Monday, April 28, 2008

Taipei 101

We were at Taipei 101 early and could not even get through the entrance. The doors were not opened yet at 9+am. Bummer! :( ...and we could not take the lift. Yes. The lift in Taipei 101 was touted one of the fastest. Too bad...

Before we headed to CKS Memorial, we did not forget to take many snapshots of Taipei 101...from the outside, all angles, different views.

From far

Near the building, yet wanted to capture the height of Taipei 101

Amidst the trees

Another view, another angle

Some facts:
1. Height: 509m/1671 ft - tallest till 2003
2. The elevators (Toshiba) runs just over 60 km/h; taking you up in ~43secs

So remember, if you are planning a day in Taipei, make this Taipei 101 visit from middle of the day or after. You can visit other attractions such as CKS Memorial, earlier in the day, say 9+am.

Related post (one day in Taipei):
1. Take the Taiwan HSR from Taichung to Taipei
2. Take Taipei Metro
3. Visit CKS Memorial
4. Walk around Ximending and have some braised duck wings
5. Tamsui-PartOne from Taipei
6. Tamsui-Part Two from Taipei

Venetian Macau - free shuttle, make use of it

Venetian Macau is located at Taipa, a little out of town. The only tip I have for you is - use the Venetian Free Shuttle as often as you can to get to the Airport, Ferry Terminal, and Sands Casino (on the other side).

From the airport: take the Venetian shuttle bus to our resort. This shuttle operates from 11am to 9pm daily and leaves the airport every 10 minutes.

From the ferry terminal: take The Venetian shuttle bus to our resort. This shuttle operates from 10am to midnight daily and leaves the airport every 5-8 minutes.

From the Sands Macao: From the Sands Macao, you can catch The Venetian shuttle bus every 8 minutes between 10am and 2am.

Courtesy from Venetian Macao

The Venetian at Las Vegas is much nicer :) is less crowded too!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Taiwan High Speed Rail - clean, comfortable and fast

If you are traveling between main cities such as Taipei, Kaoshiung, Taichung etc., the Taiwan High Speed Rail is fast, clean, comfortable, and efficient.

The Taichung station

Arriving train

There are cars for reserved (assigned) sitting and the last few cars (I think from car 9-12) are free sitting. Free sitting tickets are usually 20% cheaper.

An information map and guide of the train

Quite comfortable if you ride long distance, since it is not as bumpy as a 2-hr taxi ride from Taichung to Taipei.

So if you are working on a laptop, the high speed rail is definitely a much better option.

For major cities such as Taipei and Kaoshiung, the high speed rail stations are located near the metro system. However, not many cities have rapid transit (equivalent to Singapore MRT and Hong Kong MTR)

Train facts:
1. Taiwan HSR is modeled after Japan's Shinkansen
2. Top operation speed 300km/h

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose

Some said she wanted to keep the ghosts away from her house because of the many deaths caused by the Winchester rifles. Or she just makes a bad architect?

This is...the Winchester Mystery House.

The door to nowhere:

Stairs to nowhere:

Ceiling where rivets are half-driven in:

Door with no lock:

Macau Travel - Part Two

If you have just one day in Macau, you should visit Senado Square.

You can find Portuguese egg tarts at this compound.

Walk on, walk along. Then you will reach the back streets that will lead you to Ruins of St. Paul. Along this street, you can find more Portuguese egg tarts, the famous Koi Kee Bakery and pork chop bun too!

Famous Koi Kee Bakery. Get some cookies here. They have Portuguese egg tarts too!

Ruins of St. Paul

Travel domain for attractions, travel tips and more

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If you are facing problems in your current web host, don't worry. Pay Less Domains also do domain transfers with minimal hassle. And I was looking at their various web hosting packages, they are quite attractive - offering secure, high-performance web servers, reliable network infrastructure and timely email technical support. If you are interested, why not go choose your domain name now ? Well you know, good domain names run out fast.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Macau Travel - Part One

Pork chop bun 猪扒包. would never have guessed something so simple can be so good. It's just a minimally-seasoned (probably salt and pepper?) pork chop sandwiched in a warm baguette-style bun. Nothing else. No pickles, no mayo, no bacon, no lettuce, no tomatoes. But, IT IS GOOD.

