Tag Archives: eating

Dragon boat festival

boat

Dragon boat and “zongzi”

It is time for Dragon boat festival. It is one of the three big celebrations in Taiwan. Others are Chinese new year around a month after ours and the moon festival in Autumn. I have heard some stories about the reason for this festival. Usually people tell me that it is to celebrate one Chinese poet called Qu Yuan. He was a poet about 300 years B.C. at the time of Zhou Dynasty. That time there was seven different parts of China who all fight each other. The king whom this poet served formed an ally with another king and Yuan was exiled and even called traitor because he opposed the alliance. After some time alliance turned out to be a bad idea, the capital of poets kingdom was captured by the other party of the alliance.

The poet was devastated and jumped into a river to commit a suicide. Local people gathered in boats and tried to save him or at least retrieve his body and this was how dragon boat races, one of the main events in this festival, was started. One other distinctive feature at dragon boat festival is sticky rice cakes called zongzi. The legend tells that people tried to throw these cakes in to the river for the fishes to eat so that they wouldn’t eat the body of the poet. People have offered zongzi for me about two weeks already and I actually like those rice cakes bind with bamboo leaves quite a lot.

zongzi

Zongzi nomnom

team

A dragon boat race team

vene

Safety first. People keeping eye on the race.

The dragon boat festival is a three days long event this year starting from Saturday and ending on Monday which is a public holiday here in Taiwan. I was told that on the festival site there is a huge amount of people and lots to eat etc. So I went to visit one festival place on Saturday noon. It was actually really difficult to find because the park where it was was huge and I didn’t even notice the festival site from other end of the park. When the place was finally found I was surprised to notice that there was not that many people there. Most of them were participants in the boat race and there wasn’t much else to see. I guess that this was because it was too early and only the first day of the festival. Maybe today there would be more people to see the finals of the race.

Home sweet home

I have to admit that sometimes I miss Finland. I don’t feel too stressed or sad here though and I think that my ordinary life here is really similar to my life in Finland. I study and then I come back home (tired) and try to do some school stuff and keep in contact with my friends. Not that much difference there. Weekends still get my adventure-and-holiday mode up, but not that easily than before. Last weekend I noticed that even though being on high mountain was really nice and relaxing, it didn’t give me those special kind of feelings like at first when I travelled in Taiwan. Taiwan specialities start to feel like everyday normal stuff. It is kind of fun, but kind of sad too.

wulai

Not that special amazing place at Wulai.

Most I miss my kitchen. The possibility to cook and being able to decide what to eat. Taiwanese food is really good! But it is still a bit gluten stuffed, so I need to be careful with what I eat. That is something that really gets me tired. Last week I bought a cup and it made me really happy. Now I have a small opportunity to “cook” meaning I can decide if I want tea or hot chocolate and if I want tea do I want honey with it. That really makes a world of difference! I have some control here now. ūüėÄ

kuppi

My precious..!

Other thing I miss back home is the sunlight. Believe or not, I feel almost like in Finnish winter here sometimes. Well, when I go to hospital there is light and when I get there is light, but only for about 1 hour. That really confuses me sometimes. This time of year sun sets after 10 PM in Finland. Couple weeks ago I almost got some winter crumpy feelings when I felt that it is always dark here. Oh, how I miss that amount of light!

I have always been good calling different places home. Home is where I have my pillow! If I’m travelling and I live in hotel you can hear me say “lets go back home” when I mean my room at hotel. Couple days ago I bought tickets to Tokyo. I decided the day I will leave here and it made me feel weird. I realized that somehow I feel that this is my home now.. It is always a bit sad to leave from home. It was a bit strange to notice this feeling of mine. I didn’t expect to feel at home here. Not in a dorm and with different language. And here I am, two months abroad and I already feel like home.

Dormitory living

In Finland I have my own flat. About 25 square meter of my own space with my own kitchen, own toilet and own laundry machine. Back in Finland I wondered a bit about how am I going to survive living in a dorm. I thought that I don’t like to live with other people, that I like to be alone more. I also thought that I would need my own space and I wouldn’t be able to be considered enough for other people.

First thing that surprised me was how dirty one room can be. When more people live together it is easier to let things go uncleaned I guess. I don’t clean every week in Finland, but I certainly clean more than I have done in here. I have to admit that sometimes I go and sweep the hallway because all of that dust irritates me. Funny thing is that I sweep the hallway more often than I sweep my room..

