Saturday, November 12, 2011

a look at neiwan and jianshi in hsinchu

Last weekend our school hosted a KD family day. KD is the kindergarten department of our school and foreign teachers were asked to help at the event. Instead of holding it at the school in Zhudong, the family day was at a hot spring spa place in Jianshi township in Hsinchu. We had to get there super early and so grabbed breakfast on the go. Was finally able to try another famous Taiwanese food, the green onion "pancake," not really a pancake since dough is used instead of batter. Mine also came with egg cooked into it and they also put some chili sauce and soy sauce on it.

green onion pancake
All I really did was stand in the hot sun and manned the bowling station. It was annoying to have to constantly pick up the bowling pins and run after the plastic balls since we were basically hosting the event on the spa's giant balcony. The sun was beating strongly and I was sweating bullets before it was over. There was one outdoor umbrella that someone tried to open to use for shade but when they tried to open it, lots and lots of dung beetles fell out! Ugh so frightening.

The little kids even put on a performance. The youngest class was so funny with half the students crying on the stage, a quarter of them just staring around and then only a couple of them really getting into the performance. Haha. So hilarious.

After the family day I went with a bunch of the other English teachers to Lavender Cottage located in Jianshi. It was up a very steep mountain and as I was riding on Chad's scooter you could hear its engine struggling to make the climb. Going down was dangerous too and I had hold on super tight to the back of the scooter so I wouldn't fly forward and smack Chad in the back. The Lavender Cottage had an entrance fee of $200 NT and they also give you a voucher for $100NT off stuff. There is no price requirement to use the voucher so technically if you can find something less than $100 you can get it for free. The views of the surrounding mountains were amazing and I have no idea what was going on but the light there was all glowy and fairy tale like.

the lights so soft and fairy like
The place is very cutesy and a lot of people have their wedding pictures taken here.

mailbox decoration
All around Lavender Cottage were simple little mailboxes that contained stamps that you could stamp papers with. In Taiwan a lot of the tourist spots have stamps and I've been trying to collect them. I'll show pictures of all the stamps I've been fanatically gathering since I've been here. I even drag my sister around to different MRT stations to get them. Haha. In Lavender Cottage there was more than 20 stamps all over the place. Sometimes the stamps make no sense with just pictures of dogs, or faces instead of pertaining to the actual location. I think they are meant for postcards or something but I saw people who had designated blank notebooks just for their stamps! Now I totally need to get myself a blank notebook for my stamps instead of stamping on whatever piece of paper I can find on me.

People in Taiwan like to make wishes and tie their wishes on trees and temples. As evidenced by the fact that even in this small little place there was a wishing tree with leaf shaped papers to write your wish on.

wishing tree
Got to try lavender ice-cream! Super delicious and there were little bits of taro in it. $40NT for a scoop.

lavender ice cream
If I were ever to come back I would try to use my vouchers for food instead of waiting to buy products at the end with it. I forgot I had the vouchers and actually spent money to buy a postcard until I was reminded that I could have gotten it for free! The vouchers weren't enough to actually get anything cool like cookies for free. Should have used it to get some lavender milk tea which I was dying to try but at $150 NT so not worth it. The only way I know to reach Lavender Cottage besides private transportation is by taking a shuttle bus from the parking lot next to the Neiwan Theatre in Neiwan, only available on the weekends and holidays.

Now on to Neiwan. In order to get to Neiwan you had to take a train from Zhudong. The train from Hsinchu to Neiwan has been under construction for 3 years now and only the Zhudong to Neiwan part of it was still operational. However the railways just opened this Friday so people can now take the train all the way from Hsinchu to Neiwan. Right outside the train station is the Neiwan Old Street, street after street full of stalls, a huge day market.

neiwan old street
What I like most about this market was that most stalls had samples like an awesome Costco! If I hadn't had a lunch buffet at the hot spring spa place I would have definitely eaten way more samples than I got to. If I had known we were going to Neiwan I would have looked up more information about what there was to see or eat here but since I didn't I just wandered the stalls stuffing my face. No worries I will be going back here again so I shall hit up all the "hot spots" after doing some research.

Here are some of the foods I had the chance to try while here.

portuguese egg tart
After the horrible experience I had with these last time, I was hesitant to try them again. However these ones were better with more of an egg tart feel than a creme brulee taste.

portuguese egg tart insides
Lara bought this drink that I had a taste of. It was ok but the seeds looked like frog eggs and freaked me out.

disturbing drink
mochi or máshu
This whole box cost $100 NT and you could choose the flavors you want. I picked strawberry, tangerine, honeydew, brown sugar, and chocolate. If you are allergic to peanuts beware because there is a lot of cross contamination. I tried a black sesame with brown sugar one and it tasted like peanuts because they use the same knife to cut it. The honeydew mochi tasted just like the fruit!

honeydew mochi innards

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