Friday, May 31, 2013

Cingjing 清境農場 Part 1 of 2, Taiwan Travel

 Hi people! I’m finally starting to post about my Graduation Trip to Taiwan! For a quick summary, I went to Taiwan from 11May2013 – 20May2013, covering Cingjing 清境, Hualien 花蓮, Kenting 墾丁, Kaohsiung 高雄, Taichung 台中 and Taipei 台北.
At that period, Taiwan is transiting from spring to summer I guess, and it is also their rainy season (FOL). We didn’t know about the rainy season prior to booking. Fortunately/Unfortunately for us, we were only caught in the rain on 2 days, more details on that when I come to the post.
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This is my first post of everything! I’m going to split my post on Cingjing into 2 parts. There are just too many photos!  The first part, which is this post, will cover our arrival, going up to Cingjing and the minsu that we stayed in which is Starry Minsu. The next post will be what we did in Cingjing.
Once again, I will try to be as detailed as possible so it will hopefully guide your trip! I will include the detailed instructions at the end of every post! It is also my first time shooting and doing post-processing myself, so please show come mercy!
Let’s get rolling!
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Selfshot while waiting for Mr Gan to come and fetch me to the airport. <3. Our flight was a 1am flight, that explains the glasses and cap. Planned to knock out on the flight.
Mr Gan’s remark to my outfit was, “Where’s your surgical mask? Then you will look like some Hong Kong actress trying to hide from the paparazzi.” Hahahha wth.
Speaking of which, many people thought that we are from Hong Kong on this trip.  Hiak, not complaining. As long as not from _____.
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My awesome travel companions! Yuzhi, Cheryl and Chenshuang! Got to be the least flattering photo of us. Hope that they don’t kill me. LOL. Never mind, still pretty! We were trying to do the 樱桃小嘴.
Although it’s suppose to be a graduation trip, only Cheryl and I graduated though. (I checked my results today and I officially graduated!) HAHAHAH. Yz still has 1 semester and Cs has like 2 years? HHAHAHHA.
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Lots of camwhoring prior to boarding.
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and more.
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Fly with scoot~ Get outta here~ *Inserts Barbarella’s voice*
It was our first time flying with Scoot and we were damn scared cause we heard about a lot of horror stories. The most recent story that I heard happened to my cousin. He went to Australia via Scoot and missed his return flight just because he arrived at the airport an hour before departure. By the time he arrived, the counter was closed and Scoot told him his flight was full despite him having his tickets. So we concluded that Scoot actually over-sell their seats, and those who arrive later will be deprived of their seat. Say whatt.
Knowing his experience, we proceeded to purchase the seats to ensure that we will have a seat and also to sit together. We also arrived at the airport 2 hours before departure. NOT TAKING ANY RISK! Having said that, the price of our flybag flight is only $316/pax. Damn cheap right! We got it during scoot’s valentine's day promo. Hiak Hiak.
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Conclusion of the flight: I must say it’s really better than AirAsia and Jetstar. The leg room is definitely bigger (as far as I can remember, and as much as you can see in the picture). But we didn’t sleep well on-board. Didn’t order food so I don’t know about the taste, but the curry chicken smells great such that we were awoken from our sleep. Hahahha. Like a hungry ghost.
Good thing is that you can bring an empty water bottle to check-in and you can fill the water before boarding, or on-board. No need to be conned into buying $3/4 evian water.
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And we finally reached Taiwan at an unearthly hour of 5.30am. Oh god.
It was so unearthly that we couldn’t find the people in-charged of the Telco and also the Information counter. So I could not top up my sim card and was data-less, and my friends could not sign up for the youth travel card. Be sure to sign up for the youth travel card okay! We missed out on many discounts.
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Same as the last time I went Taiwan, we took a U-bus (NT30/pax, approx 15minutes) to Taoyuan High Speed Rail(HSR) Station to take the HSR to Taichung since we are going CingJing. This time round the bus was super packed. :O
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We also took the chance to freshen up before leaving the airport. LOL. Anyway there will be lots of camwhore photos since it’s an all-girls trip.
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Settled down at the Mos Burger at Taoyuan HSR Station caused we were starving. And as you can see, it was raining when we reached Taiwan. Damn.. Not sure whether it’s Taiwan or we were hungry, but the Mos Burger was/is awesome! I don’t really fancy the Mos Burger in Singapore.
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And that’s the first food I ate in Taiwan! The turkey bacon hamburger or something. Hahhaha. I can’t really remember, too hungry I think (finding excuses). Yummy!
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Yuzhi who has been very jumpy ever since she boarded the flight! After waking up at 4am on-board, we spent the next 1.5 hours observing her fluctuation in emotions. Very interesting.
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Forcing all my friends to take photos. Hahahaha.
I remembered the last time I said that we should just buy reserved seating for HSR since it’s just an additional 20NT or something. Turns out, we didn’t have a choice to buy reserved seats this time round! Think it either sold out or we were too early. Nonetheless, we still managed to grab a seat on-board, else we would probably have to stand. The other thing I found out about non-reserved seating is that you can just board any train of that direction.
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The start of the camwhore shots
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yuzhi1

