Lilypie - First Birthday

Monday, November 28, 2011

One Day in Beitou (在北投的一天)

On the day after my conference session, mom and I went to Beitou (北投) to enjoy the hot spring. It was really a day for me to relax because I had finished my "official duties" in Taipei.

 I think it was drizzling a bit as we rode the MRT, but thank God when we reached XinBeiTou station the skies cleared up and we could walk around a bit.



The Beitou MRT platform (waiting for exchange to XinBeiTou line) is such a delight to behold! Took many pictures of the cute structure there. The building is a replica mix of the Plum Garden & Beitou Hot Spring Museum. And there is a Japanese-like hot spring deity in blue. There are a couple of cartoon statues dressed up in Ketagalan (Taiwan natives) costumes too.


We continued the walk up ZhongSan Road (中山路). It was a leisurely walk on a beautiful day, the weather was warm but not too hot, and the sun was not so bright as to sting our eyes. This was my second time to Beitou but my first time to walk up ZhongSan Road. There are so many beautiful things to see there - the big, brick bungalow which was formerly the public bathhouse, now changed into the Hot Spring Museum, its lush, green compound, lotus pond filled with pretty pink lotus flowers, the crisp green air which can no longer be found in Korea at this season.

 
The interior of the Hot Spring Museum. It is a huge, two-storey bungalow - the upper floor has a nice hall filled with tatami mats and Japanese-styled doors. The paper wood sliding doors reminded me of the Japanese-week furniture I wanted to buy in The Sims Social but which cost too many simoleons. There was a big balcony overlooking the huge compound of the museum.


The ground floor is a remnant of the public bathhouse, now just an empty pool filled with stained tiles and window glass from the olden days.


Continue walking up the road we reached the historical building Plum Garden (梅庭), formerly a Japanese-style house which became a summer retreat for the famous calligrapher 于右任. The house is kept simple yet elegant, with a very poetic nature to it, like it has a tale to tell of its own. The wooden beam ceiling of the house were hung very low, a trademark of the old Japanese house because Japs back then were very short. The location and architecture of the house were superb, truly a befitting mansion for a man of 于右任's stature.


We stopped for a quick brunch at some cafe near the junction uphill from Plum Garden. By stroke of luck, I accidentally found the entrance to Beitou Thermal Valley (地热谷). I didn't know we had to turn left after the junction; I had thought to go straight. Luckily I didn't or I would have missed it because the entrance was not very significant. Beitou Thermal Valley is a place which I missed on my last visit to Taipei, so I wanted to visit it very much this time. The place looked very beautiful but dangerous.

在眼前看见的是一片热气袅袅上升,蓝色的湖面看起来平静,底下却危机暗伏。我不禁想象着要是失足掉入水里,是否会霎那间皮开肉绽,滚烫的泉水立刻把肉身化为乌有,只剩下一副白骨。哈哈,我想一定是小时候《西游记》看过太多遍了。再想想,温泉温泉,水温应该顶多是六,七十度,只会把人给烫伤,还不足以致命吧~
 

Finally, reached our destination - Spring Hotel Resort (春天酒店). Cost NT800 per person. Only summer season have free beer. Went there the first time with Leo and had a very good impression of the outdoor pools so I brought mom there to try it. Tried all the different hot spring pools (there was one with very nice rice wine smell) and fell asleep on the hot stone slab..........

After I came back I read other people's blog on Spring Hotel Resort then only I realised that taking photo is not allowed at the outdoor pools... hahaha. No wonder many people were looking at me while I used my camera. But Taiwanese are too polite and seldom tell off people outright, unlike the Korean ajummas here.
 

Feeling all refreshed after the nice hot spring, took the longer road back to the MRT station. Passed by the very beautiful Beitou Public Library and went in to take a look. Reminded me of those days in Chandler where we used to visit the nice public library.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Random

The sky is heartbreakingly blue. I remember my friend once told me that the sky is most beautiful in autumn - not a hint of a faint wisp of cloud to mar the brilliant blue canvas, where the blue is even-colored for miles and miles away.

