tiring though, because after the clothes were done, we had to place them in the dryer, and in order for the clothes to be relatively dry by the time I fish it out from the dryer, I had to set it for at least 2 hours straight. Had I known earlier that Grumps would get carsickness so easily, I would have just shortened the Cingjing stay to one night and stay another extra night in this AirBnB. Huhuhu.

Sunday 30/12/2018 (Day 5)
We got up and made our way to the Second Market as most of the stalls were closed last night when we were there. There was a really long queue for this stall selling fried radish cake, among many other stuff. While the queue was long, it did move relatively quickly, but as all the seats were filled, Grumps and I decided to order takeaway in the interest of time.

Look at that crazy queue!

So innovative of them to print their menu on the takeaway boxes too! xD

I ordered the fried radish cake with egg, 'cos eggs are love to me. I must say that before eating it, I had thought that it would be similar to the fried carrot cake that Singapore has, but surprisingly, while it kinda tasted like the same, it tasted different too. Besides the sauce (which I think was a mix of chilli and bean paste sauce), the Taiwanese rendition of fried radish cake did not contain any preserved radish (aka cai po) in it! WHYYYYYYY?!?! T_T But OK lah, this was really good still!

We saw many people buying this fishball soup too, so we ordered one. Somehow, the fishballs here lack the "QQ" texture even if they are handmade. I felt that the fishballs tasted rather starchy. It did taste rather nice, but probably not nice enough to warrant a second must-eat.

Many of the diners at the stall were also ordering bubble tea from a particular stall, so Grumps bought it, thinking that it was from some famous bubble tea shop. Turns out it was just from the stall opposite the fried radish cake stall LOL.

Saw so many people drinking it, so must be good right? HOW WRONG WERE WE. This thing I swear was at 100% sugar!!! Damn sweet please. I swore I had the urge to rinse my mouth after that. Why do Taiwanese like such sweet things?! D;

We reluctantly packed our luggages and cabbed to the HSR station, as Uber suddenly had a surge when we wanted to book it. Thank goodness we did, because the surge pricing was twice that of the cab fare we paid. ._. We managed to get onto the 12.39 pm train bound for Taipei, and our trip there was rather uneventful.

Taipei was rainy and gloomy, exactly the same weather I had witnessed just 4 days ago. D; Thankfully, it was just a light drizzle, but still, it was quite a mood-dampener. Grumps had booked us a room at Cho Hotel, which was 10 minutes away from Ximen station. Our walk from the station did feel much longer though, especially when we had to lug our heavy luggages in the rain. ._.

Cho Hotel was so inconspicuous that we had actually walked past it, before we turned back and found the entrance. The hotel itself was really very different from the previous hotels I have stayed in (not that I have stayed in many haha), but Cho Hotel's decor was purposefully old-school, and evoked a lot of nostalgic memories for me.

We left our luggages at the check-in counter, and headed over to Fong Da Coffee as DanielFoodDiary so happened to be in Taipei as well, and had introduced this cafe as one of the must-trys. Sadly, at the time we went, they had stopped serving breakfast, so all we could order were just drinks and desserts. I got the French chocolate while Grumpy got the Fong Da Iced Coffee, which tasted really old-school, bitter and sour?! ._. That coffee must have been really strong. He did not really like it, while I found my French chocolate good. However, the service was rather lacking though. The servers seemed really hurried and impatient with us, even though we were seated for a long time before they even noticed us, despite us waving our hands frantically in the air. Oh well...

My French chocolate was so cute! It came in a really dainty cup and I could refill the cup myself with the flask in it. Grump's Fong Da Iced Coffee looked like Americano here? Lol.

After failing miserably at the claw machines, Grumps and I finally headed towards Tamsui, which was on our itinerary for today. The train was really very crowded, probably due to this weekend being a long holiday for the Taiwanese as well. In fact, everybody on the train seemed to be heading towards Tamsui as well, as I noticed that barely anybody alighted at the stops before that. o.O'''

We reached Tamsui after almost an hour, and started on our real foodie journey. ;D

We bought pan-fried buns from this stall which is located outside the gantries of Tamsui station. We got two buns, chives and egg and pork. Both buns were really very delicious, but my bias would have to be the one with chives and eggs, becuase y'know, I love my eggs so damn much.

