Friday, 15 April 2016

Shifen Old Street

BBQ Steamboat Lunch@SongJiang Rd
After we left from the Grand Hotel in Taipei on the same day, we proceeded to our Steamboat BBQ lunch that located at 104, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, Songjiang Rd, No.152, 3rd floor which is famous for the locals and tourists too.
Signage Pole leading to BBQ Restaurant
BBQ Restaurant (大戈壁蒙古烤肉)
This BBQ Restaurant which is close to the Taiwan Cooperative Bank, This big restaurant out side exterior looks like an office building, packed with foreign tourists like us outside. A word at the stairwell, inscriptions reads 'Lingnan Eighty Elderly Rugged Bold Word Wind' 
 Lift at Lobby Building
This old lift at the building that takes you to the BBQ restaurant at 3rd floor. Some locals and tourists would prefer taking the staircase instead of waiting for the lift.
Hubby (yellow) walking down the staircase
Bamboo Poles built around the staircase
What surprised me is the bamboo poles were installed around the staircase from bottom to the top at the end. I presume that the owner of the building did this, is to prevent 'playful' children and young adults as well as elderly from mishaps or falling down and injured themselves while roaming around the staircase of the building. Will Singapore follow this at all buildings, hotels, housing estates as well as shopping centres. Safety precaution is a must.
BBQ Restaurant@3rd floor
We reached the BBQ restaurant, was greeted by 'laughing' buddha and two white lions at the door before entering the restaurant. It is very spacious dinning restaurant with full of yummy foods as well as desserts.
Spacious dinning
photo credit by BBQ Rest
It is like an old fashioned style restaurant and lots of space. Our meals can be found a few of Taiwanese foods. Most tourists are from Korea, Japan, Singapore as well as the mainland China.
Row of Meats
Look at the whole row of meat is also very spectacular sight, choice of beef, chicken and pork. I am more curious about how comes no lamb? Mongolian steppe wind-swept pastures of cows and sheep. I think pork and chicken are the best choice to fill with other ingredients.
Pork and Chicken chosen
 Raw meats and veg filled in a Bowl
Varieties of seasoning
Finally, added together with seasonings and there are lots of varieties of seasoning you choose. Each is also marked national language: Soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, rice wine, pepper and pineapple. Remember Yuantaizu Mongolian barbecue all the types with an addition of pepper, I have added a little of each seasoning as if I am doing a chemistry experiments. 
Raw foods given to the staff for frying
Then we queued in a row at the hot zone (frying) but luckily, not many visitors and tourists as we came in earlier as expected. I put my bowl on the table shown an 'arrow'  (pic above foreground) waiting and the staff would take our bowls to fry in a big pan-wok stove in mins.
Done: Dishes Fried bowl
Other dishes from Mongolian BBQ area
Mongolian barbecue area, hot zone, Mala Tang area, deli, grass jelly and lettuce, dessert snacks zone as well as beverage area welcome you to feast on it.
 Steamboat BBQ
We sat on the 'round' table, shared with others, a large pot of hot soup divided into two different soups - normal soup and spicy soup.
Varieties of Sweet Desserts & Herbal Hot Punch (pot)
After a meal, we had a DIY dessert in the burning grass jelly and cooked lettuce. Many visitors on burning grass jelly are very interested as they choose and fill up as they like. Burning grass jelly in the area is expected to have a variety of full of red beans, barley, peanuts, green beans, soybeans and so on. I picked some barley, green beans, jelly and top up with hot herbal punch in a bowl. It's yummy and sweet, anyway I didn't put much sweet plums. There is an dessert snack area too.
After we had hearty lunch at the BBQ restaurant, we proceeded to the Shifen Old Street (十分老街) to release the sky lantern at the old railway track.
Slope road to the JingAn Suspension Bridge
 JingAn Suspension Bridge (静安吊桥)
Finally, we reached to our destination, walked up the slope would take us in 8 mins to reach the bridge called "JingAn Suspension Bridge (静安吊桥)", a 128-meter-long span connecting the villages of Shifen and Nanshan, is one of only a few well-preserved pedestrian suspension bridges in Taiwan. Jingan Suspension Bridge was originally used for transporting coal. After the operation was ended, the government renovated it to become a pedestrian bridge. But we would give it a miss as we decided to go Shifen Old street instead.
Pingxi (平溪) and Shifen (十分) are both towns rich in culture and history and provide a nice glimpse at Taiwan's beautiful natural scenery. Events such as the Sky Lantern Festival draw visitors year round to create a Chinese Lantern (天燈) with a wish written on it to set into the sky above.
