Next Stop: Hong Kong & Macau

Actually, I went to Hong Kong and Macau about two weeks ago, but I’m barely finding time right now to write about it…at 6:00 in the morning…It’s finals week(s) here at NTU and I’m trying to balance studying and traveling. I know, I know, traveling shouldn’t even be in the equation, but with me leaving for Japan on the 14th of January, I really need to spend any time I have with my friends who are leaving. So, this weekend, I will be traveling to the south of Taiwan, to Kaohsiung and Tainan! But I’ll get to that later.

The purpose of this post is to share with you my amazing adventure in Hong Kong and Macau! I skipped two days of school and went traveling from Saturday to Tuesday. In Hong Kong, I met up with a good friend of mine and he took me to as many places as he could. For those four days, I spent three in HK and one in Macau! I think three days in HK is just right. It’s a small city, so you can pretty much hit all the touristy spots in roughly three, four days.

Let me go allllllll the way back to the beginning of my adventure. It starts with Friday. Though my flight was on Saturday morning (at 7am), I wanted to save money so I decided not to take a taxi to the airport at 5 in the morning. Instead, I headed off to the airport on Friday night, around 11pm to catch one of the last buses to Taoyuan Airport. (I know, I’m insane.) But if you think about it, I only spent NT$125 riding the bus compared to the NT$800~NT$900 that I would have spent on taking a taxi. If I could save that much money, I’m definitely going with Option A. Good choice, right?

No. It wasn’t. It was a very very bad choice. By leaving on Friday night, I had to spend Saturday morning at a very uncomfortable airport that left me so tired I almost missed my flight. So, it all started at 12am. I chose to walk about the airport, trying to find somewhere I can rest for a while. After doing a few readings for my class and texting my friend, I found that only one hour passed. ONE. Which meant that I had about five hours before I could even check-in. I went to 7-11 to buy a late dinner, and set out to find a good spot to try sleeping. There were none, so I found myself twisting and turning on my seat unable to fall asleep. So, at the end of the day, or morning, I was not a happy camper. I checked in at 6am and then proceeded to go through security and make my way to the gate. At the gate, they have a separate section for boarding the plane. There’s an upstairs section where you can buy magazines, buy drinks, etc. And then there’s a downstairs section where there are a lot more seats for passengers and you just sit there and wait for the pretty ladies at the front check your tickets and let you into the plane. I chose to sit at the upstairs section where the sofas were much more comfy. Stupid me. I ended falling asleep right now, and no one was kind enough to inform me that it was boarding time. Sh*t, right? Yes. I woke up at 7:15am for my 7:10am flight. So I ran downstairs and luckily, the pretty ladies were kind enough to wait for the LAST PASSENGER. Yes, I was the person who delayed the flight. I am so sorry! One of my most embarrassing moments ever! Thankfully I did not miss my flight, but oh my god, my energy for that day was so depleted, I was about to collapse on my feet. And the worst thing was, I hadn’t even reached HK yet. The reason why I decided to go with the early flight was so that I can have the whole day to explore HK. But with my energy level on low, it was so hard to walk that day. On the top of everything, I was carrying one of those backpacks that backpackers travel in. It felt so heavy…

Anyways, my friend picked me up at the airport (thanks Aaron!) and we went to his university, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The view at his school is really really nice! He showed me around his campus and then we met up with another friend of mine to eat lunch. I got to take the ferry to get to Hong Kong Island. (I didn’t even know Hong Kong was divided by a body of water…)

IMG_0813[1]Refueling…

IMG_0814[1]More gas…

IMG_0815[1]Awesome view from Aaron’s dorm

IMG_0820[1]A nice place to sit and just take in the view

IMG_0821[1]He told me this is where couples go and proceed to sweet-talk me with pick-up phrases. Ain’t gonna work, Aaron! I ain’t falling for your silver tongue~

