Posted in Travel

The Food in Tainan

It’s Lunar New Year holidays and I made a 3-day, solo trip to Tainan with the money I earned from some competitions. Of course Tainan is famous as a historical site with many temples and museums, but the main thing that I wanted to do is to eat all the good food in this city.

With this determination in mind, I did treat myself to very delicious and special meals :3 Even though I did not meet nice people there (I found Tainan people to be very impolite to foreigners, whether it’s in restaurants, shops or bars – they often talk about foreign guests in Chinese or Taiwanese, probably assuming that the guests do not understand what they say) but I came there not for the food they cook, not for them.

So, here are my recommendation if you are to eat in Tainan:

1/ Zhou Shi Xia Juan (Zhou Shi Shrimp Roll/ 周氏蝦卷)

http://www.chous.com.tw/

They have many stores and are famous for very nice food from shrimp.

2/ Niu Rou Tang (Beef Soup/ 牛肉湯)

I don’t know why Beef Noodle is promoted so much when they talk about Taiwanese food, it is really nothing compared to Beef Soup of Tainan. You definitely need to eat this soup when you come to this city. The most famous place is 文章牛肉湯(Wen Zhang Niu Rou Tang), but other stores are not bad either. I have tried various places that I saw on the street and they were all so good!

3/ Dou Hua (Soy Bean Jelly/ 豆花)

A perfectly soft and sweet dessert that you can find anywhere in Tainan. White Dou Hua is only available with ice, yet Black Dou Hua can be either hot or cold.

4/ Du Xiao Yue (度小月)

One of the top restaurants in Tainan with very reasonable price!

They have a wide range of food to offer but the top in their menu is their special noodle. You can see the photos in their website here: http://www.dosyue.com.tw/index.php?op=home

5/ An Ping Lao Jie Dong Gua Cha (The Wintermelon Tea in An Ping Old Street 安平老街冬瓜茶)

When you walk along An Ping Old Street in Tainan, you will be attract by a really really warm and appealing smell from a store with a very big pan at its front door. That is the pan that the store owner uses to cook their Wintermelon tea and this is without a doubt the best drink I have ever had in Taiwan.

That’s my top 5 ~ If you ever come to Tainan, do not forget to eat as much as you can! ^_^

Happy Lunar New Year ^^~

 

 

Posted in Taiwan

Just random things about my life in Taiwan

img_2685|photo: the paper boats that some Taiwanese primary students made and gave me|

Long time no see!

It’s been ages since I last posted something here. My life in Taiwan has been so good so far, just a little too busy.

In the past few months, apart from studying, I also worked for a cultural and educational project to promote culture exchanges in Taiwan. I got the chance to go to a primary school in Chiayi County to have some activities with the kids there. That was probably my most memorable journey in Taiwan until now.

I also made friends with many people, mostly Taiwanese, and shared lots of nice memories with them. Of course there were bad things happening too (it’s impossible to live our lives without some conflicts in daily life anyway), yet overall I am very thankful for the life that I’m having.

It’s winter in Taiwan now. Yet the weather is so unexpected. The average temperature today is 26 degree while that of tomorrow will be 15 degree… My body had a hard time getting used to this, so I am having Chinese medicine three times per day now ;__; I heard that it would get colder in Jan, though.

In Taiwan, whenever you buy something from a store, they will give you a receipt with a 8-digit number on it. Each receipt is a lottery ticket and the government will announce the winners every two months. For Sep-Oct, I had 5 winning tickets and got 1000 NTD ~ It was nothing big, yet very fun ^_* I spent that amount on buying coffee and chocolates for my housemates and classmates (and myself, too :3).

I am in the second semester now. My new teacher happens to not really like me, which is sad because I like her quite a lot. Life is not always easy -“-. There is a Chinese composition contest in my school right now and I have composed a Chinese poem as my entry there. However I strongly believe that by the end of this academic year, I would cry in shame when I re-read this very poem (if I dare to do so at that time) hahaha.

