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Taipei travel diary 2006


Nishla
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i've seen the KANGKONG in the grocers labeled "swamp cabbage" and "water spinach" as well. not sure if they are legit names for it. :unsure:

...a little bit of this, and a little bit of that....*slurp......^_^.....ehh I think more fish sauce.

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... As a random aside, the MRT (subway) in Taipei is amazing. Most rides are less than US$1, it's clean, very new, and the longest we waited for a train was 6 minutes. There are also decent bathrooms in each station. Taipei is also pretty easy to navigate for non-Chinese speakers. Almost all road and MRT signs are in both Chinese and English, and a lot of restaurants have English or picture versions of menus. ...

You will find similar experience getting around in Hong Kong and Singapore using the subways. Especially in Singapore where English is an official language. (One of the four official languages.) When I was there, it was stations that have English names which were (perhaps) phoenetically translated from Malay that gave me hard times. But then... similar situations exist in Hong Kong. For non-Chinese speaking visitors, it would be hard to remember stations like Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, etc.. (or perhaps a tad easier than Malay? :wink: )

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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With hand-pulled noodles, I wonder how they can control the noodle to come out as wide and flat? I would think when they pull the noodles by hand, the noodle will naturally form a round shape - law of physics.

When I watched them do it in Korea, I seem to remember they spent some time whacking the noodles onto the board below - maybe that contributes to the flat shape?

Fabulous thread! It's really turning my head. What do you think it would be like to live there full-time/ How's the traffic and pollution situation, for example?

Hollow-stemmed vegetable is eaten here, too - don't know what it's called, though. And the dates! I've been staring at those on the street here for the past week - wondering what the heck they are! Keep the pictures coming!

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i just wanted to comment on the most public Lavatories they have over in Taiwan and Hongkong.....those bathrooms were the cleanest, most spacious, and lavishly decorated bathrooms I've ever seen, and those bathrooms were just in the malls, it almost feels like im in a hotel. haha i could live in one......not. :laugh:

...a little bit of this, and a little bit of that....*slurp......^_^.....ehh I think more fish sauce.

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Fabulous thread! It's really turning my head. What do you think it would be like to live there full-time/ How's the traffic and pollution situation, for example?

Nakji,

My best friend's parents have been there for about 5 years now. Originally they were only going to go for 3 years, but ended up staying longer. My dad's also thinking of staying longer than he intended.

The traffic is crazier than I'm used to, but not too bad (and probably not worse than Vietnam). There are scooters EVERYWHERE, and they'll ride on the sidewalk when looking for parking. I only almost got run over once or twice though, since you learn to look out pretty quickly. :wink: I think if you live in the city you wouldn't need to drive, since the MRT is so convenient. The taxis are also pretty inexpensive.

There is a bit of pollution, especially from all the scooters. I really noticed it while waiting on street corners, and there were about 40 of them idling nearby. It's not unusual to see people wearing masks around. In any case, the pollution bothered me way less than the smoking did in Europe.

The one thing I would be concerned about is the summer--very hot and humid, apparently.

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Day 3

On this day, we met up with my best friend and her extended family (a few aunts and uncles, significant others, etc.). There were 19 of us total, and we traveled around in a minibus for the day. First stop was the mountains. The original plan was to go hiking around Yang Ming mountain, but they wouldn't let the bus in. We went nearby to the hot springs, and hiked around there for while instead. Boy, do the hot springs smell like horribly rotten eggs. At first I thought I might die :wacko:

I think maybe my friend's boyfriend had too many beans for breakfast :laugh:

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After hiking, we drove over to the JiLong (spelled KeeLung all over Taipei) fish market for lunch.

The market had all sorts of seafood, including some stuff that was new to me:

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That lobster was running for his life...

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You can get these packages of fish roe everywhere in Taipei, even at some convenience stores!

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All sorts of dried squid and fish

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Anyone for heads and guts?

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More fish. So fresh, with the clearest eyes I've ever seen.

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Horseshoe crabs? Anyone?

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Creepy eels. Check out those teeth!

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More fish parts..."air bladder," supposedly

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Huge blue lobster

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Weird sea creatures. They looked like lobster tails with tiny bodies

Edited by Nishla (log)
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Day 3 (cont.)

So at this fish market, you can buy what you want, then send it across the street to have it cooked:

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The amount of food was a bit insane. Everything below went to the "kids" table...8 of us managed to consume most of this :shock:

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Shrimp

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Clams. These are sometimes called GuaZi (melon seeds) because they're so small.

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Sauteed clams with chinese celery. Yummy.

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Crabs! All full of roe.

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Fried rice and seaweed

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Snails of some sort, in a spicy sauce. I ate a ton of these.

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Cuttlefish, I think. Steamed and stir fried with chinese celery.

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Raw clam. SO good.

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Fried fish and shrimp balls

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Fish soup

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Steamed fish with ginger and scallions. This was incredible.

This was definitely one of the more exciting meals we had. We had no idea what we'd be eating, and the dishes just kept coming out one after another. Really cool experience.

