Tuesday, August 30, 2011

typhoon day...

Yesterday on Monday a typhoon day was declared in Hsinchu County. Of course I didn't know since I don't watch the news or listen to the radio. But a typhoon day means students don't have to go to school including mine. That does not include the teachers who still have to go to work. This reminded me of Fireweek my sophomore year of college where all the dining hall workers still had to go to work to feed those freshmen who wouldn't go home therefore endangering our lives by breathing in all the ash that was falling down from the sky. No resentment here.

Now if this was a nation-wide typhoon alert then we wouldn't have to work either. The west coast apparently doesn't get it as bad as the east coast of Taiwan. I spent all day yesterday working up lesson plans and doing homework slips for my classes. I really can't believe I'm a teacher when seriously that was the last thing I ever wanted to be. I remember in high school I thought poor teachers they really hate their jobs and it seems like such a shitty one. Haha and now I'm in that position. I wonder what my teachers would say if they knew.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

beipu: hakka temple and hakka food

painted doors of temple

Hakk temples are very elaborate with carved dragons on the roofs and very brightly colored. In Hakka temples there are these two red moon pieces that when you make a wish you throw it to see if your wish is granted. In order for your wish to be granted, the red pieces need to be flipped opposite of each other. One piece needs to be upright and the other upside down. If you don't get it your first time you are suppose to do it over and over and beg the Goddess to grant your wish.

i got my firsh wish right away! the other red piece is next to the table with the yellow cloth
Next thing we did was try some authentic Hakka food at a restaurant.

pork intestines with ginger
At first I thought this was squid because I saw circular rings like you see in calamari. When I ate it, it was rubbery and full of ginger flavor. When I asked what it was, Alice told me it was pork intestines. The large intestines to be exact. I gotta make sure I ask what the food is after I've already finished eating it. Alice is Hakka and she told me that this dish is a favorite amongst the Hakka people, everyone loves it. It wasn't bad but I don't like the rubbery texture or how gingery it tastes.

veggies with white ginger
I don't know what kind of veggies this is but it was good. Again some more ginger. Hakka people love to use their ginger. Instead of using take out boxes, Alice put the extra food in plastic bags and then just carried it out. Haha so ghetto.

beipu: hakka lei cha

I've mentioned Alice several times before, she is a woman who works at the Zhudong campus and has been super nice to me! Well on Saturday night before I went to get those beef noodles she came back deliberately to give me this

pearl milk tea!
She is so awesome! I was totally surprised when she showed up after she already left work just to bring me this. She had told me about a former teacher who opened a drink shop and had a grand opening. We had said we were going to go but because I had to go to the Erchong campus I wasn't able to go :( So she deliberately waited in the long line and bought this for me! One of the best things in Taiwan is how nice everyone is.

Well the next day on Sunday, Alice stopped by at the school even though it was closed. I was skyping with my mom at the time and I was just telling her about Alice when Alice walks in. Apparently she came deliberately to look for me because she had heard I wanted to go to Beipu but because of my lack of transportation I wouldn't be able to do it. I introduced her to my mom and they spoke in Mandarin. Pretty sure my mom was thanking her for being so nice to me and looking out for me.

Anyways went over to Alice's house where her parents make these pancake type cakes to sell at the Zhudong market. I'm really enjoying being able to view local life and getting a sense of the culture and lifestyle of Taiwan by living here. Something I would never be able to do if I was just a tourist.

three flavors: sesame, peanut, and brown sugar
I've already mentioned that in my area there is a huge Hakka population. Well Beipu is known for its Hakka culture and of course Hakka food! But before Alice drove us there we stopped for some more pearl milk tea!

pearl milk tea in a bottle!
We went to the place mentioned above. They also give drinks in bottles and a straw for people who are traveling. Too bad the straws are just the regular ones so they are longer than the bottle and we weren't able to close the cap with the straw in it. They should give a shorter straw so we aren't left with either pulling the whole straw out or forcibly bending the straw so that it would fit.

i'm a natural at this
Lei cha or pounded tea is famous within Hakka cuisine. In Beipu we went to a tea house that allowed you to make your own lei cha. Lei cha is commonly made with green tea where you use a mortar and pestle and grind in sesame seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. Since I am allergic to peanuts our dish contained black and white sesame, pumpkin seeds, and something else.

