Wufenpu, Taiwan


Since I went back to various places more than once in Taiwan, I'll blog about the places in each post, rather than what I did on each specific day. 

In this post I'll talk about Wufenpu (五分埔), where I went to twice.

I insisted that we visit Wufenpu on the first day we were there, simply because, well... I only brought three tops. two pairs of shorts, two dresses and one set of pajamas.

Usually, on trips, I bring so much stuff that my luggage will be full to the brim. This time, I had a lot of empty space in the bag, awaiting all the new things I'd buy in Taiwan. Namely, clothes. When I went to Taiwan, my luggage weighed a measly 11kg... AWAITING ALL THE NEW CLOTHES.

As I said loftily to my mother, who asked why my luggage was so light this time around, "It'll be heavy by the time I come home... with CLOTHES." 

You can probably tell what my main priority was on this trip. 

After we (that's Keiko, Poh Nee, Aeryn, and me) had breakfast and gotten our Taiwanese SIM cards - remember to bring two pieces of identification documents to the mobile phone shop, so they can activate and register a Taiwanese SIM card number for you in your name (of utmost importance if you live on the Internet, like I do) - we went shopping in Wufenpu. 

We got on the Bannan (板南) line on the Taipei MRT (the blue line), and headed towards Houshanpi (後山埤). Once there, we followed the crowd, and eventually found ourselves standing opposite this famous restaurant for lu rou fan - Hu Xu Zhang Lu Rou Fan (鬍鬚張魯肉飯) - or, Mustached Zhang's Braised Pork Rice in English.

You know, my Mandarin-reading skills are not the greatest. In Taiwan I struggled so much with the traditional Chinese words EVERYWHERE. I didn't even realise the first two words were 胡须 (in simplified Chinese) until I Googled it about thirty seconds ago.

I bring shame to my Chinese roots. 

We walked across towards this restaurant, and then we went left. Tadah, we arrived at the Wufenpu Shopping District! Apparently Wufenpu is a tourist district, because when we told Keiko's boyfriend (a Taiwanese) that we were going to Wufenpu, he said "Do people still go to Wufenpu?"

I guess the Malaysian equivalent would be like Petaling Street, KL Tower, or Times Square - places were Malaysians rarely go to but you'll see tons of tourists there. 

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Wufenpu shopping district has my favourite kind of working hours. Shops and stalls basically only open after 1PM or so, so don't plan to go early or else you would have nothing to do.

In Wufenpu, rows after rows of shops after shops of clothes after clothes exist - a universe of clothes across several streets. We had ambitiously thought we could walk in Wufenpu for about two to three hours before moving on to a new place - but nope, we stayed until 6.30PM or so, when we first arrived at 1.30PM.

To give you an idea of how many clothes are being sold in Wufenpu, here are a few pictures I randomly snapped over my two visits to Wufenpu.

Oh hey Poh Nee. 

So imagine all the above about twenty-fold, and then you would get an idea of how Wufenpu is like.

Oh hey, it's me in my holographic OOTD that day. I found a lot of holographic products on sale - I'm glad to know that I still have an eye for fashion trends. 

I'd say Wufenpu is an area that consist mostly of fashion that will appeal to women, with a few shops here and there that cater to guy fashion. So if you are interested in coming here to shop, and have male friends who do not like shopping, it is perhaps best for your friendship to ask them to visit elsewhere while you browse clothing here.

Alternatively, if you want to break a friendship down, please by all means drag your male friends here with you. Make them stand there in boredom as you look at clothes after clothes.

As for the clothes themselves, well, be prepared to look very hard for the kind of clothes that will suit you, since styles vary wildly in different shops. After I got over the overwhelming amount of clothes on display, I did not buy as much as I thought I would, only finding a skirt here or a top there in intervals of 30 minutes that I actually liked. Plus, of course, I wanted the best bargains, which limited a lot of products that went for 500 TWD and above.

It didn't kill the excitement whenever I got a top for 150 TWD (RM16.20!) or a top and skirt set for 300TWD (RM32.38) though! I got two dresses there for 300TWD due to some minor wonky stitching and dirt on the dresses, but it was RM16.20 per dress so I'm not that fussed. It still looked nice, and I don't suppose people will be staring at my dresses too hard to find the miniature wonky stitch problem that led to the cheaper price.

