Monday, May 31, 2010

Once Upon a Time, there were some very bad fruit that smelled and smelled

AFRIKAANS : eens op 'n tyd was daar' n baie slegte vrugte wat ruik en ruik
Back to ENGLISH : once upon a time there was a very bad smell and fruit that smells
ALBANIAN : një herë e një kohë ka pasur një erë shumë e keqe dhe fruta që erë
Back to ENGLISH : once upon a time there was a very bad smell and fruit flavor
ARABIC : ذات مرة كان هناك رائحة سيئة للغاية ونكهة الفواكه
Back to ENGLISH : Once there was a very bad smell and flavor of fruit
BELARUSIAN : Калісьці быў вельмі непрыемны пах і смак садавіны
Back to ENGLISH : Once upon a time was a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
BULGARIAN : Имало едно време беше много неприятна миризма и вкус на плодове
Back to ENGLISH : Once upon a time was very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
CATALAN : Hi havia una vegada va ser molt desagradable olor i el sabor de la fruita
Back to ENGLISH : Once upon a time was very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
CHINESE : 很久很久以前是非常不愉快的气味和滋味的水果
Back to ENGLISH : A long time ago is a very unpleasant odor and taste of fruit
CHINESE_SIMPLIFIED : 很久很久以前是一个非常不愉快的气味和滋味的水果
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long time ago is a very unpleasant odor and taste of fruit
CHINESE_TRADITIONAL : 很久很久以前是一個非常不愉快的氣味和味道的水果
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long time ago is a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
CROATIAN : Long, davno je vrlo neugodan miris i okus plodova
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
CZECH : Dávno,, velmi nepříjemný zápach a chuť ovoce
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant odor and taste of fruit
DANISH : Længe, længe siden, en meget ubehagelig lugt og smag af frugt
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
DUTCH : Lang, lang geleden, een zeer onaangename geur en smaak van fruit
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
ESTONIAN : Pikk, väga ammu, väga ebameeldiv lõhn ja maitse puu
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
FILIPINO : Long, matagal na ang nakalipas, ang isang tunay hindi kalugud-lugod amoy at lasa ng prutas
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
FINNISH : Kauan, kauan sitten, erittäin epämiellyttävä haju ja maku hedelmistä
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long time ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste the fruits
FRENCH : Long, il ya longtemps, une odeur très désagréable et le goût des fruits
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
GALICIAN : Moi, moi tempo atrás, un cheiro moi desagradable e sabor de froitas
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
GERMAN : Vor langer, langer, ein sehr unangenehmer Geruch und Geschmack von Obst
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
GREEK : Μακριά, πολύ καιρό πριν, μια πολύ δυσάρεστη οσμή και η γεύση των φρούτων
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
HEBREW : לונג, מזמן, ריח מאוד לא נעים וגם טעמו של הפרי
Back to ENGLISH : Long, long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
HINDI : बहुत समय पहले, एक बहुत अप्रिय गंध और फल का स्वाद
Back to ENGLISH : A long time ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
HUNGARIAN : Réges-régen, egy nagyon kellemetlen illatú és ízű gyümölcs
Back to ENGLISH : Long ago, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruit
ICELANDIC : Fyrir löngu, mjög óþægilegt lykt og bragð af ávöxtum
Back to ENGLISH : Long, very unpleasant smell and taste of fruits
INDONESIAN : Long, bau yang sangat tidak menyenangkan dan rasa buah-buahan
Back to ENGLISH : Long, a very unpleasant smell and taste of fruits
