New Year Lunch with the extended family

Today I visited grandma for New Year’s, and to wish our new aunt-in-law a very happy new year. :) The weather is so lovely today too. At first mom wanted to go to the zoo to visit the baby panda, but it’s already 2:30pm and the zoo closes at around 6pm, so we’re probably going to watch a movie in theatres later (maybe “Jack Reacher: Shadow Recruit”).

Happy Chinese New Year from my family to yours. :)

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve, and I went to Nanmen Market to do some holiday shopping and had a relaxing start to my 6 day holiday. It was quite festive in Taipei, with many people burning paper money, lots of activity in the temples, and red lanterns hanging from the trees. However, Taipei feels quite deserted during CNY because everyone went down South, where a lot of people are from. Most people in Taipei are only here for work, but their real homes are in other cities.

Also, it is a tradition for wives to go back to their parents’ homes the day after CNY. That is because according to Chinese tradition, daughters who marry end up living with their husbands’ families, which is often far away from their parents. The only time they will get to see their parents and relatives is during CNY. The tradition still exists, even though many wives see their parents multiple times a year. :)

Another tradition is that on the eve of Chinese New Year, relatives gather around the dinner table and enjoy family dinner with immediate and extended family. We didn’t have a fancy dinner though, and it was just with immediate family (mom, dad, sister, me). We’re going to visit grandma tomorrow and say Happy New Year to grandma, uncle, and my new aunt-in-law! (Yep, my uncle got married last Saturday! Congrats to the happy couple~)

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Yuanshan (圓山) hike + chocolates

This past weekend, I met up with a few friends (including Jun Jun, who came back from the States for a visit). We decided to go for a hike up Yuanshan, because it was convenient to get to by MRT (less than a 10 minute walk from Jiantan stn), and it was a relatively easy hike. It was a nice day for a hike, not too hot and not too cold. We got lost a few times along the way, but there were nice people who stopped to help us out! Too bad it was foggy that day, so the view wasn’t as nice as it could’ve been. That’s okay though, because I plan to go back during the Chinese New Year holiday (which starts tomorrow!), and take mom and dad this time.

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After the 2 hour hike, we had lunch, then visited a chocolate store near Yuanshan Stn, called “Is Taiwan Is Chocolates”. The chocolates were so cute, but so expensive! They had exquisite chocolate pieces that were molded to look like cups, and there were apple chocolates and strawberry chocolates, with the price ranging from NTD30 to NTD88 (1CAD to 3CAD). Their coffee uses coffee beans from Taiwan. Hazelnut, who knows a lot about coffee and loves coffee like there’s no tomorrow, said that Taiwan coffee beans don’t produce good quality coffee, and described it as being bland. I ordered a dark chocolate mocha, and it tasted alright, but less flavourful than other mochas that I’ve had. Their chocolates were good (we tried the passion fruit and lavender), but with their price comparable to Godiva, I’d still go for Godiva.

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All in all, it was a fun day, and it was really nice to catch up with all my friends and hear their stories. Now I’m off to work for one last day before my 6-day break for the Chinese New Year holidays. It’ll be the first time that I’ll be spending CNY in Taiwan in 10 years!

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone~

Cookies galore

My sister baked lots of cookies today: chocolate chip cookies, black tea cookies, and chocolate cookies with chocolate chips and almonds. That’s a lot of baking in one day! They’re so delicious and make the perfect study snacks. I started studying accounting recently (on my own, with my mom helping me from time to time), because I wanted to keep my brain active even though I’m not in school anymore. It hasn’t been easy though because the content is dry, and I’ve sort of fallen into a state of laziness and relaxation… I’m going to keep trying though.

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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (Movie Soundtracks) (David Bowie & Kristen Wiig)”

I just watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, and I was very moved by the movie. It’s funny because MM thought it was just okay, but I thought it was amazing. I would recommend this movie to other people, and it might leave you feeling differently just like how it made me feel. It changed the way I look at certain things, and sitting in that theatre took me away to a wonderful world for 2 hours. It felt like a dream. :)

A treat: Taiwan + French fusion dessert

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Today I visited Dan Shui old street and ate street food for lunch. Too bad the weather was so bad today… yesterday was super sunny, and it was perfect because KS visited Taiwan with her family yesterday. I took them for a quick tour around downtown Taipei. In one hour, we walked from Zhongxiao Dunhua stn to Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall, then Taipei city hall, and lastly, Taipei 101.

I couldn’t really do much today since the weather wasn’t great, so I rented the DVD for Argo. Someone also gave me a very interesting dessert from La Salon, this tea shop in Taiwan. They specialize in Taiwan-French fusion desserts, their most well-known one being their milk nougat macarons. Taiwanese milk nougats sandwiched between macaron shells. Delicious!

Ding Tai Feng

Yesterday I had lunch at Ding Tai Feng with grandma. She recently recovered from a nasty cold (took her 2 weeks), and finally had appetite for some food. We went to the Ding Tai Feng at Sogo Fuxing, because grandma doesn’t like the original Ding Tai Feng (the one at Dongmen Station, ong Yongkang St.)… There are always too many tourists there, and the service isn’t great. It was nice to take grandma out for lunch, because she always cooks such delicious meals for us whenever we visit her, so it was nice to give her a break from cooking and treat her to something that she likes to eat!

We ordered the meat buns (not the soup kind, because that one is only available before 1130am on weekends), steamed fish dumplings, sour and spicy soup, Taiwanese pickled cabbage, and for dessert, black sesame dumplings with sweet fermented rice. The meat buns were the best out of everything we ordered, and the fish dumplings were just alright. The soup and dessert were good too! I heard one of the waiters speak Japanese to the table next to us. I think one of the requirements to working at Ding Tai Feng is the ability to speak 3 languages: Chinese, English, and Japanese. Impressive!

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