My first winter vacation in 5 years

The past two and a half weeks were my first official school-related winter break in five years. I go back to school tomorrow to start my second semester. I still can’t believe that I’ve been out of school for five years, but now I’m back doing a Master’s program! Last year at around this time, I was doing my admissions interview, and now, I am busy applying for summer internships. It’s funny where life takes you – I would never have imagined myself coming back to school after I finished my BSc but here I am, doing my Master’s AND back in Canada.

I had a productive winter break – went to Montreal and Quebec City (at the coldest time too, -20C plus wind is not to be messed around with), applied for internships (hoping to hear back soon), and got lots of sleep. I also had time to do some cooking, which is something I want to master while I’m not living at home. Today, I made lotus root and pork soup. Nothing fancy; just a simple soup, a taste of home, on a cold winter day.

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No Christmas Market this year

I have seriously underestimated the Taiwanese people’s love for Christmas. For the first time this year, Europe’s Christmas market will be coming to Taipei and I was stupid enough to miss the deadline to get pre-order tickets online. But I thought: “Well, I’ll just line up for tickets instead. How bad can it be?”

Oh, it was bad.

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This was the line-up, or should I say, part of the line-up. Tickets went on sale at 12pm and I arrived at 12:10pm to this scene. There’s a limit of 500 tickets today, but there were at least 2000 people lining up so a lot of people will be going home empty-handed. The earliest people lined up before 9am.

It’s obvious that I’ll only be enjoying the Christmas market from afar this year!

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Cats in Miaoli

As a kid, I’ve always been a dog person, but after coming back to Taiwan, I’m starting to become quite fond of cats.

Last night was great because I got to befriend three friendly feral cats outside of a local bar (芳山農吧) near Osmanthus Alley in Miaoli County. The orange one climbed onto my shoulder for pats and to get a cat nap (my heart melted when he did that; I didn’t know cats could be so affectionate!)

Mother and kitten

Adorable orange tabby (I nicknamed him Garfield~)

Daily challenge

There was a stair climbing challenge at work today and initially I did not sign up. However, because it’s Friday and my three-day holiday to Eastern Taiwan was about to start, I was so happy with my impending freeom that I spontaneously agreed to participate in it with Angel. Thankfully I exercise on a regular basis because having to climb 22 floors (from 1F to 23F) in under five minutes without any practice was seriously a challenge!! Angel and I succeeded in the end and won NTD500 in prize money (oh, the things we do for money), but most importantly I challenged myself to do something a little different today and I’m proud of this small accomplishment! As I get older, I’ll only get worse at these types of physical activities (I am not too athletic to start with), so I will document this day with this short blog post. *Pats myself on the back* Well done, 26 year old me. :)

Just as a side note, I don’t think I’ll ever do this kind of challenge in the future though because my throat/lungs felt like they were on fire afterwards and I had coughing fits for at least half an hour (thought I would cough up blood, it was that bad).

This picture was taken in Kyoto when I visited this past September.

Typhoon holiday

We get a typhoon day off tomorrow, so that means no work and an early weekend. No wonder it felt so much like a Friday today. Everyone was in a cheery mood like they expected to get a day off, even though the rain and wind doesn’t seem too bad outside right now. Well, it’s almost election day – they’re always extra generous with typhoon days when election day’s coming up.

I’ve kind of been a homebody this month: I go to work, I come home after work, and this will probably continue until the end of July. Even my dad has stopped asking if I’ll be coming home for dinner (he used to ask quite frequently since I”m usually not home half the time). That’s because WY is away in Nepal for three weeks doing international volunteer work and there’s nobody to go on adventures with me (well, there’s family – but they’re busy too).

So, a 3-day weekend. I”m sure I”ll find plenty of things to do at home. Maybe I’ll get started on a new novel, or do some learning on the web. And of course, spending quality time with family (including QB).

Wait But Why – fun and knowledge all in one package

Sis recently shared a Wait But Why blog post with me, which I thought was a hilarious take on North Korea:

20 Things I Learned While I Was in North Korea

The author’s stick figures and comical dialogues were both funny and informative, which I thought was a great way to pass the time while also learn something in the process. I can’t believe that I did not know about this site sooner!

Of course, there are some other equally informative but less hilarious articles (such as the one on ISIS) on Wait But Why, and I found myself learning more about ISIS through the hour or so that I spent on reading the article than the weeks or months that I read about them in the news! (information is backed up by evidence as well, so it is objective as much as it is subjective)

Thank you for creating such a wonderful articles, Wait But Why.

Now let me continue reading about the AI Revolution and why we should all be worried about it (just not in the Hollywood kind of way).

Visit from a friend

A few days ago, sis and I met up with KD and her mom who are visiting Taiwan on vacation. We went for beef noodles and mango ice, and seeing them just left me feeling so nostalgic for my life in Canada. On May 31, two years ago, I flew to Taiwan to be reunited with my family, but I left a part of me behind in Canada. Like Mohsin Hamid said in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, “it is not always possible to restore one’s boundaries after they have been blurred and made permeable by a relationship … something of us is now outside, and something of the outside is now within us.” So try as I might, it is impossible to erase the memories of yesterday; but I will enjoy the moments of today, and look forward to the possibilities of tomorrow.

Speakeasy

我很喜歡往外跑,所以一到週末或放假我幾乎都不在家。雖然如此,我卻是一個路痴;我真的無法想像以前的我-在沒有智慧型手機及Google Map的時代中-是如何找到回家的路。

我外出玩耍的地點通常都不是在家附近,因為我住在東區(台北的購物天堂之一),只可惜我偏偏不喜歡逛街。但今天我發現原來不需要走遠就可以找到樂子,而那個地方就叫做“安和路”。安和路是台北知名的酒吧街,因為酒吧的數量及種類真的是琳琅滿目、任你挑選。今晚不小心找到一家很隱密的酒店,叫做“Ounce Bar”,仿造著美國1920年代戒酒令的時期,要走到咖啡廳的後面、進入一扇隱藏在牆壁中的門,才能找到這個奇特的地方。雖然今晚造訪的是咖啡廳而非神秘的speakeasy,發現這個神秘的世界還是在星期一的夜晚中為我填了不少樂趣。

Too many friends

Technology has helped to connect people from around the world, but at the same time it has also made people more distant from each other. How many times have we seen people eating at the same table but engrossed by the screens of their phones rather than talking to the person sitting across from them?

Look around you once in awhile – the world is actually a beautiful place.