Taiwan 2016

I went to Taipei, Taiwan for 2 weeks in the spring of 2016. It was a really great adventure filled with food, family, and sights. I encountered so many things, but I'll try to capture the highlights in this blog post.

Food is everywhere, cheap, available, less regulated

There would be a food cart or small restaurant pretty much every 20 feet in residential neighborhoods. Food is relatively cheap and so tasty.

Night Market

Night market culture is really cool. You can basically walk down the length of a street and choose food from dozens and dozens of stalls. The one we went to also had small permanent restaurants in the area that turned customers in and out quickly as customers would shuffle between stalls and restaurants.

So many people

So many people

Oyster noodles (from a different restaurant)

Oyster noodles (from a different restaurant)

Oyster pancake

Oyster pancake

Red bean shave ice 

Red bean shave ice 

Oyster soup

Oyster soup

Tamsui Old Street

Tamsui is a waterfront neighborhood in New Taipei City. The waterfront has a really nice view of a mountain on the other side of the river. There's people biking along the waterfront and overall feels like a nice place to spend the day.

Me and my cousin - and some deep fried crab

Me and my cousin - and some deep fried crab

The mountain across the river

The mountain across the river

Some cool artwork in the area

Some kind of melon juice from the fried pork restaurant

Some kind of melon juice from the fried pork restaurant

Custard apple ice pop

Custard apple ice pop

So much fried seafood

So much fried seafood

All this food cost five dollars!

All this food cost five dollars!

This fried pork was from a pretty famous restaurant in Tamsui. This is their signature dish and it was so good, especially the pickled vegetables

This fried pork was from a pretty famous restaurant in Tamsui. This is their signature dish and it was so good, especially the pickled vegetables

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is a restaurant famous for their soup dumplings. Anthony Bourdain once described them as "pillows of happiness" and I have to concur. I've had a lot of soup dumplings in my life and never had any quite like Din Tai Fung's. Their shell is so thin, but so well crafted and strong.

The famous dumplings. They had a special vinegar sauce to dip them in.

The famous dumplings. They had a special vinegar sauce to dip them in.

Not famous, but still really tasty shrimp dumplings.

Not famous, but still really tasty shrimp dumplings.

Din Tai Fung cooks preparing the dumplings

Din Tai Fung cooks preparing the dumplings

Veggie dumplings. The use of cloth in the steamers was a really nice touch over the usual paper found in most restaurants.

Veggie dumplings. The use of cloth in the steamers was a really nice touch over the usual paper found in most restaurants.

We went to the Din Tai Fung close to Taipei 101. According to my aunt, that's the one that requires the shortest wait. Here's a selfie with me and my dad, who barely understands how to use his iPhone (:

We went to the Din Tai Fung close to Taipei 101. According to my aunt, that's the one that requires the shortest wait. Here's a selfie with me and my dad, who barely understands how to use his iPhone (:

Taiwanese Food

A lot of this is stuff you can't get in the states. A lot I had never had before, and don't even know how to describe. 

Some kind of fish. It was really different, but pretty light and good

Some kind of fish. It was really different, but pretty light and good

The peas in this dish were insanely good. Really small and smooth

The peas in this dish were insanely good. Really small and smooth

This hand-pulled chicken was really good. It was marinated really well. You can see the gloves behind it for the actual pulling

This hand-pulled chicken was really good. It was marinated really well. You can see the gloves behind it for the actual pulling

A Taiwanese classic - pork over rice

A Taiwanese classic - pork over rice

A very traditional Taiwanese breakfast

A very traditional Taiwanese breakfast

Tiny clams

Tiny clams

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Some kind of eel

Some kind of eel

An assortment of dishes at grandpa's one day

An assortment of dishes at grandpa's one day

Seafood soup

Seafood soup

Pork gua bao aka Taiwanese hamburgers

Pork gua bao aka Taiwanese hamburgers

Rice balls. I had these for breakfast so many days. I'm pretty sure having two one morning made me sick due to all the sticky rice, but so delicious. I gotta find a place in New York that makes these. There were so many mornings we would just walk down the street to buy these for breakfast.

