Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

One of the top attractions in Taipei, Taiwan, is the Taipei 101 skyscraper and observatory that stands at 1,666 feet - 508 meters tall and is the fifth highest skyscraper in the world

One of the top attractions in Taipei, Taiwan, is the Taipei 101 skyscraper and observatory that stands at 1,666 feet / 508 meters tall and is the fifth highest skyscraper in the world

 

Standing at 1,666 feet / 508 meters tall, Taipei 101 is the fifth highest skyscraper in the world. The structure is rich in symbolism and features several engineering feats.  Its elevators swoop visitors to the 89th-floor observation deck in only 37 seconds and there is also an outdoor observatory located on the 91st floor.  The first five floors of this impressive skyscraper are taken up by one of Taipei’s premier malls with many elegant dining options.  Included in the top ranks of world-class shopping districts, the mall compares to New York’s Fifth Avenue, Paris’s Champs-Elysees, and Via Condotti in Rome.

 

The street level entrance to the Taipei 101 skyscraper and observatory as well as the high-end shopping mall that occupies the first five floors, Taipei, Taiwan

The street level entrance to the Taipei 101 skyscraper and observatory as well as the high-end shopping mall that occupies the first five floors, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Taipei 101_s shopping mall is one of Taiwan_s premier malls with many elegant dining options and is included in the top ranks of world-class shopping districts, Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei 101’s shopping mall is one of Taiwan’s premier malls with many elegant dining options and is included in the top ranks of world-class shopping districts, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The Guinness Book of World Records records that Taipei 101 has the fastest passenger elevators in the world, Taipei, Taiwan

The Guinness Book of World Records certifies that Taipei 101 has the fastest passenger elevators in the world, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The view of the city from the 89th floor observatory (the colors are slightly distorted by the colored glass windows) is pretty spectacular, even with the smog obscuring the distance, Ta

The view of the city from the 89th floor observatory (the colors are slightly distorted by the colored glass windows) is pretty spectacular, even with the smog obscuring the distance, Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The density of the city is very high, with a total population of 2.7 million people in a small geographic area; Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

The density of the city is very high, with a total population of 2.7 million people in a small geographic area; Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The building’s management company had an excellent sign in the viewing platform area around the monstrous building damper that explained how dampers work.  “Building dampers originated from Japan, a country with frequent earthquakes.  The earliest version of a damper was nothing more than a stone foundation to put the building on.  The damper worked by isolating the building from the earth, which creates relative shift that produces a counterforce, effectively reducing earthquake energy.  In addition to regular high-rises, dampers appear in towers, bridges and high-tech facilities, among other large buildings. Since material and feature variations result in different designs, dampers also differ from building to building in terms of materials and looks.  It may be a big tank, a large concrete block, or made of visco-elastic materials such as rubber cushion.

 

This monstrous building damper (on the 88th floor!) protects the building during an earthquake (stabilizing it and preventing excessive swaying), Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

This monstrous building damper (on the 88th floor!) protects the building during an earthquake (stabilizing it and preventing excessive swaying), Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

 

In front of Taipei 101 is one of the famous “LOVE” statues, Taipei, Taiwan

In front of Taipei 101 is one of the famous “LOVE” statues — an iconic pop art image by American artist Robert Indiana in 1970, Taipei, Taiwan

 

For our last night in Taiwan, which, after three months of sailing, also marked our last night on this sailing journey, we enjoyed an outstanding dinner with friends at YEN Chinese Restaurant – located o few blocks away from Taipei 101.  Headed by Hong Kongese Chef Wo Hoi Ming, YEN Chinese restaurant serves delicately crafted Chinese dishes.  With its long list of signature dishes including steamed Penghu lobster with egg white, and Cantonese style seared cod with crispy mushroom, YEN has gained a superb reputation for its innovative dishes, not to mention its superb service.  This was an excellent farewell dinner to our extended travels in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Melanesia, Palau, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

 

After being up on the observation level (89th floor) -- near the top of the building – going back outside and looking up at Taipei 101_s exterior you realize how big this skyscraper

After being up on the observation level (89th floor) — near the top of the building – going back outside and looking up at Taipei 101’s exterior you realize how big this skyscraper really is, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Walking Taipei (part II), Taiwan

The most well known temple in Taiwan, Lungshan Temple was built in 1738 in Taipei_s Manka district by settlers from Fujian as a gathering place for Chinese settlers

The most well known temple in Taiwan, Lungshan Temple was built in 1738 in Taipei’s Manka district by settlers from Fujian as a gathering place for Chinese settlers

