Taiwanese Adventure V: Markets, Dinosaurs, & Saying Goodbye


Day VII: Wedding & Night Markets

We had a very busy day between the Wedding during the day and our night at the Shilin Night Market. (they got seperate entries)

This picture was taken outside of the Market.

Day VIII: Our last full day in Taiwan

Bright and early, Darren, Hildo and I headed out to the Jade Market in search of a gift for Hildo’s wife and a piece of jade for me.

The Jade market is attached to the Flower market, both of which are open only on Saturday and Sunday.

As our taxi dropped us off on the Flower side of the market, we wandered through it first.

The market has a huge orchid selection, and a large area is misted for their well-being.

The markets are huge. The volume of choice was a bit overwhelming, really.

After a while, Hildo found a pair of earrings, and an interesting jar, both of which he purchased.

I found this bit of jade on the right, and we headed back to the hotel to collect Bill, whom we were supposed to bring to the market with us, only he had slept a little late.

The Jade Market sells many pendants which one can have threaded onto a string. I chose a red one, which I was advised is traditional.

I was easily convinced to go back to the maket so that he and Peter could also do a bit of shopping while Hildo and Darren found us a suitable lunch venue.
Thus, more shopping and an excellent sashimi lunch followed.


(naturally, with beer!)

After lunch, we went on a wander towards the Confucius temple.
Unfortuantely, the temple was occupied by a dance off.

There was a lengthy wander to find various sites, which were inaccessible due to construction.

The adventure ended with a can of delicious blueberry lactic acid at the museum’s very air conditioned cafe.

We later headed out to the dinosaur and native American themed Indian Beer Hall, which as you can see from its exterior held lots of promise.


Upon entering the venue, we crossed a koi pond via a bridge with teeth!

The koi pond also contained a large skeleton, the tail of which goes over the bridge.

Heading upstairs delivered even more dinosaurs, even in the bathrooms!

We settled in to order, and enjoyed both the ease of the English menu and the interesting variety of cusine offered.

…and of course, we enjoyed the dinosaurs!
…and we definitely enjoyed the beer!


Day IX: Saying goodbye to Taipei

We headed to the airport after many goodbyes and an excellent breakfast.


As we had a bit of extra time, we stopped into the Starbucks at the airport, and in an effort to find something local, ordered green tea lattes. Admittedly, I seldom set food in a SBX, so while this beverage might exist back home, my assertion that it doesn’t is based on very limited exposure. It was very green.

Caffeinated as one can be from a bright green latte, we exchanged our remaining Taiwanese Dollars for Hong Kong Dollars, and made our way to the gate, beginning our journey home.

Hong Kong Dollars are especially pretty, and they kept us entertained in the next airport!

Advertisements

Taiwanese Adventure: Two Red Boxes


We left the wedding with two red boxes, curious to see what was in them.

Much to my surprise, they contained even more food!

The big red box contained a variety of cookies, which I later learned are selected by the bride’s family and provided by the groom’s family.

Aditionally, I learned that when the groom, the six cars, and the boombox show up at the bride’s house to ask for her hand, he will traditionally bring a negotiatior to act as a mediator when the family discusses wedding expense, including these tasty cookies.

As the cookies were individually wrapped, we’ve been enjoying them since we left Taipei.

Actually, mostly I’ve been enjoying them since we left Taipei, having made my way through the whole upper tray. (I should have taken a picture before!)
Some have had an alcohol flavor, others have been a bit more like tea biscuits only thinner, but the ones that have really stood out were the green tea flavored ones.

The smaller red box contained a wedding cake. (I had failed to notice the absence of wedding cake at the reception, likely because of the twelve courses that were consumed.)

The wedding cake, on the other hand, had a shelf life of about a week, and needed to be consumed. The bride described the cake to me, including a mention of it containing red beans. My husband isn’t much a fan of the beans + pastry= dessert idea, I decided to bring it into the office to share.

Shortly after lunch, I sliced it up and distributed it around my group. I mentioned that the cake contained beans, to ensure no one was surprised. While slicing up the last pieces, I heard a colleague ask:

“um, Franc, is there meat in this?”

In fact, yes. The cake contains a dried shredded pork. This was included in the description I had received from the bride, but I had completely forgotten. Oops.
So, the meat is a bit savory, the beans are a little sweet, and the outside tastes a lot like sesame seeds, as one might expect from giving this cake a look.

I think of everyone who tried it, I liked it the most. I think overcoming the idea that a dessert would contain pork was a bit of a stretch for some. For the next hour or two, I’d occasionally get a whiff of the remains of the meaty cake sitting near my desk and just giggle.

Taiwanese Adventure, Part IV: Taiwanese Wedding!


Attending a wedding of this tradition was a first for me, and as I failed to find a good account of the various rituals involved, I thought it might be nice to create one. If I’ve gotten some of this wrong, definitely let me know!

Wandering around Taipei, I kept seeing the same adverstisement for a wedding venue. It made me wonder, is this what a Taiwanese wedding looks like? I mean, would our friends dance on a giant cake? arrive at the reception by descending from the sky on a shiny platform? I sure hoped so!

We headed to the Silks Palace at the National Palace Museum in Taipei for the big event.

As the wedding we attended had guests coming from far and wide, the bride and groom opted to have their engagment ceremony and wedding all in the same day and in the same location. Cleverly, a lot of the steps and location changes were represented by changing rooms within the venue; although as a lot of the dialogue and instruction was in Mandarin, my interpretation may not be 100%.

As I understand it:

The engagement process is kicked off when the groom shows up at the bride’s house, possibly with six cars, a dowry in a red envelope, and a boom box playing Peter Gabriel’s, “In Your Eyes”.