Rice balls. I had these for breakfast so many days. I'm pretty sure having two one morning made me sick due to all the sticky rice, but so delicious. I gotta find a place in New York that makes these. There were so many mornings we would just walk down the street to buy these for breakfast.

Pig hearts - not my favorite

Pig hearts - not my favorite

Bubble tea with sweet potato, taro, tapioca

Bubble tea with sweet potato, taro, tapioca

Crab sticky rice and a bowl of soup

Crab sticky rice and a bowl of soup

Japanese Food

There's lot of Japanese food in Taiwan. My grandpa grew up during the Japanese occupation, so him and everyone his age speak fluent Japanese and have a lot of Japanese cultural influences. I'm going to write a post just about him in the future.

Rice with furikake. I need more furikake in my life

Rice with furikake. I need more furikake in my life

Not pictured - black beans that came with every Japanese meal. They're not front and center in any of my photos but they were always just the right amount of sweet.

This was so much more food than I had expected

This was so much more food than I had expected

Dad and I

Dad and I

Three generations of Lin

Three generations of Lin

Family!

Family!

Weather

It's pretty humid in Taipei. We happened to be there for two weeks where it didn't rain, but it seems pretty stormy other times. One really interesting thing was all the open-air areas. Restaurants would be doorless and have seating right outside which made it feel all the more welcoming. It's probably a result of the lack of really cold winters. Bathrooms would always have their sinks outdoors and schools would have hallways that opened outdoors.

Not a lot of foreigners

Maybe I'm biased living in New York but Taipei didn't feel like a very "international" city. There's definitely a lot diversity within the population in terms of age, dress, etc, but it never felt like the melting pot that is New York.

The subways are so modern

The subway system in Taipei is extremely orderly. People would queue in lines before entering the trains and oftentimes wait for the next train even though the cars could definitely fit more people. There were gates that would have a flashing light to indicate that a train was approaching the station. Trains were never more than 3 minutes away, and the stations all were labeled with both Chinese and English, which was super useful for me.

Air pollution is pretty bad

I would always notice a decline in air quality during rush hour. It's not something I think about while walking around in New York, but I definitely was aware of it in Taipei. My theory is that because of popularity of scooters, a lot of vehicles with poor emissions are on the road. It was pretty interesting that the evening news would always talk about parking problems. A lot of the residential areas simply wouldn't have sidewalks to people, cars, scooters would all have to share the road.

Family is the best tour guide

My relatives showed me around all the best places to eat and sights to see. It was really an amazing experience for someone like me who can't read/write a lot of Chinese. Chinese is definitely something I want to get better at reading. We also went to the spa one day, which was something I had never experienced before, but really enjoyed.

 

2015 Year In Review

2015 wasn't the best year for me, though 2014 wasn't exactly an easy year to top. Recovery has been tough but it's made me stronger. Nothing is impossible with my family and friends. My convictions and ambitions are stronger than ever.

Significant Events

Books I Read - Sorted by Favorites

  • Class: A Guide Through the American Status System
  • The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia
  • The Martian
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
  • Between the World and Me
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
  • A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope
  • Scrum
  • Station Eleven
  • Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Einstein: His Life and Universe
  • Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City
  • Modern Romance
  • Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design
  • The Three-Body Problem
  • The Grace of Kings
  • The Design of Everyday Things
  • The Book Thief
  • The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown
  • The Innovator's Dilemma
  • Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies
  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

I built a PC

Building a PC has always been on my mind. Building a rig from scratch for my personal use has been a dream of mine for a while. This year I finally pulled the trigger during Black Friday and put one together.  

It took several hours but it was totally worth it. I learned a lot, had some mishaps, and also got pretty lucky. 

Gang's all here