The platter with all the seeds go into making the tea. The blue dish contains a sticky rice square with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The other dish is glutinous rice in a brown sugar syrup with ginger. The glutinous rice is the kind that makes tangyuan or glutinous rice balls before rounding them into ball form. That dish was yummy except I wish they didn't add the ginger.

the finished product with puffed rice
The tea was very thick and ours tasted a lot like sesame. If you've ever had the black sesame soup, it tastes similar to that. The color is a very darkish green color. Everyone in Beipu was drinking lei cha in to go containers.

just a regular saturday night in zhudong

After the whole Baoshan Reservoir trip, Sam and I went to a very well known beef noodle house in Zhudong. It was recommended by my friend Alice and when I brought it up to others, everyone knew the place. Beef noodles is a symbol of Taiwanese food and is a must have when visiting.

chong kee beef noodle house
niúròu miàn - spicy beef noodle soup
 I didn't actually expect these noodles to be spicy but they were so hot my nose was almost dripping. Haha so appealing right. These noodles were so yummy and filling and only cost $50NT. I can't believe I just paid $1.50 USD for a meal, what an awesome deal!

Later we went to find the Zhudong night market. The one that is two miles long and filled with things to eat, buy and play. When we got to the Zhudong train station we couldn't see a sign of it anywhere. We walked block after block and was heading back when we saw a whole bunch of people go through an off street. We followed the crowd and discovered the entrance of the night market! Seriously can't believe there was like a secret entrance to this place. The night market is super long and is held right against this barricade that is suppose to protect the town from a flood.

the night market goes as far as the eye can see
the market was so huge that game stalls were in abundance!
Since we had just eaten before we came I didn't buy anything to eat. One day soon. We didn't get to walk the whole thing because we were super stuffed and walking was such a chore. Especially since we walked so much trying to find the location in the first place. Good thing we went on a Saturday because any other day we would have just found a long empty street. I will definitely come back and eat random goodies!

Before I forget here are some more pictures of when I went to Baoshan. Chau avert your eyes! Don't tell me I didn't warn you...

never saw this as road kill in america...
the cafe gave customers a free plant
I picked a plant that smelled like lemons. I really wanted chili peppers but they didn't have it. The others chose mint plants. I would have but I don't cook so useless to me. I actually ate one of the leaves one of the girl's chose and it tasted sweet. I'm eating leaves people! What has Taiwan done to me?!?

The Details
Chong Kee Beef Noodle House
No. 248 Renai Road (next to Central Market) in Zhudong in Hsinchu County
tel: +886-35953805

Friday, August 26, 2011

how i became an asian using an umbrella when it wasn't raining...

This past Saturday, my school arranged for some student's family to take us on an outing, to get to know the area better and to get to know the students and families better. I went with another teacher Joe and one of the kids was a student in his class. The family took us to Baoshan Reservoirs. Baoshan translates to Treasure Mountain. There was a cafe located next to the reservoir called Safulak Cafe. The place is super popular and we only saw locals eating there. The place offers a great view of the reservoir.

don't i look like i'm part of the family?

red bean and mung bean over shaved ice with a kiwi juice on the side
The mom was super generous and paid for everything! I felt so bad because the prices for this place was so expensive. The set meals didn't start until 11am so the mom surprised us and ordered two of these shaved ice platters. She didn't know the shaved ice would be so huge. I barely ate mine because I don't like red bean or the mung beans that were on top of it. This one didn't have syrup so they were literally just eating red beans and then ice... The green drink is kiwi juice and was super yummy! I loved how its so green and the black seeds are floating around in it. Something I've never seen before. After we finished our drinks we decided to take a little walk to kill time before eating lunch.

