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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Day 7, 8 & 9 of 9 in Japan: Kuromon Ichiba Morning Market, Osaka Mint Bureau

HAHA Spot my dad's face

We visited the Kuromon Ichiba Morning Market on a Tuesday morning. Simply alight at Nippombashi station and follow the signages - you will reach the market in less than 3 minutes.


 Their abalone is very hard and difficult to chill... I would not recommend this to anyone




The Kuromon Ichiba morning market has similar concept as Seoul's Noryangjin fish market - the only difference is the food is ready to be served instead of purchasing the raw seafood. Yes, they also sell raw seafood items here but most of the stalls will grill the items so that you do not have to pay for the preparation fee just like Noryangjin. 

 Dining area in ONE of the shops...


There is a huge restaurant situated in the middle of the market and they allow you to rest at the back area with your purchased food. Food verdict? Nah, totally not worth the money. Their food is mediocre, nothing fantastic and I would rather spend more money at Noryangjin fish market for fresher seafood and quality!

 This is the boneless chicken wing (except for the pointed area) haha interesting right!

Assorted tempura!

Next up, we managed to visit the Osaka Mint Bureau and this is the highlight of our trip! Please remember to check online for the public access dates as the gates to the cherry garden are specially opened to the public during a 1 week period in mid April every year. It was merely a coincidence that our trip happens to fall on that 1-week period... 😁 


Alight at Temmabashi station and remember to cross the river and walk for about 10 minutes before turning right? The crowd was crazy at that point of time and there were sufficient ushers to control the traffic. Hence, you wouldn't need to refer to your google map upon alighting the station and just follow the crowd~


The cherry blossoms are extremely pretty at Osaka Mint Bureau!!! πŸ’“

 Tons of street food everywhere, right outside the Bureau



The Osaka Mint Bureau has more than 300 cherry trees standing on its premises. There is also a coin production process cum museum and I bought their japanese yen coins back home hehe.

Overall, I find that this Bureau is undoubtedly worth a visit even though it takes about 15 minutes to reach. Please note that the human traffic is never-ending even after exiting the Bureau - which leads to the stretch of street food.


Last but not least, we ended off our last night at Dotonbori street filled with our favourite Taiyaki, snow crab and beef! Look at my smudged make-up and exhausted face... 😩

That sums up my 2017 Osaka trip HAHA I know this is long overdue but nobody cares lah, as long as I document every travel itinerary here that'll do. I'm going to Seoul next week and I can't wait to update my blog with new places like EVERLAND THEME PARK! I will not blog in details but rather, I will only focus on places of interest that I have not visited 3 years back. However, I feel that I will repeat how awesome Myeongdong street is... We shall see! πŸ˜ƒ

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

[TRIPOOL] Jiufen Custom Tour - Nanya, Golden Waterfall, Buyan Pavilion, Jiufen Old Street, Houtong, Shifen Waterfall, Shifen Old Street

I blogged about an exclusive discount code if you wish to book RoundTaiwanRound's Jiufen custom tour here.

I was so thrilled to find out that my relatives are visiting Taiwan in October as I can share with them about this revolutionary travel service product, Tripool. Tripool is similar to uberPOOL/GrabShare concept - getting to your desired destination at a cheaper rate. In this case, travellers are allowed to customize their itinerary while enjoying the cost-benefits of carpooling with the rest. 

A huge thank you to Cher Chang for inviting my relatives to experience this seamless Tripool service. πŸ˜‡ 

More about RoundTaiwanRound (RTR):
  • Received TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 3 years in a row
  • Lonely Planet local tour partner, Jetstar, AirAsia content partner
  • Handcrafted more than 50,000 customized itineraries for global trotters
  • More than 10% of English speaking visitors have used our site to plan their itineraries
  • Each year, more than 1,500 groups of international tourists enjoy our hospitality & superb service
  • More than 2,000 different Taiwan destinations to introduce and 100,000+ beautiful images all photographed by RTR
RTR focuses on promoting Taiwan travel experiences the smart & fun way. They engage with travellers from all walks of life to ensure that they get the most out of this wanderlust, experiencing Taiwan authentically. More than a licensed travel agency, their online travel planning platform provides instant quotes, hassle-free reservation & planning services and professional tour guide to provide an unforgettable voyage. To find out more about their reviews, please click here.

My aunt plans to visit 6 tour spots in Jiufen - Houtong, Shifen old street, Shifen waterfall, Jiufen old street, PingXi and Jingtong. However, there are 2 groups who joined them for this Tripool service so my relatives get to experience an additional 5 tour spots πŸ˜†


They are not kidding when they claim that their website has 100,000+ images (see above). What I love about RTR's website is that they bother to attach the image to every tour spots you can find in Taiwan. You may even refer to their recommended spots if you need inspiration whilst planning your Taiwan trip. Saw that button in orange at the bottom right? Hit them up with any questions and they will answer your queries via online chat.

Even though the website states that Jiufen custom tour may take up to 9 hours, please do not plan anything on the same day as you will never know how many riders are taking the same route as you. The exact pickup time and vehicle plate number will be provided via email 1 day before the tour. Generally, the tour starts at 8.30am and ends at 6.30pm in summer (Apr to Sep), or starts at 8.00am and ends at 6.00pm in winter (Oct to Mar).


7-seater sedan

For your information, the vehicle used will be based on the total number of participants for the shared trip.