The fried quail eggs were mad delicious too!

Freshly-made wild boar sausages!

This was so good man. But anyway, it was the only Chinese sausage we had for the rest of our trip in Taiwan LOL, not sure why though hahaha.

We were given some fried calamari to sample and we were sold! Chiong ah!

We could even toss the fried calamari with the seasonings we fancy. Went with the seaweed-flavoured one, which reminded me of the seasoning used for the seaweed shaker fries.

This was so damn good, especially when it was freshly fried! $120 only for a small cup, which honestly was still a lot for us!

I remembered trying fried milk at Shilin Market years back, and I loved it so much then.

Das wai I bought 2 sticks! 1 stick for Grumpy so that I don't have to share it with him HAHAHA.

Grumpy was craving for fried chicken so badly.

So I closed one eye and he ordered the garlic-flavoured one. We were surprised as we had expected the chicken to be infused with garlic flavouring, but instead, got heaps of garlic and spring onion thrown onto the chicken instead. That being said, the fried chicken was exceptionally tender and juicy, and honestly, went really well with the raw garlic. I ended up farting and burping throughout the day though. Oops.

I had included Tamsui in the itinerary since I did not come here the last time round, and also because I had harboured hopes of seeing a romantic sunset with Grumpy LOL. Unfortunately, the weather was not in my favour, so bleah.

This was the nicest picture I could get from Tamsui LOL. See how gloomy the sky was? ;(

Tamsui is supposedly the birthplace of metal eggs, which I first ate back in JC 1. I remembered liking it a lot then, and more so when my ex-colleague actually went over to Taiwan and brought many packets of metal eggs back. I swore I ate so many metal eggs enough to fill up 1 packet LOL. #greedypig We managed to locate where the legit Ah Mah store was, bought our souvenirs, and continued walking down the other street of Tamsui.

Grumpy and his bubble tea craving. *sigh*

Last warning to this guy ah!

We bought a warm and toasty custard pancake to share, and this was really good! However, I was hoping so much to find a stall which sells pancakes with taro filling, but couldn't find any so far. ;X

After we had finished exploring Tamsui, we decided to take the train back to mainland Taipei. Along the way, we decided to stop by Ningxia Market as I had wanted to try the taro ball (I love taro too LOL) from Liu Yu Zi, which has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Ningxia Market was exceptionally crowded, and because the stalls were located so close to each other, the walkway for pedestrians was incredibly narrow as well. There were a lot of bottlenecks, and the sheer number of people then added on to our stress lol, on top of not being able to find Liu Yu Zi. We finally found the stall proper, but to our horror, the queue actually stretched all the way back to where the entrance of the school is, a good 200m away from the actual stall. Holy shit. We fought through the crowds of people for nothing. O.O'''

Since we had already specially made our way down to Ningxia just for this and thanks to the amount of food we had back at Tamsui, we were not particularly hungry, and so were willing to wait for our taro balls. I finally saw the head of the queue after about 30 minutes of waiting.

An introduction to Liu Yu Zi.

Pricing for the fried taro balls. They sell two types here: one that is just purely taro, and the other one that is stuffed with pork floss and salted egg yolk.

Made fresh on the spot.

I bought two to try, one of each type. Of the two, I found that I liked the pure taro ball more than the one with the pork floss and salted egg, even if it tasted good objectively. I found the pure taro ball more fragrant.

There was a stall besides Liu Yu Zi that was selling Thai food, which did honestly smelled good. Grumpy got a bit peckish and ordered pineapple fried rice from them. Come all the way to a Taiwanese night market and eating something that you can find in a Thai restaurant anywhere in SG, only Grumpy does it LOL. xD In all honesty though, the fried rice was really legit and had wok hei in it, which is getting so tough to find in food from Singapore nowadays. ;(

Super legit pineapple fried rice!

We headed back to our hotel after that as it had been quite a long day for us. Our room was very much smaller than expected, and for a few minutes, we were just staring at it blankly, wondering where and how we could position our luggages in order not to trip and fall. However, despite having a really small room, the social room on the second floor was really dope though! Free-flow of various types of Taiwanese snacks, instant noodles and even drinks (not just plain water, but juices)?! The social room even had those old-school arcade games and a home theatre leh. No wonder the room rate per night was so expensive, considering that our room had barely enough space for us to walk around.

