Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy (Gregorian calendar) New Year!

I spent new years eve with Yoh-Yi's family. They have a great view of the 101 and the Flower Expo fireworks from the rooftop of their building. Today I'm just going to make it simple and short. The fireworks were amazing! Two big shows next to each other and the beginning sequence was coordinated with several buildings all setting off in a big bang. It seemed like WW2 and the city was being bombed. I couldn't take that great of a picture of the 101 fireworks as there was too much smoke. But I did capture the 101 building at midnight with the '53 Rollei III. Displayed in all it's glory for the 100th anniversary of Taiwan and 2011 New Year! The walk back home was super crowded even at 2 AM in the morning. It took approximately 1 hour to walk from the top of the stairs of the subway to the gate of the train. distance..100 yards. Soo crazy! I wasn't even at the New Year's party down at Taipei City Hall. I heard it was much worse there! I haven't yet experienced a new year in New York city, but the celebrations must be similar in the madness! Happy New Year my readers! {This post predated after the events of course.}

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Soon Du Booo!

Finally went to that famous Korean restaurant at Shida night market we failed to eat at during my classmate reunion 2 days ago. My friend, Yuki and I, got in before any line started. She ordered the dol sot bi bim bop. and I ordered the soon du bu jjigae. The soon du bu was watered down and pretty bland tasting. Yuki said her's was ok. This officially disappoints me. Are there no good korean places that can serve a good soon du bu? Anyways, walking out of the restaurant, I saw a lot of people ordered a pan of meat on the portable grill. I don't know what it is, but it seems popular and maybe what this restaurant is known for. I shall give it a second chance and order this Korean pan "grilled" meat next time.

Edit, thanks Angela: It's DIY grilled Bulgogi

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shopping for a leather jacket

Today after class, I helped my friend Jerry with his english report on the KMT-CCP revolution. It took a while and his english is much better than I expected. His report is about college level and uses a lot of scholastic words I rarely use. I really had to use my brain on this one. After about one and a half hours, we finally finished. But Jerry had to leave early, so he treated me to dinner at Evans Burger. I had a country fried steak. Never tried that before in Taiwan. It turned out to be so-so. Delicious but still small and taiwanese flavored. Not the real american country flavor to it. Probably missing the deep fry in the week old oil slathered with artery clogging gravy. Evan's burger version tasted almost ...healthy? Afterwards, I did some quick shopping around Shida night market for a [fake] leather jacket. It's getting cold here in Taipei and I need some thicker threads. I found two i liked, one is a little plain and the other has a really high collar (probably too fashionable for my tastes). I'll get some opinions, but the search continues.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dinner with my first semester teacher

Tonight had a reunion with my old classmates and had dinner with our teacher (Eve) from last semester. We ate at a new indian restaurant on the western (not west) side of the Shida night market. Originally Eve had planned to go to a Korean restaurant, but it was closed. It's a very famous Korean restaurant and it constantly has a line. Must visit this next time when they're open, because the last Korean restaurant I went to sucked. Anyways, the Indian restaurant was also very good. They were bit expensive, but still quality. We had a great time catching up and discussing how we don't like our new teachers. Eve was the best :) Afterwards some of us headed to a dessert store and had some red bean soup. We parted ways after that. I hope I can continue to stay in good contact with my old classmates and my teacher. They'll always hold a greater meaning to me here in Taipei.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tron 3D

Hung around with my language partner, Joyce, again today. After a bit of coffee, we decided it was just way too cold outside. So we headed into Q Square mall. Ahhhhh. So much warmer! Well it doesn't take too long to shop through Q Squared. There isn't much men's clothing and nothing of much interest to Joyce. At the top floor of Q Square is a theater though. A rather nice one too.Since Tron was just released, we decided to watch that, in 3D! It's a pretty damn good movie. I don't think the storyline has anything to do with the original storyline. But the movie was action packed and the 3D was outstanding for this movie. I guess it was easier to do so, when the majority of the movie is CGI. The best part of the movie is a sound track. Some say it's just a really long Daft Punk music video, which I see their point. But the music was really really good! I like the electronica-synth beat and Daft Punk have been doing this for a while. I'd recommend watching the movie and youtubing a few of their songs (start with derezzed:)). Great stuff!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas day with pancakes and waffles!

What better way to celebrate Christmas outside of the USA than with pancakes, waffles and Ikea meatballs. My California friend, Bruce, graciously invited us to his home to have a Christmas day lunch special. I offered to be a cook, so i showed up 2 hours early. About 5 of us, were scrambling around figuring out what to do, how to do it, messing up and doing it all over again. I also think there was plenty of Chef's "food tasting" going around. I think the first 5 pancakes made were devoured. Around noon, people started to pour in. By then we had a table of pancakes, waffles, sausages, meatballs, eggs, fruits, orange juice, milk...everything we missed from home. After that, me and a few others started a game of Monopoly. Bruce went into his room for some guitar hero and what not on his Wii. The rest just socialized around the dinner table. I brought my language partner, Joyce, with. I find it humorous to see her in such an odd "american" environment. I think she enjoys the difference though. So much fun! Can't wait for the next one Bruce, Thank you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hot Pot Christmas dinner party

Today I celebrated Christmas eve with my classmates. We were all invited to Yuki's house after class for hot pot. Her landlord prepared a lot of food for us. Pork, roasted duck, baby carrots, oysters...oh my! We had a great time celebrating together and playing with the landlord's tiny dog. For desert, Yuki made these cute Christmas themed cupcakes. They kind of look like animals trying to escape quicksand. I get to meet such great new friends every semester. I can't wait what new faces i get to meet next semester the way things are going! Haha, great times!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gongguan Billiards

Today, Yuhki and I found a new billiards place within walking distance of our school. It's in the Gongguan district of Taipei. The closest station is Taipower MRT station exit 2. However it is still a good 10 minute walk. The place is on the second floor and has a yellow 9 ball rotating outside. Yuhki thinks the tables are much better at this location. However I think it's a bit more expensive here compared to the Ximen one. But saving on the MRT fare balances it out i guess. On another note, I got my second 100% on the quiz. I'm happy! Finally a 100%, and two of them. I love pairs;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Billiards 撞球

