Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year in advance!

Call me a sketch-churning machine (for the Sketchbook Project). For the past month, I've been frantically drawing and painting 2 to 3 pieces on a daily basis - I think I drew more in a month than I did in 10 years (hah)! My progress dropped around Christmas and now with the knowledge that the deadline is less than a month away, I'm picking it up again, in my last minute, desperate bid to beat the deadline!

In case you don't hear from me by 15 Jan 11, do note that I'm either 1) too embarassed to post anything here because I can't beat the deadline; 2) too busy to post because I'm preparing to start tracking the no of people browsing my sketchbook; or 3) I'm just plain lazy.

Anyway, I leave you with one of my Sketchbook Project piece of a masquerade party with a party crasher donning a 'cartoon mask'. Happy New Year in advance, everyone!

Here's a toast to a joyful, peaceful 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Time to Panic

It's already midway into December and I am nowhere midway into my sketchbook project. The postmark date is 15 Jan 10. Yes, I am on the verge of missing the deadline. Please, fellow sketchbook participants, any idea whether we can submit uncompleted sketchbooks for the tour? Alternatively, if you have any ideas how to fill up those mind-bogglingly numerous pages faster, I would be so grateful.

Meantime, here are scans of 2 of my favourite drawings (which I have yet to caption and upload on the sketchbook website).

My intended caption: Hug Totoro at the Ghibli Museum, Tokyo

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Meals in Taipei

After a thoroughly delicious meal and an eyeful of the unusual decor at Wu Jiao Chuan Ban, it might seem like such an anti climax that our next stop is at a tea centre in town. It's the usual tourist trap, they bring you to a designated 'centre', convince you that their product has so many wonderful properties and is unique to their country, and the hapless tourist such as us, lap it up and fall right into the trap.

This time, the people in the tea centre claimed their bamboo barbecued tea leaves were able to reduce the tummy and lose weight overall - 2 big claims, that if true, would have most women scrambling to buy truckloads of their tea. Anyway, some women in the group did buy some of the tea (including my mum).

Demonstration at the tea centre

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The most delicious mua chee ever

It must seem pretty abrupt, but here I am, back to posting the remnants of my Taiwan Trip. I know, you're thinking: wrap this up already!

I was literally gaping when I laid eyes on this building. Can you guess what's the nature of this building?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back from M.I.A again

I can't believe myself sometimes. When I do travel, the frequency of travel tends to clump together, one after another without so much of a breather. And when I don't, the drought can last almost a year. The irony.

So basically the reason for my absence is because of another overseas trip that came up, within a month of my Bangkok trip. The trip was extremely long distance, and was the longest long haul trip I would have ever taken. Because the trip was so last minute, the research and packing was just as chaotic, but despite all that, I really enjoyed this trip!

My itinerary: the famous Big Apple, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Big Apple Again, and D.C. :-)

Now on my list of to-dos (already a mile long) - finish up my Taiwan posting and get on to my U.S./Canada posts!

Excuse my MIA please.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Culturally Taiwan

Yo readers, apologies for the unannounced hiatus. Frankly it took me a little less than 2 days to book an air ticket and fly to Bangkok - to look for Ms Rehau, my friend, who's posted in Bangkok (and will be coming back soon). So I haven't been posting because I've been living it up for a week in Bangkok! ;)

So here I am now, let me get back to posting about Taiwan, just a couple more posts to wrap up this trip.

In my previous post on our first day back in Taipei, I forgot to mention an important destination we visited that day - the National Palace Museum ("Gu Gong"). Gu Gong in Taipei housed a small portion of the collection of rare books and artefacts that originated from the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Read more about its roots here.

As no photography was allowed, I am unable to show you pictures of the artefacts we've seen. However, the most notable and famous works can be easily found in wikipedia. Some examples:

The Jadeite Cabbage

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You haven't been to Taipei if you haven't been here

From the name of this post, you can tell that the fame of this place is in a class of its own. If you watch Taiwanese variety shows, you'd know this place has been featured umpteen times. It's the Shilin Night Market. I'd let the pictures do the talking.