The pickup location is at Westgate Hotel in Ximending. It was a gloomy Wednesday morning for my relatives to explore Jiufen 😲 fret not, the driver provides umbrellas and even gave them bananas πŸ˜† Not sure if this is part of the standard operating procedures haha. He is an affable gentleman and my aunt is glad that he is mindful of the timing at every stop. Whenever they visit a tour spot, the driver will set a timing to gather before moving on to the next destination.

*I'm only sharing certain tour spots which they have covered on that day*

1. Nanya (南雅)
"Nanya is the northernmost attraction of this area and is a powerful example of the wondrous forces of nature at work. The weathering and wave erosion of this sandstone that has taken place over time have carved out alien-like shapes and revealed the layering of iron deposits in these stones." - RTR


 Pictures taken by my aunt

They stayed at Nanya for a good 5 to 10 minutes and the driver may or may not alight together with the participants. As mentioned, Nanya is not part of my aunt's desired itinerary so they are given the option to either stay in the van or explore the unplanned tour spot 😊

2. Golden Waterfall (黄金瀑布)
"Although real gold flowing from these falls would be too good to be true, the water is certainly a beautiful gold colour as a result of the combination of regular rainfall in this mining area and the abundance of heavy metal elements deposited in the riverbed. The cascade of gold flowing down the hillside contrasts to the luminous green grass at its head." - RTR



Here's the friendly driver at the bottom left!

Please don't give in to your temptation to touch the golden rocks. Both the rocks and water are highly toxic and it's toxicity makes it unsafe even for touching.

Time spent here: ~15 minutes

3. Buyan Pavilion (不厭亭)
"Buyan Pavilion is the best spot to see the beautiful scenery of Shuangxi district, Ruifang district and the sea because it was built at the border between Shuangxi district and Ruifang district. The name of Buyan Pavilion refers to a poem which was made by a famous Chinese poet, Li Bai(ζŽη™½). No matter how long people stay to see the scenery, they never feel bored, which is the meaning of this pavilion." - bigcoinonline


Pictures taken from RTR website as my dad only took 1 shot here πŸ˜›


4. Jiufen Old Street (九份老著)
"Tea houses and coffee shops line the old streets of Jiufen and provide exquisite views of the sleepy mountainside town and Keelung Harbor, providing a great place to rest your feet!

Fun Fact: A long time ago, there were only nine families living in the area. As there were no roads serving it, goods could only be delivered by ship. Due to the inefficiency of transportation to the region, the families used to reserve nine portions of household goods to be delivered at one time. Thus, the name Jiufen, "Nine Portions", is stuck and has been the name of the town ever since." - RTR


Random temple near Jiufen old street



Peanut icecream!!! I miss this πŸ˜ͺ

Also, check out my blogpost on Jiufen and Shifen here!

Time spent: ~45 minutes

5. Houtong (猴瑐)
 "One of Taiwan's largest coal-mining sites until 1970s. However, oil later replaced coal when electric trains took over. The coal mining industry began to fall in the 1990s. As a result, Houtong became just another train stop along the Yilan Line that most travellers bypassed. Whether by chance of design, cats began to appear on the scene and have replaced the once vibrant human population. The village is not only a paradise for cats but also a must-visit spot for cat lovers. You are guaranteed to see plenty of wide-eyed visitors snapping hundreds of photos of the lazy yet infinitely cute cats." - RTR

Houtong train station






 They have this vision hall aka a coal mining museum in Houtong! Free admission



Time spent: ~1 hour 15 minutes

6. Shifen Waterfall (εεˆ†η€‘εΈƒ)
"Shifen Waterfall is the most reowned cascading waterfall (40metres) in Taiwan. Recessed within a beautiful forested mountainside setting, this waterfall often delight visitors with a bright rainbow on sunny days. At various points along the river, the uneven flow of the water creates vortexes that traps passing rocks, causing them to spin and carve deep holes. This constant erosive action has produced potholes and are in greatest abundance in the area." - RTR


Bridge to Shifen Waterfall
Photos taken by my aunt/dad



Now I kinda regret not making a trip here as I only stayed at Shifen old street πŸ˜’ Next time I'll definitely be back and make use of this Tripool service (if applicable)!!!

Time spent: ~45 minutes

7. Shifen Old Street (εεˆ†θ€θ‘—)
"Shifen Old Street stop has now become one of the most popular along the Pingxi rail line. It is easy to see why visitors are drawn here - local food, souvenir shops and puffing trains add to the charms of this little gem, as well as make it a fantastic place for photography. The sky lanterns were once used as a signaling system for those living and working in the railroad industry. Today, visitors paint their wishes with calligraphy ink before releasing the lanterns to the sky." - RTR




HAHAHA HE TOLD ME NOT TO POST THIS PICTURE

Candid shot at its best πŸ˜‰


You will also find the food street near the sky lantern area. Be sure to try some of their local snacks or else you'll get hungry - preparing your sky lantern with calligraphy ink may take up quite sometime due to your preference and wishes. You are strongly advised to brainstorm beforehand πŸ˜„

Time spent: ~1 hour 30 minutes

After spending the day by using Tripool, the driver will drop you off at your preferred location. The other groups that joined my relatives are also Singaporeans, hence they befriended them effortlessly 😳 Quite amused that they could click well by using the same travel service.

What are you waiting for? Start designing your customized Jiufen tour with RoundTaiwanRound now. 
Simply quote mshuiling before checking out your cart HERE to obtain 10%* off! 
*Discount code ends on 31 December 2017. Fastest fingers first! Please also refer to the terms and conditions before confirming your shared tour. They have this pop-up chat located at the bottom right-hand corner to answer every queries you may have.