Sunday, 6 April 2014

Out of Hiatus

*tumbleweed floats across the screen*

I'm back online for the time being. Although I am eating out less frequently and not attending every single social event out there, my priorities for this year have shifted to focusing on rebuilding my career after two rounds of job loss (redundancy) in less than six months - what are the chances? :) have no fear, it has given me a thicker skin and I still endeavour to possess a positive outlook in life.

As there is no such thing as job security any more, I have been immersing in further studies to become a registered migration agent in July 2014. Looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges that comes from the job!

Friday, 15 February 2013

End of Year Travels 2012/2013: Highlights of Taipei (Part 2)

The Xi Men Ding area is definitely the place to go for younger style clothing and mainly branded labels. Occasionally you will see some outdoor vendors wheeling in their carts full of either cheap or illegal knockoffs to the side when they are aware of a police car approaching the street. They manage to hide discreetly in the shadows by keeping a low profile. Not sure what sort of communication system they used but it was interesting to watch from the sidelines. The prices are generally reasonable ranging from wholesaler items to high end labels if you're after a particular brand.

Dinner that night was at a random steak and grill restaurant. Xi Men Ding is divided into 3-4 extended streets so it was confusing to navigate at times.


It wasn't an expensive cut of meat but the portions were massive. For $17 AUD you get a sizzling plate of meat at least 400g in size. They had a buffet area to collect your own sauces, salads and soups. There was an ice-cream station with about 4 flavours if you can fit it in later. Not a bad feed at all!


 I never seen a bouquet of soft toys before! First time I've seen a Ted toy around too.


The following day wasn't exactly in Taipei but about 2 hours by train heading northbound to the mountains. I booked an overnight stay in Jiu Fen in the hope of releasing a sky lantern in Ping Xi but sadly it was pouring buckets of rain for the whole day :( oh well...maybe it's a sign to come back next time. Expect crowds of tourists mainly from Hong Kong as you try to squeeze through the old street filled with tiny food and souvenir vendors.


Crushed peanuts wrapped in a thin soft pancake and icecream were popular. Didn't get to try the tea eggs. The guy in the right photo is sanding down a block of peanuts with a small carving tool using an old traditional method.


Our lunch place: famous for fish balls but we thought it tasted average and the soup was really bland. The owner liked to place holiday photos of herself around the walls. No menus in English are available so it may mean a blind game of roulette of hopefully not gizzards. 


Day and night views from our BnB: a day trip is possible with even time to visit surrounding suburbs near Jiu Fen.




Monday, 11 February 2013

End of Year Travels 2012/2013: Highlights of Taipei (Part 1)

It was my first time venturing into Taiwan territory hence I covered mainly touristy places in the north. I will definitely return to explore central and southern Taiwan for more food and scenic goodness!
  • Taipei 101 - mentioned briefly in the previous post. There's a Din Tai Fung dumpling branch inside. I didn't go up to the observation deck due to the large tour crowds floating around the building.
  • Mao Kung cable car- the view of the city was quite nice on a non-cloudy day. Once you reach the top, you are presented with numerous tea houses to choose from. Some have a better view than others but may be limited in food choices. Either way, you won't starve there! 


Taipei 101 in the background:




There are some snack vendors along the way which were on average under 30 NT ($1 AUD) per serve. 5 spice chicken rice, creamy vegetable soup with wonton and glutonious rice.



Their oyster omelette was a bit undercooked, batter was too heavy and it wasn't as fresh as the ones we tasted in Hong Kong.



Mountain views:


The tea appreciation plantation/museum was about a 15 -20 minutes walk from the drop off point of the cable car. The back garden and fields were unfortunately closed when we arrived (for renovations). We watched a quick video and had a wander around of what was left open to the public.





Overall, it makes for a nice half-day trip. There are hiking trails offered for the more adventurous or those missing their usual exercise.

Happy Chinese New Year 2013: Goodbye Dragon, enter the Snake

Wishing everyone a prosperous year ahead filled with lots of laughter, good health and luck :)

Inside Crown Casino:


 Chinese New Year festivities in Melbourne CBD (central business district): Dragon parade


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