Hello, Goodbye

August 24, 2010 § 17 Comments

It seems like it was merely a week ago when I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan, ready for my summer to start, excited to be home.

Now, three and a half weeks later (was it really that long already?), I must depart my home country once again.

Hello. Goodbye.

Though I’ve returned and left this country five times before, the leaving is always as hard as the last. It just doesn’t get easier.

I have to leave my family…

…friends…

…the food (yes! the food!)…

…the tiny roads and congested traffic…

…the super-duper easy mass transportation…

MRT (mass rapid transit)

…night markets…

…abundance of fruits…

…and HOME.

So what did I do on my last (full) day in Taiwan? A good meal, a good (sweaty) walk, shopping, and karaoke.

A few of my friends, all of whom I knew since elementary of middle school, and I met up for lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Sababa.

The place, tucked in a tiny alley at the corner of the street, was actually opened by one of the middle school teachers at our school. Ironically, this place has the best falafels I’ve had to date, here in Taiwan. I’ve never been to the Middle East, so I wouldn’t know how they compare to the real ones, but they are good!

While I usually get their falafel pita sandwich, I haven’t had hummus in awhile and all I wanted was to satiate my palate and stuff my belly with butt loads of hummus. So I got a hummus platter with a falafel and their homemade Arabian salsa. Perfect choice.

I got combo D which came with a choice of salad, a drink, and the meal of your choice.

Tomato-cucumber salad.

Cool & refreshing mint tea!

ANnnnnnndddd...the thing I've been waiting for! Served with WARM pita bread.

It doesn't look like much hummus from here, but believe me, there's a HUGE blob of hummus hidden beneath the falafel and the salsa.

My friends, concentrating hard on devouring the deliciousness of their pita sandwiches.

While we were eating, my friend S started talking about Trader Joe’s garlic naan and roasted red pepper hummus. She told me of a wonderful and blog-worthy combo? Toast a piece of garlic naan with a slice of munster cheese till melted, then dip or spread the naan with roasted red pepper hummus.

Meet S. She says "Hello! My name is NINJA."

Her face was in pure bliss when she was talking about it. Although I was already starting to feel full from my meal, I was salivating at the thought of that. Can’t. wait. to. try. that.

Afterwards, we drove over to Dansui to walk off our fully belly and browsed some shops.

Priceless expression.

You have no idea how much I wanted to bring this clock back to college with me! It’ll sure brighten up my stressful days. But alas, it was huge and heavy. Plus, the price kind of made me turn my head away. While we do have cheap stuff in Taiwan, handmade items are still expensive!

Here’s another cute clock:

There was a store that sold all kinds of candies and toys that used to be stars of our childhood.

Naturally, we got a bubble blower. Yes we’re 21, and yes we’re all living independently in college in the U.S. Yes we like bubbles.

The heat got the best of us. So S insisted that she wanted to get a baby-bottle iced milk tea.

Our big baby 🙂

S also couldn’t resist going into claw machine stores. That girl really has talent though!

She won a adorable little porcupine that was fuzzy and not spikey.

Tired, hot, and sweaty, we decided to stack ourselves into the car and make out way to the destination of our evening entertainment: karaoke.

In Taiwan, karaoke (more commonly referred to as KTV) is a popular activity that both old and young people enjoy. There are numerous places and branches of karaoke stores/companies across Taipei, most of them as big as motels.

We got a little room to ourselves, complete with soft leather couches, a touchscreen to browse and select songs, two microphones, a flat screen TV, 3 hours of singing, coupons for complementary buffet and all-you-can-eat salad bar and drinks. All this for about 10 bucks. I love Taiwan.

Time to brush up our dusty Mandarin!

