Not your usual Taiwan itinerary (Part 1)

This is my third time to Taiwan in ten years. I have been to all the major tourist attractions, save for Taroko Gorge. Nevertheless, I managed to put together a 9 days itinerary that worked well.

Our trip began with sampling the beef noodles at Ling Dong Fang. At 9pm, there was still a queue. Waiting time was 20 minutes or so.

The new outlet has a nice facade

Continue reading Not your usual Taiwan itinerary (Part 1)

North-South highway lunch stop – Sungai Mati

Sungai Mati means dead river, literally translated. Only now that I’ve read the Wiki entry do i understand why it is named so. You can see the Ox-bow lake from Google Maps (see below).

Ox-bow lake

The detour from the North-South highway into Sungai Mati takes about 25 minutes, which is quite acceptable for a lunch break. Moreover, as with Yong Peng, you don’t have to back-track to the same Toll plaza for re-entry onto the highway, so you save a bit of time. Continue reading North-South highway lunch stop – Sungai Mati

North-South highway lunch stop – Jasin

Jasin is probably the furthest from the toll station among the lunch places i have checked out along the North-South highway (not counting Kluang which is considered an intentional detour). I was pleasantly surprised by how historical the place is.

Jasin is located in the state of Malacca, and you can tell when you see the characteristic roofs of the Malay traditional houses (in the same style as those in Negeri Sembilan probably) which are not found in Johor. They are a pretty sight, and they make it worthwhile doing this short detour. Coming from KL, i took the Jasin toll exit, stopping at Jasin for lunch, and thereafter returned to the North-South highway via Chin Chin (what an interesting name) and Tangkak. Continue reading North-South highway lunch stop – Jasin

North-South highway lunch stop – Seremban

If you are heading to KL and you had your breakfast in JB, then Seremban would be the ideal lunch stop. It takes almost 3 hours to get there from JB, and by then, you should be ready for lunch.

We used Google Maps to look for a lunch place and chose Keong Kee Recipe as they had about the highest review score. Unfortunately they were closed. There were many eateries nearby and we settled for Pin Xiang Lou, a huge kopitiam.

Pin Xiang Lou is actually joined together with this bigger kopitiam which goes by the name Happy Mee San Restaurant

Continue reading North-South highway lunch stop – Seremban

North-South highway lunch stop – Simpang Renggam

Simpang Renggam is less than an hour from JB, so it makes sense as a lunch stop when driving up north from JB if one were to leave JB before noon.

There are ample eateries in Simpang Renggam, and we chose Restoran Tai Kai Hock (大家福酒楼) since they are quite highly rated on Google. They are basically a Tze Char restaurant and the standard is above average.

Their signature dish is the crispy duck, and indeed it is pretty good. Overall the food is value for money, and well worth stopping over for lunch.

 

Raining cats and dogs in Hat Yai

This was the first trip ever I had to change my itinerary due to adverse weather. It slipped my mind that when we went to Krabi last year, we heard news about flooding in southern Thailand. The weather in Krabi was really good, while on the eastern coast, the monsoon wreaked havoc. History repeated itself this year.

My plan was to drive to Koh Samui from Hat Yai. Hat Yai is too boring for 4 nights, and there isn’t much to see around the region as well. The coastal route would take me from Nakhon si Thammarat to Donsak pier in the shortest time possible. Unfortunately, i had to turn back as the road was closed due to flooding.

Road-turned-swimming-pool

Continue reading Raining cats and dogs in Hat Yai

North-South highway lunch stop – Bukit Gambir

Bukit Gambir is under 2 hours from KL and 1.5 hours from JB, so it could work as a lunch stop from either direction. It is a sizeable town, comparable to Yong Peng, and offers quite a few dining options during lunch time. It is very near Panchor, and easily accessible from the Toll booth.

I Googled and found a restaurant that has unfortunately already shut down, but just behind to it, there is a Tze Char restaurant that probably has been operating for a long time – Bee Hiong Guan. It is housed in a purpose-built building, and the high ceiling made it feel breezy and airy. It is very clean too. Continue reading North-South highway lunch stop – Bukit Gambir

Tour of my ancestral land – Part 3 – Fuqing and Fuzhou

The only clue I had when searching for my grandfather’s hometown was my surname. As the Chinese proverb goes, that sounds like searching for a needle in the ocean bed, right? Fortunately, in the olden days, Chinese families, those with the same surname, stick closely together. An entire village would consist of families of the same descent. And so, just by searching using my surname, I managed to find two villages in Fuqing where people with the same surname as mine lived.

To be honest, i felt that my chances were pretty low on actually hitting the jackpot, but it would be good enough for me just to get a feel of the place. Continue reading Tour of my ancestral land – Part 3 – Fuqing and Fuzhou

Tour of my ancestral land – Part 2 – Dapu and Tulou

While my dad is from Fuqing, my mum is Hakka. Specifically, from Dapu 大埔. I didn’t plan for it initially, but after checking the map, i discovered that Dapu is not too far from the Tulou area. Well, afterall, the Tulou are built by the Hakkas. So, i decided to add on an itinerary to check out Dapu, even though my mum wasn’t so keen.

Dapu is located in Guangdong province, just bordering Fujian. Just so that we could do some sightseeing (because there isn’t much to see in and around Dapu, other than ancient dwellings which does not interest my mum again), i chose to visit the terraced paddy fields of Pingshan (坪山梯田).

Enroute to Pingshan, we passed by Pinghe (平和), and they are famous for Pomelo (蜜柚). I have not seen Pomelo, or anything at all for that matter, grown in such a scale. Continue reading Tour of my ancestral land – Part 2 – Dapu and Tulou

Tour of my ancestral land – Part 1 – Xiamen

For a long time, I had in mind to bring my father to his father’s birthplace. It finally came to pass. My grandfather came from Fuqing, Fujian. Since then, none among my relatives have gone back to visit, so nobody has an idea what the place is like. Not sure about you, but I find it intriguing to get a glimpse of how my ancestors lived.

When I chanced upon a cheap flight (S$280) to Xiamen, without second thoughts, I went ahead to book. If one keeps procrastinating, it will never happen.

Here are some tips on organizing a free-and-easy trip in China: Continue reading Tour of my ancestral land – Part 1 – Xiamen