every set meal comes with garlic bread and soup
I love how there is always garlic bread with meals! This time's soup was pumpkin. I didn't like it. I am not use to thick soup and pumpkin is just ehhh.

japanese style miso risotto with beef
I ordered this dish because I thought it sounded interesting and I'm like lets expand and eat other food types. Of course this isn't traditional Taiwanese food. I did not like this at all. I don't like sushi so those two pieces were like ehh for me. It was just rice with some weird dried meat in it. Of the "risotto" I just ate the meat and broccoli because I wasn't a fan of carrots or what I think might be bamboo or something that isn't a potato or a squash. The meal was disappointing, especially for that price. I'm not sure why so many people come to this place unless its for the amazing view which totally makes up for it.

a scene of the bridge over the reservoir taken from a second bridge
When they told me we were going to a reservoir I imagined the cemented structure near Lincoln and I was thinking how would that be interesting. Well the Baoshan Reservoirs isn't actually water that is held in reserve but water that serves the whole of Hsinchu county and is actually a gigantic man-made lake. It is so huge that there are bridges that allow people to pass.

The family provided me with an umbrella which I unashamedly utilized. Not only did it prevent the sun from beating down on me and keeping my pale skin in its white perfection but it also saved me from freaking out that bugs could be dropping down on me from the trees.

can you see the spider? these were hanging everywhere!
The spiders were freaking huge and made super gigantic spiderwebs. I definitely needed the umbrella to protect me. I was wearing sandals and my feet were exposed and I was already freaking out about bugs getting me that way. Nature and me totally don't mess but the views were pretty awesome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

many firsts in zhudong or jhudong...

My school schedule has been changing like crazy because the teacher I am replacing is leaving soon and in order to get enough time with my classrooms I now have to go earlier than originally scheduled. Well this threw everything off and now no one is available to drive me the Erchong school. Erchong is actually another city but so close I would never have known we had entered somewhere different. Anyways the first day Alice, awesome life-saver worker in the Zhudong campus school, took me to the bus stop in Zhudong and showed me what bus to take and even told the bus driver I couldn't speak Mandarin and wouldn't know where to stop. The first thing is that bus stops aren't very noticeable. The only indication is a sign that isn't very high or distinguishable from any of the advertising posts around it. Also the buses don't have numbers but they are painted in different colors or rather they have different designs on the outside so I can recognize which one I should get on.

bus driver in taiwan
See that white plastic container with the red words on it? That is where you throw in money. The bus driver literally has to count the money himself, often times he just glances at it, and then deploys a lever to send the money down into the silver box. I am sure there is no organization and I wonder whose the poor fool who has to sort the money out later. Also the bus system here does not work like bus systems in America where you pay one flat fee and can get off wherever you want. On Taiwan buses you need to know the location you're going to and each location has a different fee. Good luck if you don't know any Mandarin! There is also a scrolling marquee sign that tells you the stops as they come up with accompanying English words. Hopefully you can recognize the name you want in English.

no crappy plastic seats for the taiwanese
So the buses are those buses used on tours. The reason I believe is because the buses aren't just staying in one city. For example the bus I take ultimately goes all the way to Hsinchu. The white ticket slip is what you get if you pay with cash. This must be given back to the bus driver when you get off. Also notice the lack of a back door so no one can sneak on or off of it. Some buses have a wire that runs down the length of the bus like how they have it in America. At first I thought it was the stopping string but with careful observation I realize that the purpose of the wire was to hold the curtains back. Haha. There is a button you press if you want to stop. I'm afraid of closing my eyes or not paying careful attention because the stops are far apart on this bus route and I don't want to miss my stop and end up walking and then be sweaty when I get to work.