IRISH : Long, boladh an-míthaitneamhach agus blas ar na torthaí
Back to ENGLISH : Long, very unpleasant smell and taste the results
ITALIAN : Lungo, molto sgradevole odore e il sapore dei risultati
Back to ENGLISH : Long, very unpleasant smell and taste the results
JAPANESE : ロング、非常に不快な匂いと味の結果は
Back to ENGLISH : Long, the result of a very unpleasant smell and taste
KOREAN : 오래, 아주 불쾌한 냄새와 맛이의 결과
Back to ENGLISH : Long, very unpleasant smell and taste the results of
LATVIAN : Ilgi, ļoti nepatīkama smarža un garša rezultāti
Back to ENGLISH : Long, very unpleasant smell and taste the results
LITHUANIAN : Ilgas, labai nemalonus kvapas ir skonis rezultatai
Back to ENGLISH : A long, very unpleasant smell and taste the results
MACEDONIAN : А долго, многу непријатен мирис и вкус на резултатите
Back to ENGLISH : A long, very unpleasant smell and taste the results
MALAY : A, panjang bau yang sangat tidak menyenangkan dan rasa keputusan
Back to ENGLISH : A, the length of a very unpleasant smell and taste the results
MALTESE : A, it-tul ta 'riħa u togħma spjaċevoli ħafna r-riżultati
Back to ENGLISH : A, the length of smell and taste very unpleasant results
NORWEGIAN : A, lengden på lukt og smak svært ubehagelige resultater
Back to ENGLISH : A, the length of the smell and taste very unpleasant results
PERSIAN : ، طول بو و طعم های خاص نتایج بسیار ناخوشایند
Back to ENGLISH : , During a special smell and taste very unpleasant results
POLISH : , Podczas specjalnego zapach i smak bardzo nieprzyjemne wyników
Back to ENGLISH : , During a special smell and taste very unpleasant results
PORTUGUESE : , Durante um cheiro especial e gosto muito desagradável resultados
Back to ENGLISH : , During a special smell and taste very unpleasant results
ROMANIAN : , Timpul un miros si un gust special de rezultate foarte neplăcut
Back to ENGLISH : , During a special smell and taste very unpleasant results
RUSSIAN : , Во время специальной запах и вкус очень неприятные результаты
Back to ENGLISH : , During a special smell and taste very unpleasant results
SERBIAN : , Током посебан мирис и укус врло непријатно резултате
Back to ENGLISH : , During a special smell and taste very unpleasant results
SLOVAK : Počas špecifickú vôňu a chuť veľmi nepríjemné výsledky
Back to ENGLISH : During a specific odor and taste very unpleasant results
SLOVENIAN : Med posebne vonj in okus zelo neprijetna rezultate
Back to ENGLISH : Among the special smell and taste very unpleasant results
SPANISH : Entre el olor y el sabor especial de resultados muy desagradables
Back to ENGLISH : Between the smell and taste very unpleasant results special
SWAHILI : Kati ya harufu na ladha matokeo unpleasant sana maalum
Back to ENGLISH : Between the smell and taste very unpleasant outcomes specified
SWEDISH : Mellan luktar och smakar mycket obehagliga anges resultat
Back to ENGLISH : Between the smell and taste very unpleasant results indicated
TAGALOG : Sa pagitan ng amoy at lasa tunay hindi kasiya-siya resulta na ipinahiwatig
Back to ENGLISH : Between smell and taste very unpleasant results indicated
THAI : ระหว่างกลิ่นและรสผลพอใจมากระบุ
Back to ENGLISH : Between the smell and taste are very specific.
TURKISH : Koku ve tat alma arasında çok özeldir.
Back to ENGLISH : Between odor and taste is very special.
UKRAINIAN : Тим запах і смак має особливе значення.
Back to ENGLISH : That smell and taste is of particular importance.
VIETNAMESE : Đó là mùi và hương vị đặc biệt quan trọng.
Back to ENGLISH : That smell and taste is especially important.
WELSH : Mae hynny'n arogl a blas yn arbennig o bwysig.
Back to ENGLISH : That smell and taste is especially important.
YIDDISH : אַז ריח און געשמאַק איז ספּעציעל וויכטיק.
Back to ENGLISH : That smell and taste is especially important.

