Monday, 28 November 2011

Heading to Laos

I'm not even done telling you guys about Taiwan and I'm heading to Laos this afternoon. Don't know much about the place,a dn I'm sure you're just as clueless. Will update you guys if I can when I'm there, and I will slowly tell you about what I haven't told you guys about my trip to Taiwan okay? And yes, that Singha party, what happened that night. ;) So much to tell you, so little time. ARGH!!!!

Talk to you soon okay?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

La-Ah

黄金蚬。(that word is xian3)

Know what's that?
I didn't either. 蚬就是 lala. You know, the one we order from the seafood bbq stall that also sells hang hur (stingray). The Taiwanese call it La-Ah. (Or am I the only one that calls it lala?) 

Anyway, this trip to Taiwan for my kids' travelogue, I got to see plenty of interesting things, and I will share snippets of each with you. =) (Only snippets la, because I can't reveal too much due to copyright and stuff.)

I got to visit the hometown of the Golden Clam. 

Come come...I show you...


 
Named because the water in Hua Lian Shou Feng is so clean that the clamshell that formed are pure and "golden" in colour. Clamshell colours are decided by the kind of water the clams live in. If the water is murky and dirty, the clamshells will become blackish in colour. If the water is clean, you get the golden clams. Essentially the same thing, except that the golden ones are cleaner.


 It's actually located at this place:

In HuaLian, 寿丰乡。


 The filtered clams.


 They had to go through a manual selection process so that stones and other non clams can be picked out. The machines are only able to determine the approximate configuration of a clam, but similar sized and shaped things, like stones, dead clams, clam shells without the flesh, and gong gongs, have to be manually picked out.



 See? A gong gong. Lol. Trust me, I even saw a fish on the belt.... O.O


 This is to make sure that when you cook the lot and serve them, you don't accidentally bite on a stone. (Our director found a stone amongst her clam soup still, anyway. Lol~)


 We got to pick them from the clam pond. I remembered when I was little, my parents would bring me to the Kranji Reservoir (the sea side) to pick clams. And we would bring them home to cook. I was less than 10 years old then. ^.^


 My loot!


 I turned one over and saw this. Looked like a sexual organ, no? They say the only way to differentiate male/female clams is to disect them and look under the microscope. If you see sperms then it's a male, eggs, female. 

-.-"

By the way, clams are able to change their sexes, and they reproduce by releasing millions of sperms or eggs into the water. If a sperm or egg meet, it would form a plankton-like organism until it settles on the water floor and start becoming clam-ish. So next time you're swimming in a water body where you know there are clams, note that you are also swimming amidst millions of clam sperms and eggs. Eeeeewww~~~

Imagine that you opened your mouth in the water and spewed out the water? UrGH!!!!

Of course the farm doesn't pick these clams one by one...
There is a special breeding area *don't start thinking about what's in the breeding pool*.


And they use this hugeass machine to collect the clams:




The many ways they cooked our lunch that day...

 Clam sashimi. Cold. Served (marinated) in shoyu.


 In soup.


 And stir-fried.
Yes, we had oodles of clams that day for lunch. The good thing was, clams are apparently good for the liver. 

 It can lower blood cholesterol, prevent oxidation, prevent infection, ,prevent tumours, lower blood pressure, protect your liver, remove "heatiness", remove phlegm, cure Jaundice, cure liver infections and improve immunity! WAH!!!! I didn't know gold clams are so beneficial to our health! Don't confuse these "La-Ah" with "Hum" okay? "Hum" is the one that we need the Hepatitis jabs for, and can be harmful to our liver. The La-Ahs are the exact opposite!

So for those who love staying up late and drinking/smoking, eat lots of these.


 Those are not sotong balls or fish balls okay. Those are CLAM BALLS!!! YUP!!! Made from clam flesh and cod fish!!! WHOA!!!!! *salivates*


I got introduced to a very interesting food that probably only Taiwan has. Or if somewhere else sells it, it originated here.
 A fish cooked in with a thick coat of salt. It's said that the salt removes the fishy taste, and it allows the fish to be slowly simmered inside the coat (as salt somehow is an insulator or something). Before you begin eating it, you remove its "coat" together with the skin of the fish.





Cool huh? 

There's another fish which was also kinda interesting:

 That's him. 

Before eating it, you'll have to massage it. Like, press on the body and roll it around, as if you're doing massage for the fish. Then you break off the tail. Next, you're supposed to hold the head and pull the entire spine of bones out. The challenge is not to break the spine.