We shamelessly sang Chinese mainstream songs that was popular 3-6, maybe even 10 years ago. It’s hard for us to catch up on the latest Chinese songs when we’re all halfway across the world most of the time! I bet people who were passing by our rooms thought we must be a bunch of moms and grandmas. :mrgreen:

By 11pm last night, it was time to say goodbye. I pretty much grew up with these ladies (and some others who did not come home to Taiwan this summer). Our bond is like water. Flexible, because we went our separate ways to college and met new friends. But Strong, because we can slip over and conquer any boulders or rocks that stand as obstacles in our ways. In the end, we always manage to stay together and goof around as if we were still in school together.

Today will be filled with packing, last minute shopping, and eating :D. Until December, Taiwan!

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+ Do you/did you/will you attend college far away from home?

Let’s go fly a kite

July 10, 2010 § 23 Comments

With tuppence for paper and strings

You can have your own set of wings

With your feet on the ground


You’re a bird in a flight

With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite

Oh, oh, oh!
Let’s go fly a kite

Up to the highest height!

Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring

Up through the atmosphere

Up where the air is clear

Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

You have to admit the Mary Poppins is one of the best movies around. When we bought our kite from Target yesterday, all I was thinking about was this song from the movie. Anyone seen the actual musical? Really want to go see it!

Our kite flying adventure was super fun–I felt like I was 10 again! We actually didn’t have much trouble setting the kite to flight since it was very windy at Santa Monica today. Well, I guess it’s windy everyday there.

While the little boy ran around some more with the kite, I kicked back on the beach and did a little reading.

I’ve only read a few chapters, but so far so good! I’ll be filling you guys in when I get through more of it 😉

I was disappointed that it was muggy today at the beach 😦 And chilly too!

Anyways, while walking back to the car, we saw a few guys who caught a crab and something that looks like a shark. Is that even legal?! I mean, they’re not actual fishermen or anything.

Apparently, today was also some sort of “Anti-BP day”, and we saw this little protest going on.

Spiderman was also present to do some justice, fight crime, you know, the snizzles.

Before the kite-flying adventure, the two of us brave kite-flyers trekked through the Santa Monica Farmers Market in the morning. Lots of people, lots of fun, lots of sampling! I had so many sweet and juicy nectarines, plums, peaches, and grapefruits. They were unearthly good! All certified organic too! Alas, they were a little bit pricey for my taste :-(…approximately $3 per pound. So I only got two peaches for Dmitri and I that costed me $2.50. I couldn’t wait to try one so I immediately bit into one after the purchase ;-). Delicious!

I also got myself some dried strawberries. No sugar, no preservatives. All natural.

These tasted like jam in your mouth! Swoon. But again, 1/8 measly of a pound for $3.25. It was about one large handful.

Since we were around the area, we also strolled through the well-known Promenade on 3rd street.

The street was lined with shops, restaurants, and people. In fact, I think it’s the perfect place to people-watch. Anyone else have that embarrassing habit other than myself? I love to observe. I’m not trying to be creepy or anything, but I just enjoy seeing the different types of people, wearing various styles of clothings, how they walk, who they’re with, and I also like to think up of little stories for each person I observe.

We also saw this cute little house with a beautiful garden!

After much walking, Dmitri suggested that we take the bus to Westwood, which is where UCLA is, for some eats.

Westwood!

We settled on a little cozy restaurant called Falafel King. For $8.95, we got this much food:

I ordered the Vegetarian Favorite which consisted of 5 crispy patties of falafels (<3 ❤ <3), fried zucchini slices, 2 warm pita, and 5 sides. For my sides I chose mixed salad greens, peppers and tomatoes salad, hummus (!!!!), marinated mushrooms, and three of these grapeleaves things stuffed with rice.

It was so much food. Dmitri got the same thing but different sides: avocado, cucumbers in yogurt sauce, eggplants, lentil salad, and onion & pepper salad. We shared everything and everything was yummy! 😀

Our plates were left to this:

Just too much food! We got a box to pack our leftover food for dinner, which I just finished. Hahah! 😀

Dmitri wanted to take me to Diddy Riese’s, which supposedly has the best ice cream sandwiches, where you can build your own ice cream sandwich by choosing your cookies and ice cream. There was a line outside the store when we got there, but eventually decided we were too full to handle an ice cream sandwich. Oh well, next time we’ll know to save a little tummy room for dessert ;-).

