Monday, December 15, 2008


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder most commonly characterized by intrusive, repetitive thoughts resulting in compulsive behaviors and mental acts that the person feels driven to perform, according to rules that must be applied rigidly, aimed at preventing some imagined dreaded event. In severe cases, it affects a person's ability to function in every day activities. The disorder is often debilitating to the sufferer's quality of life. Also, the psychological self-awareness of the irrationality of the disorder can be painful. For people with severe OCD, it may take several hours a day to carry out the compulsive acts.

I think I have OCD. I have a mental disorder most commonly characterized by intrusive, repetitive thoughts [about BARBIES...this time around, it's VERSACE BARBIE] resulting in compulsive behaviors [to purchase them or look for them on AMAZON/eBAY] and mental acts [thinking about it day and night] that the person [me] feels driven to perform [to buy the BARBIES], according to rules that must be applied rigidly [Platinum edition is 'PERFECT', Gold is 'GOOD ENOUGH', Silver is 'OK', Pink only when I have to], aimed at preventing some imagined dreaded event [that the BARBIE will be sold to someone else and I will miss out on the opportunity, especially when the VERSACE BARBIE is a 2004 edition, no longer available for sale and I haven't seen in Singapore]. In severe cases, it affects a person's ability to function in every day activities [I'm supposed to be at work, doing work right now...but here I am...talking, thinking, dreaming about it]. The disorder is often debilitating to the sufferer's quality of life [BARBIE = less savings = poorer quality of life]. Also, the psychological self-awareness of the irrationality of the disorder can be painful [$$$$$$...sob]. For people with severe OCD, it may take several hours a day to carry out the compulsive acts [1.5 hours last Thursday].

My next aim is the Versace Barbie 2004 edition, no longer available in stores, but I saw a few on eBay, in hopes that the people who have them sells it at reasonable prices, in good conditions and TO OVERSEAS DESTINATIONS!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008



After a most grueling court hearing of Shopaholic vs Voice of Reason that took place over two days, 10 and 11 December 2008, the jury verdict has been passed and the Shopaholic has been declared ‘NOT GUILTY’.

The verdict was passed on 11 December 2008 @ 14.45, based on the following claims made by both parties involved:

It is a tradition that whenever I’m at Takashimaya, I’d check out the Barbie collectibles that are on display in the showcase cupboard in the children’s toy section, just to keep myself informed on the latest Barbie collectibles available. On the evening of the 10th at 8.30pm, I spotted a new entry to the cupboard – a beautiful Barbie doll in a white wedding gown. I wanted to know what collection she was from and more importantly, how much she cost.

The sales assistant opened the cupboard and handed her to me.

Voice of Reason:
The price on the box said $249.90!! That’s even more expensive than your Gorgio Armani doll! It must be some doll!

I slowly turned over the box and read the printed label:
VERA WANG BRIDES, The Romanticists

Precisely, VERA WANG. I was staring at a Vera Wang dress, a Vera Wang Barbie doll. Emotions of eager and excitement fluttered throughout my body.

Voice of Reason:
I know it’s a VERA WANG. But did you see that price! $249.90!

Kill joy.

Voice of Reason:
She was pretty, but her orangey lipstick colour is a little bit contrasting and not that nice. Plus, she had no jewelry, no necklace or earrings to compliment the dress. The other dolls I have are so much prettier and dolled up more than her.

But the dress was fantastic. Every detail was beautiful; the lace at the bottom was gorgeous; and the brand… the thought of owning a Vera Wang…I rest my case.

Voice of Reason:
But it was expensive, so I listened to EK and decided to go over to the other toy shop at Wheelock, who reasoned that it could be cheaper there.

It was already past 9pm and I was so worried that by the time we went over to Wheelock, and if the doll is more expensive at Wheelock (which I wouldn’t be surprised), I would not be able to purchase it that night. Then, I would have to go back to Taka the next day after work to buy it and who knows, it could be sold out by then.

Voice of Reason:
If it was meant to be, it was meant to be.


