Sunday, July 10, 2016

Taiwan Day 4 Taichung Xinshe Castle. Lavender Cottage, Zhongshe Flower Market, Feeling 18 degree chocolate 塔洛湾景观餐厅 ,Yunnan Minsu

Hello readers! This was my day 4 itinerary in Taichung - Xinshe Castle (新社古堡) Lavender Cottage, (薰衣草森林) Zhongshe flower market, (中社花市), Feeling 18 chocolate cingjing 塔洛灣 restaurant before sending us to our treehouse minsu.
We had the same driver that we have booked for two days, so we had our breakfast that was inclusive in the hotel stay before he came and pick us up at 10am. For this itinerary we paid NT4000 for the cab, i have asked for the quote from few drivers and  this was the standard market rate, there were others who charged NT4500. Maybe there are even cheaper rate but i guess if you pay too little, the driver probably are not that nice to let you enjoy the sightseeing without any restriction. We had no such issue with this driver and he don't rush us at all.
I was quite satisfied with this itinerary that i had planned, i would suggest not to add more places to go in a day if you are following my itinerary because by the end of the day, we were pretty worn out because each place may takes you a few hours especially Xinshe castle, Lavender cottage and Zhongshe flower market. 
This was the entrance of the xinshe castle as the driver drove us in and upon reaching the gantry, we will have to pay for the ticket first. 

The ticket was NT250 per pax but this NT250 was inclusive of NT100 food voucher which we didn't really utilise because we had our breakfast before reaching our first stop.
A photo of us taking a photo upon entering Xinshe castle, the weather was so good! Probably because the typhoon had just ended and the weather was sunny but cooling at the same time.
The environment here is so peaceful when we reached, probably because there were lesser tourists as well. When we was leaving, there were some live band performance going on at the main platform.
This was one of the popular spot that wedding couples would come to this place for wedding photoshoot too.

The driver told us if we were to come during the xinshe flower exhibition which will only be during nov-dec, the view will be very beautiful with all the different kind of flowers as he will also come with his family every year before visiting Xinshe castle since its just nearby. There is a mushroom garden nearby to visit, so for anyone who is planning their itinerary, good to know if you love mushroom. I didn't include that in my itinerary because i was not very interested in mushrooms. HAHA.

We spend quite awhile exploring this xinshe castle because its quite huge and if you love to take photos like me, you might spend a few hours here!

More photo-taking in progress~

Asking le bf to pose for a OOTD. Failed. haha
He was carrying my backpack and camera as i was busy with taking picture using my phone. hurhur

Even though the entrance fee allow us to buy coffee with the voucher value, but i don't really drink coffee so we didnt had any.

We went inside this store, they call it dora store, basically a place for tourists to buy some souvenirs, i have grow smarter to buy stuff that i think i would need instead of splurging just because i am in holiday mood. It doesn't help much because bf don't stop me. When i asked him if i should buy something, he will say 'up to you' if i hesistate for awhile, he will tell me, ' just buy' But i refused to give in to marketing trap, so sometimes i may not buy at all when i think i probably won't used it even after i purchase it. Hahahaha.

It was a holiday well spent despite the typhoon for the past two days!

Us resting on the bench.

This place is quite big to explore, and we was walking to this big house ahead.
Apparently, it doesn't look like anyone live inside, such a pity to have such a big house but no one stays there. Imagine how expensive this house is going to cost back in Singapore..

Halfway, while exploring around, we walked into this waterfall area.

Bf was so tired with all the photo-taking as we was taking so many photos just in Xinshe Castle, and we had like two more sightseeing spot to go.

Such beautiful scenary..

For this entire trip, we spend more on sightseeing than shopping.

We spotted our driver, the one sitting on the extreme right before we called out to him to go to our next destination!

