Jianguo Flower Market

After sleeping until noon (Goodness! How embarrassing!), I took the bus into Taipei to visit the Jianguo Flower Market1. There were so many people! And I forgot to replace my camera’s SD card…so no actual photos of the mountains and oceans of people.

Three different types of orchids.

The three different types of orchids I bought.

Really…I think I was in heaven! Good orchids are really hard to come by in the U.S. at a reasonable price…but in Taiwan, they’re like weeds! Well, maybe a better way of putting it is that they’re like wild-flowers. The climate over here is perfect for orchid cultivation and so one can purchase a pot for about half of what they go for in the States.

Of course, I was immediately attracted to the non-Phalaenopsis plants, since Phalaenopsis orchids are the ones most commonly found in American florist shops. My main conundrum, however, was the fact that anything I bought today wasn’t going to follow me to China or the U.S., and so had to be a type that I could give away as a gift (i.e. colorful and gaudy). Unfortunately, my first pick was a little out of my budget: a gorgeous peach colored orchid with shimmery petals and a dark brown stem…which made me think immediately of cherry blossoms blooming in the springtime. Price tag: 650 TWD. I almost cried on the spot.

Then, there were a bunch of orchid sproutlings that promised an abundance of curiously shaped blooms that I found absolutely fascinating. Nix on the gift-giving though, too non-standard equals strange expressions when giving to elderly relatives.

I finally settled on a plant with dark purple blooms, something a little different from the fuchsia and white hybrid orchids that always seem to be so popular.

This photo really doesn't do the orchid's color any justice. I think I might have played with my camera a little too much and messed up the settings...alas!

This photo really doesn't do the orchid's color any justice. I think I might have played with my camera a little too much and messed up the settings...alas!

It was 200 NTD, and while there were others going for 100 and 150 NTD, I think in the end I got the better deal! I certainly got enough comments from the ladies standing next to me while waiting to cross the street and for the bus. “Very mysterious color!” said one woman and then she points out the leaves and stem to her companion, “You see, good stem and root system, too! 200 NTD? Not a bad price!”

The other two I bought were whims. At 100 NTD each, they are non-Phalaenopsis (yes!) with yellow and white blooms. A little smaller, but they should be equally bright once they flower.

Oh! I wish I could mail these back home!

Additional back-posts made: 02.06.2010
  1. A small piece of advice to anyone taking public transportation to the flower market: get off the bus before you hit Ren-ai and Jianguo St. Crossing #1. If you don’t, you’ll get hit with another 15 TWD bus fare because that’s where the bus line moves into the next fare zone. Whoops! []

Shisanhang Museum of Archaeology, Bali and Danshui

Because of a little brochure I picked up in the Chengpin bookstore across from NTU, I made a day trip to Bali and Danshui today, both townships outside of Taipei. My cousin and I took the MTR Danshui line to Guandu MRT Station stop to meet the Red 13 bus to the Shisanhang Museum of Archaeology (十三行博物館). On the way out of the station, we saw sign for the tittot Glass Art Museum and so hike over before continuing on to Shisanhang.

A very poorly stitched image of the Shisanhang Museum of Archaeology.

A very poorly stitched image of the Shisanhang Museum of Archaeology.

So the back story of the museum is that some air force unit (#13 of course!) was patrolling the area and discovered the remnants of one of Taiwan’s earliest human settlements. This was a very neatly packaged museum…with lots of information on the science of archaeology and a special exhibit on one of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples: the Yami (Tao).

Afterward, my cousin and I biked to the dock and took the ferry over to Danshui where we pretty much pigged out on the xiaochi on the waterfront. Check it out!:

Old street food shops.

Old street food shops.

So tasty!

Sour plum tea! So tasty!

Lunchtime small easts! That's two bowls of Ah-Gei and a bowl of fishball soup.

Lunchtime small easts! That's two bowls of Ah-Gei and a bowl of fishball soup.

Tasty tasty ah gei!

Tasty tasty ah gei!

Potato chips on a stick!

Potato chips on a stick!

New addiction: Fried mushrooms!!!

New addiction: Fried mushrooms!!!

Of course…there was even more we could get around to eating:

Didn't eat this, but it's good too!

Didn't eat this, but it's good too!

Apparently white sugar scallions (there aren't actually scallions involved) are an old-fashion sweet from way back when...

Apparently white sugar scallions (there aren't actually scallions involved) are an old-fashion sweet from way back when...

Turkish Ice Cream! The owner is such a riot!

Turkish Ice Cream! The owner is such a riot!

That's one big pig!

That's one big pig!