When we got to the shop at Wheelock, it was already closed. I was so disappointed, all night long and all morning the next day at work, all I could think about was her.

I went online the next morning and researched on her. There was a platinum edition and gold edition. The platinum version had blonde hair as Barbie, while the gold edition had brown hair as Teresa. Platinum means there’s only A THOUSAND PIECES in the world, while Gold meant twenty-five thousand. I was so sure that the one I saw last night was a platinum edition and I couldn’t believe I had let it slip by me…$249.90 was such a good price for a one-in-a-thousand-piece doll! I had to get it, so during my lunch break, I sped down to Orchard.

Voice of Reason:
I thought making Wheelock our first stop at Orchard was wise because at least we got to see what the retail price at the other shop was in order to make a sound decision.

I entered the shop and headed straight to the cupboard at the back which kept the Barbie collectibles. And there they were, the gold and platinum edition. I looked right past the gold edition and stared at the platinum edition.



So I rushed back to Taka, excited that I would finally be able to make my purchase, and at such a discount, I bet even my Voice of Reason thought it was a good price! But when I got to Taka and took a closer look at her, I realized I had been wrong all along. She was the gold edition and therefore she only cost $249.90. She’s only the gold edition. She’s not as exclusive.

Voice of Reason:
It was a toy for goodness sake. So I decided to call EK for his opinion. I knew he’d be able to advise me, and so he did. He told me to buy the gold edition, just as I had reasoned. It was a toy afterall. Paying $499.90 for a doll is not worth it as well. $499.90 is a very high price! 3 platinum edition dolls can buy a laptop! So it was decided that I would get the gold edition. However, I forgot to check out the price of the gold edition at Wheelock. I totally overlooked her. So I decided to go back to the shop at Wheelock to check out its price. I must make the most just decision. The cost of $249.90 calls for good consideration.

The price of the gold edition at Wheelock was also $249.90.

But at the end of the day, it’s not as exclusive as the platinum edition. I was thinking that the shop at Wheelock probably marked up the price of the platinum edition and was having some promotions, after all it’s Christmas, so I asked the sales lady if there was further discount.

Voice of Reason:
But there wasn’t any further discount, so I decided to get the gold edition. I went up to the counter to make payment.

I couldn’t go through with the transaction, asking the sales lady to STOP just as she was about to bag it. I stood at the counter, one hand holding the Gold edition, one hand holding the Platinum. It was clear where my heart laid. Also, the Platinum doll with blonde hair looked much better and her lipstick was not as orangey. Though it’s only a difference in hair colour and lip colour, but it made a difference too. Also, it was about the edition label too. If I had gotten the Gold edition, knowing that I was so close to having the Platinum, knowing that I could be one in a thousand in the world who had this doll but I gave that up…I would forever regret it. Standing there, I could not come to a decision. The sales lady saw my predicament and went to check with her lady boss, coming back to tell me the good news. She said, “Our best price is $450.”

Only $450!! 10% discount! YAY. Some discount was better than no discount! It was a one in a thousand purchase!!!!

Voice of Reason:
But still, to pay $450 for a toy. It was silly, crazy, insane. It seemed like I had lost all sense of value at the mention of the brand name. Even the sales lady said the difference was only in the hair colour, everything else was the same.

“But I KNOW you’ll regret it if you go through with the Gold edition”, I told my Voice of Reason.

“I’ll take this.” I smiled at the sales lady and she wrapped up my very own Vera Wang doll, platinum edition.

In this time of recession...

Date & Time of phone call: 7 December 2008, Sunday around 3pm
Place: Home


Mum: Are you saving money?
Me: Yes, I am. I went to a SALE on Friday with my colleague and bought 2 tops for only $10 each!

[I rest my case.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's going on?!

First, ragging gone wild at ACJC, next a cleaner's suicide leaves white tigers traumatised...what is happening?

