Archive for the ‘JoB likes’ Category

JoB likes: WANDERING WEEKENDS

January 11, 2010

This Sunday was just a beautiful day. I have never seen the sky so blue and clear here in Taichung. I spent the day wandering the parks and the city with friends, soaking up the rays.

The view.

Fields of tropical plants adorn the gardens of Taichung.

City agriculture is all over Taiwan.

A wooden house perched atop an apartment block.

Creme brulee. The perfect end to the day.

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JoB likes: FREE FOOD

January 8, 2010

I was reading in the latest Taiwan What’s Up newsletter that Taichung has it’s own Chinese New Year shopping street. And it’s just down the road from my house. I visited Dihua Street in Taipei in 2009 and I was over-awed by the sites, smells, sounds and tastes. Particularly the tastes, as you can sample different traditional and international snacks from pretty much every vendor. I’m excited that I’ll be able to check out Taichung’s equivalent this time round.

Visit Tianjin Road (Section 2) in Taichung’s Beitun District during 5-16 February. The bonus about this market is the opportunity to purchase cheap clothing, as I did earlier in the year on a visit to the street.

Dihua Street, Taipei

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JoB likes: DAKENG SCENIC AREA

January 3, 2010

I have been holed up in my apartment for two days suffering from an awful cold. I had had enough of watching movies, putting on the washing, hanging out the washing, wearing my dressing gown, washing the dishes, eating soup… and today decided I needed to hit the bush (or jungle in Taiwan, I guess).

So, I worked out how to catch the bus to Dakeng Scenic Area. I caught the 15 on Beitun Road near where it crosses Wenxin Road and the 21 back to roughly the same spot. And it only takes about 15  minutes by bus to get into the mountains. I can’t believe how close lush rainforest is to the city.

We didn’t look at any travel brochures before we went and I really believed the trails would consist of leisurely strolls through manicured shrubbery. So I dressed accordingly – wearing a silk dress, white cardy and black leather boots.

Here’s a picture of the actual trail.

It was truly a hike and I was constantly in fear of slipping over. But, I hitched up my skirt and dug in and we got to the top of the trail and came across a Buddhist temple complex sprawling over the top of the mountain. The views were wonderful, even through the smog.

Thankfully, as the temple sat atop the mountain, the walk back was pretty much all downhill. We stomped down and strolled past a river, home to tons of tadpoles, a flock of geese and one of those white crane-like birds you see everywhere in Taiwan. It was just lovely.

We then wandered around the township at the base of the trail. There seemed to be one shop that was super popular with all the visitors but we couldn’t work out what was being sold. Possibly a soup of some kind.

We also stumbled across a tourist attraction which housed a DIY shop called Carton King with an attached museum exhibiting, yep, many different kinds of cardboard containers.

Most of the merchandise was pretty average, stuff I’ve seen before and don’t really like, but there was a whole lot of cardboard furniture that was pretty cool and I really liked these cardboard bags.

But the best thing about this tourist attraction was the Honey Museum which wasn’t actually a museum at all but a shop selling locally produced honey products. Among these products was this honey ice cream.

I can with all honesty say it was the yummiest ice cream I have tried in ages. Creamy with no icey bits and just a subtle honey flavour that mixed beautifully with the vanilla. And it only cost NT$90 for two tubs.

Dakeng Township seems to have a weird fascination with toy windmills, the ones that as a kid you would run around with on the end of a stick and blow it to make it twirl. They’re everywhere. I’m not sure if they’re up all over town for some kind of festival or if they’re always there. Anyway, they made for great photos.

After looking at windmills and eating our fill of sublime ice cream we jumped on the number 21 bus and rode it back to Wenxin Road.

When we got back to our apartment I looked up the area on Google maps and saw that there are a ton of trails to explore and a million other things to see. So I’m going back, more suitably attired, in the weekends to come.

