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!

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~

Hiking at Lilong Mountain

Happiness today was having water to drink during a 6-hour round trip hike at Lilong Mountain (里龍山).

Sometimes we forget how precious some things, like water, are because we often take it for granted.

Someone told me once during a less-challenging hike at Sky Ladder (天梯) in Taichung, Taiwan. He said: “During the hike, don’t say that you’re tired, and do not rush. Appreciate the beauty of nature around you, and think about the people who created the path for your hike. Appreciate your healthy body, and do not see the end of the hike as the goal; enjoy the entire process.” Wise words from a kind man.

I realized that I can hike a lot faster going up, but it’s more physically exhausting. In contrast, going down scares me because I’m afraid I’ll fall, but I can hike a lot longer in between rests.

The view at the top of Lilong Mountain was totally worth the long hike. The hike has a total length of 3.75km, and the elevation of the peak is 1069m above sea level. We saw the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the Taiwan Strait on the other. Pictures say 1000 words:

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How I got through the hike: Endurance, perseverance, and lots of water.