Some notes on daily expenses in Taipei (1 USD = 32 NTD now)

  • an average meal for student: 50 – 150 NTD
  • a cup of tea/ coffee: 30 – 60 NTD
  • a glass of beer in a bar: 150 – 300 NTD
  • an apple/ kiwi: 10 – 20 NTD
  • city bus fare: 15 NTD/ way
  • metro fare: 16 – 55 NTD/ way depends on the distance
  • public bike: 5 NTD for the first 30 mins of every ride, 10 NTD/ 30 mins later on
Posted in Studying

Hearing and Pronouncing

So that moment came. When it was revealed to my teacher and my classmates that I had some problems with certain consonants. This time it was the “z” and “j” sounds in Mandarin Chinese that could never be produced from my mouth. Since the people in my class tried so hard to help me say these two sounds correctly, I had to stop them from wasting time by telling them the truth: I basically cannot tell the difference between the (wrong) sounds that I make and the (right) sounds from them. This is not about my mouth; it is more about my ears. In the region that I was born and brought up, people don’t speak with these sounds, so I never learned to produce them when I was a kid. And probably I would not know how to do so in the future either.

There are some sounds that I never knew they were not the same until after I left my hometown. I only learned to tell the difference between the “s” and “sh” sounds in English when I was 17 years old while others may have known this since they were toddlers. This is somewhat frustrating, yet I have come to cope with it anyway.

So, the point is it is obvious that what people hear when they were babies will decide what they speak. We all know that if a kid hears no human talking during his/her childhood, he/she would grow up being mute even though his/ her ears and mouth are in perfect conditions. And if a kid happened to hear only a limited amount of sounds when he/she learn to speak, it would be hard for him/ her to learn new language with a wider range of sounds. Oh, isn’t that just my case? Hahaha ^_^There are languages with narrower and wider hearing ranges. That is why there are some people can easily learn a language and struggle with another one. Evidently, the easy-to-learn one has the same or narrower range and the hard-to-learn one has the wider range in comparison with their mother tongue. I’ve read in an article that someone with a l’oreille francophone will have trouble learning Russian while someone with a l’oreille russophone will have some advantages when taking up French classes.

I guess it is a little unfair, but still it is an interesting fact to me. I don’t force myself hard on making my pronunciation perfect. I may learn the sounds gradually after living in Taiwan for several years. And even if I may not, I will make do with it. After all, what really matters when we talk with people is our attitude and how we arrange our ideas, not for the fact that we can make perfect pronunciations of some sounds.

Posted in Mental Health, Studying, Taiwan

These days in Taipei

IMG_0896-Photo: The sunset on Tamsui River at the North of Taipei

I do not update often these days; which is not due to any difficulty in accessing the Internet, thankfully. I just got a little too caught up in the life here and that’s it.

School stuff has been kind to me. My class consists of 7 students: 1 American, 2 Canadians, 2 Japaneses, 1 Filipino and 1 Alien Meo :)))))))). My teacher is Taiwanese and a lovely woman. I have quite a good time with them every weekday morning. Above all, I love learning Mandarin and that’s what that matters the most.

I kinda fell in love with the library in my university. Honestly I was not really interested at first. I’m a devoted minimalist and it’s always my priority to go digital with my reading. Yet it turned out that I was charmed. I’m now basically spending the whole afternoon part of my days there, even on Saturday.

I shared my house with 8 more people and my room with a Taiwanese roommate. Things are better than what it may sound and there are nothing much to complain about.

A day of mine is spent in this sequence: Get up at 6 -> study some French -> leave the house at 7:45 -> grab a quick breakfast at a Taiwanese restaurant nearby -> walk to my school where classes start at 8:20 -> get a lunch at the canteen or not -> go to the library’s study room and finish my homework there -> move to the English Literature section in that very same library and read some books of Oscar Wilde -> get back home at around 16:00 to take a shower and some idle time -> change to my night outfit and get out to discover the city -> get back and sleep at 23:00

If there is any problem with my current life, it is that I’ve been receiving too many requests/ invitations for hanging out. And I’m never an extrovert. On the utmost contrary, I’m an introvert from the very core of my being and therefore need a lot of time for myself. The maximum number of the hanging-out type of appointments that I can enjoy a week is 2. Each should not last more than 4 hours. I had far more than that in the last 14 days that I’ve been in Taipei and now I’m suffering an emotional downfall as a consequence.  It is a nice feeling to know that there are people wanting me to be with them, but I just need to be alone often. Very often.

I would love to share my tips on living in Taipei. But it should be saved for a delightful day. Now I probably need sometimes hiding myself from the world, both physically and mentally.

