Honesty is a virtue.

I was going to write about honesty today, and something along the lines of how I appreciate having a special person in my life who is honest with me, and tells me the truth even when it hurts.

However, tonight I decided that it would be more fitting to write about the things not said. Sometimes it isn’t the spoken truth that’s scary; rather, it’s the unspoken. When something isn’t said, then the mind goes wild and imagines many things. Trust is a tricky issue, because we want to believe that we can truly trust the other person, yet our hearts still worry and yearn.

So what can we do? Well, falling in love means taking a risk that you will be hurt. In the end we can only put our faith in the other person and hope that their feelings are true. I know that mine are.

Happy Year of the Sheep

Happy Chinese New Year!

We got 6 days off for CNY this year (4 days off from work with a weekend), but time sure flies when one’s having fun! It was hard to go back to work after, but thank goodness for the 228 long weekend which offered a nice 3-day buffer before returning to the 5-day grind next week.

CNY is a pretty big deal in Taiwan and it’s equivalent to Christmas in the West (Taiwan celebrates Christmas too, in a superficial, Christmas-tree-and-gift-exchange kind of way). It’s all about family time during CNY! Here’s a quick recap of what I did:

Day 1 (CNY eve) – CNY lunch.

Grandma's amazing cooking

Grandma’s amazing cooking

It’s all about the food for CNY. It is tradition to eat family dinner on the eve of CNY, but we usually celebrate over lunch instead. Grandma and uncle’s family flew back from Beijing for the holiday, so it felt extra festive in Taipei! It was almost a complete family gathering minus my aunt, who unfortunately had to work.

Grandma and my baby cousin Howard

Grandma and my baby cousin Howard

Family photo

Family photo (minus my aunt, who unfortunately had to work)

Day 2 – Hiking with Xiao Wu

Zhongzheng hiking trail

Zhongzheng hiking trail

It was a day for getting lost. Xiao Wu and I had planned to hike the Zhongzheng hiking trail near Beitou, but we got lost and hiked some nameless trail instead! We did not encounter a single living soul along the way, and my cellphone was running out of battery (I rely way too much on Google map), but we still managed to find our way back to the city!

As the saying goes, it’s the journey that matters and not the destination. I want to get lost more often.

Day 3

– Karaoke day with mom and sis.

It was my first time going to karaoke with my mom and sister, and we had a great time. My mom is a great singer and she almost entered a singing competition after graduating from university, but life forced her to be realistic and find a job instead. I wonder if her life would be different if more people had heard her sing?

– “American Sniper” with mom, sis, and CY

I have mixed feelings about the movie. On one hand I think the movie is great in showing us the dilemmas faced by a sniper and for not glorifying America’s role in the war against Al Qaida, but on the other hand it also felt like propaganda. I don’t know if I agree with the Oscar nomination.

Day 4 – Day trip to Shiding with Family.

Nature hike

Nature hike

Tofu pudding in coconut milk

Soy pudding in coconut milk

In Shiding, we walked my dad’s favourite trail and ate the local delicacy: tofu. I want more soy pudding!

I went for dim sum with WY in the evening. It’s been a long time since I last had dim sum, and the place we went to actually used the traditional carts on wheels to push around the snacks (at Brother’s hotel in Taipei). Even though they don’t take reservations so it’s almost always going to be a wait, I have definitely added it to my pocket list.

Day 5 – Mage war with WY

I lost again; no surprise there. 2 games in 4 hours this time – a big improvement from our 7-hour game the first time.

Day 6 – Shiding with WY

We visited Qiandao (thousand island) lake. Words can’t describe what a beautiful place it is! It was quite different from my Shiding trip two days ago. Both were nice though, in different ways. I am so thankful to WY for taking me out on so many adventures; my world is growing with every new place that I visit.

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And that concludes my 6 day Chinese New Year break. Eventful, exhausting, and full of memories.

Happy Year of the Sheep!

No Sound Without Silence

The Script released a new album last September, but I didn’t know about it until yesterday! Songs nowadays revolve too much around sexual references, with music videos equally trashy (like J. Lo’s “Booty”? What happened there???); but sex sells.

I’m glad that the Script stayed true to themselves; meaningful lyrics and touching music videos are why I fell in love with their music in the first place!

The Script’s “Superheroes”. How sweet is this video? :’)

Money > Love?

My parents have recently been giving me and my sister strife over our choices of boyfriends (so they obviously do not like WY). After a lengthy lecture about why it is important to find someone capable of providing for a family in the future (e.g. stable job, preferably a licensed professional or a public servant), and that money is more important than personality (we were told that we were acting too “romantic” for thinking that good manners and gentlemanly behaviours are important qualities to look for in a guy), we felt pretty crummy about the whole situation.

As our parents do not like our boyfriends, we are subject to a lot of restrictions such as not being allowed to go on trips alone with them; inviting them over to watch a movie is obviously out of the question as well. In their minds, our boyfriends are just our “friends” and nothing more. Therefore, we are not tied down and are free to search for other more suitable matches. Our dad is also very open to the idea of finding potential partners for us. I attended one such lunch (more info here), but that was before I met WY. I refuse to participate in my dad’s matchmaking schemes now. I love my parents and I don’t want to make them unhappy through my decisions and actions, but I know that I would be truly unhappy if I choose money over love.

While puzzling over this whole situation, Sis came across the blog of the dating coach, Evan Marc Katz, that answered our dating questions:

Evan Marc Katz on “My parents don’t approve of the person I’m dating.”

Anyway, reading his response made me feel a lot better. I think it mostly has to do with Asian parenting. Asian parents have the fear of letting their children make their own decisions in life, and society is also set up so that resources are coveted above all else, even love. Which I think is truly a shame.