Try Bad Translator!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Display of Male Naïvete

Last Thursday, before I tried to kill myself cycling to Desaru, B1 and I had dinner with our university friend, Lucky. He had invited us to dinner, on the premise of telling us about his newly-started but unstable relationship with a lady who had been cheated on by her previous fiance with another girl. When caught, the man merely said that he wished he were a Muslim so that he could marry them both (what a bastard, so disrespectful of religion and women!!!).

I was very tired and drained that day. Expecting a lovely peaceful dinner where I could ply my friend for information on his latest chick, I was flabbergasted to receive a (I felt) nasty sms telling me to behave myself because he was bringing someone. I thought that he would be bringing her, so I asked him. If he confirmed, I would tell him not to bring her. But he refused to confirm with me. So I thought maybe he was bringing a mutual friend that had introduced her to him, as he was wont to bring people we didn't know (having never learnt the lesson that you must never mix your friends).

Turned out he brought that girl...

Lesson #1 in starting a relationship
Do not bring your lady love to meet your friends, unless you have gone steady for at least six months. You might scare her off.

Being told to behave myself, my rebellious self went on the opposite direction, and became very formal and quiet. She was very formal too, gripping our hands in firm handshakes. She basically simpered through the whole meal, while talking knowledgeably as if she knew the persons our other friend was talking about to Lucky (B1 and I were very confused, thinking what she knew all of Lucky's friends already? How long had they been together? Our other friend, on our way home, said no, she didn't meet the friend they were talking about. WTF?). In fact, Lucky did not even introduce her properly so I didn't catch her name, and it was only when they put food in each other's bowls that I realised she was his latest squeeze (as I said, I was very tired).

I wanted to go home by the time we had drinks at McCafe because I knew I was going to have a gruelling trip the next day (what I didn't realise was how gruelling it was). Thank God Lucky finally caught my obvious hint and found other means of transport home.

Feeling slightly guilty when I got home, I smsed Lucky apologising for my silent behaviour. What was bizarre was that he said that for some reason he couldn't understand either, she found me humorous. Now that is male naïvete for you.

Lesson #2 in starting a relationship
No woman will have that low EQ enough to tell a man she is just starting a relationship with that she hates his friends whom he has known for many years. I would be, but then again, I am a straight shooter. Telling him what she really thinks of his friends will scare him off.

What she will do, is either be tactful and point out something that is nice about his friends, or be fake and lie about something positive about his friends. Scenario 2 kicked in this case, 'coz there was nothing nice about my behaviour that night. I was silent and resentful. How could I have been humorous?

She will pretend to like all of his friends until the relationship stabilises. After which, the man will not realise it but he will slowly but surely find his own social circle growing smaller while theirs growing bigger, as the woman stealthly weeds out the less desirable friends, and inserts those she likes into their social circle. Suddenly it's not beers with best buddies, A and B, but watching concerts with Mr and Mrs L (Mrs L being your girlfriend's friend from work). It's not that your friends and you stopped having the same interests or that you have moved on from singlehood, but the culling of the friends done by wives. How else can she mould you into what she wants you to be?

I did not respond to his sms. I figure that should be obvious what I think.

Tried to kill myself on Vesak Day and day after

Being over-bolstered by my trip to Pulau Ubin last month where I acquitted myself fairly well on the cycling tracks (only killed by up-slopes), I was overconfident enough to plan a trip to Desaru from Pengerang.

I didn't bring Mr B because it was just an overnighter, and I wanted less bulk in the bag. Ended up, much through the trip, I was alternating singing offkey "The road is long" (but I was so exhausted, I only sang that line) and wishing fervently that I had brought him along so I could sit on him, reducing the chafing of my butt cheeks).

The guys sped ahead, while B1 was stuck cycling at my granny speed and being my porter. I was so tired on the return journey that I angrily kicked the bike at one point and declared I wanted to go home. I was infuriated, imagining that the other guys were already enjoying young coconuts at Sungei Renjit (our next rest stop), while I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. The fact that I was on the middle joint of the journey where there was no more punishing slopes but plenty of dust and no wind brought me and B1 zero comfort (he was stuck motivating me like a drill sergeant, and fell at one point cos a pebble went into his spokes). I drank so much water but I was still thirsty. B1 was trying to stop me from taking any more liquid.

First Day: We could still sing "The Road is Long".

I saw a lot of younger girls cycling very fast on their mountain bikes on my return journey, keeping up with their group and it made me feel worse. I survived the 50.3km ride from Pengerang to Desaru and then the return trip the next day, totally 100.6km over two days. It was definitely B1's effort, not mine. I hardly stopped to take any photos, and had fewer stops because I was so far behind the others. I had to resort to taking photos by tying my camera to the bike handle and prayed for the best and snapped quickly while paddling. I managed to capture a bemused monkey gazing at me struggling past while he consumed a mango.

As B1 said, we were too tired to even sing "the road is long" on the way back. He marveled that the others could cycle with no seeming damage to their balls (not funny at the time, funny now). At the Punggai rest stop, Teletubby declared that he had balls of steel, and B1 suggested that we should bring a hammer and verify that claim.