Success!

The Taiwanese have very interesting ways of eating their fish hor?


Oh gosh, a beverage and ICE CREAM made with CLAM ESSENCE???


Yes, don't think there's only Essence of Chicken. There's Essence of Clam too. And since it has so many health benefits, drinking this before an exam should be much better than drinking your Essence of Chicken?


Satisfied explorer/learner. ^.^
I learn new things every day from my job. *loves*
And I share them with you...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

I don't know what I did. Or rather, I can't remember...

I wasn't even given trial, perhaps my offence didn't even require one.
I was put to jail immediately.

A bare cell, stacked beds so small one could not even straighten her legs to sleep, with only enough height to climb into. I've visited prisons before, and I don't remember them being so small. All I have is the blue and black 3/4-sleeved dress I love so much. (I don't even know why they allowed me to have that, and why I ony have that).

I have no contact with anyone other than the girls in my cell. Suddenly, I can't check my phone to see if you called, or sent me a message. I can't let you know where I am. Will you worry? Will you know?

I don't know if my mum knows. Will the police tell her? I'm sure they will.

I'm more woried about you. Or rather, whether you will know where I am. Whether you will worry about me. Whether you still care. Now that I'm here, there's no way of finding out, is there? Till the day I get released, there is no point in me wondering about the things I will never have the answers to. But I miss you, and my heart aches for you, for the fact that I won't get to see you anymore during the time I'm here. For the possibility of forever losing you because you may not be there anymore when I'm done with my time here.

My first morning there, they gave us assignments. Simple mathematics assignments. I flipped open the workbook.

8 x 5 =

5 + 7 - 3 =

3 x 9 =

I couldn't believe it. Laopa (my godfather) visited. I don't know how HE knows, of all people. I asked for paper. To write with. And they obliged. I wanted to write so many things. I wanted to write to you, to tell you what happened, to tell you where I am, to ask you what I'm not even sure of - to wait for me or to just move on without me...

I wanted to write to my Mum. To tell her I love her and sis and the family.

I wanted to record every single day of my being here. My thoughts, my dreams, what I do here.
Time away from you to think...what a joke...maybe it's god's way of forcing me to really think about what I want without being able to contact you. But this punishment hurts. Maybe it'll pass. But for now, I'm torn between pining for you and deciding to just concentrate on making myself better. I want to do both, and at the same time I want to choose one... I don't want to give you up, but I don't want to let you go...

I woke up. And I look around me and it's my hotel room in Taidung. I looked at the time - 6:55am.

I feel strange. What was that about? Was it a message?
I scrambled to look for my phone. No new message. I opened my Whatsapp and tapped on your name.

"last seen today at 3:59"

I feel empty again. Lost and empty. And unsure, insecure. "Talk to you later", but once again, I didn't get any calls...

For reasons maybe only I understand, tears welled up. I won't call to demand anytihing. I won't call to blame, or to scold. I don't want you to feel that that's what I'm all about - trying to control your life. I just want you to feel that you can be able to love me freely the way you want to. If you still want to.

Another lonely night, another tearful morning....What will be, will be.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Bless the Broken Road - Version 2


Decided to record again because the first version was sung soooo slowly, and I couldn't up the speed on my Windows Live Movie Maker (it speeds up the video but cuts off my audio completely), and I had no other movie editing software. Lol. Didn't realize until I heard it again today. I'm my worst critic. Sigh. Anyway, I couldn't do a powerful projection kinda singing today, because I'm in a hostel now.

I'll let you guys decide for me which version is better, and which one you prefer. Honest comments, you can hit me. Otherwise, how else will I improve? =)



Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bless the Broken Road

I know I haven't been writing the past few days. I've been really busy. Full day shoots the past few days, and I received an email asking me to send a video clip of myself singing this song and send it in. It's for a feature film, and I'm not really sure what they needed the video for. 

I never knew about this song, and I've been spending the past 2 nights learning it...(which explains the lack of blog posts. Sorry dears.)

The lyrics are beautiful....


Song: Bless the Broken Road

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

[Chorus:]
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

[Chorus]

Now I'm just rolling home
Into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

I made the video, and decided to share it with every of my readers here. I hope every single one of you who's on the broken road, finds the one that made the journey worthwhile. =)





Monday, 14 November 2011

How to Not Like?

 Welcome back to part 2 of Justlike Villa!
If you haven't read the first part, go there first. =)

You haven't seen how it looks like from the outside! I wouldn't mind coming home to this every day....