Afterwards we just took the bus back to Santa Monica and then off to kite-flying! So much for my day in chronological order! 😛

I’m off to vegging out on the couch like a normal person would do on a Saturday night 😉

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+ Are the items from your local farmer’s markets expensive or cheap? There is one Farmer’s Market in Claremont that opens every Sunday. The fruits and produce are slightly cheaper than the ones at Santa Monica, but I’m not sure whether all of them are certified organic. As much as I love Farmer’s Market, it’s not a place where I would do my weekly grocery shopping at. I can’t afford that with my budget!

TGI….SHREK!

May 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

Yup, watched this today!

Boy am I glad it’s finally a Friday! And better yet, it’s a long weekend! Woohoo anyone’s got any big plans? Well, it’s been a lonnnnnnng week. Today was a lonnnnnng day as well, featuring some of this reading:

Yup, Very exciting. I absolutely understood everything 100%. 😀

I was able to get off work a bit earlier today (5:30!!!!!!!) and went home to my honey ❤ (aka boyfriend, lol)! We’ve had plans to go out for dinner that night then catch Shrek 4-Ever After in 3D. So, we drove out about 7 min to a tiny little Mediterranean restaurant called Ali Baba.

I’ve had a deep craving for some good, crispy falafels for the whole week now, and I remembered this new restaurant that opened a couple of months ago. So we decided to go try it out. Actually, before Ali Baba was another restaurant called Tofu Kitchen, which my boyfriend and I absolutely adored. It was owned by a Korean couple, and they had all sorts of dishes and entrees featuring tofu, and all the dishes are $6.99! I especially liked their Miso Tofu pot with brown rice and Rice, veggies, & tofu over rice in a stone pot. And of course, kimchi.

The interior of the restaurant.

We sat by the window, which overlooked Foothill Blvd (aka Historic Route 66). Also where our school is located on!

Anyways, I ordered a Tabouleh salad:

It was overpriced for such a small bowl. It was good, but not like, OMG STELLAR!

Next up for me was a falafel sandwich.

It was okay. Pretty good, but again, not the best. The absolute best falafel and sandwiches that I’ve ever EVER had were actually in Taiwan. There’s this place called “Sababa” that had the best cucumber & tomato salad, the best falafel sandwiches, the best hummus & babaganouj plate….etcetc. OMG…*drool*
Dmitri the boyfriend (hehe) ordered a vegetarian kebab plate:
I actually liked this better than my falafel sandwich. The rice was good, and their warm grilled veggies paired very well with their yogurt sauce! I had several bites of that 🙂

So after dinner we headed over to the movies. I had two coupons for two movie tickets, but we had to pay $5 extra each for the 3D Shrek. A bit overpriced, don’t you think?

Looking nerdy cool in his 3D glasses.
Shrek was really funny. I’ve enjoyed all the previous one, and this one didn’t fail. Shrek, Donkey, and Puss just never fail to crack me up! However, Puss looks especially funny in this one! Gotta watch it to know it 😉
After the movie, we stopped by Target to pick up some goodies, then headed home. Once home, we fixed ourselves some night time snacks!
Plain chobani with strawberries, Walden Farms Sugar-free Carb-free Blueberry syrup, and lots o’ cinnamon. Yummy!
Dmitri wanted me to take a picture of his plate because he thought it was classy! An apple, the last bit of brie, and a martini glass that he was going to fill with some champagne.
Okie dokie. Wayyy past my bedtime! I’m planning to go for a morning run tomorrow, and then LOTS of errands to run! Happy long weekend everybody!
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+ Do you prefer watching 2D or 3D movies?
All the movies that are coming out are in 3D! Scary, huh?
+ Do you like Mediterranean food and what is your favorite dish?

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