Posts Tagged ‘Isee Taiwan Foundation’

Lunch at Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Tribe (Taiwan–Yilan)

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (124)

Lunch at Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village was a really enjoyable affair. It was everything a good meal should be. Delicious, organic, not overly complicated food, plated beautifully and enjoyed in a picturesque environment. It was certainly worth the long journey to Yilan and a 4 wheel drive up the mountain to be able to partake in this wonderful meal.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (66)

This is sort of like the main hall to gather and have lunch. Lunch comprised of many rounds of small dishes, just the way I love to enjoy my meal!

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (94)

Escargots wrapped in ginger slices

Almost all the dishes served at Bulau Bulau are organic and grown on site, except for some items which are not possible to grow in Taiwan. I just find it so amazing that simple, natural ingredients can be presented in such an appetising way. The dishes will not look out of place in a fine dining restaurant but if you scrutinise closely, the ingredients used are all very down to earth! Even the escargots!

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (98)

Purple yam with ginger slice and sea salt

We were told that rich Taiwanese businessmen love to eat yams with ginger slices to ward off all forms of cancer. We all know that ginger is good for health, but some people find it too strong tasting.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (104)

The fish was one of the items not reared at the village. Simply steamed, with just a little bit of salt, I found it really appetising. The glutinous millet rice dumpling on the side was also fantastic. It’s not as sticky as the glutinous rice that we are used to in Singapore, which is good for the stomach.

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Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (Taiwan-Yilan)

On our 4th day of our Blogger Sponsored Trip to Taiwan, we spent the bulk of our day at the Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village in Yilan County. Yilan is about 1.5 hrs drive from Taipei and I heard it is a very pretty place, especially since it is near the coast.

The journey would have taken quite a number of hours prior to 2006, but ever since the Hsuehshan Tunnel 雪山隧道 or Snow Mountain tunnel was built, the journey has been shaved. The Hsuehshan Tunnel is the longest tunnel in Taiwan and is located on the Taipei-Yilan Freeway (Taiwan National Highway No. 5). There is a strict speed limit in the tunnel, and we were told that if you break the speed limit, your car licence plate number will be blasted from the loudspeakers. We were hoping to hear something, but alas, perhaps it’s just a rumour, or maybe everyone observed the speed limit?

Bulau Bulau is a really interesting place to visit. It was totally different from what I had been expecting. I was expecting something very traditional, very tribal and perhaps also very dirty. It couldn’t be further from the truth. What can I say, this is probably one of the most modernised aboriginal village I have ever seen! You need to scroll down to see the pictures to understand.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (65)

The reason why the village looks so new, is because it IS new. Decades ago, the aborigines were forced to leave the mountains and to assimilate with the Han Chinese. In recent years, as with Australia and New Zealand, the Taiwanese government has tried to ameliorate its wrongdoings by returning some land to the aborigines. The Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village is owned and operated by the Atayal tribe people, which is the 2nd largest tribal group. Even Jolin Tsai and Vivien Hsu have Atayal blood in them.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (61)

You get to choose whether to take the suspension bridge or to be driven across the dry river bed. The suspension bridge really shakes!!

After the 1.5 hour journey from Taipei, we still had to transfer to a rickety 4 wheel drive to traverse up the mountain. Luckily this portion was pretty short and not too terrible. I hate having to travel along mountain roads with sheer drops down the side. I think I’ve had my fair share of such experiences, not forgetting the treacherous incident in New Zealand South Island. We were driving on the highway high above the Clyde River when our windscreen decided to fog up. How fun is that?

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (64)

When we got to the top, we had to shout “LOKASO!”, which is something like Hello in the Atayal language.

Bulau Bulau Aboriginal Village (43)

Communal barbequeing of salty pork to kick start a wonderful day on the mountains. For the record it was so hot despite it being winter, I only wore 2 tshirts! It is usually colder on the mountains, guess we were supremely lucky!

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Coffee Area Coffee House 珈琲院 (Taiwan –Taichung)

On the 3rd day of our sponsored Whirlwind 5D4N trip to Taiwan, we arose bright and early to make the best of a beautiful day. Seriously, a blue sky day with cold crisp air just makes my heart sing! I was all raring to venture out, but we had to pack our tummies with a little something first because the 1st stop of the day was to go coffee tasting!

Coffee Area Coffee House (15)

Actually, we didn’t just get the opportunity to sample freshly brewed coffee, we got to witness the ENTIRE coffee roasting process from bean to brew!

Coffee Area Coffee House (6)

This is the boss of Coffee Area. He is an extremely jovial character, with a rather humorous streak. The shop is only open from Wednesday to Sunday. We visited on a Tuesday and we heard that he’d specially opened his shop just for our visit. This is a rare treat because we were told that Taichung people are laid back, many of whom work for fun and not for a living. You will find that when you are in Taichung, shops may not open all hours of the day just to cater to customers or to generate the most amount of profit. On the contrary, people are friendlier than in Taipei.

