Wanderlust: Taiwan

Barbie Cafe, Taiwan

14:03


Disclaimer: This post is supremely pink with lashes of pinkness.

Nothing brings joy to your travels more than a travel companion who is up to trying the stuff you want to do, however reluctantly. When I suggested to my bestie that we go visit the world's only Barbie Cafe in Taiwan, there was no hesitancy in agreeing to go despite the fact that he is most likely not the Barbie Cafe's target market.

Contrary to how I look, I am not the biggest fan of Barbie either. My heroines growing up were Sailor Moon and her gang, and the Disney Princesses.

I am however a fan of all things pink and sweet, so off the the Barbie Cafe I would go on my last official touristy day in Taiwan.

It is hard to miss the Barbie Cafe in Taipei. You can spot it across the road immediately - it's all decked in neon pink, the most colourful shop of the block.
































It'll be REALLY hard not to spot this huge chunk of pink.

The bestie became dubious upon seeing the storefront which screamed its existence in bright, neon pink, but gamely agreed to go inside... slightly reluctantly.
































Here he is trying his best not to kill me as I insistently kept taking pictures of him right next to the sign that says Barbie CAFE.

All that pink out front should prepare you for how the interior looks like.
































Pink ceiling, pink columns, pink bar, pink chairs, pink tables, and pink floors, check. Are you feeling pretty in pink yet?
































The high chairs at this high-top table even have pink tutu 'skirts' behind them. They are so cute! I want some for my future pink room!

Yes, I will have a pink room. Is there a problem?
































The interior of this place is lovely. Well, for a pink fanatic like me, it is lovely (although certain people may run from it screaming in terror). I adore the placement of the pictures on the wall, it's a bit like walking into Barbie's walk-in wardrobe where she hangs up all her portraits of her stunning achievements and travels.

Thank you for the interior design tips, Barbie.
































This is where I plopped myself down to sit, on a huge pink sofa, while K gets the pink chair.
































Here he is pretending he is not here.

By the way, I must say that while the interior design is probably every Barbie's/ pink's fan dream come true, the service was, in a nutshell, terrible.

I wandered in and sat myself down at this table. Not one of the staff blinked an eye or asked me how many were to be seated. Fine enough. Yet I sat down, and for the next ten to fifteen minutes or so, no one came by to take our orders.

All those pictures above this sentence? Those were taken while we were being neglected by the staff. I could have just sat there, taken all the pictures, and then walked out. I tried to get a few waiters/ waitresses' attention, but they all either deliberately not looked my way, or just seemed overly busy as they carried out food (there was a party in a private section outside).

I seriously debated walking out, when K managed to wave someone over to give us menus and take our orders.

Meh.

Service aside, I did have a lot of fun taking photos with this kind of background.
































Oh hello. That's me on the big pink sofa. :D
































Even the tissue papers have the Barbie Cafe's logo on them.

Also, if you were wondering, yes the toilets are pink too. However I did not take any pictures in there, so you will have to go see for yourself.

After a while, our desserts and drinks finally came along. I'd say the service is terrible when they are ignoring you, but I guess at least they did not muck up our orders.

Food is quite pricey, which I guess is par for the course in a themed restaurant. I was also terrified of the food tasting bad (ala how they say Hello Kitty Cafe's food taste like), but I actually quite liked our desserts and drinks. Nothing to shout about, but not terrible either. Plus they look cute.
































My chocolate cake with a Barbie ornament on top, and...
































The bestie and his cute pink strawberry cake, that even says 'Barbie' on top. Naw.
































I recall that this was very filling, so it's better to abstain from rich meals before this. They didn't skimp on the chocolate - a good thing.
































Meanwhile, this is my mango smoothie, which was quite tasty. I'm glad I didn't order a chocolate drink, or I will have puked from the heaviness of it all.
































I rate this place -

Ambiance : 10/ 10, you definitely get what you expect to see here,

Food: 6.5/10, pricey, but above average fare delicious, and

Service: 3.5/ 10, being ignored is not a pleasant feeling but we got some form of service, I guess.

When it came to paying I didn't even chance it on trying to get a passing staff's attention. I took our slip and walked to the counter to pay it.

Next to the counter was this cute cake, of which I had to take a picture of.
































Tadah! I think this Barbie cake was quite pricey. It says 1680 TWD at the bottom, which is as of now RM180.

*insert shocked face here*

Barbie why are you so expensive?!?!

