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What prompted me to think about this topic all of a sudden? Well, Jian had been away on a family emergency for one week (he’s back home today), & that gave me a lot of quiet time to think about different aspects of my life. I was also able to focus more deeply & observe things in my life that I usually let slide by, in my state of comfort & complacency. Since Jian had been away, one thing I noticed was that I was actively trying to go to bed earlier than I normally do when he’s around. I have a tendency to stay up later at night when Jian’s around because I always allow everyone else in my house to get ready for bed first, & I’m most often the very last person to use the shower, which makes me late getting into bed.

This time, I actively tried to get ready for bed sooner, so I wouldn’t have to spend so much late night time getting ready, & I’d have more free time to lounge around in bed before sleeping. I’ve also recognized a few other things, like lifestyle habits, that pretty much contradict each other. Here I’ve broken down a list of the most apparent contradictions that I feel like I could work on changing as this year progresses.


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I’ve already talked about this in my post intro, but I’d like to expand on it a little bit here. This has always been a bad habit of mine for a very, very, very long time. Even when I was working at my stereotypical 9 to 5 office desk job, I would stay up late watching videos on YouTube & futzing around on my laptop (I didn’t have a tablet at that time), even though I knew I had very precious little time to sleep before waking up at the crack of dawn to catch my early morning subway to get to the office on time. I thought I was being clever by taking naps on the subway, but looking back on it, I know that I was just burning my candle at both ends. I wasn’t getting actual proper sleep, & napping only helped me from nodding off in my office cubicle. Not to mention, I didn’t even notice that my skin’s complexion was looking frighteningly dull, & I was forming nasty dark circles & bags around my eyes.

I’m not quite sure why I like to stay up late at night. I think the inner child inside of me is trying to rebel from going to sleep at a reasonable hour…like I’m a teenager again fighting my parents’ bedtime curfew. I know it doesn’t do my body any good, but I somehow don’t feel sleepy before midnight.

On the flip side, I don’t mind waking up early. Ever since I had to wake up at 5am every morning for my office job, I’ve been used to waking up early. I still try to wake up early-ish these days, but it’s the getting out of my bed part that I still need to work on. I will set my alarm for an early morning time, & then when my alarm goes off, I spend quite a bit of time lounging about in bed until the last minute when I’m supposed to actually get up, get dressed, & get going with my day.

I set at least 3 to 4 alarms on my smartphone to wake me up in the morning. I just do not trust the snooze button. Also, I don’t want to have to hit the snooze button 4 or 5 times before I actually get up in the mornings. I like to set each of my alarms with different ringtones, so it forces me to actually wake up, pick up my smartphone, & physically check my phone. This pushes my brain to “wake up” as well, so I’m not letting myself stay in that half-asleep, half-awake mode that will always lead to me falling back to sleep when I’m really supposed to be getting out of bed & getting dressed.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed out of all of this, it’s this: I really enjoy lounging about in my bed, snuggled under the warm sheets while wearing my super comfortable & soft pajamas. If I had the opportunity to slack off, I could easily spend hours playing on my tablet while laying in bed, day or night. Though, I’m happy to report that I’m slowly breaking myself away from these types of bad habits. Like I said before, while Jian was away, I forced myself to get ready for bed sooner, so I can hop into bed at an earlier hour, & I have been actively pushing myself to sit up when I wake up in the morning. That way I won’t have the urge to just lay there like a dead fish out of water for the better part of the morning.


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I guess this is a good time to segue into bed making. I mean, it’s the first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning, even before I brush my teeth or put on my clothes for the day. It’s one habit that I’ve trained myself to do, which is to make my bed every single morning even if I’m running late. Of course the OCD side of my personality can’t stand to see an unkempt, unmade bed. (It looks so sloppy!) So, I force myself to make my bed first thing in the morning to get that task out of the way. I once read an article in a Scandinavian mindfulness magazine, where they stated as one of their points of mindfulness is to make your bed every morning. It will give you a feeling of accomplishment & happiness, & when you get home from work, you will feel good because that’s one chore you don’t have to do on top of the hundred other chores you have to do when you get home. I feel very happy when I see my fully made bed every time I walk into my room, not only because I’ve ticked off one less chore on my to-do list, but because every time I walk past my room I feel like my room looks clean & tidy.

Even though I say all these wonderful things about making the bed in the mornings, I don’t actually enjoy the act of making the bed, mostly because Jian is the kind of sleeper that likes to toss & turn throughout the night, & that means that the bed sheets like to pull up at the corners, or they twist & turn. Even when I’m sleeping, I like to have my sheets arranged in an orderly fashion. I like all of the bed corners to be folded & tucked  tightly, & I like the top edges of my sheets & blankets to be as straight as possible. I don’t move around as much when I sleep. I notice this by how every morning I wake up with a crick in my shoulder or lower back from sleeping in one position for too long.

