Monday, January 14, 2008

10 days in Taiwan

I finally got all the photos from my Taiwan and Japan trips culled, cleaned up, and uploaded. Here are some of the Taiwan highlights...

On the first night after we arrived, after hanging out at Barcode, we had rice porridge (shi fan) for midnight snack (siao yeh):

A few days later, we spent the evening at the Shi Lin night market, eating snacks like fried pork buns, grilled sugar cane, and egg puffs. Some people had the famous stinky tofu, but not me; I'm not a fan:

I hadn't been to the Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall for at least ten years. This year it was renamed as the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall:

Kanpai is a Japanese-style yakiniku restaurant that my cousin introduced me to a few years ago. There are two gimmicks that apply only at 8pm; if you empty your drink glass, you get a free refill (hence, the name, "kanpai"), and if you kiss someone for ten seconds, you get a free plate of meat. I took some friends there one night and we took advantage of both promotions:

On New Year's Eve, a friend took us to an area on the outskirts of Taipei city. From there we had a nice view of the Taipei 101 fireworks, as well as other, smaller displays:

My brother was in Taipei in late summer, before the Autumn Moon Festival, and he was sweet enough to save two Haagen Daze ice cream "mooncakes" for me. I was skeptical of the sesame flavored one at first but it turned out to be the yummier of the two:

This was my first introduction to Hakka-style "lei cha". First, you grind sesame and other seeds into paste, and then they add crispy rice and hot water. It sounds kind of nasty but actually tastes pretty good:

Nearby the tea house, we saw some cool old buildings. Here's a shot of one of the roofs:

On the day we flew to Tokyo, just before our flight, a friend who works in the air traffic control tower at the Taipei airport showed us around, which was really cool:

Other than that, we mostly ate a lot:
- the requisite Din Tai Fong dumplings
- lunch in a department store basement, including beef noodle soup, oyster pancake (oah tsen), beef wrapped in soft pancakes (jin bing), and tofu soup dessert (dao whei)
- Peking duck at Long Du
- super cheap Chinese breakfasts, with rice rolls (fan tuan), Chinese donut (you tiao) wrapped in a flaky crust (sao bing), soy milk, dumplings, potstickers, Chinese bread (man tou), the list goes on...
- Taiwanese hamburger (gua bao), with fatty pork, fresh peanut powder, and cilantro
- authentic pearl milk tea!
- hot grass jelly (so good I always burn my tongue)
- 8-10 stir-fried dishes (meats, vegetables, seafood, egg, etc.) mixed together and wrapped in a pancake (lun bianh), my favorite

I'll save Japan highlights for future posts.

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