Taiwan 2016 Day 2 – Cat Village, Jiufen and Shifen

K woke up asking for milk at 745. While it was pretty normal to do so at this time of the day, he started to cough and regurgitated. We quickly cleaned up which helped reduced any stench. As K returned to sleep, mommy woke up to prepare K’s meals for the outing.

Not long after, I woke up and went downstairs to get breakfast. There were 2 food stalls already selling some foodstuff and I got ourselves some xian Rou bao and cong zhua bing. There was a queue for the cong zhua bing which meant it must be some good stuff – it was indeed! The Bao was just normal though. In the meantime, K woke up for another round of milk and prepared for the outing.

Cong Zhua Bing (Onion biscuit)
Xian Rou Bao (Fresh meat bun)

Our mode of transport for the whole day was a private vehicle for the whole day, to minimize logistics tediousness booked by mommy. As we got downstairs after receiving SMS from the driver, he was already waiting at his yellow cab.

Our first location of the day was the Houtong Cat village, about an hour drive from here. When K vomited in the morning, it was a sign he wasn’t feeling well which we didn’t pick up. Then it happened again, this time in the taxi. It took us by surprise and we couldn’t salvage the situation which resulted in a mess at the back seats. The driver surprisingly took things in his stride and brought us to a railway station nearby to clean up. I brought baby K to wash up in the restroom while mommy tried to clean up whatever possible at the back seats. Its like Croatia all over again.

After we returned, the driver drove a little further to a local market nearby where we alighted and bought some new clothes for K, to change out because we didn’t bring any. Then we were on the road again for some 15mins, and near the destination, K vomited again! It was much less amount this time and therefore easier to clean up. The content was a lot of transparent liquid, that looked like phlegm and could be due to the cold that he was having.

We got off at the Houtong railway station and crossed the bridge to the village, en route taking photos as the place was decorated with cat themes everywhere. Right across the bridge was the village and from the top, we could see the bridge that we took resembled a cat laid across the bridge. The village was a small place, mostly side roads on the slopes of hills. Walls had paintings of cats and there were a couple of cats around, not as many as I thought though. There were souvenirs stores selling cat related stuff, but we weren’t particularly interested. We didn’t spend a lot of time there, nor did we explore much of the village before we called the driver to pick us up at the same railway station.

Stairway to the cat village
All about cats
Bridge design that looked like a cat
Cat village walk path
Cat on the wall
Shops selling cat stuff
Cat lazing on a damaged umbrella
A real cat amongst the display
Cat display boards

Our next destination was to the famous Jiufen town. It was a short drive from the Cat Village but as it was situated on the mountains, there were many curvy roads going uphill. We noticed that K wasn’t feeling comfortable and so we got ready some plastic puke bag. Luckily, he didn’t puke but almost. As the traffic got heavy the closer we were to the town, we got off the car to walk there instead. We started with visiting a viewpoint which had a nice panoramic view of the mountains before joining the crowd at the Jiufen town. We were given a cartoon map that indicated the few popular food stall to visit as we walked through the town and so we visited one such famous Ah Po fish soup stall. Found a seat in the perpetually crowded sitting area and had our bites of porridge and fish meat kuay tiao, K  some pumpkin porridge. It was quite nice.

View from Jiufen viewpoint
Old town street in Jiufen
Fish and Kuay Tiao
Perpetually crowded inside Ah Po
Ah Po fish ball soup

After the meal, we rejoined the crowd and continued down the old street. There was a long queue for some vegetable gui (Ah Lan kuei) and so we also joined. It was a slow moving queue after some 20mins, we arrived at the front and bought original and red bean flavours. The original was a little weird combination, my sweet tooth preferred the red bean one.

Ah Lan Kuei
Original Kuei

Next stop was a short walk down, a stall Lai Ah Po selling fen yuan. In the hot weather made worse by the crowd, we bought 2 mixed flavours fen yuan with ice and enjoyed the chilled desert in the crowded seating area just beside the serving area. At that point, we were done with eating and ended up in a shop buying some souvenirs. We went past a flight of steps that would have brought us back to the meeting point and ended up at another viewpoint, not a wasted trip. Trekked back to the long flight of steps that brought all the down to the temple and waited for the driver there.

