epik_noodles: (Default)
I've been taping up corners all week.
The contents of my entire room are now in the basement. I put on a layer of primer yesterday and today we put on the last two coats of the semi-gloss finish I picked out. We went with a different brand so instead of the forest green which was my second choice, I actually got that green apple color I wanted.

My hands are all white and one of my feet is white, but I'll get to that story way later.

We only finished my room, two more to go...
Right now I'm helping Miki clear out her room.

I need to prime all the rooms in the house, then I need to paint them. After that, I need to install hardwood flooring in the hallways and kitchen. Yeah... I know how to install floors... my dad and I are the fix-it people of our house.

I'm fantasizing about the new fixtures I will be putting in my room. New furniture and stuff. I want to have a spot  where I can worship display all of my Reborn! action figures. I really really want a bookshelf. My manga reaches the ceiling and I have no place for it.

Damn my vacation is taking a lot longer than I thought.

epik_noodles: (Default)
Gahhhh...
Last day! Last day!

Yesterday... we couldn't do anything because a typhoon (a mini-hurricane) hit Taipei in the morning. I've experienced monsoons and typhoons in Thailand... and yeah, they can knock you off your feet and you have a high chance of getting impaled by someone's detached roofing. It's really dangerous to be outside, so our apartment was on lockdown from 2am until 2pm. We can hear the high speed winds from our windows as we waited. Oh yeah, no one told us the tenants of our apartment were having a potluck feast downstairs during the typhoon. Of course the foreigners (we) didn't get the memo.

There was a food expo going on the same day. Which we did attend later in the day when the typhoon cleared out. Lots of industries and companies were their. I really want a ice shaver. It's a new model! It shaves ice cream instead of ice. It cuts ice cream into thin ribbons, giving it a fluffy texture. The consistency of the ice cream mixture is different too. It contains more water than cream. The machine costs $400 USD. I want one for my restaurant! We need to market more ice products! We met an old man who makes custom logo touch screen wipers. They were really cool, they had a reusable adhesive backing too that would still retain stickiness even after washing it in water.

Well today... we did some last minute shopping near Shilin station, then we went to Taipei Main Station to get to Q-square, which is a popular mall. It was raining like crazy when we were at both places. Of course we didn't have umbrellas with us, we never have one when the sky decides to rain on us. Stupid weather! We ran around outside like idiots from one building to another, one bus shelter to another. We returned to the apartment earlier than usual because I had a stomach ache and the rain was to insane. We also needed to pack, that would be the main reason. Most of our bags are quite heavy.

We have a portable handheld scale with us to weigh our bags. The limit for international flights are 50 lbs per bag. Our scale is off by 4 lbs or so, two bags weigh around 42 lbs individually, but the other two are at 47 lbs, that's pushing it... The things that are weighing our bags down so much is FOOD!!! We packed 5 lbs of peanut cookies, 20 lbs of jajang sauce, 15 lbs of olives, 8 lbs of pineapple cake. All of these things are exclusive to Taiwan. We're bringing them back for our family. Yes... we love them too much that we'd bring them vast amounts of food.

I gotta fly 5 hours from now.
Wish me luck. See ya on the ground back in Chicago!!!
epik_noodles: (Default)
Aww... I'm down to my last week in Taiwan. It didn't really feel like a vacation because I'm here for a month. It felt more like temporary living. We hit up tons of awesome food places, did a LOT of walking, and we constantly got lost.

Yesterday, we went up Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan, no joke... They have absolutely no tall buildings here... except Taipei 101. Soooo... you can literally see Taipei 101 from EVERY angle, no matter where in Taipei you are. For example...... in our area, the "tallest" building is our apartment... which is 14 floors. Since other buildings don't seem to exceed 15 stories, Taipei 101 is always super visible.

Today, we went to a famous restaurant that is hidden behind a brewery... Really creepy place. The brewery is owned by the government. So, this restaurant sits behind gated government walls... and is well hidden behind a crate stockyard. Yeah... it looks like one of those places where mafia dealings go down... open warehouses... crates of bottles stacked high... lots of delivery trucks parked around... dimly lit. After you walk past the crates of beer bottles, warehouses, and trucks, there's a beacon of light... a string of blue x-mas lights arranged to spell out three simple numbers... "346." The name (which is also the address) of the restaurant is "346." People go there to enjoy the food and the entertainment, as well as the beer. You can get a mug or a few... you can even have an entire keg brought to your table. Today, we had deep fried pig intestines, fried chicken kiel bone, bacon veggie stir fry, and blackbean fried chicken. I don't need to tell you this, but of course I did NOT drink, everyone knows I detest the smell and taste of beer. We were allowed to get coke instead of beer, yay!

We got lost again on the way back, we didn't know where the bus stop was... typical. So we ended up walking all the way back to the apartment.