Posted in Taiwan, Travel, Uncategorized

Study Abroad – Don’t Think Of It As A Mere Change Of Location

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Photo: Taoyuan Airport in the morning

Yesterday I encountered 2 students from my home country in the campus. They surprised me by how they spent their time in Taiwan. They only hang out with people from the same country. The language that they talk every day is still our mother tongue, not English or Mandarin. They don’t make any local friends or friends from other countries. They don’t go out if there is not another experienced one accompanying them.  They are more willing to join a group of people they don’t know just because of the “same country” excuse than to go around the city on their own.

Then why why why do you come here in the first place?

Please tell me why…

T_T

Study abroad is not just about changing location, it’s about experiencing a new life, making new friends, eating new food, absorbing new cultures… If you’re not ready for that, stay at home.

I have met people coming back from abroad with their mind narrowed down because they had limited themselves to a certain bunch of people during several years. If they hadn’t gone abroad, maybe they would have been better. At least while staying in our country, they would have had a wider circle of acquaintances.

Okay, everyone can live as they want to. Yet I’m pretty sure I won’t join these guys any longer. Wandering alone in a night market and enjoying local food would be much better for me than sitting there listening to them gossiping about the private life of a model back in our home country.

No… No… No… We are not meant to be with each other. Bye, guy. And no “see ya”.

Posted in Taiwan, Travel

Trees here, trees there, trees everywhere

 

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Photo: The Ecological Pond Inside Da’An Park, Taipei

So I guess I’ve been out a little too much in the past few days. The sun and the heat in Taipei are surely no jokes and my skin is suffering quite a lot. Right now I’m in my shared house with two layers of olive oil applied onto my face with the hope to soothe the pain from sunburns and dehydration.

Anyway, back to Taipei. This city, and the whole country in general, is filled with green things. Trees are everywhere and being the naturalist that I am, I love this endlessly. My favourite should be Dunhua street and Da’an Park.

  • Dunhua street is right in the center of the city and you can probably call it the “bank street” of Taipei. All kinds of banks are there, from huge international banks to small local ones. The trees here are extremely lovely and they form somewhat a small park along the street.
  • Da’an Park is the biggest green space in Taipei. It is not that big (like what I had imagined) though, considering that the whole country is a small island. Still it is clean and is a nice place to enjoy a walk and come into contact with nature. The ecological pond in the park is home to numerous kinds of birds and I have a good time watching them.

Yesterday I went to Maokong, which would have been a wonderful trip if the weather hadn’t been that tough. The restaurants and coffee shops there are just too expensive T_T A simple cup of Alishan Oolong Tea costs as much as 2 meals in Taipei city (it’s worthy though since the taste is pretty good). T_T Yet I did enjoy myself quite a lot with:

  • several cups of tea with some elder people in the Tea Exhibition Center. I don’t quite understand what they talk to me but that does not prevent us from having a good time together
  • many walking trails through beautiful landscapes.
  • a long rest in the maple forest
  • very nice cakes from a local bakery (it’s a shop right next to the Tian-en-kong Temple, and I definitely recommend you to try the “niunai mantou” there)

Visiting Maokong is all about walking and hiking. It’s obvious that I came at the wrong time. So I will wait for the weather to cool down a bit before getting there and discover the place all over again.

Last night I slept for around 9 hours and that’s the longest sleep I’ve had in Taiwan. Today I really have to stay in to give my body, especially my skin, sometimes to recover.

 

Posted in Taiwan

the historic side of Taipei

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In the photo: An alley in the ancient town of Wanhua District, Taipei

Yesterday I had a walk with Like It Formosa, which offers pretty cool tours of Taipei in English (some among them are free, the rest are very reasonably priced). Walking from 10:00 to 13:00 under the heat of Taiwan summer was so damn challenging to me, yet the tour is definitely worth joining.

We went through:

  • Longshan Temple which does not interest me because I’m not much of a temple fan.
  • The ancient town of Wanhua District: Ancient alleys, ancient hotels, ancient stores… The town was built from red bricks so it looks more or less “aztec” under the sunshine.
  • The Ximen Red House: An old building by the Japanese when they were in this island. It looks, to me, somewhat like the Notre-Dame de Saigon.
  • Some LGBT places. Taipei has always been famous for its open welcome towards the LGBT community. I’ll take a deeper look at this side of the city sooner or later.
  • The President’s Palace.
  • Cheng Kai Shek’s Memorial Hall.
  • National Theater and National Concert Hall.

I would recommend this tour for any visitors to Taipei. Yet it should be a better decision to choose the evening slot. Walking 3 hours under the August sun in Taipei is not-at-all comfortable.

P/S: Today is the registration day at my school X”D