Taiwan: I’m so hungry.

Day 10 highlights: all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque…and frozen yogurt to top it off

Today was the halfway mark for my Taiwan stay, and frankly I have been more than satisfied with what I’ve accomplished so far – attended dance classes, interviewed teachers and students, captured public advertising for various performances, and visited famous landmarks around Taipei.  My body told me I should probably take it slow today and rest my muscles if I wanted to keep moving forward.  Thus, day 10 was dedicated to relaxation and good food.

This morning I met with a family friend (a yi or “Aunt”) at Zhongxiao Fuxing, another MRT stop in the high-class East District of Taipei.  For lunch, we went to a seafood restaurant with freshly cut sashimi and desserts served in mini glassware.  It was nice just learning about the Taiwanese culture from someone who had lived in both the country (in middle Taiwan) and the city of Taipei, and I was able to share some of my experiences living in the U.S in exchange.

One of our conversations recognized how hard Taiwanese students work in grade school.  Starting in their elementary years, students test on a certain subject every day, and most children have additional classes after school or on weekends in order to keep up with their competition when applying for middle and high schools.  For college, it is common for high school seniors to apply for either all programs in one university or one same program to all universities in Taipei just to have a higher chance of being admitted into college.  Taiwanese students have much less room to pick and choose where they want to go compared to students in the U.S.

My a yi and I split our separate ways after lunch and I returned to the hostel to finish work and nap.  Before I knew it, my afternoon was gone, and I was hungry again.  Marisa and I looked at a famous hot pot place for dinner, but it was already booked for the night by the time we called.  We were really upset because we had been wanting to try this restaurant out for the last week, but our hopes were crushed once again.  Lucas then suggested going to an all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque restaurant – um, I’ve heard of Korean barbeque, but all-you-can-eat?  Was it just a huge meat fest?  Well, I was about to find out.

Seven of us from the hostel followed Lucas down Roosevelt Road towards Gongguan, which is near National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.  Marisa and I complained how this long walk was torturing our empty stomachs, but Lucas ignored us and continued hustling.  Well, let’s just say that we needed that walk, because once we arrived at the restaurant we were welcomed with our own two tables, one boiling pot on each with ten or so side dishes surrounding the center.

But that’s not all.  Along with the beef we cooked in the center of this round pot and the accompanying fish balls on the side, we were served with plates of Korean seafood pancakes, caramelized sweet potatoes, bimbimbap (rice with eggs, vegetables, and meat cooked in a stone pot), and two different soups.  And guess what, it was all unlimited.

What’s nice about this type of meal is you tend to eat slower because you’re cooking it as you go (although I’ve been teased about what a slow eater I am already).  This meant that Lucas’s side had already finished their plate of meat while we were only halfway done.  I mean, we were amateurs with this grilling while Lucas over there was a pro, so you can’t really compare.  Just as we thought we were done, a basket of bite-sized ice cream squares flavored with the sorts of banana, taro, and grape were handed to us.  Lucas had the nerve to suggest frozen yogurt after this, and to my surprise the majority said yes.  But I guess we all have two stomachs, one for dinner, and one for dessert.

We followed our humble tour guide through an underground crossing to a frozen yogurt shop similar to a Red Mango in the U.S., but with more “Asian” flavors.  Marisa, Jacqueline, and I decided to share a monstrous bucket, yes bucket, and squeezed out whatever flavors looked good at the moment.  I can’t remember everything we tried, but it looks like vanilla, green tea, pomegranate, blueberry, and dark chocolate yogurt, sprinkled with kiwi, chocolate chips, and mochi on top.

We couldn’t move after this.  It was too much good food in one day and we didn’t know how to take it.  However, we couldn’t let ourselves sit away the calories we consumed, so we walked back towards the Shida area and Marisa and I made an errand run to 7-Eleven.  The other day, Chris and I were saying how if we don’t see a 7-Eleven on one corner, we see a Watsons on another, or a Welcome at even another.  Taiwan is really about convenience.

I was going to check out a dance class at the HRC Dance Academcy because Kento, a Japanese dancer from S.T.O., was teaching there this week and I wanted to catch one of his last lessons.  However, I was too full and still tired from running around the past few days.  I did find this nice video of him dancing a couple of solos while he was there:

Buzztop Workshop, HRC Dance Academy | Kento from S.T.O. Kento and Candoo

And to my pleasant surprise, I was able to see him live later this week, but that’s to be explained on another day.

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