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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Mangos (mohn-guuuoo)

When is it mango season again? I have a hankering. For now I have to settle for this photo as my desktop background.

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Franklin came all the way across the world to visit. Granted he found a NYU program in Hong Kong to legitimize the trip, but whatever he came! He came! France and now Taiwan, we’ve almost circled the globe. Meet me in Iceland? Morocco? Where next?

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We slammed straight into activities, with him getting here late Tuesday and then Wednesday being New Years eve. He couldn’t sleep so at 7am we trudged down the street to eat at LaGuardia. I usually sleep past their opening times since they’re a breakfast place. Wandered around, but most things hadn’t really opened or got in gear yet. I feel as is Taipei doesn’t really wake up till about 10, even at 9 most people are still shuffling with their breakfast food somewhere, groggily. It is not as bustling a city as you think.

We went to the Fine Arts Museum, enjoyed some art. We giggled at videos of kids wah-wahing, and talked about most everything else. A lunch at Sogo of rice and eggs, we were a bit tired after waking up so early. A pre-New Years nap and dinner at one of the Seafood/Beer joints down the street. Cheers of Taiwan beer started off the evening. We headed to Carrefour where everyone was stocking up on food and beer. The streets were already being closed off and more people walking around than before. We hung out, ran to the roof and cheered with all the people in the building. Fireworks everywhere and Moet, Frank had bought in Duty Free.  We had those confetti poppers but we didn’t use all of them. What we did use them for was to scare the bejesus out of each other for the rest of the week.

The day after New Years? We slept. The entire day. Not in one go, but every time we tried to get up, we ended up sleeping again.

We discovered the next day why.

We both had Tonsillitis. Yay.

Or rather….we wanted to die from hurty throats. I went to the doctor in the morning, and then I wound up taking Franklin again that evening. I want to applaud Taiwan’s healthcare system. Going to the doctor involved walking down the street, sitting for 5 minutes after paying 150 NT (4$) answering 3-4 questions, getting my ears and throat checked and promptly receiving antibiotics. Franklin despite not having healthcare, like I did, also only had to put his name, my phone number and pay 500$ (15$). Painless and a relief. I can only imagine the nightmare of getting sick while on vacation in America.

Backing up, the night that we slept all day we did leave the house once. And it was kind of an event. Jim’s parents took us to the Indian Beer house. Why is it called the Indian Beer house I have no idea. Me and Tina asked about it because we ride by it on the bus occasionally and its a building with GIANT dinosaur bones hanging off of it. The entire decor is prehistorically themed with random Indian stuff thrown in too. The only reason for all this stuff me and Tina could deduce was that someone had their historical time line way way way off, and thought Indians lived with dinosaurs.

Regardless, Indian Beer house was awesome. All you can eat and drink. And eat and drink we did. We showed Franklin and Jud a true Taiwanese dinner (the kind I witnessed so often my first few weeks here where I ate so much food I wanted to die every night). Dish after dish, at least 15. Exotic things as well. I wasn’t feeling too hot ( I was the first to realize I was sick) but Franklin ate fried frogs, and snails, and squid, and everything, even some pretty stinky tofu. I have to say I’m proud of him, it was definitely the non-fried fairly stinky variety. Me? Beef, and chicken, and pork, and all sorts of things. Jim’s parents were amused that I’d pick all the pineapple off all the seafood dishes as my allergic consolation prize, from then on I had a steady stream of pineapple headed my way.

On top of this, pitcher after pitcher of beer. Toast to Taiwan, toast to America, toast to the new year -Xin Nian Kuai Le!, toast to the teachers (tina and I tutor them), toast to the adults, to the girls, to the boys….toast, toast, toast…which means….you guessed it…Gambei (bottom’s up). Good thing we had all the food to weigh us down.  There was also live music, a girl singing. She wanted recommendations but then told us all our songs were too old, then that they were all boy songs, finally she sang us “Doncha” by the Pussycat Dolls. Oh man America…you sure are exporting some classy culture there.We sang happy birthday to an old man, we laughed at little kids dancing around and taking photos, me and tina laughed at the giant dinosaur heads in the bathroom sink, and me and Franklin wandered around the empty part of the building looking all at the giant scary fake decorations. It was pretty fun.

