Why, hello Toronto

posted in: travel | 0

CN Tower

I’ve just accepted a new job! For two months I’ll be at Toronto HQ before returning to work in Taipei. First impressions: major jetlag, amazing food options (customized burritos, great Thai food, 水煮鱼, and even kotu roti all within a few blocks), obsession with using mobile apps to order food (I’m looking at you, Ritual and Uber Eats), hover boards, catching up with old friends, and hopefully making new ones at work. So far so good, but it’ll be a busy 9 weeks…

deep excavation

posted in: taipei | 0

A new apartment building is being constructed across the street from our place, and from our balcony we can see everything that’s going on. I don’t know if it’s related to earthquake readiness, but I’ve noticed that many new buildings have at least 3 floors constructed below ground–and the building across from us is no exception. Never occurred to me before how they construct these underground floors, but they’ve already set the surrounding concrete foundation, and now they’re sending a small excavator down daily to continue the digging.

Here they are, hooking the excavator to the crane:

Hooking up the excavator (1 of 4)

We have lift off:

Lifting the excavator (2 of 4)Going to send it down... (3 of 4)

And now down the hatch!

Excavator in the hole! (4 of 4)

MRT public service announcement

posted in: taipei | 0

This is a friendly reminder from the MRT, at the subway stop closest to where I live:

Subway public service announcement

“When something’s wrong… Defend yourself with what you can find.”

I’m really not clear on what scenarios inspired this billboard, but it’s apparently something you can attack with your backpack or umbrella.

cursive coffee

posted in: food, taipei | 1

Very small coffee bar that’s easy to miss with all the crowds at Q-Square Mall. It’s not a cheap place for coffee, but the care that they take in slowly hand-brewing your cup feels like a luxury. The woman at the counter allowed us to smell small samples of the beans they had on offer. I opted for the dark roast Taipei Mambo ($NT135), and my friend took a lighter African blend. The woman promptly ground my beans, heated my cup (yes, even a paper takeaway cup), and cooled boiling water to a specific temperature before carefully pouring it in a circular motion over a drip filter. It was really good! (I admit I didn’t even need to take sugar in my coffee!)

Cursive Coffee

Cursive Coffee
Q-Square Mall (京站)
B2/F, No.1, Section 1, Chengde Road, Datong District, Taipei
台北市大同區承德路一段一號B2樓

nom nom restaurant

posted in: food, taipei | 1

I have a few days of freedom (sans enfant!) so I thought I would see a little more of Taipei. (As an added bonus, I set up my youbike card, but more on that later.) I headed to check out the famous Yong Kang street, and in the neighbourhood I discovered some cute street art:
bookshelf
cartoons

There was even a little nook, with a bookshelf containing several placards that appear to describe neighbourhood projects like the street art and a community garden.
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But I digress… what I really wanted to tell you was that right next door, this sign caught my eye:
nom nom

Who could resist a place called nom nom? Not me, apparently! A cute little place with a brunch menu with dishes bearing names like the Woody Allen (smoked salmon salad roll, bagel with sweet potato cream cheese, potatoes with a spicy meat sauce, eggs), the Mike Wozoeski (cheese sausage, Frankfurter, eggs, toast), Happy Bunny (cream sauce mushrooms, eggs, potatoes, sourdough), and Girlfriends (caramel French toast with eggs and hashbrowns).
nom nom restaurant

All brunch items come with coffee, juice, and yoghurt. I chose the Traveler (NT$330): eggs Benedict, one with bacon and the other with smoked salmon. And when it came to the table, it looked amazing.
The Traveller brunch set
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bacon eggs benedict

The hollandaise was a bit unconventional, being on the sweet side, and the eggs were slightly overcooked (no runniness at all)–but overall the food was really tasty and I would definitely come again. They also had a few desserts in a display case, and the apple pie was really tempting: the apples looked nicely cooked together like in a tarte tatin!
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Looking forward to my next visit!

nom nom
No. 137, Chaozhou St, Da’an District (大安區潮州街137號)
facebook.com/nomnombistro

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nairobi

posted in: cross-culture, nairobi | 0

The strangest thing, when shopping at Nakumatt Prestige, I’ve been approached several times by black people speaking to me in Chinese. The first time it happened I was so startled that I chatted with them back. They’re always Jehovah’s Witnesses (presumably learning mandarin in order to convert the many Chinese in Nairobi) who inevitably invite me to an event “all in Chinese” at their centre nearby, all while handing me literature to peruse.

At another nearby spot, under a nice shady tree, there’s often a white woman sitting with a young white girl in a wheelchair, both distributing this literature. (Because who could say no to a girl in a wheelchair??)

I actually ran into this white woman with her husband yesterday, who of course invited me to their next Chinese event, at Eastland hotel (a Chinese hotel nearby) next week. I politely declined with the convenient excuse that I’ll be going to Norway. After explaining that my husband has family in Norway, the woman tells me I “should really read this then”:

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After chatting with them briefly, I learn that she’s from Michigan and he’s a Montrealer. And the reason they live in Nairobi? Why, because there are so many Chinese here! (No, I don’t get the logic either.) And yes they speak Chinese: 一点点。

 

Christmas in Nairobi

posted in: cross-culture, nairobi | 0

The weather is always great in Nairobi, so being 25 degrees every day makes me forget that it’s almost Christmas time. There are some tell-tale signs though, like the workers in Santa hats at Nakumatt:

xmas time at nakumatt

We live near the Junction Mall, and I saw them set up a Santa corner–but it was only now that I noticed his hours: a full two hours every Saturday…

Santa is available for 2 hours

Meanwhile, I was having lunch outside when the Maasai group passed by. At least that’s what I presume it was. Every Thursday there’s a “musical” Maasai market at the mall, but this group was very silent as they marched by…

The Junction on Thursdays

asking for money

posted in: nairobi | 0

It doesn’t happen all the time, but as a foreigner you can expect to be approached for money when out on the street. For me it’s usually the same three kids living somewhere near my street–and my preferred response is to give them some bananas or other food, if I’ve just come from the store. Once, a man asked that I buy him a bag of maize meal (which costs 100 shillings) so he could feed his family; another time, an old man asked for 200 shillings to complete the “bus fare” to his village.

Now for the first time it’s someone I know that needs help: the caretaker for our apartment building is raising money for his wife’s surgery through these business cards:

Money request

Quite effective! At least instead of simply asking verbally. (For some reason seeing it in print makes it more credible…?)

rotary phone, anyone?

posted in: nairobi | 0

kfc delivery

Whoever designed this ad has clearly never seen a real rotary phone. (I remember we had a black one when I was little.)

And yes, KFC will deliver to your house–via motorbike!

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