The copper colored leaves still hang dearly on to the tree branches, few as they may be, like coins hanging from the money-tree we read of in storybooks. I look at the leaves, which seem to have frozen in time, and it is like everything in the world has stood still for a moment. Then the leaves quiver, all so slightly, and everything starts moving again. I am woken up from my dream.

A puppy looked up at me today and suddenly had a shocked look on his face. I have never seen a puppy with a shocked face before. I wonder what I did - I didn't even put on a naughty face.

After a few days of chilly early winter nights (-1 degrees Celcius), it suddenly feels warm again (6 degrees Celcius). I wore a navy-colored short sleeved dress underneath a thin gray-colored fleece coat. But as I was walking back towards my dorm, the wind stole underneath my sleeves. And I felt cold again.

I have been reading Stephen King's latest short stories collection - Full Dark, No Stars. I enjoy reading them horror novels, which never seem to give me any nightmares, which is a good thing. :-) Finished reading the book below a month and now I can't get enough of King. So I borrowed "Bag of Bones", which will be a nice, long, good read to last me the winter. :-) There were many "hearts" in between the Full Dark, No Stars pages. Maybe those were what kept me from having nightmares and giving me sweet dreams instead. :-)



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My thesis defense is over.

Yes, my masters thesis defense is over.
Many people congratulate me on and off Facebook.
I suppose I should celebrate it like some kind of milestone is over.
But I am left feeling with some kind of inadequacy, some sort of anti-climax.
Maybe because I feel what I did is not enough.
Maybe because I feel what had been building up all this while, the suspense, the practices, all... were ultimately a let-down.
When the reviewers don't even care about my thesis to take a look beforehand.
When the primary reviewer was late and I even had to go to his office to call him.
Maybe because my Korean labmates were late. (Well if you need to be late, please don't even come...)

I suppose I should have seen it coming.
Well, I had known what to expect, after seeing examples from last year.
Anyway, not feeling very good about it.
But people who know me well, who have been with me through and out this journey tell me, "in the end, it doesn't matter".
Hahaha... knowing that, cheers me up.

I need to do better for the next round! (No, no more thesis defense, but I still have max 6 more masters seminars to go and 2 more papers to write...)

After that, treating myself to a sumptuous medium rare STEAK and wine ade at VIPS................. mmmmmmmmm

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Attending my first International Conference.


November 14-18 (Monday to Friday) 2011, was the first time I participated in an overseas International Conference. Not exactly my preferred venue as I have already visited Taipei 3 times, (hence I would much more prefer cities like Xi'an, Tokyo or even Ho Chih Minh), but I guess I should feel thankful. (Afterall, it is also Thanksgiving Sunday today.)

Felt a little grown-up (my first "business trip"! Hurrah!) so I put on my nice ladylike autumn trench coat and set off to the airport. Didn't know that the Air Busan flight would provide lunch so I had a little breakfast on my own - samgak kimbap (or Leonard calls it the Korean-style nasi lemak), a sausage (not shown here) and a can of cold Starbucks doubleshot espresso & cream (1,500won).



Flight meal (from Busan to Taipei) - Hmmm finally I tasted the most delicious kimchi ever... 30,000 feet above the air in a small little vacuumed-package of NongHyup KimChi. How ironic. 


My presentation session was to be held in the evening of the 2nd day. Went there on Tuesday morning to register my attendance and get some freebies (a nice slingbag, USB pendrive, and damn, couldn't exchange the Zigbee module!) The conference venue was Jiantan Overseas Youth Activity Center (剑潭海外青年中心), which was surprisingly pretty, a red brick building set amongst a lush green background with a pond (with geese and storks flying overhead!) and with the famous Yuansan Hotel in the background.

Jiantan Overseas Youth Activity Center (剑潭海外青年中心)



I was glad my mom flew from Malaysia to Taipei to join the trip with me. Had the chance to bring her around to experience the nice Taipei life. Took some pictures at the conference venue and rushed off to our next stop - Taipei 101. Will blog about the other days later after I finish my thesis defense on Tuesday.

