Taiwan trip – Day 8

Day 8 of Please Let Me Go Back Alive (aka. Taiwan trip 2017)

The last day of my travels in Taiwan, I decided to finally bring the cat out of the bag (if that’s the correct way to use that phrase). I decided to go to…(drumrolls) Jioufen!

It’s supposedly the background setting of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away (though Hayao Miyazaki has denied it), and it is also the reason that I wanted to come to Taiwan in the first place.

I mean, weird to leave it to the last day, but I’m go glad I did, because if I’d gone there on the first day or even in the middle of my trip, it would’ve made all the other stops seem very boring.

But before we get into that, let’s go over my day in detail.

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I wish I could flip the photo for you but it says “Gold Museum, New Taipei City Government”. Yes, I went to the gold museum  at Jinguashi first thing in the morning (noon?) because it’s nearby Jioufen and I wanted to touch the gold there. Literally. You’ll see what I mean.

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This is the Mine Worker’s Lunchbox, food that apparently the mine workers actually ate while they were working there. Pretty good, if you ask me. At least better than some of the food I used to get in high school. You can order the full set lunchbox, where they give it to you in the lunchbox and you can take it home, or you can order the one in the wooden box, where you throw out the box later but it’s wrapped in a handkerchief that you can take home. Since I was running out of money I decided to get the cheapest one, where you can just eat it and then scram.

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There was a ‘No Pokemon GO’ sign, which made me wonder about the story behind the sign 😛 Who got hurt? Why? What Pokemon were they trying to catch? I’ll never know..

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Ah yes. The infamous gold. That yellow brick-like thing you see there is solid gold, and those red numbers underneath are the price in TWD. I changed it to KRW and USD, and it’s about 100억 in Korean won, and about 8 million (If I counted the zeros right) in US dollars.

Yes, mom, I touched an 8 million-dollar worth of gold!

Of course you notice I didn’t put a picture of me touching the gold, because I looked at the pictures and I look horrible.

I shall attribute it to my face being full of greed and want for moneyyyyyyyy but ehhh I probably just smiled weirdly. (which is because of greed.)img_2966

See how pretty I look when I’m not being greedy? And yes, I wore Fusion Korean Traditional clothing. (must spread the mother culture)

Anyways, with Jinguashi behind me, and my heart pounding, I headed towards JIOUFEN

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I bought myself some peanut ice cream because I was hungry,

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Then bought myself not one but two ocarinas (because I always wanted to have one)

img_2984And then walked around.

Mind you, this is only about 3PM, and that is the only reason why there are so little people in this picture. The lights weren’t on yet, and I expect that everybody else would come later on. There is a famous teahouse, but I heard that (whisper whisper) you can get better pictures if you go to the not-so-famous teahouse across from the famous one, so I headed there and enjoyed a cup (or ten) of royal milk tea.

img_3018This is me, enjoying my tea in peace and quiet while also laughing at the horde of people gathering at the bottom of the not-so-famous teahouse to get a good picture of the famous teahouse (the teahouse owner blocked the entryway so that people couldn’t just barge in).

And this is the picture that I managed to get.

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Jioufen is so beautiful, and the lights woke something in me, something very asian, I must say, but there is something so nostalgic, so comfortable about those red lights that I find myself tearing up. I mean, I went through so much during these past 8 days, what with me not being able to speak a word of Chinese, traveling alone for the first time, barely getting enough sleep, but this view made it all so worth it.

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The lights are so beautiful, see?

I headed home afterwards, but I’ll upload a final post maybe tomorrow, regarding my general feelings about the entire trip.

Also, I only realise now that it may be a problem; you can save my pictures or whatever but if you make money from them without my permission I will summon all of my American-ness (even though I have none) and sue you thanks bye.

Taiwan trip – Day 6

Day 6 of Please Let Me Go Back Alive (aka. Taiwan trip 2017)

Today was a pretty hot day.

Or maybe it’s because I left at 12PM?

Anyways, because I wanted to avoid masses of people (It’s a Sunday), I decided not to go to any night markets or popular tourist spots.

So, I went to Sisinanchun.

Sisinanchun is a small little alleyway with a lot of history. History that I can’t write here because I didn’t read the placards in the mini-museum (I know, I suck, but I really am bad with history).

There’s supposed to be a flea market on weekends but for some reason it wasn’t there today.

img_2725It’s really near Taipei101. I really like this picture because it looks like a bit of traditional and modern mixed together, with the rooftops and the 101.

 

Then I made my way to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial.

Just my luck, it was under renovation.

img_2735Still, on the bright side, I made it in time to watch the guard rotations.

