May 31st, 2010

Charah coffee

Night Safari

My relationship with Wei Chuen is officially my longest one ever. The preceding ones didn't exactly set the bar very high, so perhaps it's nothing much to crow about that we've been together for 11 months; but for someone whose longest relationship was 10 months which was also her first and during the said relationship she barely saw the guy or really cared so it doesn't really count, 11 months is quite something.

That, and considering the fact that we had a conversation when we were deciding whether to get together about relationships leading to marriage and we laughed, awkwardly, at the idea of getting married to each other; the fact that I couldn't see him as anything more than this face I laughed at in JC and thus couldn't take him seriously; and the fact that I come with restrictions and a tainted history that he's not used to, that he comes with his own tainted history that made me extremely insecure in the beginning - yeah, I'd say 11 months is pretty amazing.

Expect, therefore, some long, soppy entry in which I wax lyrical ad nauseum about our Eternal! Undying! Love! for each other when we reach the one-year mark.

Anyway, all that is by way of preamble to announcing that we went to the Night Safari on our 11 months. The original plan was to go to the zoo, in part because I was feeling disoriented and listless from coming back to Singapore and wanted to do something touristy so that I could pretend I was still overseas; and in part because he wanted to avoid town where it would have been crowded as hell for sure. Unfortunately, the initial plan failed. We took our own sweet time with lunch and by the time I went over to his house to give him the food I bought for his family, it was two-something. I thought 3 hours at the zoo was enough, but when I told him the zoo closed at 6, he was all, "OMG THE ZOO CLOSES?" Then he was all, "OMG WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO IN 3 HOURS. WE WALK IN WALK ONE ROUND CAN GO HOME ALREADY."

Then he mooted the idea of the Night Safari but I wanted to watch Roger that night so I wasn't too keen. But the idiocy of my crap prioritising hit me seconds later so I said, "OMG OKAY LET'S GO!!!!!"

It was like my second or third time there. All I remembered of it was that there was a tram; it was fucking dark; and there were cute deers ambling along the tram tracks, close enough for you to touch. The Night Safari was also sufficiently touristy so that I could get over my back-to-Singapore angst for a bit.

We went at 6-something, reached at 7.05. We decided to have buffet at the hilariously and WTFly-named Ulu Ulu Safari restaurant or whatever. It was an Asian buffet which meant free flow (well, for 41 bucks) of naan, papadum, yummy Indian rice whose name I still cannot remember, yummy palak paneer (cottage cheese with spinach gravy), and surprisingly good Chinese-styled sweet and sour fish. I say surprisingly because the Chinese food fades into non-existence when there's Indian food around (the Japanese food barely exists to me - all the time) and I only took the fish for fun, to add variety to my plate, and so that Wei Chuen wouldn't laugh at me for taking the same food three times. But it was actually good.

In fact, the Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant had surprisingly good food. Too damn bad about all the fucking insects though. I went to the dessert table and saw some ant crawling on the jelly (which Wei Chuen insisted was agar agar but I can't be bothered about the difference, sorry). On hindsight, I was quite brave to take the jelly on the other side where the ant, as far as I knew, hadn't left its footprints on, but yeah, it didn't bother me at all.

What REALLY bothered me, though, was 1) the lack of air-conditioning; and 2) the fucking insects that made a feast of my arms and legs. I understood that the whole concept of a safari restaurant meant it had to be not air-conditioned and kind of outdoorsy, but oh my god, the insects were just...all I can say is, I'm never going to the Night Safari in a tank top and shorts again.

Actually, I think it's gonna be another 10 years before I go back to the Night Safari. There's something SERIOUSLY WRONG when the entrance fee is 32 whopping dollars. That's including the tram ride, but you can't see shit without the tram. There are so many places that are not accessible on foot, so it's pretty much a given that you'd choose the admission + tram option. That was 32 dollars. I think we split, just like we split the dinner.

I mean, it's a nice novel concept, but come on - truth is, you can't see fucking shit. The only two things I liked about it were: 1) the tapirs and deers that roamed the side of the road and were so close that you could stretch out your hand to touch them; and 2) the flying squirrels open-aired enclosure, in which the squirrel was right in front of me. And there were three of them. And when they leapt from tree to tree, it was really quite a sight to behold. Not to mention - THEY WERE ADORABLE AS HELL. I saw them pretty close up in the nocturnal animals section of the Taipei zoo (which I will talk about in detail when I blog about my trip) but they were behind a panel of glass. In the Night Safari, they were JUST THERE. It was rather surreal.