 

“The most well known temple in Taiwan, Lungshan Temple was built in 1738 in the city’s Manka district by settlers from Fujian as a gathering place for Chinese settlers.  Located in the old village part of Taipei, this temple has stood the test of time and lasted through several natural disasters and wars.  During World War II, the temple was badly damaged [on 8 June 1945] by American bombers during the Raid on Taipei after an accusation the Japanese were hiding arms inside the temple.  Since the construction of the temple, Taipei residents have continuously renovated and improved the temple and the surrounding :grounds, with the temple coming to represent the pride of Taiwanese temples and worship houses, worshiping a mixture of Buddhist, Taoist, and deities like Mazu.  Lungshan Temple is one of largest and oldest temples in Taiwan.” – www.guidetotaipei.com

 

One of the annex buildings of Lungshan Temple; at the Temple worshipping includes a mixture of Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, and deities like Mazu; Taipei, Taiwan

One of the annex buildings of Lungshan Temple; at the Temple worshiping includes a mixture of Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, and deities like Mazu; Taipei, Taiwan

 

The Temple is dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy (Guan-Yin in Chinese, or Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit).  The statue of Guan-Yin survived the bombing from the American aircraft in 1945 when the whole main hall and part of the right annex were burned – it was left intact.  The Temple’s guide pamphlet notes: “This is the most famous manifestation of efficacy of Lungshan Temple”.

 

A juxtaposition of roof lines at Lungshan Temple, Taipei, Taiwan

A juxtaposition of roof lines at Lungshan Temple, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Din Tai Fung is probably the most famous restaurant in Taiwan, where the amazing dim sum continue to draw in the masses; this is the original restaurant in the ever expanding group of re

Din Tai Fung is probably the most famous restaurant in Taiwan, where the amazing dim sum continue to draw in the masses; this is the original restaurant in the ever expanding group of restaurants across Taiwan, China, and now Japan, the U.S. and other locales; Taipei, Taiwan

 

Din Tai Fung is probably the most famous restaurant in Taiwan, where the amazing dim sum continue to draw in the masses.  While there are more than a half-dozen Din Tai Fun restaurants in Taipei, we wanted to go to the mother ship —  the original Din Tai Fung on Xinyi Road.  Reservations are not accepted; as typical, we had a 15- to 30-minute wait, but this dining experience and the sublime “Shanghai” soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) made it worth the wait.

 

Here is the small “army” of cooks making the sublime “Shanghai” soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) at Din Tai Fung, Taipei, Taiwan

Here is the small “army” of cooks making the sublime “Shanghai” soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) at Din Tai Fung, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was erected in honor and memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic

The most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was erected in honor and memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China, and was opened in 1980 as part of a national park and gathering area, Taipei

 

The National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a very famous symbol of Taipei and the Republic of China.  The large space in front of the memorial is the site for both national celebrations and protests.   The octagon-shaped white building rises 76 meters / 249 feet and is covered with blue tiles and red accents, echoing the flag of the Republic of China (Taiwan).  The eight sides represent the Chinese cultural symbolism of the number eight which is traditionally associated with fortune and wealth.  The two sets of 89 steps represent Chiang’s age of death and lead up to main hall housing a large bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek that is watched over by two honor guards who change shifts every hour with a rifle twirling ceremony.

 

The characters behind Chiang Kai-Shek_s statue read "Ethics", "Democracy", and "Science", and the inscriptions on the side read "The purpose of life is to improve the general life of h

The characters behind Chiang Kai-Shek’s statue read “Ethics”, “Democracy”, and “Science”, and the inscriptions on the side read “The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity” and “The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe”, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park viewed from the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek in the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park viewed from the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek in the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The National Theater & Concert Hall, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

The National Theater & Concert Hall, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Originally founded within the walls of the Beijing Forbidden City in 1925, the present-day National Palace Museum moved to Taipei's Shilin District following the Republic of China govern

Originally founded within the walls of the Beijing Forbidden City in 1925, the present-day National Palace Museum moved to Taipei’s Shilin District following the Republic of China government relocation in 1949 with an official opening for the public in 1965, Taiwan

 