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Ahh…men in uniforms…

 

They did all these fancy gun twirlings and stuff but to be really honest I think the guard rotation in front of Kyeongbokgun palace in Korea is better (Korean pride YASSS).

Afterwards I did what any good Korean tourist would do and went to Carrefour.

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I dunno it’s a vending machine that squeezes fresh orange juice how cool is that!

 

Today is the last day of resting for me, starting tomorrow I’m gonna get busy again!

 

Taiwan trip – Day 5

Day 5 of Please Let Me Go Back Alive (aka. Taiwan trip 2017)

Today I managed to get my lazy buttock out of bed and into the streets.

Since I was still feeling tired, I figured I’d just hang around close by, places I could walk to instead of taking the subway for 1 hour.

So, I went to Lungshan temple.

It was 2PM (but a Saturday), so there were many people there to pray and wish for whatever; their family’s health, a baby, a boyfriend, grades, I don’t know.

Since I do not believe in their religion I did not wish for anything of my own at the temple, so I took pictures, some videos, and watched as people lit incense on fire, put their hands together to pray, bowed to statues, dropped stones, and had their fortunes read.

Of course, I was careful not to distract or get in the way of anyone.

Then I headed towards the National Taiwan Museum.

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The outside of the museum looks very Greek.

It seems that I came at a bad time though, because a few of the exhibitions were closed for maintenance. I did get to see the history of the bicycle though.

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They gave me a discount on the entrance fee because I’m a student (yay.)

After I left the museum I decided to go get an early dinner, because my plan was to go to Din Tai Fung. It was only about 4:30 PM, but I wanted to beat the rushhour and avoid being crushed by tons of people and wait for 2 hours, so I went early anyway. I didn’t have breakfast or lunch (on account of waking up late), so it wasn’t too bad.

The lady at the counter who gave me my waitlist + menu checklist gave me the Korean waitlist after one look at me, for which I was grateful because she is actually the first Taiwanese person to not speak in Chinese to me first.

(I began to question my Korean-ness ever since I came here).

Anyways I ordered the….vegetable…mix? I dunno the menu was in Korean too, and all it said was Taiwanese-style 잡채 and 잡채 is something like mixed vegetables with glass noodles or something.

I also ordered 오육면 (Beek noodle soup) and Xiaolongbao, which is the famous Taiwanese dumpling with soup inside.

EXCELLENT XIAOLONGBAO I LOVED IT.

 

Then my friend tagged me in something on Facebook so I went to check it, and it was a post telling me that the annual lantern festival was going to be from February 4th (today) to February 11th, and that I should go see it.

I thought, why not?

So I waded through this army of people

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to get to one of the stations where the lanterns are.

img_2619(The Lucky Tiger because apparently Tiger sounds like the word ‘lucky’ in Chinese)

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Its the year of the cock (chicken) this year, so the lantern festival is chicken/egg themed.

 

I actually realised (after 2 hours of wading) that today was only the opening ceremony and the lights come on beginning tomorrow = =

 

So, significantly tired, I decided to just go home for that day, because my body hurt and I had laundry to do.

There is a spectacular lantern festival in Korea that opens once a year too, so I think I’ll skip out on the one in Taiwan.

Tomorrow I might go to the cat village 😀

 

Taiwan trip – Day 3

Day 3 of Please Let Me Go Back Alive (aka. Taiwan trip 2017)

This morning I hit the snooze button and I found it really difficult to wake up. I was hurting in a lot of places, like my legs and my feet, and most importantly my UTERUS.

I’d planned to go to Xinbeitou, the hot spring town, and maybe relax, loosen a few muscles and then come back and sleep for maybe 20 hours, but it seemed that it wasn’t meant to be.

But I didn’t have anything else planned, so I still got ready to go out and made my way to Xinbeitou.

The train from Beitou station to Xinbeitou station is themed after a hot spring!

Anyways when I got off, I headed towards the nearest tourist spot, which happened to be the Taiwan public library in Xinbeitou. It’s supposed to be the most environmental-friendly library, and it looks like it too. Unluckily for me, it was closed for today 😦

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So then afterwards I headed to the hot spring museum. It’s supposedly a hot spring that was changed into a museum later on, and if you go to the first floor they still have the baths there, which are now used for display.

img_2459It’s supposed to be decorated to look like Roman baths, but funnily enough, I could only see a wave pool at a water park…

Then I was hungry, so I went out to get lunch.

 

The latte that I drank there is the first non-bubble tea drink that I had since I got to Taiwan, I think.

Once my stomach was filled, I headed towards Thermal Valley. The river(?) stream(?) that runs through Xinbeitou is all hot spring water, so you can see steam rising from it as you walk by. It also smells like sulfur (which is what makes Xinbeitou hot spring special: sulfur) . Thermal Valley is famous for being 100+degrees, and therefore having steam rising from it all year round.