There was also a lone singer out in the street, getting his music out in the masses:

He had such a lovely voice!

He had such a lovely voice!

Hmm…when will I be able to go back for another visit?! I still haven’t gone to see Fort San Domingo! Next time, I guess!

Back-posted 02.07.2010

Museum of World Religions

I spent the afternoon perusing the exhibits at the Museum of World Religions in Yonghe.

The hallway entrance into the museum...nice effect!

The hallway entrance into the museum...nice effect!

I don’t have many pictures to show for the place, but I thought it was a well thought-out and well presented place with a good message. Founded by a Buddhist sect, the museum reminded me in many ways of the Unitarian Universalist expression of faith…

There were many exquisitely designed models of various world religion sites that were pretty amazing and lifelike–and I totally wish my camera batteries hadn’t decided to die on me!

And the fooding continues…

Another day spent at the NTU library. I made time for some frozen yogurt today at Yogurt Art, opposite the NTU campus on Roosevelt St.

All neo-frozen yogurt stores have the same kind of solid color, white, open space design.

All neo-frozen yogurt stores have the same kind of solid color, white, open space design.

Display-wise, Yogurt Art has a very similar look compared to Pinkberry and Red Mango. According to store literature, the frozen yogurt is imported from the U.S. and everything is 100% natural, with no additives. Walking into the store, the first thing I noticed was the fact that the yogurt is self-serve and the final product weighed before being priced…not unlike a salad bar! Obviously, this is great for people with diet restrictions…but for people like me who have little self-control…well…this could prove problematic.

A whole line of flavors to choose from! Self-serve of course ;)

A whole line of flavors to choose from! Self-serve of course ;)

There were 8 flavors to choose from: Cappuccino, Georgia Peach, Country Vanilla, Cable Car Chocolate, Plain Tart, Pomegranate, Lychee and Berry Tart. Apparently there are 40 flavors to choose from and the store chooses 8 each day1. After you pick your yogurt, you can put an assortment of toppings on it.

Four flavors from the upper left working clockwise: pomegranate, original, Georgia peach, and lychee. Three toppings are brown sugar mochi, kiwi and strawberry.

My four flavors--from the upper left working clockwise: pomegranate, original, Georgia peach, and lychee. Three toppings are brown sugar mochi, kiwi and strawberry.

My serving came out to be 96 TWD (45 TWD per 100 grams) and that was working under a lot of restraint! (I’m quite proud of that!) Overall, I’d say my favorite was a toss-up between pomegranate and lychee. Usually, my tastes run towards the original yogurt flavor, but Yogurt Art’s original isn’t as tart as I would have liked. It was almost even a little bland.

But anyhow, not bad! I’d definitely go back!

For the Foodie:

yogurt art @ No. 96-5, XinSheng South Road Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan

Just how much yogurt can you eat??

Just how much yogurt can you eat??

  1. http://www.taiwanfun.com/north/taipei/tea_coffee/0906/0906YogurtArt.htm []

Xiaoyao in Taipei! (That means carefree!)

Less than two weeks of winter break left to go and I’ve been having quite a blast in Taipei. The last couple of days I’ve spent at the National Taiwan University Library doing research for my thesis. The NTU campus is located next to Gongguan, a trendy shopping area between Zhongzheng District and Daan District, which means good shopping and good eating!

Today I walked by a food vendor and just had to stop and eat!

Obviously, in my next life, I'll be selling blood pudding in from a streetside stand.

Obviously, in my next life, I'll be selling blood pudding from a streetside stand.

Lookit! It's shaped like Taiwan!

Lookit! It's shaped like Taiwan!

I call it Blood Pudding, but it’s a kind of Chinese gao-type food that’s made of glutinous rice and pig blood. It’s steamed into a solid and then dipped into peanut crumbs, cilantro and chili flakes/sauce. So tasty!

For the Foodie:

xiao li’s blood pudding (小李猪血糕) @ Roosevelt Road Section 4, Lane 136

I ate away Taipei County and most of the west coast...Who knew they tasted like cilantro and peanuts!

I ate away Taipei County and most of the west coast...Who knew they tasted like cilantro and peanuts!

Additional back-posts made: 02.03.2010

NTU Library

My first day researching in the National Taiwan University Library! I headed out early and caught the Gongguan area in the midst of waking up. I absolutely love those morning hours when everything is suffused with a kind of ecstatic bustling energy!

Xinsheng South Road is sleepy in the morning...

Xinsheng South Road is sleepy in the morning...

...but people are definitely out and about! Check out how many bikes are already stored on the racks!