The National Palace Museum is famed for the world’s best collection of historic Chinese artifacts and is a must see for first-time (and returning) visitors to the city.  “Originally founded within the walls of the Beijing Forbidden City in 1925, the present-day National Palace Museum moved to Taipei’s Shilin District following the Republic of China government relocation in 1949 with an official opening for the public in 1965.  Over 600,000 of the most precious artifacts within the collection were moved to Taiwan to prevent their desecration during and after the Chinese Civil War.  The museum is currently celebrating its 90TH Anniversary.  A fully modern museum, the Palace Museum also participates in Taiwan’s National Digital Archives Program, using the latest in digital technology to digitally preserve its ancient artifacts as well as high technology to improve the museum experience for visitors. Spread over 4 floors and 2 exhibition halls, the museum’s exhibits continuously rotate, as only a small percentage of the museum’s collection can be displayed at a given time to prevent wear.“ – www.guidetotaipei.com

 

The National Palace Museum is famed for the world_s best collection of historic Chinese artifacts and is a must see for first-time (and returning) visitors to Taipei, Taiwan

The National Palace Museum is famed for the world’s best collection of historic Chinese artifacts and is a must see for first-time (and returning) visitors to Taipei, Taiwan

 

Walking Taipei (part I), Taiwan

The exterior of the Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, one of the “Top 100 Religious Sites of Taiwan”, Taipei, Taiwan

The exterior of the Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, one of the “Top 100 Religious Sites of Taiwan”, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Capital and largest city of Taiwan (Republic of China), Taipei lies just 110 miles / 180 kilometers across the Taiwan Strait from mainland China.  First-time as well as returning visitors find a dynamic, cosmopolitan metropolis, notable for its welcoming residents, livability, excellent cuisine and vibrant night markets.  Less than an hour from the pier in the port city of Keelung, Taipei counts the treasures at the National Palace Museum and the imposing Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall among its “must-sees.”  Visitors can “take it all in” from the 360-degree observation deck at Taipei 101, one of Asia’s tallest buildings, and the tallest in Talwan – with the world’s fastest elevator.  Beyond the city, verdant tea plantations, Chiufen Village and the striking scenery along the rugged northeast coast lie within reach.

 

The Matchmaker Diety helps single people find their suitable partners and is one of the most famous marriage deities in Taiwan, Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, Taipei, Taiwan

The Matchmaker Diety helps single people find their suitable partners and is one of the most famous marriage deities in Taiwan, Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The “Top 100 Religious Sites of Taiwan” encompass a hundred iconic religious sites and activities that were chosen via public vote and announced by the Ministry of the Interior on Nov. 22, 2013.  These sites embody the history of Early Taiwanese settlers and illustrate both the diversity and the island’s religious landscape.  “Taipei Xiahia City God Temple and Welcoming of the City God on the 13th day of the fifth lunar month” is Northern Taiwan’s foremost religious procession, while the Temple itself is the most popular shrine for worship of the Matchmaking God.

 

This was our favorite Buddha – one who blesses visitors to have wisdom, peaceful minds and good fortune, Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, Taipei, Taiwan

This was our favorite Buddha – one who blesses visitors to have wisdom, peaceful minds and good fortune, Taipei Xiahai City God Temple, Taipei, Taiwan

 

A map of our ship's route from Japan to China to Taiwan (and then on to Saipan and Hawaii)

At the request of one of our readers, we are including a map of our ship’s route from Japan to China to Taiwan (and then on to Saipan and Hawaii), centered on Taipei’s port city of Keelung, Taiwan

 

One of the entrances to a food shopping district full of small shops with a wide variety of local delicacies, Taipei, Taiwan

One of the entrances to a food shopping district full of small shops with a wide variety of local delicacies, Taipei, Taiwan

 

This shop specialized in dried seafood, with scallops in front and lots of sharks fin (loose and in transparent plastic packages on the wall), Taipei, Taiwan

This shop specialized in dried seafood, with scallops in front and lots of sharks fin (loose and in transparent plastic packages on the wall), Taipei, Taiwan

 

Deluxe packages of the Chinese delicacy sharks fin (used for soups), Taipei, Taiwan

Deluxe packages of the Chinese delicacy sharks fin (used for soups), Taipei, Taiwan

 

Loose sharks fin, Taipei, Taiwan

Loose sharks fin, Taipei, Taiwan

 

This kitchen and housewares shop had beautiful, locally made tea sets; this set of metal tea cups were double walled, providing an insulating (“Thermos”-like) cup, Taipei, Taiwan

This kitchen and housewares shop had beautiful, locally made tea sets; this set of metal tea cups were double walled, providing an insulating (“Thermos”-like) cup, Taipei, Taiwan

 

