Posts Tagged ‘taiwan’

Contrary to what I thought, I actually have not had time to really upload and organize the bazillion photos I’ve taken, let alone sit down to write a blog post.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve done and seen so far, in no particular order….

Saw lots of cute monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest, Bali, Indonesia

Watched artisans make traditional batik. Bali, Indonesia

View from my hotel balcony. Sun Moon lake, Taiwan

Endured charted tour bus karaoke, albeit from a talented and fun bunch (my godparents' family & friends)

sunset at Tanah Lot where an ocean temple is located. Bali, Indonesia

Ate fresh and sweet mangosteen in Indonesia

Went to a few night markets, including this one, Taiwan's largest and most famous: Shilin Night Market in Taipei

And eating some delicious treats at the night market.

Nusa Dua beach area, taken from cliff off a mini peninsula. Bali, Indonesia

Wading through the shallow waters at Nusa Dua beach, Bali, Indonesia


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Eating Lembu

My first days here consisted of lots of walking around, shopping and food.  I needed to look for additional things to buy to bring to Indonesia for the in-laws and nieces/nephews. I also had a major goal of looking for some of my favorite fruits, which are only available in Asia.

One such fruit is lembu (what we call it in Taiwanese) or wax apple. It is so juicy and delectable that you can’t just eat one. It’s really hard for me to describe the taste and texture.  It tastes nothing like an apple, nor does the variety look like one in color. The shape is more like a bell-shaped pear. The juicy insides more resembles the water content found in a watermelon while the crunch and texture resemble nothing like any fruit commonly found in or imported into North America.

The one we found near the Shuanglian Farmer’s Market are more end-season fruits and are smaller than usual. Each tray (of about 10) was being sold for $100NT (approximately $3 USD).

Top L: The inside of the fruit has a light green tint. Top R: Comparing the fruit to a tangerine. This one is smaller. The larger ones are about the same height as an orange. Bottom: Trays of the fruit at the farmer’s market.

But Dad, all the Toilets are Broken!

The first time I recall having lembu was when I was about 14 years old. I may have had some before I was 5, but I don’t recall.  Anyway, when I was 14, my dad took my sister and I to Taiwan for the first time since moving overseas at age 5. He rented a car and drove us on a tour from Taipei to the southern parts of the country. My dad spotted some of these delectable fruits at a local farmstand on a country road and bought us 1.5 kg (almost 3.5 lbs) of the fruit to eat on the trip.

They were so good that my sister and I devoured them quickly and each ate several immediately, choosing to eat the fruit instead of lunch.  Of course, with such a high water content and especially at the volume in which we ate, it wasn’t long before our bladders filled up.  My dad stopped at a roadside rest stop.  My sister and I ran to the restroom as he waited in the car. Within a minute, we ran back, reporting that it was a non-functioning restroom.

My dad drove further and pulled over at another place that had restrooms.  Again, my sister and I reported back that it was non-functioning and that there were no toilets. My dad sort of chalked that up to us being in the countryside where things are slower-paced and less modern.

He drove some more, but by this time, our bladders were about to burst.  Luckily, he saw a hotel. “Ah, they must have toilets in a hotel! It would not be like those other run-down broken countryside restrooms.” My sister and I were very hopeful too. We went in, but to our dismay, the hotel didn’t have a toilet either.  Again, we told our dad while doing the “pee dance.” I was about to wet myself. My dad got out of the car and was going to ask the hotel if we could use the restroom in one of the rooms or somewhere else in the hotel. Before we got to the hotel doors, he paused. “Wait a minute…What do you mean there’s no toilet?”  We explained that it looked like someone removed the toilet and left a porcelain bottom half of a toilet, only it was weird-shaped.  “Were all the other restrooms like that too?”  Yes Dad, isn’t that weird that they’re all broken in the same way? Why would people remove the toilets?

“Ah, my stupid American daughters! Those are toilets! They are just not the kind that you are used to. They are the squatting kind.” Er?

My sister and I had never seen a squatting toilet and it didn’t really dawn on my dad to tell us about it. We didn’t really want to use it either, but it was a better option than peeing in our pants or on the side of the road. He had to explain how a squatting toilet works and gave us instruction on how to squat-pee.  *sigh*  Squatting toilets are so not a good choice for the uncoordinated.

Above: Photos of the restroom from a Taiwanese hospital. Top photo shows door signs indicating the type of toilet. Bottom left: A squatting toilet. Botom Right: A fancy Japanese-style bidet toilet.

The “broken” country toilets that my sister and I saw were not all that clean, but the style is the same as the one shown in the photo above.

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Hello Interwebs Friends,

I arrived 3 nights ago without much incidence.  I was really worried about getting stuck with a bunch of annoying people on a very crowded plane. However, I totally lucked out, as not only did i get an aisle seat, but I had the whole row to myself!! I totally took advantage and sprawled out.  There weren’t too many annoying people either. Amusing, but not quite annoying: a guy who yawned very loudly and smacked his lips after a loud yawn, which occurred about every 30 minutes and the snoring guy in the row behind me.