Since we had wasted the previous day we dragged our sick selves around Taipei all day seeing the sights. Sun Yat Sen –wooo, Tapei 101 wooo, Eslite wooo, Warner Villages wooo, etc etc etc. (Those were all monotone, sick woo’s mind you). Franklin did buy me gorgeous Amber earrings at Taipei 101 during all the forced tourism. We had been talking earlier in the day about interesting gemstones and how diamonds while scientifically useful, I think are over hyped (thanks DeBeers). As my mom and family have discovered I am much more a pearl/onyx/jasper girl. Give me something simple and classic. To quote my Pawpaw, “why did you ask for a woodern ring for Christmas….might as well get you napkin rings for your fingers”. Mind you these were exotic wooden rings of layers colors and materials…really nice and handcrafted. Anyways, lo and behold we’re made to walk through a whole coral/jade/amber sale/exhibit when exiting the viewing rooms at Taipei 101.

That night we went to Ximen Ding, I made Franklin eat the famous Ay-chung wheat noodles there, accidentally telling him the chewy parts were intestines, which then meant I got to eat all the rest of the chewy parts..but hey the boy ate frogs, I thought he’d be gung ho. We shopped, Franklin got more tshirts including one of this bear playing the guitar wearing glasses that looks uncannily like Franklin, himself.

We wandered over to Gonguan to Duke, which is closing soon. I guess if only your friends come to drink every night its kind of hard to make money. I really don’t understand how any business makes money since there are 5000 options for any one thing. I think its luck. Just Miller and Neal and some people we got dragged into 3 beer bets on Blowcow (the ever present drinking dice game). We kept up our side and ended up at home surprisingly. Beer and tonsillitis not being a great combo

On Saturday, feeling much better, me and Franklin went and got Mexican food. It had finally stopped raining and was looking more like regular ol’Taipei – so sunny your brain hurts. Instead of going to Danshui like planned we went to the National Palace Museum.

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This museum holds most of China’s national treasures since they were moved here for safekeeping during war time in the 50s. It was huge and gorgeous, but honestly room upon room upon room of shards of pottery and pressing Asians wasn’t super exciting, and we did a quick tour. Outside was a nice garden though with koi and cranes and all sorts of pavilions. There were even peacocks and dragon fountains. Very calming and nice.

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From the museum we went to Shilin Night Market. The biggest and hugest in Taipei. And on Saturday night I don’t know what we were thinking, needless to say it was crowded. We shuffled along, we got sausages. Jud and Franklin played almost every dart/shooting game in the whole area I think. Everytime we saw a new one they’d look at us excitedly saying, “please, please! But this ones different! You can shoot shotguns…etc..” As a result we are now the owners of 2 picture frames, one clock, 2 blowup hammers, and some crappy candy.

That night, Duke again. They were having a surprise going away party, and Miller lured us there way to early. 3 hours of Blowcow is a little much. We also played some crappy version of Jenga we had won at the dart games as well. Franklin beat Miller though over and over again at Blowcow. I was very impressed. They played 20 rounds before Miller could concede defeat. Me? I guess statistics aren’t my strong point, I always give away what I have too early.

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Sunday. Dansui. Rain. It always rains in Dansui. Lame. We wandered around. I gobbled quail eggs as fast as we could find vendors. We played claw games, but we were mostly soggy and over the whole market/food vendor thing. I dropped a corn dog on the muddy ground, no good at all. The train back home, we slept/listened to music and finally slowed down to a general Frank and Jenn pace.

Monday I worked all day then taxied home. I went and got my hairwashed, we went to Raohe which was deserted due to rain. Beef Noodle Soup and watching movies.

Tuesday I made Franklin come to school with me, since I was only teaching Baby Pre-K. They were pretty good. Wayne of course was pretty terrible, and also fell while playing redlight/greenlight and cried and cried. His mom, being my boss doesn’t help, it only makes Wayne even more mischevious. I know my parents always worked at my schools when I was little, but if anything it made me behave better because I was afraid they’d find out. Mrs. Burnet would hold things above my head threatening to tell my Dad all the time (most evil 3rd grade teacher ever). Wayne? Well first he’s too littleto be in our class, but also, he just runs to his mom anytime he decides he doesn’t want to be in the classroom. Not very helpful at all.

