Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido is an Island in the Northern part of the Japanese archipelago.  It is Japan’s second largest island.  The island is not as populated as the other southern islands of Japan, but it does offer a much-needed connection to nature.  Vacation here brings out the appreciation of what mother nature can offer to our spirit and mind in a variation of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.  Our trip was in October, but we shall return to reconnect with mother nature again.

From Hakodate Airport, a short train ride to the city of Hakodate and a taxi ride to our hotel, brought us to the foot of Mt. Hakodate.  Mt. Hakodate offers many mountain trails for hiking.  But most popular is the cable ride up the mountain to see the night view of Hakodate Bay.

The view from our hotel
The view from our hotel
Hakodate city
Hakodate city
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Night view of Hakodate City from top of Mt. Hakodate

At the foot of Mt. Hakodate is a Japanese Hamburger chain “Lucky Pierrot”.  This one has Christmas every day.  By the way, we found another one at the Bay Area, the next day,  which was packed and had a whole different decoration and atmosphere.  It is renowned for its huge hamburgers and egg wrapped rice.

Lucky Pierrot Logo
Lucky Pierrot Logo
Store front of Lucky Pierrot
Store front of Lucky Pierrot
Inside Lucky Pierrot
Inside Lucky Pierrot

Bay Area consists of Red Brick buildings which used to be warehouses when ships still come in with their cargoes.  These old warehouses are now converted to unique shops of various goods,  lining along the water front.  It is still a good place for recreational boating.  The openness of bay and the smoothness of the water is calming.  A good place to replenish some snacks and have light breakfast.

Red Brick warehouse of store
Red Brick warehouse of stores
Coffee and pastry shops facing the bay
Coffee and pastry shops facing the bay
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the statue of Joseph Hardy Nassima
the statue of Joseph Hardy Nassima

A few feet down the street is the Morning Market.  The morning market consists of shops of fresh vegetables, seafood of all sorts, and vendors of freshly prepared food.  Also, there is the “Donburi Yokocho” restaurant arcade, selling Japanese style fresh seafood dishes.  The most famous is “seafood rice bowl”  which is a bowl of rice topped with different raw seafood.  One must try it to really know how fresh raw seafood could taste so good without requiring seasoning, not even salt.  Although soy sauces were provided.

One of the restaurant of the Donburi Yokocho Restarant Arcade that we were in
One of the restaurants of the Donburi Yokocho Restaurant Arcade that we were in
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One type of seafood rice bowl
One type of seafood rice bowl
One type of seafood rice bowl
One type of seafood over rice
One type of seafood over rice
King Crabs
King Crabs
Giant octopus
Giant octopus
crab steam buns
crab steam buns

The food here is both fresh and healthy. The taste is pure delicious like no others.  Just for this, I shall return.

The Goryokaku is a star-shaped fort complete with a moat around it.  It now serves as a park with lots of red pine trees and cherry trees.  There is a Magistrate’s Office which is an example of Traditional Japanese Mastery.   Nearby is the Goryokaku Tower which offers a bird’s eye view.

Map of Goryokaku
Map of Goryokaku
The Magistrate's Office
The Magistrate’s Office
tall red pines
tall red pines
more pines
more pines

One day visit of HongKong

After breakfast, we started the day off by making our first stop, the biggest temple in HongKong, the temple of Wong Tai Sin (黃大仙) in Kowloon.  Wong Tai Sin was a Taoist cultivator and later became an immortal around 328-386.

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Behind the temple is a beautiful garden for visitors to stroll in and pass the day leisurely.

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We wish to spend a little more time here, but our time was limited.  We all agree that this place is worth spending more time at.

Next stop is the highest point in Hong Kong.   We took the tram up the mountain.  The slope going up is very steep.  Whoever stood in the tram had to lean forward from the waist, in order to keep the body in balance.  Along the way, we could see the skyscrapers slowly diminish below us. The Peak is a very popular place to go during the summer because it is usually 2 or 3 degrees lower than below.  So in addition to being the highest point in Hong Kong, it is also the coolest place in Hong Kong.

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The last stop was Harbour City, the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong and one of the most popular shopping center of the world.  Harbour City consists of 3 shopping mall in one, situated along Victoria Harbour.  All the buildings are interconnected within the building and do not have to go outdoor unless one chooses.  On the fourth floor, one can see the spectacular view of Victoria Harbour and nearby islands of Hong Kong.  There are also airport shuttles to and from the Harbour City Mall.  If ever you find yourself having to make a stop over at Hong Kong airport, it would be an excellent time to make a quick shopping trip into the city.

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The Bund of Shanghai,China

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Shanghai, China is a busy city, and by night it is still quite bustling as well.  But along the east shore of Huangpu River on Pudong’s side, one can see the beautiful architectural style of the Bund in the night.  The quiet night and the breeze from the river cool down the mind as one unwind from the day with the occasional ferry boat going up and down the river.

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As you turn around, you can see the famous Pearl Tower.

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Tea House “da Vinci”

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Before the entrance to Taipei’s Rao Ho Street Night Market (take the Taipei Metro line #3 and get off at the Songshan station)  is a Tea House name da Vinci (茶文集).  This Tea House serves a variety of top quality Taiwan tea.  The server would explain the special aroma of the different tea as one relax in the friendly atmosphere.  With each sip of tea, eases the body and mind.  This is a satisfying place to end the day after a stroll in the Rao Ho Street Night Market.  Take time to relax and unwind as the tea help to digest away a wide range of good food consumed at the Roa Ho Street Night Market.  Before you leave the store, don’t forget to purchase some tea to take with you.

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Home of the Famous Billionaire of China

The home of the famous Billionaire of China, Shen Wansan (1330-1379)  is Zhouzhuang, Shanghai.   It is also the first water town in China started around 1086 AD.   This town reflects the way of life of the 14th century when stone buildings were built beside the waterways for ease of transport.  There are many stone canals and bridges in this ancient town which adds to the creation of an extraordinary scenic sight.

Legend has it.  Mr. Shen became so wealthy because he had a treasure bowl that attracted wealth.  Even the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, believed and wanted it for himself.  When he didn’t get it, he confiscated Mr. Shen Wansan’s wealth and exiled him and his sons.  The treasure bowl was never found.   There are many treasure bowls around this town that claimed to be the one.  Who knows?  You could be the lucky one that finds it !!!!

Entrance to Zhouzhang
Entrance to Zhouzhang
The connecting bridge
The connecting bridge
the waterway
the waterway

The One and Only Stinky Tofu Street in Taiwan

A view of Shenkeng old street
A view of Shenkeng old street
End building of Shenkeng old street
End building of Shenkeng old street

A  short trip on bus 660 or 666 takes you from 景美 to 深坑.  You will find a street with a huge tree guarding its entrance.  Along the street are vendors, mostly offer a different style of stinky tofu ( stinky tofu are fermented tofu).  If you like stinky tofu or are adventurous enough to try,  you will discover what a culinary delight this is.  There are also craft stores and best of all a store of hand made hard candies of various nuts, which would also be worth to explore.  After strolling down this street, and if you are still up for dinner, there is a restaurant on the next street  named 王永成.  It would be hard for you to miss it, due to the queue of people waiting to be seated for the food is fabulous and reasonably priced.  It would be wise to make a reservation upon arrival before strolling down the stinky tofu street.

Other edibles that may tickle your delight:

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Preserved Chayote (佛手)
Sweet ricd wrapped in Bamboo leaves
Sweet rice wrapped in Bamboo leaves