I am very disturbed by the ragging that has happened to an ACJC female student on her birthday (someone even posted the 10 minute video on youtube and tagged her as a 'loser'). She was carried by "friends" out of the canteen and then tied to a chin-up bar by her wrists. Following that, her "friends" stuffed cake down her shirt and poured milk all over her. The college said they were aware of it and that the birthday girl was prepared for that sort of "celebration", so they did not consider it bullying. If this was the truth, I find it quite disturbing for the following reasons:
1) Why would a birthday girl agree to be 'ragged' on her birthday? I would never want to be treated this way - at all!
2) She was tied up!! That in itself is a disturbing act. Ragging in common, that I understand, but not when the other party is blind folded, and tied up. She can't even protest.
3) I haven't seen the video (don't even want to!), but according to others, she was not enjoying herself. She was crying and screaming. Is that still considered a celebration?
4) Someone tried to untie her and got pushed away for trying. Other stood at the side, laughing while she screamed.
5) Her so-called friends were all females too, from an elite me old-fashion but I just can't picture it.
6) A teacher stopped the ragging, not because he felt the girl was being bullied/humilated, but because they were messing up the place!! WHAT THE?!

The second incident was disturbing as well. A zoo cleaner, carrying a yellow bucket and a broom, climbed over the barrier of the white tiger enclosure, crossed the water moat that separates the fence from the enclosure, entered the tiger's territory and started waving his broom around, deliberatly provocating the white tigers. As a natural instinct, the white tigers were threatened and mauled the cleaner, who curled up in a ball with the bucket over his face. The onlookers first thought it was a show but when they discovered it wasn't, started screaming and throwing things at the white tigers to get their attention away from the man. Eventually, the white tigers left as their feeding cages were open, but all was too late.

I find it so irresponsible of that zoo cleaner. Call me insensitive over a man's death, but if you really must commit suicide, make sure you don't hurt others in the process:
1) Don't give visitors at the zoo a bad memory of their trip to the zoo! There were children there too.
2) Don't traumatise the tigers (they are also innocent parties!)
3) Don't have others clean up after your death.
4) Don't leave your loved ones without an answer!

So thats my rantings for today...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lorraine Z. Collection

It's not often you chance upon a website
that features your name + surname...

Though my name is a region in France, and I'm as edible as Quiche Lorraine,
but to discover that there's a jewellry designer and collection with the same name
plus the initial of my surname...
its a 1 in a million chance and I have to shout it out to the world!

Check out one of my creations!


Monday, November 10, 2008

SuperWeekend of Shoes, Sales, Shooting and Sun!

As the subject title suggests, I had a SUPER-FANTASTIC WEEKEND!

And it started on Friday night, when I met EK at Queensway to buy a new pair of sports shoes. I ruined my exercising sports shoes when I played softball a while ago (a useful excuse not to exercise) but I really needed a replacement coz I really want to go running.

So after walking around Queensway for an hour, I finally found my sports shoes! You see, my requirements are quite hard to fulfil – I wanted a dark pair with minimal white at the base because the tendency of my sports shoes getting mud all over it is very high (especially after a session of softball). And as you know, sports shoes (especially for females) are white white and more white. But finally, I found that pair. And it’s not old stock – it’s new stock which you can find in Adidas stores right now! It’s has some microbounce technology which is some super interesting suspension technology especially for running! Mine is the grey/purple version so it is less prone to getting dirty…and he gave me a discount of 30% off the retail price!!

The next morning, EK and I woke up at 8am and raced down to City Hall, where we had a quick breakfast and rushed over to the F1 pit building for the CLUB 21 BAZAAR SALE! Doors were opening at 10am but when we arrived at 9.40am, there was already a queue! We joined the queue of shoppers, not too far from the front. By the time the doors opened at 10am, the queue stretched all the way to the carpark!!

I came dressed for the sale too! Knowing that there were not going to be fitting rooms, I wore slippers & a short flare skirt, with a bikini bottom underneath so that I could easily slip on pants, and the thinnest spaghetti strap singlet I could find so that I could wear tops and make sure it fits me! And another important note for next time: bring a friend along who knows their fashion because there are no mirrors around so you need to trust on them for their opinion. Thankfully, I always have my stylist EK for this purpose.

