Sunday, October 26, 2014

Taipei Throwback: The Curiosities in Modern Toilet Restaurant and Ximen Red House

The first full day in Taipei somehow became a walking trail whereby we experienced the serendipity of discovering sights that weren't in our mental itinerary. There are far too many photos for Day 1 and so this post would focus on the curious places we visited -- Modern Toilet Restaurant (便所主题餐厅) and Ximen Red House (西門紅樓).

My travel blog posts are more of photo stories chronicling my trips and I do not aim for my travel posts to be a travel guide that is full of useful travel information. There are many informative travel blogs out there and I would often be linking these useful contents to my posts.





~*Breakfast Next Door*~

While the first night in Taipei was cold and rainy, the following morning dawned bright and sunny. We popped by the bakery next door with breakfast coupons issued by the hotel. The bread looked absolutely delectable but our coupons could only be used for certain categories of bread. The picture at the bottom right of the collage was what we got in the end with the coupons. Nothing filling at all but no fear, for Taipei is full of cheap and good food!




After breakfast, we decided to explore Ximending which was just a few streets away from our hotel. Along the way, I saw this nondescript building called Zhongshan Hall. I snapped a picture of it, making a mental note to check out if this is a place of interest. If you are interested, this blog post on Zhongshan Hall is very informative. I never knew it has such rich historical significance.




Ximending was about a 10-minute's walk from our hotel. When I saw the bustling little place, I felt like I was truly in Taipei.





~*Modern Toilet Restaurant*~


Taiwan is well-known for its delectable street food and hence it was really queer that our first lunch in Taipei was in Modern Toilet Restaurant (便所主题餐厅).




Modern Toilet Restaurant is one of Taiwan's successful themed restaurants that was clearly not on my must-visit places. Since we chanced upon it at Ximending, we decided to check it out. The hubz was hungry though I wasn't quite sure if I would be able to stomach the food served in bowls shaped like toilet bowls, drinks served in urinal bottles and the likes...




We dined at tables that are actual bathtubs with with a glass over it and sat on actual toilet bowls. You could even lift the seats up and frankly, I didn't want to look into it that much.




I had a hard time deciding what to eat when I looked at the Chinese menu. Some of the dishes had got very creative names.




Take for example, "Modern Toilet Fresh Fruit Juice". Reading that drink in Mandarin, it translated loosely to "Poo and Pee Anyhow Fly Fruit Juice". Of course it sounds a lot more lyrical in Mandarin. When the waitress saw me furrowing my brows trying to decipher the menu, she immediately gave me the English menu. I found out that in plain English, it was just a boring "Modern Toilet Fresh Fruit Juice" without even revealing what fruit it was. -_-|||




Top Left: My main dish was soupy beef soup hot pot
Top Right: The chicken nuggets had very cute name like "toilet bowl little chicken bits" when read in Mandarin. I love the nuggets the most.
Bottom Left: Kh's main dish which I think was pork cutlet
Bottom Right: Our tea came in actual urinal bottles




I regretted ordering a soupy main. I was halfway through my meal before feeling really grossed out eating from a toilet bowl bowl.




Kh felt that his pork cutlet meal was not bad and remained unfazed eating from the toilet bowl. I guess it would be a lot easier to bear with it since his dish was mainly dry. That shit he was posing with was just a photo prop. When we asked what that was, the staff told us it was for taking photos with and so he did.




The milk tea served in urinal bottles was delicious.




The ice cream dessert was served in a toilet bowl bowl too. I never knew toilet bowls came in such form until I saw how the public squat toilet bowls look like in Taipei. Exactly like this bowl! In Singapore, our squat toilets do not have that cap-like feature.




The empty tables in this collage were occupied by a large group of Singaporeans before I took these photos. Oh my and don't get me started on the sink shaped like a toilet bowl.




Besides the delicious little chicken nuggets, this heart-shaped egg tofu saved the day.




Similar to many themed places, the food isn't exactly cheap for the mediocre standard. I laughed when I saw this note in the bathtub/ table.





~*Ximen Red House*~


Walking out from the other side (as seen in this picture) of Ximending, we stumbled upon Ximen Red House (西門紅樓). For a great write up on Ximen Red House, you could refer to this post.




The Ximen Red House "[b]uilt in 1908 during Japanese rule and designed by Japanese architect Kondo Juro, it was originally a market building but was used as a theater from 1945 onwards. The building recently underwent an extensive renovation. The ground floor currently houses a small cafe and a display on the history of the structure, as well as several shops in which independent artists sell their art. The second floor theater regularly hosts live performances." -- Wikipedia.




I love exploring the shops in this section of the building.




If you know the creative side of me, you would definitely understand why I love these curious little shops.




I'm always fascinated by retro stuff and vintage items.







I'm easily inspired by colour pencil art...




... quirky drawings...




... adorable illustrations...




... classic looking Peter Rabbit style art and basically anything artsy.




Emma A party looked like something I like and I love the placement of these 2 characters when seen from this angle.




I do not know if these animal sculptures were faceless and then vandalized or were they meant to be like that.




I would love to take home one of these polka dot elephant.




I love cute cats.




I love imitating cute cats and being silly.




Kh loves posing and acting whenever, wherever.





