Phantom

I just wanna sleep all the timeeeeee or at least hibernate through winter. 
Halloween is almost here! Have you guys decided what you're going to be yet? Not a lot of interesting stuff has been going on in my life lately, I've just been really stressed out by midterms. Does anyone else think that once the school year starts it's impossible to "take it easy?" I am pooped. I just wanna graduate mang. I just wanna graduate. 

Zara Leather Jacket, AA Black Tank, BCBG Headband, and BDG Jeans
I've been slowly transitioning into my fall clothes, but I've come to the terrible realization I don't have any cutie-pie military style pea coats to keep me warm. >< I have to settle for a waterproof Northface jacket every time I go outside.*le sigh* 


I've looked over my wardrobe and I realized that 70% of it is black. I started this blog not only to improve my writing, but also to move me out of my "comfort zones" in fashion. So moving forward I'm going to put a ban on black clothes and hopefully start dressing less like a hobo everyday. I need to find a cool messenger bag. Maybe a non-Northface jacket. <3


Anyway, I hope you're all well and enjoying the autumn weather. Woot~

+Love

一品花雕雞 - Taipei


Yi Pin Hua Diao Ji or 一品花雕雞 is another one of my favorite places to eat in Taipei. As opposed to the traditional western or Japanese food that I've been posting, 花雕雞 is 100% Taiwan. At least my 100% Taiwan. >< You'll see the purple sign and the little yellow chicken mascot innocuously nestled among the many restaurants that inhabit Shi Min Da Dao road (市民大道).


Thoughts From Places: Hualian



If you're ever abroad or living in a foreign place for an extended period of time you should definitely make the effort to go travel. Having lived in Taipei for a year, I'm embarrassed to say that I remained mostly sedentary in my exchange student existence. For me, the reasons why I always remained in Taipei were matters of finding the right people, having the time, or having the desire to go. They sound like excuses now, but I've come to realize that you have to travel with people you "jive" with or else friendships will be broken.


It's really funny how travel dynamics work out sometimes though. Sometimes a person that you hang out with a lot make the worst travel partners, but a person you hang out with for a max of two hours will make the best of travel partners. This isn't a rule set in stone, but don't close your mind to people that you "wouldn't" travel with. Honestly, the best part of traveling in a group is sharing your experiences with someone else. There are times when I love to be by myself and introspect on my personality and where I'm going with my life...but sometimes what you eat something ridiculous, like cow brains, you just gotta share that experience with somebody else. =P

Seven Star Beach Bike Trail
Most of these photos are just photos that I particularly enjoy, but there are some more on this flickr account if you feel like browsing. =)


Luckily, the right travel group found me. =) All these pictures are from a wonderful trip to Hualian city (花蓮市), in Hualian county on the eastern side of Taiwan. Hualian is especially famous for their mochi, Seven Star Beach (七星潭), Taroko Gorge (太魯閣), and the various aboriginal peoples that live around the area, more specifically the Ami, Atayal, and the Bunun. You can get to Hualian by train, plane, and bus. My friends and I took the express train to Hualian, the ride took about two hours and cost 440NT.

Surprisingly this wasn't very good
I would highly recommend going to the Visitor Information Center before you set off exploring the city, it's on the right hand side of the Hualian Train station. There you can get a lot of English language materials about the tourist sites in the area and as well as the very valuable "Youth Travel Discount". It's free! You fill out a little form with your basic information and the employees at the counter will give you a little keychain with the Taiwanese Youth logo and a booklet of tourist attractions, famous spots, famous food stalls, etc. You can then get discount at all the places within the book if you show your Youth Travel Keychain!

100 Lion Bridge
Hualian City has many, many, many hostels and hotels geared towards tourists hoping to partake in the natural beauty that surrounds Hualian. My traveling group and I stayed in JV's Youth Hostel and had very good experiences with it. =) The rooms are nice and spacious, they offer free wifi, and have a nice group lounge. The only thing that I would complain about is its location, after the two hour train ride to Hualian my friends and I had a difficult time finding out exactly where this hostel was. Even some locals were confused about its location! Make sure you have a map handy and a pre-printed address to help you in case you get lost.

Toroko Gorge Trail
If there is only one place you go to in your stay in Taipei, it should be Toroko Gorge. It's described as the "Grand Canyon" of Taipei. It has some of the most lovely hiking trails and scenery in Taiwan, but most of all it is a great place just to walk and chill...individually or with friends! Hualian is the closest spot you can go to with access to Toroko gorge, most people stay in Hualian overnight or go to Hualian very, very early in the morning for a day trip. 