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i just wanted to comment on the most public Lavatories they have over in Taiwan and Hongkong.....those bathrooms were the cleanest, most spacious, and lavishly decorated bathrooms I've ever seen, and those bathrooms were just in the malls, it almost feels like im in a hotel. haha i could live in one......not. :laugh:

hong kong? cleanest? spacious? lavishly decorated bathrooms?????

oh yeah, i m sorry, i m not the first-class and five-star kind of guy. :raz:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Nishla - you couldn't imagine the amount of drool all over my keyboard looking at your seafood feast. Tha clams! The crabs! The roe! (faints)....

(drags herself up and speaks weakly) Keep 'em coming... keep the delicious pictures coming...

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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With hand-pulled noodles, I wonder how they can control the noodle to come out as wide and flat?  I would think when they pull the noodles by hand, the noodle will naturally form a round shape - law of physics.

for the wide flat noodle, they usually have a smaller piece of dough to start. they then pull it and stretch it out without doing the folding over and pulling/stretching that they do with the thin version. this usually causes you to end up with one loooooooooooong strand of ribbon-like noodle. there are places in mainland china that sell a bowl of noodles like this...but it is actually just ONE single noodle. at least that is what i've seen done in china.

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oh and nishla, this is an amazing trip diary. thank you so much for taking the time to post all of the photos and documenting everything.

how is it that your dad is in taipei working, your mom grew up in taiwan and this is your first trip to asia?! :huh: (i don't mean to sound accusatory...just a bit incredulous!)

i was born in taipei and have only been back a couple of times a very long time ago (maybe early '80's was the last time i was there). i'd love to see it now.

i actually have cousins who are moving back to taiwan (where they were born and lived until they were about 9 years old or so) after living in cambridge, mass since college. an adventure for them as they've been living in the u.s. for so long!

i'd love to make a trip back...hopefully sometime soon!

thanks again.

p.s. please excuse me if you answered the above question already. i just got excited and haven't read the entire thread through yet :smile:

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My best friend's parents have been there for about 5 years now. Originally they were only going to go for 3 years, but ended up staying longer. My dad's also thinking of staying longer than he intended.

The traffic is crazier than I'm used to, but not too bad (and probably not worse than Vietnam). There are scooters EVERYWHERE, and they'll ride on the sidewalk when looking for parking. I only almost got run over once or twice though, since you learn to look out pretty quickly. wink.gif I think if you live in the city you wouldn't need to drive, since the MRT is so convenient. The taxis are also pretty inexpensive.

May I ask what work they're doing there?

As for driving on the sidewalk - well, heck, that's just another lane around here. :biggrin:

It looks a lot like Korea in many ways - modern, with great facilities, and the idea of my husband being able to study Chinese, the ability to have a scooter again, and all that lovely food makes it an attractive destination.

Now the deal breaker - what's the availability of Western food like? Limited to fast food, or can you buy staples like bread and cheese in the supermarket?

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how is it that your dad is in taipei working, your mom grew up in taiwan and this is your first trip to asia?!  :huh: (i don't mean to sound accusatory...just a bit incredulous!)

Alana, pretty much all of my Chinese relatives are in the US, so we didn't have that reason to go. Also, it's quite a long trip from the east coast, and we didn't take very many vacations when I was growing up. I'm not sure my mom even went back until I was in high school or college! My friend's been inviting us to go every year since her parents moved there, but we never wanted to be away for the holidays. This year, though, everything sort of fell into place, since my parents were going to be there in Dec anyway.

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My best friend's parents have been there for about 5 years now. Originally they were only going to go for 3 years, but ended up staying longer. My dad's also thinking of staying longer than he intended.

The traffic is crazier than I'm used to, but not too bad (and probably not worse than Vietnam). There are scooters EVERYWHERE, and they'll ride on the sidewalk when looking for parking. I only almost got run over once or twice though, since you learn to look out pretty quickly. wink.gif I think if you live in the city you wouldn't need to drive, since the MRT is so convenient. The taxis are also pretty inexpensive.

May I ask what work they're doing there?

As for driving on the sidewalk - well, heck, that's just another lane around here. :biggrin:

It looks a lot like Korea in many ways - modern, with great facilities, and the idea of my husband being able to study Chinese, the ability to have a scooter again, and all that lovely food makes it an attractive destination.

Now the deal breaker - what's the availability of Western food like? Limited to fast food, or can you buy staples like bread and cheese in the supermarket?

I'm not exactly sure about my friend's parents, but I think their work is something related to insurance or accounting--definitely more of a large company job. My dad's teaching a couple of university-level classes, so I think he's there on a semester-by-semester basis. If you're looking to be a teacher, I'm sure there are TONS of opportunities for you. People are studying all the time, since at every level you have to take exams to get into the best schools. Near the main train station, there's an entire street of places dedicated to helping students study after school.