What I totally didn't enjoy, though, was the same concept for the bats mangrove whatever shit. I didn't want to go in, but Wei Chuen did, and I agreed to go in when other people walked in. We followed behind a Korean couple. When Wei Chuen pointed out a bat to me I practically freaked out, clutched his arm tightly for dear life, and stared at my feet, all the while whining, "OMG I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW."

Ironic, right, that I love Batman? Yeah, I know.

I was quite tired throughout the whole thing. I was falling asleep after walking around the section of the park that the tram stopped at. But it was still fun. I felt like a tourist, almost, and Wei Chuen was with me. We were both very aghast at this father who turned on the flash light on his camera to take a picture of a snow deer behind a glass enclosure, WHEN THE PARK SPECIFICIALLY SAID NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY. I mean, seriously. And some idiot girl brought a fucking torch light to shine on the animals. WHAT? What?!!?!?!? Yeah, I'd like to see the animal too, but I'm not gonna fucking blind them or scare the daylights out of the them in the process. People like that ought to be banned. In fact, they should do a security check like at the Supreme Court or airport, except at the Safari they screen for torchlights and similar devices, AND CAMERAS. I think cameras shouldn't be allowed in if people aren't going to follow the simple, basic rule.

So I have no pictures of any of the animals, but that's okay because I have these awesome pictures:

This was at the restaurant. I placed my camera on top of a candle holder, set the self-timer to ten seconds, and in the midst of running back to the seat I knocked the camera off-balance. Still managed to take this though. BOOYAH!

I actually did not wear my contacts that night. Wei Chuen made me wear glasses because I woke up that day with my left eye as red as scarlet. I went over to his place a couple of hours later and wore contacts as the redness had cleared somewhat, but it still felt uncomfortable. Ergo, he made me wear glasses. I hate wearing glasses boo.

No way in hell I was gonna wear glasses in this picture. He thought the idea was cheesy. I thought so too, but also thought it was essential. I love him for doing cheesy things just because I want to do them.

Literally falling asleep here so will end this segment by saying the safari was great only because of the company, whom I adore and love very, very much.


In French Open news, I have two things to say:

1. Justine Henin def. Maria Sharapova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 omgggg noooo. I was totally rooting for Masha. I even stayed up last night to watch the match. I don't know what it is about her, and maybe it's her shrieking, but she's fierce. She plays with so much firepower, it's really inspiring and compelling to watch. Some hate her shrieking, like my cutie boyfriend, but I just really enjoy watching a player who believes so much in herself. When Henin was serving for the match at 5-3, 40-15 or something like that, Masha still had her fist clenched, her game face on, her body language signalling, clearly, that she was going to fight for the match with everything she's got.

God, she was good. She was so good for most of the third set. It was too bad she wasn't consistently good, and that Henin was better just enough to win. It was an expected outcome - Henin rules clay like Nadal does, and clay's Masha's worst surface. But it was still so inspiring watching her play - watching them play, fighting for EVERY point as if it were their last. It was so good watching two players who are more or less on form, who can challenge each other, take their games to each other. I really enjoyed watching this match. I haven't enjoyed a women's match in a really long time.

Actually, the Maria Kirilenko/Dunno first name Schiavone match was good too. Kirilenko played really good attacking tennis, and there I was, thinking she was just a pretty face. I was rooting for her to win but she lost 4 and 4 in the end. But she really, REALLY surprised me though.

2. Federer def. Wawrinka 6-3. 7-6(5), 6-2.

ROGER WASTED TIME IN THE SECOND SET BY DRIFTING OFF INTO MIRKALAND AND LETTING WAWRINKA INTO THE MATCH. Poor Stan - he played out of his mind, even outplayed Roger, but a stupid, stupid error at the net during the tie-break gave Roger set point. And of course, Roger wasn't going to let it slip; he hit an unreturnable serve and that was it. Stan was so pissed that he smashed his racquet to the ground three times, breaking it decisively.