While travelling from Xinshe castle to our next stop, Lavender Cottage, he was introducing to us the different kind of tree that grow different kind of crops, and he told us if we come back during end of march, the entire driving lane will be blocked because many cars will park at the side to take photo as it will be a beautiful sight because its the cherry blossom season.
He also told us it may be difficult to visit Lavender Cottage if you are looking for public transport, because generally when he drive us in, we don't see any bus stop. So i presume only cabs are available but then if you only hail a cab to one spot, you might as well book the cab for whole day which will be more worthwhile.
There were some lavender cottage banner hanging on the cable post along the road leading to lavender cottage and it is interesting because they will have different words of encouragement to drivers to tell them how many km more to reach before they will reach and not give up halfway etc.
I don't really remember how long the entire journey took because we was chatting throughout until the driver told us we have reached and told us once we are done we can whatsapp him so he can drive the car over at the entrance to pick us up. Actually later on we saw him too, he came inside the lavender cottage, thats one good advantage for him when he bring his guest to the tourist attraction ,he can visit it as well, for drivers they do not need to pay any entrance fee as its free for them.
Here we are! They called it lavender cottage but if you were to read in chinese, it should be read as lavender forest.. 

We bought our tickets! NT100 per pax, and this NT100pax is like a voucher which you can used for several items offering they have inside. So to me, entrance fee is free-of-charge for us too. 
They have lots of chinese wording around the forest, both inspiring and encouraging.
We were only at the entrance. HAHA

Once you pass through the entrance, you will spot this store below for you to buy all sort of products that are produced using lavender.
There used to be a big bear sitting at the chair, but i think they have removed it and move it to the restaurant.

Exploring time! I was getting more and more fascinated with all these sightseeing spots that we didn't experienced when we was exploring Taipei back in 3 years ago.
The directional sign to tell you where to go,

This place is founded by two young ladies that had the same common dream, and both decided to quit their job to fulfil their dream and work hard towards their dream and this was how lavender cottage was founded!
The driver told us, later on they had investors investing as well so it began to grow and that was how it was established from scratch to a popular tourist attraction now.

The driver told us before we went in that we can post 被遗忘的明信片给自己.  Sounds like a tv drama plot, but this is possible in lavender cottage!
Which means you can post a postcard either to your family and friends or yourself by months, or even by years! How awesome is that, i mean when i start my research on this lavender cottage before deciding to visit this place, i did not know this existed, beside that, you can also choose to mail a postcard to strangers and post at outside mailbox and the staff will help you to mail out. They had so many different designs and i was spending a great deal when i try to wait for my friends replying to me to ask for their address as i wanted to surprise them when they receive a postcard that was mailed out from lavender cottage, flying from Taiwan back to Singapore! I wouldn't mind to visit this place and if i ever do, i would like to mail a postcard to myself in 10 years time. I wonder what will be my life after 10 years. Ps; I was busy writing those postcards with some heartfelt words that i forgot to post one for myself. hurhur. We used the ticket that have the voucher value to offset some before we top up some NT dollars.

 They have some coloured pens for you to choose to write on the postcard,once you are done,you can inform the staff which card is to be send by when, for eg, if you want the person to receive in the month of Aug, they will send out and the person will receive in one of the days in August month.

We had this small booklet they gave us, and we only anyhow chop, later on it was actually the booklet the driver did told us if we fill up the chop with different areas we will stand a chance to win a pair of ticket to overseas. oops.

As it was not the lavender season, so there were not much lavender blooming

If you are observant enough, you will notice this cute little wood drawings lying around the lavender forest.

I understand what it means, but its hard for me to translate to english, if i were to directly translate, it will spoil the intent of the true meaning of this sentence..
There were some crowds at this place and the driver was surprised because he mentioned he don't usually see alot of people, and majority were locals. probably because its was their summer break for kids at that time.
We walked around trying to find this coffee house that the driver told us too, that we can get a chance to brew our own coffee and it took us some time to find because its located in a way that you will easily missed out unless you know it existed before you try to find.
You will see this! This is the coffee house that you can brew your own coffee! This coffee house is special because its build by the two founder and staff from scratch!
When we enter the coffee house, there were no one, but one staff.

There were photos of their staff building this place from scratch to the finishing product.
This is how it looks like inside, it looks good and they had a video replaying how they build lavender cottage from scratch and video snippets of them building this place piece by piece.

The interesting part about this coffee house is that, there are 12 different design and structure of coffee cup that you can choose, each cup has their own story and there is a book that describe the story of each different cup. Bf couldn't understand all the word except when i was flipping the book and he know how to read this chinese word which was the cup name ' 前女友'
he asked me to explain to him the story of this cup, but i ignored him for 2-3 times while he was asking me to repeat. By then, i was teasing him, you want 'ex-gf' isit, keep asking me, you choose that cup la, and he was like no la, he was just curious. Eventually he didn't choose that cup too. LOL.