Making my bed every morning feels like a total drag, especially when I have to keep walking around the bed to re-straighten the sheets & re-tuck all the corners again. I try to rush when I’m doing this task, but it always ends up taking me more than 5 minutes to get the bed looking decent. On the other hand, I don’t have any issues or gripes with putting on new bed sheets. I guess my brain is tricking me into thinking that I’m making the bed from scratch. The mattress is bare, & I can now arrange the sheets exactly how I like it without having to go back & forth to tug & straighten the rumpled sheets. Plus, when you put on fresh new sheets on the bed, the sheets feel crisp, wrinkle free, & the elastic around the fitted sheet feels tight again. It’s like covering a bowl with a new roll of plastic wrap instead of covering it with a plastic tarp.


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Let’s transition from clean sheets to clean clothes, shall we? Oh, I love washing laundry: pre-treating stains, pre-soaking, the whole shebang. I consider myself an expert in washing clothes. I pretty much have taken over all control of the washer & dryer in my house. When anyone in my household has a laundry issue, they always consult me first before doing any of the washing themselves. I pride myself in doing a mean load of laundry. I pretty much wash all of the laundry in my household.

Buttttt… I will say that I loathe folding the clothes after they’ve been washed. I will do it, of course, but not without a lot of groaning & whining. I try to make this task a little less boring by throwing all the piles of freshly washed clothes on top of my bed, & turn on the TV while I’m folding everything. I’ll sometimes try to time myself to see if I can finish folding the large mound of just-out-of-the-dryer clothes before the movie I’m watching is over. Doing this makes me more motivated to fold faster. If I don’t give myself this challenge, then what could’ve originally taken me less than 30 minutes to do will end up taking an hour or more to do because I’ll get distracted &  try to do other things in-between folding all the clothes.

This is especially true if I have to fold a ton of t-shirts & women’s underwear. Why do men’s t-shirts always get misshapen after one wash? It’s like they’ve all got one higher shoulder than the other. Also, why is it so hard to fold those little scraps of triangle lace? The lace always wants to curl, & will never fold straight.


 

I would not consider myself to be a chef or a cook in any capacity. I did take a proper Home Economics class in high school where we learned about food prep, kitchen safety, & hot to follow a few simple recipes. However, I can’t say that I’m a very good cook. I would say as much as that I am proficient in the kitchen. I can boil water without burning the pot. I know the difference between ‘dice‘ & ‘julienne‘. That doesn’t mean I can cook Sunday roast chicken dinners with all the fixin’s. I can cook simple pasta dishes & a few varieties of one-pot stews/soups. I can also cook up a few simple stir fry dishes (like Asian fried rice dishes). I can even bake a sweet treat every now & again…but then again, I just don’t have the passion for cooking like most people do.

Take Jian, for instance. He’s very passionate about cooking. He loves creating new flavors & experimenting in the kitchen. He also loves to follow recipes he’s read about on the internet, written by some celebrity chef du jour from some new hipster restaurant. Jian can take random leftovers from the fridge & make new & inventive dishes out of those items. As for me, I enjoy cooking from time to time, but it’s not a real interest or passion of mine. My general approach to cooking is based out of necessity. I cook when I am asked to fulfill a request or favor by my household, you know, to let others take a break from cooking everyday. Sometimes, I get this creative food idea in my head, & that inspires me to volunteer my cooking services, but mostly I cook when I’m asked to.

On the flip side, I’m great at cleaning up the table after dinner. I can easily & confidently say that I’m the best dish washer in all the land. Yes, washing dishes is my kitchen specialty. It’s an extremely boring chore, but I’d rather scrub food scraps off of pots & pans than to prep & cook a full meal. Just like my enjoyment of washing laundry, I like to wash the dishes in exchange for food. Usually my mom cooks, mostly because she doesn’t like other people making greasy messes in her kitchen, but also because she’s always trying out new recipes she’s clipped from all of her old magazines. In turn, I help her not only set the table & wash the dishes after each meal, but I also help her clean the kitchen from floor to ceiling. I’d say that’s a pretty good trade off.


