Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 2 - The Sea of Flowers

Well, after a fitful sleep, the hotel we were staying at provided breakfast in bed... For whatever it's worth. Heh.

 The nice boss from BVLGARI gave us a lift to the studio to change and do our make up and whatnot. Let's skip all that and go to the Sea of Flowers! About 30-45 minutes drive from Taichung...

 It really was a sea of flowers. From what I gathered, there is a fee to be paid if you wanted to take pre-wedding photos at the venue but it ain't that expensive... About 200-300 yuan per person. Ain't that bad.

Once we were done, we headed over to the old railway station to take more shots. As much as I love the shots there, I'll save them for myself...

Right after that, we were shipped back to the photo studio for a brief lunch (more economy rice and bubble tea XD) and then we were told we would be taken to the night market in Taichung later at abour 6/7 p.m. So when we headed back to the hotel, we got ready anyways because we were exhausted from the photoshoot. Funnily once we just got done, the hotel called to tell us the boss was downstairs with his Merc again waiting to bring us out.

Good timing, I say. So off we went to this Taichung night market.

But not before he went to treat us another Taiwan specialty: Pork rib rice. To be honest we weren't really hungry nor interested in these sit down meal food. We just wanted STREET FOOD! So let's skip this tosh and move on!

Food was immensely impressive. Loads of it we've only seen, maybe even tried in Malaysia but nothing comes close to the explosive taste of proper, proper street food in the heart of motherfucking Taiwan!


Truly a spectacular place and a must visit!

So that pretty much wraps up our Day 2 in Taiwan, which, was pretty much visiting the Sea of Flowers and the biggest night market in Taiwan because we totally couldn't finish it whereas the ones in Taipei were easy to finish walking around in

Stay tuned for Day 3 in Taiwan where we take a short trip to Sun Moon Lake and did... very little as most of the time was just traveling.

Peace out y'all!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1 - Takeoff to TAIWAN!

I'd like to clarify some back story before we go into the details of the next first few days.

1. This is a pre-wedding photoshoot travel package by a Taiwanese company that approached us in Jusco Ipoh
2. We had already booked a pre-wedding photoshoot package with a local studio (My Story Photography)
3. This was our honeymoon trip ;)
4. The general itinerary (geographically) was Taichung (Day 1+2), Sun Moon Lake (Day 3), Ching Jing Mountain (Day 4), Taipei (Day 5,6 and 7) and we left Taipei on Day 8 (29/12/2013)
5. I'm a toy collector for those who don't know, so we visit a lot of these places whenever we're in a city =D

This, is more of a personal diary to remember the shit we did and what we ate and did and whatnot, not for entertaining people or whatever. Also I personally wanted to write something for those who are interested in going to Taiwan since me and my wife mostly consulted other people's blogs for recommendations and previews of places we were likely to encounter. So yeah... This' about sharing information and giving some back to the net. Let's get the ball rolling!

So right off the bat, we set off from Malaysia in an MAS 737, a small 3 - 3 seat per row plane slightly before 10 and reach before 4 at Taoyuan International Airport. There's no need for visa for Malaysians so we don't need any prior paperwork.

However, we didn't fill in the address of the place we were staying at in the landing card and we didn't think we needed to fill in that part so we didn't ask BVLGARI (no relation), the aforementioned Taiwanese wedding photography studio, for any details on this. Immigration pointed us to the side counter for Diplomats/Crew/Whatever people. Dude called up a BVLGARI representative and sorted this issue in a jiff. And off we were to baggage claim. No fuss there.

My advice here is to try to get a SIM card as soon as possible if you have a contact in Taiwan or if you're travelling in a group, get enough SIMs so you can contact each other. What we did was we put that off until we reached Taichung since we were just interested in establishing contact with BVLGARI in Taichung and we both had international roaming on anyways.