As for the resort stay, thanks to the unkindness of Mother Nature, I could not even go swimming like the others. B1 sacrificed and let me soak in the bath which alleviated some of my pain. The resort looked like HDB flats on the outside with little cute turrets on top. The rooms were fantastically big, the apartment one giant maisonette with three toilets. I noticed that they catered to the Bumiputra very much, when I was talking to one of the service staff, he suddenly broke the conversation and ran off to serve a local man who came to the counter. He just pointed his younger colleague at me and basically ignored me from then on. The food was atrocious, with flies all over the place at dinner and the breakfast buffets. The dinner buffet was RM40 a person, and we were so hungry and did not realise that you could order ala carte instead. So stupid. Never order dinner buffet at the Lotus Desaru. Food is BAD, with lots of flies. My installation art piece of a cinnamon roll which had already been contaminated and egg shells helped to centralize all the fly activity.

Here are the flies at breakfast.

Activities there are expensive, the only seemingly free activity is the free movies (where you can get a corn cup at RM3), the swimming pool and the beach. The banana boat is RM150 for 15 minutes. To tell you the truth, I was infuriated when I missed the activity I had been looking forward to the most, the firefly cruise, which Mr Cigarette refused to book beforehand because he was worried that we would be too tired to go and that they may charge us beforehand. Actually the guys went swimming and the activity was at 1930hrs, there were only five seats left (we were 8 persons. And there were 30 seats originally, so given that we booked the room one month ago, we could have gotten seats on the firefly cruise beforehand) and they were still not back. I was quite annoyed at that point, thinking what was the point of all that "buddy buddy one for all" mentality when we didn't even cycle together and the others, who got to the resort much earlier, didn't even bother to book the cruise while we were still struggling at Route 90 (which was obvious that they didn't want to go). I did not enjoy the resort stay at all, despite the full moon.

Probably the whole trip was jinxed from the start, because we had to wait 2.5 hours for a boat to Pengerang. If you want to go Pengerang (esp on a holiday) you better book the fucking boat beforehand. The couple who took the boat with us, started waiting at 0730hrs, so they waited 4 hours. Due to the delay, we had to pedal at a punishing speed, esp on Route 90 where there were no street lights. I didn't want to end up like the many roadkill I encountered on the road. Total death tally: 1 yellow snake, 2 squashed unidentifiable snakes, 1 bat, 2 mice, 1 iguana, 1 montior lizard.

Mickey Mouse joked that he thought I would make up the morbid death tally, saying he would see a wizened version of me petrified on my bicycle when he next cycles this trail five years later. I actually wanted to slap him at that point, especially since he almost didn't want to give me the namecard of the uncle at the resort, who had very kindly given us his contact details in case of emergency on the road. I was so tired and in pain, and just wanted to call the uncle and Mr Cigarette almost succeeded goaded Mickey Mouse into not giving it to me. I never wanted to kill two people as much as I did then.

What's Good for You

I am delighted to know that Singapore now shows Australia's What's Good for you (Season 2) on Sunday mornings at 1030hrs. I love that show, and I watch it as often as I do A Current Affair (though the recent change to the NineMSN website is driving me up the wall, and I don't visit that site much anymore)

On today's episode, they were talking about how to prolong your life. Other than the usual blah blah about eating well, living well, exercise mentally and physically, the most interesting part I found was about getting married. Apparently, if you are a man and you get married, you get to prolong your life by 7 years!!! This is made on the assumption that your wife looks after your needs and is your very confidant. Conversely if you are a woman... don't get married. Single women live longer than married woman. Same situation arises when you have children. Men's lives are prolonged if they have daughters. While whether or not she has a son or daughter, every child reduces a woman's lifespan.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ah Gei ... It's edible not doable

After we got off the boat (that brought us to Damshui Fisherman's Wharf), we saw this stall 正宗阿给老店. 阿给 is rice vermicelli wrapped in a tofu skin and drenched in a sweet yet salty sauce.

Btw skip this shop. For all they claim that they serve traditional Ah Gei, their fishballs, containing meat, are tough, not QQ, and the soup contains so much MSG, I was so thirsty after that. The noodles were decent.

Directions to Damshui: Alight at the last station on the Xindian-Damshui (red line). Walk along the ZhongZheng 中正 road (also known as Old Damshui Street). It seems that there are alot of Zhongzheng roads in different parts of Taiwan, e.g. Hualien, Damshui, Taipei etc.

Beitou Thermal Valley 地热谷

One may assume that Beitou would be on the outskirts of the city, given its large number of hot springs. The Japanese used to soak themselves there, even building a communal hot spring bath there, which has now been turned into a museum. If you still want to soak, don't worry the Japanese haven't used up all the hot water. There are plenty of hot spring water left. For the thick-skinned and brave-hearted, there is the pH1-pH2 water at Millennium hot spring, the public hot spring there.