IMG_0824[1]View from the ferry

After meeting up with our friend, we decided to eat lunch nearby. I had milk tea, which was very very different from the ones back home in the States and the ones here in Taiwan. I think I would prefer the ones here, but it was an interesting taste. I had it a couple more times throughout my stay in HK. After lunch, we decided to visit Sally’s (our friend) university. I actually don’t remember much of it, but I remember it was a long way from lunch to her dorm. I was so tired that Aaron had to carry my backpack for me. (thanks Aaron!) After walking around, we decided to head towards my hostel, which was located in Causeway Bay, where all the young people go. Here, we had dinner, dessert, and a movie. (It wasn’t a movie, but it felt like one. More details to come!) For dinner, I had this noodle thing. Haha, I’m sorry I don’t know the name of it, but I did take a picture of it! You can see it below~ For dessert, I had this milk pudding thing that is supposedly really popular in HK and Macau. You have to try it when you go! So there’s dinner and dessert. Wait until you hear about the movie part…

IMG_0843[1]The noodle thing I do not know the name of…

IMG_0851[1]There’s Aaron, me, & Sally. I didn’t ask them if I could put their pictures up, so you didn’t see this picture…

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This is the milk pudding company! Yee-shun~ They have a lot of branches!

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Mmm…puddin’

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Original flavor

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My friend got a ginger flavor…It was…interesting. Just not my cup of tea~

So the movie part was one out of a scary movie. You have the three main character – me, Aaron, and Sally. You have the creepy setting – the hostel with really old elevators, pictures of 30 cats, and a beat up statue of a dog. You have freakishly loud noises coming from down the hall. Take everything together and you’ve got a bad ending in the works. My friends, who decided that the hostel I was staying at was no good, were convinced that this was the house of a cat-lover who kills its occupants and then adds another picture of a cat to mark their count. Yeah, I know. Crazy imaginations. But it really was eerie the first night. I was too scared to go back home, but I gotta sleep somewhere, right? Anyways, it was COMPLETELY fine and I was able to sleep once I knew the person wasn’t a crazy cat-lover occupant-killer. The room itself was actually pretty nice. Though the beds were HORRIBLE. The bed springs screeched with every single movement. Like breathing.

IMG_0877[1]My room

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The living room with about 9 pictures that contained roughly 30 cats…

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A pretty nice TV that I did not have the opportunity to use since I was out most of the time…

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Poor dog…adds to the creepiness of the 30 cats…

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Elevators from hell…or to hell…

So this was Day 0 and Day 1! I’ll leave Day 2 and 3 for another time! I’ll be heading to Kaohsiung later today with a group of girlfriends. Expect that post sometime next year!

Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy what’s left of 2012!

Sincerely,
Sharon

P.S. It’s a bit late, but Merry Christmas!

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A Wife in the Making

This is a bit late, but last last Friday, I learned how to make pineapple cakes! And I don’t mean to brag, but they were fantastic! I know because I ate all ten of them! I meant to give some to my grandpa and a few to my friends, but after one, I just kept unwrapping the next one and the next one…and pretty soon they were all gone.

They were pretty easy to make, since all the ingredients were provided for me. BUT, this took time, energy, and love, so I say that I am on my way to becoming America’s Next Top Chef. Here’s a few pictures to keep you happy! Ok, so they’re not beautiful, but they’ve got character!

Oh, and I got married.

Just kidding.

Sincerely,
Sharon

P.S. Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you SO COME VISIT ME with Chipotle, In N Out, and Souplantation. 

Love is in the air…

I’ve been here for a little over a month now, and I’m finally all settled in. The weather is taking a turn for the better. Classes have been smooth-sailin’. Money’s been stackin’ (a little at a time) since I’m teaching English here. And now I’m planning for my Asia adventure during winter break! So far, my next stops include the Philippines and Japan! I also want to explore Korea, but we’ll see just how much money I can earn by teaching English here.

So back to what I was saying, I’ve been here for a little over a month now and I’ve begun to realize something. Relationships are much easier to form than I thought. (Not friendships, but those lovey-dovey ones!) I always thought it would take time to find that special someone and then move on from there, but apparently, Taiwan is full of special people and people are jumping into relationships from left to right. I do believe that there are those moments when you meet someone and you just click. And there are moments when falling in love in a foreign country is like a dream come true.

