Saturday, April 12, 2014

Taiwan 台湾 2014 Day#2 - Taichung 台中 Flower Market 中社花市 + Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林 + Ah Ming Shi Tai yang Biscuits 阿明师太阳饼 + Miyahara 宮原眼科

You may read my previous entry here!

When I was planning my itinerary for this trip, the 2 activities that I looked forward to the most was visiting Flower Market and Lavender cottage! I think flowers have this magical spell to lift up our mood and remind us that the world is a beautiful place indeed. 

I managed to hire a driver for our Day #2 and Day #3 in Taichung 台中 and he's our trip-saver because his warm and humorous personality kept my family trigger happy throughout the journey!

Itinerary for Taiwan 台湾 2014 Day#2:

Ino Home -> Flower Market 中社花市 -> Lunch at Miaoli 苗栗 -> Old Train station 勝興火車站 -> Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林 -> Ah Ming Shi Tai yang Biscuits 明师太阳饼 -> Miyahara 宮原眼科


Bacon & Cheese Toast with pesto

I can certainly get used to the home made delicious breakfast every day at Ino Home! As we had some diet requirements, they prepared 3 types of breakfast for our family. My parents and younger bro had the Bacon & Cheese toast with pesto sauce and it was mighty tasty! I find it so cute that it was so complete with the egg and thousand island sauce and salad with balsamic vinegar dressing. 

Thick toast with peanut butter, bananas, cheese and chocolate!

Sounds so super delish right!! I have never tried cheese and bananas before and they went very well together, surprisingly. A small serving of bananas drizzled with chocolate sauce was included as well and not a tiny speckle of toast was seen after we were done. 

Toad in the hole

It was my first trying this interesting twist to an otherwise normal french toast. I am so amazed with their dedication to make each breakfast dish as appetizing and wholesome as possible. I love the grilled vegs but I found the cheese & egg with the toast a tad too dry for my liking. 

All the sets even came with greek yoghurt and a small cup of juice to complete the wholesome breakfast! It was not a hit among my family members though. But I slurpped it up because I love all kinds of yoghurt! Burrrrp.

Everyone in my family is a #caffeineaddict. It was my parents' first time trying latte and the first thing that my mom exclaimed was "Wa! The heart so pretty ah!" Very suaku, I know, but so cute la my mom. Ino Home served pretty good coffee at their cafe at pretty reasonable prices too.

Read more on Ino Home here!

Mummy dearest and me!
I swear this photo wasn't photoshopped at all! But the camera was on 'Silky Skin' mode when I snapped this photo. Weather in Taiwan was awesome for good skin - not humid, windy and best of all, air-con temperature! After the awesome and hearty breakfast at Ino Home, off we go to Flower Market 中社花市!

My fam fam @ Taiwan.
Flower Market 中社花市 is located at Houli town in Taichung City. Temperature was about 18 degrees on that day, which explained my dad's bermudas and my sleeveless dressing. My mom, who is also a #floweraddict, was delirious to see so many different types of flowers showcased here and she even wanted to buy the seeds back to SG, to which we quickly stop her before we get stopped at immigration.

Entrance fee was just NT100 for adults but I think for the few hours we spent there taking endless photographs, enjoying the beautiful flowers in full bloom, it's worth every penny!

I love these huge balls of flowers! They looked like peonies to me, but I doubt they are. I was super tempted to buy 1 stalk and put in our room during our stay in Taiwan but oh wells, I feel happy looking at these photos too. ;) #cheapthrills

If I'm the butterfly, I would be so happy flying around in the beautiful land of flowers. 

My 花痴 (crazy about flowers) mother who insisted on taking a photo with the perfume lilies. They smell really wonderful, fresh and floral, literally. All my perfume are in the fresh, floral range so you can imagine my mom and I smelling the flowers like 2 crazy women.

Tulips! We can save on air tickets to Holland and travel for just 4 hours to Taiwan to admire these pretty tulips at Flower Market 中社花市. At this point in time, we were scattered everywhere taking photos, wa-ing and ahh-ing at every type of flowers we see. Happiness can be very simple.

It's such a sight to behold, seeing flowers in yellow, pink, red, orange, white and even the 3 figurines at the background was 'made' with flowers! I can see that the owners of this flower farm put in a lot of effort to bring the best to tourists. 

My younger bro's Jay Chou moment.

"What do we do ah?" "Just pretend that we know how to play piano."
We spontaneously posed for a photo of us playing the piano, captured by my bro. Though we looked really quite silly here, I like the candidness of the photo!

Oh you pretty thing. 

Pots of flowers are available for sale here as well (lucky for Taiwanese!), ranging between NT100 to NT500, depending on the type and the height. 

