Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vacation@Taiwan Part 1 - Taipei

To plan for a free and easy trip, it really needs a lot of preparation and planning.  It's why my hubby was so reluctant  each time I brough up such request.  It took me some time to "convince" him to go for this plan instead of following tour group.  I'm glad that I was persistence to hold my stand as I couldn't imagine how much time we would be given in each spot if following a group tour.   

Day 1 - Singapore to Taipei by Transasia airline.
  • We hired a Taxi from airport to the Keymans Hotel (located near Taipei Main Station), it cost NT1160 (S$50) for the joinery. The sky was gloomy as it's a fall and raining season in Taipei, we decided to go for Maokong ride despite the weather condition and took a MRT and stopped at Taipei Zoo station. Because we requested for Crystal Cabin, we had to queue for 45 mins and by then we got into the cable car, the sky had totally turned dark although it was not yet 6pm. It was such a disappointment as we supposed to enjoy a panorama view of Maokong, no view we could enjoy except night lighting.
  • After the ride from Maokong, we decided to go for another spot before heading back to hotel for rest. We visited Taipei 101 a couple of times but since we had never see the night scene, we decided to go for some night shots.  We took a MRT and stopped at Taipei City Hall, it wasn't our day as it kept raining.  The sky was very misty and it wasn't the good condition for night shot.  Since it was wet, there was no point to go to night market for food , we had therefore settled our dinner at the foodcourt.

Day 2 - Given that the weather was great in the morning and Longshan Temple Station was a short ride from our hotel, we decided to head off to there after breakfast. 
  • The breakfast that provided by hotel was very simple, it's mainly porridge with simple dishes, pickles and toasts. Since we are not heavy breakfast eater, we were satisfied with something simple to start off with the day.  
  • Monga is the name of an old quarter of Taipei now known as Wanhua District.  I had never watched the movie 艋舺 and given it was an awarding film, and the place is historical, it's definitely worth the effort for a visit.

  •  Longshan temple is one of the popular place of interest for tourists who visit Taipei and it's always crowded and busy with worshipers.  
  • See! My daughter was more excited to play with the doggy rather than watching the worshipers praying to deities of the temple.
  • Our next destination was Beitou Hotspring.  To go there, we needed to change a train at Beitou station.  The ride to Xinbeitou station was very interesting and enjoyable as the train was specially decorated. 
  • Beitou Hot Spring is one of the popular hot springs  in Taiwan but we weren't there for hotspring rather than exploring the places like Beitou Hot Springs Museum, Hell Valley, etc. It was pity that it was raining while we were there.   Although I wasn't ble to capture  very clear and  good shots, I still want to let the pictures  to do the talking instead ...

  • After a simple lunch at a western restaurant around Xinbeitou, we decided to move on to next spot - Taiwan Story House since the rain had stopped. Again, we took a MRT and stopped at Yuanshan station. We were not certain the exact place and therefore, it took us a while to get there.
  • Taiwan Story House is just a lovely Western-style villa with very well decorated and beautiful garden. When we were there, the building was used asa exhibition house for wide collection of dolls over the world. To get in, we had to pay NT50/person and photo taking was not allowed inside the premises except the paper doll hall. The place is so small,  it's not worth the trip!

  • Before leaving Yuanshan, we decided to visit the Grand Hotel as it's one of the splendid landmark and contemporary palatial architecture in Taipei.  It's really gorgeous and magnificent!

  • Originally, we planned to go Danshui in the evening to watch sunset, given weather condition wasn't good, we decided to go for an early dinner and did some shopping before calling it a day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Taiwan, here we come!

I've been missing since my last post, where have I been?    Ha ha .. since after my leisure trip from Taiwan, I had been very slacking with low energy/ motivation level to do anything especially work, guess I still imagine myself having a good time in my holiday.  Thank god for the Thanksgiving festival, most of the US calls/ meetings with the US folks had significantly cut down.  I am glad that I have the luxury to slow down and give myself another break.  Yahoo! 

The free and easy trip to Taiwan was fantastic!  Guess I enjoyed so much so that I wished I could continue my stay there and not to come back.  How nice if I could?  The only disappointment was the weather, Taipei rained most of the days we were there and therefore, we couldn't do much of the outdoor activity.  Luckily, Taipei is a metropolitan city and we could "hide" ourselves in the shopping malls .  

Weather in Nantou wasn't that bad, although there was some days with drizzling rain, it came and stopped.  We were able to explore and enjoy the places after the rain went off.  The only regret was the result of the photo doesn't turn out to our expectation.   

I like Taiwan, not just the place, also their people.  Generally, the people there are very friendly and helpful especially the senior folks.  When they knew that we came from Singapore, they were very excited to welcome us.  