my first tapioca milk tea in taiwan
I've been wanting to get my tapioca first for awhile now but never had the balls to do it because of the Chinese speaking required and the fact that all signs are also in Chinese so I have no clue whats on the menu. I only had the guts to do it because I was with Sam and then I can go "Don't speak Chinese because I'm hanging with a whitie excuse." The only flavor I know is milk tea so that is what I got and I even ordered it in Chinese! CoCo is a very popular chain in Taiwan, so popular that they even opened up a few stores in New York. Their English menu on the website shows that they have no almond milk tea. Asking some locals I know that almond milk tea does exist here but is not very common. I actually really liked the CoCo's milk tea because you can taste the tea flavor but I'm not sure if its black tea because the tea taste isn't as bitter. I also notice they use like a sugar syrup to flavor it. Thumbs up for good milk tea experience unlike the shaved ice...

Since I've been here I haven't gone to the night market that is in Zhudong so Sam and I went. According to Alex, person who picked me up from airport, the night market in Zhudong was in his opinion the second best in Taiwan and was super big. So not knowing where the market was I headed to where the day market is usually at and found one street that had lights on. It was literally one street long and we were like what is Alex talking about. This is barely a street let alone a night market. Later we found out he was referring to a different one which we also went to so more info on that one later. I was full because I had just eaten so again no food from the night market. It doesn't seem like I ever eat at these things even though they are famous for their food. I still don't have the guts or the nose to handle stinky tofu no matter how delicious people say it is.

sam ordered from this cart
You basically grab whatever you want to be cooked with tongs and place it in a metal bowl. There was a line for this one which is why I told Sam to eat here since locals would know what was good and what wasn't. I definately want to eat at one of these stalls in the future. The sad thing is I can only recognize people when they say $100 NT. Any other price and I'm just like huh?!? Must learn Mandarin!

random tidbits about taiwan

In Taiwan if you purchase things from stores like 7-11 you get a receipt with a lottery number on it. Places that sell food aren't included. But apparently its a way for stores to be honest about their profits if people demanded receipts in hopes of wining millions. So awesome a chance for winning millions without having to actually go out and pick your own. Some teachers have won like $200 NT to several thousand.

The reciepts are on the right side. You can see the red seals where the lotto numbers are printed over. You can also find more information here. The left side is a booklet which 7-11 gives to customers. You're suppose to put the red stickers, pictured below the booklet, in them. You only receive the stickers if you spend more than $66NT. If you collect like 10 stickers you can get free stuff or a discount or w/e.

So I've mentioned that I've been feeding myself at the Zhudong campus. I've started packing some food for dinner because the Erchong school does not provide food. Is that hecka Asian? Eating free food and then packing up some more for later? Hahah.

pork, eggs with green onion, winter melon
Of course it wouldn't be Asia without shirts with either bad words or misspelled ones.

this is one of my students, wei-wei
this is wei-wei's shirt
I love the fact that this shirt is being worn by a boy! I can't imagine what the parent's reaction would be if they knew what this meant. I wonder who has this kind of humor to write these on shirts knowing Asians wouldn't understand it. Haha.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

disappointment in taiwan...

After my health check, Jill, the teacher I'm replacing, picked me up on her scooter to have lunch with her and her couch surfer. Since Jill is a vegetarian we went to a vegetarian place. The menu was all in Chinese and since I was the only Asian person in the group, the waitress kept speaking to me in Mandarin. I spoke English the whole time and the waitress didn't realize I didn't speak Mandarin until Jill said I was an American. The waitress then pointed at her hair, implying I wasn't blonde. Yay for America stereotype...

cheese curry
The cheese curry was delicious. There was potatoes and imitation meat inside. I've had imitation meat in America but it wasn't very believable. The consistency of this fake meat I think is closer to actual meat they served in Taiwan. I only knew about this dish because Jill has had it before when she had lunch with the head teacher because otherwise she would never have been able to read it. Again seawood soup with my meal and dessert was grass jelly.

