Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Formosa, Smith and Hsu

1/17/10 -- Today was an idyllic Sunday for sure. As I woke up today I hurried to the Golden Formosa Restaurant for a family gathering. The occassion? My aunt Shirley wanted to rehearse the Chinese New Year's Eve. While I have never been enthused about having to rehearse anything at all ever in my life, I did welcome this very rehearsal with all my heart.

We arrived at the restaurant to find two tables waiting for us, so I figured the luncheon would be attended by 20 folks or so. Cousin Ying Ying's daughter Keli was already waiting there. Everyone soon arrived and the food came on in robust amount and lightening fast speed.This was my first time visiting the Golden Formosa Restaurant, even though it has been in the Tianmu District for about 30 years. I have to say I'm quite impressed with the orderly service, and the rather joyful ambiance. The food was good too. My only question would be whether the dishes that we will have on New Year's Eve would be exactly the same as we had it today--if so, I guess the rehearsal spoiled the fun!!

After going home to rest a bit, cousin Jane and her fiancee Murphy decided to meet up with me in Tianmu for a rare get-together. We didn't have enough time to talk during lunch and thought it would be nice to catch up a bit! Smith and Hsu opened up in Tianmu recently and so I suggested we went there. Well! What a lovely afternoon tea we had. In the stark and industrial looking cool toned room, we finished the entire high tea set. Everything was really delicious; the service was acceptable--not great, but acceptable.

Just here in Tianmu area we have so much to choose from. I definitely find this part of town convenient and fun!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Taipei the City of Cultural Activities, WOW

1/16/10 -- Today I went with Friend S to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park, to visit with Mr. Chang Yun-Ming, an artist who is holding his oil painting exhibit that opened today.

This was my first time visiting the Huashan Creative Park. I was curious to see such a historic-looking complex with chic restaurants, exhibits, boutiques and artifacts booths all in one place. On a Saturday night the crowd seemed happy and at leisure. Music flowed from the stage with the band playing. The aroma of popcorn and pizza from nearby eateries filled the air.

We found the building where the exhibit was held. This lovely complex used to be the Taipei Huashan Wine Factory, which was part of the government monopolized alcohol and tobacco bureau. The gallery we were headed to was the fruit wine distillery.

Mr. Chang's lovely daughter was sitting with a group of cheerful visitors who came to the opening of the exhibit today. She greeted S and myself and we three sat and chatted for a long while. Mr. Chang later joined us and we had a nice time chatting about his work, his creative process, and the life of an artist.

Mr. Chang is apparently very prolific. The works exhibited numbered about 40, and they are all very different, yet all very charming. Some are realistic, others are abstract. Yet some others are impressionistic. I saw a few that were quite Fauvist-like and several that remind me of Paul Klee in their humorous composition.

This was certainly a very pleasant surprise as I had not expected to find such a cute corner in Taipei.

While online just now, Friend Y told me about the Taipei Film House. I checked out the website. Turned out this is the former American Embassy in Taipei! It is now a movie theater that plays artsy and indie films. I am going to go check it out soon.

Nice to know there are such impressive cultural venues in my city.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cold Weather??

1/5/10--Having been acclimated to the weather in San Francisco and previously Washington DC, I practically never feel cold in Taipei. You see, what is considered a cold front here is around 5 degrees Celcius. That's a bit cold, for sure; but it's not skiing jacket weather. It's very tough to be walking around in what I feel is "weather appropriate attire" for me, in Taipei, in my own opinion. While everyone else is bundled up in heavy clothing, I'm usually perfectly comfortable in short-sleeve t-shirt or just a very thin jacket. However, the hazard of doing so is not so much as to catch a cold, but rather everyone will ask me whether I'm cold, why I'm not cold, how come I don't want to put on a coat...I ended up having to answer these questions many times, to the point of reaching irrability boiling point!

So the strategy I have developed is as follows:

To the question: "Sue, how come you're not cold?" My answer is: "Fine! Thank you!!"
To the question: "How come you're wearing so little?" My answer is: "Fine! Thank you!!"
To the question: "Aren't you cold?" My answer is: "Fine! Thank you!!"
To the question: "PUT ON A COAT!" My answer is: "OK! Thank you!" and proceed to walk away.

So far so good! It works just fine! And everyone is happy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Yoga All Over Again...

1/4/10--It is my new year resolution for 2010 to lose weight (oh, cliche, but hey) and exercise daily. As such I started my yoga lessons again. Today, at the basic yoga studio, we had to do this pose which was...challenging, to say the least. This here is the Eagle Pose. We also did a few other poses that focused on balance and core muscle strength. I can only say I must be very out of shape because I'm TIRED!!

That said it's good to exercise and I do feel less achey compared to yesterday. Well, diligence and perseverence are the keys...I hope my yoga efforts continue!!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

1/3/10: I do like going to a movie from time to time. But all that everyone wants to see these days are the disaster movies (2010) and sci-fi (Avator) and the one I really had my eyes on was Sherlock Holmes. Well, after asking around for an entire week, finally I found Friend K who would go with me!!

