Taiwan 2012! Arrival and Day 1

At last, the time came... my long-awaited trip to Taiwan!!  ^___^  *whee whee wheee!*  Haha~  Needless to say, I was excited ;)  I'm going to break this adventure into days, so no one dies of a picture overload or an overdose of Wendy XD

My sister had not visited Taiwan in 11 years, crazily skipping the few times our family headed back.  Insane. How can you reject that offer?!  *extremely biased*  She was worried about it being hot and mosquito infested, like the time where both of us got our eyelids bitten while we were sleeping and looked like we had some type of disease on our faces D:  Look how excited she is about it here:

Hehe ;)

Our flight to LAX was 3 hours late, so to kill some time, we decided to walk around the airport.  And we found a frozen yogurt place called Yogen Fruz (guessing it's German) right in the food court!  They had many flavors, including green tea and chocolate almond, but it wasn't self-serve and the toppings were limited to chocolates and candy sprinkles.  No fruit!  But they did have the mochi cubes that my sister likes :D

We shared a small tart cup with mochi on top.  So delightful to have a little treat to pep up our blahhh start of the day~  Before, we had problems checking in, and my sister and dad stood at the kiosk for an hour or so while my mom and I twiddled our thumbs on the side XD  Also, this was Connie's first froyo!  Ever!  She declared she liked froyo better than ice cream or gelato :)

NOM!  Mine mine mine mine.. and a few bites for Connie ;D

After our dessert, we talked for a bit at the gates and then decided to grab lunch.  What better to start a trip to an island known for its bounty of food than eating Americanized Chinese food at Panda Express?!  What is that you say?  Nothing?  Yep, that's what I thought.  :P

I planned to get veggies and two entrees, but apparently you are forced to get fried rice or chow mien.  Where is the steamed rice?!  But anyways, the mushroom chicken and broccoli beef were both yummy.  My sister liked the mushroom chicken :)  And when I ordered broccoli beef, I just thought of the owner at Wonton King back in St. Louis lecturing Josh for ordering boring dishes at a Chinese restaurant XD  Haha!

Mmmm.. yummy in my tummy :3

After a 4 hour flight to LAX, my mom was super excited to go to the international food court area.  We placed our orders at Sushi Boy and scouted out empty tables among a sea of nomming travelers.  I shared a sukiyaki with my sister, and my parents shared the special of a day, which was teriyaki chicken with nigiri, steamed rice and a salad.

Connie with the fooood

It was silly because we knew our airline would serve us dinner in a few hours, but everyone was so hungry (except me... I brought a huge bag of grapes from home and ate that after Panda Express XD), so we all ate a pre-dinner snack anyways.  The sukiyaki meat was so tender!  It feels like they used bacon or some very marbelized meat.  It fell apart when handled with the chopsticks and melted in my mouth.  So delicious... and it's airport food!  The vegetables were not flavored at all and more on the crunchy side, but I think the meat made up for it.  With the meat juices, the rice was really good too-- my dad and sister gobbled all of it up after I nearly annihilated the meat :D

LAX's sukiyaki at Sushi Boy

Daily special

We walked straight to security and the gates after throwing away our empty plates and boarded the plane.  It's a fourteen hour flight with Eva air, and my sister wanted the coveted aisle seat, so I sat between her and a man on my left.  Eeeep @_@''  I don't use the arm rests, so I bet people really like sitting next to me, haha!  But it was all good, I was distracted by movies (they had the Avengers!), so I watched a Taiwanese movie about baking (The Soul of Bread) and a Japanese movie where I was annoyed at the main guy because he was so wishy washy (We Were There) :P  Annnd of course, the occasional meal was always a distraction~

Chicken rice

Mmm, I'm not going to sing compliments about airplane food, but this was really quite nice.  For a pack-and-heat meal, the rice had a sticky mushy texture that I liked and the meat was flavorful.  I like the bread rolls that come with each meal too!  This meal came with fruit and a salad with cranberries and feta cheese.  And there was this mousse dessert thing that I gave to my parents sitting behind us after a nibble.  GAHH MOUSSEEEE *dies*  

My second meal was pork congee / porridge.  I like the way restaurants and Eva makes their congee: salty and flavorful.  My family makes congee purely with rice and water, so it's not as flavorful.  Maybe I'll try making it again... and add salt (ahh so creative!) :P  And my sister was making fun of a truck we saw driving towards the plane we were going to board before the flight.  It was labelled as "Sky Chefs."  But after eating the meals, she told me that these Sky Chef people aren't that bad ^^b

