Taiwan: Cingjing Farm and Carton King

Now, we’re off to Nantou which is right smack in the middle of Taiwan. This county is the home of Sun Moon Lake, Hehuanshan, Cingjing (Qingjing) Farm, and Carton King.

How to get here:

From Taipei, you can take any of these: High Speed Rail (HSR) at the Taipei Main Station, Metro Express Train, or Bus going to Taichung.

From Taichung, book a direct trip from Nantou Bus at the Gancheng Station (Shuangshi Rd., North District). This bus also stops at HSR, but I’m not familiar with how the ticket is sold there. From the Nantou Bus near Gancheng, purchase the Cingjing Farm Pass worth NTD610 as it includes round trip bus fare from Taichung to Cingjing Farm and vice versa, admission fee at Green Green Grassland, and discount coupon for Cingjing Guesthouse. You get to save cost and the 2.5-hour travel is made comfortable with the direct trip and one-time purchase.

Cingjing Farm – Green Green Grassland and Cingjing Skywalk

Cingjing Farm is located at Ren’ai Township, and it combines the cold weather of Baguio or Sagada and the lush green of Batanes. You can go around the farm following the recreation area map or as guided by the sign posts around the area.

Our first stop is the market area since it’s lunchtime when we arrived. There are several stalls selling noodles, sausage, shake, ice cream, and sheep or goat products like vitamins or tablets. It’s a good place to eat as the other restaurants within the area are quite expensive. Sidenote: We had dinner at a restaurant which sold omelette for NTD200. Just omelette with spring onion; no ground pork even!:(

After lunch, we started our trek at Green Green Grassland. I was amazed with the hills and vast space where sheeps roam freely. However, I expected that the place will be sprawling green instead of brown. It must be the season.

What I enjoyed the most in this place are the sheeps which you can touch and the amazing view. If you’re at the high places, you can see the mountain range as if they are just outside your window.

Another spot that allows you to get an amazing view is the skywalk. It’s a bridge that spans 1.2 kilometers, so it’s going to be a long walk. Just enjoy the view, so you won’t notice the distance. We got our ticket for NTD30 because of the discount coupon at the Cingjing Farm pass, but usual rates is at NTD50 for nonresidents.

Aside from the Cingjing Farm, you can also visit Carton King in Nantou. It’s walking distance from Cingjing Farm. It boasts of products that are made from carton and a restaurant that serves food using carton-made items.

I wanted to eat at the restaurant, but food is quite expensive, around NTD250 and up, and serving size looks small. Maybe next time when I wanted to splurge.

Overall, I liked this area of Nantou because it highlights mother nature’s beauty. The amazing view always tugs at my heart and makes me grateful to have been in that spot at least once in my life.

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Taiwan: Taichung

Taichung reminds me of Cebu. It shows the influence of commercialization with the business districts or as our taxi driver put it, a place of “people with many money”. At the same time, it still boasts of sites if you want to relax or get away from the city life.

Going from Taipei to Taichung has become easy with the High Speed Rail (HSR). From a 2.5-4 hour ride for train and bus respectively, the HSR has cut it to 1 hour. If money is not an issue and you want to maximize the time, go for HSR and purchase it online via Klook for a lower fare. On the other hand, if you have the luxury of time and want to save on cost, riding the bus is a good option, around NTD260.

With the many tourist sites in Taichung, 2 days is the recommended stay. Also, it is better to hire a taxi or car for the entire day as some of the places are an hour or so from each other. Here’s the contact details of our nice and efficient contact, Mr. Li (Whatsapp ID: +886 925580202 and email: sss0816@yahoo.com.tw). He even made recommendations to our itinerary, so we can maximize the time and adjust according to the weather. Our rate for a 4-seater car is NTD2,500 for 6 hours.

Note: For an idea on how far the sites are, here’s my plotted points in Google Maps. A is Rainbow Village, B is Xinshe Castle, C is Lavender Cottage, D is Miyahara, and E is Feng Chia Night Market. Not included in the map is Zhong She Flower Market as it’s way up north of Taichung.

For this entry, I’ll focus on the places that we’ve visited: Chun Shui Tang, Lavender Cottage, Miyahara, and Feng Chia night market.

Chun Shui Tang

This restaurant takes pride in being the birthplace of pearl milk tea since 1983! Since it’s the original store location, it has preserved the old Taiwanese dining set-up. If this is to your liking, ask to be seated at the lower level.