I spent most of the time knitting. I designed and knitted a pair of glittens on the fly (pun intended!) for my sister whose hands are freezing in New Haven. Because she’s very active, has sweaty palms and bikes a lot, I decided to double strand some sock yarn and add some pencil roving (which I hand-painted) for additional warm and insulation.I also planned on knitting on smaller needles to make the fabric more dense.

Row 1: Left: I made good use of my extra space. As you can see, I littered the adjacent seat with all my knitting stuff. Right: Swatching for the glittens. I didn’t block though, since I was on a plane and the fit is more forgiving on a glove. Row 3: Left: Merino superwash sock yarn and some handpainted baby alpaca pencil roving used for the glittens. right: was almost finished with the first glove after the flight.

I made a very crucial mistake though.  I intended to knit the cuffs using at US 4/ 3.5mm needle and then switching to a US 6/ 4mm needle.  However, I am so smare* that I forgot to switch needles. Thus, the glittens are a little hard to get on. Once past the palm, it fits my medium hand. I’m not sure that they’d fit my sister’s though. She has bigger bonier hands (aka man hands).  I considered just abandoning this one, but I did spend a while knitting it. So, I think I’ll knit it’s twin and donate it to one of my favorite charties. Then, I’ll make my sister another pair using the correct needles!

In between the glittens, I took breaks and knitted a lace shawl that I’m testing out. As it turned out, the hole of the tray table, designed for cups is perfect for my yarn!  It totally solved the problem of my yarn rolling off my lap or seat down the aisle.

* inside joke about how “smart” I really am. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about how that term came about. It’s kind of a funny story. Come to think of it, I should tell y’all about it, so at least you can get a good laugh at my expense.

Well, it’s late now here, and I have a very long day tomorrow. In my next post, I will share some market finds and some Engrish-spotting.

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It’s been a little over 4 years since I’ve been anywhere near Asia.  The last time I went was 3 years ago. I went to Taiwan for my grandmother’s funeral. She unexpectedly passed about 9 months after my grandfather passed. And in-between that, my mother passed. Boy, that was a really crappy year.

A butterfly that "hatched" in my godparents' house in Beitou, north of Taipei. The cocoon was attached to one of their plants. I was lucky enough to see it (and hold it!) within 1 hour of it's metamorphosis and before they had to release it.

Anyway, thankfully, I am not going to Taiwan for something as dismal as a funeral. I’m going to attend the belated wedding reception for my godbrother (who lives in L.A.) since the majority of all his family live there. I will be meeting up with my dad and stepmom. In addition to the wedding reception and going to the mountains, I also plan to get really fat eating all my favorite Taiwanese foods, but to make up for all the excess calories, I intend to do some extra walking around the city of Taipei.  Taipei and New York are very similar in many ways: lots of walking, traffic, lots of people, good food, fun, shopping, big buildings, more traffic and more good food.

The actual cocoon of the butterfly, taken about 2 days before it's transformation into that large beauty.

The main thing I hope to avoid in Taiwan is getting stung by poisonous caterpillars. The last time I went back, I went on an excursion to Yangminshan mountain during butterfly season.  I sat down on some stone benches to eat a hot bowl of noodle soup that they sell on the mountain. Of course, being accident-prone, my knee touched a stinging and poisonous caterpiller under the table, AND I spilled the hot soup on myself. The hot soup burn was nowhere near the instantaneous and horrific pain from the sting. It hurt for over a week. The swelling lasted for about 2-3 weeks and even left a small scar for a while. (Taiwan has been called the “Kingdom of Butterflies” by entymologist and butterfly enthusiasts.)

From Taipei, the 3 of us will fly to Indonesia to meet up with my hubby and visit my in-laws.  This will be the first time my dad will visit them. I imagine that there’ll be lots of family stuff to do and not so much sight-seeing and traveling. However, I am trying to convince Mr. CD to arrange a trip for us to go to Bali for at least a day.  I have never been to Bali and do resent Mr. CD a little for it.  You see, I studied anthropology and Asian studies in college – we focused a lot on Indonesia and SE Asia, so I’ve always wanted to go. I told Mr. CD that the only reason I married him was because he’s ethnically Chinese-Indonesian, and I wanted my own personal tour guide and translator to the Indonesian Islands.  I’m still waiting for my tour.  I really want to see Bali, Borneo and Sumatra, though the latter is not that safe because they are anti-Chinese and occassional riots do break out.

We call these "lembu," also known as a wax apple though it tastes nothing like an apple. It is 50x better! If these are in season, I plan to eat a whole lotta them! They are the BEST fruit in the world and you can't buy them here at all. Like peaches and strawberries, they are hard to import/export.

I will be gone for a few weeks.  I’m just busted my butt to get lots of charting done on a project so that I can work on it on my trip.  I’ll need to bring something easy too. Perhaps I’ll get lots of charity knitting done this year. I think I will knit and donate to the same charity that I did last year.

As far as blog posting, I have already scheduled for at least 1 post while I’m gone.  If I can get decent internet access, I will try to post about my trip while I’m there.  In the meantime, I wish all my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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