Today, after class, my classmate Yuhki introduced me to his Taiwanese friend, Jerry. They're both into billiards (撞球, zhuàng qiú). So I called up my language partner, Joyce, for a fourth. After a quick dinner, we headed to Crazy Horse at the Ximen night market. Crazy Horse is on the second level through the video rental room, which I think is part of Crazy Horse. The place is rather large. It's filled with about 30 tables, an arcade section, video poker machines, bar and video rental/rooms. The place rents by the table per hour. So after about three and a half hours of play, we called it a day. Cost...only $340 NT. Divided amongst ourselves, it's really cheap! Tuhki thought the tables were alright though. Maybe slightly damaged due to misuse. I had a great time and hope to return. 'Till next time!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Today I had an appointment with the dentist to fill a hole in my molar today. I chipped a metal filling a two and a half weeks ago eating some food. I think there was an accidental seed in there left by the chef. Normally this would be grounds for some major complains to the restaurant. But it is one of my favorite places in California to eat and it's an isolated incident, so I let it go. So I show up on-time for the dentist appointment. One of the rare times I'm on-time haha. My relative, Yoh-yi helped me find and setup the appointment. The dentist is also a family friend. Yoh-yi told me the dentist's office was freshly remodeled and now equipped with state of the art equipment. The dentist was very friendly and took ten minutes out to show us around the new office. It was so modern, organized and pleasantly fragrant with the scent of imported japanese pine. After the tour, we proceeded to the chair to begin the repair. After a quick examination, he told me it was a simple and quick task. We decided to forgo the local anesthetic and proceed. 15 minutes later, he was done. It was so fast. After the initial drilling I thought he was cleaning the cavity and preparing the filling. But instead he was fixing and molding the new filling already. This is the first time in my history that a dental procedure finished before I expected it to! Usually you're wishing it was finished long before it's actually complete. On top of that, I didn't have insurance here in Taiwan, so it had to be all out of pocket. So he also helped me with a generous discount. I do not want to reveal anything specific on who it was or how much I paid in case it may get the dentist in trouble. He is so kind and generous, that I will definitely make an appointment with him again for my next dental need. Hopefully I'll have insurance next time ;). So they were able to see me, give me a tour and repair my filling in 1 hour. I can't even get my photos developed faster than that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taiwanese Christmas party

Today I met up with my uncle (二伯伯). He is my second brother to my dad. We met up at the Taipei Main Station, but had some difficulties finding each other. I always thought of the Taipei main station underground mall, bus station, high speed station and train station as the "Taipei Main Station". But according to him, it's only the big outdoor train (火車) station. I'll definitely have to remember that for next time with him or with anyone else. I must specify the building/section too. This was my assumption and my mistake. I hope he does not think too negatively of me :(. After finding each other, we headed to the second floor of the Taipei Main Train Station. The second floor has many many food venders. The second floor is constructed like a square with an atrium in the center. So you can walk around in a circle deciding on what you want to eat. They have an eclectic selection of food venders catering to what you desire. So if it's too hot or too cold outside and you can't decide what to eat, definitely head to the second floor out of the intemperate weather. You'll find what you want there. I love my Indian spices, so I had some Indian food. MMmmm garlic naan and curry! Afterwards, we said our good byes and I headed over to my taiwanese friend's Christmas party. I think I already said this before, but Taiwanese parties are different. They run on a schedule and have organized activities. Since this was sort of a company Christmas party, there was presentations too. In addition there was also dancing, games/exercise, singing, pot luck and white elephant gift giving (and no alcohol!!). I'll give it to them, it gets everyone involved and there is a lot of participation. However this is a difference in culture that I can't adjust to too well. I feel too pressured to participate in something I'm not really comfortable with. So I still prefer the western culture of people+booze+chatting+loud music. I feel it's more relaxing. Of course if your not proactively social, it might get a little boring. So drink more booze :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Language partner

The school finally assigned me a language partner. And today I met meeting her for the first time. We hung out for lunch and met up with her other friend afterwards. We talked for hours while walking around the 101 Xinyi district. I was afraid my chinese wouldn't be good enough or I'd run out of things to talk about. My other classmates experiences have been on the negative side. They only spend an hour or two and usually part ways when they run out of things to say. So I guess I lucked out and found a new taiwanese friend that I can really get along with. This is a huge plus. She's pretty good at english too. So I can really practice my chinese out of the classroom in a real world situation. Afterwards, I invited my two new friends to my classmates Christmas party. We chatted and drank into the night. She was a little shy with all the english foreigners around, but she handled herself quite fine alone. She also got to get reacquainted with her previous language partner (one of my friends) which was also at the party. Small world! I ended up staying till 1AM. I had to end it early to get some sleep. Due to being an early riser this morning, I didn't get much sleep. So it's been a 28+ hour shindig/drinking/party for me! I still had my book bag from friday and wearing the same clothes because I haven't gone home yet. Exhausted... need rest!

btw this is obviously pre-dated so the blog is on the correct day. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bastille Cafe and a very late night

Today I introduced my classmates to the Bastille Cafe. Yuki and I were talking about bars with a large selection of international beer. She knew of a place at Shida night market with 25 beers. But of course, the Bastille has over 100. :). So she insisted that we return with our classmates after today's class to fully enjoy the beers. We had such a fun time. We talked for hours and had so many different kinds of beers. I wish I had thought of collecting all the bottles for one shot, but I did not. We probably went through 20 bottles. Some strange flavors and some uniquely surprising flavors, like the gingerbread flavored one. Not a strong flavor of course, but it definitely hints at it. It's like wine tasting, but with beer. LOL. It is called Oerbier nat en straf (Belgium).Also Yuki's favorite was pretty light with a hint of sweet. It's called the Belirium tremens aka "The Pink Elephant". Afterwards, I headed over with Fabien to his girlfriend's house to drink some wine and chat and 7-11 food. 7-11 is such a godsend. Open 24 hours and tons of precooked and frozen food. The frozen food they offer to microwave for you too. I wish the 7-11 in the USA was this convenient. Fabien's girlfriend is so lively and fun to be around. More so when she is drunk...maybe...haha. Anyways, I missed the last MRT train so Fabien let me stay over at his place. We called it a night around 4:00AM. I am very grateful for such a generous friend. To good friends and good times!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Five Dime restaurant