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After coming back from Thermal Valley, I decided to go to this famous ramen restaurant. My original plan (before my uterus ruined everything) was to go to Thermal Valley, go to a hot spring and soak myself in it, and then go eat the ramen for dinner and return, but I had to skip the hot spring and went straight to the ramen place.

And I keep saying ‘ramen place’ because I can’t read chinese and therefore have no idea what the name of the restaurant is. Also apparently the ramen there is famous because they make the noodles with hot spring water and it makes the noodles more chewy and delicious.

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To be honest the ramen didn’t taste wonderful. I know better ramen restaurants back home, but I guess the point was that I took the tourist route there 😛

The view after I got out from the restaurant was excellent. The hotel right next to the ramen place had the red lanterns on them, reminding me that I originally planned my Taiwan trip because I wanted to see the red lanterns in Jiufen.

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Anyways I headed back, but not before stopping by a Matcha cafe to get…

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THIS. So good and green tea-ey and sweet and bitter and yummmmmm.

Tomorrow I’m probably just going to rest in my bed, maybe go to the nearby shopping mall for an easy lunch and dinner, and eat lots and lots of snacks, because the second day is always the hardest for me.

 

I’m actually really hungry right now oh no.

 

Taiwan trip – Day 2

Day 2 of Please Let Me Go Back Alive (aka. Taiwan trip 2017)

I managed to buy a transportation ticket for the MRT (which I couldn’t get yesterday because I’m dumb and don’t know how to ask for help) and used it right away to get to Tamsui station!

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Tansui station

I was going to go to Fort San Domingo and all I had to do is to get off at Tamsui station and get on bus 26 and get off at Fort Sam Domingo stop but NOOOOOO I just have to miss one stop. But it was actually quite alright because the weather was so nice and the breeze was tickling my ear and the pathway to Fort San Domingo is right next to the sea so I walked for 10 minutes with the smell of the ocean and it made me so happy.  

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When I finally arrived I went to the fort and the old consulate and took a look around, took some pictures…I have to admit I know nothing about Taiwanese history and I’m not exactly a history buff in the first place so I wasn’t really interested…but I took a lot of pictures instead. 

So after the fort I went to Aletheia University (for more pictures) and then took a rest at a picnic bench with a cup of bubble tea.

Then afterwards I got on a ferry to go to Bali village. This whole no-stress no-supervision trip is amazing and fun and absolutely wonderful but 10 minute-boat rides with absolutely nothing to do is devastatingly boring for people who come alone (like me). I’m craving human interaction that doesn’t involve a severe amount of body language.

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Anyways, my friend recommended to me that I eat the giant fried squid, and I’m not exactly a fan of fried squid but whatever I’ll go eat it anyway. So I went there and there were tons of stalls selling friend squid but I just stood in the line with the longest line, and waited about 15 minutes. There was a little problem with translation but wow, most people can speak Korean! I guess it just shows how many of my people go to Taiwan. The fried squid was absolutely delicious and this is saying a lot because I have big pride in not liking seafood.

So afterwards I decided to rent a bicycle and go cycling because apparently the cycling road is really clean and neat in Bali village so off I went. Of course after like an hour my legs began to hurt so I decided to go back, but when I checked google maps to see exactly where I was HOLY MOTHER OF EVERYTHING I went way too far. Not to mention my legs were already hurting and the wind was punching my face and pushing me back.

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I went back really slowly, pausing every couple of minutes to rest, and eventually I took a thirty-minute rest in some grass, putting on Korean music to max volume and singing along while lying down in the grass. It was the best feeling, putting down any sort of shyness or awkwardness I may have had with the foreign country. Not to mention that lying down and staring at the sky made me feel like I was floating in space.

It took me about an hour and a half to return but when I finally did, I bought myself some ice cream. By the time I returned to Tamsui the wind (which was so nice in the morning) was actually annoying me, because it kept flying my hair everywhere and it was really cold.

I’d heard that the original giant sponge cake place was nearby too so I went there, waited in line for about 20 minutes and when I finally had my sponge cake, I tasted it, and oh my goodness gracious it was so spongy and so fluffy and so sweet and smelled like butter and heaven.

My phone battery was then running out so I decided to pop into a random diner and get something simple (and local, which is the point) and then return back to the hostel. Since the menus were all in Taiwanese and I can’t speak taiwanese, all I did was look at the pictures, and if it looked like I could eat it (rice with sth that looked like pork on top) then I pointed at it and enthusiastically asked for it. It was pretty good for a random pick.