EK and I spent 2.5 hours there!! Though the sale was not as good as last year’s, but I still ended up spending $230 on 6 items, while EK bought 2 items for himself and another 2 items for me!!! Heee.

My buys:
1) D&G singlet $20
2) CK white+gold skirt $20
3) Armani Exchange dress $30
4) Armani Exchange white+gold zip pants $30
5) Emporio Armani top $50
6) Dolce & Gabbana denim pink skirt $80 (this was exactly the same line as the Dolce & Gabanna pants I got last year for $250, and at that time I really wanted to skirt too, but I thought I wouldn’t wear it as often, so I didn’t buy it. I’m glad I waited it out because I got it at an event better price slash!)

EK buys:
1) D&G super cute bra $20 – FOR ME
2) DKNY green/brown handbag $70 – FOR ME
3) CK Black Leather Jacket $100 ONLY
4) CK Shirt $20

We were very satisfied shoppers. I saw other items that I absolutely LOVED, but didn’t buy:
- A CK long gold leather jacket for only $100
- A gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana sexy dress top for $720 (usual price was $4500)
- A gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana black sexy dress for $400
- John Galliano evening handbag at $400 – SO PRETTY

After the sale, we grabbed a cab back to EK’s place, put down our bags of bargains, before rushing out again to EK’s photoshoot. He’s had arranged a test shoot with a model at Fort Canning park, and asked if I could assist him. We spent the entire afternoon there and I finally got to see EK at work. He was ‘hands-and-feet-on’! Lying flat on the ground to get that unique angle, crouching in a corner, leaning over the banister, kneeling on the ground, etc. He was everywhere, leaving a trail of perspiration after him…YUCK.

That night, we rewarded ourselves to a satisfying curry fish head dinner. On Sunday after church, I met EK at Sentosa (he’d just done another test shoot that morning), and we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at Café del Moar. We got one of those beds and had a lovely lunch plus drinks under the sun. It was a beautiful close to our Sunday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Clinic 81

On Saturday, I had my first HOTEL 81 experience...


EK was doing a photoshoot for another model and decided to take the photos at Hotel 81 Chinatown (recommended by another photographer friend). So at 2pm on Sunday, we arrived at the check-in desk. The place was happening...

The reception was rather grand looking, with gold and white decor and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. There were 1 or 2 tourists, many foreign couples (errrrk...), and us standing around.

EK went up to the counter to register (just like visiting a clinic) where you have to handover your IC for registration. They only take walk-in customers, no reservations (just like a clinic).

The Nurse: IC please.
(The Conceirge: IC please.)

EK: What is the consultant fee?
(EK: What is the room rate for 2 hours?)

The Nurse: $40.
(The Conceirge: $40)

EK: My friend told me it's $30.
(EK: My friend told me it's $30.)

The Nurse: That's follow-up check-up fee. Your next visit will be $30.
(The Conceirge: That is member's rate. Your next visit will be $30.)

*EK paid the $40 and the nurse returned his IC to him.

The Nurse: Take a seat and wait. The doctor will be ready to see you in 15 mins.
(The Conceirge: Take a seat and wait. The room will be ready in 15 mins.)

*15 mins later

The Nurse: Yap
(The Conceirge: Yap)

*EK went up to the counter and was passed a room key

The Nurse: Room 209.
(The Conceirge: Room 209)

When we went to the room, EK complained about its smallness. He expected something bigger and was wondering how he was going to setup all his equipment. All it had was a queen size bed (nice white bedsheets), and a bathroom (small and simple but clean). But it also had other items such as an electic kettle, coffee cups with instant 3in1 coffee mix or milo and 2in1 toothbrush (the first I've ever seen - toothbrush with toothpaste already in it). There were also windows that allowed natural light to brighten up the room.

I didn't stay for long, leaving him to set up his 'studio' (check out his pictures on while I went Chinatown to shop for materials to make my trinkets.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Yesterday when it was close to 5.15pm and I was all ready to pack up and wait for my ride to come and pick me up at 5.30pm, my bosses came into our office room and asked, "May, Lorraine, can you do us a favour?"

