Saturday, July 2, 2011

Xiǎo lóng bāo (小籠包)

Sorry we’ve been remiss in updating the blog this week. My computer has been under repair and I just got her back today! Brett and I are both breathing a huge sigh of relief over having bought the extended protection plan for my computer the day before the grace period expired in Canada... All the trouble we went through that day was certainly worth it now that I have a new track pad!

It was a muggy, cloudy week but the temperature has quickly crept back up to where it was before the tropical storm Brett and I walked through on Monday night. I will try to recap everything that’s happened since our dinner and snacks with Stanley and Vicky during the rainstorm.

Tuesday night we took Stanley and Vicky to Foster Hewitt’s, the Canadian pub in our neighbourhood. Stanley and Vicky had never tried nachos before so obviously we ordered a huge platter of those, and we all had our fill of burgers and cold drinks. A lovely evening!

Wednesday was our “day off” - the first day in a while we had nothing planned. S & V rented cartoons for us with Chinese dubbing and subtitles so we spent most of the day watching those and trying desperately to pick out phrases and words we know. It’s at least good listening practice! We started out watching the Simpson’s in Cantonese by accident, and we were very relieved when we realized we just needed to switch to Mandarin which has way fewer syllables and is therefore spoken much more slowly in a dubbed film!

Thursday night we saw Transformers 3 with Stanley, Vicky, Vicky’s mom, and some of their friends. On the way to the theatre, I ordered two iced green teas (liu cha) all by myself (with Stanley’s supervision)! That was the most Mandarin I’ve spoken to a stranger so far! I was extremely puffed-up about it for approximately 30 seconds until the girl behind the counter asked something in rapid Chinese that I didn’t understand, and Stanley had to reply on my behalf. Even with my deflated ego, I still enjoyed the tea very much!

Transformers is apparently a very popular film franchise in Taiwan, so the place was packed! The theatre we visited was much cheaper than the big chain one we usually go to so that was nice, though I get the feeling we’d have a hard time buying tickets there without a local to help us.

Friday afternoon Stanley and Vicky took us to a traditional Chinese hot pot for lunch ,where we tried a type of tofu we’d never had before, pigs ears, fried pork with sour cabbage, apple soda, and a traditional Chinese beef noodle soup which was slightly different from what we’ve become used to in Taiwan. I’m pretty sure Brett’s favourite part of the day was when we tried “xiao long bao” which is a steamed bun or dumpling made with pork, shellfish, ginger, and onions. Delicious.

After lunch we went to the old unused military barracks where families of soldiers would live in homes paid for by the government. The special thing about the section we visited is that in recent years, artists have painted, sculpted, and decorated the streets and house exteriors in bright and varied themes. Popular culture, spirituality, aestheticism, and national pride are all celebrated in the paintings and art deco displayed as you walk down the narrow lanes. There were a lot of Taiwanese people buzzing around, smiling and taking photos. It was a really happy place to be, and the artists apparently continue to update and expand the decorated areas, so we’ll have to check back there in a month or two and see what’s changed!

July is going to be frantic but we are going to try and be better at posting more regularly. Tomorrow we’re going on a hike through a monkey-infested jungle on Chaishan, Monday we’re taking a day trip to Kenting, home of some of Taiwan’s most beautiful beaches, then from Tuesday to Thursday we’re going to do a B&B getaway on Xiao Liuqiu, a tiny island off the coast of Taiwan. We’ll be sure to keep you all posted!

PS - Happy Canada Day to our friends and family back home! Hope it was a good one!

Sliced pig's ears.
Spicy tofu. Very tasty.
Fried pork and sour cabbage.
Beef noodle soup with green onions and bok choy.
Xiǎo lóng bāo (小籠包). A type of steamed dumpling, one of Brett's favourites.
Vicky & Stanley!!!
Stanley, Vicky and Amanda. I don't think Amanda was quite ready for this one.
A handful of onlookers observed me striking a pose, applauded and then proceeded to imitate the pose. I think I can safely say that I am now a local celebrity!

Vicky & Amanda.

Amanda & Brett.
As you can see, it was hot hot hot... 38C!
I'm not sure if I remember this correctly, but I think that it is said that if two people share an umbrella then they will fall in love and stay with each other for ever.
Brett & Amanda.

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