The bakery next door had excellent home made pastries – mini curry pastries on the left, and delicious shredded radish pastries that we tried, on the right; Taipei, Taiwan

The bakery next door had excellent home made pastries – mini curry pastries on the left, and delicious shredded radish pastries that we tried, on the right; Taipei, Taiwan

 

Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko National Park Arch Gate at the park_s east entrance, Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko National Park Arch Gate at the park’s east entrance, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Known as Karenko during the Japanese occupation from1895 to the end of World War II, Hualien is now the largest municipality on Taiwan’s east coast.  Many visitors use Hualien as a base for exploring the natural and man-made wonders of Taiwan’s most popular attraction, Taroko National Park.  Just a short drive from the city, the park encompasses peaceful grottoes, waterfalls, steep marble-faced canyons festooned with dangling ferns, and miles of hiking trails.  A series of palm-lined, seaside parks make for pleasant strolling, while Chingszu Temple and the city’s Stone Sculptural Museum offer cultural appeal.

 

Entering Swallow Grotto, a particularly beautiful section of the gorge, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

Entering Swallow Grotto, a particularly beautiful section of the gorge, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Looking through a natural “window” in the wall of the gorge wall at a portion of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

Looking through a natural “window” in the wall of the gorge at a portion of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Widely regarded as Taiwan’s most extraordinary natural attraction, Taroko National Park is known for its sheer marble cliffs, deep chasms, winding tunnels and the Liwu River, which continues to carve its way through the stony landscape.  This singular topography originated over 230 million years ago with the formation of coral reefs in the tropical shallows of present-day Taiwan; over time, the coral was transformed into limestone, then into marble by the intense heat and pressure of geotectonic movements.  Major highlights in the park include Yanzihkou (Swallow Grotto), a particularly beautiful section of Taroko Gorge; Changchun (Eternal Spring), Shrine, a beautiful cliff-side shrine with a gushing spring that overlooks the Liwu River, dedicated to the 450 workers who lost their lives building the highway; and the Shakadang Trail, which reveals Tung trees and vibrant aquamarine pools strewn with boulders.

 

The walkway, carved through the gorge, is visible on the right side of this photograph of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

The walkway, carved through the gorge, is visible on the right side of this photograph of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

This singular topography originated over 230 million years ago with the formation of coral reefs in the tropical shallows of present-day Taiwan; over time, the coral was transformed into

This singular topography originated over 230 million years ago with the formation of coral reefs in the tropical shallows of present-day Taiwan; over time, the coral was transformed into limestone, then into marble by the intense heat and pressure of geotectonic movements, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

As we went further into Seallow Grotto, the gorge narrowed; the walkway is visible on the left side of the photographs, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

As we went further into Swallow Grotto, the gorge narrowed; the walkway is visible on the left side of the photographs, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

After hiking in Swallow Grotto, we drove to this bridge in the park where we hiked up the hillside to a Buddhist temple and pagoda (following photographs), Taroko National Park, Hualien,

After hiking in Swallow Grotto, we drove to this bridge in the park where we hiked up the hillside to a Buddhist temple and pagoda (following photographs), Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

A golden Buddha seated upon four elephants outside the outbuilding of the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

A golden Buddha seated upon four elephants outside the outbuilding of the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan; note the “backwards” swastikas on the side of the building predate the Nazis taking the historic Buddhist symbol and reversing it for the symbol of the National Socialist [German Worker’s] Party of Germany in the 1930s

A beautiful pagoda set in the forest next to the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

A beautiful pagoda set in the forest next to the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

A Golden Buddha with the mountains of Taroko National Park as a backdrop, Hualien, Taiwan

A beautiful pagoda set in the forest next to the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

After a delicious Chinese banquet luncheon at the Silks Palace Taroko Hotel, we concluded our visit to Taroko National Park with a 90-minute hike along the riverside Shakadang Trail that

After a delicious Chinese banquet luncheon at the Silks Palace Taroko Hotel, we concluded our visit to Taroko National Park with a 90-minute hike along the riverside Shakadang Trail that was previously known as the Mysterious Valley Trail, revealing vibrant aquamarine pools strewn with boulders; Hualien, Taiwan

 

The rock formations along the trail were beautiful, reflecting millions of years of Mother Nature shifting the “ground” that now formed the rock walls of the gorge, Taroko National P

The rock formations along the trail were beautiful, reflecting millions of years of Mother Nature shifting the “ground” that now formed the rock walls of the gorge, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Taichung, Taiwan

A view of Sun Moon Lake from above the rear temple hall, decicated to Confucius, at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

