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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Skating in Taiwan

It’s finally Friday today, and I spent my favourite evening of the week skating for the first time in Taiwan and having beef noodles with MM, her coworkers, a coworker’s husband, and his friend from work. I was so disappointed by the size of Taiwan’s rink! However, since it was an indoor rink located on the 8th floor of Eslite 116 in Ximending, I shouldn’t have expected so much in the first place. I’m sure the rink in the Taipei Sports Arena is probably much better. We didn’t skate for long as the rink was tiny (maybe half the size I’m used to seeing in Canada), and the skates really hurt my feet (they kept squishing my ankles).

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Afterwards, we had delicious beef noodles from a hole in the wall called 建宏 at the outskirts of Ximending. It’s open 24 hours and have unlimited refills for noodles and soup. MM and I shared a medium bowl (only NTD90) and it was plenty. We didn’t even have to get refills! Next time we’ll just go for a small.

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Last night QB was such a sleepyhead. He fell asleep on my bed and I just couldn’t bear to wake him up. Zzz…

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Crazy housing prices in Taipei

There’s something seriously wrong with the real estate market in Taiwan. MM informed me today that it is the most difficult city to buy a house. In the world. Yes, Taipei, Taiwan topped the list comparing average salary to housing price. New Taipei City also made the list at number 3. Vancouver’s number 4. Those are honestly some grim looking numbers, so there is something wrong with the system. Prices for everything in Taiwan (food, living…) just keep going up, yet the only thing that has not increased is wage. So basically the rich just keep getting richer, and the poor poorer. I wonder what Taiwan needs to get its economy back up?! Wage in Taiwan is 3x lower than wage in North America, yet many things cost the same. It’s not like brand name products for clothing and food will cost less in Taiwan just because we make less here, and many food items (especially imported products) cost so much more than in Canada. So imagine buying Starbucks in Taiwan: one grande vanilla latte for NTD120 (equiv to CAD4). That’s the same as in Canada, right? Wrong. CAD4*3 = CAD12. This takes into account how the wage in Taiwan is 3x less than in Canada. You just bought a CAD12 cup of coffee. This is why Starbucks doesn’t do too well in Taiwan.

I really hope that the trade agreement with China will help Taiwan’s economy flourish like they keep saying it will. But you know what they say: the Devil’s in the details.

Happy Friday! QB got a haircut because his fur was too tangled. He looks like an oversized rat now. Poor darling:

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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!

From San Francisco to Taipei

Today Meimei and I went out for dinner with JL, a friend from the States who came back to Taiwan for a visit! It was very nice to catch up with him. The first time we met was the summer of 2012, during a summer internship. Then again in December of 2012 in San Francisco (I miss SF!), and now we meet again in Taipei!

First we had dinner at Tokiya. It was a restaurant that served Japanese fusion cuisine, and had a set menu with multiple courses: salad, appetizer, soup, rice… etc. They serve amazing duck breast!

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By the time we left the restaurant, I was surprised that it was already 9:40! We were in there for over 3 hours, but it didn’t feel that long. We then ventured to find a tea place that we went with Jon back in summer 2012 (Lattea), and got their famous green latteas. It was green tea with a layer of salty cream on top. The salt brought out the sweet flavour in the green tea, and it was quite refreshing after our huge dinner. Then we just walked around the East area of Taipei, looked around some boutiques, before JL left at 11 to catch the HSR to Hsinchu.

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It was so nice to catch up with JL after all this time. :) I know we’ll meet again some day; it’s just a matter of where and when!

Bo Duo (博多) Ramen

It’s chilly in Taiwan these days, and what better food to have on a cold day than a bowl of delicious Japanese ramen? So for dinner yesterday, I tried Bo Duo Ramen, and it was delicious! I still like Santouka ramen the best, but this place serves ramen at half the price, and the server was even considerate enough to offer me a hair band to tie up my hair so it won’t get singed by the flames (they keep the ramen heated on top of a small flame at this restaurant… also quite different from other places!).

Get ready for lots of food photos… *Warning: Not recommended for viewing at 2 in the morning.

Egg (with half-cooked yolk! Yum):

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Agedashi tofu (small order):

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Curry croquette:

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Deep-fried chicken pieces:

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Original Bo Duo ramen with cha siu:

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Their broth is really rich and creamy, and the serving size was perfect (with lots of delicious cha siu), but because we ordered all those side dishes, I barely finished my noodles!

Now that it’s winter, it’s cold outside so I don’t get to move around as much, and feeling cold leads to more eating… I have to take care to watch my weight!

Yongkang (永康) Street – great eats

A famous mango ice store that tourists always visit when they’re in Taipei is “Ice Monster”. The original store used to be located on Yongkang street, just off of MRT Dongmen station, until the owners (then husband and wife, now divorced) got into a dispute and the husband ended up leaving Yongkang street and starting Ice Monster.

After hearing from quite a few people that Yongkang street has good food and good shopping, I visited the street on Monday evening because I wanted a change from the usual places I shop at. We ended up eating street food, with 0 clothes shopping because there was so much to see and eat in terms of good food! Yongkong street is located at Exit 5, and on a weekend is crowded with people. We still had to wait a bit on Monday evening, but it’s definitely not as bad, so if possible: come on a weekday!!

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My favourite food of the evening was green onion pancake stuffed with ham, basil, cheese, and egg:

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A stand selling Taiwanese chicken nuggets, as well as other fried goods (The eggplant was good!):

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Tainan (a city in Southern Taiwan) eats:

Rice cake:

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Steamed shrimp rice dumpling:

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Soft-serve at IOU (I thought their soft serve was alright; they were having a BOGO promotion, but at the original price of 95NTD per cone, it’s not really worth it IMO):

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Milk:

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Milk/matcha (the matcha tasted a bit icy):

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There is a small community park nearby as well (Yongkang park), so it gives people the option of having somewhere to sit down and eat.

Taiwan, you never cease to amaze me with your street foods.