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End of camwhore shots episode 1
And we arrived at Taichung HSR station at 8.35am!
Just nice to miss the shuttle bus to Cingjing. Hahahha. And thus we took a taxi up at NT1600! Not sure what’s the market rate, but some other taxi driver quoted us 1800NT. And this taxi driver sort of hijacked his customers. Hahahha. Ah well we found it reasonable and we just took it.
I included the directions up to Cingjing via public transportation at the end of the post if you need it!
There are lots of driver camping at the HSR to take you to Cingjing/Xinshe/Sun moon lake, so I guess there’s not much a need for a driver contact. But if you really need the driver’s contact you can drop me a email!
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In the cab, with my big ass face. Lots of my big ass face coming up in subsequent posts cause it’s my iphone.
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Another photo of them to compensate their previous dark faces.

The car ride up Nantou-Cingjing brings motion sickness to a whole whole whole new level. Surpassing Xinshe and Genting. I was noming sweets throughout the entire journey. After 1.5 hours of drive from Taichung HSR, we were finally up at Cingjing! At the toppest of Cingjing, cause that’s where our Minsu is!

Starry Minsu 清境觀星園景觀山莊

 


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After doing some research, we ended up choosing Starry Minsu. The other Minsu that we considered was Misty Minsu, but it was out of our budget, plus Starry Minsu provided us with both dinner and breakfast! That’s a good thing because it’s our first time going Cingjing, and we don’t know what dinner options are there in Cingjing and we certainly do not know how to navigate around Cingjing.
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The lovely view from our Minsu’s balcony! That’s the star gazing area that the Minsu set up! Unfortunately for us, the weather was not on our side for star gazing! I’m sure the view would have been lovely!
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The balcony of our minsu! Perfect for coffee and stargazing if the weather isn’t too cold, and if you are not afraid of insects. The insects there are rather unique. Hahahha. Unlike those we see in Singapore. But nope, not bought over by it. Luckily there’s yuzhi who isn’t afraid of such stuff! She helped us exterminate an insect in the bathroom. OUR HERO.
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The road up to starry minsu is pretty narrow. Really admire the drivers in Taiwan! Like 1 lane for both directions. I have no idea what will happen if both cars meet on the way up/down. Reversing for either cars seems tough.
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The room! It’s a really cozy room with heater installed under the bed sheet!! Saviour from the cold weather! Plus it’s wooden flooring!!! I absolutely hate accommodations with carpeted flooring because it’s so dirty! So yay to wooden flooring. Plus the toilet is also very big!
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I did not take any photos of the toilet because by the time I remember that I have to take photos, the toilet was packed with all our toiletries. Speaking of which, I was very amazed by the extensive collection of toiletries that we brought to the trip.
I was the last to bathe on that first night, and when I entered the toilet, I was very amazed. HAAHAH. I should have expected it but I wasn’t prepared for 4 sets of body foam, shampoo, conditioner and facial cleanser. Plus some other makeup remover, hair mask and cleanser. It was practically packed. A 4 girls trip is indeed an eye opener.
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抓奸在床 but missing the 奸
One issue I have with the Minsu is that we can’t throw toilet paper down the toilet bowl because it clots pretty easily. I think this problem is not isolated to just Starry Minsu. In fact many of the minsu/hotels in Taiwan (except Taipei and Taichung) has this problem.