To place your order, mark the place-mat sized menu, hand it over to one of the staff, and pay the bill immediately. Food takes around 20 minutes to be served.

We ordered Sesame Milk Tea, Pearl Milk Tea with Red Bean Paste, Braised Beef Noodles and Shumai Duet of Pork and Shrimp.

Both milk tea flavors were good because of the fresh ingredients used. I liked my friend’s better though and would have wanted mine to be sweeter (just had it at 25%) and for the sesame to be less roasted.

For the braised beef (NTD180) it was yummy especially the noodles which was cooked right and the soup which has the right blend of flavors. For the beef, there were pieces which has so much cartilage, so I hope more of the actual meat next time. Other than this, we enjoyed it so much!

For the shumai (NTD130), it was juicy, own sauce was flavorful, and packed with actual meat instead of so many extenders. Thumbs up for this too!

Lavender Cottage

The idea is to know Lavender by engaging the different senses. For NTD150, you get to Smell, Feel, Taste, See, and Listen to Lavender. Also, you get a coin which you can use to buy any NTD100 item within the village and a free drink called Lavender Ramune.

The first stop for Smell is a store selling beauty products such as lotion, soap, and perfume and bags of dried lavender. I like the smell of lavender, so I used my coin to purchase my own bag of dried lavender. Bonus is I got to do my own bag by following 3 easy steps.

For Taste, they have a restaurant that offers ice cream, drinks, and desserts with Lavender. Lavender adds an interesting flavor to the ice cream. At first, the flower flavor was so potent as if you’re eating petals but eventually it becomes refreshing.

I Feel and See, we got to be surrounded by growing lavenders! The purple everywhere is nice to look at, but I hope that there were more lavender like you can’t see any more brown on the ground because the lavender covers them completely. Not sure if that’s possible but that would have been nice.

For Listen, not sure how this goes as we skipped one attraction which involves writing your wishes/ dreams.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience as it showed me lavender in many different ways. I like the creativity and thought put into it.

Miyahara

This is a high-end store selling cakes, chocolates, and other “pasalubong” items. To be honest, I thought it was a museum because of the brick exterior and sparkling interior. It has high ceiling, old wooden book walls, and book covers as packaging for the products.

I wouldn’t recommend buying goodies here as they are way expensive, but I hope you’ll grab a scoop or two of their ice cream! Flavors range from chocolate, fruits, tea, and flowers. We ordered the Uganda chocolate topped with a bar of cheesecake, and it was heavenly. Chocolate was rich and smooth but at the same time, it has a a nice crunch to it because of the caramelized “something” (my friend and I can’t identify if it’s candied walnuts or coated brownies). In other words, it’s so good!

Feng Chia Night Market

It was my second time to visit Taiwan, and I’ve had my fair share of night market in Taipei. It’s the same with the others in that it hosts sellers of food, clothes, and accessories. So what do I like about it? It’s less crowded, and they offer some new food which I did not notice in the others like Chicken Cheese and City Milk’s Papaya milk shake.

That’s it for Taichung! Looking forward to being back here in 2 years or so. I’ll be exploring the other sites!

Mission: Chase the Snow at Hehuanshan

Chase the snow was my and my friend’s mission for this trip in Taiwan! We needed to move beyond Taipei if we want this to turn into reality. We moved closer to the center of Taiwan and went up high for a greater chance of that cold white flakes falling from the sky, and Mt. Hehuan is at that spot!

We joined a tour group with KKDay for a 3-hour itinerary. The adventure is called Hehuan Mountain Sunrise Tour because the main agenda is to be waiting at the peak of Hehuan when the sun awakens Taiwan.

I highly recommend KKDay as they were very pleasant and the rate of 400 TWD/ head is good. The package includes pick up and drop off at your hotel within the Cingjing area, ride through-out the tour with some trivia in between (though to be honest, we did not understand as it’s in Chinese), and some surprises like free hard boiled egg for breakfast (yey) and winter jackets that can be borrowed for added covering. Just expect that there will be the Chinese and English barrier.

Now, more on Mt. Hehuan. We started the trip at 4:50 am and temperature forecast is at 0! First stop is this place supposedly for star gazing. It was too cold, so we did not stay long and I caught only this silhouette.

Next highlight was the footprints of the recent snowfall – ice on the grass or walkways.

