The Day in Taipei

Some friends of ours from the Bay Area (Jonathan, Kathy, Danvin and Frankie) were all in Taiwan this week, so we decided to meet up in Taipei for the day.

Interestingly enough, today was the first time we’ve been in Taipei since arriving here a month ago.  And actually, it might actually be the only time we’ll be in Taipei for the remainder of our stay here.

Since we knew we’d be running around a lot today (and since we wanted a day off), Lani’s mom was gracious enough to take Jennica for the day… so, in short, Lani and I partied.

Going Giddy at Taipei 101

More strangeness at the coral stone exhibit, at the top of Taipei 101

It was actually a pretty chill time… we spent most of the day walking around Taipei with Jonathan and Kathy, eating lots of food and checking out the sites (and since we’re technically tourists, sightseeing would obviously include a trip to Taipei 101).

At night, Danvin and Frankie were able to join us as well, and we headed to Shilin Night Market, indisputably Taiwan’s most famous night market.

Kathy and Jonathan enjoying probably one of Shilin’s best known dishes, the larger-than-your-face chicken steak

Okay… so the rest of this is slightly NSFW. =)

Now, I’m not sure if I was just being overly joyous with having a full date-day with Lani without Jennica, or if it was the motorcycle exhaust that I had been breathing in all day from walking the streets of Taipei, but I couldn’t help from acting completely immature (like, teenage boy-style immature) at the night market.

Most Taiwanese night markets have a dish called 大腸包小腸 (dà cháng bāo xiǎo cháng), which directly translated actually means “small sausage wrapped in big sausage.”

By itself, this shouldn’t be particularly hilarious or unusual.  I’ve actually known about it for years, and I’ve had it on occasion (it’s a pretty fatty/oily dish, but it’s not bad).  But for whatever reason, on this night, I couldn’t stop giggling at the name.

So suddenly, the rest of my evening was spent on a mission to try and buy a “small sausage wrapped in big sausage” and to take an inappropriate photo of some kind with it.

After about 15 minutes of searching, I had found my food stall.

Thankfully (and to Lani’s relief), I guess it ended up being not-so-inappropriate of a photo.

But should any of our friends think I was being inappropriate, let me just tell you that I was not the only one with a dirty mind.

Check out the stall that was right next door to the sausage guy:

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!!

Whirlwind in the Bay

For over the past 6 months, Lani’s been training for the US Half Marathon, and she finally got to run the (incredibly hilly) race this past Sunday with a whole bunch of friends.

It was actually her best time ever!  Something like right around 2:15 (just about 10 minute miles).  Here’s a pic with the Wu’s and Debbie

And speaking of hanging out with friends… we basically decided to take the entire weekend to spend up in the Bay Area to catch up with everyone one last time before we head out.  Wow what a whirlwind of a weekend!  It was exhausting but incredibly comforting to get to see everyone one last time.

And speaking of races, watching and cheering everyone on reminded me how much fun it was to run a race… and so I’m actually starting to contemplate running a half marathon while in Taiwan… there’s actually one at the end of February, the Kaohsiung International Marathon.  I’d actually just run the half… but the route takes us right in front of our apartment… how cool is that?