In the third set, Stan was mentally gone. He tried towards the end but it was all Roger from the get-go. It was another masterclass performance from Roger - unforced errors reduced, drop shots working, inside-out forehand finding its mark. To be honest I wasn't really paying attention 'cause the only part of the match that didn't bore me was the tie-break. Roger had the win even before both player stepped onto the court - there was absolutely no question about it. I wasn't even worried when Roger got broken in his opening service game in the second set; I was just irritated that he was in danger of dropping the second set which means wasting more time to get to a destination that he could get to within a much shorter time frame. Thankfully he won the tie-break or I wouldn't have had time to write this.

But anyway, it really sucks to still lose when you've outplayed your opponent. I understand this, but comparing Stan's reaction in the third set to Masha's when Henin was serving for the match illustrates one important thing: self-belief. I've seen Stan mentally check out against Roger twice in a row already. I've even seen Roger mentally check out against Nadal. I haven't seen Masha play much, but that girl believes so fiercely in herself that she still thinks she can win even when she's staring defeat in the face. THAT'S the kind of player I like to watch. Roger has that fire in his belly too; otherwise he wouldn't have won 16 Grand Slams. But he doesn't have the opportunity to display it as much because he rarely loses. I do enjoy watching him trying to level a set, though, when he's down a break when it's getting late into a set. He goes for his shots, suddenly becomes more aggressive, stepping into the court more, forcing errors from his opponent. It's fun to watch. Masha goes crazy with her shots and goes for broke, which is why she can be unbearable to watch when she's not on form (she'd be spraying errors all over the place which is just terrible for the eyes). But when she is like against Henin, it's just - wow.

Okay, I'm really sleepy. Venus Williams lost already, as did Andy Roddick which sucks but I'm pleased with the former. Not that she's as irritating as Serena but what the fuck was she thinking when she designed that dress? She looks like a hooker. And I want to say I can't believe Andy lost to some qualifier, but Roland Garros was his first clay court tourney, so...serves him right.

Rooting for Djokovic to take out Nadal in the semi. Rooting for Roger to defend his title. And I'm hoping Henin wins on the women's side. Her backhand is really...WOW. It's comparable to the men's single-handed backhand.


Charah coffee

Taipei 2010 - Day One

I'm not one for sentimentality, but this is still true: When many things in life don't make much sense, all it takes is one trip back to Taipei for me to know again.

Of course, the qualification here is that when I make statements like that, when I talk about Taipei's reliability, I'm talking about it in the context of where I spent the first few years of my life - where I'm constantly going back to, where I know even better than the places where I used to live in Singapore. Things don't change much there. The food stalls that I ate at when I was a child are still there, the night market is still there, the buildings are still the same crumbly, blackened, familiar constants, the streets are still narrow and dirty, and motorcyclists still speed by me as I'm trying to make my way back to the apartment.

Sometimes I find myself slipping and calling it "home". Sometimes I find myself believing in that concept that I still sometimes find myself wishing were true. I'm especially nostalgic for Taipei and the life that could have been, but never was, when I'm back from Taipei - back to Singapore. There's nothing wrong with Singapore, but god, I miss the convenience, the foreign familiarity, the soft warmth of the people, and hearing Chinese everywhere. Hearing the nicely-accented Chinese, nothing like the hackneyed, rojak shit in Singapore, and not too sharp and cacophonous like the mainlanders' accent that it alienates me.

A part of me feels at home in Taipei. I suppose it's inevitable, considering I make a pilgrimage there at least once every two years. But beyond the fact that I go back there so often, it's the fact that I could have had a life there. I don't know why this still matters; but it does. And somehow, I can always count on Taipei - Yonghe, to be exact - to calm the storm, steer the ship right again, and to be the familiar, never-changing bastion of reliability whenever I go back, time after time.


Day One:

The flight was at 1 in the afternoon and we touched down at the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (Chen Shui-bian's change of name still doesn't exist to me) four hours later. My third youngest uncle came to pick us up and we went to Ximending for my dad's favourite beef noodles. I didn't eat anything, obviously; and unlike previous years, I didn't feel like eating at the place next door. Reason being this: I had lunch on the plane, then suffered massive indigestion, which meant my stomach was bloated and painful as hell. It made me not want to eat at all, but because I knew I'd get gastric, I bought a sandwich from a cafe at the airport - and it was SO good. It was way better than what I've eaten from Subway, and pretty much better than anything I've ever eaten from Singapore. It was just a basic tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes and cheese and some sauce but it tasted fantastic.