I am getting less anxious now to give presentations. Although my heartbeat still tends to quicken at the last 10 mins before it's my turn. I guess it's because I have gotten used to giving presentations and now I am more familiar with my topic. Still, I need to remind myself to take deep breaths (slowly, surely, steadily) before I go up, and I remind myself: "Nobody knows this topic more than you do, (well at least the ones that do are not here anyway :P) and you are just explaining your work to the morons sitting down there... :P"  

Ximending Shopping Street (西门町)

Impressions of Taipei: 

When I got to Taipei I had a faint illusion that I might still be in Korea. At the shopping streets with the stalls selling clothes, they played K-pop. At the restaurant in Ximending too. Some Taiwanese girls in the same boat with us to Danshui Fisherman's Pier were trying to speak some easy Korean (나쁜여자!) and talking about their favorite K-pop singers. A guy checking something out on his Samsung Galaxy S II. A girl buying clothes on Gmarket Mobile using her smartphone. The girls on the streets everywhere were dressed up in boots and late autumn clothing even though the weather was a humid 22 degrees Celcius! I fell asleep watching a Korean drama dubbed in Chinese on the hotel TV. Korea has conquered the world! (Or Asia, for that matter.)

Stuff that I bought:

"My Beauty Diary" foam cleansing scrub, "My Beauty Diary" sleeping mask, "Burt's Bees" pomegranate flavored lip balm (costs RM25 in Korea but only RM15 in Taipei), "Ma Cherie" moisture treatment for hair, and some 森田药桩 masks (buy 1 box free 1 box).



Some RM20 clothes and RM25 bra-panty set (TOO CHEAP!!!!!!!!!)


All the flats below cost RM19 a pair (including the "Ugg" boots)!!!!!!!!!!!! TOO CHEAP!!!! And the purple canvas Nike's which I had been eye-ing for an entire summer and autumn in Korea cost RM98 compared to RM120 in Korea. 


Also went to Eslite and bought a few books from there.


Clouds outside my window seat on my return flight from Taipei to Busan. I can imagine bouncing on those heaps of clouds................


3 more months, and I'll be back in Malaysia.............

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Remembering October

Finally, October has passed.......... it felt like time went by so slowly in October, as though the month would never end. I had a host of things to do during October, in which I completed writing my thesis draft and experiments and stuff.

It is the season of changing autumn leaves again, the entrance leading into campus lined with trees of changing brown and gold and red leaves. At the road near my lab building, it is fiery red, like the sakura trees it-selves are now on fire.  






October was also a month of contradictory weather; it was like the skies couldn't seem to decide whether to be sunny or rainy. A few days it was so cold like winter, and a few days after it felt like we were going back to summer.

I bought a set of new frames from the shop near my university. It cost me only 25,000won (~RM60). It's big and makes me look very nerdy. Many Koreans were this type of frames.


My friend's camera has this 3D photo function. So we're playing around with it to take 3D photos. You can view it after wearing those 3D specs.




I still haven't embarked on my quest to visit every cute little cafe and take dozens of pictures of it. I'm procrastinating too much, must start soon........


Near the front gate of my university there's this tree with a whispering hole in the middle. Now it's laden with huge, heavy fruit! This type of fruit is called 无花果 (fruit without flowers). One day I walked past and I was saying to my friend, why don't you pick one for me? It looks too big. Then the tree heard me and plopped down one fruit with a loud "thud" on the ground. It was bigger than my fist!  



Finally, I didn't make it to Halloween street party at the back gate of my university after all. Cos it was pouring heavily on that day thus our moods were dampened. Celebrated Halloween by treating myself to yummy ghostly-shaped donuts at Dunkin Donuts! Yummmmmmmm 


And that's the end of October!

*Shit... now I'm feeling it went by too fast and I have millions of things to complete before the half of November!