At the Erchong school there is no meals included like the Zhudong school. The only thing close by the school was an OK Mart where I brought several more snacks to tide me over for the night.

The Golden Cheese Doritos are thicker than the Doritos I've had in America. When I opened my bag at the Erchong school. Students ran up to me asking for one. I made them speak in English before they could get one. I made students learn my name this way. Haha bribery wins every time! The Lay's chips are Kyushu Seaweed which I'm pretty sure is found only in Asia, especially with the love the Taiwanese have for seaweed. The chips are nasty. I ate one and gave the whole bag of chips away to the kids. The Hi-Chew flavor this time is vanilla? pudding. I've actually seen the item this flavor is based on. Well the flavor is funky. I still have some left which is an indicator that I am not a big fan of this. It isn't as bad as the plum candy flavor but I'll probably only eat it when I'm super desperate for junk food. I don't think there are any more flavors of Hi-Chew left that I haven't tried. That roundish can potato sticks flavored in a slightly spicy flavor. Pretty good.

Now for the most disappointing food moment in Taiwan. I've been super excited to try authentic shaved ice since I've had it in LA. Well after a demonstration at the newest school, my principal, the director of my school Yvonne, and our IT guy Eamon went out to get shaved ice. This is what I got...

shaved ice with brown sugar syrup
Depending on how many toppings you choose the price differs. I picked mango, mochi, and jelly. Then they drizzled brown sugar syrup all over it. The ice was like the ones in American shaved ice where the colored syrup is poured over it. I didn't think was good at all. It definitely wasn't as good as the one in LA. I was so disappointed and then I started thinking that this was the only version of shaved ice in Taiwan. This is the one I see on pictures all around Zhudong. I was so freaked out that I did googled it to see if the shaved snow we had in LA even existed in Taiwan. I also asked a local co-worker if shaved snow and not shaved ice existed. She said yes that it was called the same thing, you just have to indicate which one you want. The shop we went to only had the one kind. She was kind enough to write down the toppings and such for me. So have hope Erica and Di, I will try the good kind soon enough!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

health check and local myths

One of the first steps to getting an Alien Registration Card (ARC) is to get a health check in order to obtain a work visa which is needed to get the ARC. Alex, the principal's brother, another go-to guy and the head of another school campus took us to the hospital in Hsinchu. Supposedly you should go to public hospitals for the form because the government won't accept forms from the private hospitals due to the fact that if you pay enough money, they will give you a completed health check form. There is actually a room for government health screenings where a whole bunch of people were filling out forms. Some of the forms had English, there was one that was only in Chinese. This is how I found out that Taiwan actually has a different calender, The Republic of China calender. As it states the calender started the year the Republic was formed. 2011 is actually the year 100 in Taiwan. When I was filling out my paperwork, I had to put down my birth year as 77. From the first room we had to move to several different rooms to get things checked off. A very brief exam to get my general health and body info then to radiology to get a x-ray and then a blood sample. All this cost me like $1420 NT. Alex told me that not long ago teachers were required to give a urine and stool sample. They literally give you a plastic cup, unlike the sealed ones in America. You will also have to buy medicine to force yourself. So glad I don't to do that. I was also told that the Philippino workers have a separate hospital they go to for their health checks where they are required to give stool samples which was why we didn't see any of them in the hospital we were going to. Also required of us was 2 passport sized photos which they had a convenient machine that took it and you could see yourself making it super awkward when taking the photo... So cheap it was like $150 NT which is around $3 USD for 4 passport photos. So much more expensive in America.

Afterwards as we are heading home Alex pointed out the Five Finger Mountain which is called that because the mountain looks very similar to the knuckles of a hand. There was a story involving the Monkey King and his punishment from Buddha. The Monkey King had done something very bad and so Buddha grabbed him in heaven and shoved him all the way down to earth. Buddha's hand then turned into stone and became a mountain that trapped the Monkey King for thousands of years. In Taiwan the Five Finger Mountain is the mountain in the myth.

