Asia Day 8

Sorry, I did not take any photos today 😦

BUT here’s a short summary:

  • Visited xi men ding, a very popular tourist/shopping spot in Taipei with streets of food stands and small shops. We went too early though, barely anything is open before noon but we still got to shop a little. Lots of walking and it was like 100 degrees. Definitely coming back when I return to Taipei! but at night. (http://taiwanexplorer.blogspot.tw/2011/04/ximending-taipei.html)
  • After this, we had an appointment that lasted 3 hours…super boring until my cousin came to the rescue 😀 She took me shopping around the area while my parents were busy and I got a cute red dress for 390 NTD ($13) among a few other steals! Happy.
  • Headed to Taipei train station and took the high speed rail to Kao Hsiung! Had a bento from the train station on the 2 hour train ride to southern Taiwan (no picture because I was too hungry but it was really good and pretty filling and only $3!!). Once we were there, we took a taxi to a restaurant where my dad’s side all showed up! Annoying taxi driver was complaining in Taiwanese for half the ride and was super sassy. After dinner, we went to my grandpa’s house for a bit to catch up and went to my aunt’s house, where we’re staying the next few days. Have never been more impressed by an apartment I’ve seen in Taiwan…so lucky to be staying here 😀
Advertisements

Asia Day 7

Didn’t do much today… besides eat and eat…and eat…

After another enormous lunch, my uncle got this for us to share! Watermelon bread. It’s supposed to taste like watermelon but I haven’t tried it yet. Was too full :/

Photo Jun 07, 2 04 54 PM

Mostly stuck in rain and traffic from Yilan to Taipei all day. After unpacking, I had beef noodles for dinner and sugar cane ice with taro and pearls!

Photo Jun 07, 8 14 22 PM Photo Jun 07, 8 56 15 PM

Off to Kao hsiung tomorrow!

Asia Day 6

Woke up early and got breakfast downstairs! The hotel manager makes it himself and it was pretty good 😀 My 10 year old cousin said he helped make the bacon!

Photo Jun 07, 12 53 21 AM

After breakfast, we toured the city, stopping by multiple tourist spots. Nice views since we were pretty high up! But it was also foggy so we couldn’t see much… However, I did see a lot of big fuzzy caterpillars!

Photo Jun 06, 12 10 40 PM

Afterwards, we went to get lunch in Yi Lan, known for its seafood. Pretty good 🙂 spent like 6500 NTD for 17 people, not even $12/person for a meal that included lobster, shrimp, crab, sashimi, fish , soup etc and beer.

Photo Jun 06, 1 50 38 PM Photo Jun 06, 1 55 36 PM

We then drove a bit to get pickled fruits, and found this neat store next to it. Upon entering, you can smell the sweet smell of peanuts and you see the chef making candy. They use maltose candy (famous taiwan mai ya tang, meaning wheat sprout, known to be very sticky and sweet and is in many handmade candies here.) He dumps the maltose in the powder and coat it in a peanut powder over and over again, rolling it like dough every time he folded it. He then repeats this to form layers in the candy, chops it up, and packages it on the spot. The inventory of maltose is kept at 30C to keep it soft and malleable, since maltose gets really brittle and hard at lower temperatures. The end product is a chewy–not sticky– peanut flavored dessert!

Photo Jun 06, 5 13 41 PMPhoto Jun 06, 4 53 30 PMPhoto Jun 06, 4 53 44 PM

1 person can only buy 2 boxes max. That way, people don’t have to wait in line forever.

Since it was raining and we had a bunch of toddlers around, we couldn’t go to the Luo Dong night market 😥 , but we had dinner at (direct translation huo san bao fa ji) “volcano erupted chicken”. I reallly liked their stir fry veggies. They consisted of edible wild herbs I had never seen and just really well-cooked dishes. I ate the whole plate of yam leaves cooked with garlic and green onions. I wish I knew how to make it 😦 I thought the chicken was just ok. I loved their other dishes though! Also found their coke bottles interesting.

Photo Jun 06, 6 53 10 PM Photo Jun 06, 6 48 57 PM

At night, we went to my aunt’s place and swam in their indoor pool and spa! Had a good time with the little ones.

Summary:

  • You’re supposed to shower briefly before you enter a pool and everyone wears swimming caps.

Asia Day 5

Less eventful day today-

After a morning of packing and driving, we arrived at the airport around noon. The Tokyo airport is super pretty and cultural! Japanese lanterns all over the place, real assorted flowers indoors. The have really nice stores and one shopping area is space-themed, with a planetarium overhead and strobe lights on the ground! (Sorry no pics, my mom was using my phone and I ran off to check it out) We got some spaghetti cause we hadn’t had the chance to get any during our stay. Everyone should try japanese pasta at some point! It just tastes…different in a good way! We had their squid and roe spaghetti

Photo Jun 05, 12 03 10 PM

Before going through security, we said bye to my aunt, uncle (who took the day off to take us to the airport), and grandma. After getting through, I saw they were still there and waved to them a few more times, haha. They’re so sweet

  • All seats have a USB charging station
  • They served a kick ass meal (different flavor onigiri, karage, salmon, soba, mochi, edamame)
  • The milk/juices they serve is from Japan and super yummy
  • They give you free wine/beer.
  • Their toilets are bidets and their bathroom sinks are automatic. Apparently the toilet lids automatically close when you flush too!
  • Flight attendants are super nice and courteous.