Wall of our room. I didn't even have even space to take a proper photo of how small the room was.

Monday 31/12/2018 (Day 6)
We woke up at 8.30 am, and it was still rainy and gloomy. What's Taiwan without its famous mee sua though? While our intention was to head to Jiufen, we decided to drop by Longshan so that we could have some shiok mee sua at Chen Ji, which has been lauded in many of the food blogs. I remembered loving Ay Chung 3 years back, but heard that the standard has since dropped considerably.

When we arrived, the queue was really long as well, but we did not have to wait long to order and get seats though. The stall only sold mee sua of two sizes; small and big. I decided to go big and went for the big portion, since Grumpy would definitely steal some from me even if he claims that he doesn't enjoy oysters and pig intestines. I think one big bowl costs $65 if I remember correctly.

Look out for the shop with the red signboard!

No regretssssss! And oh Lord, this was just so satisfying! The mee sua wasn't diluted at all, even if I had kept stirring it. The ingredients given were really generous too, and worth every dollar of the $65 I had paid. They were really fresh, and best of all, I stopped them from putting the disgusting corianders and in turn, they gave me lots of garlic. Grumpy felt that the mee sua looked weird without the green disgusting thingy on top though. Go sit in a corner, Grumpy!

After that, we walked over to Wanhua TRA station and boarded the train towards Ruifang. The weather got more and more gloomy as the train passed, and by the time we reached Ruifang, it was raining heavily. My worst fear came true. We only had an umbrella to share 'cos Grumpy insisted that he didn't need one since his outwear was supposedly waterproof. One small umbrella of course wasn't enough to shelter both of us adequately, especially when the rain was really heavy and the winds were strong. On top of that, we had to wait for the bus up to Jiufen in the rain as well, and that made us even more drenched.

As it was New Year's Eve, there were many people and there was a huge bottleneck on the way up. The rain just made everything worse, and I had really felt like calling off this trip. When we had finally reached our destination after 45 minutes (when it should have taken only 15 minutes max), I swore we should have just cancelled the whole trip, but it was really lame to take around 2 hours to come here just to turn back straightaway.

So began the most agonising 2 hours of this trip, where we had to jostle with busloads of tourists and locals alike, all totting umbrellas and ponchos due to the heavy rain. The rain also made Jiufen look dirtier than it already was, and I felt quite grossed out while having to fight my way through in order to proceed forward.

It continued raining heavily and both Grumps and I got so fed up that we decided to leave the place as there was no way we could proceed on with our itinerary comfortably. In fact, the original plan was to head over to Shifen and light a lantern with Grumpy, but given that we both already felt so miserable at Jiufen, I just decided to eff it and shelve the plan off.

Quite good! Grumps had introduced me to this place as I didn't eat this the last time round. I felt icky though 'cos I was drenched and felt really uncomfortable.

The famous Ah Mah dessert stall.

Quite good objectively, but at this moment, I just felt like shit 'cos I was drenched and just couldn't wait to get out of this wretched place.

Grumps wanted to eat braised meat rice, so here we were.

Fried egg with preserved radish, a dish that can do no wrong. But I honestly still preferred the one I had at Hong Chang @ Serangoon though, as that had more cai po and was a lot more flavourful!

I came to Jiufen looking forward to eating the popiah ice-cream, and I must say that although the rain made this trip very miserable, I was glad that this little dessert cheered me up (a little).

Thus began our miserable journey back to Taipei, where the weather was rather gloomy and drizzling slightly, but in all honestly, nothing like the shit weather in Jiufen lol. Grumpy said that there was only one Chia Te store in the whole of Taipei, so we alighted at Nanjing Sanmin station to start souvenir-buying for our families and colleagues back in Singapore. Holy shit the queue stretched for about 300m?! Not an exaggeration at all! In fact, we even had to queue in order to enter the bakery! We waited for about 20 minutes before we were allowed into the bakery. The good thing was they had us fill in a bilingual order chit while waiting, so we managed to get our goods rather quickly as we only had to present the chit to the cashier to make payment. Crazy Grumps spent more than $4000 just on pineapple tarts and onion nougat biscuits (seriously this is da bomb!)?! We had a hard time lugging these back to the hotel LOL!