So, since we were heading to Taichung off the bat, we had five choices of transport:

1. High speed railtrain (estimated travel time >1 hour)
2. Coach (KNOWN travel time >2 hours - DON'T FUCKING BOTHER)
3. Walk (estimated travel time >7 days)
4. Taxi (estimated travel time <2 br="" hours="">5. Teleportation (estimated travel time <1 p="" second="">
Since taxi was guaranteed an expensive trip seeing as Taichung was pretty much 100++ kms away from Taoyuan (I guess, by experience), we didn't even bother. We asked a bus ticket counter and they advised us to take the bus because apparently travelling via train is a bit messy due to a station change whereas a bus is straight journey.

The thought of us lugging luggage was nighmarish during the station change so a straight journey was a smashing idea in our exhaustion and excitement. So yeah, we took the bus. Foolishly.

It was a 2 hour plus journey by bus while they screened Fast 6 in the bus. Ironic in an old coach but whatevs, man.

We reached Taichung at like 7-8 p.m and were dropped off near Taiching station. Honestly, I have no idea what station it was specifically. MRT? LRT? High speed rail? Doubt it. We waited a bit and soaked in the sights at the station... A vibrant city, and the station introduced us to the 7-11 of Taiwan. A far shout from its Malaysian counterpart.... This one had so much different drinks, and served so much microwave meals and ODEN. Fuck. Yes.

Whatever it is, we waited quite a bit and then the BVLGARI driver took us to the shop to select our clothes for tomorrow's shoot and the venue and also treated us to their local fare: their Taiwanese bento (M'sian economy rice) and classic Pearl Milk Tea.

Had to laugh out due to the irony that I'm served their local specialty while I'm selling it back in Ipoh!

Whatever it is, after we chose our attire and venue for the next day of photoshooting, we were sent to our hotel room for the next two nights. To be honest, I can't be of much help in this department because most names were in Mandarin lettering and I can't read it.

 Once we were dropped off, we went out straight to explore the night markets of Taichung. It was a 10-15 minute walk to the night market. We were quite impressed with the food we had there as the locals told us that Taichung's night markets were better than Taipei's due to that fact that Taipei, being a popular tourist destination, Taipei's night market's have evolved  (or devolved) to accommodate foreign tastes and sensibilities, which I think is a crime.

Whatever it is, we spent most of the time sampling local favorites like their sausages, fried squid, drinks and whatnot.

Topped off the night with some Japanese kebab... thingies. Grilled mushrooms, tofu and meat. Not a bad fare and miso soup for that cold winter night is just awesome.

So that's pretty much it for Day 1! Stay tuned for Day 2... Our photoshoot in the "Sea of Flowers" and in an old railway station and after that, the boss of BVLGARI takes us out to dinner and sets us loose on the largest (no exaggeration) night market in Taichung!

Thanks for reading and safe travels.

Peace out y'all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dragon Age 2

It’s been like... SERIOUSLY been awhile since I’ve blogged but in life, especially modern life, as of these past decade, some things can’t be expressed in a space of 200 characters or less or totally in a Facebook status, believe it or not! =P

I think there’s a lot to get out at this juncture, and I think is not appropriate to address the catching up news in a post that I intend to make as a review!

Anyways, I purchased, or rather, got Dragon Age 2 as an early birthday present from my mum, amongst other things, bless her... I’ve gone through 2 playthroughs as it is, 1st time as a Rogue, which was pretty much the only way to get through the first Dragon Age, maximizing battle potential and storyline-wise anyways... And the 2nd time as a two-handed warrior, as in the 1st Dragon Age, two-handed warriors were insufferable because a normal attack took ages to happen... They literally calculated real world physics into the swing of a giant sword, dear Lord... Therefore, I wanted to have the feel of a two-handed warrior which swings it like bloody Cloud, so I tried playing one in DA2!

Okay, right off the bat, I have to say I was disappointed. Sure, you get to choose gender and class, but Origins (DA1), had origin (hence the title) stories for each and every race and caste they were in... And also a separate one for mages, too. So you can see where the disappointment comes from, the limitation, and the similar backstory for all playthroughs with some very, very minor differences... So hero design, fail.

NPC design... Some old faces return, companions, NPCs, all that good stuff. But still, vastly reduced by comparison! Yes, I know, DA1 had a whole country for you to explore but DA2 consists of just a city maybe ¾ of Denerim AND it’s backyard but this is just unacceptable... NPC design, though preying on nostalgia and nothing more that actually sticks to your mind, fail.

