We woke up bright and early to grab breakfast before going to the 台北轉運站 Taipei Bus Station to buy tickets for our bus ride to 宜蘭 Yilan. The bus frequency was very regular, and there were additional buses during peak hours, so we were happy to just hang around at the waiting area. We were pleasantly surprised to find the 台北轉運站 Taipei Bus Station to be very clean, and everything was very orderly, as compared to the previous time when we took the bus from Taichung to Taoyuan Airport. At the 葛瑪蘭客運 Kamalan Bus waiting area, there was even a staff offering drinks and biscuits for free to waiting passengers. Wow! We were very impressed 🙂
The bus seats very clean and spacious, and it was a very comfortable and smooth 70-min ride to 宜蘭轉運站 Yilan Bus Station… So comfortable that we were snoozing most of the time!
Upon reaching, we walked over to 宜蘭火車站 Yilan Train Station and requested for a temporary pass to enter the station and cross over the platform to the station front to visit 𠲍𠲍噹森林 Diudiutang Forest and 幾米主題廣場 Jimmy Liao Themed Plaza, the highlight of 宜蘭 Yilan!
The forest and plaza is an installation of sculptures based on Jimmy Liao’s illustration books, like the train in 星空 Starry Starry Night, the Mr Left and Miss Right in 向左走.向右走 Turn Left, Turn Right, the many suitcases in 地下鐵 Sound of Colours etc. The colourful sculptures provided numerous picture-moments for tourists and one needs to come here early or be caught with many photo-bombers in your pictures! We will let the pictures tell our story at the plaza!
After depleting our phone batteries (because of taking too many photos), we ended up at the Tourist Information Centre because there’s power outlets for us to recharge our phones, and free wifi for us to search for lunch! The very helpful staff at the Centre also gave us a map with all the popular food that locals have voted (民眾票選美食). That helped us narrow down what to Google for. And hubby had wanted to visit a cafe that was made famous by 金城武 Takeshi Kaneshiro. In the end we decided to walked over to 小東路 Xiaodong Road and started with 景德炸醬麵 Jingde Zhajiang Noodle.
We ordered 麻醬麵 Sesame Sauce Noodle (NT25) and 餛飩魚丸湯 Wanton Fishball Soup (NT30). The sesame sauce noodle was a little like the cold noodle that we had on our previous trips to Taiwan but it was warm. The noodle was not too thick and needed to be well mixed with the sesame sauce. Each slurp of the noodle created a mouthful of very fragrant sesame taste and tangy noodle; it was really out of this world! The fishballs were not the white ones that we get in Singapore which was mixed with lots of flour. They tasted bouncy with the very well-beaten fish paste and the soup provided the fluid balance to the noodle.
We walked on and located another popular stall 南塘水餃館 Nantang Dumplings selling dumplings. We ordered a plate of 10 熟水餃 Dumplings (NT40) and a bowl of 酸辣湯 Sour Spicy Soup (NT25). The waitress could not believe her ears and repeated “10 dumplings for two persons?” Haha… We observed later that the other tables were ordering an average of 20 dumplings per person. 🙂
The dumplings were quite crunchy and light, not as heavily marinated and stuffed as other dumplings. The generous use of cabbage in the dumplings provided a very well-balanced mouthful. The soup was also not overly sour or starchy; hubby didn’t want any sour soup at first because he is not a fan of overly sour soup. But he enjoyed the bowl that was generously stuffed with toufu, carrots and egg. 🙂
En route to 合盛太平 Cafe Story (the cafe made famous by 金城武 Takeshi Kaneshiro), we came across another popular stall 十六崁瓜仔雞麵 just opposite the cafe. Since it was lunch time, the small place was very crowded and we had to share our table. We ordered a 瓜仔雞餛飩麵 Chicken Noodle with Wanton (NT65), a plate of 皮蛋豆腐 Pitan Toufu (NT30) and a plate of 嘴邊肉 Pork (NT30). The noodle soup was very rich in taste and the chicken pieces were very tender. The wantons were not as good as this morning’s but overall the noodle was not bad. The side dishes however were cold and the pork was quite hard.
Armed with bursting stomachs, we crossed the road to visit 合盛太平 Cafe Story.
This cafe used to be a hospital for over a century. It was owned by an old couple and continues to be the residence of the wife when the husband moved on. In the spring of 2013, the owners of a minsu chanced upon the building, and the story, and decided to turn it into a cafe together with their friends while retaining the story of the hospital. You can still see the signboard of the hospital and the reception counter at the entrance, and some rooms on the upper floor has been turned into a gallery to exhibit the story of the hospital. This cafe was also made famous when 金城武 Takeshi Kaneshiro shot a commercial for a telco on the 2nd floor.
The minimum spending at the cafe is a main course or a drink so we ordered a 豆漿拿鐵 Soy Latte (NT130) and a 伯爵奶茶 Earl Grey Milk Tea (NT130). The drinks were nothing to shout about (not to mention it’s too expensive) but we had fun visiting the various corners of the building and reading about the story of the hospital. It was also not a bad place to just laze the afternoon away (they provide free wifi and power outlets too).
Soon it was time for us to leave 宜蘭 Yilan and proceed to 羅東 Luodong to check-in to our minsu for the night!
We walked back to 宜蘭火車站 Yilan Train Station and in our excitement, boarded the train in the wrong direction! We quickly alighted at the next station and had to wait for 30 minutes before the next local train arrived.
By the time we arrived in 羅東火車站 Luodong Train Station, it was close to 3pm. Following the directions provided by the minsu, we took the 羅東社區免費觀光巴士 Luodong City Free Shuttle Bus to the terminal station, walked to our minsu, checked in and took a good rest before we venture out to the famous 羅東夜市 Luodong Night Market!
- 葛瑪蘭客運 Kamalan Bus – One of two bus companies that ply the route from 台北 Taipei to 宜蘭 Yilan. It’s faster to go via bus than via train because of the newly opened 雪山隧道 Xueshan Tunnel which made the trip only 70mins.
- 景德炸醬麵 Jingde Zhajiang Noodle – 宜蘭縣宜蘭市小東路13號之5 No. 13-5 Xiaodong Road, Yilan City, Yilan County, Taiwan 260, Opens: 6am-9pm
- 南塘水餃館 Nantang Dumplings – 宜蘭縣宜蘭市聖後街85號 No. 85, Shenghou St, Yilan City, Yilan County, Taiwan 260, Opens: 11am-10pm (Tue-Sun)
- 十六崁瓜仔雞麵 – 宜蘭縣宜蘭市中山路三段154號 No. 154, Section 3, Zhongshan Rd, Yilan City, Yilan County, Taiwan 260, Opens: 12pm-12am
- 合盛太平 Cafe Story – 宜蘭縣宜蘭市中山路三段145號 No. 145, Section 3, Zhongshan Rd, Yilan City, Yilan County, Taiwan 260, Opens: 12pm-9pm