We didn't do much on the first day. My mom and I went to the night market to get some disposable underwear and socks and I gawked over how cheap the clothes were over there. And that was pretty much it.

No pictures to post. I took a picture of the air conditioner's remote control to show Wei Chuen and a picture of my brother sleeping. Oh, and pictures of myself, as always, which I doubt people are interested in, so let's just move on.

Charah coffee

Taipei 2010 - Day Two

Day Two:

It was my cousin's wedding reception today. My mom, brother and I went to the nearby hair salon, which also happens to be awesome AND cheaper than the awesome hair salons in Singapore (even cheaper than the crap expensive place I went to in Pacific Plaza), AND I go there practically every time I go back to Taipei. My stylist was this fat dude who was very meticulous in cutting - well, trimming - my hair. And as always, the hair-washing was fun: the chair was massaging my ass and the head massage was good.

My cousin's wedding reception was in a hall that exclusively does weddings. My youngest uncle drove us there - to Banqiao - and the place looked a lot better than what I was expecting. It wasn't a lavish 4-star hotel, but it also wasn't some shabby, cheap-looking building that I had in mind.

It was my second wedding reception in Taiwan. I actually barely remember the first, or whose it was even; it was the year I went back alone with my dad and he dragged me along 'cause my grandparents didn't want me wandering around the dangerous streets of Taipei by myself. For my cousin's wedding, there was a pretty female emcee and she and her husband made two entrances. The first, of course, was in the traditional white dress. The parents were invited on stage and um, I don't really remember why they were there. People clapped, food was served, I got my own vegetarian dishes and ate the first salad I'd ever eaten in my life. When I saw that my first dish was a salad I was tempted to give it to my mom, but I put my game face on and tried it. I then proceeded to finish it. The sauce was some kind of wasabi sauce and it was surprisingly yummy.

Yesterday at Tony Roma's I ate some of the caesar salad that came with my brother's steak so maybe I've cured my aversion to salads and raw vegetables.

Anyway, more food was served, and the bride and groom made a second entrance:

This time they invited the girl who introduced the girl and guy to each other up on stage. She hugged my cousin and everyone clapped. It was quite cute. And while the bride and groom were walking in, packets of what I guessed were candy were dropped from the ceiling which made the kids all excited. I was quite excited too but they neglected the tables at the side of the hall, so no goodie surprises for me.

The food was not too bad, but not memorable. If I hadn't been taking pictures of all the food (for Wei Chuen's benefit - took pictures of everything after he asked me if I took a picture of the cute as hell beagle at the airport that was sniffing luggages for fruits and meat-products. I didn't think of doing so, sadly) I wouldn't remember what I ate. But it wasn't disastrous. And I don't think wedding food tastes all that great anyway so it was serviceable.

My cousin looked pretty though, and her husband is quite good-looking. The obligatory picture that I demanded as guests were leaving:

When that was over, we trooped to Ximending so that I could buy myself a few pairs of cheap shoes. Actually, I was looking for a pair of cheap oxford boots. I still hadn't gotten over the ones that I saw in Gongguan (night market-ish stretch of shops opposite the National Taiwan University. Prefer Gongguan to Ximending actually as the crowd isn't as young and high school-ish) and one of the things that I had to get in Taipei were definitely a cheap pair of oxfords. It was hell easy getting cheap shoes there - at least for me it was. Not so much for my mom - the shoes there, the cheap, made-in-Taiwan ones, don't really come in her size.

But they do in mine, most of the time. I bought two pairs from the shop where I bought my boots from, a pair of black heels for court (I wore it to mass call and it was fucking comfortable in spite of the unavoidable new-shoes blisters) and a pair of grey heels for work. The guy who attended to me knew that I was Singaporean which saddened me but oh well. And I randomly bargained at the shop, then found myself randomly bargaining throughout Ximending. It usually worked and I got 20 to 30 Taiwanese dollars off the selling price.

Anyway the shoes were damn cheap. I think I bought those two pairs for S$50, possibly less. I walked past another shop and saw another super cute flats which was about NT$270, which approximates to...whatever that divded by 20 is. So I bought 3 pairs of shoes in Ximending within the span of an hour. I was very happy indeed.

Also bought a pair of shorts for about S$10-ish. I totally love them.