Row of wooden houses
How Shifen got its name, there used to be 10 families living in the town (ten portions). Shifen Old Street is the most famous stop along Pingxi Branch Rail Line. The 13km rail line was originally built in 1918 to transport coal and was re-purposed as a tourism route in 1992. All the shops sell either sky lanterns or souvenirs.
Stopper Pulley
Releasing sky lanterns (放天灯) is a significant ritual in Taiwan and the most notable places to do that would be Pingxi and Shifen. It’s a fun experience for most visitors like us to Taiwan as well as the locals too; there’s just something very alluring about being able to write our wishes on a lantern which would carry our prayers to the sky (祈福), thinking of it as a direct courier service to heaven.
Hubby wrote wishes words with a brush
We were using a calligraphy brush to doodle on the lanterns, wrote Chinese and English words on a lantern which is a colourful paper lantern that you can write your well wishes on it, and then send it off into the skies for good luck. 
Wishing lantern
 Posed with a lantern
After we wrote our well-wishes on a lantern, shared with a family of four. We posed for a group picture, using my mobile phone by a kind lady of a group.
 Shopkeeper lighted a fire on a lantern
Then a shopkeeper helped to light a fire before releasing the sky lantern in the sky in the hope the heaven will hear us our wishes.
 Again posed with lighted lantern
Releasing Sky Lantern for Good Luck
Finally, we released the sky lantern (放天灯) into the sky and hope the heaven will see to our wishes and to be heard our prayers. It was kinda surreal for us to watch it rise. Do you know what will happen to the sky lanterns after it released? Well, apparently they stay in the air for 8 to10 mins, floating to the mountain behind and then fall back to the ground after the candle finishes burning. The shop pays workers to pick up the fallen lanterns and afterwards to dump it away. Some says that the locals collect the fallen lanterns and sell them to be re-cycled, and even make more money out of collecting/selling the fallen lanterns. Well, it's not bad anyway as long as they earn extra income.
The row of shops along Shifen Old Street are close to the train line. It’s also pretty spectacular sight and yet dangerous that the visitors actually stand on the tracks to release the sky lanterns, and have to shun when a train comes along. 
I saw the other group releasing sky lantern into the sky and they were very happy and delighted to see it flew to the sky. Some people like to do this in the evening or at night, cos you'll be able to see the lights from the lantern more visibly. It's up to you, because I think that at daytime means you can see better and clearer, also better at photo-taking everywhere, even though night time may be prettier but very dark and hardy see the row of shops which is dim at night.
Fire is seen inside a lantern
Talk about an oncoming train and an adrenalin rush. But don't worry, the shopkeepers are well prepared and very familiar with the train timings and will ask you to get off the tracks before the trains pass through on the track or when we hear the sirens of the train.
A red lamp is seen in the centre
You can see a 'red lamp' (centre) is seen at the far end of the shops that gives a warning to the visitors about oncoming train pass through when the lamp light is on.
Row of shops selling lanterns
The row of shops are selling these lanterns, and prices vary, depending on which one you choose. You have those with single colors, two colors, or the most expensive ones which come in four colors. So I chose two colours (red and yellow) instead, the same goes to the family of four.
Each color is supposed to represent something different: Red for good fortune, Pink for romance, Peach-red for decisions and opportunities, Orange for money, Yellow for success in school or career, White for health, Green for growth, Blue for hope, and also Purple for idealism.
Behind me, a lantern above the sky
I stood posed on the railway track with the row of shops on each side, behind me is a lantern that had released in the sky. It was indeed interesting and it is less dangerous to walk along the track. By the way, the railway track is still in use, and every once in a while, a train passes through and everyone has to scram off the track. The trains are quite slow as if the train driver knows the presence visitors around, releasing the lantern on this track.
Thereafter, we bought some souvenirs and they look great hanging by the window at our home.

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