Taiwan Trip - Summary (21st June to 30th June)

Sunday, July 27, 2008 Posted by YY on 12:43 PM comments (0)

Trip Details:
Location: Taiwan, Taipei.
Date: 21/06/08 to 30/06/08
Season: Mid Summer
Airline: Cathay Pacific with stopover in HK.
Accomodation: East Dragon HotelS$1 = NT22.0
Exchange rate:
People going: K,YY,YH,YJ

1. Travel Insurance: About $34 from Great Eastern for a 9D taiwan trip.
This is important cos Taiwan is in the typhoon season and disasters like earthquakes can happen anytime.

2. Trip Research
* Trip Advisor - Taipei
* Google Map
* Backpackingtaiwan.blogspot.com
It would be prudent to check out the transport system and how-tos before going there, else precious time will be wasted in finding road names cos Taipei road signs are hard to find!
* A guide for Cats/Dogs Cafes in Taipei are listed on this japanese site. Of the cafes mentioned, we visited Minimal Cafe and Cafe Dog & Cats .

3. Accomodation
Before booking accomodation, please check out their reviews on Tripadvisor.
Do take note of the following points when choosing your hotel:
* Whether drinking water and hot water is provided everyday.
* Whether there is internet access in the hotel room
* Is there any computer terminals available within the hotel for short usage like checking in online?
* Is the hotel located within walking distance from the train stations?
* Is there laundry services provided by the hotel?
* Is there daily breakfast provided by the hotel?

There are many hotels in 西门町 area, however we chose East Dragon Hotel because it responded to us promptly with a booking voucher unlike the rest which requested us to book only 1 month in advance. One more thing to note is that, East Dragon and Rainbow both have Quad rooms(4person->2 double beds) which cost like $35 per night per person on average(they have slightly higher rates for weekend stays) which is more cost effective. Will elaborate more about East Dragon Hotel later.
Some of the other recommended ones are:
* Neijiang Hotel
* TS Hotel
* Rainbow Hotel (located in the heart of 西门町)
* TaiwanMex Hostel (About $18 per night but not located at 西门町)

4. For travelling around Taipei, please get a YouYou Card(悠游卡)from 7-11. Its NT500 with NT100 as deposit which is refundable at train stations. Do not worry, you can refund 100% of whatever that is left in your card incl your deposit. For cabs, please ask them to go by the meter as we had an experience of boarding w.o negotiating and ended up paying NT30 more than the metered fare -.-'

For one day trips to places like Jiufen/Yeliu , Hualien..you may want to hire a cabbie who will drive you around for the day(like from morning 0830 to 1800 evening). We booked a female cabbie, named Vivian for our day trip to Hualien and Meeky yang for JiuFen/Yeliu trip. The cabbies cost NT3000 each, regardless of the number of travellers. If you divide this by the number of people going on the trip, it works out to about S$35 per person for an entire day of fun! As these cabbies are pretty hot, it will be good to confirm your booking and date of travel at least 1-1.5 month in advance.

5. Food is great almost everywhere, by the roads and inside the alleys you can find some queues for 小吃. Will elaborate further in another post on what we tried.

Chocolate Making at home (26/7)

Posted by YY on 11:07 AM comments (0)

After attending the course at Culinaire last month, we bought some dark chocolate buttons from them. These dark chocolate buttons are $17/kg, 70% cocoa..expensive stuff I tell ya.
This chocolate making attempt is for Melon's birthday present, we reckon that mango flavour would be one of the most acceptable ones so we are giving him 8 pcs of chocolates for his 21st birthday. HUAT AR~! Heart shape chocolate mould came from our HK trip, bought it for $5(very cheap compared to heavy duty acrylic moulds that can cost up tp $35 @ PhoonHuat)

It was hard to gauge how much dark chocolates to melt cos we cannot reuse them due to the utensils used. According to Geert, chocolates should be made under very clean environment for long storage purposes, where chefs wear masks, gloves, utensils are sterilized..etc, like in his shop. So to minimize wastage we melted about 250grams of dark chocolate buttons and 120grams of white chocolate buttons(white compound chocolate buttons @ $10/kg , white chocolate buttons are not used cos they cost double! omg) for the filling. We had some tough time trying to melt those buttons cos it was a cold day, raining all day long and K could not find his hair dryer to blow hot air onto the chocolates *urgh*

So in the end, we used the 20seconds in-out oven rule to melt them and this took damn long -.-'. To make things worse, my $38 bucks thermometer decided to die on me at this moment..so i had to use my "basic" instincts to find out when the chocolate is at 30 to 33 degrees celcius as we had to resort to using double boiling(water in the base container and another container above) method to keep the melted chocolates in molten state.

There were some hiccups here and there but we managed to fill up the moulds and shake off the excess to make the chocolate shells.

While the shells are hardening in the fridge, we started making the filling which consists of glucose, yogurt, mango, cream, white compound chocolate.

After the shells have harden and can be removed from the mould easily(else we gotta give the mould together as part of the present -.-') we start piping in the fillings to about 80% full.

After the fillings have more of less harden, we proceed to cover the base of the chocolates. By this time, we were encountering some problems with keeping the chocolates within 30 to 33degrees..so the base was not that smooth and beautiful =( The above pic was after the case has harden.

