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Tuesday 31 December 2013

Jiu Fen: Coffee

I am a person who cannot live without coffee. Before I visited Jiu Fen (九份), all the coffees that I have tasted were hot-brewed, even for the all the iced coffees. I have heard about the ice-drip (冰滴咖啡) in Taiwan from the travel programmes on TV and when I saw it in Jiu Fen, I couldn't resist myself to try it out.


As the dripping process takes a very long long time, the number of servings is limited everyday. From my own rough estimation, every cup requires about 30 minutes or so.


So what's the verdict? I would say that I prefer the hot-brewed coffee anytime, any day; iced coffee included. My cup of ice-drip coffee had a very mild taste of coffee compared with the hot-brew coffee that I took a sip. In my opinion, the ice-drip coffee is for the beginner of coffee drinkers whom I am not.



Saturday 28 December 2013

Having a Share of Nine Portions

Jiu Fen (九份) is a small mountainous town in the Rui Fang (瑞芳) District of Taipei. During the old days, there were only nine families residing in this area. Therefore, when the village folks went household shopping, they always carry back nine portions of the same shopping list. That's how the nine portions (jiu fen in mandarin) had officially become the name of this place.



The old street part of this village has been turned into a tourist attraction lined with shops along a narrow stone-tile pavement. It was used for the setting of a famed Taiwanese film entitled City of Sadness (悲情城市). Due to the success of the film, the tourists number increased many folds.



Since the old street receives many visitors each day, most of the shops are selling souvenirs and ornaments. Some of the artists will demonstrate to you how the sold items are made inside the shops.






Other than the souvenir shops, most of the other shops are selling food and beverages. What else will a tourist buy other than souvenir and food and beverages?






This is a great place for a stroll and local food tasting. If you are expecting to experience the local life of a village, I am sorry to say that you have to look somewhere else.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Jiu Fen: Lunch with Fish Balls

One of the most talked about food at Jiu Fen (九份) has got to be this more-than-60-year-old shop called Yu Wan Bo Zai (魚丸伯仔) that is famous for the fish balls. It is a small shop that is always full with people.


Luckily we were there half an hour before the lunch peak hour. If not, I don't think we were able to get a table.


The art of spotting good food on location is to look for the local people. Even more so the senior ones. It can't go wrong.


The set meal (NT$90) comes with a bowl of vermicelli, a bowl of fish-ball soup and two pieces of minced-pork-stuffed beancurd. The vermicelli was tossed with soy sauce and garnished with deep-fried shallots, a very typical Taiwanese taste and I quite like it. The fish balls were quite chewy with very mild fish taste. I think that suits many tourists' taste but I personally like fish balls with more fish flavour. The best part of this meal was the stuffed beancurd. The minced pork as filling and the fish paste as coating really brought the taste to a greater height. In general, this was a satisfying meal.




Saturday 21 December 2013

Images from My New Toy

I acquired a new toy about two weeks ago but I haven't got time to really play with it until this evening. You may wonder what this new toy is. Yes, it's a Sony, a Sony A7R interchangeable lens compact (ILC) camera with a full-frame sensor at 36-megapixel resolution!

I took it to the top floor of a multi-storey car park and created these images with the 'Auto HDR' function. These images are not edited in any way except downsizing and sharpening. I am very happy with my new toy!





Saturday 14 December 2013

The Gold Rush

Further uphill from Golden Waterfall (黃金瀑布) is where the Gold Museum is located. It is still within the Gold Ecological Park of the mountainous Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石) town.


On the way uphill to the Gold Museum is the official residence of the Crown Prince of Japan during his visit to Taiwan. It is really a great place to have a traditional Japanese house as the surrounding is very much like the mountainous region of Japan. Furthermore, the Taiwanese culture is very much influenced by the Japanese.


Along the track up to the Gold Museum is the railroad track for the carts transporting in the workers and channel out the gold ores.


The Gold Building is the most valuable part of the Gold Museum as it houses a very big gold brick and the other ornaments made of gold.


The tools for processing gold from gold ores in the olden days are also on display inside the Gold Building. We were quite surprised to find out that the workers at the goldmine were mostly the prisoners of war during World War II when Taiwan was under the Japanese occupation.


Gold ornaments are compulsory items during the Chinese wedding. Therefore, most gold ornaments are made for the occasion.


The most precious item on display inside the Gold Building has got to be this gold brick that weighs 220.3 kilogrammes. With the current gold price, it is worth about 30 million Ringgit! Wow! That is almost 10 million US dollars! I wish I can have it, but I could only touch it. It is said that touching this gold brick can bring fortune, so I did.


The Gold Building is actually a restored building that fits the objectives of the Gold Ecological Park, i.e., heritage preservation, sustainable development; old buildings reuse as well as localised operations aimed at promoting regional development.


Tuesday 10 December 2013

The Waterfall Made of Gold

Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石) was a goldmine and it is now an ecological park. Not far from the Yinyang Sea (陰陽海) is a stream with 'golden' rocks. Our taxi driver told us that these rocks are coated with gold brought by the stream water from the goldmine upstream, but the truth is, these rocks are golden brown due to the stream water that is full of iron hydroxide leached from the geological formation of this region. If these rocks were really coated with gold, I don't think we had the chance to see these rocks!


Further upstream of these golden rocks is the Golden Waterfall (黃金瀑布). The rocks are golden brown in colour due to the iron hydroxide-rich stream water as well, similar to those golden rocks downstream.


Although it was a rainy day, there were still some photographers having a photo outing with a female model. I presume that this place will be packed with photographers and models during good weather, as it is an easy access; just by the roadside, literally.



Friday 6 December 2013

The Sea of Yin & Yang

The Yinyang Sea (陰陽海) at the Northeast coast of Taiwan gained its name from the dual-tone colour of the water at the bay. This phenomena is due to the iron hydroxide-rich stream water which is yellowish-brown running into the bay, in contrast with the blue water towards the open sea.


Many people think that this is some kind of pollution but it is just pure act of nature, as the geological formation around this region is iron pyrite-rich rocks. When rainwater leaches the iron ions out of these rocks, the stream water becomes yellowish-brown.


Saturday 30 November 2013

Scrumptious Food at Ningxia Night Market

Our initial plan was to visit the Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) as it was featured all over the lifestyle TV programmes from Taiwan. When we told the taxi driver to take us there, he sequenced and told us all the cons of visiting that place. As the locals know it best, we asked for his recommendation. That's why we ended up at the Ningxia Night Market (寧夏觀光夜市). This night market is quite small but full of people. Surprisingly the crowd didn't make the place feel congested as everybody was very polite and willing to give way.

We walked one round and the first thing that caught my eyes was these spring onion rolls. The filling can be of stir-fried beef slices or kimchi. They were all very nice but we liked the kimchi version best.



This stall has won many prizes over the years, all these certificate and plagues are seals of quality food.


The next thing that we tried was the 'small sausage wrapped in a big sausage.' The 'small sausage' was made of mince pork and the 'big sausage' was made of glutinous rice. The combination was good.


We also tried the 'big sausage' alone but it was not as good as the combination of 'big' and 'small' sausages.


The pork liver in sesame oil that my father bought from another stall was also very good. The pork liver slices were very tender and became powdery when chewed.


The plate of mixed vegetables with the chicken internal organs and feet was my father's choice. I am never a person for the internal organs, with pork liver an exception.


To cap it off, we bought some mochi in crushed peanut and sugar, which turned out to be a very nice dessert.


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