Five Finger Mountain

new teacher lunch

Charlotte the Head English teacher is basically the go-to person for help. She took me and Sam out to lunch. At lunch I learned that she has two children who are both going to UCSD. Too bad she wasn't one of my workers, how funny would that have been? Anyways we went to a very nice restaurant. I feel like any restaurant that charges you $200 NT per meal is pretty nice here, even though that is about $7-8 USD.

whose the outsider here?
The waitress who took this picture literally was a foot away from us. I'm smiling all awkward cause I'm like why is she so close to us??

I realized that a lot of the meals at restaurants come in sets. Sets usually include a drink, a soup, main course, and a dessert. Pretty sure I stated that before but can't get too tired of hearing it! 

they love their corn soup here, this time no milk
Malay chicken or whatever. the menu was all in Chinese. I just know it was suppose to be super spicy but wasn't really.
The chicken again was whatever. I didn't like the fact that it was like a giant wing where cutting the meat was very difficult since the bone was in the way and I couldn't go all savage on it in front of the head teacher at my school. By the end it looked like a pile of mush since I didn't eat the skin. The parts with the sauce was good but the parts underneath was just plain chicken and the skin wasn't delicious. The vegetables actually had like a pasta tasting sauce on them which made it good. This is the second time I've seen sesame seeds sprinkled on top of rice.

tea jelly
When I first heard tea or coffee I thought they meant the drink. Turns out its tea flavored jelly? Or jelly made from tea leaves? Whatever it was, it was good. The coffee one was black. I love how the tea in Taiwan isn't just like the tea I get in Chinese restaurants. A lot of them are sweet and people drink it cold. I asked for rose tea with my meal, thinking it was going to be authentic with rose petals, I got a cup with a teabag! Wow what a disappointment fancy restaurant. Outside the restaurant there was a pond and lots of greenery. Very pretty and relaxing if not for the possibility of bugs...

Friday, August 19, 2011

i love me my snacks!

get this all at your local 7-11
So since there is no school on Sunday I had to fend for myself for dinner. I still don't have the nerve to order food by myself at restaurants or food stalls so I bought the microwavable curry dinner to go. At this point the cashier was speaking all the mandarin to me and I had to confess I had no idea what she was saying. It turned out I could have gotten this hot and she was asking me if I wanted it to be hot which I didn't. But she didn't get that I didn't want it to be made then. I guess people typically cook food there and don't bring it home to eat later. Anyways I finally heated it yesterday at school and it is actually super delicious. They have a plastic tray that contains the curry so it is separate from the rice.

The nice thing is bacon Pringles which was also very yummy except the can was so freaking small! I wished there was more in a can... American thinking! The next candy in the Hi-Chew series is kiwi flavor. The candy itself is actually green and has little black specks all over it. I can't remember if the standard flavors that we get in America come in different colors or are they just white? Kiwi was a good flavor to get. Next time I'll try some more out there flavors but I think I've reached all the specialty flavors of Hi-chew there are. I can't remember if peach flavor is something we get in America. Can anyone let me know? If not I'll buy that too.

eating while sitting on toilets...

After the Taipei Zoo, Heide mentioned that she heard about a restaurant that there was a restaurant with a toilet theme that sounded interesting. After some research on someone's phone we trekked over to the MRT which is the metro system in Taipei. I kept calling it the MTR because that's the one that is Hong Kong and it works about the same way where you can purchase an EasyCard (Oyster Card in London, Octopus Card in Hong Kong) and just scan it at the turnstile. I liked the one in Hong Kong better because it could scan through your bag, this one you can scan through you wallet but the bag was too much for it. Anyways we headed over to Shilin, Taipei which required multiple MRT transfers to eat at Modern Toilet.

awesome decor. they even had shower heads coming out of the walls!
Not only is the seats and tables bathroom-themed, even the dishes contained the bathroom element.

