Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Unfortunate Demise of Millicent (or Mildred) & Halloween Prep in Taipei

Let us pause in a moment of silence for the unfortunate demise of Millicent (or Mildred)- one of my beloved black socks. 6 socks went into the washer, 6 socks went into the dryer, and only 5 socks came out of the dryer. It was a sad day.

On a brighter note, the sun came back out and I got to wear my sunglasses while gallivanting around Taipei. That's right, I gallivant and I'm not afraid to admit it! In fact, I've been told I look pretty good gallivanting :p So oddly, the weather has turned hot again and it went from being rainy, to sunny and pleasant, straight to hot! Don't worry though, another typhoon is on its way and we'll be getting more rain soon. The only reason I know this is because I have become so fascinated with the weather that I created an account with Weather Underground to keep me informed!

Tomorrow is Friday and after my wonderful (required) Asia Pacific Regional Development class, I am supposed to go check out the Pixar Exhibit at the Fine Arts Museum with my neighbor/classmate. It's a conglomeration of 20 years of animation with all sorts of neat Pixar stuff to see and read about! After some Pixar fun, we're adventuring to the Shilin Night Market to find the remaining parts of Sabrina's Halloween costume and anything else that might jump out at us!

*I can't wait...Halloween is Saturday and a group of us are going out to celebrate at a rooftop party in downtown Taipei! It should be interesting since Sabrina is still assembling parts of her costume, I have a costume that when assembled looks something like an odd mix between a pirate, matador, and a rejected character from the Phantom of the Opera, Jose is supposedly an elegant vampire (?), and Clark is still looking for a costume! Get ready Taipei, these Westerners are about to take you by storm...odd costumes and all!

*For those of you who might be a little skeptical of my love for Halloween, don't worry, debauchery and "of the devil" behavior will not occur...perhaps it would be easier for some if they thought about it framed in the following terms:

I can't wait...research is occurring on Saturday and a group of social scientists with very diverse backgrounds in economic development, international relations, cultural studies, and international business are going out to collect data on social behaviors in a foreign country in the city's urban center. It should be interesting since the team is still assembling parts of their school uniform. Get ready Taipei, these enthusiastic researchers are about to learn a lot!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ovaltine, Banana Bread, & Insults

This weekend marked the first time in about 3 weeks that the sun was seen! Knowing that it was likely to start raining again at any minute, most of my classmates and I spent the weekend soaking up the much needed vitamin d. As predicted, there is now another typhoon heading towards the Philippines, which means we will be getting more rain by the middle of this week. The funniest part about the lack of sunshine was watching the locals bundle up in their coats just because the sun was was a lovely 22°/23°!

Things that might need to be mentioned (and addressed later when I return to the States)...

1. I seem to have a fondness for pie. I never really ate pie while living in the US, but now, I love Tuesdays or Thursdays when the nice Asian man sells Mom's Pies out front of the supermarket with a logo of a lady who strangely resembles an Amish woman. I like to alternate between the chocolate marbled cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake with blueberry topping.

2. I was introduced by my Chilean classmate to the wonderful world of Ovaltine! I never knew that I liked Ovaltine until last Wednesday. Now I find myself wandering into the 7-11's around my school looking for the bright orange carton and being slightly disappointed if the 7-11 I happen to wander into doesn't have any. I once made one of my other friends go with me to several different 7-11's in my quest for Ovaltine! I think an Ovaltine intervention might be needed!!!

3. The same Chilean classmate who introduced me to Ovaltine, also shared the wonderful fact that the bakery near school sells banana bread! Needless to say, I've been a frequent customer at the bakery and I'm afraid that like the Fruit Stand Man, the bakery employees will very soon get to know me as the English speaking kid who comes in and gets banana bread (lots of banana bread).

Halloween is approaching and I need to start looking for a Halloween costume...I'm kind of afraid that I'll end up being Hello Kitty for this Halloween. It could be a really odd Halloween. Some friends from the States and I have thought about seeing who could collect the most free candy in Taipei, however, since trick-or-treating is not really a concept the locals are familiar could be quite the experience! Adding to this experience is the fact that we don't really speak Chinese...this definitely adds a new dimension to trick-or-treating!

In other news, my Chinese tutor taught me how to say "pig head," however, she taught me how to say it the polite way and her children corrected her with the less formal way to insult people! I think because I had learned the formal way of saying "pig head" that it was causing my Chinese speaking classmates to politely ask me what it was I was attempting to say- instead of feeling the sting of my newly acquired insult! I'll have to work on it! Perhaps by the time I return to the States for Winter Break I'll be able to count to 10 and insult people without them asking me what it is I'm wanting to say!

Friday, October 9, 2009

(Syncopated) Beats, Bagels, & (Assorted) Baked Goods

I've been on a weird music phase as I've been alternating between Bob Marley, K'naan, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Vampire Weekend, MGMT, and a sundry assortment of electronic or dance music. I've found myself rocking out on the MRT and the buses, which makes me look a little funny, but I've found it's a rather effective guard against a whole people group set in their personal space invading ways.