Really, It looks a bit more like this:
(Lots of red ribbons for luck!)

Assuming that all goes well, the bride goes with the groom, the six cars, and the boombox to the groom’s parents’ home, where she makes tea for them. Assuming the tea is up to snuff, the groom’s parents will express their support of the union through further contributions to the dowry in red envelopes placed atop their empty teacups.

During the engagement process, gifts of gold are given by the parents to their new daughter or son in law, an engagement ring is given (to be worn in the middle finger), and the couple to be exchange six gifts.

Numbers are very important. The six cars, the six gifts… the wedding party will consist of two or six, but mustn’t have four, as fours are very unlucky.

Then, the bride’s mother will consult the calendar and use the bride and groom’s birthdates to determine the luckiest date for their union.

The marriage ceremony itself was very simple and beautiful. From what I gathered, it is where the parents of the bride give their final blessing, and the bride says goodbye to her parents. Traditionally, this is where the bride will leave home and join her husband’s family. It was a very emotional thing to observe. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. (I’m a sap and could take few pictures)

After that, it’s festivity time!

We headed up to the reception, where we, too, offered our gifts in red envelopes as well. We were advised that to not give any sum that contained a four or to give four bills.

Gifts are given prior to the reception, and typically one gives a sum of money which should cover the expense of attendance at the dinner.
The money from both sides is counted and recorded in a register.

Finding our seats was a bit of a challenge on the floorplan to the right! With a little help, we made our way to our seats and settled in.


Would the bride and groom arrive atop giant cake on hydraulics?

As it happens, they didn’t, but there were lots of bubbles for the bride and her father!

Traditionally, a reception will consist of a massive, multi-course feast. This one had twelve courses of wonderful food, some of which is below:


Including a little sweet for dessert!

I will go back and explain what all these dishes are, but if I don’t just publish this now, I’ll not do it for at least another week!

Unlike Western weddings, and much to the joy of my husband, there is no dancing.


Another interesting thing about a Chinese wedding:

The bride changes her dress three times during the festivities. Dresses are rented, rather than purchased.

(This was a Western-style wedding, which means a white dress was worn.)

During the feast, the wedding party visits each table and toasts with them.
The toast is done with two hands, with one hand on the bottom of the glass.
As a typical wedding is very large, many people will drink juice instead, as else, the wedding party might be needed to fireman carry the new couple around.

At the end of the festivities, we found that the only guests shuffling around and awkwardly engaging in lengthy, protracted goodbyes were the westerners. The local guests took their leave, right on cue.

We headed out ourselves with two red boxes to investigate back at the hotel…

American Food in Kending, Taiwan


While in Kending earlier in the week, we had a few meals in our hotel as a part of the booking package.

The first night, we accidentally found ourselves at the hotel‘s American Food festival.

I should have known this wasn’t a good idea when noted that Michigan had merged with one of the Great Lakes on my placemat.

Thing is, morbid curiousity had fully taken over, leaving reason miles behind.

Quite accurately, the meal kicked off with a sizable salad bar.


It’s really quite strange to the culture of one’s birth interpreted by a completely different culture.

It was definitely festive, though!

Taiwan has wonderful fresh fruit. I suppose I didn’t need to have both a vegetable salad and a huge fruit salad before dinner, but I can’t deny my own nature.

For an entree, I ordered the steak. It was mammoth.

I believe it may be the reason why Michigan is out of sorts at this feast.

Looking at the northern Midwest, as it typically looks in exhibit A, one can see how the Lake Michigan seperates Michigan and Wisconsin.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:
I believe that all this giant meat being shuffled around in Kending is affecting their antipodal friends in the American Midwest, merging Michigan, that bit of Wisconsin that sticks out, and Lakes Michigan and Superior. (Exhibit B)

Despite being frequently teased for my appetite, I managed to eat about a third of the steak because I had been a bit ambitious at the previously mentioned salad bar.

Our waitress was extremely concerned by my failure to eat more of the steak, and despite my genuine efforts to reassure her that I had enjoyed it, I’m not sure she really believed me.

Given that the Taiwanese are not a large people, nor are the Japanese who are frequent tourists to Kending and the Kenting Park, I couldn’t help but wonder if my culture’s stereotype of being a people who approach eating with the zeal of sumo wrestlers in training had been taken very literally.

Really, though, I just hope it all works out for Lake Michigan.

Best at Queuing: Taiwan v. England


I have observed that the English hold the ability to competently queue with the same high regard as that of skillful teamaking.

The BBC, in the article from which I sourced the above photo, even describes queuing as a, “typically British passtime”.

My belief that England was the home of a nation of ace queuers was rock solid, and I was proud to join the line and moan about the weather.

That is, until I got to Taiwan.
Queuing lines to board the trains, perhaps to help school the newcomers?
On the MRT (Taipei Subway):
and the High Speed Rail:

It didn’t end there. Even this bathroom, as well as quite a few others visited on the trip, had a designated queuing spot:

England, it might be time to consider yourself served…

Icy Pancake!


I felt compelled to buy the icy pancake when I spied it in the freezer section in a minimarket in Kending, mostly because actually saying, “Icy Pancake” amused me way more than it should.

While the artistic rendering of this snack may look more like a hamburger than a slab of chocolate ice cream sandwiched between two pancakes, that’s because the box lies.

Ice cream and pancake should never be united and stored in the freezer. I can only hope I never fall victim to the allure of icy pancake again, as there’s only so much disappointment this girl can take.

For the record, I did eat the whole thing.