Monday, December 29, 2014

Taiwan - Part 2 (Alishan) + Smoking Panda giveaway

Hellooooo! So if time permits whilst you are in Taiwan, one of the places you must visit is Alishan. By far is it no where close to Taipei and easy to get to but it is certainly is worth the trek. Most people go to Alishan to witness the sunrise amongst the mountains even if it means you need to wake up at 3 am in the morning. My trip to Alishan was one of my most memorable moments of my life to date but it wasn't the sunrise that made it so memorable. 

Hotpot-ing at Alishan

Welcome to Alishan town centre!

To get to Alishan, you basically need to get the HSR (high speed rail) from Taipei to Chiayi HSR station. From there, you need to quickly hop onto a bus to get Chiayi Train station followed by hopping onto another bus to take you up the mountain. This usually takes about a couple of hours and the buses don't come as frequent as you would hope so I would highly recommend getting your bus ticket immediately once you get there to secure yourself a seat on the bus. There is an alternative route up to Alishan and it does include a scenic train ride up the forest and mountains but based on MC's research and mine, part of the route was destroyed due to a storm and has yet to be repaired. If you take this route, it does take longer and you still need to change between different modes of transport. 

So after many hours of trekking it to Alishan, MC and I had finally arrived! We decided to stay one night at the Alishan House (approx AUD150 to AUD200 per night). For Taiwan standards, the rates are slightly steeper but man it was soooo worth it. It was this decision that made our trip to Alishan so memorable. 

Beef soup noodles

Chicken and rice served with soy

There is also a shuttle bus that takes you up and down the mountain to the hotel so you don't need to worry about transport. After checking in, MC and I went back down to the town centre in search of lunch and man, we sure learnt our lesson. Instead of buying food from 7/11, we decided to check out this "open food stall" which appeared to be very, very rustic. We thought "hey since it looks rustic and since there are people eating there, it must be good" but unfortunately, we struggled to finish the meals. The food wasn't inedible or dirty so you don't need to worry about that. It more because it tasted too foreign for us. Not sure if they added bamboo to their food but Perhaps it might suit your taste buds but unfortunately, even after a couple of tries, it just didn't work for us and found ourselves back at 7/11 :( 

Sunset at Alishan House

After lunch, we roamed around the town centre and settled into our hotel room properly. Shortly after it was sunset so MC and I headed to the roof top of our hotel to watch the sun set amongst the mountains. 

Watching the sunset 

Local made mochi with tea

Winning!

The clouds were floating below the tip of the mountains, the sun rays were glistening on my face whilst you could still feel a slight chill in the air. That with some local made mochi and a cup of warm tea was the highlight of my trip. The sun setting amongst all the clouds in the mountains was what I have always dreamt of seeing and this was when all the effort in trekking to Alishan House paid off. Alishan House is the main hotel in the centre (and probably the one up there, I didn't notice any other ones near the town centre) but the price was completely justified after witness such a sunset. 

Inside Alishan house

Hotpot at Alishan town centre 

Dinner on the menu that night was a large comforting bowl of hotpot shared with MC at one of the proper restaurants in the town centre. The vegetables were so fresh which added more flavours for the soup but unfortunately I think there was still bamboo in the soup base which again had a strange taste to it. Nevertheless, it was better than lunch and much more hearty.

Catching the train up the mountain

The next morning, MC and I woke up at 3 am to catch the famous sunrise of Alishan. The Alishan train station (which is a short walk from the town centre) was completely packed with soooooo many humans. It was super cold but that didn't stop anyone from waking up before the dusk of dawn. This is the reason why people visit Alishan. 

The famous sunrise at Alishan

After arriving up the mountain, the sun eventually came out to play. It was fun and exciting to watch the sun quickly shoot through the clouds. As pretty as it was, I still thought sunset was much more breath taking. Hence another reason to stay at the Alishan House

Breakfast served up in the mountains

There were also some food stalls near the sunrise look out in the mountains. Who couldn't resist a freshly made egg omelette followed with some fresh toast whilst standing in the cold. omg, yes.

Cherry blossoms!

Hiking through the forest in Alishan

Hiking through the forest in Alishan

Street food in Alishan

Round II of breakfast was back at the hotel and after properly fuelling up our bodies, we headed back out to hike through the forest of Alishan. MC and I were lucky enough to catch the last remaining part of the cherry blossom season. There was barely any left but it was still quite pretty to see the some of the flowers hanging off the branches as it was my first time seeing them. Walking through the forest with just MC and myself was quite relaxing. When there was nobody around, it became forest of tranquility. So peaceful and smoothing. 


So as said earlier on, if you have the luxury of time during your visit to Taiwan, I strongly suggest for you to take a visit to Alishan to view both the sunset and sunrise. It truly is an unforgettable experience. 

Finally, before signing off today, the last part of my 5 year anno giveaway with thanks to Wasamedia is a $100 voucher to the Smoking Panda, one of the new cool kids in Sydney.