Today I went with my aunt Lai to Five Dime restaurant ( It's a restaurant serving chinese food in a very unique building located near the Jiannan MRT station on the brown line. It is very near the Miramar entertainment center. Which by the way I must visit in the future. Anywho, back on topic. Five Dime restaurant is similar to Rainforest cafe, in that it's a theme restaurant. So think of a chinese version of the Rainforest Cafe. The vegetables wasn't bad, but not spectacular either. However I ordered the grilled ordered sirloin in black pepper sauce (黑椒沙朗牛排) and it was tender! The main attraction, however, is the unique architecture outside and on the inside.The outside is carved with spiral stones and multicolored lights all over the place. The inside doesn't have any straight walls and has similar curved and slanted walls like the exterior. They have a large water feature and tons of artifacts scattered about. The place just looks so eccentric! The photos will describe it better than I can with words. This is a great place for parties as well. Most of the tables seem to accommodate between 6-14 people. If your ever in Taipei, this is a fun place to have a meal at while your visiting the Miramar entertainment center. I'm not sure if it get crowded at peak hours because I went during a weekday evening. But it's a definite unique stop. One hint, the front doors open automatically to sound. Clap on (open)!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Curry hot pot (咖哩香香火鍋)

Nothing out of the ordinary today. Chinese class at the MTC as usual. I also paid the remainder of my tuition so I can continue with my current semester's intensive class. Wouldn't want to be kicked out for a mere 7,000 NTD ($210USD). After class, I headed over to the Shipai night market and found a new personal hot pot place (小火鍋). They have curry flavor hot pot (咖哩香香火鍋). I love hot pot and I love curry. So Curry flavored hot pot, you can't go wrong! soo good!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mr. Onion in Tian Mu

Today, I spent another few hours trying to hack the iPhone again. I made the mistake of selecting "Erase All Content and Settings". I think the wording on this was deceiving. I thought it would just clear the apps, music photos and reset all the settings to default. But NO, it wipes the operating system too. Why would there be a visible option to do that? Shouldn't they have made it a hidden option only revealed by a hidden developer known passcode? Anyways, after a few hours of reading through the internet I was able to re-unlock it through the iPad baseband. They say it has GPS issues, but I tested it and it seems to work fine after the jailbreak. So I lucked out. Afterwards, I grabbed lunch with my Aunt Lai at Mr. Onion in Tian Mu. It's near the Tian Mu square and the 6&6 american specialty import store. So while we were waiting for a table, I walked over to the 6&6 store for some Tabasco sauce. The Tabasco was twice the size, but the same price as my local Welcome mart. Also, apparently the 6&6 has a new name, same owner. I already forgot. They should have stuck with 6&6, it was easier to remember. The atmosphere was american country-like. The wood panel walls were adorned with rustic equipment and old porcelain cups and pitchers. After a 30 minute wait, we got a table downstairs.For $700 I got a set lunch with a lot of food. I think it was main course, two appetizers, drink, dessert, soup and a salad. I got a grilled seafood mix. It was delicious, but nothing to blog too much about. Perhaps I should have stuck with the steaks they had on the menu. Continuing on the negative note, the french onion soup was bad and watered down. For a place with the word onion in the name, I thought it would be better. But to end it on a positive note, the escargot was excellent. I finished all the succulent snails and used the bread to sponge up the remaining sauce. MMmmmm good! And we'll leave today's blog at that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Grand Palace - Taipei

Today, I went with my aunt to The Grand Palace for a noodles lunch. They are very famous around Taiwan. Apparently a few of the items on the menu were influenced by the royal families favorite. The noodles are pretty darn good. I'd definitely go again, given the opportunity. Afterwards we spent alot of time looking at flowers at the Shilin Presidential Garden. There were tons of rose bushes there. However, these are not just normal rose bushes. They're unique in that there are 100's of flowers blooming all at once and all growing from a single stem. They are engineered to only grown from one thin stem and of course supported by wire otherwise it would collapse. They trim any branches and only allow it to grow straight. The largest bush there was around 650 roses and the stem it grows from was tiny! Like pencil thickness tiny! Anyways, thats about all I can say. I'm not really into flowers and roses. The garden is definitely large and perfect for a long stroll with a significant other if your looking for ideas and don't mind the crowds. Finally, I got my new camera sd1400is shipped in from the USA. Copper color for the win!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday birthday celebrations!

Today after class me and several of my other classmates and MTC acquaintances went to Ximen's Modern Toilet. One of my favorite places to eat. They were very accommodating. I reserved for 6 people but when more people showed up, they immediately made room for the larger party. Being as the place was already packed, I don't know how they managed that. +1 to them. The food is great as tasty as usual. If your not familiar with Modern Toilet, there is a brief description and pictures in my earlier posts 2-3 months back. I just don't get tired of eating beef curry out of a toilet shaped bowl, sipping yellow tea out of a urinal shaped cup and eating frozen yogurt out of a miniature squat toilet. The toilet humor was abundant. It was also the first time for a lot of classmates to eat here, so I'm privileged enough to introduce them to this. I think they'll come back :). Afterwards, we went to a bar behind Ximen red house (西門紅樓). I forgot the bar name, but it's in the middle and pink colored. There are a lot of bars back there. Tons of open tables too. All outside and some under their own umbrellas, in case it rains. They serve food too. Fortunately we grabbed a table under a huge umbrella, because it did start raining as we predicted. I would have never know this place was behind the red house. Most of the time you see the market in front, then stop when it ends. We chatted it up for a while and drank some too. I had some absinthe (Fruko TW). Tastes like peppermint menthol alcohol. It's some pretty strong stuff too at 140 proof. Here's a quote from wiki "Absinthe has been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. The chemical thujone, present in small quantities, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries including France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire." The dangerously addictive psychoactive drug part has been greatly exaggerated though. Anyways, back to the evening. We talked for several hours. And I mean several. We didn't leave the bar until 3AM. We got hungry, so we decided to head over to the now empty Ximen night market. The 24 hour McDonald's was still open. I bought some taro pies ($25NT). In America, it's normally filled with apple pie. But the taro is unique to the Taiwan market. We continued to chat a little while longer, until 4AM. Then we called separate taxies, because the buses and trains don't run past midnight. I learned about two numbers to use in order to get a 30% discount on cab fare. You dial 55178 or 55688 from your phone and person on the phone asks your location, destination, name, phone number. They then record all the information for next time. So on your second call, they greet you by your name. They assume it's the same destination, so all you have to do is give them your current location. I've taken a taxi from Ximen before and it costs around $340 NT. This time, with the discount, it cost me $210 NT. Awesome! Very useful for staying up late past the bus and MRT schedule. Well it's wayyy past my bedtime!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's my birthday!