"OK" we agreed.

"As you know we have our regional colleagues here in the office today, and we have quite a few new staff, so I would like to get 2 or 3 bottles of champagne to celebrate. Can both of you help us get these bottles of champagne?"

"Sure, no problem. When do you want the champagne?" We asked.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sleepless Nights of Flights and War…

Last night, I owned a shop of my own (however, I can’t remember what I sold). Then I also met a few of my softball seniors – Andrea, Hui Jing, etc – who were having coffee at the café beside my new shop.

I proceeded on to participate in a game of war – real people, real explosions, real strategies, not sure if it was really a game or an actual game of survival. It was a little like the game risk, there were 4 different teams playing in a sand field, all colour coded. My team, if I remember correctly, was in yellow. The other team was in blue, another in red and I can’t remember what colour the last team was in. Each team had about 20-30 soldiers, and one king – I was King of the yellow team.

So here we were, all of us in the sand field and the game had started. We needed to attack or strategise, and while I was strategising to team up with red team to attack the rest and then play out red team, blue team got blown up (landmine beneath them or something) and disappeared into the sand. And when I turned to look at red team, I saw only about 5 scrambling soldiers, running for their lives.

Then, I don’t know what happened, but I needed to take a break from the game so I excused myself to use the toilet. Along with blue team’s king, we took the army truck back to the headquarters to use their lavatory which was beneath ground level and we had to take the lift down to access it. Blue team’s king and myself got into the separate lifts and descended. Scheming me decided to run, hiding behind the pillars as blue team’s king looked around for me. Not finding me anywhere, he got back onto the army truck and returned to the war field. I, on the other hand, went back to the war field on my own (not sure what I was scheming but I definitely had some sort of plan of attack in my dream).

Strange, I know. And that was last night.

The previous night, I was in some sort of new tech flight simulator, totally new and advanced, very interesting aerodynamics and totally futuristic! Maybe it wasn’t even a simulator. More like an actual prototype and we were testing it out. Manoeuvring it to spin, dive, accelerate, etc. It was quite an exciting dream, but it got boring after a while as all we did in the dream was fly and fly and fly. HAHAHA.

Yes, me, my terribly innovative imagination and my sleepness nights.

Friday, October 10, 2008


2 nights ago, it was Tarantula spiders. Last night, it was a terrible copy of the shot-over jet.

My dreams are haunting my sleep!

2 nights ago, I woke up screaming because I thought a tarantula was on my back. I was on an open-top scenic tram ride and as we passed this tram-rail-side market selling all sorts of fruits, there were large tarantula spiders on each and every fruit that was on the table, and also on the fruits that were hanging above our heads. The tarantula spiders were covered with wasabi-green powder/cream and there were hundreds of them all around us. I curled up in my seat hoping that none of them would fall on me. And that's when I though I felt something on my back. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I screamed.

Last night, I hoped for a pleasant dreamless night, but I was fed with a terrible copy of the shot-over jet experience. We were at a resort and the main activity was riding the boogie board. Firstly, we had to slide down this steep slide - totally awesome experience as I plunged into the pool beneath! Then, we rode on the boogie board as a float, and followed our tour guide along the trail. Each one of us had a boogie board and it still baffles me how our tour guide could control our boogie boards to do spins when we approached walls, etc. Guess in a dream, anything's possible, but I was disappointed. There was only 1 or 2 exciting close-shaves and the rest of it was a scenic tour. BORING.

But urgh...I'm so tired now, I just wanna sleep on the job!

Friday, September 19, 2008

My First Tour...


At first I thought it was OK.

Then I though it wasn’t that great.

But it turned out FANTASTIC!


Day 1, Saturday 16 Aug

Arriving in Taoyuan Airport on the 16th of August at 3+pm, I was disappointed. Well, anyone would agree that if you’ve been to Singapore’s airport, the other airports that are not top 10 on the list would be a let down. So I’d have to say I wasn’t surprised.