Directions to the Thermal Valley (if you double click on the map, you can see the other areas of interest as well):
Beitou Hot Spots in a larger map

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thirsty in Taiwan?

This is the type of disposable paper cups that CKS Airport offers to thirsty passengers. It's like drinking from an envelope, with a delicious paper taste.

Transportation Taipei

This is the Taipei MRT 捷运 Single Trip Token.

This is the single trip bus ticket Taipei bus companies issue for relatively short commutes. If you go for long distance bus trips, they issue another type of ticket. You are issued the ticket upon paying by cash once you get on the bus and you surrender this talisman-looking ticket to the bus driver when you alight.

It is definitely more worth it to get the easycard (not pictured) at NT500. It has a stored value of NT100, and you can easily top it up at the MRT stations. The easycard can be used on MRT, buses, some retail shops and even the Maokong Gondola. Totally worth it. Of course it can be confusing when you use it for short commutes on buses as some bus companies do not require you to tap the card when you get on or off the bus, while some do. My card was banned by some Keelung bus service from using ALL LOCAL BUS SERVICES (of all the different bus companies!!!) when I alighted at Keelung hurriedly after asking the reluctant bus driver for directions, without tapping the card. This after travelling around at Yangmingshan by only tapping the card when I got on the bus.

They told me to return to Keelung to unban my card. Right. I was going to travel 2 hours long distance bus back to Keelung. No way, especially since I was already on day 7 of my 9 day trip. Besides I could still commute on my main means of transport, the MRT, so I wasn't affected very badly, though we had to keep our pockets jingling with change for my bus commutes.

Mr B soaks in Hot Spring Bath

This is why you should get your own Hot Spring Bath in the room!!!

Where the Leaves are more Valued than the Root

(Note: I am in a dreadful hurry to finish blogging about the Taiwanese trip so that I can make room for my upcoming trip this long weekend)

I admit I can be fussy about my food. Don't really care about the price, but the taste and the service.

So we ended up wandering around Ximending looking for food one afternoon, before leaving for Beitou. I was determined not to eat Ah Chung Mian Xian AGAIN. So we circled the streets a few times. The day was wet, and since I wanted dumplings, B1 suggested the restaurant next to Ah Chung, which also serves a very cute golden steamboat hotpot with a tall funnel.

I was strangely not in the mood (I usually love hotpot so much I once threatened B1 that if we do not buy a big enough kitchen for me next time, he should be mentally prepared to eat hotpot forever). So I dragged him into our second choice, a dumpling shop with a cute radish avatar (I cannot remember clearly now). It serves dumplings with several fillings, namely piggie, chives (I think, chinese name: 韭菜), kimchi, curry (??) etc.

We belatedly realised that the shop is famous for its radish leaf noodles, hmm, i.e. they grind the radish leaves into the noodle mixture, so that the end result is green noodles. Not exactly sure how to order that though, as it did not appear in the menu the lady gave us, while everyone around us (mostly female clientele) was eating the same green noodle dish, and there were posters featuring radishes on the wall.

I wasn't really hungry, just fussy. So I ordered the local favorite Braised meat on rice (卤肉饭). I notice that everyone serves this dish a little differently. I have had it as one giant fatty slice drenched with sauce, resting on little bits of fat and rice, fatty meat diced with preserved vegetables soaking the rice, etc. I cannot remember the version the restaurant served. Too much fat in the brain now, think it was the latter version.

I also ordered a corn soup (love corn, as you can see it appears frequently in my breakfast bentos as well) cooked Chinese style. B1 had braised beef slices with noodles. It came accompanied with slices of radish, carrots and 菜心.

But the pièce de résistance has to be the dumplings. Crispy on the bottom, juicy on the inside. The skin was QQ and springy, while very light and thin. I especially like the ones with the chive filling.

Best of all, they were quite affordable @ NT5 a piece. That's about S$0.22 each. Singapore serves them about 5-6 pieces for S$3 (cheapest rate), and sometimes they are not even nice. B1 almost had to restrain my gluttonous self from ordering more.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Impression on Accomodation & the Beitou Lotus-Spa Hot Spring

We took the Howard Plaza Hotel and China Airlines package (Leofoo theme park tickets included), and extended the nights (i.e. prolonging my misery, as you will see why later).