Actually its not that i mind so much that he ask me 'this ex-gf' cup story that i refused to tell him the story for this cup but because i dun quite understand the story even after reading it. So i don't know how to explain to him. HAHA, can read but i don't know what the hell does it mean, and i was distracted trying to find my own cup. haha there were no one when we was there, so we had the first priority to choose any of the 12 cups, later on, there were people coming in and we were glad that we get to enjoy some serenity within the forest without anyone except us and the only staff before everyone start to crowd in this coffee house as it was raining heavily outside.
I choose this cup to drink my own brew coffee,
Before i forgot, you should go to the postcard store first before coming here, because when we purchase the postcard, the staff asked if we would like to top up for another design of card and we got this coffee card that allow us to have 1 for 1 coffee when we visit the coffee house.
Later on, the staff pass us this tray, with some coffee beans, so basically you just need to pour the coffee beans inside this mini grinder and grind it into powder. Once you are done, you can pass back to the staff and she will help you to brew the coffee, this is interesting.
Bf did asked if we could purchase this coffee grinder, sot one, i mean its for the fun, both of us don't even drink coffee regularly. I drink this time round because i grind the beans myself.
So, you can pull this mini drawer, it will be the powder from grinding the coffee beans.

Later, the staff served us with the coffee pairing with biscuits.
The biscuits is good! But coffee, its too bitter, i try to add sugar and creamer but still too bitter, not to my liking. I only like to play with the coffee grinder.

Selfie time!

We stayed there for awhile as it was still raining heavily, when the rain finally stopped, we continue our exploring! The driver told us we can grab a bite here because the next stop don't really sell any food. But we was not hungry so we skipped lunch and had our dinner during the evening, especially after we had the coffee and biscuit.


Don't be mistaken that the merry-go-ground is only for display or photo-taking purposes because it is functioning well! it cost NT 50 for a ride in this merry-go-round.

We went further ahead by climbing the steps and found this cute resting area,

They have all this colourful chairs around the lavender forest.

Wishing tree, free of charge for you to write your wish.
I forgot what i actually wrote. Haha.

After Lavender forest, our next stop was Zhongshe flower market!
I don't exactly know how much their rate, but they charge us just NT60 per pax so it was just NT120 for two of us! This was another popular place for couples to take their pre-wed photoshoot as we saw several couples with their assistant and photographer taking some shots inside.
It reads Zhongshe flower market in chinese.
They called it flower market because i think they do change their flowers frequently so this is not exactly a place where you expect flowers to bloom according to the season. our driver told us the owner of this place will drive a buggy around this area and change the flower whenever he saw that some flowers are dying or when he want to change depending on his mood. Hahaha.

You may noticed we are squinting because the sun is too strong for us! I am already trying hard to keep my eyes as big as possible!

Posing with the swing,
This cute figurine looks like bomberman to me.

We spotted the iconic white piano!

We waited for other tourists to take photos before it was our turn!

We passed by this rice field which had a very strong smell and we run away super fast after that.

I love you. I am sure taiwan locals will never run out of ideas for dating spots!

Le bf insinuating i am a pig because he say i was bullying him by dragging him to take so many photos in a day. YOLO la.

It was a good idea to hide behind bf to take photo such that my face is smaller. HAHA.
And i was telling him, this is how you get v-shape when posing for a photo.tilt your face down, move your facial expressions and there you go! Don't say i never share hor. Haha

Haha bf amusing facial expression, the sun was getting strong, it was hard to take photos without looking that we are trying so hard to get our eyes kept wide open.