~*~

Okay, enough about planes and feeling super dirty and gross after not having showered in so long and only brushing my teeth once on the plane D:  Yucky yucky~  *goes and drinks some mouthwash*  We were at long last in Taiwan!  My sister's first comment was, "Why do all the old men look like Dad?  I can't tell him from anyone else!"  Haha!  My uncle, aunt, and cousin came to pick us up with our 7 luggage cases and drove us to my grandma's house.  After greetings, hugs, and unloading our little gifts (umm.. would you call 9238923 lbs of almonds a gift?  We had so much random stuff that it looked like we were going to open a store!~), we took a shower and slept.  Whoo for conquering jet lag!  Fortunately, I can sleep pretty well anywhere and whenever when I'm worn out, so I didn't suffer jet lag.  But my mom did :(  Her sleeping schedule was out of whack!

So the next morning, I woke up at 6am for some reason and cajoled my dad into taking a walk with me while my mom and sister snoozed.  Even though it was so early in the morning, I was sweating before I even left the house.  We only use air conditioning in rooms while we sleep.  Otherwise, it's all up to the fans =_=''  But since I've been trained by the St. Louis weather, I think it was okay walking around in the crazy humidity-- it felt like I was walking through a micro-thin blanket of dewdrops!

I was determined to not eat cereal on this whole trip (1.5 weeks, omgah!), so scouting out food in the morning was an adventure ^^  I dreamed about this one breakfast item, so I wanted to find it and buy it for my family.  My dad told me he saw a cart selling it nearby, so we headed on over after walking a big circle around the park in the neighborhood.  I love sightseeing!  Even though I've seen it a few times before, the sight of shops, motorcyclists, and signs is always fresh to me :)

Now where to find breakfast?

Hehe, so sweaty but so happy :P

I love walking around in Taiwan because sometimes (I'm pretty sure half the time people know I'm from out of Taiwan :O) I can blend in as long as I don't open my mouth and say something.  Otherwise there would be a 99.99999999999% chance that they could tell I'm not from around the neighborhood XD  And I'm not scared of getting lost or anything because my thought is that if non-Chinese/Taiwanese speaking foreigners can find their way around, then I should be able too!  Also, if I can't find anything to eat or drink, then there are 7-11 stores on ever street corner where breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, drinks, and anything else you can possibly want is sold on the cheap.

... I just realized that I have two mosquito bites on my face, one on each cheek.  Gah.. I'm going to look like pikachu today =_=

Okay back to Day 1!  From across the street, I saw the sign and started attacking my dad to cross the road.  葱抓饼!!  The shop is basically the back of a truck, and they make the yumminess right on griddles placed on the truck. It's a green onion pancake that's pan fried and delicious. They offer a sweet chili sauce and brown salty sauce (?), and if you want an egg on top, it costs 5NT more.  The offered hot and chilled soy bean milk, tea, milk tea, and potstickers.  I guess they're more known for their green onion pancake though, because that's what's taking up most of the space on their sign!  I bought 4 servings with the egg on top for my family for 120 NT ($4 USD), and happily walked beside my dad back home while swinging my little plastic bag full of goodies.  ^____^  La de la la~


Making it fresh!

Some shop owners wear the little masks to be more sanitary, but not all!  People around Taiwan also will wear them (regular people, not just shopkeepers) when they're sick as to not pass any germs around.  I think it's because the people density is so great that sickness spreads quickly :O  Also.. you can look like a ninja!  :D

They put the pancakes in a paper bag so that you can eat it right out of there like a hashbrown from McDonald's.  But here it is folded up.  The sauces are inside and really add to the flavor... oooh so yummy, aromatic, soft, chewy, and SO GOOD.  Do yourself a favor and fly to Taiwan to try one of these, okay?  Sweet.

Dan Zhua Bing 蛋抓饼 (green onion pancake)!

My sister and I walked out into the unforgiving sun and hopped on a bus.  I only know the shops near the train station, so I wanted to take her around there first :)  I usually buy 82392839 erasers when I visit, but I still have 82392820 or so left, so we browsed around for a while.  There was a whole wall of glasses frames!  @_@  Why do people even wear them??  I don't think they make people more attractive, haha~  But there were some silly ones.  There was one like Hello Kitty with a red bow on the side (cut off in the picture).