Chocolates are ready to get knocked out and wrapped in their golden wrappings :D

Can you tell which is wrapped by a girl and which is by a guy?

K insists on including the base cardboard in the plastic bag which I felt cheapen the whole thing but anyway up to him lor~

Last but not least HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY MELON!

Coup de Crookie (19/7)

Friday, July 25, 2008 Posted by YY on 11:35 PM comments (0)

On 14th July, we discovered Crookie (our community cat) had a large lump under her chin. I took a chance to feel it and felt some scabs forming. Crookie seems ok and so we left for work. During lunchtime, we dropped by and saw there was no more lump, instead there was a large gaping hole and some of her fur came off. We wanted to bring her to the vet but at the same time, K's dad was hospitalised. So meanwhile, I tried looking for mobile vets to come down to take a look at her instead of us bringing her there as we were afraid that stitches maybe required and the kittens won't recognise her after she comes back from the vet's.

This went on for quite awhile and we continued monitoring her condition..more fur and skin came off each day and I got more worried. However, we had insufficient time after work to "catch" crookie cos the vets close at 8pm. Finally, I managed to borrow a cat carrier from a friend and we researched on "How to trap a cat".

This is Crookie's wound on the day before we brought her to the vet. This hole has became smaller but there seems to be pus surrounding it...but hey Crookie is behaving normally.

To capture Crookie, we dropped by on saturday noon..placed her food in the far corner of the carrier before she came. K sat down on the stone chair with the carrier on the ground between his legs. Crookie was hungry..so she came over and investigated the carrier before going in to have her food. While she was chewing halfway, K zipped up the carrier..and omg~ we managed to capture Crookie.

The next 2hrs was agonising to me, cos Crookie was turning in circles wondering where she came in from. According to some sources, it says covering the carrier will calm the pet, so we covered the carrier and brought the struggling Crookie down the steps and into a cab.

Inside the cab, Crookie started whining..so sad that it sounded like she's sobbing. K got worried that she might be distress and decided to lift the towel, Crookie saw K and she stopped whining! After that, Crookie continued to stare at the fast passing scenary outside the window. When we arrived at VivoCity(we finally found a vet clinic- The Vet Clinic, that was just 10mins drive away on Thursday) Crookie started whining in the carrier, so we covered 2 sides of the carrier (1side, 1front) and she was able to see alittle bit of the human traffic in the shopping mall.

Our appointment with the vet was 2.30pm..however, due to unforseen circumstances(catching crookie so easily -_-'') we arrived 1.5hrs earlier. Then I brought Crookie out to the garden in her carrier, while K went in search of the Catnip spray that is said to calm cats down. Staying alone with Crookie while she whined was stressful for me..her whines are heartbreaking ='( Fortunately, K was more calm and when he was here, crookie seems to be more calm too.

This is Crookie just before her turn to go into the Vet's room. She's lookin at the vet who called out "Next! Crookie~"
Crookie's vet, Steve Johnson explained that Crookie's wound is actually healing by looking at the pic we provided above.

He explained that unlike dogs, who bite and tear flesh away; cats actually bite and leave bacteria in the punctured teeth wounds. As cats have fast healing ability, the scabs grow over the teeth marks and bacteria is trapped inside. Bacteria inside starts to act up, thus forming the lump. When Crookie scratched the entire lump off, she's draining the pus out. The fur that touches the pus dies off, which is why Crookie is losing clumps of fur+skin. All these happens about 4-5 days after the wound is inflicted.

When the vet opened Crookie's carrier, he asked us to call out to her..of cos Crookie doesn't respond, she sits with her tail beside her, hands tucked in..totally withdrawn..but she isn't whining nor aggressive either. *Crookie is such a darling..melts*

The consultation came up to $28, with 10days worth of antibiotics for Crookie to purge out the bacteria. The vet was nice to charge Crookie's consultation at Stray's rate =)

This is Crookie on her way back in the cab, she's much more relaxed. Upon reaching her homegrounds..she starting whining urgently as if she knew she's back home. We took her in the carrier to the spot where she got captured and opened the zip. Crookie stepped out slowly..took a look around and went to shit in the grass @_@? Did we scare the shit out of her??
After that, she went back to her "old home" - under the overhead bridge..I thought she forgot about her kittens.

K then prepared Crookie's pink pills crushed and mixed in her Mackeral Whisky Cat Food. Unexpectedly, Crookie rubbed K before having her meal and meowed loudly cos she was really famished.

14/6 Arnold's Fried Chicken @ City Plaza

Friday, July 11, 2008 Posted by YY on 11:19 PM comments (0)

Went to Arnold's Fried Chicken on 14th June, this is a wayyyyy overdue post..well, I have been away for a 16 days trip to TW and HK. Before that, I was very busy levelling my maple character =D
Ok, Arnold's Fried Chicken is pretty juicy, succulent stuff. However, the spices used for marination ain't that appealing to me. I preferred KeAi chicken or Popeye's Chicken over this, but the large crowds at Arnold's Chicken will tell you, this is something you should try.
Its a large portion for the set ordered(1 whole spring chicken) , recommended to share between 2.