Today is my birthday!!! Another year in the pocket. I'm getting old. But no celebrations today, I have a chapter test tomorrow, so only studying. Partying will commence Friday after class. Yeah, such a shame. But I'm here to absorb as much Chinese as possible, so I have to stay focused. I can't wait for tomorrow after class :D

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New semester, new teacher

So it's been about a week since my second semester started. My main concern about the second semester was with my classmates and teacher. Obviously getting along with my classmates and teacher is important, otherwise it'll be a rough ride. First off, the classmates. I've already had a chance to meet them outside the classroom. Last friday we all went out to a cafe/bar and chatted for a few hours. They're a cool gang I could get along with. Although it'll be tough to compete with the three japanese students since they have an advantage on written vocabulary and reading. Teacher-wise, well I guess everyone is going to have a preference to their first teacher. At first, this teacher used a lot of new words not in our chapter, she doesn't split up the chapter into days and she doesn't give handouts of material we're reviewing in class. I can get used to studying the whole chapter in one day. It leaves the rest of the next two days to review grammar and the vocabulary again. With my previous teacher, there was a quiz everyday. I think I've grown to like this new method. The teacher has also calmed down on the new words. She now realizes that it just confuses everyone if she uses too many advanced words not currently in our chapter. So she's toned that down by a lot in the past 5 days. The only scuffle I've had with her is with hand outs. I've asked her if I could get a printed version of her Powerpoints she uses in class. I work better from printouts because they're more straight forward than what the book says. I can study better with them. At first she said she'd be willing to print out any that I ask for. But the second time I asked, she denied me. Other students even tried taking pictures and she said it was copyrighted and they need to pay her. I don't see her issue with helping her student out on such a simple request. She gives lame excuses like saving paper, copyrights and paying her. Technically I have paid, with my TUITION! Am I wrong to be pissed about this?

edit: Teacher now gives me all the handouts I want. I guess she went home and thought it through. She was being a dick about it because it doesn't follow her style and she should do whatever she can to help her students out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dinho Shopping District, Zhongxiao Dunhua

Tonight, a friend introduced me to the Dinho shopping district behind one lane adjacent to the Zhongxiao Dunhua main street. I'm not sure if thats the right name, but it's definitely next to the Zhongxiao Dunhua station. The main road has more name brand items and fancy lights, but this area on the side has more Taiwanese brands and a much more unique style. First off, we had to catch dinner. We ate at Room For Dessert. It's a small restaurant but upscale, roomy, clean and quiet. The food was OK. Only a choice of 6 items from what I can remember. But what they're famous for is their desserts, if the name didn't give it away. They have more dessert options than food options. I can't remember any of the names though. Just saying banana cake or apple tart pastry wouldn't do it much justice. You really have to go there for dessert! Probably after you get done with shopping around the Dinho shopping district. Speaking of shopping, there are tons of tiny independant shops as well as larger Taiwanese name brand clothing shops there. And of course what would any taiwanese shopping area be, without street venders for clothing too. I also finally found the Lomography store. OMG, they have tons of cameras in there. I really want one because they're pretty cheap. Hmmm you'll find out on the blog if I get weak and buy one Haha. I leave you with a google image of a dessert from Room For Dessert that does it justice! See you next entry!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Take that... Apple iPhone 3GS!

So I spent about 8 hours total, yesterday and today, trying to unlock the iPhone 3GS. I brought it to a Taipei cellphone store at Shida and they said they couldn't unlock it because of the OS version. So I brought out both my laptops trying to figure this thing out. My first task was to downgrade the OS firmware to 3.1.3 which is what the cellphone shop requested. After surfing the web and researching and attempting it on the iPhone for a few hours, I gave up. Next as a last hope, I tried the idea of unlocking it myself. After a few hours of research and a couple attempts, I successfully unlocked it. Boy, there are a lot of conflicting or outdated information out there about unlocking/downgrading iPhones! Well in the end, I'm just happy that I got it unlocked. Because otherwise it would be a really expensive paper weight here in Taipei. So after 8 hours of going back and forth between my laptops (one for researching, one for testing/itunes), it's unlocked for my niece to use here in Taipei. @Apple, take your "Think Different" corporate hypocrisy and shove it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Back from America

Just got back from California for my short semester break. The first day I arrived, I had to get dressed for my friend's wedding that same day. The wedding was beautiful and we partied late into the evening. All went without a hitch except for someone dropping their glass of red wine from the second story onto me and my friend talking below. Someone got too drunk to handle themselves correctly! Anyways, the rest of the weekend was a big blur of trying to have lunch/dinner with all my friends as well as getting some chores done. After being in Taiwan for a while I have gotten used to the Taiwanese way of life. Going back really made me see the difference. First off, the entire weekend my stomach was ill due to the change of food. American food really is oily (a different type of oil), fattening and in general felt heavy and filling. By no means do I skimp on the food here in Taiwan, but I just can't eat the same quantities in the USA without getting fat. I think I gained about 3 lbs in just 4 days! Last thing I get to do was drive my Porsche. Man, do I miss driving a high performance car! Of course it wasn't on the PCH, but 30 minutes around the industrial park was fun enough! The roar of that flat-6 accelerating down an empty industrial park at dusk!!! I wish I could bring you back to Taiwan. But alas, time was short and I had to hurry back to SFO for my flight back to Taiwan. See you later California, back to Taiwan!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Taipei Zoo