Smoking Panda's nibbles - how cute do they look
Photo credit: Wasamedia

Now that is what I called a drink that is smoking!
Photo credit: Wasamedia

Smoking Panda's dim sum nibbles
Photo credit: Wasamedia 

To enter, simply just let me know below what you would love to try from the Smoking Panda if you won the $100 voucher. Competition closes 9 pm AEST on the 5th of January 2015.

Good luck and gotta go eat!

37 comments:

  1. OMG! Brekky at the mountains looks amazing! Hard to resist omelettes aye? hahaha that fresh hot pot though!

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  2. Amazing scenery and awesome street food? SOLD!

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  3. Is it wrong that the item that I want to try the most is from the drinks menu :P
    Would definitely love to try the Smoked Whisky Sour if I win :)

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  4. omgg that view from Alishan is amazing!!!! Happy New Year :)

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  5. BBQ Pork Pancakes! These Pan-fried BBQ pork filled pancakes with maple soy sauce are already making my mouth water... yes please!

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  6. OMG you sooo made me want to go to Alishan!!! Smoking Panda looks fab. Would love to try their Bubblegum Glory (I know, I know, we are all kids at heart) and the BBQ pork pancakes with a Steamed XO soft shell crab slider..... Looks so good.

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  7. For starters I'd have my all time fave the Prawn Toast, Salt and Pepper Squid with San Choy Bau, Vegetable Spring Rolls and Scallop Dumplings... then finished off with Fried Green Tea Ice Cream... Yummy!! ... and all washed down with a Panda Colada... Sensational! When do I begin? xx Did I mention January 28th is my Birthday? x

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    1. Hi there! congratulations! you are the winner of the $100 voucher to the Smoking Panda. Could you please shoot me through an email to foodisourreligion@gmail.com

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  8. The complex fruity Smoked Whisky Sour would go beautifully with the smooth silkiness of (my always-gotta-have'em) Prawn Har Gows.

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  9. The fruity complexity of Smoked Whisky Sour would go beautifully with the silkiness of (I've always-gotta-have'em) Prawn Har Gows.

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  10. Taiwan has incredible food and atmosphere, and I reckon those street vendors know it! :D Delicious!
    Happy New Year! And thanks for hosting this giveaway! If I win, I would definitely try the Dim Sum nibbles, I'd love to try their food :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  11. Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider sound divine,
    Teamed with some crisp white wine!
    Have to save room for the Deep Fried Ice Cream, Coconut & Rum Affogatto though,
    Gee, I have to go!

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  12. Smoking Panda's Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider sounds like HEAVEN IN A BUN!
    Can't.
    Wait.

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  13. Smoking Panda's Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider sounds like HEAVEN IN A BUN!
    Can't.
    Wait.

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  14. Ah, what a pretty place! The warmth of the hotspot looks so soothing seeing that forest fog! Thank you for the tips, Shanshan!

    Happy New Year!!
    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

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  15. i am salivating over Vegetable Har Gow, almost impossible to find tasty vego dim sum, this sounds amazing!

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  16. The Chinese style Salt and pepper Squid

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  17. I'd love to taste the Soft Shell crab on the menu -

    If I win, I'd be honoured to meet you at your venue!

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  18. Vegetable Har Gow sounds scrummy, as a vegetarian it is often hard to find something on the menu other than a spring roll.

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  19. Hot pot n street food would be my staples

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  20. Sweet and Sour Sticky Pork Spareribs with Fresh Chilli & Spring Onions - cooked authentically - Sweet As!!

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    1. This is my contact link for above - thanks!

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  21. The Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Sliders sound amazing and my taste buds are ready, willing and able to take them on!

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  22. Amongst many things, I would definitely order the short rib San Choy Bau. I love fusion food and twists on classic originals. You never know if it'll be better than the original!

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  23. I would LOVE to try the Vegetable Har Gow.. how delicious!

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  24. The "Deep Fried Ice Cream, Coconut & Rum Affogatto" on their dessert cocktails menu sounds awesome. Sounds like a grown up version of the deep fried ice cream I used to get at the local Chinese restaurant as a kid... who could resist the phrase "deep fried drunken rum ice cream"?

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  25. Pot Stickers - what a great name. And I'm sure they'd taste much better than anything I'd cook that could be called pot stickers.

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  26. Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider. It has just gone past 6am and my mouth is watering after looking at your menu.

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  27. I'd like to try the dim sum especially the crispy duck roll with plum sauce.

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  28. Flying high on “Chairman’s Wings”,
    delighting in “Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider”
    Quality tastes, may go to waist, but not go to waste!

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  29. Fried green tea icecream, white chocolate, the divine wolfberry sauce sounds the perfect finish of a great meal enjoyed with friends at The Smoking Panda 🐼

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  30. Fried prawn toast washed down with a Dunkin Doughnut Martini. Can't wait to visit this place!

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  31. love to try with my bestie the smoking drink

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  32. i didnt get to visit alishan last tim i was in taiwan, keen to go back! its so beuatiful!

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  33. Sounds like you had so much fun in Taiwan! Gosh you just reminded me the night markets and lovely sceneries :)

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  34. That beef noodle looks awesome. Did you try their salted radish mochi? I haven't been able to find it anywhere outside of Taiwan.

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