Entrance to Toroko 
As for getting to Toroko gorge you have three choices: bus, scooter, or taxi. I really wanted to take a scooter, they're easily rentable from one of the numerous bike/scooter rental places. *ahem* Don't tell anyone you heard this from me, but many places are willing to rent out scooters to those who don't have "international" licenses. Seeing as I can't ride a bike very well, it seemed foolish to want to try to drive a motorized bike. The bus option was cheaper, although I can't remember how much, but you had to be very careful with the scheduling and "timing" of your hike. The buses came at odd hours and stopped pretty early. Ultimately, my friends and I opted to take a taxi tour that would stop at all the sights worth seeing in and around Hualian for $1000 NT.  

River Along the Gorge
On the tour we saw the Tunnel of Nine Turns(九曲洞), Eternal Spring Shrine(長春祠), Swallow Grotto(燕子口), the Bridge of 100 Lions, and some other "secrets" that the taxi driver took us to. Given that we spent a long time driving from place to place, the $1000 NT taxi was well worth it. 


Wave Breakers Along the Beach Trail
We told our driver to drop us off at Seven Star Beach so we could bike around and explore the area. Given the poor, rainy, cloudy weather in Taipei (I'd been complaining about it in almost all of my blog posts) I was super psyched to get to the sun and the beach in Hualian.

Seven Star Beach
Unfortunately, the beach was not a traditional Californian beach, but more of a pebbly rocky one. I would not bring a swimsuit or beach gear to play here, but I do strongly recommend renting a bike (about $300 NT) and biking along the shoreline. You'll get to see the wave breakers, cliffs over looking the beach, and a lot of beautiful scenery. This particular beach is quite a ways from Hualian city and we had to grab a taxi back to the "main drag."

Seven Star Beach Scenery
As for traveling around the Hualian City, I also highly recommend getting a scooter or a bicycle. You must be wondering what there is to do in the city. =P Honestly, the city is similar to many other cities within Taiwan. There's a bustling night market, shopping district and tourist district. What my friends and I particularly enjoyed was buying the famous mochi (there are a million stores around that all sell famous mochi), exploring the local night market, and heading off to the local to light paper lanterns (放天燈)and set off fireworks. Both are ridiculously cheap and easy to buy off of local vendors. Don't forget to haggle!

Fireworks <3


Overall, I had a really good time. We found a lot of new sights, sounds, and places to explore in and around Hualian and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below and I'll do my best to answer. =)


Thanks for coming! 


+Love 


Hey Folks!



Hello! There's a travel information heavy post about Hualian, Taiwan coming soon! It's taking a bit longer than expected to write. >< So here's some brain poops for you in the meantime!

This lovely short is from Natazilla. <3 Here's her tumblr: PEW PEW PEW! Stay tuned!

Ozymandias

Urban Outfitters Silk Dress, Vintage Double Chain Belt, GAIA Vest
Here's a another outfit post...I like to dress up on weekends. I love the combination of royal purple and gold, it makes me feel special...but mostly, it makes me remember the comic book turned movie Watchmen. Ozymandias, the villain, was almost always one of my favorite characters. I just thought he was classy, well dressed, and incredibly intelligent. So here's my homage to the man himself. =P 


I really should be doing my assignments...I AM THE QUEEN OF PROCRASTINATION. Instead of spilling out poetry on paper here, I'll just have to save all my excitement and creativity for the swarm of papers that are going to take over my life in the next month. Does anyone else ever feel so swamped with work, that you never know where to start? ::lol:: Eventually you just get over it, bite the bullet, and poop out several essays.


I'm loving this fuzzy Gaia Vest that I found in the depths of my mother and I's communal closet. It find myself stroking it absentmindedly throughout the day and its a bit funny to watch if I'm sitting around lost in thought, petting myself. To quote Agnes from Despicable Me "It's...it's so fluffy, it's so fluffy I could DIE!" 

Two Gold Rings From Childhood (inscribed with the character 福), a bracelet from my grandmother, a Baume and Merceier vintage gold watch, and an Alexander the Great bracelet pillaged from the NY Met. 
Usually I tend to stay away from blingy gold jewelry, but if you're wearing purple and acting like a king, you might as well go all out right? 