I ordered the Yunnan Chili Chicken Spicy.
I have come to realize that in restaurant when ordering a meal it includes a soup, tea, and a dessert. This meal the soup was seawood which I feel tastes like miso with a seaweed taste which I don't like. Other people got a corn milk soup. They really like corn soups here and the corn milk soup tastes exactly like how it sounds. Not sure if I like it or not. The little side-dish contains kim-chi which eh not really a big fan of so nothing exciting. The chicken was actually very good. I actually thought since this was a themed restaurant it would be very touristy but the whole place was full of locals and the food is very good. For dessert we got ice-cream that sat on its own little toilet and resembled white poo. It tasted like vanilla with a hint of coffee that was also very good. Later we walked over to the Shilin Night Market but didn't stay that long because our feet was killing us and this night market is huge. I'm sure I will be going back and then I will have a chance to try the foods and buy stuff.

how i killed a bug with my face...

So I was in Taiwan for all of one day when I rode a scooter for the first time. A teacher invited me to go with her to the Taipei Zoo with her and her friends. She picked me up on her scooter to take us to the High-Speed Rail (HSR) in Jubei. The HSR only has a couple of stops and can reach Taipei from Jubei in 30 minutes. Anyways the helmet she gave me had no shield so I had to either look to the side the whole time or close my eyes because of all the wind whipping by. I would try to look forward to recognize the streets for when I have to drive later, but I was careful to only stick my head out a little behind hers. Well I totally saw this black thing fly towards my face and then hit me. I wiped my face but didn't find a dead carcass so I'm not sure if it was a bug or some random black thing. Whatever it was it hurt. I've managed to ride on another teacher's scooter this time with a shield on the helmet and the ride is way more enjoyable that way. I think its awesome to be the passenger because you don't have to worry about other cars and navigating the crazy ass streets of Taiwan.

scooter chic
The HSR from Jubei costs like $300 NT but you would need a mode of transportation to get to Jubei from Zhudong. Another way is by bus which you can take at Zhudong and costs $150 NT or something but it takes almost 2 hours to get there. Nothing special to report about the zoo except that it is really big and also has pandas. Lara and her friends were all from South Africa and they would speak Afrikaans and I would have no idea what they were saying. Heide, a friend of Laras, was saying how white people were accessories and that me hanging with four of them made me super cool. Haha. So all the South Africans were like zoos are depressing because they get to see animals roaming the wild. I did like this zoo more because I could actually see the animals and most of them were moving around unlike other zoos where the set up allowed for the animals to be hidden and you would just pass cage after cage that looked empty. Look what else I found...

can you guess what this is?
An American Raccoon! Lol yup they actually have raccoons at the zoo and it isn't any of the special variety but the ones that run around our streets eating from our garbage cans! I thought that was so hilarious. Lara told me that in South Africa where she lived, baboons were the pests and they would try to open the doors and her dad would have to shoot them! The thing was she lived in the city and I'm just like wow if baboons were just roaming the streets that would be so freaky especially since I don't think they are nocturnal...

While at the zoo we met up with another teacher from our school Fabes and his fiancee and her sister. I was talking to the sisters trying to see the differences between Taiwanese culture and Chinese culture. For one thing I see a lot of people here with dogs as pets and so I asked just to confirm that since dogs are pets here, they don't eat dog meat. They were aghast and was like that's illegal. Sorry mom guess I won't be able to try your favorite meat while I'm here. They basically told me I'm more Chinese then they are. Haha Taiwan has become very Americanized, they don't even wear traditional wedding gowns, just the white one. They also had never had frog and their mothers don't kill live chickens in their house.

Another thing I saw Asian Harry Potter!

parseltongue in action!
Uncanny resemblance right?!? I tried it and the snake had no interest in me :(

Thursday, August 18, 2011

asian snacks i don't see in america

So I'm gonna prob start a series of posts concerning snacks I find in Asian that I haven't seen in America. Either it is by brands we all know but with funky flavors not known to us or just things we would never be able to eat.