Anyways Franklin, hung out chatted with Elisa and Ivy and then there was a mouse. I’ve never seen a mouse or even a bug at school so I was pretty surprised, but all of us being screaming ladies he did his job and caught it and then took it outside. It brought a little excitement to a morning that was mostly me singing and reading and blowing noses and acting like a cheery kid lover which Franklin knows I’m definitely not.

We went to the airport that afternoon and he got on his flight to Hong Kong and that concludes my long and probably over descriptive rendition of Franklin’s visit. Whew.

I think I need another coffee now.

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G’mornin

For some reason I am not still curled in bed this morning shaking my fist at my hard mattress and the fan that makes my eyes are hurty.

I am awake, and dressed, and finding last minute lesson plans for baby pre-K is done-ish…I mean I always make it up as I go, they’re three, they don’t notice.

Today is the massive Halloween party for pre-K, K, and 1. It involves, candy, and haunted houses, and masks, and a play my K class is supposed to put on that they’re woefully unprepared for. However I have tried, and I guess I will never be a famous stage director some day. Damn, lifelong goals crushed.

Or at least getting 5 year olds to read a long story by themselves along with hand motions and no wiggling is way more of a demand than any broadway director has even had to face.

However it shall be good, as well as my “costume” which is really just a giant purple feathery wig, and these funny glasses with a fake nose attached. I look like…I don’t know what I look like but the wig thing reminds me some how of Carol Channing. I’m sure to scare the baby pre-K and get lots of laughs and “teacher, you crazy” from my Kindergartners.

Another reason I’m so chipper this morning is that a package came yesterday morning from Nashville. It made it, all I had to do was sign, yesss.  Inside were clothes, a giant purse (seriously even my giant purse passions I dont think are ready for that monstrosity, mom…maybe someday when I binge on purse capacity, or want to run away with my entire life’s possesions inside, then it will come to good use). Also food–more specifically breakfast food.

I love breakfast food….guess who doesn’t really do breakfast…asians. Or at least what I like to call breakfast. Cereal – no, toast with jelly -no, oatmeal – no, etcetc. So I now own poptarts and instant oatmeal…mmmmmmmmmm. And some muffin mix, we’ll see if we can bake muffins in our tiny toaster oven.

Also Little Debbies. Which will be scarfed immediately.

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Foods and family

Le tired.
I need a bit of veg time.
Today was the family day big time. We went to get dumplings for lunch. Heavenly, up till the point where I had to eat about 3 more dumplings past my limit then try the congealed pigs blood at the bottom of the hot and sour soup…that was a bit ick. Still yummy dumplings though.

After this we went and got fruit and eggs. And then drove a bit out of town to visit Tina’s grandfather’s sister in the town of Yingge. Apparently the town is famous for its ceramics so we went to this touristy part and wandered around, looking in all the shops and eating all sorts of things. I bought a cheap watch and an ocarina…impulse buy, oh well. While there we ate some candied tomatoes on a stick….amazingly amazing amazing, given my deep love for tomatoes.

I feel as if sometimes all I talk about is food, but we spend a large part of each day eating or in restaurants. Most of the time I’m trying to scheme how to not eat more since I always get stuffed long before the meal is under way. This whole “snack” then appetizer tiny dishes, then main dishes that keep refilling is nice and delicious but semi-stresses me out. I haven’t been hungry in 3 days because of perpetual food. We went to a grocery today and I discovered that they have almost anything I could want in the way of American food. Doritos, Haagen-Dazs, fruit loops they have  it all. But in the mean time, noodles, mystery “fungi” as Tina refers to it, and endless amounts of flavorless jellies…whats with the jelly Taiwan? Really?

Back to the house in Yingge
4 hours of sitting while Tina’s family chatted, family, extended family, all sorts of people. I let all the talking wash over me, picking small words out, trying to decide what certain phrases were that I hear over and over, and playing guessing games about what people are really talking about. Thinking that Tina and her aunt are talking about shopping or something only to have Tina ask me if the subways are clean in NY… lets me know how clueless I really am. But after 45 minutes of this I am a bit bored out of my skull, and itchy, and tired. I guess it all can’t be soaring highs.