What left me breathless for this trip was the sunrise at the Hehuan peak. Here are videos to tell the story better:

We were on our way to the viewing site, and the sun enticed us by bringing a sliver of light across the horizon:

At the viewing site, you get a clear view of the mountain range capped with snow, an image that brings to mind Switzerland and its alps.

And the icing on top of the cake is the sun revealing itself.

It was one of those moments that God left me breathless. All I wanted was to chase snow, but He showed me that He can offer me much more than that. Everything is at His command. He can make the mountains sit still, place the clouds above them, sprinkle them with snow, and light it with the bright morning sun. All at His command.

2017 in a Snapshot

I love themes and order. They’re everywhere, showing us that God is moving and weaving His story for us. Join me as I look back at these themes in my 2017:

January: 31st

  • On a plane from Jakarta bound for Manila when the clock struck 12 mn and I turned a year older #UpInTheAir
  • Taught a program to Indonesians and got confirmation that I am in the right place #Purpose
  • Stirred up to pray for others around the world #Nations

February: Church

  • Received and gave prophecies which is a first for me #Spirit
  • Joined in the fun of competing as human trophies and got painted in gold #WhateverItTakes
  • Met so many new people who share the same vision of discipling the next generation #KidsMinistry
  • Welcomed new young ladies to our Vgroup #GodIsFaithful

March: Favor

  • Fell in love with Organization Development after attending its program in Ateneo CORD #OD
  • Escaped to El Nido for some R&R with my awesome teammates #Escapade
  • Threw a surprise party for my mom along with her Victory group #StrongAt69
  • Got my Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification #YB

April: Choices

  • Went on a roadtrip to Quezon to witness two people choosing to spend the rest of their loves with each other #ChaiVan
  • Considered, debated, and explored opportunities elsewhere #GreenerGrass
  • Conversed with God on matters of the heart, eg my identity in Christ, being strong in battles with Him, Christ is more than enough, guarding my heart, and things are not about me #Conversations

May: Learning

  • Realized that love compels you to be awkward and uncomfortable just to make someone smile #Effort
  • Accepted that I am far from being resilient and I need to toughen up #Grit
  • Got reminded of why I’m here through Max Lucado’s words: “When you do the most what you do the best, you put a smile on God’s face. What could be better than that?” #Best

June: Accomplishment

  • Ended the fiscal year with much gratitude for goals achieved #GSM
  • Received affirmation from people that I’ve worked with #Thankful

July: Faith

  • Prayed, fasted, and believed God for greater things #FaithGoals
  • Heard the news that Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo are getting hitched #FanMode
  • Held on to God’s promise of expanded territories and greater adventure as he said in His word, “The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” #2Cor5:5-10

Aug: Love

  • Graduated from the 10-month program Leadership 113 #GodIsLove
  • Heard a message through the Prophetic Presbytry that God is sharpening my character; that it’s not the letter but the spirit of the law; and that the highest law is that of love. #LetLoveInterrupt
  • Got redirected from a most likely Yes to a definite Not Yet #Almost
  • Nurtured a happy crush #HeMakesMeSmile

September: People

  • Completed my first month back at the BGC dorm #Colt
  • Played with friends of friends and surprisingly enjoyed it very much #BoardgamesNight
  • Reunited with my travel buddies for a closer trip up north #BaguioWithMishaps

October: Growth

  • Ran 10K at 1 hour and 20 minutes #NextTimeMarathon
  • Learned to fend for myself having to live on my own in BGC #NeedToBeIndependent
  • Welcomed baby Caleb Luke, my achie’s cutie baby #CutestBaby

November: Milestones

  • Conquered the 3 summits of Mt. Ulap with not just friends but family #Climb
  • Bonded with my Leadership 113 classmates at Jollibee #113
  • Enjoyed Victory Greenhills 10th year anniversary #Timeline

December: Celebrations

  • Gathered with different loved ones these holiday season #ChristmasGetTogether
  • Poised to run and not just walk alongside You #AdventureWithGod
  • Overwhelmed by Your love and grace as I looked back at the year that was #2017Reflections

The Bible and Me

I live for those aha moments! I like it when the gears click and what once were seemingly disconnected ideas suddenly fall into their rightful places. In this search for aha moments, I have looked for several resources to help me understand the greatest book, the Bible.

Interestingly, the God who revealed Himself through this book has guided believers in creating tools that will help us discover and dive into its wealth of wisdom.

