Month: September 2018

China Travels: Luoyang

China Travels: Luoyang

The first stop on our week-long China trip was Luoyang in the Henan province. From my research, it’s mostly famous for 4 things: The peony gardens and festival, the Shaolin Temple, the White Horse Temple and the Longmen Grottos. At least that’s what we did, minus the peonies because they only bloom in the spring.

Shaolin Temple

The Shaolin Temple or Shaolin Monastery is about a 2 hour drive from Luoyang. It’s on Songshan Mountain, one of the 5 holy mountains in China. The Shaolin Monastery is the birth place of Kung Fu and also an important place for Chinese Buddhism. We visited the main temple, had lunch in the vegetarian restaurant and then saw the pagoda forest, where many of the Shaolin monks are burried.

The Shaolin temple also includes a Martial Arts Training center, which is the most famous school Kung Fu school in China, and we saw many kids practicing outside. At the boarding school, the kids study half the day and practice Kung Fu the other half. The last thing we did during our visit was to watch their half hour performance. According to our guide only the best students get picked for the show and in exchange they get free tuition. It was really impressive and I couldn’t stop singing”Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” for the rest of the day 🙂

White Horse Temple

After visiting the birthplace of Kung Fu we visited the birthplace of Chinese Buddhism on our second day. The White Horse Temple is the first Buddhist Temple in China and was built almost 2,000 years ago.  The temple was named after the two white horses who carried 2 Indian monks, their scriptures and Buddha statues to China. In the past 20 years, more temples have been added in the new, international section. There are Buddhist temples built by India, Thailand and Myanmar to celebrate the relationship between the countries.

Longmen Grottos

The last place we saw were the Longmen Grottos. 2345 grottos (or caves and niches) in various sizes are carved into the lime stone. We walked along the river for about 1km to see many of them. In addition, there are over 100,000 Buddhas sculptures and carvings. The smallest Buddhas only reach 2cm, the biggest one is 17m tall. They were carved by different dynasties, and construction started over 1,500 years ago. Depending on the beauty standard at the time of carving, the Buddhas either have a round face and a double chin or look more slim.

We also tried some local food in restaurants our guide recommended. Pro Tip: The portions in Luoyang are much bigger than in Shanghai.

After 2 days of sightseeing we hopped on the bullet train and zipped over to Xi’an. Almost 400km in 1:26h! Taking the train in China is great 🙂

Restaurant Week Round 2

Restaurant Week Round 2

So much happened in September: I started the month in Taipei, came back to 7 nights of restaurant week, my little sister and her boyfriend arrived in the middle of it and we ate and touristed our way through Shanghai, Luoyang, Xi’an, Chengdu and again Shanghai.

Sadly, our awesome visitors left yesterday so it’s time to start posting all the pictures and write down all the things we did before I forget.

First up: Restaurant week, the Second.

I think I already mentioned that it happens twice every year and many different restaurants offer special menus at usually good prices. I had high expectations after the 9 restaurant week meals in April 🙂 This time it was from August 30 to September 9. Because I “lost” three days in Taipei I only managed to go 8 times 😉

Here are all the beautiful dishes I ate (or shared):

And here is the full list:

  • Colca, Peruvian: 8 courses of yumminess, really great start on the night before flying to Taipei.
  • Garlic, Turkish: Enjoyed it so much last time we came again. And brought friends. The food was still great and the portions huuuge.
  • Alma, European: Really good new find, loved their menu.
  • Azul Tapas & Lounge, Spanish: Great girls night with lots and lots of different delicious dishes.
  • Masse Gastro Lounge, Southeast Asian: Not bad but my least favorite out of the 8. Wouldn’t go again for food.
  • Bistro Burger, American: Nice little burger place close to us with an awesome deal during restaurant week.
  • The Cut, Steak: Good food but would only go again if they have a deal. Thorben’s steak is better.
  • The Fellas, Italian: The second repeat because it’s always amazing for food and the view, especially when trying to show off Shanghai to visitors 🙂
A Foodie Weekend in Taipei

A Foodie Weekend in Taipei

Last weekend I took a 3 day trip to Taipei to visit Jana and Ellie. It’s been almost a year since I last saw Jana (Golden Week last year!) and 5 months since Ellie’s business trip to China, so to say I was excited is a bit of an understatement 🙂

To sum it up, all we did was eat and talk and take pictures of us eating. The 2 tourist shots I got were more of a coincidence. We saw Taipei 101 several times on our way to and from food places and then a nice temple was in front of a night market we went to.