Meet the Smelly Toufu dish, with a dollop of chilli and some cabbage on the side. It's not bad, but a tad oily. Some people cannot stand this dish due to its 'aroma'. I'd rather have this than durian anytime, ;)

Meet the 'Frog Laying Egg' Stall. I love the lime flavoured pearl beverage. 'Pearls' are chewy tapioca balls, just like the ones we sampled from Koi (mentioned here

The 'Guan Cai Ban' Stall, translated coffin-shaped bread.

The coffin shaped bread is hollowed out and filled with fillings of your choice. We chose chicken and another flavour which I can't remember. It's absolutely delicious. Do remember the name of this famous stall 'Xiao Zhuang'. I know I'd make a terrible food blogger because I can never remember to take pictures of the food before gobbling it up! However, someone else have already taken a great mouth-watering picture of this snack here, so please be appeased. ;)

I like this stall display, but we didn't try this though. This sells bittergourd juice which is said to be great for the complexion.

Guess what this crowd is queueing for?

It's for the famous chicken cutlet. It's huge and could easily be a complete meal on its own. 4 of us shared 2 pieces, and we were so stuffed, we almost couldn't finish them. Remember this stall's signage (from flickr). You won't miss it because of its strategic location. You'd see it once you exit the nearby train station. We were pretty lucky to join the queue when it was still in its infancy.

The best thing about Taipei is the city's love for food. All sorts of food cravings could be satisfied here in Shilin Night Market and the abundance of other night markets in the city. I really liked the innovative names of the snack stalls in this market, and how we could sample many of the famous, delicious snacks in a single place without breaking the bank.

We left the market with visibly tighter pants.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to the cold city

I was a little reluctant to leave the countryside on our 5th day in Taiwan. The following are the last pictures of the countryside taken on the bus while navigating the roads along the morning market in Lukang.

We know we will no longer be seeing beautiful natural sights in the form of cascading waterfalls, breathtaking valleys, large flowing rivers in the city. But there will be LOTS OF FOOD!

The first destination in the city was Taipei 101, once the tallest skyscraper in the world. Its throne has since been 'usurped' by Burj Khalifa in Dubai. I've been to the top floor once, a few years back, and at that time, the weather wasn't good and so the view wasn't clear. However I wasn't regretful that this time round we won't get to ascend the upper floors.

Lunch at Taipei 101's food court

Seating area just outside Page One (a bookstore that originated from Singapore and have since branched to many countries in SEA)

Proof that we've been to Taipei 101

Unfortunately going back in the city meant that there would be more visits to various local produce shops in Taiwan, and we would be cajoled into purchasing from them. One of them was the pearl centre.

In the end, convinced by its cell regeneration, medicinal properties and countless other properties, I bought S$100 worth of pearl powder. Equivalent to the plate below.

This is the machine which grinds the pearls into powder

The shop assistants warned that only natural pearls can be ground into powder for consumption, not those meant for jewellery.

The finished product

We were brought to another local produce shop, whose famous pineapple tarts have won a national award within Taiwan. We had the chance to sample them, and they certainly lived up to its name. A tip from Francis: they taste best after being microwaved. The shop also sold 'tai yang bing' translated 'sun biscuit', which is a wonderfully flaky, buttery pastry which I love more than the pineapple tarts. Unfortunately, no pictures, as we were too busy samping the many other pastries. Plentiful flavours abound - green tea, red bean, sesame and MANY more.

We spotted this placed in a corner of this shop. This is a 'tian lu', a Chinese mythical hybrid creature that resembles a winged lion with one horn. Its counter part is 'pi xiu' which has 2 horns. The Taiwanese strongly believed in their powers in feng shui. This tian lu is believed to prevent wealth from slipping away.

Remember the name of this shop!

Later in the same night, we visited the famous Shilin night market, coming up in the next post!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Sketchbook - Broken In

It's already mid August, and I've only just broken in the sketchbook. I have just 146 days to the deadline - it's so scarily near!