We wanted to go to the cafe that we went to two years ago but couldn't find it so we went to a random one. My brother ordered his usual pudding milk tea and asked for large. When it came, I had a good time laughing my ass off at him because it was HUGE:

The picture doesn't really capture how big it was. But trust me when I saw it was massive. It was even bigger than like a pint of beer.

And I was very much amused when I saw that bloody Ah Zong Mian Xian was still as crowded as ever:

Seriously, talk about Taipei never changing. I see this sight every year and take a picture of it every year. If I'm bothered to I might just place them all side by side one day just to have a laugh.

Shopping at Ximending is great because the stuff is cheap and they're usually bargainable. There are also expensive boutiques, like some German brand that my mom recognised from architecture. I saw a t-shirt with a gorgeous design that cost 3,000-ish NT dollars which is like S$150?!!?! That was just not even possible. That one t-shirt alone cost more than all the money that my mom gave me to spend.

But apart from that, the Taiwan shops are really cheap, and being able to fit into free-sized clothes would help greatly. Having small feet would help too as shoes don't come larger than size 8 in general. Thank goodness I'm a size 8.

I didn't find my oxfords though. I saw a hell lot of gladiator sandals which I weren't interested in, so I went back sans oxfords.

I had stinky tofu at the night market for dinner. But before that, I had this:


That is all.

Charah coffee

Taipei 2010 - Day Three

The grand plan was to blog about my Taiwan trip, all 5 or 6 days, by the end of today, before I leave for Borobudur tomorrow morning (the flight is at 8). Seeing as I'd just finished packing and it's close to midnight and I'm only done with the first two days, though, it looks like the plan's gone down the drain.

I shall shoulder on nonetheless.


Day One
Day Two

Day Three:

In celebration of my grandma's birthday, my aunt - one of them - conceived of the idea of going on a Chang outing to Yilan. The only places in Taiwan, discounting Kinmen, are Taipei (ten million times), Taichung (a couple of times), Taoyuan (couple of times), fucking Alishan that made me sick, and Chiayi for like a night and a few hours, so I was all for it. I thought it'd be nice to see rural-ish Taiwan for a change.

Well, I might as well have gone to Taiwan with some cheesy packaged tour group. My aunt chartered an entire bus for the whole gang and when we got onto the bus and everyone was settled in, she warned us not to complain about the itinerary. At that time I thought, "How bad can it be? I've never been there before!"

To be fair, it wasn't bad. To be fair, too, much effort was put into the planning and I really appreciated it, and it was fun going on a day trip with the entire - and I mean, entire, save for a few people - paternal side of the family.

But wow, I did not need to see some orange whatever farm, some honey factory, some fucking whiskey distillery, and some weird national heritage park thing that left me confused as to its purpose AND its name despite spending an hour or so in there.

I think the highlight of the day trip was the non-stop karaoke on the bus. My eldest aunt and her husband regularly go for such things so them being able to sing in tune and relatively well wasn't much of a surprise. It was funny listening to my other relatives sing though, especially the kids. Actually, the adults were hilarious too, especially my third uncle, the Western-medicine doctor (the uncle that picked us up is also a doctor, but he practises Chinese medicine). My dad made me laugh my ass off with his over-zealous shouting-singing into the microphone and I've got video proof of his um...performances. I didn't want to sing at first, but I got infected by the bug and sang a couple of songs. It was embarrassing when I TOTALLY forgot how the hell Jay Chou's Ge Qian went as I'd not listened to it for so long, and I totally lost the plot when my eldest aunt switched up the key (I can only sing in the key that he sings in. My range is quite shit). I didn't screw up Bai Se Feng Che though, so it wasn't all bad.

To be honest, I brought along my MP3 player for the ride and when the karaoke started at the beginning, I thought they'd tire of it and I'd be able to listen to my songs. But yeah, that didn't happen. The karaoke only stopped at the end of the trip, when the bus brought us all back to the grandparents' apartment (also where I stayed, and always stay when I'm in Taipei). And during one of Wu Bai's weird flower whatever song, my aunt that chartered the bus and one of my kid cousins got up to the front and did the dance that supposedly went with the song. I was all baffled; I stopped following Chinese pop when I got tired of Jay Chou, and didn't really follow Chinese pop that closely even when I liked him. So that was a huge culture shock for me, but it was cute.

