Taiwan: Five and a half, seed money, and hub jeh-lly!

Day 5 highlights: stationery and congee hot pot

This morning, Amy, Marissa, and I went to the National Science Education Center in hopes of seeing the 3-D art museum, but we were shocked to find a line trailing 200 feet outside of the entrance just to get tickets…and another endless line outside of the actual exhibit.  Instead, we went to learn about our own bones, organs, and muscles at the Bodies exhibit.  We couldn’t take pictures, but I still remember how creative the displays were, and I could even see some shedding from the small nervous systems in a brain…

This museum is near the Shilin night market, which we had thought about going to later tonight, but it was raining so we’ll probably check it out another time.

We took the MRT back to NTNU so that I could maybe catch some dancers practicing in the cafeteria.  We saw two groups working on some routines, but they were practicing for more educational purposes required for their major.  I did find out that most of the breakdancers and other street dancers come to practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after 5:00PM so I’ll probably come again next week around that time.

Amy and I didn’t feel like going anywhere far because it was pouring outside, so we just visited stores nearby that sold really cute pens and stationery:

I told Amy that I should just videotape her whenever we’re together because she tells me the cutest stories about Taiwanese stationery.  There’s this notebook that students buy at every year’s graduation to pass out to their classmates for info sharing and little notes – kind of like a yearbook but with cuter designs.  There’s also this foam-type board that people can buy to make birthday cards and tons of pens to choose from to write with.

We passed by the crepe place and thought, “Why not get one since we’re here?” so Amy and I ordered one to split.  However, the first one they made was cracked so they made another one and gave it to us for free!  You can choose from so many ingredients to spread and put inside the crepe, such as chicken, vegetables, ice cream, and fruit.  We ordered a mix of peanut butter and chocolate.  Note how big it is compared to Amy’s iPhone:

The weather made us really lazy and tired, so we just went back the hostel afterwards to chill and talk with some of the others in the lounge.  Lucas really wanted to try this congee hot pot restaurant (it had been on his mind for two weeks now) so Marisa, Lucas, and I decided it was the perfect night to warm our tummies with some comforting congee.  On our cab ride there, Marisa and I were teasing Lucas about his funny accent that’s in between British and Australian but not distinctly one or the other.  When he made reservations for karaoke the other night, he suggested we meet up at five and a half, meaning 5:30PM.  Marisa and I had never heard anyone say “and a half” for a time before, so we now we say, “Let’s meet at ten and a half” instead of “ten thirty” etc.  Then, he was saying how he would like to move abroad someday but he would have to have “seed money,” another phrase we weren’t familiar with, to start it up.  Lucas said that sometimes he’s just lazy and makes up his own pronunciations and words instead of following what everyone else says.  Go him.

The congee hot pot was wonderful.  Marisa and I were a little skeptical about it at first because we thought that it was white congee that boiled the whole time we put other ingredients into the pot.  To our pleasant surprise, it was a much more intense experience.  We had plates of different types of food that we cooked in a particular order and ate in courses.  First, they brought out the clear broth with only a little bit of white rice and let it simmer while we had an appetizer of nicely seasoned soybeans:

Then, we brought out the seafood which included fresh-out-of-the-water crab and shrimp, clams, and fish to cook and eat either plain or with mian xian (angel-hair like pasta in a soy sauce and garlic broth):

We put in our next plate of octopus, which was probably our favorite boiled dish because the flavor was so distinct and savory.  After we finished the seafood, we added the lamb that was thin and oh-so tender, stirred in some mushrooms, and mixed in our last plate of vegetables and imitation seafood.  All the juices and tartness from the vegetables melted together to make a creamier and denser stew that comforted our cold bodies from the rain outside.  Once we were done with the cooked food, our waitress put in 13 different grains of rice into the broth and stirred until even.  The end result was de-lish:

For dessert, we had a sweet jelly-like dish that Lucas called herb jelly (pronounced “hub jeh-lly” according to his accent) with cream and honey on top.  Marisa and I weren’t sure what it was called or what it was made of, and we tried guessing random things like snake skin or bull horns.  Lucas wouldn’t tell us what it was until we had finished it all, and he said we would never guess what it was.  Well, we certainly didn’t – traditionally this dessert is made from turtle shells, which caught me off guard, but I was happy to find out that ours was probably made of something else because the real ones are mad expensive.

After our satisfying eight-course meal, we just headed back to the hostel.  I’ve come to realize that the weather really does affect my mood because whenever it rains I don’t really feel like doing much.  However, the next few days have been quite phenomenal, and that’s an understatement…more posts coming in a few days!

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