This is slowly becoming a burning blog post about how much my OCD personality rears it’s incredibly neat, yet ugly head. All I ever talk about is how much I enjoy cleaning the house & doing mundane everyday chores. Like in this section, I am talking about how I don’t mind vacuuming the house. I mean, it brings me joy & a huge sense of (relief) accomplishment after I’ve thoroughly vacuumed through my entire house. My house is not small, nor is it large. It’s an Eichler home, so it’s a fairly decent size. I’ve already got a routine on how I vacuum the house. I start with the bedroom side of the house & work my way in a wide C-shape or U-shape (depending on how you want to look at it) to the opposite side of the house where the former garage, current kitchen is located.

As you can clearly see in my graphic above, I use TWO different types of vacuum cleaners. That’s how crazy I get with keeping my house clean. I can get so anal rententive that I have different cleaning tools for different aspects of maintaining a clean home. For example, I only use my handheld cordless Dyson vacuum to clean flat, hard surfaces like hardwood or tile, but I won’t use my cordless vacuum to clean the rugs around my house. My Dyson vacuum is  practically an antique by today’s technology standards, so it wouldn’t be able to do much more than sweep hardwood/tile surfaces anyway. That’s why I don’t really use it to clean heavy trafficked areas & large furniture around my house. So, I also use a traditional canister vacuum that I have to plug in & roll around the house. My Miele canister vacuum has been with me for many more years, & has lived a much longer life than my Dyson cordless vacuum. It has sustained a lot of wear & tear, but it’s still putting along just fine, & I find it still easy to use (even in today’s cordless, wireless times). The suction & fill capacity of my canister vacuum is by far, leaps & bounds better than my cordless vacuum & really takes care of the heavy duty cleaning. The upside to keeping my cordless vacuum around is that I can easily buy replacement parts for it, & since vacuum repair shops are a dying trend, that makes it more convenient than probably buying a new vacuum every time I encounter a problem with my vacuum.

Ok, so on the second half of my graphic I wrote that I loathe dusting around my house. Since I get severe allergies when I encounter too much dust, even if I were to wear a face mask, I would still get major allergy symptoms from dusting. One major problem I have in my house is that we have way too many surfaces & objects that need to be dusted. For example, we have a ton of large LEGO sets displayed all around the house, & my mom prefers them to be looking pristine at all times, so she’s always making me dust every single set thoroughly. Another example is we just have a lot of table & open shelf space that needs to be dusted, & dusting is my least favorite chore to do around the house…ok, maybe second least favorite chore next to weeding my backyard garden. I am always trying to avoid & put off dusting until the absolute very last moment when I just can’t stand to see that thick layer of dust gathering along the top edge of the TV set. That’s when I’ll pop on a face mask & bust out my Swiffer duster & go to town. Dusting my house sucks major donkey balls, but unfortunately it’s something that can’t be avoided for very long.


Like a lot of women my age, I do have some insecurities about my body, not too many, but some. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always dressed for comfort & not really for fashion’s sake. I never really dressed feminine or cutesy/girly, although my mom has suggested that I do so many times throughout my life. I never got any of my sister’s hand-me-down clothes, & my parents never really forced or highly encouraged me to dress any certain way other than neatly. I could wear baggy jeans & t-shirts as long as they were hole-free, stain-free & wrinkle-free.

Throughout my life my mom has given me fashion guidance on how to dress properly for special occasions, special events, & the office. Her advice has helped me along the way, but I have still maintained my casual dress style up until now. I’d say over the past 10 years or so, I’ve become more open to wearing more feminine clothing. I’ve taken up wearing more skirts in the summertime. Granted, they’re mostly over-the-knee length or longer & often flow-y to hide my legs & waistline, but at least I’m open to exposing my bare calves, where as before, I would stick to wearing only jeans, chino pants, & women’s trousers….basically anything that fully covered my legs & gave them no shape.

But hey, even though I am appreciating skirts more, doesn’t exactly mean that I’m now comfortable showing off my legs. I’m still not very confident about my body & its shape(s), but I am trying to at least add some more age appropriate & classy items to my wardrobe. I am trying to show some semblance of femininity, instead of constantly looking like I’m a walking, shapeless paper bag. I have been, recently, more proactive in losing some stubborn weight I gained in the past few years, & trying to build up a little more muscle definition. It’s a long & boring process, but I would like to be able to wear dresses where I am not covering up from neck to ankle & looking like an inappropriate Victorian cosplayer. I have definitely fallen prey to society’s ideals & social media marketing of pretending that I look like I’ve got a “naturally” trim waistline, pouty DSL-like lips, & perky C-cup tits (all for the sake of attracting an equally high maintenance attractive mate). I wouldn’t exactly say that I look like a Lump-a-potomus. I am actually quite average in build, body shape, & boob size, but my self confidence is flimsy at best. I am working on that, building my self confidence, & that starts with feeling comfortable to wear skirts & other more feminine clothing items.


