Thursday, July 28, 2011

week 44_346 Taiwan Beer Restaurant

I haven't been out late at night partying probably since the holiday parties during Christmas & Chinese New Year, but this week our company hosted a "Summer" dinner party and it was quite the event! The dinner was scheduled at a restaurant associated with the Taiwan Beer brewery, the 346 Taiwan Beer Restaurant on BaDe Road. A colleague and I walked to the location, and had wandered through what looked like an after-hours or abandoned brewery campus before we finally discovered the restaurant at the back of the grounds. We were beginning to wonder if we were in the right place! We slowly strolled through what looked like dark drive aisles, loading docks, and warehouses until we saw the bright neon 346 sign at the entrance to the restaurant warehouse.

We found it!

Just a few tables placed outside the entrance
The decor is obviously not the reason that people dine at this place! Ha. Or then again, maybe it is. The warehouse full of picnic tables with a gigantic T-shaped stage was the perfect setting for a noisy group dinner. Every table equipped with miniature Taiwan Beer kegs (more than one per table typically) and plenty of Taiwanese and want-to-be Western foods! 

If you can't tell from the photo, the food just keeps on coming!
If I said my favorite dish was the french fries that would probably be a shame, huh?! Well, that wasn't the only good dish, but what can I say? The fries were pretty good. They had many other specialties - fish, hot pot, grilled skewers, fried octopus, "sandwiches" and on and on. We ate until we couldn't eat any more (even though the food never stopped coming in the 3 or so hours I was there) and then we drank almost as eagerly. 

I had a blast :)

The fun was all about the environment. Kicking back. Letting loose. Okay, some people are a lot "loose"-r than me! But I really had a great time. :) When the live band came on stage they played a great combination of local and international music - the first song of the night was Rolling in the Deep (one of my favorites lately!) So I was immediately pleased.

The lead singer of the band rocking out on a keg stand

Even though I cut out from the party before I got too carried away, I had plans to meet up with a friend downtown - so where did I end up anyways? At the W Hotel bar by the poolside... where else ;) Ha! A few more drinks and a higher-than-I-should-spend bar tab for one evening... but drinks with a friend after a long week: worth it. 

WET Bar at W Hotel Taipei poolside
Margarita on the Rocks or a Lychee Mojito ~ both recommended

Thursday, July 21, 2011

week 44_High Speed Rail to Kaohsiung

Today I had some work to complete outside of the office in a city called Kaohsiung, at the southern tip of the island. I spend plenty of time at a desk, so it was a welcome break as always. We took the High Speed Rail which travels at 200+ miles per hour; total trip time is approximately 1 1/2 hours each way Taipei - Kaohsiung.

Beautiful blue sky
The train is very nice - fairly new with reversible reclining seats so that you can face either direction, and lean back quite a ways. The High Speed Rail trains are a nicer ride than some of the slow trains I've ridden to other parts of the island. It reminds me a lot of a quick flight. They keep a timely schedule and offer multiple trips up and down the island all day long. The service seems efficient and well organized. Attendants walk through the train cars offering snacks & drinks. I had some skittles to snack on and learned that the "original" Skittles flavors here appear to be: Strawberry, Orange, Lemon, Apple, & Blackberry... Whatever happened to Grape & Lime?! (Even though, truthfully the Apple beat Lime by a long shot...)

Kaohsiung is known for being sunnier than Taiwan, and warmer. We are right in the heart of summer now so the sunny views on the way down were spectacular. Although it was near impossible to capture the true views with my phone camera, you will have to take my word for it that there was plenty to see. Hundreds of fields of rice patties, often with a lone person hard at work out in the massive field. Temples alongside the tracks. Mountains. Sunshine. 

Ah, the countryside.
Taiwan is a semi-tropical island, and watching as we rode it reminded me of something you might see in the Caribbean - lots of palm trees and tropical foliage - but with an Asian twist. Next to the palm trees might be a rice patty, or a pond filled with giant lily pads. 

Some of the many farms along the way.
The Taiwanese love a colorful bridge - I've noticed :)
By the time we headed back to Taipei, the daily afternoon rain showers had moved in as usual. No shortage of rain here lately. I dozed a little on the ride back to the office - just trying to save up energy for the rest of the day's work! Even still, the ride was great and the view was lovely.

My attempt to photo a temple on the way - hard to see in the picture, but pretty in real life.
One of these days, the hubby and I should rent a car and drive this trip. I'm sure it would be fascinating, not to mention I would have much better pictures!!! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

week 43_Walking Home

Mail man's scooter
Now that I am 10 months into my life here in Taipei, I seem to find considerably less time to blog!!! :) Nonetheless, I'm still appreciating the adventure of it all!