In light of the work situation, I'll probably post way more restaurant reviews that "outfits" in the coming weeks. Anyway, thanks for coming to look. I hope you're having a wonderful start of the fall season. =)

+ Love

Life is Guu'd: Guu on Thurlow


Guu is G'uud. At least that's what the motto says. =P I'm the first one to admit that I'm a a Japanophile and I've been more than pleased with the popularity of Japanese Izakaya restaurants around Vancouver. One of the more famous "chains" of Izakaya is Guu. There are a grand total of six "Guu'd" restaurants in Vancouver: Guu on Thurlow, Guu on Garlic (Robson), Guu in Gastown, Guu in Richmond, Guu Garden, and Guu Kobachi. Each of these restaurants has a different specialization and unique "house specials." The cuisine of the Guu's takes traditional Japanese food and give it a nice "twist," it's not necessarily always "east vs west," but instead whatever the chef wants. =P  


The one that I went to this particular night was the original flagship store of Guu, Guu on Thurlow. I will confess to you, my dear readers, that one of my dreams is to eat at every Guu store for lunch and dinner. OH and eat everything on the menu. Haha, but that will have to wait for a time when my wallet is fuller...*sigh*


Anyway, the staff, chefs, and kitchen crew are all Japanese. So you don't have to worry about authenticity. =P  They are very polite and efficient, I wasn't sitting at the bar, but I did notice that the chefs and the diners had a very boisterous and friendly banter. They were even sharing sake! =) As a table diner, I had to share a table with three other parties. The ambient noise level is very high and speaking to my friend next to me was difficult, because the surrounding conversations were loud and then on top of that you had to add the noise from the waiters shouting out orders. The overall decor is very...hard. Lots and lots of hard surfaces. No frills. Just hard bench seats, tables, and a bar.


At every Guu they have two menus, one hand written with specials and seasonal items and the other the "permanent" menu. 

  
One overarching theme that I noticed with all the Guu restaurants are that their servings are small. I usually have to order quite a bit, or at least a carbo, in order to get my fill. Luckily for everyone, there are many ramen noodle bars nearby so if you're not full from Guu you can stop over at Benkei, Kintaro, of Santouka instead. =P As small as their serving sizes are the dishes are executed well and I don't usually find myself disappointed in anything.

Beef Tataki
Something I enjoy anytime is Beef Tataki. In a sense beef tataki is the "Japanese" form of beef carpaccio, seared beef with a deliciously juicy, ruby, red center. The delicately cut slices are served atop a bed of stringed radishes, fried garlic slivers, green onions with a ponzu sauce and a lemon wedge.

It was fresh, it was good, and it was savory. Citrus flavors with meat and garlic is probably one of my favorite flavor combinations. I enjoyed everything on the plate, eaten together or separately, and was very pleased that the beef wasn't "frozen" for it's preparation. I've had some beef tatakis that are icy in the middle...thankfully this time wasn't one of them. I was picking at this plate for a long time, even though all the meat was gone.

Grilled Sea Bass 
This is the miso marinated black sea bass. Honestly the flavor combination isn't very unique, I've had it at several other Japanese styled restaurants, and it is a staple in most izakayas or sushi bars. The sea bass was perfectly baked and was moist. Through the baking process it had retained a lot of its flavor.

This dish is definitely an oily one, from the natural oils of the sea bass and the addition of mayonnaise on top. It's also a very sweet dish, due to the miso marinade (which probably includes some sugar and mirin) to the natural flavors of the fish. Very good in any case and an oily indulgence.

Sato Imo/Taro Croquettes
Unfortunately this is the dish that I disliked the most: Sato Imo or the Taro Croquette. I love croquette, a fried mashed potato ball, and I love taro so I had high expectations for this dish. I expected a sweet dish with a crunchy outside and a creamy sweet filling. I know it's bad to have expectations and I kept an open mind, but....I didn't like it. I also wasn't very thrilled with the textures and the flavors associated with these little guys.

The fried skin of the croquette was good, but the inner filling was where it fell flat. Once you bit past the crunchy skin, the filling of the croquette was very solid and a bit tasteless. It derived most of the flavor from the sauce on the plate and even then it wasn't enough to make this little croquette very appealing. It had taken the worst qualities of taro, the starchy, sticky, throat "prickliness," and the worst qualities of the potato, flavorless-ness, and made that it's filling.

You can see in the picture that another party, other than us, had ordered it as well and it is a staple on the Guu menu. However, I'm just not a fan.