Din Tai Fung

Let me start at the beginning. After I landed the first order of business (after dropping off my bag) was to go to Din Tai Fung. While we have several of them in Shanghai, they have one major flaw: They don’t serve chocolate xiaolongbao! So I had to get my fix of them and they were beautiful.

Jamie’s Italian

For Friday night dinner Jana and I headed to Jamie’s Italian. While this might not be the obvious choice when going to Taipei, Jana and I have a special place for Jamie’s Italian in our hearts after our trip to Budapest last year. We ended up eating 3 pizzas, because they were just so good 🙂 This time we “only” shared an appetizer, 2 pizzas and 2 desserts. The waitress was still impressed with us – she suggested we share one pizza because it’s big. What an amateur.

Toasteria

For Saturday brunch we went to Toasteria. I’d researched brunch places in Taipei before my trip and Jana made the reservations – team work 🙂 They have lots and lots of options, including omelettes, classic breakfasts, pasta, paninis … I got french toast and then shared a grilled cheese. Apparently they’re famous for those so I just had to have one. It was delicious.

Raohe Night Market

In search of greasy street food we went to Raohe Night Market Saturday night. I don’t remember the name of any of the food we had but it was all pretty good! We had scallion pancakes, ice cream with caramelized peanut shavings and cilantro wrapped in a crepe type thing, passion fruit jelly on a stick, a deep fried salted egg yolk pork thing with sweet potato, fruit juice (vitamins!) and baked pork buns. In that exact order. Also, we wore matching dumpling t-shirts. Just because we’re awesome 🙂

Pool time

Our original plan was to spend all the time we were not eating at the pool. Sadly, it was closed all day Saturday for maintenance and when we got there early Sunday morning we were told we could only swim with swimming caps … which we didn’t have and they didn’t provide. Oh well, so we only got to relax next to the pool for a couple of hours.

The Hello Kitty Taxi

When we got into the taxi on our way to brunch on Sunday we were in for a treat. It was completely decked out in Hello Kitty merchandise! I’m glad we took some photos as proof 🙂

Sugar Pea

Our destination for that cab ride was Sugar Pea. We all agreed, if Instagram was a place, this would be it 🙂 Anyhow, the food was really yummy … and pretty. Of course I took pictures. And put them on Instagram.

Thanks for a fantastic weekend, Jana and Ellie! I can’t wait to come back soon and continue eating our way through Taipei!

Obstacle race through a bamboo forest in Moganshan

Obstacle race through a bamboo forest in Moganshan

Last weekend a large group of mostly archery people took part in an obstacle race through the bamboo forests of Moganshan. We rented a bus to get there, and I guess it was just as much about having a fun weekend with friends, as it was about the race.

All of us signed up for an elite mode of the race, which meant we were being timed and had to do a punishment of 50 jumping squats for every obstacle we could not do. It was me who convinced our tiny friend Marlyn to sign up for the race and the elite mode, so I felt a bit responsible helping her make it through the race.

Just three days before the event, I cut my finger badly while cooking, so I could not take the race too seriously anyway. First, I did not want to do the obstacles at all and I thought about just running along and being the camera man of the group. After protecting my finger with bandages, a finger condom from Japan, a latex and a workout glove, I felt comfortable enough doing it anyway.

Marlyn and I still stayed behind the group, took it easy, and tried to give our best at the obstacles. We had to stop once to take pictures with the track guards, that is most likely why our time wasn’t that great in the end.

We made it! In the end, we were much faster than anticipated, made it through almost all the obstacles (except Monkey Bars for me, where I tell myself the finger is to blame, and Archery for Marlyn, where she clearly does not have any excuse at all).

The others were exceptionally fast, I think we had a handful of people placing in the Top 10 of the whole race. I do not have any pictures of them running, since it took me almost twice as long 🙂