Today, I went to the Taipei Zoo with my classmates for our last day of class. While some other classes were still in class, we spent the last day chilling out at the zoo and having lunch together. The zoo wasn't as good as San Deigo's, but it was fun none the less. It's still pretty big and had tons of animals. The best part of the zoo are the bad "engrish" translations. They were hillareous. "toilet treasure" and "poower". There were a lot of cute animal and poo pictures everywhere. Thats just weird! Tickets were cheap since we were students, Yay! $250 NT I Think. Till next time!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yehliu park

My friends and I went to the Yehliu park today to do some hiking and photo shooting. Well, we ended up doing some hiking, but spent up all of our daylight exploring the caves on the beach where the tourists don't dare to venture. Last time I was here, I remember just walking the beaten path and taking a picture next to "queen's head". But apparently there are alot more places to venture off the beaten path for some hiking and exploration and photography. Of course, not too dangerous, but definitly no crowds where we were. Our plan was to also visit Jioufen and Jinguashi, but there was no time left. We started the day way too late. So we ended up going to Maokou night market for some dinner. The Parkers definitly enjoyed that too. We're always up for some new food and exploration. Next time, i'll have to allow more time to explore Yehliu park and take more photos. So till next adventure!

Photo by Jeff Parker

Friday, November 19, 2010

Suprise! creepy naked bird girl

Suprise!! creepy naked bird girl! at the Taipei MRT Main Station. It also leeks water from it's head. I don't get it? This piece of art is called Daydream.
Oh and the Rolleicord is fixed. Fresh 120 roll loaded ready for trials.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Huashan creative park 1914

I desided to take my friend out the Huashan creative park. They loved it there. There were lots of old buildings, smoke stacks, wierd lighting, crumbling walls of bricks and boarded up windows. The place definitly attracts the art crowd. While we were there we met a tap dancer, high school dance group and several people setting up a photography art exhibit. It's a public park so it's always open for strolling around at night for a chat or photos. And when your hungry or thirsty, there are a few restaurants to quinch your thirst or fill your belly. Alleycats has brickoven pizza and a fine beer selection. They closed at 11pm but stayed open an extra half an hour for beer patrons. We opted for some coffee, coke and of course beer. But made a mistake of sitting outside. We were eaten alive by mosquitos. I think i'll opt for indoor seating next time.

Photo by Jeff Parker

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 17th, continued...Cafe Bastille

Continuing on in the night with my friends around the Shida night market, we discovered the Cafe Bastille. It's a chill bar with a cool vibe and unique chairs and decoration. The menu has a huge selection of beer, some of the rare variety. Definitly a must visit place in the Shida market to chill out and relax. At the time we went in, they were playing a spanish artsy movie. I couldn't understand the film, but it definitly added to the mood of the place. We were one of 3 groups of partons there. So it made for a nice quiet and relaxing finish to a day. Although I recommend going during off peak hours, I have walked past a few times and have seen the place packed.

Photo by Jeff Parker

Din Tai Fung, Xin Yi rd. (original location)

Today I got a chance to go to the original location of the world famous Din Tai Fung. It's the one where you walk through the kitchen to get to the dining room. Along with my friends from the states, we waited over an hour for a table of four. Despite getting there early at 5:15, there was still a mass of people outside. So if your craving xiaolongbao from the original location show up REALLY EARLY or be prepared with cellphone games and hopefully be waiting with friends. Why would you go alone!? Well...the kitchen is no longer a kitchen. It's now partitioned with a big glass window and there's a small payment counter and a table. One single table for that lucky person that gets to eat in part of the original kitchen. The rest of us get to walk upstairs to the dining room. It's still a very narrow pathway and stairwell. The waitresses come out of a different stairwell that is so steep and narrow, it looks like they're climbing out of a cubby hole from the second floor. Moving on to the food. The xiaolongbao is excellent. It's the same great taste you get from the other locations. So if you could care less about the nostalgic feel and long wait, then by all means seek their other locations. And while your there, you definitly have to try out the red oil wontons (红油抄手). Fantastic!!!

Photos by Jeff Parker

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tamsui Old Street, Danshui

Tonight, I went with my friends visiting from California to Danshui. At first I assumed I have not gone there before, but once I arrived I instantly recognize it from my 2006 visit to Taipei. However in 2006, I visited it with my parents and it was during a summer day. Visiting it during the winter on a weekday evening is a far different experience. It's less crowded and the view at night is spectacular. Danshui really lights up! They place different color lightbulbs in the trees, so the scenery is really multicolor. The addition to the partially foggy backdrop of the dramatic sky, mountains and sea really paints a surreal scene. Walking around and seeing many couples sitting down enjoying the scenery or "each other", makes me think Danshui may be Taipei's romantic getaway spot. After walking around the market, we decided to have dinner at Waterfront. It's a beautiful open air restaurant with open air huts on the seaside. Continuing with the colorful palate of Danshui they had various colored lights illuminating the chairs, ceilings, waterfalls, pathways and trees. Along with the live music and gentle breeze, was the aroma of my dinner coming.I ordered braised pork knuckle on sauerkraut. The skin was crispy and the meat was fall-off-the-bone juicy, smokey and flavorful. The meal also includes a drink (Café au lait 咖啡歐樂 for me) and a dessert cake. All this for $700. Expensive, but not really that bad for what your getting. I would highly recommend Danshui since it's only a MRT ride away and it's 1 minute walking distance from the MRT station. You have no excuse to not visit this colorfully illuminating place!

Photos by Jeff Parker

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rolleicord is in for cleaning

Rolleicord is officially in the shop for cleaning. The shop owner said the lens is pretty clear and should be able to function just fine. The internals just need to be cleaned and re-greased so the shutter timing is accurate. He said it'll take a few days, so i'll check back Monday or Tuesday. I'm so eager to use the Rollei. I'll have to bring the Leica in some other day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chez Jimmy

Today my school homework was very light for the first time since it started. My class has been so good and motivated that we're completing the semester early. We're going into the second book and the teacher informed us we'll be going at a slower pace. So this allowed me some free time today to have lunch with my auntie and family members. We headed to Chez Jimmy which is Taipei famous french restuarant. I've heard of this before today, however I don't quite remember why. The dining area is large and and definitly has the decor of a 4 star restaurant. I ordered a steak. I don't remember what fancy name it had, but it had cheese on top of it and was cooked to perfection at 3/10. In taiwan, they'll ask you how you want it cooked and it's on a scale of 1-10. Typically people will order 三分 or 六分 (3 or 6). I also saw rack of lamb and duck confit on the menu. Each entre comes with a salad bar. Both the meal and the salad bar were excellent. Of course the salad bar having Lox was a huge +1. I haven't had lox for a while, not even in the states. Expect to spend about $1000 NTD each person. But we were waited on hand and foot and the food was excellent. I will be returning with good company!