This time I went with my hubby and younger daughter, my elder was not able to make it because of preparing for upcoming exam.  We spent 8 days 7 nights in Taipei and Nantou and definitely we had a wonderful and relaxing holiday - much more than we joined the group tour.  I will share more photos in coming posts.  Stay tuned!

Here is our itinerary:
Day 1 - Singapore to Taipei (Hotel: 懷寧旅店 Keymans hotel)
  • Visited Maokong Gondola 貓空纜車 and Taipei 101 台北101
 Day 2 - Taipei (Hotel: 懷寧旅店 Keymans hotel)
  • Visited Longshan Mengjia Temple  艋舺龍山寺,  filming place of Monga  艋舺 电影拍摄场地,  Xin Beitou新北投,  Taipei Story House 台灣故事館 and The Grand Hotel 圆山大饭店
Day 3 - Taipei to Sun Moon Lake by High Speed Train and Taxi (Hotel: Sun Moon Lake Full House Resort)  Taxi driver:  王浩丞   Tel:  0982-688286/ 0922-868150  email addresss: abab168868@kimo.com
  • Visited Shuishe Jetty 日月潭水社碼頭,  Ita Thao Village伊达 and Syuan Guang Temple 玄光寺-日月潭
Day 4 - Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 (Hotel: Sun Moon Lake Full House Resort)
  • Visited Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village 九族文化村 and Wen Wu Temple 文武廟
 Day 5 - Sun Moon Lake to Cingjing Farm by Taxi (Hotel: Misty Villa 清境雲濛仙境民)
  • Visited Aowanda National Park 奧萬大賞楓專, Old  England Manor 老英格蘭莊園 and Starbuck area
 Day 6 - Cingjing Farm (Hotel: Misty Villa 清境雲濛仙境民)
  • Visited Green Green Grasslands 青青草原 and Swiss Garden 瑞士花园
 Day 7 - Cingjing Farm to Taipei by Taxi and High Speed Rail (Hotel: 懷寧旅店 Keymans hotel)
  • Visited   Hehuansan 合歡山 and  Puli 埔里
Day 8 - Taipei back to Singapore
  • Home sweet home

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Cupcakes

After a week of resting, I finally recovered and regain my energy level.   Thank god for the long weekend, I had the opportunity to return to my kitchen for baking.


Although I had a super long weekend, I took a day off on Friday and yesterday was a holiday, somehow, I was very busy and occupied with many things else.  I guess the upcoming vacation trip had sapped a lot of energy from me and my hubby as this time round, we are planning for a free and easy trip.  There is a lot of preparation and planning  to do but I believe it's worth the effort as we can spend more time in places where we like to stay longer.

My friends and colleagues said I traveled a lot but for leisure, I don't think so!   I normally made two trips a year but I hardly go far these years, mostly within the Asia Pacific.  I wish to be able to fly further with whole family but it's hard to find a time that can accommodate two of my daughters' schedule.  My hubby and I really cherish and treasure the time with the kids and hope to bring them along!

Ok, it's enough holiday talk, I should get back to baking.  Realized that the theme of Aspiring Bakers is cupcake this month, as I have not been joining the crowd for last few months, I wish to submit at least one post this time.  Given that I had limited free time yesterday, I decided to bake something simple - Cheddar Cheese Cupcakes.  This cake is soft and light with savory flavor, it's ideal for breakfast.  I prefer to eat this cake when it's warm and therefore, I'll recommend to reheat in microwave (7-8 sec) before eating.  

I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #13: Enjoy Cupcakes! (November 2011) hosted by Min of Min's Blog.

Interested in trying out?  Here you go for recipe (modified from Cake Classics)

Preparation:
  • Prepare 12 to 14 cupcake cases.  Preheat oven at 180*C for 15 mins.

Ingredient:
  • 100g egg yolks
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 40g fresh milk     
  • 75g butter (melted)
  • 70g cake flour     } sift together
  • 30g corn flour     }
  • 100g cheddar cheese (grated) -keep 30g for topping
  • 125g egg whites
  • 60g caster sugar (with pinch of cream of tartar)
Method:
  1. Beat egg yolks and sugar till ribbon stage (abt 4-5 mins).  Set aside
  2. Microwave fresh milk and butter for 25 sec, then stir into step 1.  Mix well.
  3. Add in both flours (into a few separate portions), add in 70g of grated cheddar cheese and mix till combined.  Set aside. 
  4. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and add in sugar (optional cream of tartar ) gradually, beat till mixture is stiff peaks (about 3 mins).  
  5. Take 1/3 egg whites, add into yolk mixture (step 3), fold gently till incorporated.  Repeat the same till remaining egg white finishes.
  6. Scoop the batter into the cupcake cases till 80% full, sprinkle some grated cheese on top and bake at 180*C for 20-22 mins.  

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