...but people are definitely out and about! Check out how many bikes are already stored on the racks!

I made a pit-stop at the local 85 Degrees which was quite tasty and broke my fast on a bench near the NTU library.

Breakfast of champions! Taiwan's 85 degrees has pastries stuffed with more cheese, more filling...The coffee tastes about the same though ;)

Breakfast of champions! Taiwan's 85 degrees has pastries stuffed with more cheese, more filling...The coffee tastes about the same though ;)

A not-so-great shot of the NTU Library.

A not-so-great shot of the NTU Library.

A little about being a visitor at the library: They seem to be pretty stringent about who can enter. As long as you are a student you can enter–provided you have some kind of valid school identification. However, they also seemed to need a passport for non-Taiwan citizens. As much as I hate walking around with official documents tucked in my purse…I guess anything to make school administration happy!

Black and Yellow Spotted Beetle

Back-posted 02.03.2010

Hong Kong Day 3

So exhausted! We walked all day long! It was gorgeous…but…sleep beckons…

A shot from the walkway close to the IFC building.

A shot from the walkway close to the IFC building.

Does this look familier? Yes, Batman blew this to bits...

Does this look familier? Yes, Batman blew this to bits...

The approach towards Peng Chao island.

The approach towards Peng Chao island.

Picturesque, town...that's Peng Chau!

Picturesque town...that's Peng Chau!

Vegetable garden guard!

Vegetable garden guard!

Peng Chau has good dogs!

Peng Chau has good dogs!

Hong Kong Day 2

A few glimpses of my day in Hong Kong:

Breakfast over a waking Hong Kong

Breakfast over a waking Hong Kong

The hustle and bustle of Hong Kong's open air market...Lady's Market!

The hustle and bustle of Hong Kong's open air market...Lady's Market!

That famous Kowloon nightime shoreline!

That famous Kowloon nightime shoreline!

Andy Lau's hand prints!

Andy Lau's hand prints!

It’s a pity most of my photos of Kowloon Bay weren’t very good. (I’ve yet to master taking photos at night…) But it was truly very pretty tonight! The weather held out all day and was bright and sunny. Hopefully it’ll be the same on Sunday when we tackle the Peak. (And my photos of Hong Kong during the day are guaranteed to be good!)

Hong Kong Day 1

I’m in Hong Kong! And my laptop’s plug won’t fit in the wall socket. So I save the descriptions for when I have an actual power source.

The city that also never sleeps!

The city that also never sleeps!

Our hostel is right next that Sasa sign. Or just about...

Our hostel is right next that Sasa sign. Or just about...

Dinner of Champions! This was tasty. It had cow tongue in it!

Dinner of Champions! This was tasty. It had cow tongue in it!

Errands and Hong Kong on the horizon!

I spent yesterday the day before yesterday running around trying to finish last minute preparations for my trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan. It started unfortunately with a trip to the repair office of Wen Dian Xing to fix my electronic dictionary1. And I won’t be able to pick it up before the Taiwan leg of my trip since the parts haven’t arrived and the rep in the office informed me that not only had I smashed the screen, but the pressure sensitive panel underneath needed to be fixed too. Well, a 789 RMB electronic dictionary just became 230 RMB more expensive with that bill2 . And I’m going to be dictionary-less when I’m in Taiwan surrounded by traditional characters that make my head hurt after four months of simplified characters..

I found this tasty morsel across the street from Wen Dian Xing's repair office...a pity it's so far from the Center.

I found this tasty morsel across the street from Wen Dian Xing's repair office...a pity it's so far from the Center.

Anyhow, my day ended with an un-successful shopping trip to Xinjiekou. It’s hard to pick things out for young people and family…so I think I’ll probably stick to desserts from Hong Kong and find something trendy for the young’uns there too.

Oh! And I couldn’t help but snap a picture of this LG advertisement I found in the subway:

Now...what do you think that pyramid of cards symbolizes?

Now...what do you think that house of cards symbolizes?

My immediate thought was that China can be likened to this house of cards sitting on top of a washing machine. Look how modern and beautiful the model is! Look how technologically advanced this washer is! No vibrations at all, nothing to worry about China’s economic success being fragile, because advancements are being made all the time and that will make up for the uncertainty of the entire country’s future.  Please buy this LG washer! (And have some expensive European coffee in an Hermès while you browse! On the house, we promise!)

  1. I smashed the screen somehow about a week ago… []
  2. My Wen Dian Xing is a S101 model. It has the appearance of an iPhone, but the input is much more clumsy. Had I known and realized it when I bought it at Sunning, I would have spent my money on something else. Alas. []