Along the streets from Senado Square to Ruins of St. Paul

Fresh-Water Crab Congee 水蟹粥 . We did not go to the best shops to try this. We would have if we have done our due diligence. Nonetheless, they are almost everywhere. Cooked in scallions and ginger, and just...a fresh water crab, this congee/rice porridge is mildly sweet (must be from the crab) and cooked to smooth velvety consistency.

Stall opposite Holiday Inn, Macau

African Chicken is one of those must-try dishes in Macanese cuisine. I wanted to try this signature dish at SOLMAR along Avenida da Praia Grande but was rather out of place for us to go considering we did not have much time in Macau.

African Chicken in Cafe Deco, Venetian Macau

Instead, we had our African Chicken in Cafe Deco, Venetian Macau. I believe it was a modern twist to the traditional African chicken in which the sauce/gravy is cooked with the chicken. Here, the sauce is served by the side. It's acceptable for me this round, since I have not tried African Chicken before anyway. The sauce/gravy is indeed a BLAST! wOOt! Flavor-bombed with a mix of spices. I wonder if it's a mix of Portuguese, Indian, Malay, and Chinese spices since that is representative of Macau cuisine. Also tried a Pan-Seared Bacalhua (dried cod fish, a tradition in Portugal) dish and Caldo Verde (vegetable) soup. They were both good. Only thing bad - the damage. 2 soups + 2 main courses setting us at USD$72/-

We had to find something to eat before we board our departure flight. Found something nearby where we stayed (yes, opposite Holiday Inn, Macau) and had some tea-cafe-style food.

Beef brisket noodles...and

Ham and spaghetti soup 火腿意粉. I was actually expecting macaroni but it was spaghetti.

Macau - where East meets West, tradition meets modern, the old meets the new. You could see all these aspects in their cuisine and food. How interesting. Though I was not there long enough to immerse in their culture, the food has definitely aligned us.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Second most visited sight (Most visited sight #1 is Old Faithful) in Yellowstone National Park is the Grand Canyon.

We covered the Grand Canyon and the Lower Falls before driving off, back to Utah.

Travel can be hurt by bad credit too

"Fed weights options on crunch"..."Bush to expand help on mortgages"..."...$1 Trillion in Credit Crisis Losses". These are hitting the headlines of tabloids and newspapers almost every other day. It is so dampening to hear. My friend in the Bay Area, California, was telling me the other day that the waiting period for rental apartments back in the Bay Area can be as long as 3 months. What? More people are turning to rent and not buy because they are unable to get a mortgage with a bad credit rating. It may help those with bad credit loans or bad credit credit cards if they know a website in which they can use to compare other products options and alternatives in credit cards and home loans. Yes, there are still credit card and loan options for people with bad credit ratings. You just need to know where to access these sources. Hopefully, these consumers can apply for the right product and start re-establishing a good credit.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Potato, Idaho potato

I found a couple of lost posts in my backlog! They were taken back in our trip to Yellowstone National Park. Since we transverse four states in two days, we could not give Idaho a miss along the route Utah-Wyoming.

Idaho is an important agricultural state, producing nearly one third of the potatoes grown in the United States.

The Potato Expo is closed on Sunday, unfortunately :(

According to folklore, potatoes grow bigger in Idaho than anywhere else because they are fed "corn meal and milk" every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Another better reason for potatoes growing well in Idaho is because potatoes seem to grow better in a light soil, like volcanic ash conditions and this condition exist in Idaho's potato growing areas.

No more travel to shop, I can shop online!

When I travel to Hong Kong or to the US, I just love to shop! It's like paradise to be able to shop in warehouses and outlets. But I am currently "stranded" in Taiwan, I just can't fit into their fashion sense here, thus I have not been shopping a lot. With this shopping comparison site, I can now have a better sense and control when shopping online for shoes, and even handbags.

For example, I just clicked on shoes and the category could be narrowed down to brands such as Nike and Puma; by gender, price range and even shoe type such as pumps, sneakers, loafers and flats. They made shopping less of a pain and the online shopper could have a clear idea of the next product he or she is going to purchase. Yes, ladies' favorite - can also search by material, handbag types and the online stores carrying that particular handbag. How good is that ?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Taipei CKS Memorial Hall, Taiwan

How to get to CKS Memorial Hall - from the Taipei Station, take the Red Line to CKS Memorial Hall Station.