We also stayed at Wonstar and Beitou Lotus-Spa Hot Spring. Due to some weird scheduling issue and hotel inavailability, we were not able to stay at Grandee hotel, which would have put us in Shilin (we ended up missing some Shilin sights, most notably the National Palace Museum, which I was aiming to go). So we stayed one night at Wonstar, two nights at Beitou and then moved back to Wonstar, to the high amusement of the Wonstar staff who are not very professional (they like to exaggerate patience) though they are friendly. The breakfast was not bad, albeit repetitive (nothing surprising if you stay too long at one place). I liked the pipping hot meat with preserved veggies and egg they served one of the mornings.

I do note here that budget hotels in Taipei are very strict on their checkout time policy, Wonstar being blasted in tripadvisor by . B1 asked the lady at the counter what time do we check out. She said 12. He asked if we could extend it to 1pm. She replied firmly, checkout time is 12. What a way to make a point.

On the other hand, Beitou Lotus-Spa is very much let-down by its unappealing photo on websites, where we booked it. We actually wanted to delete our booking after we saw some of the photos online, but I am glad that we didn't.

We got lost on our way to the hotel, wandering up on the hill on a wrong street thanks to bad advice from the hotel booking website, and were frustrated and hot when we finally reached. The staff rushed to open the door for us, took us to a table in the adjoining restaurant and brought us ginger tea, even before checking in. We were checked in at our table itself and advised that while we could not check in until 5pm, they would hold our bags and their driver service would take us the Beitou MRT station whenever we booked (note the hotel is near the Xin Beitou MRT station). Which they did, multiple times to and fro over the two days we stayed there. They were always professional, even the driver and auntie at the breakfast buffet. The driver offered to take us to the Beitou night market at his own suggestion when we were conversing in the car. Every time the driver (or the counter staff) would help us out of the car then run before us to open the door, which is overwhelmingly impressive at times.

The hotel is quite elegant on the exterior, and equally so in the interior. Surroundings lesser so, as it is surrounded by dilapidated-looking apartment buildings as most of the hotels there were. We found a sitting room on floor with linux-OS pcs, traditional Chinese furniture and hot water with tea bags at the side. There is a hot spring bath in every room, though not very well-scrubbed (the rest of the room was, everyday). There is no safe in the room, but there are yukatas (replaced every night) to wear after your bath, a fridge and a TV with a lot of Chinese channels (and some English channels). The water is a friendly pH4-5, as mentioned by the driver, unlike the public Millennium Hot Spring which is a pH1-2.

Breakfast is repetitive with few items changed. Mostly Chinese fare, the only English items being the same scrambled eggs and sausages on both days, with a brief concession of cereal (with hot milk?). One of the notable bizarre breakfast items is the melon salad with sprinkles...

If I were to complain about anything, the walls are really thin. On the two nights we stayed, we could hear the sounds of the taps being turned out in next room (we suspect that their bathroom is located next to our room) late at night.

We did not test the staff's ability to converse in English, as we conversed in Mandarin with them. Together with the largely Chinese fare, not sure if Western visitors will enjoy the same quality of experience as Asian visitors will. But still recommended all the same, because the service makes up for the relative inaccessibility. To reach, you should walk up the road from Xin Beitou station, past the environmentally friendly and pretty Beitou library, the Hot Spring Museum and the Millennium Hot Springs then turn left to Wenquan Road.

As for Howard Plaza? Supposedly five star accommodation, service was largely three maybe four star, breakfast spread is wide but repeated (we stayed four nights). English breakfast is bearable but Chinese breakfast is yucky. Don't waste your time there. If I had to pay for my stay, I would never stay there. Why? The hotel is geared towards businessmen, with half of its pathetic 40 channels being news channels. It has Al Jazeera but it does not have anything worth watching. Its HBO and AXN channels are crap, and I ended up watching Hallmark? Fucking Hallmark!!! I was watching old The Nanny reruns like it was the freaking mirage in the desert I am trapped in. After being spoiled by the hundred over channels at Beitou and Wonstar (the latter even has free porn), I was flabbergasted at the terrible channels they have at Howard. Even the Channel 41 which is actually the security camera directed at the first floor lobby was more exciting than the TV. I felt like Marie Antoinette eating bread in my freaking palace while all the peasants are eating cake in their nearby miserable homes. I was bitching to B1 while I came out from the lift at the first floor lobby that I could not understand how anyone could stand watching the TV at Howard, when I came upon a bunch of businessmen staring slackjawed at the Bloomberg channel at the lobby. It was almost as if it were porn.

I later realized that the Euro fell past NT40 that day.