Tomorrow:  Getting Tina’s Taiwan id, and searching for jobs. Her relatives find it impossible to believe that we will be making 60,000NT a month, despite all our claims and explanations. They just don’t think people would pay that much for tutoring. We can’t wait to get our jobs and prove them wrong. Personally, I can’t wait to settle into a routine and an apartment, even though this has been great thus far.

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Secret Asian Man….no joke. Someone has changed the words from agent to asian, its on the radio and I’m rocking out to it as I look at tons of discount hello kitty housewares. That little kitten is EVERYWHERE.

An early morning, waking up at 7am since we’re still not used to the time switch yet. This morning has come back to bite me in the ass this evening though, oh well. Some tv (John Edward’s scandal), some mystery breakfast. Every meal here has at least one mystery food… I’m 70% longing for a burger and fries, this mornings mystery foods were almond juice and turnip cakes.

We did tourist things today. I got to wear my camera and not feel stupid. White people count was up to 7…a whole 7. We went to the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, and looked the museum.

It was pretty cool. There was also a wooly mammoth exhibit and in typical Asian fashion, cuteness to go along…giant stuffed wooly mammoths. Of course all the little kids were posing in front of them and I wanted to too. On the way to the front this little boy with a buzz cut, eyed me down….I gave in to the impulse to make a face at his stare, crossing my eyes. I was  welcomed with a mean squint. Very worth it.

After the giant museum onto Longshan Temple: I want to go back there again definitely. It was gorgeous inside, a lot of incense and carvings, however since it is still a working temple I felt a bit awkward taking pictures. I snuck and few but will have to go back sometime when I have more courage. There were shrines to good grades, prosperity, and one crowded with teenagers that is apparently about love and relationships.

I got some new shoes in the market located underground near the temple. Two pair for 8$, but I got a bit nicer ones for 10$. Green peep-toes.

Then to a completely different part of town to visit Tina’s other uncle. When we get there of course there is no parking in the tiny winding alleys that are somehow streets, so instead we are dropped off to get our hair washed….

Ok stop the presses…. Not just any hair washing….more like…
A shoulder massage, scalp massage, and 45 minutes of intense hair washing….really 45 minutes, and you can watch tv. Then complete styling, I got mine blown out straight for fun. All of this….

FIVE DOLLARS.

I would pay three times as much. Just the straightening alone at home would cost 35$. We are definitely going to the salon once a week for this…so so relaxing. I feel guilty for it being only 5 dollars, maybe some one should tell them that can charge 50$ for this in America.

After that, I step outside with my newly straightened hair and bam…poof. Of course, humidity. We sit on the sidewalk for a while killing time outside of Tina’s other uncle’s apartment. Theres a dog that we play with and we get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Finally a mini-snack of tempura, tofu, and more fried blood, along with some Taiwan beer, fittingly named “Taiwan Beer”. It was pretty good, I thought it tasted like Heineken.

Then off to her uncle’s business, which is surprise, surprise a Karaoke club. It’s empty so we eat dinner – dumplings – yesss. And Tina’s cousin – we’re going to go with Lulu from now on because her nickname sounds like that – karaoked her heart out for hours and hours. There were only about 20 English songs, all of which were written ages ago, so we ended up doing only one –Do re mi – (Sound of Music Mom!) and that was my limit of karaoke for the evening. Exhausted and still not adjusted to the time we fell into bed at 10.

Again, photos to follow…sorry the internets are slow here. Here is one to last you…..scooters, millions and millions of scooters.

Here is Tina’s Aunt and Uncle and one of their daughters, who is highschool age, the other one is off at college.

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Taipei,

It feels like I’ve been here a thousand years yet not at all. Really I haven’t had consistent sleep since I left Wednesday afternoon, however it is now Friday night. I’m a bit frazzled. But heading back way back…
Wednesday. Me and Tina flew to L.A. We played scrabble and cards most of the way. Tina beat me both times…ridiculous. We tried playing spite and malice but since I haven’t really played since I was 12 or so, I think I was missing a lot of the rules. Maybe mawmaw can remind me.