However, I recently had a talk with my resident director about a “public affection” problem she’s been having at the dorms. Forming relationships is a good thing. But according to the resident director, there are supposedly people passing the “physical” barrier in public place, like the stairways, if you know what I’m talking about. Wink wink, nudge nudge, Bob’s your uncle.

Since it’s a rule that boys cannot go into girls’ room and vise versa, I guess people are resorting to this solution, which really isn’t a good solution. A long hug, a sweet kiss, those are all right. You see a lot of that around the dorms before they go back into their respective dorms. Kinda like a bittersweet farewell. But, respect your residents and keep it PG! I don’t wanna be walking up the stairs and finding myself in an awkward position. 

With that said, happy climbings! 

Sincerely,
Sharon

P.S. I am no longer in Equestrian Club because it is just too expensive. While a part of me is sad, another part of me is glad since I need to save up money for travelling! Hope I made the right decision!

7-11 Taiwan Style

As promised, here are some quick snaps of the 7-11s here in Taiwan! You should have seen the weird looks I got from some of the customers. Who runs around a 7-11 with an iPad taking pictures? Apparently, me.

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In short, the 7-11s here are like mini-food courts/grocery markets that sell everything from food and drinks to tooth brushes, cups, headphones, and so much more! If you plan on coming to Taiwan, don’t forget to check out the 7-11s here! You can’t miss ’em! Literally! They’re at every corner!

Sincerely,
Sharon

P.S. I’m also thinking about Archery Club! Though I’m not so sure if it’s a good idea to give me a bow and arrow and place me in a crowded area…just saying.

Hello world!

Or just a small, teeny, tiny fraction of the world…Hello! Greetings from Taipei, Taiwan, where I am now studying abroad for the next academic year! I’ll be attending the prestigious National Taiwan University, or NTU for short. And as I embark on this new adventure, I am left without a camera. Tourist fail. But I will try my best to upload some pretty (and some not-so-pretty) pictures with the camera on my iPad, which, by the way, takes pretty good pictures! I’ll be keeping each post relatively short. So, with that said, I’ll leave you with five interesting things I found surprising during my first week here!

One. People actually go to 7-11 here on a regular basis. And by regular basis, I mean once every five hours, at least. It is drastically different from the 7-11s back at home. I’ll have to upload a picture or two next time to show you all. It is so much cleaner…and cheaper!! Which brings me to…

Two. EVERYTHING IS SO CHEAP! For me, breakfast, lunch, and dinner costs less than six US dollars total! And that’s with a few indulgences!

Three. Taiwanese people love international/exchange students. They are extremely, extremely friendly and are willing to help lost students who can’t speak Chinese. If you’re lost someplace in the world, let’s hope it’s in Taiwan!

Four. International, non-Chinese-speaking men who are learning how to speak Chinese are adorable. It’s the eyes, the hair, the accent, and the please-help-me-I-can’t-speak-Chinese-and-I’m-lost-and-confused look that attracts the ladies. And by ladies, I mean me. Heh. I guess one of the perks of being Taiwanese American is that I look, well, Taiwanese. It’s not such a terrible ordeal when all these foreign exchange students come up to ask me where this is and that is. And of course, I don’t know either, but it doesn’t hurt to tag along and help look with them! Maybe even impress them with my English speaking skills! Smooth. Nevertheless, I say, keep ’em coming!

Five. The weather sucks in Taiwan. It really does. I’ve only been here a couple times during summer and winter vacation. And during those times, I knew what to expect. Hot summers and cold winters. No surprises. But when it’s fall already, and my clothes (shirt and shorts) are drenched with sweat…yeah, not a pretty sight. It is so incredibly humid here, I can’t even begin to describe what I would do without my AC. Or the school’s library. It also rains here at the weirdest time. One minute, the sun is out and the sky is blue. The next, you have pouring rain with thunderstorms and everyone’s running for cover. Really? Talk about bipolar.

Friends and family, I miss you all so so much. Almost as much as I miss Chipotle right now.

Sincerely,
Sharon

P.S. I’m thinking about joining the Equestrian Club here at NTU. What do you think? Keep in mind that I have no experience and can be a wee bit clumsy sometimes. Or a lot of times.