We started w/ hotpot in Shihlin, then the quintessential girly thing to do in Taipei--hair wash, neck+shoulder massage and styling. After that, we ventured out to Tianmu where we headed for the Shingkong Mitsukoshi Department Store. The great thing about this department store is that it is conveniently located and it's got a 13-screen cineplex right in the building.

We got our seats, got the coffee from the *$ across the street, and enjoyed the next two hours of mindless entertainment. The best thing about going to a movie is that one can lose oneself in the story completely and resurface in the real world with a bit more imagination and some pretty neat new ideas. I would love going to movies more if I had the time...especially in Taipei there're so many more theaters that play movies from around the world, rather than just Hollywood productions. Well, that said, today we did go to a Hollywood production.

Sherlock Holmes was a good movie with enough suspence to keep me at my toes throughout. The cast did a good job and I have always liked reading Sherlock Holmes and the setting of 19th century London. It was certainly a good 2 hours of fun.

The next movie I want to go see would be the Japanese animation of "Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva", which should be playing at the same Miramar theater in Tianmu soon. So glad all these movie theaters are so close to me now!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Family Luncheon and More Fun to Come

1/2/10--Not that I haven't visited the Night Market just the night before w/ Jerome, but this morning I'm waking up to yet another big meal ahead! Lunch with Ma's side of relatives at Leo Fu Hotel's Buffett. OH GOSH. Yet another big production--all-you-can-eat, lotsa people. I braced myself.

Mom and I were the first to arrive and very soon everyone was there. The 28 of us were in a room separately from all the other Buffett diners. It was good to see all the cousins, aunts and uncles. Just as we were settling down to our meal, Dad's brother Uncle William showed up...we were wondering how he was invited to Mom's side's family event. But it turned out he was here to attend another party and the hotel ushered him to the wrong table, since both reservations were made by "Mrs. Wun". Uncle William and some of Dad's sister Aunt Tsui-Mei's children and grand children were sitting on the far end of the same buffett restaurant. All these relatives quickly started intermingling with each other, catching up, saying hello, extending New Year wishes. It was a very busy lunch with lots of walking around for sure!

After lunch I rushed on to the Toastmasters meeting, and then on to dinner w/ my cousin Jerome again. Jerome and I met up at the Jiantan Station, but we decided to venture out to the Shida neighborhood off of the Taipower Building MRT Station area. Friend R nicely provided much needed information on where to go...we went to the Red House where we had a bottle of wine on the balcony overlooking the rainy yet busy Shida Road. Following yesterday's VERY LARGE FRIED CHICKEN, I decided to treat Jerome to some more fried bits. We stopped at a salty-crunchy chicken stall, where I bought some more fried bits of food for Jerome. He devoured them in no time, and swore to introduce the fried bits to the general Canadian public. Fried food. So bad for you but so good to eat. What more do I need to say.

After Shida, at Jerome's insistance, we went on to Ximen area for a drink. Ximen was the place to be when I was little--I am quite surprised it's been regentrified and there are so many chic little stores here, especially inside the Red House Building (how come there are so many "red houses" in Taipei?) Jerome seems to have come here before b/c it's close to Uncle Sidney's office. Instead of me leading the way, he lead me to this outside cafe where we sat and I relaxed over drinks and chit chatted about, oh, family stuff, enjoying a cousinly good time. The people at the bar were very friendly and they were curious about Jerome since he speaks no Mandarin but only Taiwanese and English. We ended up chatting with the Waiter Amis for a really long time before heading back home on the very last MRT train.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Afternoon with Jerome

1/2/10--After the lunch my Canadian-Born cousin Jerome who is visiting Taipei for 10 days decided to bestowe me with the honor of taking him around for some fun time hanging out. We headed to Tianmu first. I dropped by Tianmu Sogo to pick up some Beard Papa's cream puffs, to take with us to Mr. Lin's tea house.

At the tea house we devoured the delicious puffs. Mr. and Mrs. Lin who treated me as usual with such wonderful tea also agreed that the cream puffs were delicious, and they go with the tea so well! Jerome and the Lins chatted in Taiwanese which was hilarious for me to's good to see the Lins on the first day of the New Year.

After tea we went up the street and there the handsome carpet dealer Mian stopped me and greeted me happily as we haven't seen each other since my office moved down to nearing the Shih-Lin MRT station. Mian spent many months in London but now he's back in Taipei. He and Ilias were busy rolling the carpets and sorting the inventory so we just briefly said hello and parted ways. Mian said he would take me and V out for dinner. I'm certainly looking forward to that! Dinner invite already on the 2nd of the New Year!

We went on to the Shih-Lin Night Market, where Jerome bought a set of mahjong at my recommendation as presents for Stan and Sara. Then, we went around the night market and had: LARGE FRIED CHICKEN, bitter melon juice, fried fish cake, shredded ice with red bean and pudding topping, sausage stuffed with basil, and pork and cabbage buns. Jerome also bought a scarf and a belt. I helped bargain a little bit successfully. OH! How I love the night market!!!!!

We stopped at Ikari Coffee where I had my first cup of coffee of the day (ha!) before parting ways. Jerome and I knew we had another big meals ahead of us...yet we still ate until we were about to pop. I don't know how I'm going to carry out my rather cliche but necessary new year resolution of losing some more weight...