We decided to have an early dinner. On our first day in Taipei, we had come across a hotpot shop called 三妈臭臭锅, which is located near to our hotel. The food did smell heavenly though, so although Grumps wasn't a fan of smelly beancurd, we still agreed to try out this hotpot place. He ordered their kimchi hotpot, while I went with their specialty intestine smelly hotpot (sorry, I translated this directly from Chinese lol). Each hotpot came with a pre-set mix of ingredients, so I actually did specify which ingredient I didn't want, which was pig blood. They did take heed of my order, so kudos to them!

Our hotpot, with raw ingredients and all. Top was Grumpy's kimchi hotpot, while mine was at the bottom.

Super good and comforting in this rainy weather! Grumps surprisingly liked my soup a lot even if it contained things that he didn't like, like pig intestines and the fermented marinade that defines smelly beancurd.

Since our hotel is in the Ximending (XMD) area, we decided to dedicate the rest of our time exploring XMD. XMD reminded me of why I love North-East Asia so much. It honestly reminded me a lot of Shibuya, Myeongdong and Mongkok. So chaotic, and yet oozing with so much energy and character! While we were just walking around XMD, we came across Ay Chung (swear we weren't looking for it LOL), and boy, were there so many people!!!! D; Grumps suggested we go queue for it, and while there were really many people, the queue moved rather systematically, almost production-like, hence we got our mee sua quite quickly.

Price list for anybody who's interested.

We ordered the small portion as we were still feeling full from dinner. Ay Chung only sells mee sua with pig intestines, so price wise, I found it more expensive than Chen Ji, which was expected lah, considering the fact that Ay Chung is very well-known among tourists. I was honestly expecting this bowl to be bad after reading so many reviews saying that the standard has dropped, but to me, while it wasn't as shiok as what I had at Chen Ji this morning, it was still pretty good. The strong bonito flavour of the mee sua stock did agree to my tastebuds. The mee sua did get rather soggy towards the end though, and the ingredients were not as plentiful as what I had at Chen Ji, where every spoonful of mee sua I scooped up had either an oyster or a piece of intestine in it.

XMD has many stores with claw machines as well, so Grumpy, in a bid to emulate his own success with the claw machines in Japan and his previous trip to Taiwan, spent a lot of time and coins at these claw machines, only to fail big time HAHAHA.

Grumps suddenly said that he wanted to go somewhere in XMD, and refused to let me know anything until we finally came to a stop. In front of a shop with many people. I was wondering what the fuss was about when I suddenly saw the shop sign.

I SWEAR THAT THIS GUY WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME!!!! ARGH!!!!!

From my previous post, I think you should know by now that I had tried Tiger Sugar in Singapore, and honestly, I wasn't impressed because for one, I hate caramel and two, I farking hate the taste of burnt sugar LOL. I guess many people loved it because they love caramel in general or are not adverse to it. But still, it was a no-go for me; caramel really puts me off!

I was honestly sian when I knew that Grumps came here just to try something which we had already tried in SG, but since we were on holidays, I tried my very best to close one eye to it and just let him eat/drink whatever he wanted. He waited for about 10 minutes before his number was finally called out.

Moment of truth: I was initially adamant on not trying it, but when Grumps forced me to, I reluctantly took a sip and my whole being lit up. I couldn't taste any cloying sweetness from the caramel, and to be doubly sure, I took a bigger sip this time round with the pearls. Holy shit!!!! That thing didn't reek of caramel and the best of all, I couldn't taste any caramel in it, yet there was this kind of natural sweetness to the drink! The pearls were also done perfectly, and was QQ without being overly chewy. I ended up sharing half the cup with Grumps LOL, because I loved it so much!!! Omg how could there be such a great difference in standard between the franchise in Singapore and the bona fide branches here in Taiwan?! This was really the first cup of black sugar milk that I truly enjoyed ever since the craze started.

WAI YOU DO DIS TO ME?!?!?!