There was a bit of an awkward moment when we left the cafe. I paid in advance, walked back in, sat around for a bit, and then got up and left. I was walking towards the entrance when I heard two waitresses (not the cashier that took my money) talking behind me about whether I paid at the table or not.

Oh, so NOW you pay attention to me.

This place is definitely not for those who hate Barbie (duh) or pink (double duh), or those who insist on perfect attentive service complete with smiling faces ,or those who want value-for-money.

As a themed cafe aficionado, however (plus lover of all things pink), I decree this Barbie Cafe a must-try at least once. Just prepare a fully-charged camera and be prepared for bad service if you're planning on paying this place a visit.

This is also my last post on my 2014 Taiwan trip. Took me about a month and a half to wrap it all up. Not too shabby... and now my blog will probably suffer a dearth of wanderlust-related posts since I'm still saving up for my next trip, wherever that is.

Where shall I go next? (IRL right now, bed. Yay for Saturday naps!)

Wanderlust: Taiwan

LINE FRIENDS Exhibition, NTSEC, Taiwan

23:50


They called it the LINE FRIENDS Interactive Amusement Park, but in my mind, an amusement park consists of rides like roller coasters and carriage rides, so an exhibition it is for me.

Have you ever heard of LINE? Simply put, it is East Asia's version of Facebook + WhatsApp rolled into one. While I use it more for chatting purposes, I do see some of my friends posting up details of their lives in statuses or via pictures on their LINE profile as well.

LINE is not just popular in Japan - it's popular in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and etc as well. In fact, it's so popular in Taiwan that from a brief period from January 15th 2014 to April 27th 2014, there was a LINE exhibition held at the National Taiwan Science Education Center (NTSEC) featuring LINE FRIENDS.











































I love LINE so much, that I had this as my phone wallpaper the whole time I was in Taiwan. This is from the app LINE DECO, you are welcomed.

Anyway, when I found out that this exhibition was still on during the time I was in Taiwan, I knew I had to go.

So after my half-day zoo trip, I took the long trip to the Shilin station, then waited anxiously around 3.45PM for the bus.

I must love to live dangerously. The exhibition closes at 5PM, and when it was nearly 4PM, I was despairing and being melodramatic about how the buses I was waiting for would be late and I wouldn't have time to visit the exhibition.

THEN IT CAME.

THE LINE BUS.

I didn't take a picture of it, because I was too busy getting on and praying it reaches NSTEC fast enough for me to take pictures with everything... and I do mean, EVERYTHING.

We could get our tickets on the LINE bus, which was green and cute and had all kinds of LINE characters all over it. Here's a picture of me, K, and our tickets on the bus, as it went on its way towards the NSTEC.
































Our tickets have Brown on it... my favourite LINE character, next to Cony. Those two are just so cute!











































This is also one of my favourite wallpapers to use from LINE DECO.
































Then we arrived at the exhibition! Rushed inside and started taking pictures non-stop for a full hour. They had to chase us out at the end when it was 5PM.
































Here's my boyfriend, Brown. Sorry Cony, but all's fair in love and war, you know. You understand, right?
































Right. May the best woman win!  Love you Cony muah.
































Or we could just make tons of Browns and have one each. I'm not greedy.
































"Oh, what's that? A date? Okay!"
































"Where shall we go on our date today, Brown?"
































"Look, a speed camera! Smile for the camera, Brown! What do you mean that's not how it works?"
































"What did you say about women not being better drivers?"
































"Ah watch out for that pothole!"
































"Yes. Yes! Wait, where's the ring? I'm sorry, I'm not getting married without a ring. Where's your symbol of commitment?!"


































LINE characters dressed up all punk-ishly.
































"Hey where you going, Brown? Vacation?"
































"Sounds nice. Let's all go on vacation! (even though I'm already on one!)"
































"I am in LINE town now."

































Chilling with my LINE friends.


Oops, getting a bit crowded here.


Tadah! Proof I was at the LINE Exhibition in Taipei.

The above pictures just basically showed what we did at the LINE FRIENDS exhibition all the time we were there. Make silly poses and take pictures with figurines, artwork, and cutouts of the LINE characters.

I loved the exhibition and just being among life-size figurines of the stickers I had come to know and love via my LINE messaging chat app. Entrance fee was quite pricey at 250TWD (RM26 what), though, more than four times my zoo fee WHAT.