A view of Sun Moon Lake from above the rear temple hall, dedicated to Confucius, at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Perhaps not quite as well known as the capital city of Taipei, Taichung has in recent years claimed its place on the “where to go in Taiwan” list.  Inviting urban parks and several well-respected museums, including one devoted to the massive earthquake of 1999, provide counterpoint to the city’s industrial vibe.  Food lovers are drawn to the multicultural cuisine offered by street vendors at Feng Chia Night Market.  Situated on the island nation’s west coast, Taichung is also a convenient gateway to the natural wonders of Taiwan’s interior, including Sun Moon Lake.  We enjoyed an outstanding barbeque meat dinner at Kazama in downtown Taichung the evening we docked in the harbor a few miles outside of town in the Port of Taichung (a major container port for the country).

On our full day in Taichung, we joined a group via a chartered bus to explore Taiwan’s largest and, what many would agree, most beautiful natural lake.  Situated at the very heart of the country at an elevation of nearly 2500 feet / 750 meters, Sun Moon Lake is named for Lalu Island at the center of the lake —shaped like the sun on one side and a crescent moon on the other.  To reach the lake was about a 90-minute scenic drive inland towards the Central Mountains region, a popular honeymoon spot.  Additionally, we were informed that the road that encircles the lake is often cited as one of the world’s most beautiful bike rides.

 

The entrance gate at Wen-Wu Temple with Sun Moon Lake in the background, Taichung, Taiwan

The entrance gate at Wen-Wu Temple with Sun Moon Lake in the background, Taichung, Taiwan

 

We began our day at Sun Moon Lake with a tour of Wen-Wu Temple, its orange-red tile rooftops a local landmark since 1938.  “Previously, two temples were located on the coast of Sun Moon Lake.  In 1919, the Japanese colonial government constructed a dam to generate hydroelectric power, causing the lake’s water level to rise.  The two temples were subsequently torn down and consolidated at the temple’s present location in 1938.  After the Japanese handed over Taiwan to the Republic of China in 1945, the government invested in developing tourism around the lake.  Wen Wu temple was rebuilt again in 1969, increasing its size and constructing it in the Chinese palace style.  The temple consists of three halls.  The first hall, located on the second floor of the front hall, is a shrine devoted to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature.  The central hall is devoted to Guan Gong, the God of War, and the warrior-God Yue Fei.  The rear hall is dedicated to Confucius.  Chinese guardian lions are located in front of the temple, one male and one female.” — Wikipedia

 

The front temple hall of Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

The front temple hall of Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Details of the exterior of the front temple hall of Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

Details of the exterior of the front temple hall of Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Chinese guardian figures decorate the edges of the roofs at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

Chinese guardian figures decorate the edges of the roofs at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Details of an interior ceiling at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

Details of an interior ceiling at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

The beautiful rooftops of the multiple halls of Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

The beautiful rooftops of the multiple halls of Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Prayer bells at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

Prayer bells at Wen-Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Following our time at the Temple and its fabulous views of the Lake, we had a superb Chinese banquet-style luncheon at the elegant Jade Luminous Restaurant inside the five-star Fleur de Chine Hotel, on a hillside on the edge of the lake with excellent views.  After lunch we drove to Ita Thao aboriginal village where we saw an indigenous cultural performance (no photographs) and had a chance to explore the lakeside shops and food stalls.

Our last stop was at the Hugosum big-leaf black tea farm on the hillsides of Sun Moon Lake.  Originally established in the early 1900s by the Japanese (who occupied Taiwan Island — then called Formosa Island — from the late 1800s through 1945), the tea farm is today operated by second generation Taiwan Chinese family owners.  Their goal is to both educate customers in black tea and to promote local culture and Taiwan black tea culture.  The farm produces six exceptional varieties of black tea.  Our favorite in the tasting was Jade Black Tea, so special that some people call it “Taiwan Fragrance” (the fragrance is of natural cinnamon and mint).