I am really surprised about how well I have adapted to this dormitory living. Here I live in a room made for 4 people. We only have two here, me and my roommate, so there is enough room for my ego too. There is shared toilets and showers in every floor as there is a shared laundry room. Washing one machinefull of laundry costs 10 NTW so practically it is next to nothing. This dormitory has a kitchen in the first floor and couple of refridgerators in hallway. The Kitchen is a chaos and fridges always so full that there is no room for anything there. You are lucky if you can close the door after you have mistakingly opened it to see what is inside.

eteinen

The hallway with fridges.

keittiö

The kitchen – I never use this

pyykkitupa

Our lovely laundry room.

Something really essential here is earplugs. Most of the people here don’t go to bed in reasonable time (in my opinion). So there will be noice and light from the hallway even after the midnight. At first I also used something to cover my eyes, but now I don’t need that anymore. When I arrived here and the weather was still cold, a pair of slippers was a choice for winners. Other slippers for shower are also quite essential if you still want to recognize all of your toes after spending some time in here.

suihkut

Some of the showers

vessat

Long row of toilets. There is both kinds of them.

Even though living here is so different from my life in Finland, I still haven’t had that much troubles about adjusting to this environment. The thing I miss most is cooking and being able to store food in my apartment. As I am a lazy Finn, I would love the opportunity to just be in my room and get some food from fridge if I get hungry. Always getting out to get food is starting to be a bit annoying.

All in all, I need surprisingly few things for my daily living. In Finland I have a huge amount of stuff in my apartment. Here, I have realized that I wouldn’t need most of them to live well. Maybe I need to do some cleaning after I get back..

katto

My favourite place in this building <3

From Ginger Duck to Bubbletea

There is some huge differences when it comes to eating and drinking. To it feels like people eat about everything. We have had this soup thingy called ginger duck where they put everything from the duck in the pot. There is head and feet but also the heart, stomack and intestine and almost everything you can imagine. Oh, and duck blood. It is like a pudding, a wobbly thing.. Last night my classmate brought me some chicken hearts and pigs ears for late dinner. And the list goes on. They have special tofu called stinky tofu and you can order chiken feet from a teahouse.

gingerduck

Gingerduck.

From the places I have been visiting there is two kinds of places: First is the places where you get a glass of tea first thing you sit to the table. From these places some even fill your cup entire time you spend there. The other kind of places don’t have drinks at all. Or then I just don’t know they have any. To this second series of eating places is included the famous nightmarket. In there locals sell almost every food you can imagine they have from small booths at the street. For me it was funny to notice that many times people have their kitchen on the street and customers go inside to eat (or they take their food with them).

michelin

A table full of food in a famous dumpling restaurant.

Then there is the drinkshops. This is different from the cafes and other places like that. It is a small shop usually selling tea (a lot of different kinds of tea!), bubble tea, juices and maybe coffelike products. From there you can byt a drink o go with you and they pack it to a sealed plastic container that has a film over the top. They have special packing machines in every shop. Then they put it in a small bag, give you a straw to take with you and tadaa! There is the drink you have been missing in the restaurant. ūüėÄ

tee

Bubbletea without bubbles.

Taiwanese speciality in drinks is the bubbletea. It is tea that includes small pearls made of sweetpotato starch powder. It is like a pearlporrige in Finland (if you have tried any). That is made from pearls of potato starch. And there is a ton of different types of bubble tea. Every small drinkshop seems to have their speciality. Other distinctive feature in Taiwanese drinks is that they are really sweet usually. I mean really really sweet! And I like sugar. Today I ordered honey green tea and watched horrifiedly when the girl behind the counter added three huge spoonfulls of honey to my cup. Many times you can choose how much you want sugar in your drink. You can also decide how much you want ice in your drink.. Too many options. ūüėÄ

chocobubble

Chocolate bubbletea (or something like that), you can see the pearls in the bottom.

hunajatee

Amazingly sweet honeytea.

When you go to eat with locals it is customary to order table full of food and then everyone eats everything and price is divided evenly for the whole group. I like this, because I get to try all different kinds of food. Big dinner groups are quite common here also. Especially in weekends. Oh and don’t even think of making food yourself, it is not worth it! It is much cheaper and easier to go out to eat.

jälkkäri

These people put beans into their dessert!

Cha Cha Cha!

Cha is mandarin chinese and means tea. Yesterday we two physiotherapists and one Finnish nurse (my roommate) went to Maokong hill. The trip there was simply amazing. First we took a gondola elevator which went quite fast. First it felt like being in a rollercoaster but after while I got used to it. The view was great. We could see part of the Taipei city and surrounding “hills” (Finn would call them mountains).

gondola

The view from the gondola. Maokong hill stop was about 300 m high.

After we got up there we were a bit hungry so we decided to find a teahouse, since the area is known for its tea. We picked one place at random because it seemed to have a nice terrace facing the cityview. It was just perfect! First we were a bit hesitating because we didn’t need to pay only for tea and snacks but also for the seats at the terrace. I glad we decided that it was worth it because it totally was. And in the end it was only about 370 NTD (about 9 ‚ā¨) per person.

parvekenäkymä

A set to prepare tea and some snacks at the terrace.

