Forever Friends: Hong Kong

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

After Taipei, my mom and I stopped in Hong Kong for a few days for my cousin's wedding banquet.

I've been to Hong Kong a good handful of times now. Even though the buildings are just as run down and grimy in Taipei and the air is also hot and humid, and the consumerism and amount of people is dizzying, it felt good to be there, feeling so familiar and new. I guess cause I went to Hong Kong when I was young and each time I went, it was the bomb. Back then I was in love with Sailor Moon and there was Sailor Moon stuff everywhere (I got a Sailor Moon denim jacket that I hope is still buried away at my parent's house somewhere). I remember also meeting and playing with a collie for the first time and it was the best thing ever (I was young okay!) Also riding my grandma's bike in, I don't really know how to describe it, backyard is a stretch, but this tiny bit of concrete that surrounded her little house. I pretended I was a delivery person (that somehow really appealed to me). Eating instant noodles with sliced hot dogs for the first time and those flavors completely blowing my mind. Drinking cream soda with milk. Finding out I had relatives and that they were so nice to be around. Watching Titanic before it came out in Canada on an illegal cd! That stuff made me fall in love with Hong Kong and I am forever its loyal friend.

Anyways, not much to show, but here's some funny things:

This cat was the most pleasant surprise ever. I had no idea he existed and he was so close to our hotel (so we got to see him everyday twice a day). 

His woman companion.

Droopy ice cream from what had to be the most unimpressed and bored ice cream man ever with the cutest ice cream truck.

Food at my cousin's wedding banquet. Mannnnn traditional Chinese wedding banquets are quite the sight to see. 

Until next time Hong Kong! xo! 

Wet Hot Taiwan Summer

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Went to Taipei with my mom for 10 days:

While I was in Chiang Mai back in February, I had finally read Eddie Huang's Fresh Off The Boat. I totally fux with that book. He made Taipei sound so awesome that I was like, gotta go to Taipei. 

Made a day trip out to Wulai, a town that is "famous for its hot springs and aboriginal culture".  It was way too hot to try out the hot springs, so we just explored a spot where there was a waterfall up in a mountain nearby. 


Loved the pattern on this light. 

The park around the waterfall had all these weird/awesome statues. We went there on a weekday and I think normally it's packed with tourists, but with it being rainy and not a weekend, there was barely anyone there. It was kind of surreal, not everything was open in the park (there's rides, some cafes, a performance stage, a semi-extreme games course, the list goes on) and it was as if time stopped and the place was abandoned in the middle of something and you were seeing the aftermath of that. Or aliens invaded. Or I was on the set of the Hunger Games. 

I have no idea what this animal is supposed to be. 

I was kind of disappointed with this town because I was really looking forward to seeing Taiwanese Aboriginal culture. (You're about to learn how ignorant I am) -  I had no idea there was even an Aboriginal culture in Taiwan. I loved all the patterns that I saw around town, but it was obvious that what actual Aboriginal culture there was left wasn't going to be seen and all that there was was something to just please and appeal to tourists. 


Although this place was slammed with tourists, I still loved it here. 

Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung. It was cute, they put this creepy crawler crab thing to indicate that you are having the crab xiao long bao. I really noticed the service at Din Tai Fung, which is the first in a long time. It was really good and it didn't make me uncomfortable. HA! A lot of the times when I experience attentive service at a restaurant, I get really self-conscious and say thank you too much and smile a lot to feel less awkward, but then I think my attempt to seem really grateful just makes it more awkward. Or not. Anyways, with Din Tai Fung, I think the difference was that I felt like the servers were really proud of their jobs, that they were part of an institution in Taiwan that locals and foreigners really love. I liked that they explained how their dumplings should be eaten and that if you look at your receipt, there's notes indicating when to start cooking the dishes so that the meal is timed right. 

When I saw these on this woman's table I went nuts. LOOK AT THEIR TINY LITTLE HANDS HOLDING PIECES OF SHRIMP AND RICE! We asked the woman what they were "they're from Australia" (doesn't really answer my question), how old they were "3 to 4 years old", why is the front one so fat (couldn't get him in the picture) "I dunno but he's fully grown like the others". For someone with such cute animals she didn't seem very happy or into answering our questions. Yes to be fair we shouldn't have interrupted her meal. 

A town with a teahouse that inspired the bath house in Spirited Away

In case you wanted to see a large non real cat on a roof.

Went to so many night markets. 

And ate way too many things. This is the one bite sausage. 

A deep fried sandwich. I...wouldn't get it again haha. The bun is deep fried and slightly sweet and then there is meat, tomato, cucumber, hardboiled egg and its slathered with this sweetish mayo. The English name of the stall was "Nutritious Sandwich". I dunno if the owners were trying to be funny or it's just Engrish, because the women running it didn't really look like they joked around much. 