Anyway, the trip. The first stop was some farm. I don't know what the fuck it did, honestly. There were cute wooden figures outside of a band of musicians and I liked the cutesy concept of the place, but I don't know what it produced. I bought some yummy jelly there though. And the place has the word "orange" in its name so it's some orange farm or whatever.

In the general vincinity. This was one of the cutesy decoration things they had outside.

Me and a wooden figure playing the

The general area. I don't know what this was. The woman explained to us what they did but I wasn't listening haha.

The next stop was lots better - it was a lake. It was still a touristy place, but it was a lake with pretty scenery.

Mom and Dad, obviously. Nice view behind them.

My Bus-Chartering Aunt and my new cousin-in-law. Again, nice view. You can see the third character of my name in the background. (I think. I can't really tell from the picture. Oh well.)

The entire gang. We were all in the same red shirt because it was my grandma's birthday celebration. It has the name of my grandparents' shop printed across the chest. For my grandfather's birthday celebration a couple of years back, we had a similar shirt printed for all to wear. MY DAD THOUGH TOTALLY SPOILED IT BY NOT WEARING HIS SHIRT!!!!!

Pretty view again.

After this, we went to a honey farm. It was more interesting than the other ones I've been to, though I can't remember where they were, because they brought us to where they kept the bees and let us sample pure, unprocessed honey, straight from the honeycomb. There was a video presentation first and a Q&A session about how to tell real honey from fake honey or whatever, then we were led down to the bees area.

We had to don protective nets:

My dad's picture was really funny but for his sake I shall not post it.

The um, bee boxes. Yeah, I have no idea what these things are called.

They brought out the honeycombs with the bees all over them and this was the close-up I took. It's damn gross, I know.

Digging pure honey from the comb. I hereby declare this: I fucking hate honey. This gross thing was so sweet that the sweetness clung to the back of my throat 20 minutes after I'd ingested it. It was really gross. But maybe it's just me; I've never liked honey anyway.

They also let us taste some form of powdered nectar from a flower or whatever which was interesting, though I didn't like it too. Way too sweet and powdery and raw.

A whole bunch of bees on display. Yucks. It's a miracle I didn't run away, especially since I apparently have a chronic phobia of snakes. More about this in the next entry about the trip to the Taipei zoo.

One thing I've noticed about Taipei over the years is that they've seriously cleaned up their English. I used to see things like "Wrold trade centre" on buses, but nowadays there's not much for me to laugh at on that front.

So imagine how fucking hard I laughed when I saw these:

The "receives silver" one is funnier than the previous one, simply because of the brevity of its lousy translation. It's totally hilarious. And they even have the Taiwan tourism sign above it. I love Taiwanese English.

Next stop was the whiskey place. The name "Mr Brown" was thrown around and I thought I was going to see a coffee-processing factory which would definitely have interested me; instead, all I saw was the whiskey distillery which I couldn't possibly care any less about, and the only thing coffee-related that I saw was a huge-ass Mr Brown cafe that occupied the entire second floor of a building. Maybe there was a coffee factory that we didn't go into but whatever the case, I didn't see it and so was disappointed.

Yeah, I just really like taking pictures.

The fermentation process. For the benefit of my non-Chinese friends and people like my boyfriend who can't read Chinese, bottle on left is post-fermentation; in the middle is during; and on the right is before. Omg, how interesting!1!!!1!!!!! Moving on now.

There was a whiskey tasting session in which my dad partook. There was even a queue for it. I couldn't be bothered and headed straight for the second storey, which was Mr Brown. I wanted a latte but unfortunately my eldest aunt's husband bought six big cups of gross-ass Americano so I had no choice but to drink that. Even with milk though, it was so vile that I had to give the rest of my small cup of it to my mom. I hate black coffee. Ruishan amazes me endlessly with her ability to drink it WITHOUT MILK AND SUGAR.

We got on the bus again and I took some pictures of the view. Here is one:

The lunch restaurant, if you could call it that, was in the middle of some paddy field. Or rather, there was a huge paddy field along the road which would've been more amazing to me if it hadn't started raining quite heavily.

First, though, lunch: the food was standard, i.e. the restaurant people served the same dishes to all the groups that patronised it. It catered to tourists, I'm guessing. There were a grand total of 3 dishes that I could eat: the fish, the vegetables, and the miso soup. Didn't care for the fish, but the vegetables was SO. FUCKING. GOOD. It was just spinach but WOW, the vegetables in Taiwan have a fresh and smooth quality that the imported stuff in Singapore can't hope to have. I usually don't go crazy over vegetables but I couldn't stop taking those.