Snake Alley @ Taipei Hwahsi Tourist Night Market

We visited Longshan Temple the first day we reached. It was a beautifully maintained temple near which was Taipei Hwahsi Tourist Night Market with its most notorious street, the Snake Alley. I was very creeped out by the snake vendors, especially the one with the giant yellow snake and the vendor wearing a microphone headset and monotonously intoned "Come Come. Sit inside"or "two customers coming in", as if he was presiding at a (snake's) funeral.

Anyway I wanted to eat at this stall which was selling tiny little 粉圆, made of glutinous rice flour and not much else. The stall 北港 was opened in ROC 42 (i.e. 1911 + 42 = 1953), with more than forty seven years of reputation. It enjoyed a respectable to and fro of customers while we were sitting there eating our Red Bean soup with 粉圆, and Yam soup (which turned a suspicious sour taste but I didn't die on the porcelain bowl two hours later, so I figured that it was ok?) with 粉圆 as well. I watched as the old lady tossed little frozen white discs into the boiling masses of white discs before her, realizing belatedly that it was the local version of muah chee alias 麻芝 that she was making. While the Singaporean version is bite-sized, soft and chewy, theirs is a flat disc covered in the same peanut-sugar mixture but QQ.

The Hwahsi Night Market Gateway

The 北港 shopfront

Red Bean soup (tasted better than mine)

Suspiciously sour Yam Soup

White glutinous flour discs bobbing up and down

Taiwanese-style Muah Chee

Directions to the Snake Alley and Hwahshi Night Market:
Take the Nanggang-Yongning (blue line) and exit at Longshan Temple MRT station. It is near the very famous Longshan Temple.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Mr B visited the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, erected on the 90th anniversary of his birth. Very impressive, tons of stairs with a giant statue of CKS himself. Downstairs were all the (what are considered) interesting stuff from his life, e.g. his bulletproof cars, his sedan chairs. I was most interested in the replicated copies of the Japanese surrender to China. I noticed that there were some giant paintings recreated from photos of him being in his mentor's (the charismatic Sun Yat Sen) presence, as if to emphasize he was the groomed choice to take over from SYS.

The most intriguing fact about the CKS Memorial Hall was that in 2007, Ah Bian was being a d**k (he had to be the most entertaining yet underachieving president Taiwan ever had) and trying to hide the fact that he was stealing money from the people, by antagonizing China and even harming Taiwan even more. He attempted to the CKS Memorial Hall name to "National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall", which is really funny because SYS was a bigger symbol for Democracy than CKS who was forced to move house in 1949. And he should be doing better and more things for his people instead of renaming memorial halls.

But enough about him. Mr B saw some juxtapositions of the traditional and modern cultures that the Taiwanese are embracing today, intriguingly at both the CKS and SYS Memorial Halls (the latter visited later). As you can see below, the women to the foreground were practising Chinese Opera outside the National Theatre while a couple danced salsa behind them. We witnessed a even more bewildering event at SYS Memorial Hall. Teenagers were practising dance moves (it was a Sunday) on the wide porch(??) surrounding the building, and while the mostly Mainlander tourists were busily taking photos of the changing of guard in front of SYS' statue, just outside the main door to the statue, there were a bunch of middle-aged ladies doing belly dancing then folk dancing. SYS hall has a lecture hall, and restaurants on the second floor...I fully appreciate the professionalism of the guards to stand perfectly still by the hour at their positions with the amount of distraction going outside.

Mr B is standing at National Theatre facing the "Liberty Square" gate.

Mr B is facing the National Concert Hall directly opposite the National Theatre. To the right is the CKS Memorial Hall pictured below.

Directions to CKS:
Take the Xindian-Damshui (red line) or the Ximending - CKS line to go to CKS Memorial Hall MRT station. There is a street full of wedding boutiques nearby.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ah Chung Mian Xian 阿宗麵線

The minute we chucked our stuff at the Wonstar hotel room, we wandered over to the Ah Chung Mian Xian Ximending branch. They offer three sizes (1) small @ NT45 (2) big @ NT60 (3) container @ NT120.