The tour guide was waiting for us at the arrival gates so it wasn’t too hard spotting her. We waited for the others to arrive.

>> Dum di dum...

Once everyone was present, our 8 days tour of Taiwan started. We boarded the tour bus with large comfy seats and headed to our first stop – a Fruit Farm in Tao Yuan.

>> Our first sights of Taiwan

Unfortunately, most fruits weren’t in season, so we ended up visiting a tomato farm, which had a nice grocery shop selling Taiwan snacks. It was there I fell in love with tomato juice. I’ve never liked tomato juice from the carton…a very weird tomato sauce taste made into a drink…YUCK.

But this! This tomato juice was different. It was just like drinking pure tomatoes! It was heaven. You could taste the fresh tomatoes, feel the crushed seeds, and drink the sweetest juice ever! YUM!

>> Taiwan products galore...

We also walked the farm – tomato-less farm. They were not fruiting yet. But apart from tomatoes, there was some weird other fruits...bittergourd?? Not sure.

>>Ouch ouch ouch

>> Where's the toms?

>> Bittergourd vs Tomato Juice

After finishing that delicious tomato juice, we couldn’t resist buying the large tom toms (my lingo, aka cherry tomatoes).

>> Buying tom toms

We then proceeded to Taoyuan Night Market for dinner, where I experienced my first many things! My first night market experience was…interesting. Clothes shops mixed with food shops, smelly food beside yummy ones…

>> My First Night Market

I tried my first actual Taiwan sausage 香腸 in Taiwan. Not that I’ve never eaten a Taiwan sausage before, but I’ve never eaten the actual one in Taiwan. It was YUMMMMMM as I had anticipated.

>> Authentic...

It started raining so we bought our first Taiwan umbrella, and then we ran for shelter in a food stall. I wanted to try the famous stir-fried cuttlefish 生炒花枝 but it ended up coming in a weird tasting soup form. Everyone else (the locals) drank their soup till the bowl was empty, while we struggled swallowing the thick tasteless/ weird tasting soup. We thought their oyster omelette 蚵仔煎 would be YUM as everyone said it would be, but we found the weird pink sauce they drench over the omelette to be a little off-putting.

>> Totally weird with a capital H

We continued walking around in the slight drizzle, looking but not buying the clothes or shoes. Our aim was to eat. We bought fried chicken with mango mayo which was quite good (apart from the mango mayo as I’m not a fan of mayo in the first place). And we also ate some desserts…well EK bought 2 bowls, being ambitious, but it wasn’t really fantastic. He just wanted to try their bean curd with peanut soup and the other was jelly with bean curd. We didn’t finish it. Of course, EK bought his favourite yam milk tea. Technically I bought it for him, but I just assumed all Taiwan drinks came with pearls! Turned out his drink was without pearls. Oh well, he isn’t crazy over pearls so it was good. It was good he says. I bought a lemon honey drink (no pearls too – NEVER ASSUME), which turned out good too. Not fantastic, but good.

>> Chicken, no pearls...

And we didn’t let the stinky tofu 臭豆腐 off the hook. We had to give it a go…though I wish we didn’t. We bought it on our way out of the night market, and ate it at the assembly point as we waited for the others to gather at 7pm. I could hardly swallow my first bite! I had to gulp down almost the whole cup of my drink in order to swallow it. EK on the other hand managed to eat 2 of the 5 pieces of tofu before he threw the rest away! Well done to us!

>> It's not called stinky for nothing!

Next, we set off to Tashee Resort 大溪别馆 in Tao Yuan to spend our first night in Taiwan. It’s a 5 star resort, with many guest facilities, such as heated pools, spa, gym, games room, golf course, etc. That night, we got dressed in our bathing suit, but didn’t end up getting into the pools because we felt absolutely bloated. Instead, we explored the resort, visiting the gym to take a look at the facilities, followed by the arcade, and ended up sitting on a couch reading newspaper and eating this really milky ice cream. I only took a couple of licks while EK polished it off.

>> Relax and Indulge...

That marked our first day in Taiwan...