Our waitress showed us how to prepare tea properly and after that we just sat there for 3 hours drinking tea. We must have made at least 15 teapotfulls of that tea. We decided to stay to see sunset, because the view was just too great and we left after the citylights went on only to find out that there was a full moon at the other side of the gongola station. The expression on my travel companions face was great when he saw the moon: “wait a minute.. One shining ball just went down there, what is that?!?”

On our way down we admired the citylights on the other side and the fullmoon on the other riding the cabin in almost complete darkness just listening the silent hurring sound of the elevator and chirping (?) of the insects and birds from the forest we were crossing over. Just perfect I tell you!

How to prepare cha: (My tealoving friends, you must not judge me if I don’t remember everything correctly)

huuhtelu

Pour boilig water to the pot and over it to warm the pot.

kuppihuuht

Pour that same water to the teacups to warm them up.

kaato

Pour that water out using wooden pinching thingy so that you don’t burn your fingers.

teentäyttö

Add tealeaves to the pot filling it to 1/4 and add water. Leave it be for about 15-20 s.

kannuun kaato

Pour this first set of tea to another pot through a strainer.

1haudutus

Pour the tea to the cups and then pour it away since you don’t drink the first brewing.

kuppi

Fill the pot again and wait for 20 s. Pour the tea as explained before and then you have your first cup of tea you can actually drink according to all fine rules of tea brewing.

tyhjennys

You can use the same tealeaves for about 6-7 brewing. Then just take out used leaves and start from the beginning.

Studying..

Yeah. Well.. We are having quite a slow start to the studies here. For the first two weeks we only have 2-3 hours of lessons and only for 4 days. Most of the students here have been wondering why we have so few classes. Well, that will change since after our clinical practise starts, we will have 9 hours of practice 4 days a week and 4 hours on Friday. So no 4 day working week like we had thought. It is actually a bit confusing. I have no idea who has picked these courses for us. I don’t remember that anybody had asked from us what we want. Neither has anyone said that we can has a say to what we study here. That was the case in Finland. And in here it seems to me that everyone is expecting that these courses are our choices. To be frank, I would have wanted to have more influence for my studies here. But maybe I would have had to ask these things directly from Yi-Fen.

kerroskuusi

This is where we study!

Our first classes were easy. Just some reminding about ROM (range of motion) measurements. We also took part for one suspensio system lab class on Wednesday. It was really interesting and I would like to try more with that thing. We have had some pilates lessons in addition to these two. Those I really like! They are quite challenging, but also rewarding afterwards.¬† About the classes.. Well, there is somethings that differ from Finland. The class contains about 40 students, so the class is full. When using the “plintti”, research table, they don’t use paper (since it is cleaned weekly). And we have had our pilates classes ON the tables (since there is no room on the floor. Also other students are usually already in class when it is time for the class to start, when in Finland we usually go to class at the moment it is about to start. It takes about 10 min from our classes every time. Something to learn here I think.. What else.. Teacher is using a microfone, also those students who are presenting something are using the microphone.

suspensio

The Suspensio System. At the end of our class, one boy was hanging from this with his ankles and doing knee flexion combined with abdominal squeeze. It looked crazy!

I noticed that when we were doing our ROM measurements, the teacher was not as demanding than in Finland. We made the measurements clothes on and we could add the goniometer after making the full movement. It feels a bit weird.. I’m usually by-the-book person and I have always had difficulties to apply theory to the real world. It just seems a bit weird to me that we don’t for example demand to take the measurements from the skin (clothes off). That would be more accurate. The teacher told us that most of the clients don’t want to take their clothes of for assesments. Maybe because it is cold here even indoors or maybe it is not expected. But while in rome do as the romans do. Even in the Finish hospitals everything is not done right according to the book. I just need to get used to it and adapt.

Our pilates classes is teached by one of the major students. Most of the students we are dealing with are major students. That means they are studying research thingies. Unlike in Finland, here people study 4 years of basic studies to become physical therapists ( in Finland it is 3,5 years). From these 4 years they have the last year fully clinical practice. In Finland we have first year studying, then rest of the years we have a cycle of couple month of studies and couple months of practice. After completing the 4 years of basic studies people here apply for master program. In National Yang Ming University there is a lot of more research students than the basic ones. That is because this university is a research university. In Finland (if I remember correctly) after the 3,5 years we go to worklife for couple of years before we can apply for the research studies in university. Also we are learning the basic stuff in University of applied sciences and then we apply for the “normal” university for the research part. Here it is all in the same place.