The price didn't annoy me, but one other part did. There was no clear line for some of the figurines and artwork, so basically people would just run up to the figurine/artwork and take a picture with it even if you were there first. It was all  'first run in after the last person wraps up the photography, first served'.

This got annoying fast, especially since we only had an hour before the exhibition closed. There were a lot of things to take pictures with, which I suppose the entrance fee had to make up for (sculptors fee, mover's fee, exhibition fee etc).

We barely made the cut-off time - in fact we lingered on almost 5 minutes more just to wrap things up, while the staff kept saying "The exhibition is closed now, please leave the exhibition"... which we sort of ignored while we took the last few pictures.

Sorry. >_<

Ignoring the price and the small amount of people taking advantage of our hesitancy/ niceness, though, it was a must-visit for the LINE fan in me. I did get a fair amount of great pictures out of it with The Line Sticker Love of My Life.

Not something I'd go back and do again (not that I can, anyway, the exhibition has been taken down), BUT I did love being in LINE's world for a little while.

Now, if they had an actual, proper LINE theme park, though....

I'll totally go.

LINE love for life.

The end.

Wanderlust: Taiwan

Taipei Zoo, Taiwan

17:33


One of the things I was insistent on seeing in Taiwan was the baby panda, Yuan Zai.

Last year, the pandas at Taipei Zoo gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The people at Taipei Zoo are excellent at social media - they have a Youtube channel, and heaps of videos centering around their animals. The most popular ones are those of that adorable and curious baby panda - here are a couple of her videos.

Warning: addictive and adorable.








Having watched this baby panda's growth progression through videos, I wanted to see her in person. I wanted to hug her too, but I'll take what I can get. The day I went to Taipei Zoo was separated into three segments.

I was going to Taipei Zoo for the first half of the day, then to the LINE exhibition at the National Taiwan Science Education Center, and then to Shilin Night Market at night.

First on the agenda, however, was Taiwan-style breakfast! I went to a place near the hostel, the name of which can be literally translated as 'The Soya Bean King of the Four Seas'  (四海豆浆大王), located along the Western side of Chang An Road( 长安西路).
































A staple Taiwanese breakfast includes lots of carbs and oil. My favourite is the cruller. In Taiwan they come in a thinner width compared to Malaysian crullers, but the length is almost double the length of Malaysian crullers that I am used to. They are also crunchier, which to me is all that matters.

Other staple Taiwanese breakfast dish include soybean drinks, baked wheat cakes, turnip cake, xiao long baos, beef roll and etc.

The place that we went to had an old-school Asian coffee shop charm... or non-charm, depending how you looked at it. The staff would hand you a piece of paper to fill in your orders, they worked in hurried manners and didn't seem to feel inclined to help tourists with ordering (I mean, I knew what I was reading, but I can't imagine what it'll be like if you didn't know how to read Chinese and you showed up there).

There was a certain unpleasant smell in the air from all the food chemicals churning and meeting in the air particles, but I quickly got used to it.

After that, it was Taipei Zoo time.

I got lost trying to get to the Taipei Zoo Station. I am pretty sure I took the correct line, which is supposed to be the Wenshan-Neihu line, but somehow...the train we were on wasn't heading towards the Taipei Zoo Station. I then got off at some random station, and then tried Google Maps. Got on a bus that luckily headed towards Taipei Zoo, but then wasted an hour or so just getting there.

It was getting to be a regular occurrence on my trip, what with getting lost on my way to Jiufen and all too.

Meh.

At least I got to to all my destinations, okay?


































This was a grass sculpture located outside when we were walking towards the entrance to the zoo. I'm guessing these two are meant to be mama panda and baby panda.

To be honest, I thought these two sculptures were weird and looked nothing at all like mama panda and baby panda, when I came across THIS sculpture instead.



































The Chinese words at the bottom mean "love and protect animals". Yeah, okay, but I think breastfeeding deer is taking things a step too far. I certainly do not want to explain this sculpture to any kid.

"Mummy, why is that deer biting that woman's breast?"

"I don't know, sweetie. Let's move on."

I must say I am impressed with Taipei Zoo, and that is high praise from me for a zoo indeed. I was NOT impressed with Zoo Negara the last time I was there, which was more than a decade ago. Perth Zoo was averagely maintained and hugely overpriced.

Taipei Zoo does not only have an excellent social media video account in engaging with people, they are also WAY reasonably priced (as of now) at 60TWD per adult. That will be almost RM7 per adult, or AUD2.