Zhong She Hua Shi 中社觀光花市

Taichung, Taiwan 
Entrance Fee: NT100 (SGD4.30)

We were famished after spending the whole morning at the flower market! The driver recommended this noodle shop located at the town of San Yi 三義 in the province of Miao Li 苗栗. I was slightly skeptical of the quality of food served at this traditional shop with paint peeling off at the corners. *hangs head in shame* To my greatest amazement,  the homemade noodles, also known as 板条, was probably the BEST noodles I have ever had in my life. 

The QQ (chewy) noodles had a nice bite to it, without the strong taste of flour. I had the dry version with beef slices and it was so fragrant, with a generous serving of sesame oil, fried shallots and stewed egg. Hell, even the blanched vegs tasted delicious too!

At just NT55 (SGD$ 2.40) for each bowl of noodles, I highly recommend you to try it when you're in Taichung!

Lai Xin Noodle Shop 賴新魁麵館

My camera's battery was running low at this point, hence there's no photo for our next stop at an old train station 勝興火車站. Although it's quite a nice place with the olden days kind of feel for sepia tone photos, I wouldn't recommend this stop if you're pressed for time in Taichung. 

We moved on to one of the most magical place I have been to - Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林.

The journey to this place by car was an arduous one. I think it's as challenging as the journey up to Genting Highlands. The owners of the cottage was so considerate and nice to actually wrap purple paper around the trees that guided drivers the way to this cottage! We passed by tree after tree, sign after sign that indicated the distance left to reach the clearing. 

The driver, whom we called Mr Lin, told us the story of Lavender Cottage, which I want to share too. 

2 young Taiwanese girls who got tired of their working life decided to find a place where their lives can be simpler and more fulfilling. They had a purple dream, a dream filled with Lavender and aromas of freshly brewed coffee. They found this godforsaken place in Xin She, where they planted lavender flowers and built a cafe. After years of effort, their dream finally came true and they are the owners of the Lavender Cottage

There is also an ownership program at Lavender Cottage, where the owners change every 6 months. Anyone from any part of the world can be owner at Lavender Cottage and work at the mountain. It's so interesting right!

Entrance fee was NT200 (SGD$8.50) per person, but the value can be offset with purchase within Lavender Cottage, whether you want to enjoy a cup of coffee or buy a pack of lavender tea back!

Here's a small tip when you are smelling the lavender. Brush the plant from the bottom upwards to the top of the purple flowers with your hands and breathe in the heavenly scent on your hands! 

We did it to most of the flowers we saw, and I hope we didn't take away the scent by doing that. 

When you get to the top of the mountain, there's a huge wishing tree where almost every beam was filled with leaf-shaped wishing tags. The top area was very serene and there was not many people hanging around the area, so we spent some time just talking random topics while enjoying the gentle breeze. 

The even more magical moment was when we saw a carousel right smacked in the middle of the forest! I can imagine the beautiful sight to behold at night. 

Lavender Cottage

No.20, Zhongxing St., Xinshe Dist., 
Taichung City 426, Taiwan

Entrance Fee: NT200 (SGD8.60)

credits to x

Mr Lin recommended Sun cakes 太阳饼 from Ah Ming Shi shop 阿明师老点太阳堂 and my family loved the sun cakes! The pastry is very flaky, milky and I liked that the filling was not too sweet. There's 2 types of sun cakes - original taste with malt sugar 麦牙糖 or honey 峰蜜. I prefer the malt sugar pastries, but my brother preferred honey, so to each it's own! Tasting is free though, so you know what to do. ;)

Pastries are freshly baked every day, hence the shelf life is a short 3 weeks. They have a few shops in Taichung, so you may want to check out their website for more information!

Ah Ming Shi shop 阿明师老点太阳堂

No. 11, Section 2, Ziyou Road, Zhong District,
Taichung City, Taiwan 400.

I came across a blogger's raves about Miyahara's 宮原眼科 Pineapple tarts 凤梨酥 and since it's fairly near the minsu I was staying, we had to get some! The pineapple tarts were made by this company called Dawncakes 日出糕饼, and all the packaging of the cakes sold at Miyahara 宮原眼科 were very attractive! The interior decor of Miyahara was very grand and artistic. The building used to be a hospital and was converted to a shop selling pastries in Taichung city.

I do not have photos of the building, but I took a few shots of the pineapple tarts I bought for my friends! They carried a few types of pineapple tarts with difference in the sweetness/sourness level, and I chose the dry sweet range - No. 17. I like the taste of homemade pineapple filling, but I think the crust is slightly too thick for my liking.

They have other types of pastries, and if you do not like such sweet pastries, I heard that the ice cream is pretty good too. Do leave me a comment below if you have recommendations for such pastries in Taichung!