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Of course, I couldn’t pass up the station sushi, so on the way back to the hostel I picked up some salmon sushi and had that as a late-night snack. When I finally returned to the hostel I had about 1% of battery left.

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My body is beginning to ache, but overall, today was a good day.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Taiwan trip – Day 1

Day 1 of Please Let Me Go Back Alive (aka. Taiwan trip 2017)

For the first time in my 20 years of life, I’m going traveling abroad by myself!

I reckon that I first wanted to go on a solo trip since last year, when I went on a trip (not abroad but close enough) without supervision for the first time.

The freedom that came with choosing for myself what I wanted to eat, where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see, what I wanted to do was so invigorating that I literally climbed a mountain.

This time I’m going for 8 nights and 9 days, the longest trip I have ever taken, actually, and I made it a no-plan, no-stress trip. It basically means that depending on how I feel, I may do nothing but lie in the bed and sleep for the entire 9 days, or have the time of my life while also getting blisters on my feet.

I’m terrified in case I might get kidnapped/murdered/killed/etc but I’m also extremely excited.

Even as I write this in my hostel bed, I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’ll have to have a think about it, but basically, this is my trip. It’s full of freedom, and full of excitement, and I’m looking forward to this adventure.

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Today’s picture is of a pepper cake, apparently one of the must-eats of Taiwan. I didn’t even plan to eat it, but actually just randomly came across one of the popular sellers. Lucky me.

 

The theme of this trip to Taiwan is actually “please let me go back alive” because I’m half-morbid and half-terrified.

Halloween

So it’s the 31st here, which means HALLOWEEN!

I’m not exactly the partying type so I’m not going anywhere, but still, I feel like I need to make the atmosphere of halloween, so I put on a bit of (a lot of) makeup and went to class.

You can see what I look like, and possibly imagine what my professors’ reactions were like xD.

 

On a side note, I didn’t get anything done this weekend because I was sick.

Usually I manage to maintain a modicum of health and can force myself to attend classes, clean my room, etc, but for some reason I got hit really hard this time, so I couldn’t do anything except sleep.

So I managed to become my cat, or at least follow her lifestyle by doing absolutely nothing except eat, sleep, poop, rinse and repeat.

 

Thankfully, I’m not contagious anymore, though a sniffling ghost isn’t exactly what I would consider Halloween-ey.

 

P.S. I’ve got my new iphone which means….TONS OF SELFIES

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late-night musings

If anyone is interested, this is the aftermath of my breakup with my ex.

And yes, I am very subtly promoting my writing blog.


Such woes do late-night musings bring:

we find tears, laughter and rage.

She cries, for a flame kindled (then lost),

while he laughs, victor in all, — but love.

The anger is mine.

Mine.

Mine.

Mine alone to desire,

to rage, to burn unto the coming morn.

The moon witnesses their tiny worlds of rain,

that fall just as time slips by

-yet again.

Source: The first poem I wrote in a long time

 


The breakup actually led me to go on a really spontaneous trip to an island near SK. (which you can see in my featured picture) I’m in the corner over there, see? Lil’ ol me, healthily dealing with my breakup 😀

Studying…

So like I said before, I have my exams in two weeks’ time.

And trust me, the only reason why I’m so stressed out about it is that I’m so backlogged on all the studies that I didn’t already do.

Usually when I feel so stressed that I can’t get a handle on things I do this:

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Which is basically a study schedule I follow until I have time to breathe again.

If you can’t read Korean (shame on you), the red things on the bottom are the days I have exams. The titles for each column are as follows: Latin1, Psych of Aging, Work and Psych, Understanding Photography, Psych of Language, Management after Capitalism, Personal, and Clubs.

I have nothing put down for clubs because I’m not doing any this semester, which makes me kind of mad, but I’m part-timing in that time instead, so I guess it’s just a trade-off.

Also, I’m in a band (?), we’re recruiting singers so if you’re in Korea, in Seoul, and you’ve got a voice, then you should apply 😛

So why am I writing this post when I’m seemingly extremely busy? It’s because during exam season everything except studying is fun. I was actually going to clean the house today so I could waste more time, but my dad already did that so that I could (dramatic music) study. Thanks, dad.

Yes. This post is a way to waste time. I’m trying to think of more-

Oh, I bought a fountain pen today! I’m so happy because I’ve always wanted a fountain pen but now that I have one I have no idea what to do with it. I mean, I can write cursive but my penmanship is terrible, I can attempt calligraphy but I’m so serious I do not have the skills or physical ability to do calligraphy it’s just not ingrained into my DNA.

 

Okay, I’ll stop now. The picture for today is a badly taken picture of my cat sitting on my expensive things.