Friday, March 28, 2008

Welcome, Jessica Jann!

Did you think that I wasn't going to blog once I got back to the States?  Yea, ain't gonna happen baby. I've got too many pictures and stories to share.

My sister finally joined our family vacation! 

In case you have not noticed that the ever-lovely Jessica Jann had been missing from all my past posts, it's because she was actually back in LA, going on some auditions, trying to be the superstar that I know she will be in the near future. But my little ray of sunshine is here and our family dynamic is all balanced out again.

I'm so glad because I was getting to hate being the only child. I don't know how you only childs do it. You know, have all that attention (good and bad, mostly bad in my family) lavished on you. Your every move, every word is scrutinized and then criticized. It was getting to be real bad.  

Now that Jess is around, I finally have someone to pose with for embarrassing (but necessarily because it is under the decree of Mother Superior) photos.

Someone who'll be willing to pose for embarrassing photos all by herself!

Someone to try delicious taiwanese cuisine with...

Someone to share a bed with and chit chat into the middle of the night. Just kidding. We knock out every time we hit the sack.

And someone who keeps hogging my laptop for internet! (This was taken mere hours after her arrival and she's already at it.)

Next post: Gao Xiong!

**edit:  GaoXiong is actually spelled Kaohsiung. Thanks Steven.  Gosh. Worst way to spell a word EVER. Does not sound like the mandarin pronunciation at all (pronounced Gao Shiong).  Perhaps it's the taiwanese pronunciation of it?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The heart wants...

...what the stomach is having.

What to have for breakfast?
Some warm and comforting mugs of coffee from the nice chain cafe, Mr. Brown Coffee (which is even more prominent than Starbucks here, an amazing feat indeed)...

Or some hot-off-the-grill eggs wrapped in a flour chinese tortilla with grilled white cabbage cakes from a local mom and pop stand?

With the Taiwanese breakfast coming in at a measly 35NT (that's about $1 US) and the coffee for a costlier 110NT (the average US price of $3.50) why can't I have both?

And that's exactly what I did.  East meets West has never tasted better.

National Palace Museum


Who says that Americans are the only ones following the "bigger is better" rule of thought?  Well, to whomever said it, you should check out the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.  It the grand hotel, yet another big fat baby of a building.

Upon entering, I was super-excited to check it out, picking up brochures left and right.  Noting, "Ooh books on first floor! I love books!"
Then, I hit the second floor and though one can never get enough of china plates and bronze bowls-please disregard the sarcasm- one actually can.  And the legs started to ache.  And it didn't help that I wasn't allowed to snap pictures of the art/antiques.  
I did it anyway cause I'm a rebel like that but it was just that every time I clicked, other museum patrons would stare at me like I was stupid and couldn't read signs. Actually, I didn't even have to know how to read.  Posted everywhere around the museum were pictures of a camera with a bold red "x" crossed through it.

Finally, by the time we struggled up to third floor, my parents and I were pooped.  We stopped and just sat, staring at blank walls every couple of minutes.  We started skipping galleries. It was pitiful.  Which was a shame, cause this level was actually the most exciting one.  Our interests did start to perk up when we hit the jade gallery.  Two of the most famous works being that of a sculpted cabbage and a sculpted piece of meat.  
*Note: I couldn't get a shot of the cabbage because way too many people were crowded around it and I got nervous (hence shaky) when I took a picture of the meat.

You gotta love a country that worships even rocks shaped into the likeness of food.  Yum!

A Grand Ol' Time...

"I'm staying at the Grand Hotel."

I'll have you know, I  say this with an air of panache, in an aloof manner like I don't have a care at all in the world. Like I stay in 490-roomed famous landmark hotels all the time.  Like it's really no big deal that my hotel room is about the size of my UCLA apartment.
So due to a wind of good fortune, my family ended up at humongous living establishment (a.k.a. tourist trap) that makes me feel like I'm living at the imperial palace.  It's a beautiful place with detailed sculpted ceilings...

an expansive lobby...

and quintessential "Chinese" type statues and architectural pieces everywhere.
It's no wonder that this place is also filled with japanese tourists snapping away at every ol' buddha statue or etched doorknob.  But alas, I, adhering to the strictest codes of being a bonafide "country bumpkin," am also guilty of those clicking fingers and fob signs.
Alright...peace! (I do realize the sign should be going the other way but whatever...)

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I have arrived!

We landed at Taiwan Saturday night at around 8:40. It was a long and arduous journey but I'm finally here! I couldn't stop smiling and staring out the plane window the entire trip (when I'm not sleeping/reading/writing/watching movies/eating, of course) but I just can't help it. Who else gets to spend a whole week perusing one of the busiest and coolest cities of the world? I'm so blessed.


Seeing as this past weekend, Taiwan was all aflutter from electing their newest president, Ma Ying Jiu to the office, kajillions of Taiwan citizens fulfilled their democratic obligations by flying back to vote. We got lucky and headed to Taipei after the election was over and missed the crowd. Our plane was nearly half empty and allowed my mom and I the privilege of stretching our legs a little. Not that there were that much room to spread it anyway. When I was sleeping, I felt like Will Ferrell in "Elf," squashing my legs up against the seat in front of me. It was of the utmost discomfort.

But breakfast more than made up for it! I don't know why but I do believe I am one of those rare individuals who adore airplane food. I must admit, though China Airline's meals cannot compare to that of the more tasty American Airline or JAL Japan Airline (their cold soba noodles? To die for), there's just something about having everything arranged in neat little cartons and containers that strike my fancy.

But what China Airline lacked in fine dining, they made up for with their....

plasticware! They had the coolest translucent utensils that made me sorry to see get thrown away after only one use. I wanted to take them home with me and preserve them as art or something because they were so pretty. But alas, I couldn't do that so I just settled for taking some pictures with them. about that. About the taking pictures part. Yea, you know you may be going just a bit overboard with it when your MOTHER who has to take at least 500,000 shots of you whenever you leave the house looking a little attractive (Helen can attest) calls you a tourist. A TOURIST! (actually, she called me a "tu bao zhi" which means bumpkin). But wow...I didn't know I was that bad. Maybe taking pictures of the utensils on the plane is just a tad too much but it's all for the sake of this blog. We all must do what we can.

And besides, if I weren't constantly snapping away, I wouldn't get really cool/cute pics of my parents like this...

It's worth being called a country bumpkin I guess.


So after my dad picked us up from the airport, we went to grab a late-night snack/birthday dinner for my dad. We settled on some yummy egg custards and tea at a local restaurant.

I haven't yet tried anything authentically Taiwan yet so if you have any suggestions of where to go/what to eat, shoot 'em out. The more exotic, the better. My iron stomach can handle it!

After one last touristy shot, (that's how my mom and I look after 13 hours on the plane. Can you believe it? Yea, neither can I ;)) we went back to the hotel and caught some much needed sleep. Lemme tell ya, it felt good finally being able to stretch my legs!

Friday, March 21, 2008


Oh you lucky reader...
I am about to embark on a most fascinating year of travels as I vacation and study abroad-and you can vicariously join me!  My first trip begins...this Saturday as I head off to Taiwan for a much-needed family vacation.  I will do my best to find internet connection in the far east and update with (hopefully) lovely pictures and stories of my father's homeland.  Buckle up your seatbelts, this is going to be some ride...