Wintertime Beach and Wharf Day

WY has been working a lot of overtime since January started, so he wanted to get away from the city and recharge this past weekend before another busy week started. So away we went to the beach at Laomei (老梅) in Shimen District.

We rode WY’s scooter there, and was it ever cold! So our first stop was to “Old Place” (老地方) restaurant for some hot lunch.

10917211_10205198152211265_4675492764675619483_oThen off to the beach we go~

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This beach is interesting in that it’s not just sandy, but instead there are these finger-like rocky protrusions where the sand usually meets the water. After doing some research online (link), I found out that these are actually reefs formed by wave-cut volcanic lava. I saw a few tidal pools, but the waves were too strong and water too cold, so I didn’t see any wildlife other than algae and seaweed. Other than that, I also came across 10+ dead pufferfish and a lot of garbage. There were mini pieces of garbage everywhere, and they were strewn in the sand like colourful confetti, which ruined the otherwise perfect beach.

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Afterwards, when it became too unbearably cold, we had to end our walk on the beach (wind on our faces, bundled up like eskimos; very romantic) and headed to Fuji Harbour (富基漁港). There was a marketplace by the harbour that sold fresh seafood (fish, crab, clams), and it would have been a fun sight to see except that as it was a cold weekend so there weren’t many customers to begin with, every single market stall tried to get us to stop at their stall to purchase or eat seafood (they can prepare the seafood that you buy there for a nominal fee), so we had to get out of there. We ended up walking to the harbour and looked at the boats.

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Afterwards, we stopped by a temple (關渡宮) before heading back to Taipei to catch the 8pm showing of “Hobbit 3″. I must say that I was a bit disappointed by “Hobbit 3″… They should have filmed one movie instead of 3 for “The Hobbit”. It did answer a lot of questions for LOTR though.1518534_10205198188852181_8292840931115121181_o

Overall, I thought that it was a fantastic day and even though I was chilled to the bones by the end, it made me really happy to get away from the city. Sometimes, a walk on a windy beach is just what’s needed to blow away the city dust and all its worries.

All photos are courtesy of WY. If you would like to see more Danbo and follow his adventures, feel free to check out his fan page here: Alon and World.

Beijing (Jan. 2015)

I got the chance to visit Beijing earlier this month. My uncle’s family is currently living in Beijing, and it’s always nice to visit a foreign country when you know people there.

I won’t get into all the details here, but I visited both the historic parts of Beijing as well as the modern parts. My only regret is not seeing the Great Wall of China. It was too cold and icy, so it would have been unsafe to go up there.

I arrived at Beijing in time for the sunset on January 1st.

Sunset at Beijing Airport

Sunset at Beijing Airport

Here’s a look at the different faces of Beijing:

Old Beijing

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

More of the Forbidden City - it feels like going back in time

More of the Forbidden City – it feels like going back in time

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Nanluoguxiang (South Gong and Drum Lane) – entrance

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Inside Nanluoguxiang (there were people everywhere…)

Yan Dai Xie Jie (Slanted Tobacco Pipe Street) - Entrance

Yan Dai Xie Jie (Slanted Tobacco Pipe Street) – Entrance

Yan Dai Xie Jie (inside)

Yan Dai Xie Jie (inside)

Tanghulu (candied fruit)

Tanghulu (candied fruit)

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A hutong in Yan Dai Xie Jie

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Houhai (Rear Sea) - People were ice-skating and playing hockey on the surface of the lake

Houhai (Rear Sea) – People were ice-skating and playing hockey on the surface of the lake

Jiumen Snack Street (at Houhai)

Jiumen Snack Street (at Houhai)

Jiumen Snack Street

Jiumen Snack Street

This stand was selling skewered scorpions, centipede, etc... And no, I did not try it.

This stand was selling skewered scorpions, centipede, etc… And no, I did not try it.

Some traditional Beijing street snacks (from Jiumen Snack Street)

Some traditional Beijing street snacks (from Jiumen Snack Street)

New Beijing

Tai Gu Li mall

Tai Gu Li mall

Inside Parkview Green Mall

Inside Parkview Green Mall

Beijing 798 Art Zone

Beijing 798 Art Zone

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Overall, it was a fun albeit exhausting trip. It was my first time to China, and I must say that it was quite an eye-opening experience. There were other places that I saw but did not get pictures of such as the commercial district in Beijing with the skyscrapers and highrises, and Beijing’s traditional markets. Beijing is a prosperous city, and larger than Taipei beyond comparison. It’s no surprise that many companies are setting up shop in China. Their population continues to grow, and their economy is booming. I hope to visit the Great Wall next time. Thanks for your hospitality in Beijing, Uncle!

This life isn’t mine.

Life is neither fair nor perfect. Sometimes those who are more capable are expected to do more than those who are less capable or just too lazy to do more.

Last night I had an insightful discussion with WY on how our lives are not really ours, but rather the lives that resulted from the expectations of other (e.g. family, teachers, friends). Even when we are no longer children, and are technically supposed to be making our own decisions, other people still affect our decisions with talks like “you are making the wrong choice”, and “this is the better choice”. We could choose to ignore what they’re saying, but a part of us would feel the guilt and the doubt, no matter how small.

There are many decisions that I have to make in my life right now, but so far, other people (i.e. my parents) keep trying to make them for me, and it’s driving me insane. They are trying to make decisions for:

1. Who I choose to date

2. My future career path

I feel the pressure like a tonne of bricks on me. I just want to fly away and find my own little planet. Like the Little Prince.