I was so excited for Taipei. In my research on what to do and eat there, everyone had nothing but good things to say. I dunno if it was my mood (which was a weird, overly-contemplative one), or that it was constantly grey and threatening to rain (and then would), or that it was so hot and humid that the air was thick and a bit of a slog to move through, or that maybe we stayed a bit too long, or that the buildings were a lot more grimier and rundown than I thought (when I imagined Taipei every time I read about it, I thought of giant streets with giant buildings and bright lights and packed with people). But I didn't like Taipei as much as I thought I would. I so, so wanted to. I mean a place that comes up with beef noodles, xiao long bao, bubble tea, night markets galore, has friendly people, how could it not be the best? I dunno! But I'm not going to let that stop me from thinking that it was still nice and that I would like to go back and maybe I'll see you there and we'll be eating xiao long baos and you'll tell me what a fool I am. 

It was nice travelling with my mom again. Eating lots of lychees at the end of every night. Ordering and eating way too much food. Melting in the Taiwan heat and laughing at how delicate we are. So delicate.  

It Existed and It Was Nice: Bali Again.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Starting from the middle of May, I was in Bali for a month again. 

I'm surprised this hasn't happened earlier, but I dropped my phone in the ocean. It didn't even feel real! I picked it out as fast as I dropped it and it all happened so fast that it didn't feel like it happened at all. Oh but it did happen. This all happened in the middle of my stay in Bali and I decided to fix my phone back in Singapore (it would take a month or more to fix in Bali because apparently everyone's dropping or ruining their phones and there is a backlog of work). In the meantime I got a phone that I forgot existed. You know what else I forgot? Having to press a key whatever number of times to get to the letter that you want. Remember that?! Or having to press "1" several times to get to the punctuation mark you want? It was so frustrating to not be able to type my thoughts as they came and I had to reduce what I wanted to say down to the bare minimum because it was just annoying to text anything longer than 5 words. I can understand where the use of "r" for "are" and "u" for "you" came from. 

When I got back to Singapore, my dad let me use one of his phones. So massive! I was telling my mom that you know how back in the 80s people had those massive cellphones? How come we're returning to something so huge again? I'll tell you why, cause big screens are awesome. After using this phone for a couple of weeks, I really loved seeing everything so big. Of course it is awkward to hold and you do feel like a bit of a noob holding something so ginormous that it sometimes requires the use of 2 hands (or always does), like how much bigger do you need it? But hurrah, Singaporeans are awesome, were able to fix my stupid mistake and now I have my iPhone again. And it feels so weirdly small. 

Anyways, enough of my thoughts/experiences with phones, here are some pictures from that month in Bali: 

There was this celebration happening called Galungan (which people could only really explain to me in vague terms, but from what I understand and Wikipedia tells me, it's where the Balinese people go to several different temples, making offerings and praying to their ancestors). These (penjors) were everywhere, lining streets, swaying in the wind. 

I asked people to explain them to me and all I really got was "it's like your Christmas tree". 

Misha. A Czech-speaking Balinese dog. She was found in a really bad state in a rice field as a puppy by the owners (Czech and super nice) who rented out the place I was staying in. Isn't she pretty? And aren't you glad she's alive?!

Neighbors. Chickens in a fancy cage. 

Monkeys at Uluwatu temple. So all the yellow bobs you see are cobs of corn and it was a funny sight to come upon, just a bunch of monkeys sitting around eating cobs of corn. Who gives them the corn? Why corn? At Ubud they get yams. Why yams? Who decided monkeys like corn and yams?

It was a peaceful spot that overlooks the ocean and I wanted to hang out there for a bit. So I did. And all of the sudden I feel something on top of me. It was a monkey! I was starting to freak out because unlike a lot of people who come to see these guys, I don't want them on me so that I can take a picture. I heard that these monkeys are more aggressive then the ones you find in Ubud. I was told to just stay calm and eventually the monkey would get disinterested in me and just climb off. I tried to stay still but the monkey just seemed to like me more and more, picking at my hair, starting to groom me. And then another monkey came onto me and the first monkey was starting to dig into me with its teeth and I just couldn't take it anymore and got up and freaked out a bit and thankfully they got off of me without breaking my skin or hurting me. I looked back quickly and they were hissing at me with their teeth. It was terrifying. 

Sooooo...don't hangout with the monkeys unless you're cool with them climbing all over you.

Me camouflaging really well into a spot called 'Honeymoon'. lol seriously, where's my face. 

The last photo I took before I dropped my phone in the water.

I saw so much more of Bali after my phone died and I wish I could have shown you. More lush scenes. Waterfalls. A dead pig being cleaned in the middle of the street early in the morning with this gigantic torch. Flower petals in different colors scattered on the surface of dark water where locals were bathing and being blessed by the water. Local kids finding a snake in a soccer field and taunting each other with it and then playing soccer and chasing each other with their motorbikes. lol, things that I ate (which seemed to mostly be satay). Feeding cows long stalks of grass. Ricefields. Dogs. But you and I have to just trust that it existed and I saw it and that it was nice.