Progress has been painfully slow, because I've been busy with another side project and with life in general. Weekends fly past so fast, it's not funny. I've only started on the cover title and also pages 2 and 3. Here are the scans.

I have got to speed up before missing the deadline becomes a real possibility!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A little island in a lovely lake

After an entreaty with the dieties, we had lunch at a yuan zu ming restaurant. 'Yuan zu ming' refers to the Taiwanese natives/indigenous people who were the first residents of Taiwan.

Before I show pictures of the restaurant, can I rave about this adorable little pooch below??

Why are the Taiwanese dogs so cute? So far I haven't seen one that isn't cute!

And here's where we had lunch. It was decent fare, but not fantastic. As usual, it was an 8-10 course lunch which no one could finish. I lament the waste of food. -.-"

The food is quite reasonably priced

And we were off to a small harbour take a boat to cruise Sun Moon Lake. According to Wiki, "the east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name".

The habour where we set off on our cruise

There is a tiny island in Sun Moon Lake called Lalu. It's now off limits to tourists unfortunately. Probably the same reason why they installed park wardens at Ye Liu National Park (See my previous post).

The little island, Lalu

We disembarked at another section of the lake which lies between Sun Lake and Moon Lake where it houses the Xuan Guang Temple.

As you can see, throngs of tourists were milling around the area waiting to take photos with the Sun Moon Lake tablet. We were no different. Yes, it's cheesy, but that's what tourists do.

The stairs down to the wharf where we diembarked

I have to tell you something disgusting I witnessed by the wharf. I saw a tourist spit into the pristine waters of the lake! Guess which nationality? So in addition to contributing cameras, the tourists also contributed to a higher water level. How wonderful.

We took the boat again and it routed past the little island of Lalu.

Lalu island, up close

The indigenous people were said to have found a rare white deer on this island, hence the presence of this statue

Francis mentioned that Taiwan is very famous for its high quality deer placenta, which is believed to treat many ailments. It is said that Song Mei Ling, the third wife of Taiwan's late President, Mr Jiang Jie Shi, was cured of her lifelong asthma problem after consuming deer placenta

We also passed the 'Ci En Pagoda', built by Mr Jiang Jie Shi in memory of his mother.

We left the lake shortly after to head to Lukang old village.

Some sights along the way.

At the village, we strolled in this temple for a quick look and also strolled along the streets to take in the sights.

Truth be told, this village wasn't as memorable and quaint as those in Neiwan or Jiu Fen or Wulai

 This is a garbage truck that blasts loud music

No village pictures are complete without a dog photo. ;)

Lastly, this is the stadium near our hotel. For the athletic tourist who wants to run. Our hotel is an old building, nothing fancy. The best thing is its swimming pool, which is big and empty, and I made good use of it that night.

Next stop, we're back to the city, at Taipei county. More shops, food and sights!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Transforming a piece of Scrapbook Paper

Before I start off, I'd like to say Happy Birthday Singapore! I have to admit I haven't seen the National Day Parade on TV for years, and I haven't been to either the Padang or Marina Bay to view the festivities in person, but I'd like to think I'm no less Singaporean than the next person.

Ok, anyway, the aim of this post is to show you a little scrapbooking project I did as a farewell gift for a colleague leaving my company. All the colleagues in my department were given a piece of scrapbook paper to fill up  and when we're done, all the pages will be bound in a book for the colleague. It's such a good idea (I didn't come up with this idea though), I know I'd be touched if I were to receive such a meaningful gift. It reflects the heart of everyone who laboured over each piece.

Some of the creative mess on my table

Starting out on a clean red slate

Initial conceptualizing - I had no idea what I wanted to do at first

The completed first page

The completed 2nd page

I've had fun doing this, using nothing more than glue, craft knife to cut up some craft paper, craft punches, pinking shears, Japanese patterned paper, Japanese tape, calligraphic marker, a good photo and a nice poem I remembered. 

I should get started on the Sketchbook soon.


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