Hi chews!! Lychee and tang who lou
 Ok reviews on these unique flavors of Hi-chew. The lychee one is obviously delicious because lychees are freaking yummy and it cost me $12NT. This other one is the flavor of dried plum or something wrapped in a sugar commonly found on sticks in what I presume by the picture is a nightmarket. I think they are found in dramas based in the olden days. Well let me just tell you that these are not good. It tastes like a plum but then has this weird grainy texture with some weird aftertaste. A fellow teacher said it tasted salty.. I gave some to locals who seemed to like it so it must be an acquired taste and this flavor was so much more expensive at $18NT.

chicken drumsticks
Bought this at the daymarket for breakfast, 3 drumsticks for $100NT. Felt kind of ripped out but a lot of other people were buying it too so I thought it must have been a good deal. You select which pieces you want and put it in a metal bowl and the seller shakes this concoction of what I believe is salt all over it. The skin was very good but not anything special in particular.

how i'm gonna scrap in taiwan

So a lot of people have asked me what am I going to do about my scrapbooking stash or how am I going to scrapbook while in Taiwan. Obviously I can't bring all my supplies, well I could but I wouldn't be able to bring any clothes or any other essentials. Even two suitcases really wouldn't hold all of it. Some people might have seen the travel book I made while I was in Europe, I was planning to take pictures but ran out of time so I can't show you. Anyways I had a mini binder where I made pages and stuck any ticket stubs or brochures in it as a memory of my Europe trip and a way to actually look through all the brochures and maps I gathered. Usually I would stick them between the corresponding scrapbook pages in my album but I would never take them out again which kind of defeats the purpose of bringing home so many.

all i have to work with until i can get my hands on a craft store..

This time however I bought one of these spiral bound sketch books from Michaels so I wouldn't have to make my own pages. Included in my arsenal is a bunch of travel related stickers and lots and lots of pockets. The pockets will be responsible for holding on to brochures or anything multi-paged that can't be glued into the book. The green, blue and red things are adhesive and I brought 3 more with me. The thing that looks like what a school's office has is my date stamp and I also brought along several small ink pads and a mini alphabet stamp for titles. The printer is the Polaroid Pogo which I had bought for my trip to Europe but it didn't come in time and so there are no pictures in that travel album but this one will have it. It prints pictures directly from my camera and doesn't require ink because of some Zink technology or whatever. Also not pictured is washi tape which has been very popular in the scrapbooking world which my sister got for me from Japan. I'll prob show some pictures of the album as I progress but for now it is mostly journaling...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

market place and pu-zhao temple

A different view from another window in my room
Everyone who knows me knows I hate to do anything physical but I literally walked all the way up to the Buddhist Temple all the way up the hill on the left hand side. It was a hard climb and in the heat. I am hoping I lose a million pounds by the time I come back to America since I'm not eating as much as everyone said I would be.

proof that I'm not all talk
There is a monastery near by with actual monks. I didn't go in because there were monks at the altar? hitting those wooden gourds or w/e with the sticks. I didn't think it would be respectful of me to go in and act all touristy up in there since I'm obviously not doing any religious rites or whatever. That reminds me before I left America I totally bowed to my ancestors and to the gods to ensure I have a safe journey. Bow only three times, never four!

i've only seen it this way in tv shows set in the olden days, usually they are behind glass
food stalls right next to clothes stalls..
The market was fun. I've been back several times. They close up early like around 3-4pm. Not sure if it was because it was some holiday that Sunday. Store fronts were doing offerings and lighting up incense in front of their stores. Dominos offered up pizza, while convenience stores gave up bottles of soda. Lol. People kept lighting up firecrackers all through the night which freaked me out because the noise would be so sudden. Must ask grandma what holiday or "ghost" day just passed. Also had a chance to go to the "night" market yesterday night. It was just one street and no where close to the night market I went to in Taipei. More about that later...