Henna! Caricatures! Arcades! Oh my!

1.27.2011 § 5

JC~ Hello there! We haven't updated in awhile...it's been so long in fact that we're now lonely girls minus one! =( I feel so alone. Even LONELIER. My best friend here has left me! I will now proceed to cry a very deep river at the thought of my partner in crime not coming back. >__< You all are very lucky to be having KC back in Toronto, even though I've told her a million times, please tell her I love her and miss her. =)

Today, I want to tell you all about a little place called Xi Men Ding or 西門町, it's a pretty cool happenin' place. As the youngsters like to call it nowadays. ;) It's a pretty awesome place to play for Taiwanese youth and foreign tourists alike. Ximending is a maze of alleyways and streets full of clothing stores, snack stalls, accessory stores, drink stands, shoe stores, restaurants, arcades, street artists, theaters buskers, etc. Like most of Taipei, Ximending is jam packed full of fun stuff to do, and people. If you're afraid of crowded places stay away from Ximending!

There are probably millions of blog entries buried within the bowels of Ximending. >__< In this blog post I'm only going to highlight a couple of things that I thought were cool. =) Of course more to come later.

Right across from the subway station, you'll find a little encampment of artists and vendors selling their wares in the courtyard next the the NET store. It sort of looks like this:
Actually...it looks exactly like this.
They all represent different art houses and sell all sorts of things: shirts, jewelry, cards, cups, mugs, trinkets, etc.: 

Look! Soap!
One of these stalls is selling Indian inspired wares, incense, jewelry, and some traditional sari's. The shop keeper is absolutely delightful and her English is quite good, she's studied it in India for a year, and she's quite skilled in drawing henna. Along with all her other wares she sells, you'll find an innocuous book that she keeps all her henna designs in lying amongst the blingy jewelry. You can choose what she draws on you from cartoon caricatures, simple wristlets and intricate full hand designs. 

I settled for a large heart design. <3 I love hearts. It cost about $150 NT for most of the larger designs. She told me it would last around 7 days, but for me the design lasted around 2 weeks. I guess I don't use my hands very much. =P

The second fun thing you can take away from Ximending is getting a caricature of yourself done! As opposed to the typical "western" style of caricature there's an artist in the main drag of Ximending that really gets into the ancient Han vibe. He decked out his stall with bamboo, past portraits, and traditional Chinese music full of erhu's and wind flutes...playing out of a boombox of course. Take a look for yourself! 

I had to have one. Kat of course was the reasonable one and decided to save her money for delicious eats...me? I go to the weirdo dressed in Hanfu to get my portrait drawn. There was a boy before me that seemed a little disappointed with his picture, and when I sat down, he immediately sat behind the artist and stared very keenly at the paper he unfurled in preparation for my drawing. 

This of course made me incredibly nervous. How awkward! Sitting down, and two people just....staring at you. Well, the artist had to do his job I suppose. ;) That boy though!! Hmph. It also didn't help he laughed the entire time. I didn't have that much confidence artist at that point. Look! You can see him laughing! =[

A small crowd had gathered, and I was a little sweaty. I was nervous under the pressure the heat of the summer, the gaze of the crowd, the snickers from that boy. I don't know what I looked like at the time, but the sketch turned out like this:

What do you think? 

Ximending is also the home to many an arcade. In fact, as I mentioned in my previous Jubeats posts, Ximending is a field of Jubeats laden arcades! And claw games. You'll find all technical delights you want here, at the cost of 10-20 NT. =) 

This is a long post...I think I'll break it into two pieces. I hope you all are satisfied with this for now! =__= I know this is a selfish favor, but I hope you'll also take a look at my personal blog as well: http://fafofi.blogspot.com/ I'd appreciate your comments here...and there! See you on the flipside! 

Oh also. I MISS YOU KAT. I RUV U TOO. <3 
+ Love 

陳三鼎 - milk with tapioca.

12.04.2010 § 12

KC. Like the bottom sign says, if you attend TaiDa, you have to try this store's most popular drink.

They sell a few drinks, 30 NT each ($1 CAD), but they are most well-known for their milk with tapioca 青蛙撞奶. Everyone in the area always pays a visit to this store.

I'm not kidding, this is how much people love this store. Worth the line-up even when it's raining. And there's a line-up everyday during busy hours too.

It's was the very first place that my NTU student volunteer took me when I arrived in Taipei early September. I still remember how the milk was cold and how easily it went down your throat on a hot summer day. But the chewy tapioca balls were warm and coated with the sweetness of brown sugar, making the drink just perfect.
You can get 珍珠奶茶 anywhere in Taiwan, with the overwhelming amount of bubble tea/drink chains at every corner possible, but I would pick this milk with tapioca over milk tea with tapioca any day. Milk tea is over-rated compared to this!

Their second most popular drink is 檸檬愛玉 lemon aiyu jelly, a refreshing slightly sour drink. Aiyu jelly is a special jelly made from a fruit of the fig family. Wikipedia probably explains it better. It's very popular in Taiwan.