But we still did nonetheless. Just have to ensure that you throw just 1-2 pieces each time, so it wouldn’t clot. Else you would have to pump the toiletbowl yourselves. Pumping toilet bowl on a trip.. hmmm.. that would be an experience.
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We had our dinner and breakfast here! Which is under the stargazing area, and by the mountain! Cheryl said it looks like a Korean eating house!
If you are wondering, we did not bring those winter wear to Taiwan. Hahahha. Those are loan to us by the Minsu because we only packed summer wear to Taiwan plus a jacket. But our only jacket was drenched to nothingness. Another plus point for the Minsu! They are so hospitable and friendly and kind and helpful!
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Hotpot for dinner! Damn shiok for such a cold weather!
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I think the portion isn’t really big enough for hungry guys, so perhaps you want to grab instant noodles/cup noodles from 7/11,? After all, Taiwan’s cup noodles are damn nice and well-known.
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And this was our breakfast! The toast is damn yummy! Once again, the portion isn’t really sufficient for guys I think. I find it just right for me cause I don’t eat much during breakfast, plus I don’t eat much when I know I will be subjected to motion sickness. Hahahha.
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Spent some time taking photos around the Minsu. The other good thing about Starry Minsu is that they provide service to fetch you down to the attractions and back up again in the evening. Like a return trip.

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Yuzhi thinking about her boyfriend who is going China. HAHAHA. Kidding kidding. Single girl here ya!
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The weather being bitchy over here. It was mist-less when we reached there. But once we started to pose to take photos, the mist started to float in. Never mind, you can appreciate our beauty here. HAHAHAHA.
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Once again thank you Starry Minsu for the wonderful stay! Really enjoy the short stay there! I will definitely revisit them the next time!

The room that we stayed in was the Quad room, for 4 person, and it was 4100NT/night. It is slightly more expensive than usual as we went on a Saturday. In Taiwan, their accommodations are more expensive on Friday and Saturday.

Starry House Nantou
清境觀星園景觀山莊

Address: No.96,Bowang Nantou 546 TAIWAN
台灣南投縣仁愛鄉大同村博望巷96號
Tel: +886-49-2802242  +886-919713201
Email: hclee0701@yahoo.com.tw
Minsu's boss: Mr Lee, 李大哥


Just drop the minsu an email and they will facilitate with you. Do take note that you will have to pay a deposit via paypal for confirmation! Just in case you thought that it’s a scam. Hahah. And book early! They have limited rooms.

Directions/How to get to Cingjing from Airport

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Not bad right, I improved my way of typing out directions. Going back down is pretty much the same way, just different timings. Else you can just take cab for 1600NT.

Read Part 2 of my post on Cingjing!

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Related posts:
1) Cingjing: Part1 and Part2
2) Hualien: Part1 and Part2
3) Kenting: Part1 and Part2

Friday, May 10, 2013

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

GRADUATE LO!

Before I fly off to Taiwan in a few hours, here’s the recipe for the red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting I made earlier this week. (Correct! In the midst of exams) I received a lot of positive feedback! The red velvet cupcake in particular. The frosting is well-liked by cheese lovers but not so among people who don’t like cheese.

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These are the ingredient I used, you can get them all from NTUC.

I got the recipe from here after comparing a few. But I varied the amount here and there (Sugar in particular). My variations are in blue! And also, the recipe on the website is for cake, so I modified the baking time to cater to cupcakes.