After visiting Zhongshe flower market, we were pretty done for the day for sightseeing part! In fact i already forgot we was going to Feeling 18 degree chocolate place which i had request inside our itinerary! If i am not wrong, it was another 1 hour plus journey from zhongshe flower market to Feeling 18 degree chocolate factory. Well, it was not exactly a factory i would say, but it was a place many locals or tourist would visit for foods as well as for their famous chocolate! You got to take a queue number to go into one of the shops as they only allowed a few person inside at one point of time to choose the chocolate they want in order not to affect the temperature set for the chocolate.
It was another chit chatting session with our driver and it seem we had endless topic and we was chatting about dogs as he told us he had a sausage dog and the funny hilarious his sausage dog did, while i was sharing with him my duffy cutest moment too! He was more like a new found friend than a driver to me. Hahaha. When we reached the 18 degree chocolate factory, he accompanied us as we were only staying over for awhile, so he was recommending some of the chocolate flavour that he find it is nice, he told us he will try one chocolate each time he bring tourists over and he has tried out all the different flavour. He won't recommend us to buy back as he say the temperature will affect the taste of the original chocolate, so he mentioned we can buy a few to eat while in Taichung.
In this box, it had 6 chocolate, we bought 6 and wanted to share with him but he declined politely.

I was practically drooling when i saw all the different chocolate available in the glass panel, this 6 piece were carefully selected. We was full at that time thus i didn't buy more.

After that, he brought us to opposite shop which also belong to this 18 degree chocolate factory to have some complimentary tea. I think you can choose either hot or cold tea. We was just browsing around before he suggested whether we would like him to bring us to some convenience store to buy some snacks as the minsu we are staying does not have any shops nearby and if we are hungry in the middle of the night, there may not be any foods available. Alternative option was he can bring us to one of the restaurant he recommend for a spectacular view. So, eventually we decided to go ahead with his idea of sending us to 塔洛湾景观餐厅. This was not included inside the itinerary, but he went ahead to send us there, i think since its the same way to bring us up to the minsu later on.
The minsu was arranged by his dad when we had to change our schedule due to the typhoon and when i told his dad the minsu that we were going to stay, he told us that it was dangerous and he won't recommend us to stay there even though he know the lady boss there.
So i decided to heed his dad advice, and he help us to book the treehouse minsu at a discounted rate because he know the lady boss of this treehouse minsu. When i ask him about the initial minsu i book, he told me the road is quite dangerous and sometimes if the driver is not experienced enough, the entire car may fall off, but of course they won't tell their customers this unless they asked, like me. Because he say they will still respect the customer's wish if they really wish to stay in that minsu even though they may advice but will not enforce.
I think we sort of overrun the time because the minsu lady boss called him as she thought we are not coming but because our itinerary had not ended. I think we only reach the minsu later around 9pm. Haha, he has accompanied us way long enough for the whole day.
As this restaurant owner knows his dad and the table we had our dinner is usually not for anyone to sit because of the spectacular view, but the owner allow us to sit because we are his dad's customer. HAHA.

He was so excited by telling us to take photo fast as we managed to catch this view in time just before it turns dark.
This was the exact breathtaking view that you see in the photo above we had while dining inside this restaurant. The weather was so cosy and cooling, but because we are up on the mountain too la. HAHA. We took photos first before ordering our dinner!

It looked like a painting! Using my S7. hoho
It was getting dark by then.

We wanted to invite him to join us for dinner but he declined as he mentioned his gf is cooking his dinner at home so he will have his dinner later on. For a dinner for two, we are eating quite alot.

But the food is good! It would be good to come as a group because they have this signature chicken but it will be too much for two of us.
So, after our dinner, the driver send us to the minsu. He was excited to check out with us the treehouse minsu after he know his dad help us to book, because he has never been inside a treehouse minsu before too. As it was pitch dark when we reached, when he went down to find the lady boss, we was not sure where is our unit. I thought it was located together with the stretch of the houses that was build side by side, only to know our minsu is a stand alone unit separate from others.
It was the first time i stay in a real treehouse minsu! The lady boss was very friendly, she asked me to knock the door first before entering, the usual customs i will do whenever i am staying over at any hotels. Actually as it was dark when we reached, what you see in the photo later may affected your overall view of the minsu. When we opened the door, i realised we had to climb the steps as the lady boss was introducing to us several features in this treehouse minsu.
Me attempting a selfie.
This was the steps, i think this treehouse minsu would be suitable only for couples and not for family stay because even for us, climbing these steps is quite tedious i mean tedious not because its tiring to climb up but when you are moving down the steps, maybe its just me, but i tend to be very careful that i put lot of the strain on my legs because i have to be mindful that i am getting down carefully so that i am not rolling down like a ball instead. This result in me having muscle aching at my leg area the next day, so for anyone bring their parents or bringing kids, i don't think this is suitable la. but for couples, its a very good experience to stay in this treehouse!
They have steps that lead you to the sleeping area, before to the bathroom area or to the top to open the secret compartment.