Now I’ve finally reached the end of this super long blog post. Let’s talk about one of my favorite topics, or rather one of my favorite food groups…or at least, it should be a food group all on its own. Let’s talk about coffee. You may be well aware by now, based on how many times I’ve mentioned in this blog that I frequent the big box coffee shop down the street from my house, that I am a lover of coffee. I love the smell of freshly roasted beans. I love to brew it at home & do all of those fancy-schmancy techniques those hipster baristas do at the café, like using craft roasted beans & grinding the whole beans myself. I love to drink coffee. Trust me, I could drink coffee all day long, but I know that’s not good for you, so I’ve been actively trying to cut back on the amount of cups I drink per day.

I used to drink three or more cups a day, but over the past few years, I have been really trying hard to limit myself to at most two cups per day. I’ve been trying to drink more water instead of caffeinated (& sometimes sugary) drinks. I have definitely cut down on the sugar factor in my coffee though. I have almost cut out sugar entirely in my coffee & espresso drinks, keeping mostly to milk & Half & Half cream. Sometimes, if the craving arises, then I’ll add two packets of plain sugar into my drink, but I try to avoid it now to keep my sugar intake low.

My mom was actually the person who introduced me to the wonderful world of coffee. When I was a young teenager, & a lot of my friends weren’t drinking or weren’t allowed to drink coffee, my mom would always let me take a sip or two of her cup. That got me curious about coffee, but I didn’t actually start drinking whole cups until I was in my twenties. I used to throw in a shit ton of sugar & milk in my coffee to mask the bitter, harsh taste. If I could, I would use those sickly sweet, flavored creams, & use a lot of it for that matter.

I guess over time I’ve built somewhat of a tolerance for the caffeine in coffee beans. I can drink coffee at any time day or night, & it won’t make me feel jittery or jumpy at all. Well, unless I have a “revolver” espresso drink, which consists of six short shots of espresso with cream, over ice. If I drink that, then my hands will be shaky for sure, & I’ll feel jittery for hours afterward. Otherwise, if I just drink basic cups of coffee, I can have a cup at night, after dinner or later & it won’t affect my sleeping habits. What I mean is, drinking coffee in the evening doesn’t keep me up at night. In fact, I’ve been known to fall asleep after drinking a strong café latte.

Well, even though I say that coffee doesn’t keep me up at night, it does however, perk me up in morning. I don’t know if it’s considered a full blown addiction, but if I don’t have at least half a cup of coffee in the morning, then I will feel light headed & somehow tired for the rest of the day. This is one of my life’s biggest contradictions aside from my late nights/early mornings contradiction. I don’t understand how I could crave coffee to wake me up in the morning, but it doesn’t affect my sleep at night. I mean, really. Any time after the morning has passed, if I drink coffee, I can still fall asleep, but I still need it to perk me up in the mornings. This just doesn’t make sense, but I’m not going to question it any further than this. I love coffee & will continue to drink it for as long as my body will allow. Coffee is so delicious. I can understand those who don’t have any interest whatsoever in coffee (& often prefer tea). That just means more coffee for me!


Well, there goes my long ass blog post. I could write a thousand words about absolutely nothing at all, but it relaxes me, & writing the topics in this blog post really had me exercising my brain, & forcing me to really take an in-depth look at my personality. It might not mean anything to the rest of the world, but to me this blog post was important to write. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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img_5180March was simply a crazy month. A lot of things happened. I re-visited Vancouver, BC for the first time in over 25+ years. I’ve been helping my mom deal with her sciatica. My just-entered-university cousin came to stay for her spring break holiday. Also, other, more heartbreaking family events happened (within a span of one week). The month of March went by in a blur, & now it’s already April. I don’t even want to think about this month, my upcoming birthday, or spring. I still wish it was winter, where I could layer my pea coats & scarves over my warm sweaters, but I now have to take out my short sleeved t-shirts from storage, & start showing off my flabby, out-of-shape arms. (Nobody wants to see that, especially myself).

I already wrote at length how my trip to Vancouver went, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but needless to say, I can’t wait until I get to visit Vancity again. I had so much fun with my mom, but I can’t wait until the next time when I get to explore the city all by myself. I quite enjoy sitting at a café &/or coffee shop by myself with my tablet, & spend a good portion of the day sipping coffee, reading, & people watching.