Dungeon design. Oh, this riles me up... Terrible, right off the bat. Repetitive dungeons, and the laziest kind that game developers can come up with... The same HUGE dungeon, but cut off at various intervals or changed entry points and the such. Each cave looks the same. Each sewer looks the same. Some of the houses are changed up. What up with that Bioware?! FAIL!

Story... A’ite... Not so steamed up, but the story takes place over a span of 10 years. 10 years our hero Hawke has spent in Kirkwall, from refugee to Champion of Kirkwall. There is SOME change over the acts... 3 acts in total. The beginning is where our hero escapes from his hometown of Lothering, which was the first settlement to fall during the events of DA1, makes his stamp in the underground of Lothering through a year of servitude under a shady organization of their choosing. The 1st act is where Hawke starts to get his merry band of fools together, into the Deep Roads for an expedition to get rich. This can prove to be bittersweet, or totally sweet depending on your prior decisions and there is no way of knowing until it happens, so no warning! I won’t spoil the rest for you, and also due to the fact I can’t be fucked to type the rest up, but one thing I have to bitch about is the lack of change in 10 years to a city. Sure, you foil an invasion and the such, but locales stay the same, geographically the same, nothing new pops up. No new shops, nothing. It’s 10 freaking years. Something. Anything! 10 years is enough for an old character to pass away, for a kid to be born and such... Come on! But still, enjoyable, but not as enjoyable, nor as epic as DA1 but... Pass.

Elaboration/Side note: Dragon Age 2 feels like the Back to the Future 2 or the Two Towers, if you please, to Dragon Age 1... It’s meant as a bridge, not a pretty one, but an essential bridge nonetheless. No one would pick the middle episode as the best of the trilogy or something, you know? BTTF2 was terrible. I hated it. LOTR’s Two Towers, was once again, an essential bridge. Not as heart-touching or enjoyable as the Fellowship nor as epic as Return of the King. Hawke’s deed to the world of the DA universe has no doubt epic repercussions, as he has brought a war on that the greater forces in the universe need him to put an end to.

Next! Design, weapons, armor, architecture, companions, quests. A very general topic but has so many sub topics. Weapons. Passable. Thought I would loved at least a bloody tone change like the last game in the color of the weapon especially when it’s of another material. More unique weapons and unique weapon designs. Some old designs were brought back... In terms of clothing and weapons, same models in the old game, but armor-wise, it’s all new. The Champion armor (for all classes) is fantastic, though me, amongst every other player wish that the acquisition could be a lot more satisfying and meaningful. Architecture, yes, you’re in a city, there’s limited space, bla bla blee ba... But man, I miss that feeling of epicness when I walked into Ostagar for the 1st time... Such, grandeur... It was the same feeling you get when you saw the cities in Return of the King. Just bloody epic. Not here. COMPANIONS! Hah... A colourful cast, but easily identifiable into modern stereotypes, not so much complication and not too hard to predict their behaviour and what actions you should do around them to gain their approaval... Very weak, in my opinion. In DA1, you actually had to learn and be astounded at their histories. You yearned for their approval as their life stories as just so god damn interesting you just gotta know more! But in DA2, really now... I know where this is going... *snore* Quests! Kill this person, get this item. Been there. Done that. The storyline quests feel like you can jump off the rails too often and it’s not a good feeling. It starts to feel more necessary than essential, you know... More like something you need to do rather than something you want to do! So... Design wise... Pass overall.

So? In the end... Dragon Age 2 is a mere pass. 3.1 out of 5 and that is piss poor for a PS3 game that is worth RM100++... I really should’ve waited and did my research but no, my love for the original DA got me there... *sigh* That’ll teach me. Anyways, it’s probably expected, as Bioware is going balls out for their WoW-replacing MMORPG, the Knights of the Old Republic. Kind of like how Blizzard is ignoring everything else (Starcraft Ghost *cough* Diablo 3 *cough*) and focusing on milking more and more from WoW.

Alright, I guess that’s my comeback piece. A rant, on Dragon Age 2. Something I really needed to get out. Peace out y’all!