Night Market Madness

Last night we attempted the popular and touristy Liuhe Night Market. On a Saturday night.  Really not a good idea.

I generally love night markets because it is really just a street or area with one food stall after another.  So dinner ends up being an eating progressive.  An order of this or that from each food stall that catches your eye as you make your way down the street.  And Liuhe has EVERYTHING.  It has many foods that I won’t eat – like stinky tofu or BBQ’d animal organs, but it also has lots that I love to eat!  Deep-fried oyster mushrooms, zhongzi (sticky rice), dumplings, green onion pancakes, noodles, papaya milk (Mike’s favorite), etc.  You have to remember to pace yourself though because it’s a long street and there’s always something else you’d like to try just a few stalls down.

Jennica drinking sugar cane juice and eating roasted corn on the cob at the night market

Susan ordering deep-fried squid on a stick

It began okay because we arrived a little early (around 6pm), but after our first stop at a shao long bao (dumplings) stall, the street became increasingly crowded.  On top of that, throw in a section of the street that allows mopeds to drive through and it’s complete chaos.

Moped pushing through the crowds at Liuhe

Still, we made it about halfway down the night market before the crowd of people just became too much for Jennica…and Mike.

The crowd

Afterward the husbands (my cousin, Mike, and Greg) took the kids back to our apartment while the wives went out for night shopping, more eating, and foot massages.  Thanks guys!

Final food stop for dessert – sweet tofu soup w/ peanuts!

Taiwan Thanksgiving

This is my first Thanksgiving in a foreign country since I was eight.  And while it can still feel like Christmas in Taiwan (decorations are abundant and there are even carolers!), Thanksgiving is just another Thursday here.  So we went in search for any traces of what might feel like “traditional” Thanksgiving – that means turkey, friends, and family.  :)

First, we were very lucky to have our friends Susan, Greg, and their 2-year old Gabe come in to visit with us starting on Thanksgiving.  Then we did a search for any restaurant that might be serving turkey that day.  We actually found a few!  We decided on the Ambassador Hotel dinner buffet.  Next we invited our extended family.  Presto!  Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Ambassador Hotel

There were probably only 10 other people total eating in the restaurant there that night (and all were most likely hotel guests), so it was great – no lines!  The best part though was probably the iced coffee and all-you-can-eat Haagen Dazs ice cream (in my opinion).  Or maybe it’s that none of us had to work to prepare anything for it and the hotel was in charge of clean-up!

Greg’s beautifully plated dinner

Family and friends at the Ambassador buffet

Ashley, Mike, Jennica, Gabe, and Susan

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and would like you to know that we are so thankful for each one of you!!

Indoor Playspace Disaster

November 19

One of the reasons why I’m eager to have Jennica spend an extended amount of time in Taiwan is so that she really gets a chance to know and interact with her “cousin” (my cousin’s daughter), Ashley.  I was so happy to see Jennica and Ashley take to each other right away.  Without speaking a word to one another they began to play shortly after they met by simply mimicking each others actions.  That game alone brought squeals of laughter – endless fun.  (Really, I don’t think the game has an actual end.)

Boarding the Dream Mall Shuttle Bus

Today was Ashley’s third birthday.  To celebrate, her mom (Shu-Fern) and I took Ashley and Jennica to a place called Dream Mall where there is an indoor play area for kids.  I have really only been introduced to indoor play areas since moving to San Diego, but in Taiwan it was quite a different experience!  In the states, upon entering the play area I would fill out a waiver stating the birthdate of my child, sign my name, and check the box that waives them of all blame for anything that might happen.  Then take off Jennica’s shoes and make sure she’s wearing socks.  Here Shu-Fern took care of all the paperwork so I have no idea what I signed.  We also had to show proof of the child’s age – I happened to have a copy of Jennica’s birth certificate in my purse (as evidence for flying Southwest when she used to be free).  Then they sent us straight to the bathroom to make sure both girls have empty bladders.  Then they took the temperature of both the girls and moms with a forehead scanner.  Once they verified we were well, they let us in to remove shoes and put on socks.  Jennica tried to make a run for the play structures right after but an attendant stopped her immediately and directed her to the hand sanitizer. NOW she can play.  In the states, there is usually just one employee keeping a lazy eye out for what might be happening in the room, and fights for toys or overly aggressive children are unnoticed.  Here there were employees standing around all over the place and while there were only four kids there, they were on top of every move each kid made – no going up the slides, no throwing the balls in the air, watch out for the little girl, no aiming the air gun at other kids, etc.

Jennica and Ashley playing in the ball pit at the end of the slides

Jennica and Ashley had a great time until Jennica froze mid-play in the middle of a ball pit.  “I’m going pee-pee!!” she announced.  I rushed to Jennica asking her to please, please stop and wait but she had already released it all.  I thought to myself, this can’t be good.  The attendant in that section immediately left the room and two seconds later I heard an announcement come over the loud speaker.  Even though I didn’t understand a word that was spoken over the loud speaker I knew exactly what was said.  Seconds later attendants wearing face masks and gloves equipped with plastic bags and cleaning supplies swarmed the area.  I sheepishly picked Jennica up and said sorry in Mandarin several times as I waded out of the ball pit.  That clearly marked the end of our time there!