 有没有很悠闲写意的感觉?

If I could I would stay here the rest of my trip, but due to the nature of our filming and tight schedule and travelling distances we had to switch our accomodations every 2-3 days... But that means I get the chance to explore more and tell you which ones are good and which ones are the don't-bothers, if you're planning to go to Hua Lian and doing homestays too. (Hualian is famous for their homestays, btw.)

Anyway...


 My checkout breakfast...
Pork porridge with choysum.
肉碎菜心粥!


 Okay actually it's a whole lot of dishes. And the veggies were freshly picked that very morning!


 And preserved/fermented beancurd!!! Not the smelly one la! This one's salty. 
豆腐乳 you know? The only one I've ever eaten is Singapore's AAA brand's preserved beancurd:

This. And to be honest I thought this was already not bad. Happens to be something my Ah Gong loves.

But the one that was served to us that morning? It was made by Han Jie (韩姐), the owner of the villa herself. Aww~~~ It's NOT the same! Hers is firmer, and less salty, and just tastes...damn nice la! The kind that you won't feel like you hav had too much of....

As raved by the producer and director of the programme I'm doing:

 吃得好开心!


 My cameraman and soundman, enjoying our last breakfast here.

The thing that makes one love this place, is the fact that it is a place with soul. The owner, the little touches, the food, everything...is not just as they are. Every little thing, including the strength of the water flow when you turn on the tap, has been carefully thought out and put into place. Nothing is compromised.

I had a long talk with Han Jie the night before, and she told me so many stories about why she decided to move to Hualian with her hubby Luo Ge (洛哥) and her children to set up this villa.

It was because of love. Love for her children. And how they went through so much hardship to make this home. With only 20% of the amount of money required to buy the land and build the house (that was all they had), how they had to borrow so much money from the bank and how she cried so many nights and how Luo Ge kept her going. They had to eat 45NT-per-packet food and rent a roof over their heads while the house was being built, for a long time. They even framed up the cover of the packet food to remind themselves of how they made it through those days. Ask her to show you if you're there.

She shared stories of the little snippets of joy and troubles in the villa and memorable experiences with some guests. 

She also shared many stories of how people thanked her for saving their broken relationships and how to appreciate, live life, and love. 

If you have any problems in your life, any at all, I would recommend you pay Justlike Villa a visit, and have a heart-to-heart with this amazing lady. She's an EQ-goddess, has an astounding way of managing people relationships, and knows just what to say without being too intrusive. A week there with her, and I guarantee you, beats any consultation with any psychologists. =) 

Take my word for it.



 A mentally refreshed and happy girl.


————————————————————————————

 More shots of the nature I caught that morning...
 Pollen? Those black spots are the seeds of this plant. 
They will release them when the time comes for them to reproduce. They just looked like embossed circles when you look at the surface of the leaves, and maybe staying here made me appreciate nature and the simple things more, because I wouldn't have noticed the "embossed prints" on the leaves otherwise, much less flipped it over to see those black rings.


 The ducks I was talking about! See the one in front? That's the only male duck, and the father of the pack. I can't tell which is the Mum cos the duck children have grown up to be as big. =)


 But I think maybe it's the one right behind the father. ^.^ Then the rest of the kids follow. 
Amazing how this family of ducks behave so...family-ly. Lol~ 
LOVES!!!!!


 Ah Bui!!!! Take 1: Fail
(But I loved how he rested his legs on my arm~)


 Fail!


 Take 3: FAIL!!!!!


 Take 4 - FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL!!!!!



 Success! Moral of the story? Persevere, and you will get what you want. 
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Lol~

Super super love this picture! His ears!!!! *melts* *starts missing Alton...*



 The soul behind Justlike - Han Jie
喜欢农庄背后的灵魂人物 - 韩姐。 如果喜欢农庄没有她,就不会是喜欢农庄了。 因为是她 (当然还有洛哥),喜欢农庄才会有那份心的存在。


“只要你让一个女人感觉到你爱她,能为她上高山下火海,最固执最硬最强悍的女人都悔软化,为你去拼死拼活” - 韩姐。 I couldn't agree more with her words.


喜欢农庄 Justlike Villa

This is not a paid ad. Honest, sincere words, from the bottom of my heart. 
这不是有付费的广告,而纯粹是我心里对这家民俗的感觉。。。


喜欢IsAnUnderstatement...超爱的!!!