 

Black tea growing at the Hugosum big-leaf black tea farm, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

Black tea growing at the Hugosum big-leaf black tea farm, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

The main crop around Sun Moon Lake (show here) is betel palms, grown for the betel nuts, Hugosum big-leaf black tea farm, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

The main crop around Sun Moon Lake (show here) is betel palms, grown for the betel nuts, Hugosum big-leaf black tea farm, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, Taiwan

 

Eat local: A home-cooked international dinner party sailing the South China Sea in our shipboard apartment

The dining room set for a festive home-cooked dinner in our apartment on the ship as it sailed across the South China Sea, Asia

The dining room set for a festive home-cooked dinner in our apartment on the ship as it sailed across the South China Sea, Asia

 

With a day at sea after sailing from Hong Kong (on the way to Taiwan), we invited friends over for a home-cooked meal featuring foods from literally around the world.  One of the great joys of having a kitchen (and pantry) in our shipboard apartment is that we can purchase great local ingredients as we visit ports on all seven continents and enjoy dishes made from them further in our journeys.  Our South China Sea dinner began with porcini risotto with grated fresh Parmesan cheese – all ingredients were sourced at Eataly in Rome, Italy.  The main course was a fish stew with local fresh salmon, shrimp, clams and calamari sourced from the Auckland Fish Market in Auckland, New Zealand and then kept in our freezer.  Our Caesar salad (not pictured) featured Romaine lettuce from Hong Kong and croutons from Semifreddi’s Bakery in Berkeley, CA, sourced in Berekely.  Dessert was a frozen raspberry spuma with fresh raspberries from Hong Kong.  With tea and coffee, the chocolate cookies were sourced at Eataly in Rome, Italy and the dark chocolate covered almonds were from Paris, France.  Thanks to the Executive Chef, our Intrepid Explorer, for leading the cooking team — with your blogger — in the kitchen to have fun creating these tasty dishes.

 

Dinner began with porcini risotto with grated fresh Parmesan cheese, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

Dinner began with porcini risotto with grated fresh Parmesan cheese, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

 

The main course was a fish stew with local fresh salmon, shrimp, clams and calamari, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

The main course was a fish stew with local fresh salmon, shrimp, clams and calamari, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

 

Dessert was a frozen raspberry spuma with fresh raspberries, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

Dessert was a frozen raspberry spuma with fresh raspberries, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

 

With tea and coffee, we all enjoyed the chocolate cookies and dark chocolate covered almonds, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

With tea and coffee, we all enjoyed the chocolate cookies and dark chocolate covered almonds, shipboard dinner, South China Sea, Asia

 

Eat local: Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui District, Hong Kong, S.A.R. (Special Administrative Region), People’s Republic of China

Exterior of the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China--

Exterior of the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

On our last day in Hong Kong we and some friends decided to splurge and enjoy a dim sum luncheon at one of the city’s finest restaurants — Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, located on Salisbury Road near the Star Ferry Terminal in the Tsim Sha Tsui District of Kowloon.  As shown below, we ordered up a feast and had a light supper that night! Eating at Spring Moon this visit keeps our record intact – it’s the only restaurant we’ve dined at on every visit to Hong Kong

 

A formal British-style afternoon “high” tea is served in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

A formal British-style afternoon “high” tea is served in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Beautiful Art Deco era woodwork and stained glass decorate the dining room of the Spring Moon Cantonese Restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Beautiful Art Deco era woodwork and stained glass decorate the dining room of the Spring Moon Cantonese Restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

“The Peninsula’s Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant presents fine Chinese cuisine in its purest form, steered by renowned Chinese Cuisine Executive Chef Gordon Leung. Specialties include an array of seafood, superlative dim sum and the restaurant’s acclaimed XO sauce made to a secret recipe.  Dim sum at Spring Moon is a timeless classic, featuring expertly crafted favourites from pan-fried dumplings filled with pork, cabbage and mushrooms to baked crispy buns with minced Wagyu beef, onions and black pepper and steamed red Sicilian prawn soup dumplings with a refined twist.” – http://www.hongkong.peninsula.com

 

Local “Hairy” Crab meat served in the shell, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Local “Hairy” Crab meat served in the shell, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Beef in pastry with sesame seeds, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Beef in pastry with sesame seeds, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Steamed vegetable dumplings in vegetable dough wrappers, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Steamed vegetable dumplings in vegetable dough wrappers, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Crab and pork steamed dumplings, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Crab and pork steamed dumplings, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Chicken, green onions and mushroom steamed dumplings, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Chicken, green onions and mushroom steamed dumplings, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Scallop and minced pork siu mai dumplings, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Scallop and minced pork siu mai dumplings, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Barbeque pork, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Barbeque pork, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Noodles with pork and the house special XO sauce, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Noodles with pork and the house special XO sauce, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China

 

Special vegetables, including cloud ear mushrooms and greens, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People_s Republic of China

Special vegetables, including cloud ear mushrooms and greens, Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, S.A.R., People’s Republic of China