Then we get to LAX. Baggage lines, check-in lines, security lines. We checked all of our bags – most of which were over weight -one of which was way way overweight and no one said anything, while the poor people next to us we being turned away for having 5 kg too much. I guess it pays to be two cute girls.

We sit in LAX, I fall asleep with my face smushed into my backpack since its only midnight but my body thinks its 3 in the morning. They make announcements incessantly for four hours. Since all the airlines in this terminal are to Asia I’m starting to get a taste of the lack of Americans. The plane before ours was headed to Tahiti. The whole lounge was filled with couples. I want to go to Tahiti! We get on another plane. Tired but they’re serving dinner. The guy next to me spills orange juice on me. Not too bad except its filling my shoe…ew. Now I can’t sleep. Great. Sleeping pill to the rescue! I wake up again 6 hours later. Tina is still asleep… and she sleeps the whole trip almost, all 13 hours. I watch Prince Caspian on the screen in the seat in front of me, and then an episode of 30 Rock and then some Arrested Development and then play Bejeweled. Yes, they have Bejeweled on the video menu…the worlds best, mind-numbing time killer. The pilot kept announcing turbulence but honestly it was the smoothest flight I’ve taken in forever. Me and Tina didn’t even notice when we landed it was that smooth.

On the drive in I sat in the backseat taking in everything. The smog is pretty ridiculous. It almost seems like you’re perpetually in the center of a 5 mile bubble, and everything outside of that lives in a grey, hazy, cloudland. Tina’s Aunt and Uncle live right in the downtown-ish. You can see Taipei 101 when you look down side streets, but seeing as it’s the tallest building in the world, its probably a lot farther away than I realize, living in haze land.
All the ladies here are so concerned about maintaining the palest skin possible, its like living in the Victorian age. Everyone carries umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun, and these elastic sleeves to pull over their arms when they’re on their scooters. The face mask is also apparently an accessory here, when riding your scooter. The sheer number of scooters and cars is insane. This city is a parallel parking nightmare.

Went and hung out at their work for a bit. Went and exchanged money, went to this mall that looked inside like the Death Star. Seriously, you go in the doors and half the building hanging above you is the biggest sphere-deathstar looking thing ever. And inside of it is store after store of fantastic clothes and everything you can think of for pretty cheap compared to the same clothes in the US. The Anthropologie of my dreams where everything is 15-30$ instead of 300$. I think I brought too many clothes from home.

Lunch of noodles and bubble tea. The Wu’s discover my rudimentary Chinese and have fun talking about my “wo mi lule” .  Some random lady smacks me on the back of the head because we both have curly hair? Or something? I had no idea what was going on. Hopefully this isn’t a trend.

Only one day and I’m having to get used to the staring. It’s a bit weird. One stare, ok I get it, there are NO white people here. I catch eyes again and then again and if it’s the third time, seriously…you have to stare that long? Is there something on my face? What’s wrong? I am seriously tempted to stick out my tongue sometimes or cross my eyes. Tina says maybe they think I’m famous….riiight a famous person in flip flops with frizzed out hair.

My first real sleep in “three” days, consisted of a 2 hour nap, which went by in seconds and upon waking I felt like some one had punched me in the face I was so groggy. We watched CNN for a bit and the end of Elizabethtown on TV. Hearing Ryan Adams on the tv while I was taking a shower almost made me forget I was in Taipei.

Hotpot for dinner. Boiling broth that you stick different veggies and meat in, along with your own bowl of sauces. Mistake with the peppers, my sauce was crazy spicy. I had chicken, and beef, bacon and lamb. And dun dun dun the infamous fried blood! Dark purple in brick sticks, we put it in the broth so that it got a bit soft….actually it was not that exciting…it didn’t really taste like anything and had a chewy texture like a soft fruit bar or something.

Overall I give it a “meh” on the gross factor.  Other new food adventures. Mung beans for dessert – they looks like peas but are kind of sweet, sweet peas really. Grass Jelly, a sweet syrup with dark brown jelly cubes in it.

Other observations to follow. It’s only been one day yet it seems like ages. But that might be all the sleep deprivation. Maybe not so in depth later, but I’m trying to process it all right now. Bed time I think.

pictures to follow I promise.

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