Photo Jun 05, 1 17 51 PM Photo Jun 05, 1 20 02 PM

After we arrived, and a short trip to the doctor’s, we headed to Jiao Xi (50 min from Songshan airport). It started POURING. Was also  a bit of a culture shock… everything is dirtier, I could actually understand everyone, and the way people drive here is much more scary, but it’s Taiwan! All is forgiven. Especially after we got green onion pancakes from this popular stand (he shi 4). After checking out my aunt’s new property, we got dinner and shopped around. Dinner featured assorted fresh seafood. We walked up to the restaurant and you’re presented with a wide variety of raw fish (I can’t name). Definitely smells fishy. Then they place your selection in a basket and ask you how to cook each item! The grilled wild shrimp was the best I’ve ever had. Also got some stinky tofu (not pictured). 🙂

Photo Jun 05, 7 24 44 PM

We then got to shop around. I had to go to family mart (favorite convenience store in taiwan) and get some fruit milk. It kinda just tastes like sweet flavored soymilk that smells like fruit.

Photo Jun 05, 9 05 23 PM

Then we headed back to my aunt’s house. She especially invited us here to see the beautiful view and to try her spa. Her tub tap runs mineral water and the big tub fills up in 3 minutes! Didn’t try it but probably will tomorrow. Another aunt and her family joined us and we all hung out or a bit, over some exotic taiwanese fruits. Now I’m at a hotel (which looks like a house, as all hotels here do) babysitting my two rambunctious little cousins 😛

Photo Jun 06, 12 21 35 AM

Summary:

  • In Japan, they’ll announce on the PA and have people stand a few gates away with signs and everything if they discover you haven’t boarded BY the departure time, They’ll wait ten minutes before they leave.
  • Everyone wears sandals in the rain here.
  • Always carry mosquito repellent around. I was bitten twice, 20 minutes into dinner 😦 They now use a lot of lemongrass stuff, which is much more natural. Apparently sprays are bad and the roller things are good, not sure why.

Asia Day 3

Visited the tallest tower in the world today!  (and experienced a rainy day in Japan)

Behold, the Tokyo Sky Tree:

Photo Jun 03, 12 28 38 PM

Spent most of the early afternoon at Tokyo Solamachi, which is right next to it! It features a ton (~300) of little restaurants and shops, not limited to the Totoro store, Cheese Garden (their cheesecake samples are a must!!), over-priced but irresistible souvenir and designer shops, and Tomorakuno 63℃ (super yummy milk-flavored soft serve). An example:

Photo Jun 03, 2 46 01 PM

My aunt told me there were 4 especially notable ice cream places here, Tomorakuno 63℃, a cheese gelato, matcha soft serve, and cheese soft serve store. I foolishly decided to try as many as I could. Ended up missing out on the matcha yet was still incredibly and uncomfortably full. Next time! (I also really want to see their aquarium and building history next time. It’s hard to believe such a tall structure is earthquake-proof)

my FAVORITE ice cream was Tomorakuno 63℃. One of the best I’ve ever had!

Photo Jun 03, 2 26 30 PM Photo Jun 03, 2 26 13 PM

Had to try their milk too, of course.

Photo Jun 03, 11 46 27 PM

Needless to say, I was in my happy place & double-fisting. 🙂

The gelato came in second. It was cheese and strawberry flavored, with bits of real strawberry mixed in. A little bit on the sweet side but really flavorful and savory too!

Photo Jun 03, 2 50 28 PMPhoto Jun 03, 2 59 36 PM

Cheese ice cream is surprisingly tasty. It just tastes more milk-like and creamy (not in a way that makes you sick with too much creaminess). I thought this one wasn’t as good as the first two. Sorry, my mom did the unthinkable and took a spoonful BEFORE my photo.

Photo Jun 03, 3 04 15 PM

Oh and for lunch (which came before the ice cream) we ate at their food court. The yakitori store had such yummy chicken meatballs and chicken skewers!! charcoal-grilled taste and everything. The onigiri shop was cool too! Really wanted a salmon one but opted for my cousin’s favorite: chicken rice with half a soft-boiled egg. My mom got sushi, assorted karage, and an egg tofu thing. I also bought a small box of amaebi to splurge on (for $4!!).

Photo Jun 03, 1 26 17 PM Photo Jun 03, 11 46 30 PM

Photo Jun 02, 9 09 41 PM Photo Jun 02, 8 40 00 PM Photo Jun 02, 8 39 27 PM

I was trying to get on their shitty wifi. but nope, couldn’t even send a facebook message after multiple tries.

After stuffing my face with ice cream, we went to a wholesaler store. (I think it’s called Ton ya) 5 floors of everything, all cheaper than market price. Blow dryers, backpacks cosmetics, cleaning products, stationary, fans, key chains, earrings. You have to be (affiliated with) a member to get in and members are all store owners and shop keepers. My aunt got us in via connections, but we were forced to finish in an hour since it closes at 5 :/

We took the taxi home to drop everything off and shortly after, we went to get ramen. Tokyo ramen @ Marutama = dense chicken-based broth with fresh seaweed and flavorful soft-boiled egg.

Photo Jun 03, 6 52 27 PM

Then we went to this ginormous store that also sells everything. Includes an entire supermarket on one of its many floors. I stopped by the arcade for a bit with my brother. Don’t go to these…you will waste so much money 😦 Nothing puts wasted money in perspective like an arcade in a giant store that has everything you could ever need and want.

Anyway, later my uncle drove us back to the sky tree for a night view! It was so pretty. Tokyo is beautiful at night. Apparently, the animated lights cycle between blue and purple every other day.

Photo Jun 03, 10 11 49 PM

Summary:

  • Always expect to walk a lot as a tourist in Japan.
  • Taxis here have automatic back doors!! They look like typical 4-door sedans but they’re not, and drivers will get mad at you if you close them.