Ton Toro
This particular dish was the Ton Toro, the grilled pork cheek. In contrast to the last dish, I loved this one. Again, the portion size was small and sharing with someone else, I felt like I ate 75% of the dish *oops*. I'm not typically a fan of pork, but the way that the pork cheek was grilled... it exemplified its tenderness, juiciness, and natural flavor. It's hard to say no to that winning combo. The main flavors were smokiness derived from the grill and hints of yuzu taken from the lightest drizzle of the sauce on top. The meat was very tender, but had enough resistance to make eating the dish...addictive.

The sauce that you see pooling at the bottom of the dish is a light yuzu ponzu sauce, again proving that the ponzu + meat combination is killer. In the good way! =P

Kimchi Udon
To seal off the meal, my friend and I ordered a carbo option since we were both still hungry. What we decided on was the Kimchi Udon. This is actually a "spin" on one of my favorite dishes, Mentaiko Udon, but instead of just straight up adding the Mentaiko they also decided to add kimchi to give it a spicy twist.

Good, buttery, and carbo-y. This called out to my childhood. I liked it a lot.The only problem we really ran into was mixing it all together. We were left over with quite a bit of kimchi and neither of us particularly liked to eat a pile of kimchi straight. So my word of caution with this dish is probably just: MIX WELL.

Overall, Guu on Thurlow didn't really differ from my previous Guu experiences. Good atmosphere, excellent execution, and polite service. I recommend that you give this Guu a try. Thanks for coming!

+Love
Kid Friendly: I would lean towards no, very cramped and items on the menu are definitely for bar faring adults.  
Price: $$$ out of $$$$$
Repeatability: Yes


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Lette Macarons/Photos


My sister studied in LA for the summer this year, what a dedicated student (!), and whenever my dad went to visit her he always brought up a carton of macarons for the rest of us in Canada. They were always different flavors: earl grey, caramel, almond, lemon, coffee, pistachio, etc. and good lord. They were ambrosia. A Unicorn Party IN MY MOUTH. Orgasmic. I can't impress upon you guys how perfectly light, crispy, flavorful, and chewy these little babies were.    


I was supposed to share. I really was. I ate 75% of the macarons meant for my mother, my father, my boyfriend and me. I couldn't help it! SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST....macaon eater. I highly, highly recommend that if you're ever in LA to go find and devour every flavor of macaron in the lette shop. It's totally worth it. The only flavor I wasn't really fond of was Earl Grey....it tasted like fruit loops. Haha.

My sister told us that when she was buying one last box of macarons, she was deciding on what flavors to get when another patron cut ahead of her and completely bought out all the caramel ones. D= Despair!

I've never been there in person and I don't know the price range, but I can tell you guys where to go and how fantastic they were. I really hope that you do give these a try. =)


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Now here are some photo poots.

Lonely Lantern in Hualian 

Photo Mosaic in Taipei

Whistler Peak 
Longshan Temple in Taipei, Each candle has a name written on it for good fortune. 

Poi Dancers in Taizhong

Poi Dancers in Taizhong

I won't take myself seriously....ever. 
Thanks for reading guys. <3 Keep it real!

+ Love

Scarab Eyes

BCBG Generation Sweater, BDG Highwaist Cutoff Jeans, Miu Miu Purse and Vintage Jewelry







I can't be bothered to dress up nicely for school when I'm carrying half my body weight in textbooks on my back. Sometimes I wonder why I chose to be in the Arts Faculty. I see all the Commerce students zipping around with their iPads and thin notebooks, as a trudge along with a complete anthology of Japanese literature on my back. It's like comparing a turtle to a hummingbird! *sigh*

Usually outfits like this are what I wear on the daily to school. Simple with some accent pieces. Since I'm running from class to class (our campus is huge) and have a heavy load to carry...heels and cutie skirts don't really cut it. Unless it's on one of my lighter book days. >< I needed to add to my collection of flat shoes, so before I left Taiwan I bought a super cheap pair of brogues to bring back. I'm thankful for my decision, but since they were so cheap the traction on the sole of the shoe is terrible. =(

The jewelry I'm wearing actually belongs to my mum. She gave them to me because she used to wear them in college...now it's only fitting that I have my turn. =P They're little scarabs carved from a variety of semi-precious stones. They're very darling. I have the best mum.

Anyway, thanks for coming. =)

+Love