~ 22nd March 2014 ~
Finally, we found our way to Fenqihu. As I've mentioned earlier, we traveled from the wrong side and we never get the information that we wanted on whichever site. So, I'm going to tell all of you future tourists to Taiwan who are on your own, it's okay to travel from a different way. From Alishan, you can easily get a van arranged to pick you and send you halfway down to Fenqihu. I think my wolf on my head was staring at the old railway tracks. We did not manage to walk all the way to the end of the tracks to snap a photo or two with the train heads. It was drizzling on and off and I don't really want to get wet since the weather was already so cold and I only have one thick jacket that I was wearing.
When the van dropped us at the entrance of the town, he told us that another van would come and pick us up in another couple of hour's time. According to my printed information about Fenqihu, we would need roughly 5 hours and 30 minutes to complete the route. Pinky was laughing like a hyena with my information. The country's website stated that only 1.5 hours were needed to finish the walk around the marketplace. That's such a misleading information. 1.5 hours would have you walk a quarter way into the marketplace and you had to run out like a mad person before your one and only mode of transport leave you behind. If your transport rolled away without you, you can go rolling downhill to the high speed rail. Oh, the stall that met our eyes was the stall selling the best doughnuts~!! It's so good we bought a few and on the way out, we bought some more. But it was out of stock as they were so many customers placing their orders. I had to beg the seller to sell to me. I wonder why so many websites do not mention about those mouth-watering doughnuts or were they Chinese bagels???
Most websites talked about how famous Fenqihu is for its bamboo shoots. I detest bamboo shoots. It smells like ammonia. You don't know what's ammonia? It smells like fresh urine from my rabbits~!! Then, even Wikipedia mentioned about aiyu jelly. What it's made of, I don't remember. I don't remember much of what took place last year except for the photos which trigger my memory.
The very reason we landed in Fenqihu was because my international travel buddy said it is a must-go place in her list. So, that's why we were there. She's talking about this place owned by an old uncle with long white beard, selling the railway Bento set. The old uncle is definitely having a gold mine in this little town. Other than owning this restaurant selling Bento sets like no one has ever seen a box with rice and some meat in it, the old uncle seemed to own a few more shops selling sweet and sour delicacies.
That's the souvenir railway Bento set which costs 800 yuan. It's equivalent to almost RM80 at that time. Now, it costs more with the sinking Malaysian Ringgit. I was thinking how crazy would I be to buy this wooden box for 800 dollars. I tried not to convert to RM so I wouldn't be able to spend unwisely. 800 was too much so we settled for something lesser.
For dine-in, you will need to confirm that you have found a table for yourself. So, when Pinky went to place order, mi mama and I went in search for a place to sit. I transformed into a ruffian when I saw an empty log-turned-into-table being cleared away. I literally jumped and made a dash to the table. You have to be a ruffian to survive such crowd. The moment I reached that empty log, another couple also made their way there. I was one second earlier and they were pleading to me to give them the table. I refused. I'm sorry. I chose not to be nice because we really needed that table to have our lunch. Pinky got the cheapest version of Bento served in a tin. It's 100NT and I find that reasonable as the serving was huge. The tin must be dropped into the bin to be recycled. Everything there was self-service.
Pinky got me the Bento box to be carried home. Yeah, the box was back home but I don't understand why I bother with souvenirs. I seemed to leave them everywhere. It's like when you're in another country, you treasure what you really wanted to bring back home. The moment you reach home, that something you treasured so much became an irritating piece of trash. I gave the flimsy Bento box to the hubby for him to keep his treasures consisting of paper clips, staples and rubber bands. You can have your fair share of bamboo shoots from the Bento box. The bamboo shoots can be seen hiding underneath that piece of meat.
You see the number of people standing? They were waiting for people to leave. If not they can't order their food. The restaurant does not allow customers to order as sit-in customers without a confirmed table. We tried not to gobble down our food. At this age, we prefer to sit down and had a proper meal instead of walking with our food in hand. We sounded like we're getting very old but the truth was, with the three of us, the sum of our ages was more than a hundred years old.
The travel buddy was completely satisfied. She got to be in Fenqihu and tasted the famous Bento set rice. What makes that place famous? I guess it's the only place where you can have a proper meal. There's no other place selling decent food.
After having a whole box of rice, the travel buddy dived into eating mode again. She got herself a piece of taukua, hard bean curd, sliced and stuffed with pork floss. Penang's taukua selling at economy rice stall tasted a gazillion times better and cheaper.
After we were done with our eating escapade, not that we're such big eaters, we went on to look around the marketplace. The crowd was getting too much to bear and it was really suffocating walking along the narrow corridors with shops on both sides selling everything that you can ever think of. The further we walked the more I felt like elbowing my way through. If one person stopped to look at the goods being sold, it would cause a massive human jam.
We came across this shop selling local delicacies, all those sweet that will make you run to your dentist sooner or later. We have this over here as well. Penang Island looks like a replica of Taiwan but we're better... hehehehe.... I'm bias because it's my home country. That's one huge chunk of groundnuts stick together with maltose. Don't know how is it called but I know at times I do like sinking my teeth into those sweetened groundnuts. But that's such a gigantic chunk. I can imagine my teeth getting stuck there.
Next time when I see them clogs, I would buy them... for the fun of it. Will buy them in Japan, soon... I wonder when we can say Hello to the Land of the Rising Sun...