Day 2, Sunday 17 Aug

Bright and early, we ate our first breakfast in Taiwan. The resort prepared a good breakfast buffet spread for us, with Western and Asian choices.

>> Our first breakfast...

After breakfast, we took the opportunity to get a picture with our hotel and our tour bus, before returning to our rooms to prepare to check out.

>> Hot toes and bums...

We boarded the bus for Chuifen 九份 , a former gold mining town located on the northeast coast of Taiwan.

>> Wheels on the bus goes round and round...

Our tour bus could only take us up to the mountain so far, so we had to board a public bus to take us up this steep and winding road, till we finally reached the town of Chuifen.

>> My first Taiwan public bus experience

I love Chuifen and its little winding streets that seemed to go on forever. With food and snack shops located on both sides, walking through Chuifen’s street was an experience that was fun and interesting!

Our first stop was a local snacks shop, where we shopped for endless snacks to bring back to our friends and family in Singapore.

>> Shopaholic strikes!

After that, we broke off from the group in exploration. Our first stop – FISHBALLS! We were told that the fishballs at Chuifen is YUM, so we had to try a bowl of fishball soup and their dry noodles.


We also spotted malt candy lollipops for NT$20. YUM. Greedy me grabbed a “Xiao Ding Dang” shaped lollipop!

>> Lollipop lollipop oh lolly lolly lolly…

Next, another shop caught our attention. They were selling ice cream topped with peanuts wrapped in popiah skin! It was amazing! We loved it, especially on a hot day walking along the crowded streets of Chuifen, an ice cream was most welcomed.

>> Noble award to the person who came up with popiah + ice cream!

Along the way, we saw people eating these interesting spiral thingys on a stick, which looked so amazingly delicious, I was determined to find it! We finally did and I bought 1 stick. It was basically a potato sliced in a continuous spiral, deep fried like potato chips, and flavoured with spices of curry, garlic, chicken, chives. IT WAS SOOOOO GOOOD!

>> EK wanted seconds…

We grew thirsty and bought ourselves fresh watermelon juice! Their juices are just so amazing! Juicy and delicious, just like eating the fruit itself! I’ve never tasted anything like that before!

We approached a nice opening and took in the scenery that was around us. We were so high up on a mountain, you’d never imagine a street like this exists in such a place!

>> Smile for the camera...

Turning around and about to leave the designated look-out, we spotted yummy fried quail eggs on a stick! Being greedy and in need of a cholesterol boost, we bought a stick to share, and balanced the guilt by buying a box of sweet pink guava from the shop beside it!

>> Cholesterol, bring it on!

Time was running out so we didn’t explore any further, but the street further down looked a little too quiet, so we decided we wouldn’t miss much and turned back. We wanted to take another route back, but the street looked uninteresting to us, basically not much shops, so we decided to go back the same way we came.

>> The street we skipped

Along the way, we met this cute old man (I think he was Japanese). He noticed EK’s big camera, and he seemed like another camera fanatic. With minimum English, he asked us if he could take a photo of us, with his camera, and we agreed. EK then asked if we could take a photo of him with his camera, and he went along as well. I was informed later on that his camera was Leica…apparently another very expensive SLR on the market.

>> I think he should be quite handsome when he's younger...

On our way back, we bought cuttlefish, deep fried mushrooms and another bowl of fishball soup at another seemingly popular shop with pictures of famous Taiwan celebrities visiting this store. However, I felt the fishballs were not as nice as the one we had earlier.

>>Shrooms and balls!

We met up with the already waiting group and when the remaining 4 arrived, we left Chuifen for Ilan 宜蘭.

Heading towards Ilan, we went through Hsueshan Tunnel 雪山隧道.

>> The longest tunnel in Taiwan

At Ilan, we visited the National Centre for Traditional Arts 国立传统艺术中心. As it was a Sunday and school holidays were around the corner, there were many families (dogs included – Taiwanese are such dog lovers). We watched a wedding performance (the cast were dressed in animal outfits), but soon grew bored and decided to explore the shops.