The sweet mix of a steady electronically produced beat has brought simple pleasure to my wandering and I have been reorganizing some of my playlists to make them either public transit friendly or a lack of sunshine pick me up...who doesn't enjoy a little sunshine inspired music or electronic dance music every now and then?

Life has been a little soggy lately as it has rained for the past 1.5 weeks. However, it finally stopped raining on Wednesday and the sun came out for a few minutes on Friday. The 5 minutes of glorious sunshine made Friday lovely and recharged my drained reserves of Vitamin D.

Aside from my musical adventures, I've also had some baked good adventures...I found a bagel store and practically overdosed on bagels and then walked down the street to a bakery where I tried a smattering of rolls, buns, and loaves. It's been a good food week (clearly a week filled with carbs).

This week marked a transition in available fruit at my favorite fruit stand as the persimmon season is now coming to a close and the peach season is in full swing. I'm in fruit heaven here! Picture me walking down the street with my ipod playing some sort of inspirational fruit shopping music and me perusing an insane collection of delicious's truly fantastic!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Inclement Weather, Proselytization, & Mooncakes

Inclement Weather

Hello, my name is Jennifer and it's been 7 days since it's been truly sunny in Taipei (snaps for sunshine). So last weekend started the rainy experience as Taiwan was subjected to the aftereffects of the typhoon that slammed into the Philippines (and later Vietnam). It was during this rainy week that I learned that there are different types of umbrellas here...the basic version is apparently only used to protect from the sun. If you want an umbrella to use in the rain, you will need to make sure that you choose one that is structurally approved for actual usage in rain or damp weather. I became aware of this difference after my umbrella that must have been approved for sun & light drizzle turned inside out and broke- leaving me looking rather pathetic in the rain.


Merriam-Webster defines to proselytize as 1: to induce someone to convert to one's faith 2: to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause. On Friday I found myself the target of proselytization. It was a different sort of experience. I was on my way to meet a friend after buying a badminton racquet when this young looking Asian girl stopped me in the middle of the street and said something to me in Chinese. First, you never want to stop in the middle of the street. Second, I get spoken to in Chinese all the time, so I didn't think much of it. Third, beware of young looking Asian girls with backpacks & clipboards! I quickly gave her my confused look and told her I only spoke English thinking that whatever she needed or wanted would quickly be passed off to someone who spoke Chinese. No. In laboured English she said something about saving me. Some parts of the conversation were lost in the obviously present language barrier, but I somehow went from being confused to being confused and captive. She kept a firm grip on my arm and led me over to one of her friends (who at that moment had another person deep in conversation) and told me to stand there and wait. She tried to talk to me while her friend wrapped up talking to her person, and it eventually came out that she wanted me to become a Christian. Thinking to myself, lucky me, I'm already a Christian...I quickly told her that I belonged to the Christian persuasion, whereupon she did the most surprising thing- she jumped up and down, clapped, and shrieked. Her friend came over and asked me if I had been baptized and when I answered that I had, she too jumped up and down, clapped, and shrieked. They kept jumping up and down, clapping, and I decided that it was time for me to leave. I thanked them for their time, wished them luck, and fled for my life! It takes guts to talk to complete strangers about becoming a Christian, but I think their exuberant reaction was borderline terrifying...


This weekend (Sat) was the Moon Festival and to celebrate the Moon Festival you apparently gift everyone with mooncakes and eat tons of mooncakes. Now don't let the cake part of the name fool you...these are little twinkie sized "cakes" that are nice looking, but filled with terrifying filling! I tried 4 one day, 2 another day, and have had many encounters with this festival food. Since I'm new here, my sweet friends kept giving them to me because they wanted me to try a taste of Taiwan. With every new mooncake, I was slightly scared to bite into it...not knowing if this time it would be pineapple with a salted egg yoke, or just pineapple, or something that was unidentifiable but chewy, or horror of horrors- the one with red bean paste AND the salted egg yoke! I started re-gifting them. It's kind of like when you are given a fruit cake at re-gift it or take it to a Christmas party! It's been fun gifting people with little wrapped cakes, but I think in the future- I'll just stick to giving them, not eating them!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stinky Tofu

Ew. Ew. Ew.

That should suffice.

Pretty much think smelly squares of tofu that have been marinated in fermented goo and you've got it. My friends and I went night marketing last weekend and I was brave and tried the foul smelling food. I had the fried version and watched in horror as the lady took four huge blocks of this smelly delicacy and cut them into about 16 triangles (the more the merrier?). She then dropped my multiplying malodorous "treat" into hot oil, then drained them and placed them in a plastic bag with kimchi, and then covered the combo with a black sauce-like substance that kind of resembled tar.

With trepidation and hesitation I forced myself to take a bite and found that while the smell is worst than the taste, after the first few rounds of chewing, you can't really will yourself to swallow!!! For such a normal size bite of tofu, it's extremely hard to adequately chew or convince yourself that you've chewed enough to swallow the bite. I found that the more you chew it, the less you want to swallow it.

So on that note, you should come visit me...I've got a snack we can try :p