Lai Ah Po Yu Fen balls
Iced Yu Fen balls
Long stairway down
Jiufen map
Panoramic view from the viewpoint at end of Jiufen old town street.

The next attraction was to visit a gold museum. While our taxi moved slowly in the jam, K fell asleep. It was a short drive and so I carried the snoozing K to walk around after we arrived. As we entered, someone at the entrance asked if we needed tickets and gave us for free as they have overbought, what luck! We visited the 4 four jap buildings for video intro and tour, giving a little piece of historical info of the area. As this was previously a gold mine, we wanted to see the huge gold ingot that the driver was telling us to check it out. It was a 10mins walk to gold museum. In the museum was more information on the history of the mine and various artefacts from that period of time. Near the exit was a huge gold ingot, some 200kg of gold ingot that we could touch and get a photo with. Upon exit, the skies started to drizzle, the same moment that K also woke up, missing the gold ingot. We took shelter at a stall selling ice cream and bought one while waiting for the rain to stop. Driver picked us up from the bus stop at the entrance and drove us to the Huang Jin waterfall en-route to Shifen. At this quick stopover, we took photos and left quickly.

Gold museum tickets
Within the Gold museum compounds
Traditional Japanese style room
Traditional Taiwanese style room
Museum of the old style rooms
Some gold plate
Huge gold ingot with our hands on it
Ice cream from the ice cream machine
Ice cream
Huang Jin waterfall

Our last stop for the day trip was to go to Shifen. As the trip there took some time to get there, we were constantly monitoring K. As we approached the old town, we could see from a distance lanterns flying up to the skies. It was getting dark with impending clouds as we arrived and parked. The driver then brought us to a shop (many of them there) and were quoted 200NT for multiple color lantern. After our choice, we were given ink and brush to write on the 4 faces of the lantern, in whatever language that we wanted, and whatever well wishing proverbs we could think of. When we were finally done, we then proceeded onto railway where we had to pose and with the various faces of the latern for photos before the firing up and letting it fly. Felt nice about the experience but guilty as well, knowing that these lanterns would end up polluting the countryside. We completed the tour of Shifen by walking around to get some food for dinner. Bought chicken sausage and egg cake from the food stalls there. As we returned to the car, it started to drizzle again. There were some fireworks, loud and sudden that caught us by surprise. The skies were all dark by 530pm, the time where we boarded the taxi back to Taipei.

Shifen flying lanterns
Food alleys
Chicken thigh rolls

We requested to be brought to a supermarket and was driven to Carrefour. The road back was slow with the traffic and K fell asleep. We arrived 1.5hrs later and proceeded to buy electric pot because we left our cable to the pressure cooker back home and couldn’t use. We also bought dish detergent to wash our dishes and packets of milk.

Within Carrefour

We were dropped off at the doorstep of the Airbnb and for all this, we paid paid 4.6k for 2 hrs extra and tips for messing up the car. The driver had been very friendly and professional throughout and we thoroughly enjoyed the service. He even brought umbrellas for us as we got off at the supermarket!

We returned to the rooms and left the stuff that we bought before leaving for dinner, by visiting the Y underground malls. Walked a while before we reached a group of stalls, some of them almost closing. Entered a ramen stall and ordered cha siew and pork one plus extra ramen at 30 NT for K, with soup and added hot water. K didn’t eat a lot but still had some ramen, ru egg, bean sprout and fish cake. We returned to the apartment without any other activities, at almost 10pm. Bathed and prepared for the next day. K ate some of the egg cake vomited again, with phlegm.

Y underground mall

I wanted to do some laundry and ended with washing the clothes with hands as we couldn’t get the washing machine to work, even with instructions from landlord. Hanged the clothes to dry under aircon in the separate room and went to sleep. It was funny that the sheets were changed, but only for the bed that we didn’t sleep on.