Back to my uncle's Rollei and Leica. I discovered an old and tiny "hole in the wall" analog camera shop next to Shida University. Walking in there was an old man in a rocking chair to greet me. It's a store that deals with analog stuff so probably not alot of visitors for this digital age. But the old man was holding on despite the fact he probably only gets business about once a week. His face lit up when I started talking to him about folding cameras, Rollei and 120mm film. I'm so glad to have made an old man happy to see the younger generation interested in the old school TLR and medium format 120 film. Through his store front, I saw that he was selling a mint condition Carl Zeiss folding Contessa and a Carl Zeiss Ikoneta. Both dating to the early 50's and very rare. He also had several Hasselblads and Mamiyas and a very special, very rare Rolleiflex SL66. You just don't find that stuff in mint condition! I'll definitly be going back to him for repair and cleaning work as well as 120 film stock. Maybe if my Chinese is good enough, a decent conversation. When I get that Rollei working, I'll take a picture of him in his shop. That would be nice! So here's to meeting new people and discovering new places! Cheers!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Taco Bar, Shida Market (closed)

My friend, Bruce, introduced me to an hidden alleyway at the western side of the Shida night market. It's the first alley way directly accross the way from the main entrance to the chinese side of the Shida night market. Walking down, I saw a Thai and Indian restaurant that I intend to try out. But the purpose of my travel down this hidden alleyway is to go to Taco Bar. It's a small quiant place with limited seating. One quiet and kind asian guy behind a bar cooking up a storm. There are two tightly fit tables, 6 seats at the bar and 1 table outside. With a projector playing Norah Jones on the not so distant wall accross the room, we took the first table for four. Three of them were my friends of previous acquintance, but the forth one was new. He's from Guatemala. This is really such a great reason to come learn at Shida MTC. There are so many students from all around the world. I have met more people from different countries in the past 3 months than I have in my entire lifetime. You never know who you'll meet and from what country their from. Back to dinner. The Taco Bar is noteworthy because I've been searching for a decent mexican place in Taipei for a while. Finally, I've found it. Prices range from $90-$130 NTD. The atmostphere is great and the food is excellent. You must try the mexican rice, even though it does take about 20 minutes to cook. They have ceviche too, but that needs a 24 hour advanced notice. The only down side is the small size, but I will definitly come back and try out the ceviche and other entres. Of course, I can't just eat one of everything in one seating, haha! 'Till next time readers!

Edit: Permanently Closed!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Viva la Analog!

So today I decided to go to my cousin's house, the Chengs. I haven't seen them in a while and I wanted to treat them out for dinner. Due to scheduling, the best I could do is dinner with them at home. Which is fine with me. Dinner with them is always very conversational and fun. I enjoy every visit I have with them. Yoh-Yi as I call her, has helped me out so many times here in Taipei. But the big story of the day are the cameras. Mr. Cheng had these old cameras that have been in storage for 30+ years, possible 40. The 1965 Leica M3 Rangefinder was pretty corroded, however it seems the 1953 Rolleicord III faired pretty well. The Rollei's focusing mirror is definitly gone though, but it's still usable since it's only for viewfinding. The Leica seems to have a broken filter and lens.However I'm hoping only the filter is broken and rusted on. That's why you always put a standard UV filter on your lens, it'll save your expensive lens behind it when dropped. Anyways, I feel special to be able to take on the task of bringing these antiques back to life and putting them to good use again. If it isn't obvious, I'm interested in photography. So getting to know these old relics will definitly teach me new things. I already take for granted autofocus and light metering. Both of which will have to be done manually compared to my fancy digital Canon SLR. Now to find some medium format 120 film and let my readers see Taipei through an antique lens.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Evans Burger

Finally got around to trying out a burger at Evans Burger. They serve salads, hot dogs, chicken burgers, fish burgers... I had a chili burger with jalapenos. I love japapenos in my burgers haha! Overall, It was ok. Pretty good for Taiwan, so-so for an american burger. The meat could be thicker. Despite not asking for how I wanted my burger cooked, it still came medium rare. And it is definitly cheaper. $240 NTD for a burger, 4oz of fries and free refillable soda. There was a line there, but the wait wasn't too long. The atmosphere was like a TGIF and is a great place to hang out for a while chatting (聊天) away with friends. I didn't have my camera again this time, so this is from my iPhone. So...sure, I'd come back with a few friends. Yummy burgers!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jolin Tsai and Fahrenheit

Well I didn't want to mention this in Sunday's blog because it didn't seem to fit anywhere. But during mid afternoon, wandering around Ximending killing time, I happened upon two events/concerts going on. Jolin Tasi and Fahrenheit was there on the same day. Two of the most popular taiwanese musicians. They're apparently the hot celebrity musicians on Taiwan. Since I'm not really in Taiwan music YET, I wasn't too interested. But pretty cool none the less. I took a photo, but I didn't bring my telephoto lens. Just another day in Taipei :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Farewell Nico!