I believe there they have only this one store in the entire Taiwan. SO GO TRY IT. You can't forget how the store looks like with the boss' face as the logo like that!

PRICE: 30 NT (1 CAD)
MTR: Gongguan
LOCATION: across from the Front Gate of National Taiwan University


11.26.2010 § 1

JC~I have an addictive personality. I'm not going to lie 'bout this sort of thing. If it's a song I can listen to the same song 24 hours everyday for weeks straight. If it's a food I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, linner and dinner. If it's a cartoon/movie I can waste days wikipedia-ing facts and information about the actors and their respective  "universes." You get the idea. I have to be very selective when I try to pick up hobbies during the school year or else I'm pretty sure I would just fail out of university. Out of sheer procrastination. If I could major in Stalking or Procrastination with a minor in Napping life would be amazing. I would be at the top of my field.

I know what you're thinking at this point though: "Why don't you just have self control?" My response to that is: I'm working on it. =____=

Now I'm sure that y'all who are taking the time to read this are wondering where the story is going. It all began on a summer day when my boyfriend and I were walking around Taipei. I'm easily distracted by noises, shiny things and flashing lights....and because of this I usually notice immediately when an arcade is nearby. Nestled within this particular arcade was a machine. A flashing, loud, behemoth of a machine that everyone and their mom was playing on. I had to figure out what this was. I mean it looked like this:

Who's ever seen anything that looked like that before?! In an arcade! I was only used to things like the DJ game, one of the Dance Dance Revolution incarnations, or the guitar/drum/oboe/musical instrument games. From the hordes of people surrounding the machine it was clear that this game was very popular, and that only piqued my interest even more. From standing behind people awkwardly I had gleaned several basic facts about this game: 1.) It was music based, 2.) With each beat you tapped one of the sixteen squares on the main interface, 3.) People are really intense about it, 4.) It was called Jubeat Knits. Now, knowing all of this I wanted to play. 

So I dragged my boyfriend over awkwardly, and took one of the stations that wasn't occupied. I looked up at him, back at the machine and wiggled his hand a little. He gave me one of those pointed man looks and sighed. "Do you want some change?" A nod. "How much is it?" A shrug. At this point a sizable line of teenage boys had gathered behind us, and it was clear they were waiting for the machine. Immediately I was intimidated. They all had...cards. Why? One of them was frantically practicing patterns in the air, another was getting his Jubeats gloves out, and the other was just judging me and my awkward interactions with the Jubeats machine. I am awkward normally, but I get more awkward when people start watching me play a video game...and I get even more awkward when I happen to suck at that particular video game. My fight or flight reactions kicked in, and after 19 years of nervous, awkward social interaction I did the thing that came naturally to me in times of stress. I grabbed the boif's hand and fled. 

My second flirtation with this machine would come later with KC and some other friends in a shady arcade in Ximending. I don't remember the details, but I somehow got to the machine and inserted the correct number of coins. The game had started. I was selecting music. I chose a song. During the waiting period for the song to start the machine started searching for other players, I had assumed it was searching locally within the arcade, but no. This machine had WIFI capability and was looking for people who were playing that same song all over greater Asia. WHAAAT. It had found me some opponents in Hong Kong and Tokyo for me to fight. I nearly wet myself. Why. I thought this was supposed to be a private thing!? I had performance anxiety. Then the song started. Lights started flashing. Seizure inducing lights. It looked like this (obviously I wasn't as good as this guy, but you get the idea): 
I don't know what happened. 一片空白。All of a sudden the music stopped and I came back to my senses. I was shaking and sweaty. I felt like I had just talked to a cute boy. Then I realized that I had cleared the song. Not only that, but I also came in first. EEEEH. I played two more rounds and had reasonable success. I was already addicted to this game, and I thought I couldn't love it anymore...until I was introduced to their crazy ranking system. I was a lemon with a jubility level of .13, and due to my success I had gotten an achievement. That achievement materialized in the form of virtual yarn that I could use to knit virtual sweaters which would then translate into unlocking hidden songs. I KNOW! AMAZING, RIGHT!? At this point cards made sense, for 120$NT you can buy a Konami e-Amusement card to save your ranking, unlocked songs, progress, and use that card to interface with other games. Needless to say I bought one.

Since that day I have been a woman possessed. I've since graduated from a beginner lemon to an intermediate bumble bee. JUBEATS.


MaryJane's Pizza - perfect way to satisfy your craving for American pizza.

11.12.2010 § 2

MaryJane's Pizza. Where do I start?

I think most exchange students have already tried or at least heard of this place. Because when there's a good pizza place nearby, word of mouth travels really fast with University students. And how I heard about this place is of course through JC. You can count on her to find all the best non-Taiwanese food in Taipei! LOL You know that's true, JC =P

With two locations, one near ShiDa and the other near TaiDa, it's a convenience and popular place among university students. And it's so good that I've already had it 3 times in the past 2 weeks. Which is very frequent, considering how many other good nomnom places there is around here.

The one near TaiDa is located in the multiple alleyways behind the Eslite Bookstore/KFC/McDonalds area. You know where that is if you attend TaiDa.