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In other happy news, I’m going to another music concert! I’m super excited to be going to see Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats in concert as the headlining band. I saw NRATNS perform live once before, but they only played a short set, as they were one out of two bands opening for Kings of Leon. I had bought tickets for that concert thinking that I would get to see a full set performed by NRATNS, but alas, they were only one of two opening acts that night. I was extremely pumped up when I saw an app notification that this very band was going to be traveling on tour for their newly released album Tearing At The Seams. I grabbed Jian by the shoulders & begged him to go to this concert with me. He was reluctant at first, since he was waffling back & forth on whether or not he should go chase down Arctic Monkeys (who are currently gearing up for a new album & possible album tour in the near future by appearing at all the music festivals) at the Firefly Festival in Dover, DE or at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In the end, Jian decided to spend his birthday with me watching NRATNS perform all their greatest hits like: S.O.B., You Worry Me, I need Never Get Old, Hey Mama, & Howling At Nothing. I can’t wait to bust out my NRATNS band t-shirt & a worn-in denim jacket, grab a whiskey libation in the VIP lounge (yes, we shelled out a little more buckaroos for VIP tickets because we’re extra like that, & we like clean, private bathrooms) & rock out to one of my all-time favorite rock bands.

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Aside from all of that, I had a cousin stay at my place this past week for her Spring Break holiday. This cousin that came to visit & I are very close in relationship (even though we are not close in age whatsoever), & I was so surprised & touched that she asked to spend her precious break time from university at my house. I mean, this is my cousin’s first official Spring Break holiday as a university student, & I was kind of expecting her to want to spend that time with her friends, or with her new (& first) boyfriend, or at least go home, be lazy, & veg out on the couch. She stayed for the week, & we had a blast together soaking up the beautiful weather, playing board games in the evenings, & just spending quality time having heart-to-heart chats about life, school, & love. I feel like I’ve learned so much more about my cousin & how much she’s evolved, more so than maturing because she’s always been extremely mature for her age, so I don’t doubt her existing maturity (or young wisdom) at all. It was so much fun, & I do hope that my cousin takes up my invitation of visiting my place again but with her boyfriend next time.

In more somber news, major events happened over the last half of the month that were just extremely tragic & upsetting. Everything happened practically within the span of one week. I’m not going to go into any details, to respect the privacy of those closest to me who are directly involved, but I can only say that it is extremely difficult to process sudden loss. I know this from first-hand experience, which is something I don’t wish on anybody. Seeing the people most closest to me going through such a difficult time in their lives only brings back my memories of what I’ve gone through in my own life & with my family. I think a lot about my dad & his side of the family, about how my dad came from a large family, & now only approximately 1/3rd of the family remains. My grandparents & their generation: long gone. My uncles & aunts: gone, all of them. My dad: now going on the 6th anniversary of his passing. All that’s left are the spouses who married into the family, & their children from my generation. I do have a few nephews & nieces from the next generation, but our family tree has been greatly reduced. I can only offer my utmost support to those in my life who are experiencing loss at a time like this. Our circumstances aren’t exactly the same, but I can offer my own version of care & support.

I think I’m going to end my blog post here because I don’t want to get into too much sad detail. Even after all this time, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around all of this, & it makes me think of my dad’s situation all over again. Until next time, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

Well folks, I’m finally back from my nearly 2-week vacation in Taipei, Taiwan. It was kind of an interesting trip. It started off with my mom getting severe jet lag almost immediately upon landing at Taoyuan International Airport. Then upon checking in to our hotel, my mom got a nasty cold (which she suspected was the result of sitting on a 12-hour flight full of recycled air & intense air conditioning). She tried to muddle through the rest of the trip, but it was obvious that she was just completely drained of all energy & enthusiasm during the first full week.

By the time the second week came around, my mom was pretty much burnt out from the Taipei city environment & ready to go home. On top of that, my aunt was also ready to head home. She spent most of her days holed up in her hotel room, due to her tired & sore feet. My aunt had originally planned to visit Taiwan, not to take a stroll down memory lane, but to get a cosmetic spa treatment; then she chickened out at the last minute. After that, she was pretty much over her trip & wanted to head back home.

Jian & I had a pretty fun time during our stay in Taiwan, but by the end of the second week, we were also feeling a little burnt out as well & definitely looking forward to heading back to the comforts of our own home & bed (& definitely ready to get out of the constant rain). Of course we didn’t relish having to burst our cozy little vacation bubble, but it was time to face reality & the real world again. We definitely stuffed ourselves silly with good food & some delicious cocktails, & squeezed in a good amount of shopping. We also got a well-balanced taste of Taiwanese culture, historical landmarks, & city living. Here are some of the highlights of things I learned from my trip to Taipei.

