Captain, we’ve hit a bit of turbulence

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I am much too lazy and worn out to string together comprehensible sentences, much less post many photos (also partially because I don’t have many… see below). So I will just use bullet points. Everyone loves bullet points! Continuing from where I left off during reading week, some of the highlights were:

  • Pizza Hut with some of my girlies. Pizza Hut here is no joke. It’s high class and the restaurants are very classy and have an extensive menu selection. I had escargot as part of my meal.
  • Meeting up with Redford for dinner at Crystal Jade. Best xiao long bao and ramen noodles ever. EVER.
  • Meeting up with Wesley for dessert at Tong Pak Fu & shopping at Causeway. Mango shaved ice with marshmallows & fruit. Mmmm…
  • Meeting up with Red again for dinner at Modern Toilet and drinks in Langham Place. The very top floor has these really nice bars. We went to one that advertised ‘buy one, get one martinis’ so we were really smart and ordered 2 different martinis. Turns out it was buy one, get the same one, so we were rather amused when the waitress brought us 4 drinks.
  • …I don’t even remember what else I did for reading week. I guess the rest was relatively low-key.

Famed xiao long bao at Crystal Jade. You can also see part of the ramen

Shaved iceeeeee

After that I had a hella crazy week of school. Two assignments and two midterms burnt me out a little, so I thought it’d be a good idea to go to Taiwan for a weekend trip. Also, it was dirt cheap. Unfortunately the trip didn’t really turn out how I’d hoped.

The good:

  • Flight exceeded my expectations; I highly recommend Thai Airways.
  • Hostel was nice and clean. The staff were really helpful with any questions we had, and it was in a prime location, with the train station and subway (MRT) right outside our building.
  • Taipei is a nice city. Not as crazy and fast-paced as Hong Kong, and the locals are soooo nice when we ask for directions/favours.
  • Foodgasms everywhere. I think the best thing I had was on the first night at Raohe Night Market. It was a whole squid, fried in some kind of batter, and drizzled with various sauces.
  • I felt like we hit most of the places I really wanted to see, and made good coverage for essentially 3 days: Taipei 101, Raohe Night Market, Babe18 (nightclub affiliated with Room18), LUXY, Wulai, Shida Night Market, Shilin Night Market, Yangminshan, and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Wulai and Yangminshan would theoretically take you entire days to fully explore.
  • LUXY has the most stunning interior of any club I’ve ever been to. Also I enjoyed the atmosphere at both clubs.
  • Everyone can speak putonghua, so we were able to get around quite easily.
  • The areas surrounding the city are naturally very beautiful.
  • We met a really really nice cab driver who took us all the way from Yangminshan to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall for TWD 200.

The bad:

  • I lost my camera. Yes, the very camera I said I just purchased in my last post. Yes, it also means I lost my memory card, not to mention all the photos from the first day. Yes, it was completely my own fault for leaving it in the back of a taxi. Yes, I am still hating myself.
  • After I lost my camera, I was so depressed, I didn’t want to spend money. So I didn’t buy/eat much.
  • On the third day, we went to Wulai. It was a positively gorgeous place, but not even halfway through the day, my friend’s camera battery ran out so we have no photos of some of the best parts.
  • The exchange rate we got was horrible.
  • I got no sleep the night before we flew there. Damn java sockets project.
  • We went up Taipei 101 about an hour before it closed, and didn’t realize there was an outdoor observatory until they were ushering people out. We begged the security guy to let us go up for 2 minutes, and he gave us exactly 2 minutes.
  • We were late in leaving for the airport on our way back, and had to taxi it for a ridiculous TWD 1000. Though if you think about it, it’s actually only about CAD 18 per person. But still. If we left earlier, we could’ve taken an airport shuttle for 1/5 of the price.
  • After this trip, I would definitely not ever go on a multi-day trip with only one other person whom I don’t know very well. We did have a lot of fun, but constantly had conflicting opinions of what to do.
  • I thought I got about 13 mosquito bites. Turns out I missed some small ones and I have around 20. I’m pretty sure I got all of them during the night. Must’ve been a few bugs hiding in our room.
  • Yangminshan was a big letdown. We MRT’ed, bussed, bussed more, and walked a lot to get to the “flower sea” which was supposed to be really pretty. It was just a bunch of calla-lilies, half of which were dead/wilting, in a small area that wasn’t even nice to look at. On the other hand, the area we went to was maybe 10% of the entire park. It’s gigantic.

To summarize, Taiwan as a place was amazing, but due to some unfortunate circumstances and events, I felt like I wasn’t able to enjoy it fully. I will definitely be going back there to explore and eat more (and hopefully take some photos!), but probably not anytime soon.

Mini-vacay in Thailand

I spent the first part of reading week in Thailand, to escape the foggy gloom in Hong Kong. My travels did not get off to a great start, as my digital camera decided to crap out on me the night before we were supposed to leave. I couldn’t quite accept the fact that I was going to be camera-less in Thailand for five days, so at the airport, I spontaneously bought a new camera (it wasn’t that spontaneous; I had done some quick market research on Canon point-and-shoots beforehand). I love my new camera! It’s loads better than my old one. Don’t ever buy Kodak cameras. Ever. But I digress.

We met up with one of our tour guides at the airport, and set off for Bangkok International Airport. The flight was very enjoyable, and I highly recommend China Airlines. For a two-hour flight, we were provided with all the food and amenities you would expect on an overseas trip.

Bliss

Once we landed, we met up with our other tour guide, who is actually Thai and speaks fluent Chinese. Our tour guides were very nice and always translated everything in Mandarin for us, since most of us couldn’t understand Cantonese. We then shuffled onto our coach bus and were whisked to Pattaya, a beach town about an hour drive from Bangkok.

It was hot as all hell, but thankfully we had some mild air conditioning on our bus. We were a group of 12, and probably annoyed the other people on our tour by being loud, obnoxious, and late many times.

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