Connie's fingers look unusually short in this photo..  haha!

We walked from store to store, visiting the ones that were open in the morning.  Most stores don't open until 11am or so!  But there were still lots of them welcoming in potential customers.  Unused to the heat and humidity, Connie kept muttering and exclaiming to anyone else understanding English curse words about how hot and crowded it was :P

We saw a lady selling cute pets!  There were bunnies tumbling around a basket crammed with birds (felt sorry for those, they were laying down and packed against one another-- probably had their wings tied up) and little squirrel like creatures playing with another.  We asked if we could take pictures, and she let us (super nice!) :D


More browsing around stores!  And a few stores seemed to endlessly spiral upwards.  There were 4 or 5 floors, one being drug store products, the next book store stuff, the next living items, etc. etc.  Wow!  So cool!  My sister and I ended up buying random hats.  I don't even know WHY!!?  I don't need a hat, but she seemed really pepped about it, so I bought one with her =_=  Hahahahaha~


Connie got hungry, so we walked around to decide where we wanted to eat.  I feel like she's a life size Tomagachi pet while we're in Taiwan.  No car to drive away when her phone rings now, and she can't find her way around by herself, so I just listen to her needs and fix them right away!  It's also really crowded in the streets, so you have to walk single file.  And just like pikachu in Pokemon Yellow, Connie tails me from behind!  :P  Hungry?  Let's eat before my little pet gets too weak and goes back into its egg shell :D

My pikachu is *very* excited to eat :P

There was a stand outside of a door with a menu sporting delicious eats and reasonable prices, so we opened the door and walked up to the second floor to the little restaurant.  It was probably double the size of my room at the apartment with super cheery yellow chairs and a staff made up of people my age.  Super chill atmosphere!  It was called Pasta Smile :D  And yes, it would make us smile!

The waitress told us we could sit anywhere we liked, and I thought she was asking if we were okay with sitting anywhere, so I nodded and agreed, like "Yeah!  Sure!" and then I stared at her until it became awkward XD  Then I was like OOOH and then fumbled more awkwardly to a table near a window with my sister laughing behind me.

Menu with whiteboard markers to select your items

Our meals came with sweet tea and this gelatin dessert that tasted like the tea!

Mine came first!  Risotto with meat sauce and cheese~

Yes yes, for those who have had risotto before, this is not *real* risotto!  But I love eating Italian food in Taiwan, because they make it so differently, haha~  This was no exception.  It was full of creamy goodness and came in a super huge plate.  I wasn't even hungry, and it looked delicious.  On the other side of the table, Connie made huge hints with her eyes that she wanted some XD

"Can I have some, pweeeease?"

Nope, sorry.  ALL MINE!  *take*  MWAHAHAHA

Haha!  Just kidding, she took a spoonful and said that it was really delicious and hoped her food would be just as good.  Then her order came soon after!  It was shrimp curry rice, and when the plate arrived at the table, both of us gave an involuntary "Oooooh..."

We're sisters, so it makes sense that we both like food pictures, right? :P

So pretty, right!

Both my mom and Connie looooove tempura, and this tempura looked extremely crispy with large panko crumbs.  I, on the other hand, don't like the taste or the mouthfeel, but it looked yummy at Smile Pasta :)  Connie's meal was very well presented, even though the curry was lacking in substance.  It was mostly the sauce with two cubes of potato and two slices of carrot!  She loved it though, which made me feel very happy :D

My risotto was yummy!  So creamy, and the cheese would still kind of cling to the spoon when I pulled a spoonful of rice away from the plate.  Mmmmm~  And the bacon wasn't crispy, but soft and flavorful :D  Om nom nom!  Really good!  Quite filling, so Connie helped me finish the last few bites.  Both of us were really happy with choosing Smile Pasta for lunch, and it wasn't that expensive at all.  Tip and tax are included in the price, so lunch cost less than $10 together!



Eating on the 2nd floor!  Annnd there's the phone number if you ever want to stop by Taiwan :)

Thought this was pretty cute.   Food is a big part of my memory :)

Smile Pasta
Taoyuan
(03) 3377733

Our family had an outing planned that would begin around 2pm, so we headed back home right after lunch.  Connie stopped by 7-11, and she was amazed with how the place stocked pretty much everything you can imagine: rice balls, hot dogs, sesame noodles, bento lunch boxes, ice cream, vitamins, chips, and on and on!  I've seen a store with baked sweet potatoes too!  Mmmmm~

An amazed Connie at 7-11!