You know how much Perth Zoo costs for adults?

24.50AUD.

You know how much Zoo Negara costs for Malaysian adults?

RM30. 

You know how much Zoo Negara costs for foreign adults? (This is an unfair practice, by the way, ripping off foreigners just on the basis that they earn more - I'm glad Perth Zoo/ Taipei Zoo didn't do this to me, a foreigner).

RM50.

I mean...

Really?

 photo Hades_zps46f081be.gif

Now that pandas are arriving at Zoo Negara, I have been informed that Malaysian adults will be charged an additional RM20 on top of the entrance fee to view the pandas, while foreign adults will be charged an additional RM30 to do so.

Oh, IT'S NOT JUST THAT, too, but there's also a VIEWING TIME LIMIT for the pandas after being charged those extra fees.

...

Are you freaking kidding me. I, as a Malaysian adult, have to pay RM50 just to go look at pandas? Do you know how much I earn a day, on average in a month?

LESS THAN RM100. 

 photo Pride-and-Prejudice_zps2ab47f42.gif

I didn't know going to the zoo was an endeavour meant for the rich nowadays.

Luckily Taipei Zoo had great rates of RM7, and I could go and look at pandas for about half an hour without being shooed off.

Pffft. YAY TAIPEI ZOO.

It was clean and well-run, too. I walked in and was amazed to see that McDonald's had taken root inside near the entrance. A smart idea, if you ask me, because all these school kids are going to see McDonald's and be lured there with their hapless parents.

Heck, even I was lured there after my zoo-viewing experience, just to get fuel before moving on.
































Flamingoes near the entrance.

I had a viewing time of noon-ish for the Panda House, so I went around looking at animals from different weather and climate around the world.

Taipei Zoo is located near the mountains, so the air was fresh. I adored how well-maintained it was - it was clean despite the amount of people walking about.

There were also billboards and sculptures around to take pictures with, such as this one.
































Omo omo omo pandas <3

This is possibly the closest I can get to Tuan Tuan, Yuan Yuan and  Yuan Zai in Taipei. T_T
































The Malaysian tapir, which was lazing around underneath.
































Some lionesses lazing around too.


Zebras with their butts facing towards visitors.
Rhinoceroses, which as you can see were totally not interested in visitors like all the other animals.

I was discussing this with K, about how we'd act if we were put into a zoo and aliens came to see us. Like, they would probably put us in what they would think is our natural habitat. So basically our zoo containment would be our rooms, probably humans doing nothing but typing on a computer and/or staring at our phones.

If the computers/ phones were just for show without Internet, though, we'd probably sleep all day and not be interested in visitors like these animals, too.
































Don't let the price fool you - the variety of animals at the Taipei Zoo was nothing to scoff at. We saw hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, elephants, koalas, horses, penguins, turtles, reptiles, bears, snakes, frogs, orangutans, and I'm pretty sure we missed a few areas like the Bird World and the Australian animal area, mostly because well, we've already seen Australian animals heaps of times.

I would totally buy a ticket to go back to Taipei and go to the zoo again, rather than fork out RM50 to go to the local zoo. (-_-)" I would at least get a holiday in the process, if at 60 times or so the price.

Worth it.

We finally got to the Panda House.... and Yuan Zai was sleeping.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

She did wake up at one point for all of ten seconds, though, and that whole ten seconds consisted of me going 'LOOK SHE'S LOOKING AT US OMG SHE IS SO CUTE OH LOOK SHE'S GOING BACK TO SLEEP NAW'.

Whatever don't judge me.


































'OH LOOK SHE'S GOING BACK TO SLEEP FACING US NOW OH SHE'S SO SWEET AND CUTE AND FLUFFY I WANT TO HUG HER'

The rest of the time while Yuan Zai was sleeping, I was basically just looking at her mother Yuan Yuan eating stoically in the vicinity, moving around sometimes before sitting back down... and resuming eating stoically.


"Food, food, looking for food~"
































"This looks like a nice spot."
































"Yep, got food from the ground."


"Whatchu staring at. Got a problem, punk?"
































"Yeah I thought so. Om nom nom nom."

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I won't mind coming back as a panda.

Also I highly recommend going to Taipei Zoo for all who are going to Taiwan. At the very least, you know you're not getting ripped off, and it'll be a pleasant way to spend the hours away.

Woohoo I rhymed.

Up next, the LINE Exhibition Convention!