Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A leisurely day in the countryside II

Neiwan is a destination that most packaged itineraries do not cover, for some reason (perhaps it's too out of the way?). Neiwan has a Hakka community, and is located in Hsin Chu town. I am a Hakka myself, and my heart leapt at the thought that maybe, just maybe, we could buy the family's favourite Hakka fermented vegetables from this place. This vegetable is used by the Hakkas to add flavour in a yummy pork dish (also my mum's specialty dish) for which the English translation fails me. In pin yin, it's called 'mei cai kou rou'. The fact that this vegetable is the tastiest coming from the Hakka communities in China, and that we only ever get a few bunches of it when my grandmother's friend visits China, makes these vegetables very precious indeed.

Here are the sights.

Neiwan's mascots (seen at the entrance)

Honeycomb with real bees. The vendor is strangely not tending to his/her store.

A local riding her 'three wheel drive'

Doesn't this Boston Terrier look super smug? And very amusing looking? 
I just love taking pictures of dogs in Taiwan ;)

This is just too cute

Nice store front

Our lunch venue, the Neiwan Cinema

A spiderman sculpture above a Gremlin sculpture in the courtyard - how 1980s!

Lunch in an old cinema - how quaint, right? The restaurant served pretty decent Hakka food. As usual it was a 8-10 course lunch which no one could finish. Unfortunately the course did not include the mei cai kou rou dish that I was raving about earlier. I could not remember well what we ate (forgot to take pictures, my bad), but I distinctly remembered the delicious mua chee (steamed pastry that is to be served with chopped peanuts in this case). The texture is deliciously soft, gooey (in a good way!) and melt-in-your-mouth. I like!While we lunched, the screen in front was screening a Chinese film old enough that my parents knew of it. Anyway, we were busy chomping away, not paying much attention to the movie.

Here are pictures of the interior of the cinema cum restaurant.

The shelf displayed a number of Teresa Teng's records.

After lunch, we were given free time to explore the rest of the village. We thanked our lucky stars that we found the fermented vegetables sold in many of the stores. ;)

Slimmest ever bananas

 A huge cross road that leads to a suspension bridge across a river

The suspension bridge from a distance

The bridge - people with vertigo, don't step on this!

 View from the suspension bridge - some local kids were playing by the river.

No sooner after we got back to the shops, we encountered a little ice cream shop with the most scrumptious flavours and we bought this.

Pineapple, mango sorbet (I can't remember what's the 3rd flavour)

More dogs sighted.

I think this is a poodle?

Hachiko (akita breed)! I love how its tail curls so fluffily.
We were practically stalking this couple, trying to get a good shot. This was the best I've gotten.

No idea what breed this is - a mongrel then?

Last item we ate here. Mango dessert! Yum! And now you know why people generally gain weight coming back from Taiwan.

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