Here is a list of resources that have helped me in understanding the Bible and hope they do the same to you:

1. Got Questions

This is a welcoming site to those who have questions about so many things, like me! Anyone who has a question about the Bible can submit it to the group via http://www.gotquestions.org and expect an answer within 2-7 days. Pastors, Missionaries, Biblical Counselors, Seminary students, and other trained servants come up with a response based on well-thorough research of Bible truths.

Currently, the site and app version house over 5,600 answers to frequently asked questions. Topics range from the foundations of the Christian faith such as Jesus Christ, Salvation, Holy Spirit and the likes up to general human matters like relationships, marriage, life decisions, etc.

Site: https://www.gotquestions.org/welcome.html

2. The Bible Project

Their tagline “visual storytelling meets the Bible” aptly describes what this group of theologians and artists offer – bite-sized fully animated videos. This one’s for the visual learners!

I remember watching my first Bible Project video, I was simply in awe. The clear and crisp animation is expected, but what made it one-of-a-kind is how the story was told. A book in the Bible was given background, dissected of its key messages, and weaved together on an overarching theme all in several minutes! Picture this with me: With a scroll laid out, words and images will be drawn on it while a booming voice relays to you a familiar yet surprisingly new story. They captivate by engaging all senses — beautiful visuals, lively audio, and simplified truths.

Site: https://thebibleproject.com/

3. Enduring Word

If you’re looking for Bible commentaries, this is a good resource! It’s arranged based on the books of the Bible and goes through the text verse by verse. It provides historical background, context, and commentaries of different students of the Word.

I find this very helpful if I want to dig deeper into a specific chapter of a book in the Bible. If before I would skim over a group of verses thinking that they refer to the same thing, now I understand what each verse conveys on its own and when taken in along with the other verses.

Site: https://enduringword.com/#commentary

4. She Reads Truth

It started with several women who wanted to establish the habit of and fuel the passion for reading the Word of God. To help others, these group of writers and artists came up with devotional materials centered on the books of the Bible or themes such as praise, advent, sermon on the mount, etc.

What I like about this is it starts with going through several text in the Bible before bringing it closer to home through real personal stories of the author. It makes it more relevant, being anchored on the truth but seeing how it applies to me and my situation.

Site: http://shereadstruth.com/

Hope these references will help you as you study the Word of God.

Jeremiah 29:13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Things that Put a Smile on my Face

I made this list to remind me of the beautiful things which I may miss, forget, or neglect when the days seem to hurry past and turn ordinary. This is what for me happy looks like:

1. Seeing the bright morning sky, reminds me that our planet is just one of the many in the universe

2. Staring at the night sky with stars dotting the black canvass

3. Playing badminton till my body aches

4. Eating shrimp and lots of it

5. Having a share of Panna Cotta, Creme Brulee or Cheesecake

6. Catching up with friends over hours of ‘anything under the sun’ stories

7. Getting my hands on new food

8. Seeing an aha moment in my participant’s eyes

9. Getting a thank you after a workshop

10. Seeing the sky turn orange, pink, or blue

11. Riding a plane and watching the clouds underneath

12. Standing on a high place where buildings and roads seem like lego pieces

13. Seeing kids worship with their voices and hearts

14. Hearing a God-authored love story

15. Wearing a cute dress

16. Getting lost in a good book

17. Learning a new thing from TED talk

18. Finding real stories of people making an effort to save mother earth

19. Drinking Swiss Miss with peppermint tea

20. Putting on my favorite shade of Colourpop

21. Getting an out of the blue message from a friend

22. Trying to sneak a glance at my crush but catching his eyes already on me

23. Watching a heartwarming Koreanovela

24. Walking on my way home

25. Recommending a dish to my friend and seeing her satisfied look

Lord, thank you for the many things to be grateful for and let me take the time to appreciate them everytime that they happen my way.

Philippians 4:8

Image from You Version. Credit to the artist.

Baguio Food Trippin’

Strawberries, peanut brittle, choco flakes usually come to mind when I think of Baguio. Little did I know that it could or should I say have become a foodie haven.

How to go here: Gone are the days when it will take you long to get to Baguio. With the development of SCTEX and TPLEX, the ride could take 4.5-6 hours depending on the mode of transportation. For public transportation, you can go to Victory Liner at Cubao (683 EDSA, South Bound). Ticket is at 450/head inclusive of insurance. You can buy a ticket for the earliest available trip then just line up at the Chance Passenger queue for an even earlier trip. A chance passenger could be one of these things: someone who missed his trip schedule, has a purchased ticket but is hoping to get an earlier ride, or has no ticket at all but hopes to get a seat on the next bus.

