Come Saturday, we’re saying goodbye to Taichung, our home for the past two months, which is yet another amazing place in Taiwan. We were cautious when we first came – people didn’t have the most effusive things to say about Taichung – it lacked an MRT or subway system, wasn’t either the capital of the south or the north, was full of triads and Taiwanese gang activity (this is still true), and when we came in 2013, we had a bad experience here with a hostel which wasn’t really a hostel. Despite all these things, we actually found plenty to enjoy around the city. It has changed a lot in the past few years, and the public transit is no disappointment. It also has lovely parks, cheap fresh fruit, a lot of great dogs and people, and of course, delicious restaurants which we’ve gone back to time after time. Without a kitchen, we end up eating out for pretty much every meal, and I think I’d like to write about these and record these in our memory. I’ve also attached prices and locations in case people wander onto this page and want to visit.
Ryan introduced us to A-Gen on our very first morning in Taichung. We’ve been familiar with egg pancakes (蛋餅) since we last visited Taiwan, but instead of being soft and oily pancakes, these are crispy, delicious, pancakes with an egg scrambled on the other side. Our favorite ones come with bacon and American cheese, and a light sprinkling of chopped green onions. AMAZING for just 40 NT (~$1.30 USD). We will have to hit them up before leaving the city. A-Gen is located on Meicun, two blocks south of Gongyi, and tends to accumulate a 10-minute line by 9 am, but as I have to get to work by 8 am, that suits us just fine. Continue reading Ode to food.→
Happy Valentine’s Day (or as we call it, Stella‘s birthday) from Thailand! Due to overwhelming popular request (from five different people including Steve’s mom), I’m posting a photo-illustrated recipe for pad thai from the Smart Cook Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, where I took a day-long class and learned to make a few different Thai dishes! If you haven’t prepared a thoughtful gift for your significant other or loved one, a homemade dish of pad thai just may save the day. If you’re celebrating the single life, this’ll be lunch for tomorrow.
Ingredients (in grams, but approximations provided wherever possible)
100 g narrow rice noodles (a good handful)
100 g (1 cup) your preferred protein (tofu, chicken,whatever, or substitute for another egg)
40 g (1/2 cup) firm (preferable) or soft tofu, small diced
20 g Chinese chives or spring onions (2-3 stalks)
40 g soybean sprouts (a handful)
1 tbsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tbsp cooking oil (anything but olive oil)
3 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarians substitute mushroom sauce)
1 tbsp fish sauce (vegetarians substitute soy sauce)
1 egg (or 2 in place of other proteins)
2 tsp white sugar)
1/2 cup water
Miscellaneous Travel Tips for the Circumnavacator to Make Your Life More Comfortable and to Reduce the Number of Times You Yell at Your Travel Partner
Tip #247:When circumnavacating, it is a good idea to eat out cheaply, until it’s not. Fast local food, like fried rice or a bowl of noodles containing whatever-you-want-to-guess for less than 1 USD, is only novel and tolerable for a few days when you first arrive in the country. In order to ensure good nutrition, pony up for at least one tasty, fresh, possibly Western-style, and usually more expensive meal a day, and you can eat street food for the other one (or two, if you get up that early). Give your body some of what it’s used to eating; otherwise, you may end up with iron deficiency or other bodily complaints.
Let’s be honest. You may have been waiting for me to talk about Thai food. You may not have been. Well, the (hypothetical) wait is over, because I love food, as many people know, and being able to taste different cuisines was a huge part of wanting to travel, so some thoughts, now that we’ve been here for almost two weeks. Call for take-out now because you’re going to be hungry by the time I’m done, or at the very least, don’t read this at work, because drooling in public can be a real embarrassment!!
First of all, the food has been EXCELLENT, by and large. Some restaurants I won’t be revisiting, but the dishes themselves are wonderful, bright and flavorful creations which have really captured my imagination and taste buds. Years from now, I will still be dreaming about our first bowl of noodles when we got to Chiang Mai: tom yum seafood noodles. (I’m not crazy about the seafood part, but it worked.) I ordered really wide rice noodles, and it came all in a hot, steamy, tart broth that smelled like lime and lemongrass, and there were a few crunchy fried prawns and ground peanuts scattered on top. THE BEST. For 35 baht (~1 USD).
When you are on a plane, in transit between cities or between countries, a funny thing happens. You also find your mind between places. It is not exactly occupied with the regular things you think about while heading to work, nor busy in contemplation of where you are going and the days or weeks to come. For me, the strangest thoughts drift through my mind – conversations from years ago, childhood memories almost forgotten… just as I am in-between places, so are my thoughts.
Flights, especially ones during the middle of the night, lend themselves to different experiences. You have never truly appreciated solitude until a stewardess has hawked luxury perfume to you at 2 am when all you want to do is close your eyes to oblivion, but sleep will not come. The alertness reminds you of other late nights, where there is no noble objective to be achieved, like a paper to be finished or someone to be taken care of, but simply to plod on and on until daylight. To simply endure.
Flights are boring. You are strapped to a snug seat, and asked to revert to your best behavior as a ten year-old (smile, follow directions, and do not ask questions). We are cattle, we are burden simply to be transported. The babies and small children have not yet learned that it does no good to cry about it, and if it did offer some small comfort from the cold and the boredom of this horrible stupor, we adults, too, would be howling.