I thought it was ok (I am biased against it because it was most unpleasant balancing a hot heavy bowl while standing and my inexperienced hand always landed one or two sticky strands of mianxian on my chin. Urgh. There is no tap, but there was tissue paper), B1 loved it. He loved it so much he ate it 5 times (I ate 4 times, I got sick of it one time). I figure that the significant ingredient is bonito flakes, the others being cilantro, mian xian (boiled really long), six to seven bits of pig intestines, vinegar (I just thought of something else, will include if it really tastes right. It just occurred to me that I could have took one bowl back so that I can re-examine the contents in the kitchen). I am dying to recreate it though when I am not exactly sure as I am not sure that it can be replicated exactly... hmm. You can top it up with three flavored mixtures of chili sauce, black vinegar or garlic with soya sauce. And the stall now have grey flowery stools for fans to slurp up the bowls of hot sticky broth.

We saw this eye-catching and pretty fruit stall. They had little propeller fans to drive away flies and they suddenly pulled the cart behind the pillar when they saw the police come by on scooters. A bit ineffectual, I thought, but was intrigued that the police actually passed by, as if unable to see the large and garish display and its anxious owners lurking behind a white pillar.

To visit Ah Chung Mian Xian, leave by Exit 6 at the Ximen MRT station, do a U-turn and walk along the busy road then turn to the strangely only paved road at Ximending. Ah Chung is one of the shops on the left side of the paved road.

I just wanted to say...

I have been gone for a very long time. First I was sick over one whole week and then I disappeared to...

To Taiwan, the land of the fantastic television. I almost want to migrate there because of the wonderful television shows they have, all 100 over channels of them. I am a total utter fan. Even their news is sensational. Over the nine days I have been there, I was treated to a galore of unbelievable news like drunk policeman runs over innocent motorcyclist, evil useless husband who stabs his hardworking wife (who couldn't stand him anymore and ran away) near her workplace, and then drove into the river in his pickup after calling home to tell family members what to do with his two sons from his previous marriage and his daughter with the current wife, or even the evil Caucasian man who runs over somebody's husband and father and was caught trying to flee the country with a fake passport (and his real one)?!! When he was at the hearing, he was beseiged with furious journalists who pelted him with lots of questions, and then his lawyer tried to stupidly defend him (and burn all Chinese, including himself while doing so) by saying that (Taiwanese) people should be grateful to foreigners like the baddie who comes to Taiwan to invest.

And now that I am back? I want to go again. Definitely next year because next year is 100th year of Sun Yat Sen's ROC. Fantastic!! Must google when is the actual date, cos I think Taiwan might do it big next year. Must book tickets early!!!!

As you can see, I am still on an adrenaline high. Burning on the desire to learn how to recreate Ah Chung Mianxian, learn Mandarin properly, and ride a scooter (not in the necessary order)!!!

If I were a Farmer

Starving villagers, the people will become.

Turnip episode?

A disastrous conclusion in the making. The other turnip, being transplanted by a good-intentioned Mutter, perished in the night. I was left with the other tiny turnip, literally the size of the smallest digit on my little finger.

I am switching to tomatoes!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let's get Married and Move into the Bag End Hobbit Hole

Note: we would have to be Ken and Barbie (the acrimoniously divorced couple of 2004) of course.

Maddie Chambers, a genius at handiwork, built a model-sized Hobbit Hole, complete with Thror's map and miniature food. Amazing work isn't it? Read the Step by Step Making of the Hobbit Hole and admire the completed version.

Am I glad the Government only asked me to make Maison Ikkoku and not Baggins' hole.

Monday, May 3, 2010

NWVA 5 - It's Official, I am sick of Veggies

By Friday, I am getting quite bored with the veggies and eggs, yet I cannot stomach eating heavy meats and sweets in the morning. However there isn't much time to debone chicken thighs (which meat is sweeter and softer), so I bought chicken fillet (oops turns out it's not deboned thigh meat either) the evening before. I make some minced chicken rolls with cucumber. I also make some cheesy pasta and force myself to eat the nasty baby carrots. Where's a rabbit when you want it?

I forget to prepare fruits, but I steamed some Japanese sweet potato stars.

Best Door Gift Ever

I can probably spit out a brick and die. CNET says that Google is giving out Android phones like door gifts...every participant at Google I/O will get either a NEXUS One or a Motorola Droid. Something in me just died.

And I am still testing with that shit G1.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

NWVA 4 - Instant Tomato Mee Mix

I used up the remainder of the Tomato Instant Mee I bought from my favourite Korean supermart. The Tomato Instant Mee tastes as much of tomatoes as I taste of miso. So no. I will not buy it again. I did not even use that noxious paste that comes with the package.

I used oyster sauce and tomato ketchup instead. This was the first time I could not finish breakfast without much difficulty.


Related Posts with Thumbnails