Mandatory picture with the tiger stripes! But surprisingly, I really enjoyed this a lot. So erm, thanks Grumpy for insisting to queue up for this? ;P

After a few rounds at the claw machines and still no luck, Grumps and I headed back to our hotel.

Cho Hotel was starting to grow on me, because while the room was really small, the acts of service and the overall nostalgic feel of the hotel were really winning me over. It was such a pleasant surprise to see the housekeeping staff leave a box of onion nougat biscuits on the table, alongside with a personal message. Effort much?



Not sure how this compares with the famous one from Chia Te, but still, we appreciated this gesture very much!

I had ushered in the new year in Taipei before, and because of my past experience (whole place was cray cray), I had no wish to repeat it again. Grumps is also one who tries to avoid crowded places in general. With this consensus, we just spent the countdown in our hotel room watching movies and the fireworks which were broadcasting live on the Taiwanese channels.

With Grumpy though, even a mundane day like this can also be special. ;)

Tuesday 01/01/2019 (Day 7)
We left the hotel quite late even if it was our last full day in Taiwan. Chen San Ding is said to have the best black sugar milk in the whole of Taiwan. Because we didn't want to leave Taiwan without any regrets, I had purposefully listed this place down as one of our must-go places in the itinerary. Grumps, of course, was more than happy.

Our brekkie from the convenience stores. And guess what? The food really tasted so good!! T_T

Chen San Ding is a short walk away from Gongguan station, and while the shop front did look very unassuming, the queue of people surrounding the stall made me certain that we had come to the right store. After placing my order and getting my drink almost immediately, we immediately tried it in anticipation. The first sip reminded me of why I hate this black sugar fad so much in the first place. Sigh, it was the typical cloying caramel taste that made me feel so sick in the stomach. I took another sip and had Grumpy finish the rest. Oh well... So I guess for me, Tiger Sugar in Taiwan still has the best black sugar milk.

The original creator of the black sugar milk.

Slightly disappointed as I had really good black sugar milk at XMD last night. Actually, I think it was wrong of me to even have expectations, since I don't like most black sugar milk in the first place.

Soon after, it was time for lunch. Since we had no concrete plans, we headed over to Burger Ray for lunch, passing by the kewt Rilakkuma cafe where I had dined at 3 years back.

Still as kewt as ever, but nope, not dining here this time round.

I decided to have the vegetarian burger and added in the sauteed mushrooms. The mushrooms were totally LOVE! The burger was really good for the first few bites, but got more and more jelat as I continued on. I finally knew why. As my burger was vegetarian, my patty was made of quinoa, which did fill me up very quickly!

Grumpy's flat burger (named as such because the patty was really thin) was really good too! The fries and dipping sauces were exceptionally memorable!

After lunch, we walked around for awhile before having desserts. Walao come Taiwan is really to eat and eat and eat one!

Nice to meet you, Meet Fresh!

The fat lyfe chose us. Felt damn full from those taro balls after that lol. The wintermelon tea on the right was rather sweet for me though, bleah.

I had made a reservation for Wulao Hotpot (無老鍋), dubbed as one of the best hotpot restaurants in Taiwan. I remembered that Girly and I had wanted to try this during our last trip to Taiwan, but we ended up not going as it was not possible to enter the restaurant without a reservation. Even then, I had to make this reservation at least 3 weeks in advance, and many of the slots were already gone?! D; Initially, I had forgotten about visiting a hotpot restaurant in Taiwan, but Grumps started loving hotpots ever since he started going out with me, so he suggested having a good hotpot dinner before we leave Taiwan.

We both were really looking forward to this as we had read nothing but rave reviews for this restaurant, and so, our expectations were rather high (especially after going to Hai Di Lao three times lol).

Menu of Wulao.

The good thing about Wulao is that although their menu wasn't exactly bilingual, the first few pages were actually dedicated to the top 10 ingredients that tourists would usually order for their hotpot lol, so this helped us a lot! As recommended by the food blogs, we went for the twin pot with ginseng soy collagen and mala as our soup bases. Our food took awhile to arrive, so after the soups were boiling, we both tried the soups first. At our first sip, we already went "OMG!!!!" The soup broths were exceptionally tasty and extremely flavourful! Like... the taste was really full-bodied! O.O''' 10/10 will return to this hotpot place if we ever get to return to Taiwan!!!