Now, let’s get down to business. What are the food that me and friends have tried and our verdict?

1. Canto

A placed that lived up to its reputation! This is a favorite for locals and tourists alike because of the Lomo Baby Back Ribs priced at PhP245 for half slab and PhP470 for whole.

When we arrived, there was a long queue, literally around 30 people before us. We tried falling in line to help us decide if we’ll stay or go – we need to make significant progress in 15 minutes was the deal. As we were waiting, the smell of the barbeque wafted through the air. That made the decision for us! We will stay and glad that we did. The wait was for almost 45 minutes since it was 7pm when we arrived. (Quick tip: go for early dinner like 5:30 pm or later like 9pm)

Verdict: everything was delicious!

Canto

Lomo Baby Back Ribs with Cascade Salad and Rice/ Mash Potato

Smoky barbecue sauce and meat that’s juicy and easily falls off the bone. Plus the serving was good for 4-5 people! It has surpassed our standard for ribs! I know that this alone deserved a standing O, but I had to put this in — the Cascade Salad was refreshingly flavorful! Combine the vinaigrette sauce, cucumber, watermelon, alfalfa sprouts, and cheese, and you’ll have one memorable salad.

Chicken Pastel

Just by looking at it, I know you can imagine how creamy and cheesy it tastes. And you’re right! Those are two of the things I love about these. Add to that the savory chicken flavor and this easily becomes a favorite.

Buffalo Wings

Reminds me of Shrimp Bucket’s. 3 big pieces for PhP190 is worth it! The wings were coated in a spicy tangy sauce and you can also dip that in garlic sauce for additional flavor.

2. Korean Palace/ Kung Jeon

KP1

Unlimited meat and side dishes for PhP399! Need I say more?! For side dishes, they offer so many kinds. You are not limited with kimchi or kimbap, but there are seafood pancake, marble potato, rolled japchae, watercress, etc. For the meat, we enjoyed both the marinated pork and boneless chicken and samgyupsal (unanimous favorite).

KP2

3. Arca’s Yard

It’s a 3-storey restaurant cafe located a bit far from the city proper called Ambuklao Road. They offer meals, desserts, coffee and tea. Me and my friends ordered drinks only since we’re full from the lunch buffet. Cacao Hot Chocolate is good but can be made better with thicker consistency and more concentrated cacao/ tablea flavor. The Artist Cloud Tea was perfect for the cool weather, refreshing tea paired with sweet wild honey.Arcas1

What makes this special though is the view and ambiance. As you peek outside, you can see the mountain range as backdrop of faraway homes and verdant greens. While seated inside, you get to huddle close with friends around low lying tables and colorful pillows. Oh and for the bookworms, there are shelves filled with various reads at the basement.

Arcas2

4. Cinco Antonios Bistro near Mines View Park

We ordered strawberry sinigang, pork sisig, and buttered chicken. I had high hopes for the sinigang as I’ve tried watermelon in another restaurant, and the taste had the right blend of sweet and sour. Sadly, it was just sinigang with slices of strawberry. The soup was good, but they should have brought the flavor of the strawberry by smashing it or squeezing out its juice to mix with the soup. Perhaps that would have made it a true blue strawberry sinigang. Good thing that the other 2 dishes were good and worth it, so we still enjoyed the entire meal. Aside from butter, the chicken was coated with red sauce that made it salty to the palette, and it was juicy.

Cinco115. Strawberry Snacks

Strawberry Shortcake at Visco’s Cakeshop

What I like about this cake is that every bite fills your mouth with STRAWBERRY! From the fruit slices on top, the pink velvety icing, and the fluffy chiffon cake, it screams strawberry and in a very good way! One thing could have made this better, moist and compact cake, but that’s just my preference. It’s still so good that I would have easily bought a whole cake if travel time permits.

Visco1

Strawberry Taho

I missed eating taho, so when I saw one at Mines View Park, I ordered a cup! Kuya was selling it for PhP35. It’s sweeter than the usual taho especially if you get a sip right off the arnibal, but the sweetness is exactly what works well with the bland silken tofu.

IMG_7126

There you go! Baguio truly has a lot to offer, and I will definitely be back for another food trip in this cool City of Pines!