Keep walking until you see this sign.

The outside is painted in bright orange and you can usually spot the delivery moped.

Cute menu! The size of the menu is actually the size of the pizza too.

No service charges, but minimum $150 NT ($5 CAD) per person. Easy.

The first time I was here, it was for lunch. They have a special lunch set menu for $180 NT ($6 CAD), which includes your choice of salad or soup, pizza, and a drink.

Perfect place to chill with friends on a weekday night. The floor even has a painted pizza on it. Cute.

The kitchen and staff.

For the lunch set, I ordered an iced red tea and soup. Soup > salad any day.
The soup was alright, nothing special in particular.

JC's 燻鮭魚 Smoked salmon pizza

My 燻雞蘑菇 Chicken & shroom pizza.

The best thing about MaryJane's pizza is that it's THIN CRUST. JC & I have a thing against thick, bready crusted pizzas. So this was perfect!

Now fast-forward to last week.
Bonnie, JC and I came to MJ's again, since we had a pizza craving.

My 霸王雞 Baked chicken & broccoli pizza.
Funny thing the first time I had MJ's pizza, I could only finish half of it and I was stuffed already. I think the soup and tea filled me up. However, this time I devoured this pizza within minutes. I think this speaks volumes about how much my eating habits have changed since I've arrived in Taiwan.

Bonnie's 瑪莉珍 MaryJane's pizza.
The only bad thing about their pesto pizza is that you get a mouthful of pesto in one bite, and zero in another. It's also hard to spread out the pesto yourself, so you end up shrugging it off and keep on munching.

Fast-forward to this past Monday.
So MJ has free delivery to those in the ShiDa and TaiDa area AND if your order is over $500 NT (~$16.67 CAD).

JC had a portfolio due the next day on Biblical studies, Paul had just came back from buying noodles for dinner, Yuna messaged me to see if I had eaten dinner yet, and I was trying to make my stomach digest faster for dinner that night. So the 4 of us ended up ordering MJ pizza delivery.
More than an hour after ordering, the pizzaman finally arrived. The Japanese, Californian, German, and Canadian students were all starving by then.

This is Yuna with her 早安!卜派 Morning! Popeye pizza. Spinach, egg, parmesan and bacon.

JC with her 霸王雞 Baked Chicken & broccoli pizza.

Paul and his 美式臘腸 Pepperoni pizza.
Paul thinks I'm crazy for documenting this. It's okay, he's getting used to it.

And this is my 焦糖洋蔥波菜起司 spinach & ricotta cheese with caramelized onions pizza.

I insisted everyone on trading slices, cause that's part of the awesomeness of eating pizza together with friends! So my pizza transformed into this.

The BAD thing about MJ's delivery is
1) SLOW. Over an hour? Please.
2) COLD PIZZA. Pizza is not supposed to be delivered cold. And even so, the ultimate pizza test is that it'll still taste good when it's cold. MJ's did not pass this test.

We were all really disappointed.

So Yuna went ahead and stuffed the entire box into the lobby's microwave and we followed soon afterwards.

Fast-forward to 2 days ago (this is probably the most up-to-date post I've ever written on this blog; usually it's like a month later XD).
The 7 of us went to MJ's to celebrate Bernise's birthday. We ended up ordering the 5 person dinner combo, which had 5 pizzas + a large bowl of salad + drinks + dessert. We added 1 more pizza and 1 salad.

Started off the night with some iced drinks.

Our salad came, with croutons, cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, lettuce and cheese, with a side of Ceasar dressing.

I found the salt and pepper shakers adorable. It reminded me of a Halloween photo I saw of a couple dressing up as salt and pepper shakers. So cute.

Teresa's 蘋果燻雞沙拉 Apple smoked chicken salad (without any cheese).
Unfortunately, Teresa is lactose-intolerant (actually a lot of Asians are) so she couldn't eat the cheese-laden pizza. But she seemed to have enjoyed the salad!

I didn't manage to capture a shot of each pizza but here's 4 of the 6 in order: 最愛瑪莉珍 maryjane - extra kind, 喔啦比薩 hola jalapeno, 迷迭香雞馬鈴薯 ricotta cream sauce potato with rosemary baked chicken, and 烤蔬菜 herbivore.


Michelle and JC enjoying their pizza. A night of talking about their home California, tampons, the "Diva Cup" (which is a hybrid between a pad and a tampon), how NorCal people dance in clubs, and how Australian English is waayyy different from North American English.

Panna cotta for dessert.
The caramel syrup on top was over-the-top sweet. The panna cotta itself was not bad.

Birthday cake time!

Happy Birthday Bernise! :)

Moral of the post: do not order MJ's for delivery. Just walk there and sit down.

You have just finished reading a blog post about a pizzeria with 51 pictures in it.

MaryJane Pizza 瑪莉珍比薩
PRICE: minimum $150 NT ($5 CAD) per person; $150 - 300 NT ($5 - 10 CAD) per pizza
WEBSITE: http://maryjanepizza.com/
The menu, addresses, phone numbers, store hours and detailed directions on how to get to each MJ store are available on the website.