Our superb ginseng collagen and mala soup broths! The pig blood and fried beancurd skins were refillable! I tried the pig blood here and while it wasn't as repulsive as I thought it would be, I still didn't really fancy it as I felt that it didn't have much of a taste to it. But apparently, pig blood is really good for health, so... ._.

Le Grumps.

Our USA prime beef slices were so good! No money for wagyu, but this honestly wasn't a bad choice!

Pork belly ftw!

Fried beancurd rolls were SHIOK, especially when they were dipped in the soup broths!!

The assorted meatball platter was really good too! A must-order!

We had this free icy calamansi drink which was damn shiok as well, especially after the hotpot! And yes, this is refillable as well! ;D

The condiment choices here were a lot lesser than HDL's, but because of the fewer choices, we managed to create some really good sauces which complemented our ingredients really well, meaning to say that our sauces did not taste "rojak". Our meal here came up to be nearly $2000, which was slightly cheaper than what we would have spent at HDL. I must say that after coming here, I do feel that the quality of the ingredients and soups totally triumphed HDL in all aspects. However, HDL's services are impeccable lah, and I'm quite sure that not many restaurants will come close to that, even for Wulao. But still, this is extremely good food that le Grumps and I are willing to splurge on. The only bad thing was that our dining time was limited to 1.5 hours, which I felt was a tad short, but I could understand from their point of view as they did have many diners who were waiting in the queue to dine in.

I had wanted to pay for this dinner as Grumps had nearly paid for everything for this trip, but Grumps beat me to it, and after that, even refused to take my share when I offered to pay for at least my own. Where to find this kind of guy who pampers me so much? T_T Thank you so much, Grumpy Cat!

We were just taking a slow walk to digest the extremely sumptuous meal that we just had, and unknowingly walked to Dongmen station, where we saw a huge number of people crowding at the entrance of Din Tai Fung (DTF). We were wondering where these tourists were from, as I thought that DTF is already pretty much all over the world. It turned out that this particular building is the original building of DTF, hence the huge crowd of people. ._. Anyway, we did not bother trying DTF in Taiwan, and I had heard from many people that the standard in DTF Singapore is apparently higher than that of Taiwan's. o.O'''

While continuing our walk down the streets, we came across another stall which had a snaking queue for people. We had accidentally found Tianjin Pancakes! While I had heard that this stall serves the best scallion pancakes in Taipei, I did not put this down in our itinerary, so this must be fate! Of course we joined the queue even though the rain had gotten rather heavy by then. ;P

We stumbled upon this really by a stroke of luck!

English menu for you?

Look at those glorious scallion pancakes!

My warm and toasty scallion pancake with egg. I'm predictable like this. xD This was really good, more so during the rainy weather! ;D

Le Grumps wanted to eat fried chicken, so we headed over to Shilin Night Market after that. But guess what? He lost his carving for fried chicken as we were still quite full, so I ended up buying him 2 shirts (one with the kewt Brown bear and the other that says "let the pro do it") and we ended up playing those old-school stall games, which were really addictive! I was really good at the shooting game, but not in the fishing game, where I had caught only 17 fishes in 4 minutes. Grumps was lousy at the shooting game lol, but he managed to catch more than 30 fishes? ;P

As it was getting really late, we decided to leave Shilin reluctantly, and headed over to the Carrefour located at Guilin, which was about a 10-minute walk away from our hotel. As per my practice (Grumpy has apparently adopted this too lol), I like to end off my overseas trip with a run to the supermarket, because things there are usually sold cheaper and more local snacks can be found. The Carrefour was really big, and we spent a lot of time there, going crazy on the snacks we could buy back.

By the time we had completed about shopping, it was nearly 12 am. It was still raining rather heavily, and it was quite a challenge to walk in the cold while carrying our groceries and umbrella. Given that our room was really small, we had to leave our shoes outside of the room, and pack each our luggage one by one. By the time we were done, it was nearly 2 am before we finally bathed and KO for the night. It is really good to have Grumps with me on any overseas trip though, because as I have mentioned before, he is just damn good at organising stuff. ._.