Don’t mind the camera man at the back. He filmed us the whole of our third day in Taiwan. Felt a little like a celebrity! Smile

Coffee Area Coffee House - Portable mini coffee roasting machine (4)

This is the portable roaster. I used to think that coffee roasting was a very complicated process best left to the experts, but after viewing this contraption work its magic, I feel compelled to purchase one of these babies.

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Carton King Creativity Park 紙箱王 (Taiwan – Taichung)

After our dinner at Quan Hotpot Restaurant (寬巷子) near Shilin MRT Station, we got onto Taiwan’s High Speed Rail 台灣高鐵 and made our way to Taichung. The distance from Taipei to Taichung by High Speed Rail is about 160km, but it took just an hour to get there!  I wish we had High Speed Rails in Singapore! It takes a bloody hour to get from Pasir Ris to Boonlay for god’s sake, and that’s only 36 km! Of course, the price is very different. The trip from Taipei to Taichung cost NT700 which is about SGD$33. But still, sometimes it would be nice to have a choice.

After our massive eating the last 2 days, Day 3 of our Whirlwind Trip to Taiwan courtesy of iSee Taiwan Foundation turned out to be a very hands-on day, of which I am quite thankful. I’m going to be blogging about Carton King Creativity Park first, which is where we had our lunch. Will blog about our coffee roasting and sampling experience in the upcoming post.

Carton King Creativity Park is a pretty little garden with adjoining restaurant, honey store and souvenir store. As the name suggests, cartons are the rule here. It’s actually quite unbelievable that most of the things you see here are really made of cardboard!

Carton King - (23)

Carton King has been in the paper industry for more than 20 years, engaged in the development and design of paper. They have more than 2000 products and over 100 patents. So it was only natural that they showcase some of their interesting and creative designs in their very own park.

Carton King - (27)

Check out the tables and chairs in Carton King’s restaurant. They are all made of cardboard. We tend to think of paper materials as being rather flimsy and easy to tear apart. However, if you pack them together into thick cardboard form, they hold their strength pretty well! I was just a tad apprehensive sitting down for the first time, but you soon forget that they are not “real furniture”.

Carton King - Boston Herb Roasted Spring Chicken NT360 SGD17

Boston Herb Roasted Spring Chicken NT360 SGD17

More about the cardboardy stuff later. First up, LUNCH! Carton King’s restaurant serves up a pretty good variety of food. The set lunches are rather affordable, at about NT350 (SGD$15) so that’s what we all had. The set lunches come with mains, side dishes like rice, soup and dessert, and also a drink in a nifty little cardboard box. All the meats are from Taiwan Agricultural Livestock Industry.

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Quan 寬巷子 (Taiwan –Taipei)

One of the most memorable meals in Taiwan was when we went to try out this Steamboat/Hotpot restaurant near the Shilin MRT station. Seriously, I’m not really a big fan of steamboat. The steamboat restaurants I have tried in Singapore are all similar styled. You order slices of meat, you cook the meat in your chosen soup, you eat. Really, there’s nothing  differentiating the various steamboat/hot pot restaurants, except perhaps for the soups themselves, and even then, that’s just one aspect. If I had to choose a favourite in Singapore, it would have to be JPot, because at least some of their meats are marinated or prepared in a slightly more appetising way.

So, when the dishes started arriving at Quan, I was seriously completely bowled over. Really amazed at their creations. This is one blog review where the pictures will do more to describe the situation than what I could ever pen down in words.

Quan - Sichuan Style Spicy Soup and Tonkotsu Soup (3)

Sichuan Style Spicy Soup and Tonkotsu Soup

First up, the hotpot POT itself. A humongous metal tureen sized pot divided into 2 portions for the 2 soups, plus a middle portion to hold the chilli spices. The pot itself is specially designed such that you won’t burn yourself if you touch the sides. A live fire instead of a hot plate is used too. Sometimes slow is better than instant gratification.

We weren’t given a choice, but a word of warning for anyone who dares to take the Sichuan Style Spicy Soup. You might not be able to feel your tongue after eating that soup. Living in Singapore, it’s inevitable that you might encounter spicy food that is too spicy for you to tolerate. Your tongue burns for a while. The usual scenario.

A very interesting thing happened to me whenever I bit into any of the items fished from the Sichuan soup section. My tongue just started to buzz and tingle! I’ve never ever experienced such a thing before. It didn’t feel painful but it was really weird! In any case, authentic Ma La is not meant to be simply spicy. Pure spiciness is easy to achieve, just dump in a truckload of chillies! You will be able to detect nuances in the flavours in a good Ma La.

Quan - (18)

This appeared soon after our soup appeared.You wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that this is part of the restaurant’s flower decorations. How innovative is this? Vegetables dressed to look like a garden shop display.

Quan - Deep-Fried Minced Shrimp and Eggplant NT320 SGD$15 (3)

Deep-Fried Minced Shrimp and Eggplant NT320 SGD$15

This is actually seafood wrapped in eggplant for the bottom bit, and almond flakes for the “flower bit”. Simply exquisite and delicious.

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