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01. The taxi drivers in Taipei are the worst. I’m sorry, but they are just horrible, plain & simple. The taxi drivers are equally rude & mean…& I mean it. (No pun intended.) Here are two prime examples of how badly the taxi drivers suck:

  •  A.) On the day it was raining the hardest, my mom & aunt wanted to go back to our hotel to rest up before dinner with my uncle. My mom was feeling tired from her jet lag, & my aunt was feeling burnt out from department store shopping. They had planned to take a taxi from the giant department store we were at, but when they told the taxi driver their destination, he flat out refused to take them as customers. He angrily told them to get out of his car all while proceeding to scold them about how he did not want to drive all the way to the neighborhood where our hotel was located (which was actually not very far from the deparment store we were shopping at).
  • B) There was one day when Jian & I had planned to take my mom out for a nice Taiwanese breakfast (& let my aunt sleep in). Jian went online & found a small breakfast shop near our hotel to take my mom for breakfast. We originally planned on using Uber, but we decided not to wait for an Uber driver, & tried a cab instead. Here’s where the story takes a nasty turn. First off, the cab driver got upset when Jian didn’t immediately tell him where we wanted to go (no exaggeration). When we told the cab driver the name of the café we wanted to go to, the cab driver claimed he had never heard of such place, & it didn’t exist. Jian continued talking to the cab driver & gave him a specific address. The cab driver then said that that address (specifically the street name) did not exist. Jian tried to describe the location by giving the name of a nearby hotel (or some sort of landmark), but the cab driver continued his “that doesn’t exist” rant saying that neighborhood had nothing. So basically, that cab driver gave us a bullshit story so he wouldn’t have to take us to a neighborhood he didn’t want to drive to. At that point, my mom was extremely annoyed, plus it was raining fairly hard…so she gave him an equally snotty attitude, & told him to take us to a place he would recommend. He then brought us to a nearby shop that was about to close for the day, not bothering to mention that they only operate super early in the mornings & close early (we got there at 10am). When we told the cab driver the place was closed, he ignored us & made us exit the taxi anyway. Jian & my mom were so pissed at that point we took Uber instead to the original café we wanted to go to. The Uber driver was so much more helpful & friendlier. He knew exactly the café we wanted to go to, & even talked about how popular it was.

These two experiences turned us off from ever taking taxi cabs again in Taiwan. From that point on, we exclusively used either the metro or Uber as public transportation.

02. The MRT in Taipei is so easy to use, & such a convenient way to travel around the city. Just like the subway system in Tokyo, the metro in Taipei is efficient, on-time, clean & relatively cheap. Plus, it’s a great way to get around town without having to walk in the rain. Jian & I practically used the MRT the most while we were in Taipei. For certain destinations that were a little too far from a standard metro station, or if it was late at night, or we were too tired, we would then use Uber.

03. Speaking of Uber, this is also a great way to get around town. The Uber drivers are very friendly & easy to talk to. The cars are relatively clean (some cars we rode in smelled like tobbacco &/or beetlenut pulp), & they’re also efficient. Using Uber in Taiwan is the same process as it is in the U.S.. The only thing I would suggest is to make sure you put a travel notice on the credit card associated with your Uber account, so your payments will go through without any problems. Quite a few locals had warned Jian & I about taking taxis, more specifically about how taxi drivers will sometimes scam you by purposely taking a longer route just to get a higher fare. As for our experiences with Uber in Taipei, we were fortunate to have not experienced any scammers (knock on wood).

04. Disclaimer: Looks can be deceiving. The architecture in Taipei, from the outside, looks very outdated & stuck in a 1990s time warp. On the inside, the decor looks quite modern. There are quite a few modern & contemporary structures dotting the Taipei skyline, but for the most part, the city feels a little dingy & past its prime. There’s not a lot of old historical architecture either. Even though Taipei shows a lot of its Japanese influence, it is definitely not as modern looking as Tokyo.

05. Continuing my architectural theme, Jian had made a very keen observation about the buildings in the city. He mentioned that he had noticed that many of the buildings in the city were either giant shopping malls/department stores with huge food courts, or they were hotels. The other third of the buildings in the city were convenient stores or restaurants. During our 2-week stay in Taipei, we were getting pretty sick & tired of seeing the same old boring department stores or touristy hotel chains everywhere.

06. One must-try food when you visit Taiwan is the quintessential shaved ice (& new Korean trend snow ice), especially with fresh fruit. Taiwan’s national fruit is the mango, so the traditional shaved ice with fresh mango (& a scoop of ice cream) is the most recommended dessert. My favorite shaved ice toppings are red adzuki beans & condensed milk. It’s what I’ve known & have eaten since I was a young girl. These shaved ice treats are great to cool you down when it’s hot outside. They’re also just as good to eat when it’s been raining throughout your entire stay on the island.