Wednesday 02/01/2019 (Day 8)
We woke up at 7.30 am to do a final round of packing. After doing so, we checked out of our room and left our luggages at the check-in counter while we headed over to Fong Da Coffee again. This time round, as they had the breakfast set, I ordered the ham and egg toast with milk. It was a very comforting breakfast, especially when it was still drizzling, but soon after, I regretted drinking the milk, because I was left scrambling to find a toilet HAHAHA.

Brekkie for our last day in Taiwan.

We headed to numerous Starbucks as well, because Grumpy liked a particular matte black tumbler from there, and he was trying to help a colleague find a water jug as well. He didn't manage to find the water jug, but I managed to get him that chio matte black tumbler though. That thing was really expensive and it cost $1000. ._. Nevermind, that is part of his birthday pressie.

XMD did look so different in the daytime as compared to the night. Like really different! It was almost unrecognisable in fact! We both weren't used to seeing XMD being this empty and quiet.

We headed back to the hotel to get our luggages, and it was really a chore to drag our luggages as they were pretty stuffed!

With the operation of the airport line, getting to Taoyuan Airport was a lot easier than it was 3 years back. Our ride to the airport was pretty uneventful. We checked in our luggages, and omg, Grumpy's luggage was close to being overweight?! When we first went over, his luggage was only 12 kg, but when he tried checking it in for our flight back to Singapore, it was 26 kg?! Grumps did not buy any other things except for the souvenirs from Chia Te, so wtf, that meant that his Chia Te loots were nearly 14 kg?! D; Damn siao please!

To warn the luggage handlers not to break their backs lol.

As we still had some time, we headed over to Burger King and had some finger food before we headed to the transit area. I also went to check out the check-in counter for Eva Air, and omg it was damn kewt lah! I want to try booking a ticket on the Sanrio plane the next time I come to Taiwan!

Their chicken nuggets were surprisingly VERY GOOD. Like... I can't imagine I'd use the word 'fresh' on processed food like nuggets, but honestly, the nuggets did really taste very good because they tasted 'fresh' to me and Grumps. o.O'''

Kawaiiiiii~

Although we took quite awhile to clear immigration, we still ended up being early for our flight, mainly because I felt that there was nothing much to shop in the airport, and they had no Mulberry shop here. Finally never tio last call HAHAHA; le sis must have been so proud of me. 🙃🙃🙃

As we had woken up quite early, I KO-ed on the plane after finishing Venom and Smallfoot.

Grumpy's.

I got the fried fish I think? Passed the beans to Grumpy as I'm not really a fan of those!

I did manage to get a good sleep on the plane, probably because I was really tired lol. When we finally reached Singapore, the Grab surge was crazy, so we ended up waiting for quite awhile before the surge died down again. I finally got matched to a driver for my GrabShare ride, but the driver made a wrong turn and we ended up at Changi Industrial Park wtf. =X It got her another 10 minutes to find her bearings before we were finally on the expressway proper. Sigh... took me at least 1 hour to get back, and I still had to return to work the next day.

Thankfully, I was the first passenger she dropped off, so after reaching home, I decided to unpack everything in one go because I know that I'd procrastinate the longer I put it off. After that, I decided to take a nice shower and slept rather early in order to get ready to chiong for month-end closing the next day.

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It was another good overseas trip with Grumpy Cat. In fact, back in March when he had passed me my birthday card, I was so shocked to know that he had booked me an air ticket to Taiwan even without consulting me. I think I had casually sent him an Instagram post about food from Taiwan and said that if I ever got the chance to go back to Taiwan, I'd eat this. I knew that he did not enjoy his previous Taiwan trip, so I was really grateful when he decided to give Taiwan another chance, and glad to know that he did. ;D He told me that he enjoyed this trip a lot more, probably because our travel habits are really similar.

However, the end of this trip marks the first time I am without any travel plans for the rest of the year, so I do feel oddly empty. I have thought of doing a 2-week Europe/America/Canada trip this year, but because I want to finish my last paper by June, I don't really think I can afford such a distraction until I know that I am finally a certified accountant. Thank goodness I have passed my second last paper, so time to give my all to make sure that I pass my final paper!

Aja aja hwaiting!!