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!