Most 7-11's have a sitting area for dining patrons.  This one's is pretty big!

We got a short break when we got back before heading out with the family, and I switched my sweaty shirt for a clean one.  Gah, I'm adjusting to the humidity but not nearly as fast as I hoped for :P  We stopped by a school where my grandpa used to teach.  I never met him besides from the week or so after I was born, but it was pretty cool to know that my dad's family lived here when they were all youngsters!  Their house is now an administrative building~

Stray doggie

Oldest uncle, looks like my daddy right?

Family!  Why are they sitting sooo close? @_@

Younger aunt, super young at heart :3

Youngest cousin, super cool bro-ster :P

The family headed towards Ba Li, a port city of Taiwan.  We explored the area for a bit...  it's quite an experience to see city, sea, and mountains at the same time for me @_@  I live in the Texas suburbs about an hour away from the coast, so this was definitely something I never see!



Mountains in the background!!

Taking the boat to the other side to Dan Shui district

Michael taking in the view

Connie derping away~ ;)

I'm on a boat!  *reminiscent of Bahamas* haha~  This time I wasn't sea sick at all (thank goodness) so taking in the view was delightful ^_^  


In Dan Shui (or Tam Sui), the coastal area is lined with shops and stands selling things like grilled squid and ginormous ice cream cones!  There were a lot of people (as usual in Taiwan), and the humidity made us all hot and sticky *slug slug* ._.''


Ring toss game!  They're cute piggie banks :)

Grilled squid on a stick

And super tall ice cream cones!

So much to see and do~

I see these a lot, but still have no idea what they are ^^''

Michael bought quail eggs for us!  They're simply quail eggs (no batter!) :O

Douse them in salt and pepper and soy sauce

And you've got a delightful snack :D

Haha, Connie and Michael:  "Too hot, too hot"~

Outside of the Starbucks, there was a throng of people around a table outside.  Why?  They had 3 huskies lounging with them!  It was kind of funny, because everyone was obviously scooching closer to get a picture, and the couple was playing it cool and ignoring everyone XD

Three Balto-look alikes!

Nearby, there was a street artist painting on chalkboard.  He worked with a soundtrack of music playing in the background, moving and painting each stroke with the music.  At the end of the song, he would flip over his painting to reveal a face or a person!  So basically he was painting like a pro upside down!  Super cool and fun to watch :)  No wonder so many people stopped by!

Notice his painting~

And *flip*!  It's a face :3

We took the boat back to Ba Li so we could drive to dinner

Which ended up being on top of the mountain @_@  Driving is scary!

Hot, tired, and sprayed with seawater, Connie and I were happy for some air conditioning ^_^b

Steve and Michael were too!  Er... maybe not Michael? :P

My first glass of beer ever!  ... HA!  tricked you ;)  I don't drink, remember?  This is barley tea, mmm!

My dad's younger sister and Michael's mom, both matching in red~

My dad's older sister and big aunty with Grandma

Dad, his younger brother, and my other uncle

Big aunty, my dad's older brother, and my mom

The restaurant is known for their chicken, which are free range and raised right next to the restaurant.  Michael was goofing around trying to make a model shot of the food, but he kept shaking his chopsticks, saying that's how they do it on TV!

*wiggle wiggle*

Ahhh, yes.  Family dinners always have tons of food, so I'll just throw them all out for you :)  I usually don't know what the dishes are called, so they'll just be labelled the way I think of them.  Be prepared!

Appetizer

Shrimp

Famous chicken

Soft shelled crab and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves.  Crab was SO yummy! :3

Fresh bamboo salad, light and refreshing ^^

Hugemongous piece of pork.  Tender and super oily~

Delicious soup with veggies and shark fin

Mmmmmmmm~  And served in a steamboat too :D

Steamed fishie

Meatballs, custard buns, and seafood spring rolls

Oh, my other cousin joined us later!  This was herbal soup~

What a feast!  Definitely ate too much.  Here's the view from the restaurant :)

That's all for the first day!  Wooow, I just organized my pictures, and this Taiwan 2012 series is going to take a loooong time to post~  But anyways, I hope you'll partake in my adventures too ;)

chinesedude421 said...

Your posts are making me sooo hungrryyyy

Wendy said...

That's my job ;)

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