The shops were interesting, all the stuff were hand crafted, from amazing leather formed animals to handmade Chinese calligraphy brushes. There were also experts on set, demonstrating the crafting of these products. There were also hands on projects, where families could do their own artwork, such as mosaic photo frames, or engraving on leather.

>> The National Centre for Traditional Arts in summary

We left at around 3+pm to the train station to catch a scenic train-ride to Hualien 花蓮. We had to give the bus driver a headstart as he was ferrying our luggages to our next destination, while we took the faster mode of transport – a train.

>> At the station

Given about 45 minutes waiting time before our train departed, we explored the town of Ilan. They didn’t have many shops to browse (a scooter rental shop, mini-marts, Taiwan tourist snacks and souvenir shops, lingerie shop, McDonalds), but EK had a very yummy bubble milk tea at a franchise store by the name Ching Shin Fu Chuan Tea Station 清心福全冷饮站. He said the texture was so much smoother than Singapore’s milk tea as they blended it very well. Also, it was more milky. YUCK!

>> Bubble

>> Tea

The train ride to Hualien was nice. The sea was on my left, and the sun was setting. We were sitting in a different cabin from the rest of the group. SNAP SNAP SNAP went EK’s camera as we documented our first train ride in Taiwan.

>> Before Boarding...snap snap snap

>> On board...snap snap snap

We arrived in Hualien to find our bus waiting for us at around 6+pm in the evening. It was completely dark! The sun in Taiwan sets really early! We headed back to the hotel for dinner catered by Chan Brothers and we discovered all about tour food and Taiwanese culture.

They love bringing all the plates of food at once, even if the table is full, they will find a place to put the plate (i.e. stack on top), which we found disgusting. The first plate was egg omelet. Goodness, we didn’t come all this way to have an omelet! The food wasn’t great at all. Also, by looks of the hotel restaurant, we were skeptical about the room’s condition.

However, we were pleasantly surprised that the rooms were nice and clean, better than what we had expected. We didn’t stay in the room long as the night was young. With the advice of the concierge, we grabbed a cab and headed into town. The cab driver was very friendly, eager to introduce us to Hualien.

>> Our first sights of Hualien

After alighting, we walked around the lighted streets of shops and food. We browsed through clothes shops. I saw this cool clothes shop called Knight’s Bridge. It’s a Taiwan brand, but the clothes had a very British prep-school style, loads of plaits, and the logo, similar to a school crest was found on most outfits. Though I loved the clothes, but I didn’t think I would wear them and they weren’t cheap!

>> Shopaholic at work

We also shopped at other stores, where I bought a demin vest and a black mini skirt dungaree.

EK also bought bubble tea again, making friends with the store person after chatting about his camera.

>> Our friend behind the counter

>> Evidence of my work

We continued to walk around, and found the ice shavings shop that the cab driver told us about, but we didn’t feel like queuing so we gave it a miss. We hunted for the xiao long pau shop but couldn’t find it and miraculously found ourselves back at the bubble tea shop. We asked for directions and proceeded to hunt down the xiao long pau store. After asking a couple more people along the way, we spotted the queue. We jumped into the queue and lined up obediently.

>> What Singaporeans do best...queuing

Little did we know that if we were eating there, we didn’t need to queue!!! BAH. After queuing for 10 minutes, we finally had the sense to ask! We bought 10 xiao long paus for only NT$5 each and 1 basket of zhen jiaos (which they said was nice too).

>> CHEAP!!

The xiao long paus were not what we expected, different from Singapore’s and not that soupy, but it was yum nevertheless. The zhen jiaos were also different! Pau like and huge, but tasty. We struggled to finish it, but of course we did. It was good.

>> Greedy Gluttons!

After a filling supper, the shops were closing (11pm) and we rushed to browse those that were still open. I only ended up buying a belt, but that was good for me. We also heard about another night market in Hualien, which mainly sold food, so on our way back to our hotel, we told the cab driver to take a detour to that night market to take a look at the scene. But we were so full, we decided not to alight and headed back to the hotel for our much needed sleep.