07. A new trend I saw popping up all over the city was churros. Yes, you heard me. I said churrrrros! Those cinnamon-sugar coated fried sticks of delicious dough. But, wait. These aren’t just any churros. They’re churros formed into the round shape of a doughnut. Two of the most popular shops in Taipei are Street ChurrosChurro’K. These hot & crispy treats come with a variety of ooey-gooey, sweet dipping sauces & toppings. Now that I’m writing about it, I kind of wish I had tried these churro rounds when I was in Taipei, but I was trying to balance out my diet & not eat too many sweets (which I tend to do when I’m on vacation). Plus, all the food we were eating at every meal made me too stuffed to even want to eat dessert.

08. Oooooh! I have quite a few things to say about the emerging craft cocktail scene in Taipei. When Jian & I first visited Taipei four years ago for our friends’ wedding, there weren’t that many places to go chill out & have drinks (like old fashionedsgin tonics). Now, there are more & more cocktail bars & lounges opening up all over the city serving up innovative concoctions as well as the “classics”. The two of us had the best time discovering a few awesome (& some rather unique) cocktail bars. I’ve listed some highlights below.

  • The very first cocktail bar Jian & I visited was called Dig Out. It’s a very small 10-person space, located a few minutes drive outside of the Mitsukoshi shopping square/complex/park. The bar’s atmosphere is very cozy with leather furniture, comfortably cushioned bar stools, with a very rustic, vintage, & wood decor. The bartender we spoke to could speak a little bit of English (& we can speak a decent amount of Mandarin), so we were able to chat with each other & really have a fun time. The bartender was very skilled at twisting classic cocktails into creative new drinks. The most memorable thing for me about Dig Out was that they used little, novelty, dessert spoon sized metal shovels as stir sticks, for a fun & cute nod to their name.
  • One other highly memorable bars we visited was called R and D Cocktail Lab. Started by a French man, you’ll find tons of ex-pats & foreigners frequenting this bar. This place is located on a quiet street, but is pretty roomy in terms of capacity. You’ll definitely find your standard fare of classic cocktails as well as house-made cocktails (on tap), & other delicious libations concocted by the very-skilled & highly knowledged bar staff. The proprietor of RnD, “Frenchie” (as he so nicknamed himself), is very warm & friendly, & he likes to mingle with the guests almost as much as he loves to create delicious, refreshing, yet strong cocktails. Jian & I met a really cool guy named Ben on our second visit to RnD. We exchanged pleasantries (he’s from Chicago, & we’re from San Francisco). He talked about his business trip & first time visiting Taipei, & we ended up giving him our travel guide book. We hope he actually used it, & maybe one day he will pass the travel book on to someone else he meets on another business trip.
  • I never thought I’d end up drinking very boozy cocktails with my retired mother & her sister (imagine Grace & Frankie from the Netflix TV show) while on vacation. My mom & aunt can sometimes be a little “frisky with the whisky”, & other times they are very conservative & will only have a small nip of a glass. On this trip, I was surprised that my mom & aunt happily & eagerly joined us for a drink or two. We thoroughly enjoyed Backyard Jr., a whisky-centric cocktail bar. With over 2,000 varietals of whiskies, bourbons, & ryes, we had a great time sipping our Hot Toddys, Old Fashioneds, High Balls. Of course Jian had the most fun chatting it up with all the bartenders. He always has a way to charm the bartenders & is able to talk with them for hours on end about cocktails, spirits, & the cocktail drinking experience. My mom, my aunt, & I enjoyed the plush decor & soft jazz music, & we all truly enjoyed the food!
  • One drinking experience we had in Taipei that both intrigued us & baffled us at the same time, was when Jian & I visited Wa Shu. I’d call it an experimental cocktail bar. This minimalist bar was started by a Japanese ex-pat, who also happens to be a very strict taskmaster when it comes to keeping his bar staff in line. We heard him on several occassion openly scold his staff for various tasks he felt were not done to his exact standards. Here’s where things get a little confusing for us. This bar doesn’t have a standard drink menu. Instead they have a menu with a list of flavors, fruits, & taste profiles for you to choose from. You tell the bartender what types of flavors, fruits, &/or taste profiles you prefer, & they will create a drink for you. (You can’t just order a plain ol’ martini or whiskey sour.) Also, this bar does not carry standard spirits. All of the spirits they use to make cocktails are infused with some sort of experimental recipe, or some unique herb or barrel wood. It was hard for us to grasp the concept of telling the bartender what flavors we liked because most of the flavors we like, within the spirit-forward cocktails we often drink, were not listed on their menu. It was also hard to describe our taste profile because this bar only makes light & fruity/herbal drinks, but they don’t really understand how to make spirit-forward drinks. Let me just sum this up by saying cocktails in Asia are by far much “lighter” than the “stronger” cocktails over here in the States, & we sometimes struggle with grasping that concept.