As for Western food, there are definitely a lot of McDonalds, KFCs and Starbucks everywhere. At most bakeries you can get a selection of white, wheat, multigrain bread, but usually not baguettes. I did see a few bakeries selling more European style bread. The one supermarket we went to in the Taipei101 mall did have a decently large cheese counter, but you probably won't find cheese at the outdoor produce/meat markets. Also, they use cheese in a number of bakery items, and Italian food (mostly in the form of pizza and noodles) seems to be pretty popular. Maybe someone more familiar with Taipei can weigh in on this topic.

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... This was definitely one of the more exciting meals we had. We had no idea what we'd be eating, and the dishes just kept coming out one after another. Really cool experience.

Who did the ordering in your group?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Wow, all of the foods takes me back to when I was in Taiwan long ago and look very tasty.

What you call lienwu is called water apples in English. I'm amazed that you were able to find them because the ones that I'm used to are typically a late spring/early summer fruit and they were lighter pink in color, while yours look more deeply colored. I wonder if they were grown in a green house of some sort or a totally different variety that I'm not used to.

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... This was definitely one of the more exciting meals we had. We had no idea what we'd be eating, and the dishes just kept coming out one after another. Really cool experience.

Who did the ordering in your group?

My friend's parents picked out all the seafood and coordinated with the restaurant. The rest of us were busy examining the rest of the fish market :smile:

Wow, all of the foods takes me back to when I was in Taiwan long ago and look very tasty.

What you call lienwu is called water apples in English.  I'm amazed that you were able to find them because the ones that I'm used to are typically a late spring/early summer fruit and they were lighter pink in color, while yours look more deeply colored.  I wonder if they were grown in a green house of some sort or a totally different variety that I'm not used to.

I think I did see something about water apples too. They were sold everywhere, and mostly a darker red color. We also saw some that were a pale yellow/green, but didn't try any of those.

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Day 3 (cont.)

After that ridiculous seafood lunch, we drove down the coast a bit to a place called Yie-Liu, which has some interesting rock formations.

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They call the rocks with the brown tops "mushroom rocks" (see, it's all food related!). There are also some rock formations that look just like a knob of ginger.

We walked around Yie-Liu for a while, then took another drive to DanShui, another pier/wharf area. There's a nice bridge and walkway where we watched the sun set.

Then, back to Taipei for dinner, which was a Chinese banquet at Hung Kan restaurant in the NYNY department store (next to Taipei101). There were a lot more people at the banquet than on the tour. Unfortunately, I was still kind of full from lunch by the time dinner started, but I did my best.

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Appetizer plate. Clockwise from top: sausages, duck, jellyfish salad, chicken, and asparagus/ham salad in the center.

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Lobster and crab stick salad. There were huge chunks of lobster meat under there. Our first reaction was, "are those sprinkles?!?!" :laugh:

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Shark fin soup. There were actually fairly large slices of shark fin covering the mound in the center. I've never really understood the big deal about shark fin, since it doesn't taste like anything. I ate a lot of the veggies and mushrooms underneath though.

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Lamb chops and fried rolls of japanese potato. The green stuff in the center was coconut-scented. The lamb was really good, and I ate two of the potato rolls. HUGE mistake...I think they somehow expanded in my stomach, and I was so full after this course.

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Abalone, sea cucumber and vegetables. I LOVE sea cucumber, but I'm too frightened to make it at home.

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Fish. I don't think I even tried any of this. I was getting painfully full, and I figured there was no way it could be as good as the steamed fish we had at lunch :wink:

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Scallops, mushrooms and vegetables.

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Black chicken soup, with a whole chicken in the bowl. I think this was by far my favorite dish of the night. The soup was amazing. I was so stuffed I had to take a walk around the restaurant, but I managed to sit down for a second bowl.

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Shumai. I couldn't make room for one of these :sad:

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Coconut and red bean cake/jello. I tried a taste, which was pretty good.

We ended with tapioca pearl soup. I managed about half a bowl, but I was completely and utterly defeated after this meal. I still can't believe the amount of food we consumed that day.

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Now the deal breaker - what's the availability of Western food like? Limited to fast food, or can you buy staples like bread and cheese in the supermarket?

A lot of Western food can be found at any super-supermarket, such as Carrefour or RT-Mart (大潤發)

They have bagels, doughnuts, pizza, white bread, wheat bread, baguettes, cakes, and an entire dairy aisle including yogurt, cheese, and milk. The cheese is mainly American cheese, swiss cheese, brie, cream cheese, and cheddar/gouda cheese wheels.

The toughest "western" items to find are ice cream (Haagan daz is everywhere, but it costs 280 NT a pint, or about 8 dollars.) and deodorant.

Edited by stephenc (log)
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I LOVE sea cucumber, but I'm too frightened to make it at home.

Cooking sea cucumbers are quite easy. Usually the markets have them re-constituted and cleaned. I probably have 2 pictorial recipies featuring sea cucumbers.

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Shumai. I couldn't make room for one of these  :sad:

How interesting! Taiwanese serve siu mai as part of the dinner banquet?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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