Don't you think the dangling art pieces have destroyed the statue's solitude ?

Get smart with Smorty

Well, if you spent half your time blogging, it is time to be rewarded, get some returns for your efforts and get paid for blogging. Of course, that is provided you enjoy writing like myself. It's a good opportunity for bloggers like myself to connect with advertisers in the Smorty arena. Sometimes, there are opportunities for you to write about a particular product or service provided by the advertisers in Smorty. Give it a go - write about your experiences and opinions about that product and/or service. With your actual experiences about certain products or services, you can even help your readers find and make better choices when it is time for your readers to make that similar selection. Indirectly, it is blog advertising for the advertisers too! In my opinion, a triple win situation - win for advertisers, win for bloggers and win for readers!

Are you signed up yet?

Travel Taipei, Taipei Metro

With several cases of suicides and accidents on the MRT tracks in Singapore, maybe it's time to build an automated gate or door along the train tracks, similar to those in the underground MRT stations. This will definitely prevent accidents during rush hour traffic when people are rushing for trains. Who knows, you might get pushed around by running masses and fall off to the tracks? :O

The Taipei Metro does it this way in crowded stations -

Comparison and guide to best web hosting

I have heard my brother complaining about the entire server and host being down and he lost all his data and postings at his site. I have also heard about pages that take a long time to load because of a poor web hosting bandwidth. Some web hosting sites do not even provide timely support when the server is down. Such nightmares and terrible real stories...

If you are looking for best web hosting sites, has a comparison for you in terms of price, disk space and bandwidth. I have been procrastinating for a long time - about having my personal domain at a web host, for all the common and obvious worries e.g. that I do not have timely control over my own postings, the rates I have to pay up per year etc etc. With the options of these best web hosting sites, I can now do some good and real "shopping". Who knows I may do without the one day.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Famous braised duck wings in XiMenDing, Taipei

Our first time traveling northwards to Taipei after a couple of months in Taichung (central Taiwan). Took us about an hour via Taiwan's High Speed Rail (HSR) and cost us 700NT (USD23/- per person, one way). If you forget about driving, going by the Taiwan HSR should be, in my opinion, the fastest and most comfortable way to travel to Taipei.

We did not plan much. We did not even go up the fastest lift touted in Taipei101 because Taipei101 only opens at 11am and we were there early at 9am. Bummer!

Could only take pictures from the outside since the doors were not opened!

Off we go...heading off to
Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) Memorial Hall. I admit I am not so into Chinese history (or to be more specific...anything history and stuff...oops!) and spent only a short time around in CKS Memorial Hall. Then headed off to Tamsui late morning on the same day. The day ended traveling back from Tamsui to Taipei's Ximending -西門町, Taipei's equivalent of Harajuku - a famously hip place in Japan that represents youth style and fashion. Don't ask me what I am doing in a place like that! I felt out of place! I AM soooooo OLD!!! Waahhhhh.....:(

What did I do there ? Just walk around...bought myself a canvas tote bag...and some famous braised duck wings.

Since they were cold when I bought them, I chose to bring them back home so that I can heat them up (steam) before I enjoy them. These were very flavorful wings, braised to perfection. I guess if you were to eat them as-is (not heated up), the texture might be a tad chewy. But when steamed for a while, they exudes more fragrance - must be from the braising spices used! Less chewy, more moist and soft but still good.

Braised duck wings at Lau Tian Lu-老天祿滷味.
WuChang Street, Section 2, #55, Taipei
In Ximending vicinity

Retrace my journey:
Tamsui, Taipei Country, Taiwan - Part One
Tamsui, Taipei Country, Taiwan - Part Two

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Food and beverage signboards and funny English

Can't help but disrupt the food installments with this. A food signboard along famous street GongYi Road 公益路 in Taichung city.

A place for drinking tea. It's healthy, convenient, and errrmmmm....spotted it?

Next, the procedure for a 100NT (3USD) haircut.

Hope you can make sense out of this...

Hope you can really make sense out of this

We could. It just took us a while because we spent more time chuckling. :D

This is not an April Fool's Joke.