Friday, January 27, 2012

dentist, haircut, and dinner

So a couple of weekends back I finally had the time to get all my errands done. I got my teeth checked at the dentist a couple blocks from my house. The great thing about having health insurance here in Taiwan is that it applies to most everything: doctors, dentist, dermatologist, etc. The sucky thing is that what I pay for the health insurance is way more than I would pay if I just visited the doctor without the health insurance. With health insurance every visit costs you $150 NT, this applies to every check up type visit, however when I went to the doctors previously without health insurance the cost came out to be around $300 NT which isn't bad at all. Too bad every month I have to pay around a $1000 NT for my health insurance. Guess I shouldn't complain, not everyone has the luxury of not needing to go to the doctors and such.

On to my dentist visit. It is definitely weird visiting an office and not having people speak English. I had an x-ray done and the person who was working the x-ray spoke to me very politely and it was as I've never had this kind of x-ray taken before. The office I went to was definitely the nicest dentist office I've been in, with several floors and many dentists in one convenient location. Each room had a dental assistant in addition to the dentist who worked on the patients, which was a new concept for me. There was a big screen tv that was hooked up to a computer where the dentist could check the x-rays of your teeth and I guess show the condition of the patient's teeth directly to the patient. Mine was fine, nothing out of the ordinary, thankfully. Now on to the cleaning part... Right after rinsing your mouth with some water, they place a green cloth with a hole for your mouth over your head. The cloth wasn't suffocating and it was nice to not have to avoid eye contact with the dentist while they were working on your teeth. You could actually take a snooze if you wanted to since they couldn't see your eyes. What was weird for me was because there were two people working on your teeth, the dentist and the dental assistant, there wasn't a break time between cleaning various parts of your mouth like when only a dentist cleans your teeth. If you can recall the dentist usually takes a break from using that electric drill to suction all the saliva that had pooled in the back of your mouth. This dentist visit was super fast like under 30 minutes and it didn't hurt. I kind of expect a little pain whenever I visit the dentist because they have to get into all the tight places between your teeth and such. Also I'm use to spending at least an hour plus at my dentist back at home but that is probably due to the fact that my dentist likes to talk to me and tell me that I need to get married and have children... Well my dentist in Taiwan just went over my teeth with the electric drill and then polished a couple teeth and I was done. Lets just say I wasn't super satisfied. I would have liked her to use some of the manual picks and to polish all my teeth with the pink fluoride and to just really get into the nitty gritty so my teeth feel clean when I leave. I didn't get that feeling at all. If this light cleaning is all they offer then I need to visit more than just twice a year.

After the dentist I went to get a haircut. The bad thing about short hair it needs to be cut pretty often. I have really bad experiences with getting my haircuts from anyone other than my hairdresser back in San Francisco. Back when I was still attending college, I would wait for vacation breaks to go home to get my haircut. Since I didn't speak English I made one of my friends translate for me. It turned out to be such a disaster. I saw as the hairdresser cut my hair that it was too short and had to stop her from cutting both sides that short length. I completely flipped out and almost had a meltdown inside and outside of the hair salon. In hindsight I was probably PMSing but I was not happy at all. You can tell when a haircut is bad when no one mentions how cute it is when they see it. When I asked people how my haircut was, the answers I received were "It's ok," "It's fine..." Not stuff you want to hear at all. It looks ok now but not as I envisioned it to be. I think I'm gonna have to look up an English hairdresser in the area just to ensure that I get the haircut that I want.

Around the area I live in there is a restaurant called Alamu that serves aboriginal cuisine. The exterior of the restaurant actually is the thing that caught my eye and I was excited at the chance to try aboriginal cuisine.
Their menu has English and they serve such delicacies as pupas and crickets. I didn't try any of those so I can't tell if they are as delicious as they sound...
Instead of eating off a plate or out of a bowl, at Alamu you eat off a fresh banana leaf.
Pretty neat idea except for the fact that it made it a little difficult to get things into my mouth without being able to scoop things against the sides of a bowl.
Alamu calls this dish ku-la but I can't find any information on such a vegetable. I'm pretty sure I've had this in the states before because it tasted familiar. I strongly recommend this veggie dish, a nice detour from the regular water spinach.
beef with peppers
This dish is basically stirred fried beef with onions and peppers. I also really liked this dish just because the peppers gave it a nice kick and the meat was tender and not super chewy and overcooked. I ate one of the peppers and that was such a bad idea..
reeves muntjac
The next dish isn't on the menu but we were served it because we had asked what dishes were considered very traditional. Apparently Reeve's Muntjac is hard to obtain so this is why they don't have it on the menu. I could tell by the taste that this meat wasn't anything I've eaten before. The bones were very thin and the meat was chewier and a little tough. I loved how all the dishes were served with peppers and had that extra kick of spiciness to it! Dinner also included skewers of guava and a sweet red bean dessert soup free of charge, rice is charged per basket. Eating at Alamu is pretty expensive and our dinner for two came to a little less than $800 NT. Pricy but the food was delicious.

The Details
No. 8, Lane 8, JinShan 6th St., Hsinchu City
tel: 03-567-9646
hours: 11am-2pm, 5-9pm

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