Today after class, everyone headed to Cash City hot pot. It was a great place and very near to the Taipower MRT exit! Clean and large, easily accomodating a party of 8+. $230 for a meat (cow, 牛肉) dish and all the vegetable fixings too. There are cheaper options and different meats too. Food was excellent and plentyful. There are four kinds of free juices including Yakult icey :), my favorite. Six kinds of soda and Free choco/vanilla/strawberry ice cream. Excellent hot pot place that I will be returning to with other friends. We didn't take any pictures tonight, but I will share some from last night's farewell dinner (part 1 i guess). Nico (Su Ming) will be missed and we all said our heart felt goodbyes for the last time as we slowely parted ways walking towards the MRT station. Some of us are planning to stay for a while. Su Hoai will be here for 1 year, Arturo (Li Ke) for 5 years, Florian (Ra-an) possible permanently and I possible 9 more months or even also permanently. We'll see. But it really is a dream for Nico to return and study Chinese again in Taiwan, or permamently move here with his girlfriend. So I hope i'll still be here too, to welcome him back to Taiwan with a friendly and familiar face. Being friends with you has significantly contributed to my positive experience here in Taiwan. See you soon, bro!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

XinSheng electronics mall

Today I headed over with Momoko to the Xinsheng electronics mall. She needed an external DVD burner. I also met up with Jason to pick up my flash color correction kit for my camera. All three of us browsed around the mall for a good hour or two trying to find the cheapest price. Momoko ended up with a cool pink External DVD burner for $1290 NTD. Afterwards, I was hungry and we found a local tiny shop and ate a plate of You Fan (油飯). Directly translated, oil rice. It's the same content inside of a ZongZi (粽子), but without the bamboo leaf wrap. And for people that don't know what Zongzi is, it is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings (peanuts, fatty pork, mushroom, egg yolk) and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. Next Momoko and I hung around Ximending shopping and killing time with alittle homework at the big Ximending Starbucks. At 7, we met up with most of our classmates to have dinner with Nico aka Su Ming at Watami Ximending. He had cancelled his classes and will be heading back to Germany. He has been struggling to balance both work and chinese class. But he determined that his work was a higher priority and we all understand that. We all wish him good luck and hopes that he will come back to Taiwan, where we will be greeting him with friendly arms.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Movie Scarethon

Today, in the spirit of Halloween, me and a few of my classmates had a horror movie marathon. Everyone brought their own food, snacks and drinks and movies. I contributed the first movie, Daybreakers. Which by the way, was pretty good! Not exactly horror, but maybe alittle scary and definitly action packed and bloody! Next Momoko contributed Ringu. It's an older japanese movie about a cursed video tape. Once you watch it, you'll get a phone call informing you, you'll have 1 week to live. Then at the end of the week, a creepy dead girl will crawl out of the TV and kill you. 3 of us got a phone call after the "video" was played in the movie. Really! Of course it wasn't the dead girl calling, but perfect timing. Haha! After watching Ringu, we took an intermission for dinner. The 5 of us, went out for a family style hot pot. We walked around the neighborhood and found a hole in the wall family restaurant. The place was disorganized, loud and full of laughing and smiling faces with little children running around the table. A real "family" taiwanese hole in the wall joint. So of course the meal was not only fun and delicious, but super cheap. One big hot pot, four side dishes of meat for $160 NTD person. With our stomaches full, we headed to my favorite local tea shop and got drinks. Of course, I got my Yakult icey. Back at the house, "Kiwi" Andrew contributed the next movie, The Social Network. OK, it's not a scarey movie, but it does have Justin Timberlake in it. ok ok, we really just wanted to end it on a high note and not be freaked out walking back home late at night through empty train stations or dark Taiwanese alleys. It was really fun and I got alot of requests to host another one!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crispy, fried and spicey chicken!

Pretty much most markets have this. But the only one I see a line for is the one at the Shilin night market. I don't know what the chinese name is for it, but the company that cooks it, is Hot Star Large Fried Chicken. They're not kidding about large. For $45NT, I got a massive foot-long breaded chicken cutlet. Despite the bones you have to pick out, it is heart pounding artery clogging crunch-fest. At least for me, it was so good and felt so heavy in my stomach, I dare not try it again. But that doesn't stop the 50+ people lining up for this every night.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hsinchu day trip

Today I returned to Hsinchu, Taiwan to visit my neice again. I didn't have plans today nor did I have any time constraints this time. So I headed down after doing some homework early staurday morning as well as some on the train. I met up with Lucy and Hatuyen in front of Ching Hua University. From the Hsinchu HSR station, I used the #2 free shuttle bus and should have gotten off on the second stop. But the bus listed it as the third stop. So I got off 1 stop later and had to take a $100 NTD cab ride 3 blocks. haha! I'll know for next time. We had some lunch at a japanese restaurant with a beautifully designed interior. Afterwards, we hiked around a large university on our way to 18 peaks. But Hatuyen had a dinner meeting and it was getting close to dinner. So we killed off the rest of our time walking around the Hsinchu Science park. It's a nice place to hang out, read a book, snap photos or go jogging. Afterwards we joined up with my cousin and aunt to eat some Chengdu hot pot. Yes, the one with a wall split down the middle to seperate the two flavors. We had mongolian hot pot (東北酸菜火鍋) with chinese sauerkraut (suān cài, 酸菜) and Szechuan or má là (麻辣). Soo good! [Warning, bad iPhone photo, I didn't have my camera with me] I just can't find a personnal hot pot place around Taipei that has the má là flavor. Afterwards, with a full stomach, we all headed back to my cousin's home and let our dinner sink in aka relaxed in the living room. After a crappy cold, rainy and windy (typhoon) past few days, I was so content with some hiking in the sun and a satifying dinner. ahhhhh! See you readers next time.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Today I paid my tuition for the coming up Winter semester and went to the Taiwan Immigration Office to get my Visa extended. I could only get it extended to Dec. 4th, 2010 and must return again before Dec. 4 with the same 3 paperwork to extend to January 18th. I'm sure there was some sort of mix up. But the guy behind the counter said thats all I could extend it to, and I won't be able to get a ARC card either. Basically i'd have to leave the country. This doesn't sound right. This means it isn't possible to stay in Taiwan for more than a 6 month period to study at a school. Either way, at least it buys me time to straighten things out since my 90 day visa end Oct. 22 (in 4 days). Or even just get my citizenship and throw the whole stupid student visa/ARC crap out the window. While waiting for my ticket number to be called, it really occurs to me that I love living in Taiwan more than the first day I arrived. I've been told that 3 months is the honeymoon period, so to say, for your emotions to wear out. By 3 months, most people would start missing "home" and have regrets. So I'm still as happy and motived as I was day 1. I still wake up every day loving where I am, what i'm doing, and even going to class. I love learning Chinese. My wish is to continue into a 3rd or 4th semester or however long it takes me to be fluent in reading/writing/speaking/listening. I have no regrets and I have no longing for my american home, Taipei is my new home!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The planets align

Again, I've been told that I have the best teacher at Shida University. She's concurrently working on her Thesis and teaching our class. She's certainly one of the more accomplished teachers at our school. And I have heard from other students in other classrooms that their peers are not as diverse and their teacher isn't quite as organized or helpful. And it's almost unanimous that Shida University's MTC chinese program may be the best in the world. Taiwan is also one of the best cities to be in, in my honest opinion. I had the option of Beijing since they are considered the neutral chinese accent, but it definitly doesn't compare to Taipei's city life. So I cherish this rare occasion when all the planets have aligned. I have the best teacher at the best Mandarin university program, with the best and most diverse classmates, in the greatest & liveliest city in the world. It does not get better than that!