Ingredients for Red Velvet Cupcakes
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Tablespoon of unsweetened, cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar (1.5 cups sugar)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1-2 oz. red food coloring (1 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup of prepared plain hot coffee (don’t skip this ingredient)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. (165C I think)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and vegetable oil.
  4. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring until combined.
  5. Stir in the coffee and white vinegar.
  6. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, just until combined.
  7. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
  8. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners.
  9. Bake in the middle rack until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 10-15 minutes. Do not over bake as cake will continue to cook as it cools.
  10. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.
  11. Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting when the cakes have cooled completely. Pipe it on with a big star tip.
For the cream cheese frosting, I got the recipe from here. They have pretty bad reviews for the red velvet, so I decided not to use it. HAHHA.

Ingredient for Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar ( 2 cups or less)
  • Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated.
  3. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
  4. Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.
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Here’s my final results with ugly frosting. HAHAHAH. First time frosting what. Let me know if you have nicer recipe!


Saturday, May 04, 2013

That’s a fake facebook account!

I never expect that I will have a doppelganger in my life. Like it only happens to popular and famous people right? Guess I just fell into that category. HAHAHAHA. Kidding kidding.

So this morning, I awoke to this whatsapp image from my friend.

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And her accompanying comment was, “eh Jane Tan! Why you wanna blame PAP?”

To which I responded,”Hahahhaha wtf” 

The reason why I responded that way is simple. Firstly there are millions of Jane Tan in the world. So much so that whenever a new friend of mine say,”I will find you on facebook”, I will respond with a,” Enjoy!”. If you don’t believe you can try searching for my account on facebook. Most likely you won’t be able to find it. So I won’t be surprise that there is actually a Jane Tan commenting on NTU confession.

Secondly, I’m not even a fan of NTU confessions. To be honest I find it lame except for the occasional smart, witty and funny confessions shared/liked by my friends. And the only time I ever commented on confession is to stand up for my friend who also got sabo-ed. (We suspect it’s the same person)

Thirdly, I don’t share my inner views, at least not on social media. Especially on topics like religion, race and politics. No matter how much I agree or disagree with whoever said what, it’s not me to show my stance although I might have one. 

So I merely brushed it off and went about doing what I do when I wake up.

Then I came back to my friend telling me this and the accompanying images.

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Got to protect my friend.

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Indeed. I won’t make such degrading comments about females.

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And those are the few statuses that "Jane" commented on amongst others. 


The first thought that came to my mind was,”Are you serious? Are you pranking me?” Hahahhaha. Cause a few days back I just pranked my friend, and this might be a comeback by her. Who knows right?

But I realised it’s not. 

So apparently, someone Jia Ba Bo Sai Pang and went to create a fake facebook account of me, complete with my display pic and coverpic. (Y). And let's not forget that the someone got to first create a new email and verify that facebook account. Exams over? GPA already very low that's why don't need study? 

So I told sauces and Mr Gan and they proceeded to report the account, and I clarified it on one of the confession status (that bitch commented on many threads).

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Mysteriously all the posts by "Jane" are gone and I can’t show you all what else she wrote. To say the truth, I didn’t even read through the posts that "Jane" posted nor the thread it was posted on. I merely clicked on the link provided by my friend and clarified that it wasn’t me. Such a waste. And oh I hope you constipate too. Damn, forgot to add that in.

And I would like to thank all my friends for their support! So touched by their support. *Mua*

I’m not sure whether the account is deleted or whether there will be anymore fake accounts, but I guess I have to accept that … 

I am now… 

POPULAR. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA. I'm kidding. 

Kthxbye. 

Edit// So I just realised that the account wasn't deleted previously, but the imposter just decided to delete all the posts and blocked me. Smart move smart move.


And the imposter created the account on 23 april and shared the exact same SIA link I shared with the exact wordings. Got to give it to him/her. *insert claps*

Hi imposter, I wanna play a game :) *inserts jigsaw voice*