Friday, October 7, 2011

a girl's day in hsinchu

So thus far I haven't really hung out with any of the girls from work. Me being me I tend to get along better with guys. Two of my co-workers invited me to go shopping with them one weekend in downtown Hsinchu. I was totally excited because I definitely need some new clothes and its always good to have locals show you where the good places to shop are.

part of the old moat in hsinchu
I mentioned in a previous post about how it was too dark to take really good pictures of the old moat in Hsinchu. The moat makes downtown Hsinchu more picturesque instead of just another downtown area filled with skyscrappers. Yvette and Kiki (my co-workers) told me about a restaurant known for making Shanghai dumplings or xiaolongbao. Each of the dumpling skins are rolled out in precise sizes and weighed. Each scoop of meat is also measured. The kitchen windows are open to the public so you can observe their process.

din tai fung's kitchen
If you look closely you can see the mini scales they have on the table. Each dumpling is weighed to exact proportions. Din Tai Fung has several locations worldwide and the ones in Hong Kong have even received Michelin stars for the awesome xiaolongbao!

shanghai dumplings (xiaolongbao)
I've never really been a big fan of xiaolongbao. I just didn't get why people were always raving about how awesome they were. I ate them in Shanghai and I didn't think they were anything special. Well I totally loved the ones pictured above. One bite and the liquid would burst everywhere. They provided you with spoons and chopsticks to eat them with. I love the big steaming basket!

pork and glutinous rice shaomai

I've never been a fan of shaomai either. The types of shaomai they have actually have different fillings and look totally different from shaomai I've had in America. The glutinous rice is just like sticky rice. I didn't think this dish was anything special and didn't change my opinion on shaomai. The place is super expensive. It cost several hundred for just two baskets of dumplings. This place actually had a service charge which I feel like its an enforced tip!!

Even thought I was in Hsinchu to do some shopping we didn't buy anything but food from pricey grocery stores, Fresh Mart in the basement of Sogo. I don't know why but I haven't stumbled upon any amazing and unique candy stores in Taiwan. The kind of stores where you can pick your own candy. I saw a small selection in the grocery store but the offerings were so American... I was really hoping for some unique stuff like what I found in Europe.

I love how the grocery store had mini shopping carts for little kids! So adorable!

I've been dying to find some craft stores to feed my addiction and in this humongous store filled with everything you could need in your house was an area called DIY (do it yourself) which is what they call arts and crafts in Taiwan. The store is across from Sogo, a few stores down from the Starbucks. You'll know you've reached it when all you see is an entire floor of dvds and cds.

a wall of decorative tape and ribbons

stickers, die-cuts and rub ons!
Looking at all the arts and crafts stuff makes me sad that I don't have all my supplies or even the time to semi-scrap Taiwan. I'm sad because I know there is a whole bunch of new product that is coming out and I won't be able to get my hands on it until it might be too late!! Should I order the stuff and have them shipped back home and then just wait a year before opening it all??

Towards the end of the day I saw something that was truly amazing. In Taiwan, gay marriage is illegal and isn't acknowledged. While heading to the bus station we saw a demonstration where a gay couple was getting married! It was truly moving and the best part was all the support they received from the audience. I'm not sure how Taiwanese culture is but being Asian I can tell the support for gay marriages and the gay culture isn't overwhelmingly positive so to see this demonstration occur in Taiwan was really amazing. A lot of people in the audience was crying including Kiki. I didn't understand what was being said but you could feel the couple was extremely happy and in love!

the happy couple!
The couple was actually dressed in traditional wedding garb which people don't really wear anymore. The guy in the blue is wearing the females clothing. They are only the 4th gay couple to marry in Taiwan. I love this demonstration and the stand they are making in Taiwan and I totally whooped and cheered in support!! :P

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