Dihua Street, near the Fabric Market

I think it is probably a good sign ~ that I have started to settle into life here and my own daily activities. Nonetheless, part of being here is about making time for myself. I don't know why it feels like I can stop and take time for myself more when I am this far away, but somehow it's true. I spend considerably less time watching television or fretting about work when I'm outside of work, and more time window shopping as I walk home, daydreaming, or reading a book. It's good for me!

Loved the fun architecture along this block of shops

Jason has also finally settled into a routine. He's working full-time as a copy editor for the China Post. I'm so thrilled that he has found a job he can enjoy as much as I enjoy mine, but our hours are permanently in conflict so I still have most evenings to myself and look forward to spending time with him as much as possible on the weekends!

fountain near Taipei City Hall

This week, I have made a point of walking home each day. I'm trying to get back to the lifestyle of making time for myself. Cliche, you think? Well, that may be the mentality of my generation "You should do what makes you feel happy. You have the right to be happy. You deserve things that you want" and so on and so on... me, me, me... but I still think that most people don't take genuine time for themselves often and I am trying to make it a habit! Not in the annoying way of "I deserve what I want!" but more like "I am gaining an appreciation for the quite moments in my day"...

the tallest lady, TAIPEI 101 - just showing off as usual

So... the daily walk home plays a major role in that. You never know what you'll see. One day it's a mail scooter that just looks fun to me, another day it's a beauty salesman asking if I'd like to take a survey about makeup products... then handing me an entire form in Chinese! Ha. That's alright, I like that every day is a little different.

As with anything, it's all in the eyes of the beholder - but for me, I like to see the glamour in this city life! ;)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

week 42_Happy 4th of July!

Yes, even here in Taiwan, we found our own way to celebrate the holiday. Poolside at the Taipei American Club, we watched youngins compete in swimming relay competitions and diving contests. We feasted on a large outdoor buffet of traditional American (and many still Taiwanese influenced) dishes... Plus, we enjoyed a couple of cold brews on the hot summer day!

Let's face it, the food wasn't quite the fish fry that my folks were fixing back home... and the gigantic American flag cake didn't quite taste like there was any butter used in it's preparation... probably not much sugar either? [Yes, it's healthier that way, I know... *sigh*] But all in all, with a couple of good friends ~ we were very pleased to be able to celebrate the holiday in our own way.

AND I got to take my picture with 'Uncle Sam'... :) After all, what is more American than a very tan, skinny Asian man with his hands full of red, white, and blue balloons? Doesn't this photo just scream to you - "Happy Independence Day America!" Haha, well I thought he was very festive, and fun :D

Happy Independence Day United States of America!
We are celebrating with you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

week 41_back & forth

Back & forth, as in - I am back, I would like to go forth!

I find that most international travelers have their 'usual routine'. Mine: I stay awake on the plane for the first meal and order one alcoholic beverage to drink (beer or wine). I take 2 Tylenol PM's and allow myself to watch one movie during or after my meal. I always sit in the window seat so that I have the plane to lean up against. Then, it's lights out and I make every attempt to fall back asleep each time I wake up. This system seems to work well for me, but I've heard others. It also helps once you begin travelling more regularly that the adrenaline and excitement about what awaits you at the other end of the journey may no longer keep you awake in anticipation.

This trip, I actually had a slightly different schedule than usual. I know this may sound crazy to some of you all - I landed at 5:50am back in Taipei, rode the hour long taxi ride into the city, dropped off my luggage at home, took a shower, and made it to work by 8:45am as usual! YES I was pretty intimidated when I looked at the schedule ahead of time, but once it all played out I think that was the key to my quick adjustment. Being forced to stay awake that entire first day at the office was just what I needed to get me back on track (and I slept on the plane mostly, so it was sort of like waking up on a typical morning... ish... )

Week 41 was uneventful, mostly due to my jet-lag. The hubby and I are finally settling into a more permanent routine - with him at his full time place of employment, and still me at mine. Although I miss seeing him when I get home from work (his hours run late into the evening), this past week it was all I could do just to get home and collapse on the bed! Not to say that I didn't adjust well to the Taipei time zone, or that it was sooo difficult to get over the jet lag, because in my opinion it was more than bearable. I simply had the urge to crawl into bed earlier each evening that I typically would... And in my opinion, coming back to a time zone 13 hours different than what I became accustomed to on my vacation and being able to immediately stay awake all day every day - Well, that is a win-win situation. Great vacation, bearable transition back to my everyday routine.

Thankfully this week I am finally back on track!