I hope.

There's also a food section in Wufenpu itself, although the food was just what you'd get anywhere else so I will not specially recommend it or anything. The food section is located near the temple within Wufenpu.

The gods as they watched us eat.

People, say hi to Keiko! Our host for the trip. :D We used to say she looked like Mitsuki Ohishi of ViVi. What do you think?

We sat down to a table right in front of the temple, and ordered from a stall using their ordering slips - basically, if you don't read Chinese, you're screwed for this, and don't need to order. You may play Russian Roulette though, I guess.

Even those of us who can read Chinese managed to screw up.

This is... beef noodles SOUP. Notice the emphasis on the SOUP? Well, that's basically what it is. It's just noodles, vegetables, and beef stock SOUP... without the beef.

You see, we made the assumption that 牛肉汤面 (Niu Rou Tang Mian/ Beef Noodles Soup) was beef noodles of the soup variety, and 牛肉面 (Niu Rou Mian/ Beef Noodles) to be beef noodles of the dry variety.

Turns out there's NO such thing as beef noodles of the dry variety.

Niu Rou Mian means beef noodles soup with the beef in it, and Niu Rou Tang Mian just means noodles in beef stock soup.

Great. Would have been nice to know prior to ordering. I just went with the beef-less beef noodles soup anyway, since I wasn't that hungry. It was not bad - I finished all the noodles, but the beef taste of the soup was a tad too strong for me to finish it all.

The second time I came back to Wufenpu, we went to try out Mustached Zhang's Braised Pork Rice!

There are a lot of scooters in Taiwan. Traffic in Taiwan is crazy - they drive on the left, which confused the heck out of us Malaysians. Plus there are no clear dividers, and sometimes when you're crossing the road, scooters and cars will still turn right onto your path if there are no pedestrians in the way. That freaked me out quite a bit for the first couple of days, before I laissez-faire the whole thing and just walked when I could.

Laissez-faire is my word for YOLO.

This is the interior of the restaurant. Seems like Mustached Zhang's done pretty well for himself.

When we were there it was 4PM on a Wednesday afternoon, so that may account for the emptiness of the room. We ordered the braised pork rice, as well as the water spinach, which seemed a fitting and much-needed dish after days of constipation jokes.

For example -
*after a whole bout of eating at a night market*

"Oh my God I finally need the toilet!"
"Well, I guess the new shit is finally pushing the old shit down."

I'll leave it to your imagination who said what. Haha.

With that appetising sentence, here is a picture of both the braised pork rice and the water spinach dish.

Now that I think about it, it's a bit of a pity that braised pork rice have a brownish topping after the appetising sentence.

Anyway, I've only had braised pork rice twice on this trip, but I must say I prefer the braised pork rice from 台南滷三塊 on my first night... perhaps because it was more melt-in-your-mouth than this one. Mustached Zhang's version is dryer than the other one, so while it wasn't bad, it didn't live up to the hype I had built up for lu rou fan after my first dish.

So yes, I vote for 台南滷三塊 over 鬍鬚張魯肉飯. Sorry, Mustached Zhang.

As far as shopping goes, I'd say that Wufenpu ranked lower on my shopping hit list compared to the night markets, like Feng Jia Night Market in Taichung or even Shilin Night Market. Still, it's not a bad place to spend a few hours, and quite a few of the clothes I saw in Wufenpu I eventually saw in the blog shops here, proving that they all sell the same clothes... only when it gets to Malaysia, the price is already overblown by 30% to 40%, or even 100%.

The Disney socks I bought in Shilin Night Market for RM6 per pair, for example, were being sold here in Malaysia for RM15 - 16 per pair through the blog shops. Just imagine how much they'd cost when they go to places like the USA or England.

I started wearing my new clothes on Day 3, though, so I won't say shopping in Wufenpu was any kind of a bummer. I suppose I just had an overblown expectation of how much clothes I'd be buying on the first day, and when it was much smaller than the bags I envisioned I'd be carrying, I ended up being a tad disappointed.

Still, worth a go if you're a clothes-shopping addict (and female - sorry, males). Who knows, you might find something that will make the trek to Wufenpu worth it.

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