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?

Sunday

August 22, 2010 § 24 Comments



15, 7, 15

August 21, 2010 § 26 Comments

Fifteen pictures to show what I’ve been up to:

I’ve been drinking this new-to-me Coffee Milk I got from 7-Eleven.

It tasted like latte (surprise!)

I’ve been spending some money on cheap things that I can find in Taiwan only. From stationary to food items to clothes and shoes (thanks to night markets!).

Clockwise from top: pretty colored/patterned papers, 3 notebooks, 2 bottles of 5 grain tea, 2 packs of pocky sticks, an eraser, rubber bands, and some sticker labels. All this for about an equivalent of 10 U.S. Dollars

Yes yes, I could have easily gotten the erasers, the rubber bands, the notebooks, and the sticker labels in the U.S., but believe me, they are wayyy cheaper in Taiwan. I think the rubber bands found in Taiwan are more elastic and stronger too. And who doesn’t love notebooks with lovely patterns, but only a little more than $1 a piece?

Shoes ~$10

This dress and top combined was about $8.

Two tops ~15.

I'm obsessed with anything Stitch, so I knew I just HAD to get these stickers when I saw they were only about $1.50. Look at the size of them!

I’ve been spending some time in the bookstores and hauled 4 Mandarin books back. I like to read books in Mandarin from time to time to brush up my Mandarin.

Does anyone recognize the book on the bottom left? 😀   I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I bet the book is far better than the movie (like always).

The book included some pictures from the movie.

I’ve been having some baking mishaps. I mistakenly added lemon extract instead of vanilla extract into the brownie batter. Cut me some slack, ’cause these two bottles look exactly the same, and when you’re zoned out like I was, you wouldn’t have noticed either!

The brownies still turned out okay though!

I didn’t tell my friends about my little oopsies, so when one of my friends bit into one, she was like…”hmmm…there’s an interesting taste to this brownie…” 😛

I’ve been playing with my cat, despite her not wanting to pay any attention to me.

Lastly, but definitely most importantly, I’ve been goofing off with my friends.

~~~

This morning when I woke up, I got an email from the adorable Michal at Earth Muffin that I got a blogger award from her! This is my very first blogger award so you can probably imagine my excitement ;).

So, I’m supposed to share 7 things about myself. Hmmm….

Seven things about me:

  1. I used to love steak and beef when I was little. But gradually, my taste bud for meat had subsided over the years, making the 2-year vegetarian that I am today :D.
  2. The thing I miss most being a vegetarian is fish. That’s my weakness whenever I walk into a Japanese restaurant here, because they have the best grilled fish ever!
  3. My dream house would consist of a large kitchen with lots of pantry space, a room made into my yoga sanctuary, and a little garden where I can grow my own herbs. And of course, there will be a dog and maybe even a cat.
  4. I grew up with friends that I knew way back in either elementary of middle school, making us an inseparable bunch. Taipei American School goes from K-12, so once you’ve found your friends, you’re most likely to stick with them till you graduate.
  5. I played varsity volleyball and varsity badminton in high school. Now don’t go smirking at the thought of “varsity” badminton! The average distance ran during a professional game is 4 miles, whereas tennis covers only 2 miles. The official smash record is 206 mph, set by a pair of Chinese doubles player (Tennis: 153 mph, set by Andy Roddick).
  6. I used to hate milk as a kid, but I gradually took on the taste of low-fat milk or skim milk. I could never down a glass of full-fat milk, even today!
  7. I can roll my tongue into lotus-flower shape.

Fifteen wonderful blogs that I pass this award to:

(in alphabetical order, because that’s only fair :))

Hope you guys enjoyed that little tidbit about me :D.

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+ What’s one thing about you that people can’t tell by looking at you?

+ Have you ever had a baking mishap but still turned out okay?

SF <3

July 6, 2010 § 17 Comments

Annnnnnnnnndddd I’M BACK!!!

I hope y’all had a fantabulous 4th of July weekend! Whew this past weekend had been a BLAST up in San Francisco for me! The weather was actually warmer than I expected, with clear blue sunny skies on Saturday. Behold as I fill you all in with food, fun, and love.

1. The Food

Saturday lunch my girls and I went to famous Cheeseboard in Berkeley for lunch. Best. Pizza. Ever. The restaurant serves only one kind of pizza a day, but everyday the ingredients on the pizza vary. That day they served pizza with mozzarella, goat cheese, spinach, tomatoes, and garlic olive oil. I thought the garlic olive oil was the BEST part! The homemade pizza crust was thin yet chewy and crusty, just the way I like it!  It has an indoor and outdoor seating area, with a live band playing inside. People were constantly streaming in and out of the restaurant, and the place was bustling with people. We even had to sit on a bench on the sidewalk simply because there were no seats! At $2.50 per large slice of pizza + one small sliver, it certainly is CHEAP! I regret that I didn’t take a picture :-(. It was really hard to get my camera from my purse as the three of us were squished on a little bench, juggling our pizza on our laps, purses tucked behind us, cups of water just inches from our butts. But I assure you the pizza was phenomenal. I swear I heard the angels singing when I took my first bite.

Cheesecake Factory was also in the picture during my stay in SF.

Nothin’ like warm bread with olive oil + balsamic vinegar.

No kidding.

We each decided to get a different flavored mojito. I got the Pomegranate Mojito (red), and the others were Passionfruit and Pineapple. They were all cool, minty & refreshing!

My salad featuring lettuce, edamame, tomatoes, green beans, beets, white cheddar with raspberry viniagrette.

Chicken parmesan pasta.

Herb-roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes and carrots.

Can’t leave The Cheesecake Factory without a cheesecake! We were debating between Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake and Tiramisu Cheesecake. Guess which one won? 😉

Of course there were lots of other eats in the city, but I was too busy eating to be taking pictures. Heheh!

2. The Fun

Each day was filled with 7+ hours of walking in the city, in Berkeley, and bart/bus rides here and there. Got my workout there!

In the city.

Little kids playing drums on Powell Street!

An intersection near Berkeley and Oakland. I thought this was way too cool (yay Claremont Colleges)!

Looking out at the bay + city at Berkeley Marina.

Mine?

Near the Ferry Building at Embarcadero station. Sunny sunny San Francisco!

‘Course, I paid my visit to Ghirardelli Square.

❤ ❤ ❤

3. The Love

I love the girls I spent my weekend with. We knew each other for over 8 years, and we are practically inseparable! 🙂

Our lovely host! This was taken near the checkout at Forever 21 in downtown SF. She can’t help but fool around with those disco-styled beanies 😀

Take 1

Take 2

Take 3. Believe it, there were lots of to these series of photos. I am shamelessly admitting our love for self-picture taking.

At Ghirardelli Square.

This weekend would not have been so much fun if it weren’t for…

Despite it being lots of fun, I was ready to jump back to normal eating + exercising! Yes I did walk like 1304984098752 miles each day, but I also ate tons. My body was definitely out of funk this morning when I practiced yoga.

Alright, I got lots to catch up on blog-reading. I’ll try to get on the same page with everyone these few days!

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+ What fun things did you do over the weekend?

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