Miyahara 宮原眼科

No. 20,  Zhongshan Road, Zhong District,

I engaged a driver for 2 days in Taichung and he's really helpful and humorous! My whole family was tickled pink during the whole trip by him and his charges were really reasonable. Some of you have asked me about the number of hours that we engage him per day, and the thing is, we initially agreed to 8 hours a day, but as the day goes by, we had so much fun that we exceed 8 hours every day, and he did not charge us extra at all! Though we tipped him a bit at the end of the trip cos we really had a good time and his service was very good in our opinion. I'm not paid to do this, but here's his contact:

Mr Lin 林先生
HP no.: +886 925 580 202
He's very tech-savvy, able to Whatsapp and send voice notes!

Aspoonfulofsoul Taiwan Travel Diary:
Day #1: Taichung Minsu - Ino Home + Fengjia Market

Day #3: Taichung 台中 Strawberry Farm 牛奶草莓园 + Sun Moon Lake 日月潭+ 18 Degree C 巧克力工房


  1. Hi,

    Is it possible to share your driver's contact and how much he charges?

    1. Hi Evelyn, thanks for dropping by. The driver's name is Mr Lin, you can whatsapp him at +886 925 580 202. He charges us at NT3,500 per day for 5 of us, so if you travel in small group it may be cheaper. HTH!

    2. Thank you so much! Will contact him to check the rates

    3. Hello Sandy! Nice photos!!!

      Just to check with you, is NT3,500 inclusive of the petrol? Or we have to top up for petrol separately? Thanks!

    4. Hello Qimin! Yes it's inclusive of petrol every day. :) Thanks for dropping by!

    5. Hi Sandy, just to check with you, does Mr Lin understand English? Through whatsup, will he understand english? Thanks!

    6. Hi there! Nope, he only speaks and write in Mandarin.

  2. Hi Sandy, can Mr Lin's vehicle take 6 person?

    1. He drives a Toyata Wish, should be able to seat 7 people inc driver, if there's no luggage.

  3. Hi Sandy, thanks for the detailed writeup of Taiwan in your blog. Its really informative and useful. Do you call this Mr Lin in Singapore or in Taiwan? I am thinking of booking him in Singapore. He has email address? And also we will be going in December. I read that there will still be some flowers blooming in December for the Zhong She flower market, but do you have any idea whether the lavender will still be blooming in Lavender Cottage?

    1. Hi there! I mainly communicated with him via Whatsapp at +886 925 580 202 while I'm planning for the trip here in SG. Flowers bloom all year round in Zhong She Flower market, just depends on what types of flowers you want to see! And yes, I think there'll be lavender in month of Dec at Lavender Cottage. :) Hope all these helps!

    2. Hi if i go during March? if there still lavender? & the Mr lin right, we pay on the day or beforehand?

    3. Hi Fion! Yes there's still lavender in March. For me, maybe cos of the trust and friendship we built over the few days, we paid him in full only on the last day.

    4. hi thanks for ur reply. one more qn. is it possible to just book him for 1 day?

    5. I think it would be best to check with him! He's very friendly and helpful! :)

  4. Hi! Ur blog is so informative! Can i ask why we cant purchase flower seeds back to sg? :) thanks!


    1. Hi Yan Shuang! To import seeds/plants into SG, we need a cert, which you can check out more here . But generally, we try not to bring things in that we feel are not permissible. HAha.. Just being kiasu about it la.

  5. Hi Sandy ! Thank you for your informative blog !

    Just want to ask, is the driver a smoker? Need to clarify this before I msg him because we can't stand the cigarette smell. Thank you !

    1. Hi Yvonne! Nope the driver doesn't smoke! At least not when we were around..

  6. hello i would like to know how many months/weeks before should i contact the driver for my trip?

    1. Hi, I think as soon as you can! He's quite popular and a few of my friends were not able to get him. I say at least a few months beforehand. Hope you are able to get him!

  7. Hi thx a lot for sharing info of the driver..

    I would like to check if you if we need to pay for the driver's expenses, let's say accommodation,when we stay on different town/places in th few days. Where does the driver stay? Will he be visiting the places together with us? Or just wait /meet us after we are done with a location?

    1. I'm not sure about that! We engaged him when we're in Taichung only, but he's very friendly, you can whatsapp him to check with him. :)

  8. Hi Sandy,

    I like to see lots of flowers like tulips. It is available in sept?

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Tulips are not available in Sept.. you can check this page for the availability of various flowers throughout the year- Hope this helps!

  9. Hi Sandy,
    great post. I am also a fan of flower garden. Planning to visit on April.
    Which farm would you recommend : Ta Shee blooming oasis ( Taoyuan) or Zhong She Flower Farm ( Taichung) ?
    I am undecided which farm to put in my itinerary. ( plan to bring mom there)

    1. Hi there! I will recommend to put Zhong She Flower Farm cos that's the farm I visited!