All up, for two people, the trip cost us NT$170. NT$80 return for the bus and $90 for the two tubs of ice cream.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: OTHER CHRISTMASie STUFF

December 8, 2009

Here’s the tree decorated. Yes, those are chocolate Santas. All the way from New Zealand.

And here’s a pic of the cards I made to send abroad. All you need is some origami paper, colored card, scissors and glue.


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JoB likes: HAND-WRITING LETTERS

December 3, 2009

I want to start a letter writing club like this one. I just need to get a couple of old typewriters and some writing pads and some pens and a club house. And some colored pencils. Yes, some well-sharpened colored pencils would complete this collection of implements. It would be just beautiful to produce some hand-written, hand-decorated letters. Don’t you think?

Hmmm, anyone keen to start one here in Taichung? Email jarofbuttons@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.

If I have to, I’ll become the club’s only member. Don’t leave me lonely.

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JoB likes: CHRISTMAS TREES

December 2, 2009

We recently bought a real live pine tree as our Christmas tree this year. I feel guilty that one day I may have to get rid of it as an actual tree-sized Christmas tree will soon no longer fit on our balcony, but I have justified it. A fake Christmas tree made of plastic is totally non-biodegradable whereas my tree, even if we throw it away, will break down easily. Also, my tree is busy everyday releasing lots of great oxygen into the atmosphere to counteract all those nasty gases floating around up there.

See, justified. And it smells like pine tree. How can I resist!

No decorations yet. I’ll post a pic when that’s all done. The cardboard things behind it are chocolate Christmas calendars that I brought back from NZ.

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JoB likes: FLEA MARKETING

August 17, 2009

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There is nothing I love more in this world than browsing through junk. And to learn that Taichung has flea markets and that the biggest one is only a 15 minute walk from my house was a revelation worth shouting off the rootftop of my apartment. (I didn’t actually do this but I really wanted to).

So, Typhoon Morakot came and went and my planned day for flea-marketing went with it. But all was not lost. I went yesterday instead. Rummaging through the rows of stalls selling everything from ceramics, stereos and clothing to tools and sex toys, I came to the happy realisation that flea markets the world over must have the same feeling of exciting discovery to them. That great bargain or one-off find is just around the next vendor. And yes, there actually was a stall selling, among other things, second-hand dildos. Gross.

The market was covered in the rainbow material so often seen covering markets across Taiwan. The range of stalls was huge. Some people had only a few things, maybe gleaned from picking through other people’s actual trash, and some vendors had sophisticated set-ups selling brand new items. The market extends back in a “T” shape with two wings left and right. Scattered through the market are tea and snack stalls providing energy to hungry early morning scavengers.
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The only tangible difference between this flea market and the ones Kiwiland or Australia is that the vendors chew a lot of betelnut and speak to you in Taiwanese or Chinese. We did meet, as we often do, a fellow browser who spoke great English. After asking us where we worked he said, “Oh, Hess, cram school. You make a lot of money.” We said, “I guess so”. We do earn well above the minimum wage here, a fact that makes me feel downright guilty sometimes. Hence the reason I didn’t barter for any of my purchases. I figure we get paid enough so if I want something I’ll just deal out what’s asked. If it’s seems too expensive I just say, “No”, and move on.

I think my favourite purchase was a wooden Spare Parts Box. I have already used the bag, which is leather, and I know it will be a great accessory to all the outfits purchased recently on a trip to Tianjin Road, Section 2. I’m going to make pies in the bowl. It’s going to be my official pie bowl.
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I want to find out what the Chinese on the medals say. One is from 1949 and has 1949.4 stamped on it and the other is from 1946 (1946.12). I couldn’t find out much about them with a Google search but I think this is around the dates that the Nationalists left China for Taiwan. They look like bronze military medallions. If you know the significance of these dates please leave a comment.

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I have decided that the sacrifice of a Sunday morning sleep in for a flea-marketing adventure is well worth it on occasion. You can always partake of a lovely afternoon nap, surrounded by your newly gleaned treasures, to make up for it.