Friday, October 15, 2010

House Warming Party!

Tonight I was invited to a classmate's (Florian) house warming party. It's not his house, but his girlfriend's newly purchased condo in Taipei city. They seem very happy with each other and very close. It wouldn't suprise me if they got married soon, and I'm happy for them. Further on in the evening, we started to get into a deep conversation about how great Taiwan and asian culture really is. The chinese really have raised their children to be honorable, respectful, responsible and driven. It's normal for a teen to be taking night school after school as well as summer school in the summer. The educational culture is far more advanced and demanding compared to America. And the fact that Taiwan has very little crime that the news has to exaggerate minor crimes just to makes things interesting. And in a city so dense with people, there is hardly any litter. Taiwan doesn't even have many trash cans. Thats one thing I have to complain about, I can't find a trash can when I need one. Yet, the streets are clean. In America, we're so lazy, our trash doesn't even make it to the bin because we're too lazy to walk the extra 10 feet. In addition, the Taiwanese people are so helpful and kind. Many times, I've seen citizens give up their seats to an elderly or handicapped person, help an old lady accross the street, pick up and return someone's wallet, take 5 minutes to walk a lost stranger to their location. Every day makes me love Taiwan even deeper. It's awesome here!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fatty Pork Gua Bao (Taiwanese burger)

Tonight I discovered a Gua Bao(刮包) stand in the Shida night market. It's on the first wing to your left when you enter via the main entrance. I remember my parents always ordering this at restaurants in the states. They had four flavors i think, but I'm not sure. I stopped him at fatty pork(肥肉). The steamed bun was soft and fragrant. The pickled vegetables were crunchy and sour. The fatty pork was hot, soft and fatty! The way it should be. I think there was also some sweet peanut(Huāshēng, 花生) paste in there too. But I think they forgot the cilantro. Isn't Gua Bao supposed to have some cilantro? Anyways, It was still very delicious for only $45 NTD ($1.20 USD). féi ròu guā bāo 肥肉刮包.

Monday, October 11, 2010

RT Mart aka Taiwanese Walmart

So a friend introduced me to RT Mart today. It's like a Taiwanese version of Walmart. Big, lots of variety and at cheap prices because they have a lot of turn around. Although it is somewhat hidden behind some buildings on Lane 312, Section 2, BaDe rd. I finally found some disinfecting wipes for the house. Something I was not able to find at your my local Welcome or Watsons or 7-11 or Cos-Med. Oh and I was able to find Vanilla mint and Orange Listerine. No need to import from the USA. Right before the checkout stand, we found the snack isles. Four to fie isles to be exact. One for japanese candy, one for american candy and chips, one for traditional chinese... NO need to go further once you find the japanese isle haha. Meiji, Glico, Lotte oh my! I couldn't go home without bring some back. A chocolate Koala here and a strawberry Pocky there. Total $55 NTD for both or $1.60 USD! So cheap! These are so expensive in the states.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Takoyaki!!! They usually sell this all over the place, but it's not taht easy to find. This one was from Shida night market, but i definitly saw it at Shilin night market too. The one at Shilin tastes better though. According to my japanese classmate, it's not the traditional way of serving it either. The Shilin one doesn't include Nori seasoning, while the Shida one does. But both offer wasabi sauce which is a big No-No (Sacrilege!). I'm still not sure which one I prefer more, so I'll just have to eat try it again, over and over. Lucky me! Takoyaki!!!

OKso the picture isn't that good, you can't see the takoyaki underneath all those bonito flakes. If i get a better picture later, I'll replace it :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Coconut raisin delicious!

I was alittle hungry for some taiwanese pastry this morning. Taiwan has alot of pastry shops all over the place with lots of varieties. More than you'll find at a local Sheng Kee bakery in the states. So I found this coconut raisin buttery goodness for $25 NTD (80 cents USD). If I find any more notable ones I'll post it up.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kaohsiung, part 2

On Sunday we headed over to the Zuoying Lotus pond. Well actually it wasn't sunday, but I forgot the order I visited it since I'm writing this on Tuesday. The lotus pond was a cool sight to see. There are all these temples along the water with elaborate animal and buddha statues. One really really big buddha. A pair of animals, tiger and dragon, large enough to for you to walk through. If your visiting Kaohsiung, this is a definite stop. And while your using the MRT trains, stop by some of the famous stations that exibit art. Like the dome of lights at the Formosa Blvd station and the Central Park station courtyard.
While talking to some of the other people we met at our hostel, they suggested Shousan mountain (壽山). This mountain is known to have many macaque monkeys that are very familiar with humans and get very close. They even heckle with tourists for food. So keep your wallets and food close and secure. We got to the mountain and found it to be much more unpaved and steeper than we thought. Towards the peek, it was pretty much climbing, not hiking. Worst of all, we didn't see any monkeys, which was the whole point. Perhaps we got the wrong trail.
This trail was very narrow, dangerous, steep and we only saw a few people along the way. Not very easy going and touristy. We climbed it for about 2 hours and I was sweating buckets. After getting back down the mountain, we headed over to the Kaohsiung fisherman's warf for lunch. They have alot of nice and reasonable priced restaurants along the waterfront. We chose a greek restaurant since it was the first one open at that late of a lunch hour. After that, we headed over to the Former British Consulate at Takao. It too, like the lighthouse, has a great view of the harbour, but from the opposite side. It's apparently a very popular place to be as it was busy with visiters and mainland China tour groups. There's a large cafe in the courtyard out back and offers a stunning view. We stayed there to watch the sunset over the pacific ocean (or South China Sea). And with the sunset, I conclude this day's blog. See you next time.