Studying here is not free for the locals like studying in Finland is for us. It costs about 1500 ‚ā¨ per year and this is why many of the students here have a part time jobs. Well.. Many of the students at home have a part time jobs too, but that is because it is so expensive to live in Finland. For a school cafeteria meal here it is about 1-2 ‚ā¨ and if you go to a restaurant it might go up to 5-8 ‚ā¨. In Finland, school cafeteria meal is 2,60 ‚ā¨ and if you go to a restaurant it is usually more than 15 ‚ā¨. Here it is cheaper to go to restaurant than to make food yourself.. And that is just food! But one can’t just compare prizes, because these things are more difficult than that. There is politics and stuff, so I don’t talk about this more this time, because I know nothing about politics..

tee

Bubble teaish stuff, without bubbles, 1 ‚ā¨.

ruoka

Meal from Uni cafeteria: 1-2 ‚ā¨!

jugu

Frozen youghurt = expensive! About 3,5 ‚ā¨

First day in Taipei

People here are amazing! We had a really nice day yesterday. One local girl showed us the school cafeteria. It even has some food we can eat.

One of the local students who had his exchange period in Finland met us aroung noon and showed the campus area. I even felt a small urge to study. It was interesting. It seems like the facilities are quite okay here. The library is big and there is a huge activity center. Even the university president lives in the campus (in his own house) and he invites some students to his house for dinner every month to discuss about how to improve university.

pääportti

The main gate. Name of the university is written from right to left, in “a old way”.

 

kampuskartta

The campus area. I live in the top part of the blue area.

We used the MRT for first time. It seemed easy and we got an english version for the MRT map. Inside the MRT they have all stops in chinese and in english, so finding the right place is relatively easy. Although all the places sound similar..

ruoka

Our nice lunch place. Nomnom food!

Later we went shopping and tried to find thicker blankets. We were really lucky and bumped into two other students familiar from Finland. They helped us to communicate with the salespersons. Actually we were in one a bit pricy place at first and then Alice and Jerry showed one other place for us. It was closed though. That seems not to be a problem here, because some women who had a small food booth at the street started yelling to one stairway to the shops owner. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the owner came to open the shop just for us!

After walking back to the uni we agreed to meet later for dinner. The cafeteria closes already at 7PM and so we agreed to meet at the Family Mart. Couple hours later a surprise waited for us when we met Jerry and Alice. Jerry has a scooter so he had driven to the night market to buy a lot of different foods for us to try. So amazing! Food was good and we had fun evening.

illallinen

Nightmarket food including some fruits, shrimp omlet, chicken soup, tofu etc..

Only problem for me at the moment is jetlag. I still don’t fall asleep easily and time is usually past midnight before I can sleep even if I feel really tired. But that should fix itself in a week or so. I’m feeling more excited and less scared all the time. This will be a great adventure!

First expressions

After badly slept night I can tell you that it’s really humid here! That means when it gets dark it gets also really cold. I could sleep after I put my wollen socks on and took a extra shirt plus my jacket on too. Today I need to buy a thiker blanket.I also need to buy indoor slippers. The floor of my room is not the cleanest one and other floors are most likely a bit wet. It also rains all the time, or that is what they tell me.

The corridor outside my room.

The corridor outside my room.

Surroundings of the uni are great. We are located on a hill, so view is great and there is forest all around us. The buildings are really different from Finland. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is quite a bit of mold in here. The toilets are different. Seems like you have to have your own paper with you (wherever you go..) and people don’t dry their hands after washing them. I was wondering why my tutor asked me several times if I had some “tissues”. Well, now I know. ūüėÄ I heard that in some places they don’t have the western type of toilet either, but a squat one. Basically that means a hole in the ground.

The dormitory

The dormitory

There is a Family Mart about 100 m from my apartment and buss stop other 100 m away. On the grocery store, there is much you can drink but not that much I can eat (I eat only food with no gluten in it). So I guess I will be eating a lot of bananas.. If I want to eat anything else, I deen to take a buss or walk down the hill (locals tell me it is a 20 min walk) to the MRT (mass rapid transportation) station where all the other stores are. Yesterday I ate stinky tofu. Not that bad, but not my favourite.

I have two roommates. One of them is from mainland China and other is from… Finland! They study nursing. The Finnish one is from JAMK also and we have met before. So small world it seems to be. Other than that I have not located that many exchange students. They might be from around here (other parts of Asia) so I wouldn’t recognise them.. Actually me, my roommmate and the classmate who came with me are the only western looking people I have seen this far.

Tap water is not drinkable, but we have a water vending machine here at the dormitory.

Forest around the dormitory.

Forest around the dormitory.

All in all I feel weird. Everything is so exciting and terrifying at the same time. But the people here are really friendly so everything is going to be okay.