This flea market is near the Taiyuan Train Station on DongGuang Road in Beitun District, Taichung.

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JoB likes: YUANLIN

August 7, 2009

I once spoke with a fellow teacher who told me he had asked his manager why our company had placed my boyfriend and I in Taichung (to live) when our branch was in Yuanlin (nearly an hour away by train). He said his manager replied by asking, “Have you ever been there? No? Well, there’s nothing there.” In other words, Yuanlin, in the opinion of this teacher’s manager, is a %$#&hole.

Well, since I’ve been travelling there on a regular basis and have had the opportunity to explore this not-so-little country town, I’m happy to report that it actually has a lot to offer, maybe not to the average tourist but certainly to anyone who happens to be passing through on their way to other areas of Taiwan. Or to the Taichung resident who wants to explore their extended neighbourhood.

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Yuanlin has the feel of an eccentric, semi-rural township. I liken it to Castlemaine outside Melbourne, Australia. (Sorry for those reading who come from anywhere other than Melbourne but it was my only point of reference.) There are a number of shops, cafes and restaurants that have a unique charm. Among my favourites are:

Moustache
This store is located in the block of shops to your left that edge the public square outside the train station. I love this store for its name alone, let alone what it contains inside its four walls. This is one of the best streetwear stores I’ve come across in Taiwan. Their stock of urbanist sneakers is constantly renewed; there is always a new pair my feet cry out for. I mainly stop by for the sneakers, but my boyfriend has purchased chequered shirts and tees from this store and they have a great range of guys pants.

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Lulu
Walk straight ahead from Moustache towards the city, past the High Life on the corner, and keep an eye out for a small white and black sign above your head that says, “Lulu”. This teensy store oozes cute. It is hidden down an alley so always feels like your own personal shopping secret. Literally filled to the brim with clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery, it contains many covetable items. My favourites are their selection of dirt-cheap watches (only $150NT), which come in tons of eccentric designs, and their cluster of cute and crafty wooden pendants. Their range of long-length tees and tops are also must-haves. My only regret is that my huge size-10 feet are far too big to fit any of the shoes in their charming collection.

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Tony’s BBQ
Tony’s is a traditional Japanese BBQ and a favourite with the locals. It’s completely open plan but has moved away from the standard Taiwanese outdoor restaurant setting and developed a style of its own. Their menu is in English and Chinese and they serve Taiwan Beer in huge mugs. Saki is also available for those who like to avoid the TB headache the next day. The squid with green onion is so good: whole barbequed squid, stuffed with green onion and wasabi. I also really enjoy the lamb with thyme and the grilled mushrooms. There are plenty of vegetarian and seafood options available for those of you so inclined.

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Pali
This bar is retro-fitted in the actual sense of the term and spans three floors. It’s cluttered with knick-knacks in the way essential for kitsch and houses comfy lounge-about chairs, the kind you can curl up cat-like in. The top floor is home to items for sale: original 50s to 70s furniture and household stuff that I’ve found very hard to locate in Taiwan and will be perusing for purchase once I’m debt free. The music sifting from the speakers ranges from corny local pop to jazz to DJ Shadow to early grunge classics. Pali’s menu offers some Western choices, generally mucked up in the way only the Taiwanese can (although I have yet to try their pastas and they could prove me wrong), so it’s best to stick with the bar snacks, which are great. I have a deep regard for the deep fried tofu. The drinks menu is outstanding, with many imported beers, including Hoegaarden, dozens of cocktails and the usual mixers. This bar is best enjoyed on the second floor, with an arrival just before sundown, after which the friendly staff dim the lights to a flattering and chill-out inducing level.

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So jump on the train and take a trip through the now-harvested rice fields and rural communities to a sleepy, artsy little town, host to a crop of shops and eateries that are both welcoming and oozing cool.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.