This was our bed for the night! There were no aircon installed, but you don't really need because its get quite cold during the night. They had the bed warmer but we didn't really use it.
When you are lying on the bed, you can still watch the tv shows, when you lie down, you can admire the stars through the ceiling window which you can use the remote control to close or open the blinds. It is supposed to be romantic, but hor, there were no stars so i only play around with the remote control, by opening and closing the blinds. HAHA

This was the dressing table. Haha with the teddy bear sitting on the swing. i remove it the next day to sit on the swing to do my makeup and it get quite addicting to swing to and fro.

This was the air purifier, cor maybe it help with the ventiliation , we only switched it off when we was checking out the next morning and the entire minsu was stuffy after that. There were ready hot and cold water that was safe to drink.
This was the bathroom area, its an open concept. This is so classic! showering in this big jar. Not sure what is the correct term, but i enjoyed soaking myself in this tub after showering, they have hot and cold water and its so cooling after a whole day of walking to soak your leg inside this tub with warm water!

Our driver was equally fascinated when he enter the minsu with us as the lady boss was doing the explaination. I told him that he can take some photos and consider staying here with the gf next time but he was shy.The lady boss brought us up to the secret compartment, we was outside when i took this photo, by right if you are inside, you will need to push the door upright before you can climb out,
Once you climb out, you will be able to enjoy the cool breeze, to me its cool breeze, but to bf its freezing and cold. the lady boss told us if we are lucky, if we can wake up around 4am in the morning, we might still be able to see sun rise. But because of the typhoon, the chance is quite slim la.
But i really set the clock to 4am to wake up to take a peek, hahaha both of us went up and see nothing. zz. i still thought we were too early, so i went back to lie on the bed until 4.30pm, went up and still see nothing. tmd. LOL
in the end, i give up and went back to sleep until 8am. HAHA

A photo in our first treehouse minsu that we stayed in!

By then, it was time to say goodbye to our driver which i sort of regard him as a friend now,his name is called Xuan Liang 轩良 and i suggest to take a photo for memories sake as i was glad that i get to know someone that i did not doze off throughout the two days when we booked his cab because we had so much to talk about! As most of his customers are singaporean, so he tend to understand the way we speak etc and we could understand what he was talking too.
Revealing our young tanned driver who has drove us around for the past two days, patiently bringing us around even if it has already exceed his working hours. We wanted to change our driver for the 3rd day in Taichung to him as well but he was not available as he had to bring his gf back home to visit her parents on the 3rd day. Nevertheless, if you are keen to book his cab, do contact him via the contact number i had provided in my other post. I would suggest to book early because his schedule get booked quite fast!I will definitely find him again when i am bringing my friends to visit taichung again!

This was the view we had from our treehouse rooftop when i was trying our luck to see if we can view anything.

For anyone who is interested to know the name of this minsu, its called yun nan minsu, this treehouse minsu that we stay will be the last room type in this list with the rate. The rate is inclusive of breakfast for us as well.
Overall, i think it would be a good experience for couples to at least try and stay in a treehouse minsu because its just so different from the usual minsu u stay.
Shall end this super long lengthy post!
Till then.

Read on my other posts in Taipei & Taichung!

Day 1- Taipei-Cityinn Hotel-Tamsui old street-Shilin night market

Day 2 Taipei-Q Square Shopping Mall-Ximending

Day 3 - Taichung Rainbow Village-Painted Animation Lane-New Banana Paradise Restaurant-Miyahara-Ah Ming Shi-Lumi Hotel-Fengjia Night Market

Day 5 Taichung-Old England Manor-Qingjing Farm-Lumama Restaurant-Carton King-Little Swiss-Totoro Cafe, Gaomei Wetland-Ruyi Taiyangbing

Day 6 Taipei Rilakkuma Cafe-Beauty of Gull-Nanya Rock formations-Yin Yang Sea-Remains of the thirteen levels-Golden Waterfall-Jiufen Old Street