09. Amidst all of the tall skyscrapers, shopping malls, & very 1990s designed apartment complexes, there were lots & lots of greenery dotted all over the city. It was surely a welcome sight in contrast to all of the chaos that surrouned us daily. Everywhere you turn, there’s always construction happening somewhere. So, it’s nice when you can find a small park here & there, or when you are able to walk down tree-lined streets. If only the greenery could help lessen the pollution in the city, but there are just too many motor bikes & motor scooters clogging up the streets with their nasty exhaust. On some days when it wasn’t raining, we were able to enjoy taking a stroll in the park, or in the small garden next to a museum.

10. Lastly, I will end this list with food. Oh man, I didn’t even notice this until the last couple of days of our vacation, but Jian had pointed out that all we’ve been eating throughout our entire trip were starch-filled foods. All the vegetables at the places ate at were so bland & over-cooked that we ended up not really eating much of it. Besides, since they were over-cooked, the veggies pretty much lost all of their nutritional value anyway. Most of the dishes we ate consisted of some sort of green onion (a.k.a. scallion) pancake (always made fresh), a rice bowl meal set, soup dumplings, a bowl of noodles, or some sort of steamed bun filled with meaty delights. It was practically rice on top of noodles on top of bread. Towards the end of our trip, Jian & I started drinking more pressed/blended juices just to get the fiber from the fruits, & we tried eating whatever veggies we could (bland or not). We wanted to re-balance our bodies again before flying home as two human-sized dumplings. I think I had the hardest time eating in Taipei. Whatever I saw, I wanted it all. I could not decide which of my childhood favorites I wanted to eat first. On the flip side, I thought my mom & my aunt were going to go buck wild eating all of their childhood favorites (since they actually grew up in Taipei), but they ended up being the most finnicky about food out of our entire group & didn’t really go wild with the food. Jian tried to keep up with my eating habit, but he ended up feeling very bloated & unsettled towards the end of our trip. By the end, we were definitely ready to go back home & eat a classic hamburger.

Well, this is the end of my first Taiwan blog post. If you want to see photos from my trip, you know, to get a better grasp of the time I spent there, the food I ate, the places I visited…please check out my Instagram feed (@mel__senpai). My Instagram feed is my most active social media account, & the best place to follow me & to contact me. Until next time, 干杯!

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Flashback to that one time I had unforgettable croissants and doughnuts. 🥐🍩 . . . . . . . . . . #Latergram #croissant #doughnut #donut #PanAuChocolat #VanillaGlaze #GlazedDoughnut #ChocolateCroissant #delicious #unforgettable #FlakyAF #Fremont #pastry #breakfast #BunAppetitDonuts #Fremont #BeautifulDay #LovelyDay #outdoor #outdoors #nature #FoodOfInstagram #CityLife #CityLiving #FlashbackFriday #FridayFunday #LineCamera #FoodieApp @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @bunappetitdonuts
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One pot eating. 🍲 . . . . . . . . . . #lunch #PorkBellyOverRice #PorkBelly #SoftBoiledEgg #rice #RiceBowl #donburi #TodaysLunch #delicious #TaroSan #TaroSanJapaneseNoodleBar #たろう麺 #角煮 #丼 #角煮丼 #温泉卵 #ご飯 #今日のランチ #デリシャス #Stanford #PaloAlto #CA #CityLiving #BeautifulDay #LovelyDay #FoodOfInstagram #CityLife #LineCamera #FoodieApp @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @tarosanudon
Nectar of the gods. ☕️ . . . . . . . . . . #coffee #caffeine #HotBeverage #HotCoffee #espresso #latte #NotAFlatWhite #LatteArt #VoyagerCraftCoffee #VoyagerCoffee #SiliconValley #SantaClara #CA #CityLiving #BeautifulDay #LovelyDay #DrinksOfInstagram #CityLife #CoffeeOfInstagram #CoffeeLover #LineCamera #FoodieApp @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @voyagercraftcoffee
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The grass is always greener on both sides. 🌸🌼🍃 . . . . . . . . . . #flowers #flower #flora #garden #MyNeighborhood #TheGrassIsGreener #BeautifulWeather #ColdWeather #CloudyDay #white #yellow #purple #pink #green #brown #SoSoft #SoPretty #outdoors #outdoor #nature #CityLiving #LovelyDay #BeautyInNature #CityLife #BayArea #LineCamera #FoodieApp @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official

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