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Thank you all for your comments on my previous posts. It has been a really busy work week, staying back in office till 10+pm on a few occasions to tie up the loose ends for the events that we are organizing this coming week. Sunday morning (in a few hour's time) would be spent at the event venue doing some run-through. Replies would be slow and I hope to be able to reconnect with all of you soon. In the meantime, please keep the love coming in and have a splendid Sunday ahead while I catch up on some sleep.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Taipei Throwback: First Night in Taipei

My travel posts kept being thrown back. Some of you might recall that I had a few photo story posts on winter in London, summer in Venice and Florence and then they simply stopped. Then, I flew to Taipei in May this year and you saw pictures of the trip from my Instagram feed with no other mention here on my blog. Well instead of trying to keep up with my travels in Europe, I decided that perhaps I should shorten the throwback time and blog about Taipei which is more current (5 months ago! o_O) instead. The Europe travels could be thrown back further.


[Photo credit]



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~*At Changi Airport*~


I do love our airport so much. Changi Airport has a reputation for setting standards in airport service quality, being the world's best airport in 2014, 2013, 2010 and 2006. Before flying, we visited the Butterfly Garden which is located at the Departure Transit Lounge in Terminal 3. The Butterfly Garden officially opened in 2008 and but May 2014 was our first visit there. I'm so glad that I dragged the hubby in. I felt like my holiday had already begun in this fascinating world of butterflies prior to our holiday.




My favourite butterfly of all is this black and blue one. But wait, is this a butterfly or moth? Do you know how to differentiate? This is actually a moth. *Gasp* Now who says moths are ugly and scary?




Even though this is called Butterfly Garden, there are both butterflies and moths in there. I guess many people's perception of moths is that they are dull-coloured and just not so pretty. Whoever heard of a moth garden? All these pictured in this collage are actually moths. They are quite beautiful, aren't they? It was easier for me to capture pictures of moths than butterflies. Moths tend to be still at rest whereas butterflies love to flutter their wings, resulting in many blurred shots which couldn't be featured in the collage.




How about this collage? Could you tell which are butterflies and which are moths?
Ans: All are butterflies except the last one (bottom right). It is amazing how the insects at the bottom have similar wing patterns but the one on the left is a butterfly and the one on the right is a moth.




Still confused about the difference?
♥ Wings - When at rest, butterflies tend to fold their wings vertically up over their backs. Moths tend to hold their wings flat.
♥ Body - Butterflies have thin and smooth bodies while moths have thick and fuzzy bodies.
♥ Antennae - Butterflies have club-shaped antennae while moths have feathery antennae.
♥ Colour - Well we have been taught in primary school Science that butterflies are brightly-coloured while moths are dull-coloured. However after that day at the Butterfly Garden, I now know that some moths could be so pretty too.
♥ Pupa stage - Butterflies typically form a chrysalis while moths form a cocoon. See if you could spot the difference in the collage below.





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~*Rainy Night in Taipei*~


It was a rainy evening when we touched down at Taipei. It was 10+ °C with strong winds; we were wearing thin summery clothes. When we finally hopped onto a cab and told the driver where our hotel was, he told us that there had been street protests along the street of our hotel the past few days. I braced myself for an adventure which never came.




On a cold rainy evening, I had craving for hot soupy food for dinner. After checking in, we walked around the vicinity of our hotel and ended up in a stall selling steaming hot beef noodles. Despite staying in Asia, we haven't been travelling to Asian countries for a while and was surprised at how cheap the food was. The price of our noodles converted to about SGD$2.30 and SGD$4.80. You could never get a bowl of noodles for $2.30 in Singapore except in school canteens.




I was expecting 红烧牛肉 (braised beef) noodles but mine tasted nothing like that. It was a tad bland. The hubz was very satisfied with his 麻辣 (ma la: numbing spicy) noodles though and insisted that I could not always dislike something just because it isn't the taste that I expect. Well, he's right but isn't it human nature to expect and be disappointed (especially when it comes to food for me)?




There were Asian and Western shops around our hotel. You could see from the 2nd picture in the collage the reminiscence of the street protest.




Beauty Hotels Taipei -- Hotel B7 was where we put up for our stay in Taipei. There were several positive reviews online ranging from 3.5 to 4 stars but we hadn't quite expected the room to be so TINY. Well I guess the price was good for its accessible location.




=) Service was good, or maybe expected from most hotels. The lady counter staff for the afternoon shift resembled Cyndi Wang, A Taiwanese singer. I don't like Cyndi Wang but that's some eye candy for us.

=( The room only had a few feet of floor space around the queen-sized bed. There was no wardrobe, only a clothes rack at the corner. We were perfectly fine with that as we usually live out of our luggage when travelling. Meanwhile, our luggage were stashed under the bed to keep out of the way. This room is definitely not for big-sized people or claustrophobes. Even tiny Asians and non claustrophobes like us found the room too small.

=( The room had no windows at all... which was BAD! It was the rainy season and I needed a window to plan the itinerary for the day. We woke up every day in the dark wondering how the weather was. Google wasn't always accurate and sometimes we did not plan and dress appropriately for the weather.

=) The room was really clean. The tiles were shiny and smooth and we didn't get those dusty feet feeling. There was a day when we headed back to our room after breakfast and we saw a kindly old lady getting down to her knees to wipe the floor with a wet cloth. So that's how they mopped such a small room.

To see how small the room is, view my 15 sec instagram videos here:
Hotel B7
Hotel B7's room
Hotel B7's toilet




=) The ratio of the toilet to the room is 1:2. They could probably allocate more space for the room but I do appreciate a spacious toilet. I love the heater function most.




=) Everything was free at the mini bar which really wasn't anything much but that was fine as Taiwan is well-known for its cheap and good street food. We were issued breakfast coupon which could be redeemed at the bakery next door every morning.




I hope that I could keep up with my Taiwan photo story posts. Stay tuned for more Taiwan adventures!

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