The miso soup wasn't too bad but I don't like miso soup in general so I'm not the best judge of that.

The interesting part of lunch was actually when I went to the toilet. There was a short queue when I went downstairs. I went into the sitting cubicle, found that there was no toilet paper, so went out again to get some napkins. When I went back I was behind a few old ladies. The sitting cubicle was empty so I asked if they wanted to use it. None of them wanted to use it. I can't stand to squat as the last time I squatted to pee, and I remember this very vividly, many years ago in a public library's toilet, I peed all over my shoes. Not a good thing, methinks.

But they didn't want to use it because it was dirty. Ergo, I lined the seat with napkins and peed cleanly.

When I went back out a HUGE queue had formed for the toilet. The area was actually really dirty so I was quite anxious to get out of there ASAP, which I did. Also managed to take pictures of the paddy field:

The next and last stop was the national whatever centre. It basically was a compound with some period buildings, though I couldn't place which period, that sold a lot of stuff. There was also an old house of some guy that was moved there but I didn't get the details on that. The best part about it was the gorgeous scenery - a small lake, a bridge over the lake, and adorable ducks swimming on the water. I got close enough to touch them and they weren't scared at all, but I was too scared to touch them. So sad, right? I know.

See, strange buildings. Tong said it looked like Italy. I was just baffled.

Okay can't really see the view in this but it was pretty, trust me.

One of the ducks! So cute!

Nice view, right?

Found a stall selling stinky tofu. The woman sold a box of 12 for S$2.50. I thought 12 pieces was too much so I asked for 8 and I'd pay the full price as I thought I couldn't finish 12 all by myself. After I was down to the last piece, I wish I had 12 pieces. IT WAS SO GOOD. I LOVE STINKY TOFU.

This was the old house. I'm gonna upload pictures on Facebook. Too lazy to edit too many pictures for the entries.

So then it was dinner for my grandma's birthday. The restaurant was shockingly a new one, but wow, the service was fucking shit. My dad complained about the speed of the vegetarian food for my grandaunt, but what I complained about was the shit attitude of the auntie waitress when she came over to change the plates.

First, I must say that the fucking Taiwanese don't really like to change plates. In Singapore they change your plates after like every dish; in Taiwan they do so maybe three times max throughout a meal. It was the same situation during the wedding.

That night, after they served some seafood dish - some crab thing I think - they came over to change the plates. I sat against the wall and was quite far in for the waitress to reach, so I thought I'd help her out by passing her my brother's plate and mine. I put them together and stretched out my hand to hand it to her, but guess what the old bitch said? "If it's not dirty don't change it."

WHAT THE FUCK?! HOW IN THE NAME OF GOD'S GREEN EARTH WOULD THE PLATES NOT BE FUCKING DIRTY WHEN I'D STACKED ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER?!?!?! That REALLY pissed me off and I nearly threw a temper tantrum on the spot. I ranted for sure, and told the woman point blank that the plates were dirty. She returned with two clean ones.

But seriously, what the hell was that? Would it kill you to give us two clean plates? We're giving your restaurant a hell lot of money after all. SERIOUSLY.

Apart from that, dinner was good. The prawn with cheese on top was really yummy. The rest of the food was a blur. The cake had Uni Food pudding in it so I liked it.


I decided to be the spoiler by not wearing the red shirt as I thought it was damn gross to wear back the shirt that I'd worn the whole day after I'd showered. Me with my cousin and cousin-in-law.

Sons with their wives.

Western med doctor's kids. They're really cute.

The cousins I'm closest to. I used to be really close with the girl on the left when I was a kid - went over to her house to play ALL THE TIME. Her mom always says things like "you two used to be so close and now you're not" when I go over to her house which is rather awkward but she's quite the country bumpkin so oh well.

Okay, it's taken me close to an hour to write this. No way in hell I'm gonna be able to finish the whole trip tonight, so I guess I'll continue when I'm back from Borobudur.

Shit man, not looking forward to all the blogging I'd have to do!

(PS. In French Open news, Tomas Berdych beat Andy Murray in straight sets! Yay! Stupid Henin lost to Stosur today. Grr why didn't she just lose to Masha yesterday. And I'm gonna miss Federer/Soderling. Sigh!)