Hello again!

Shilin Night Market

One thing I miss the most about Taiwan is the night markets. After we left the National Palace Museum, we took a bus back to the MRT station and walked over to Shilin Night Market, one of the larger more well-known night markets. We hit the street portion of the market first which is mostly clothing, shoes, accessories and other non-food goodies.

There was a slightly odd variety show on a stage outside...

All the food stalls are housed in here...most of it is closed during the day, but at night it's crowded with locals, tourists and students.

everything from bubble tea and smoothies to fried chicken and omelettes, not to mention the more tradition noodle soups and stinky tofu.

We saw a few places had a seafood dish that looked good. We picked a place to sit down, and we're handed the order form...

Challenge: neither my brother or I can call ourselves properly literate in Chinese. I can read a few characters here and there, but that doesn't really help to read this menu. A woman stood at our table waiting for us to take our order, so I just asked her straight, "What's that seafood stuff out front?" She told us and pointed to it on the order form. We ordered our two little bowls of seafood. Yay! It's always a relief when I can get through a situation like this without having to reveal that I'm actually a foreigner, and I can't read.

I wish I could blog the smell of a really pungent stinky tofu. Sometimes it's fried, sometimes not. This stuff pictured here actually wasn't that stinky compared to some others. In my experience, you can pretty much always smell a stinky tofu vendor before you see it. And the it seems like the stinkiest ones seem to be the most popular.  When I smell some stinky tofu, I always want to say, "好臭!" (It stinks!)  to which my dad likes to respond, "好香!" (smells good!)

oyster omelette

I'm actually not quite sure what this stuff is.

National Palace Museum

Hey all! Sorry for being so quiet, but I am in China right now, and this site is actually blocked over here. I can still get to it (obviously), but my connection is often slow and choppy. I post more frequently over on my tumblr because I don't have to write anything. I'm a bit behind over there, too, because I've also been having trouble getting to tumblr. What was most annoying was every time I tried to access a tumblr page it would automatically get hijacked by a Chinese search engine and redirect me to search results for tumblr. Ack! Drove me nuts! So then I cleared my cache, which worked to get rid of the search results, but also meant I had to re-log into to tumblr, which I haven't had to do in many many months, and I really wasn't sure which email I had used to log in, and finally, my VPN funked out and I haven't been able to get a 'good' connection until today to access my 'blocked' sites. Oh, bother!

Anyway, in other news...these pics are from a trip to the National Palace Museum in Taipei back in December. It houses an impressive collection of Chinese artifacts and artwork, some of them quite ancient.

A very drably dressed tour group...

There's a nice garden, too...not sure why I included the picture of the garbage man though.

We were pretty high that day

As you may notice there is a Christmas tree in the photo. Have I really been here 6 months? Not much to say about these photos. Short story: my brother and I went to Taipei 101 one slightly cloudy day in December. It was once the world's tallest building until it was surpassed by a very tall pointy thing in Dubai. The lower levels house some very posh shopping and eating. It's a great view from the top...lucky we could still see quite a bit despite the clouds.

Sign in the ladies toilet requesting they please don't squat (because we ladies know it just makes a big mess).

This is Taipei 101's enormous tuned mass damper which helps to reduce the swaying of the building during earthquakes and wind.

Chi Nan Temple

Back in December, my dad took us up to see the beautiful Chi Nan Temple (指南宮). We rode the MRT to Muzha and climbed the "1000" steps to the temple. We didn't count the steps, but if I recall correctly it took us about 20 minutes of swift stepping to reach the temple. It was late afternoon on a Thursday, very few visitors. It was humid, but peaceful, and the air smelled like Osmanthus flowers. definitely worth the climb.

You can see Taipei 101 in the distance, at one time the tallest building in the world.

Snake Alley and Longshan Temple

The evening after our visit to the toilet restaurant back in December when I first arrived in Taiwan, we headed to Huaxi Night Market, also famously known as Snake Alley. At Snake Alley, if you desire you can eat snake, watch a live snake being gutted, as well as drink a shot made from the snake's blood or bile. Or if you'd rather not have snake, maybe you'd like some turtle, or perhaps imbibe a drink made from the turtle's blood. We watched a woman cut a soft-shelled turtle and then serve drinks made with it's blood. Hey, tasty, eh? No, we didn't drink any blood, and the snake people don't allow you to take pictures. That's cool, I don't need to keep pictures of a live snake being skinned.

But we did try some snake soup... It's meant to be more medicinal than palatable. If you're after a tasty hearty bowl of soup, this is not what you want. People eat this stuff for it's supposed therapeutic properties. Snake Alley is a covered "market", and I found the atmosphere to be a bit seedy, kind of like a tunnel filled with neon signs, snake wranglers and massage parlors.

I much prefer the normal outside street markets with plenty of good food. This is pigs blood soup, much tastier than the snake soup.

This is a place where you can pick what you want, and they'll cook it for you. I like to take pictures of local people doing normal everyday things, like having dinner at the night market after work.

We happened upon a street procession and followed all the commotion to nearby Longshan Temple. I'm not sure what was going on, but on the left side of the picture below is the carriage-type vehicle everyone was following.