I haven't shown anyone my updated shopping stash.
I went Gundam crazy here!!!
TADA!!!
I'm so crazy... Every time I buy new stuff, I put it up on the shelf for display, it also helps me keep track of when we need to pack it to take back to Chicago. I got tons of Gundams... The Zaku is for Marvin, Infinite Justice is for Maciek... everything else on the shelves are all mine muahahahaha!!! I got some nanoblocks here and there. Yes... I got a Hitman Reborn jigsaw puzzle... IT'S MISSING LAMBO, CHROME AND MUKURO, WTF?! I got a Reborn mug too... yeah, hardcore fan. I also got the whole set of Reborn keychains... in the entire set... all of the characters are normal, but why are Dino and Hibari the only ones that are naked?! Well they're naked in a hot spring. I need to take a picture later because they were already packed into or suitcase. Out of all the other keychains, Dino and Hibari are the only ones naked? These are official legit keychains! OMG they are totally hinting D18!!! Reborn fans will know what I mean. For those non-Reborn fans out there, the characters in Reborn have numbers (or letters) that correspond to their names, these "numbers" are used in reference by fans. Example, the main character, Tsuna's fandom number is 27, because "tsu" deriving from the English word "two" and "na" from "nana" the Japanese word for seven, tsu + na = 27.

I bought lots of souvenirs for myself, mostly cellphone straps or a model of a miniature building. I bought tea from Maokong (cat mountain). I got headphones from Danshui. I got a One Piece treasure digging set and my Reborn puzzle from the "Animate" store in Ximending. There was also that doll of the damper baby from Taipei 101...

I'm not quite ready to return home yet, but I sure do miss everyone.
epik_noodles: (Default)
Yeah, there was an earthquake in Taipei, Taiwan at 6:18pm on June 19th (today).
The epicenter was on the eastern coast, but I totally felt it!

I was sitting on the floor of our apartment, attempting to cool off under the a/c. Miki on the other hand was lounging on the bed.

I was staring at the ceiling, then suddenly... *rumble* *rumble* rumble* the floor began to shake side to side under me and I fell over. I screamed, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!" Miki turns from the bed (unfazed) and asks "what's wrong?" I yelled back, "the entire apartment just shook, you didn't feel that?! wait but you're on the bed." Then Miki said, "what are you talking about? the apartment is not shaking." *rumble* *rumble* Miki then says, "... nevermind, I just felt that last one."  I finally scream "EARTHQUAKE!" Me and Miki stare at each other wide-eyed... but nothing happens.

Still doubtful, Miki says, "it was probably a thunder boom that shook the building." (as it was raining before we arrived at our apartment) I then protested, "there's no way a mere thunder boom can shake a 14-story apartment!" Then of course we get on the internet to check if it was really a quake.

Fortunately I found a Taiwan government site that has seismic activity records.
And here's what I pulled up:
Ha! Extreme proof that it totally was an earthquake!
It was a 5.1 mag.
That was the first earthquake I've ever experienced conscious.
Most earthquakes back in Chicago occur at night for some weird reason.
 

epik_noodles: (Default)
So... here we go...

Now... we were hungry from all that wandering, so we decided to leave the apartment again to eat at a restaurant. We got to a fancy Taiwanese restaurant and ate a lovely dinner. After eating, we went back outside to look for a bus that would take us to our apartment. The problem is... we didn't remember which side of the road we got off at. Lost again?! But we just knew that we needed to get on bus route 204. We took a guess and hopped on a 204 bus. If you didn't notice, we have absolutely no understanding of the Taiwan bus system, which is why we get lost all the time.

After breezing through multiple stops we didn't recognize, we both sighed and assumed the bus would loop back after the final stop. The bus continued to drive on and the seats were emptying. The bus kept going further and further into a dark and unfamiliar part of town. On a poorly lit street, in the middle of nowhere, the bus driver stops the bus suddenly, turns in his chair to look at us (the ONLY people left on the bus) and says something in Chinese. In all my confusion because I have no idea what is going on, I turn to Miki and say "I think he's talking to us, what is he saying?!" At this point, we're terrified.

This is our awkward conversation-

Bus man: *repeats what sounds like a warning in Chinese*
Miki: *shakes head in confusion*
Me: "whaaa?!" *head tilt*
Bus man: *repeats again*
Me: "I think he's telling us this is the end of the line... get off now"
Miki: *asks in Chinese* "can you speak English?"
Bus man: *shakes head rapidly* "11...."
Me and Miki: "huh?!"
Bus man: "11..." *points outside door*
Me: "I think he really wants us off the bus"
Me and Miki: *both get up and walk towards door*
Miki: "oh yeah, all buses stop running at 11:15 pm, no later" (it's 11:30pm)
Bus man: (notices our sad confused faces) *rubs temples roughly* "where?"
*shuts bus door*

The bus man points back at the chairs, signaling for us to sit back down. He then drives into the busyard and a fellow employee hops onto the bus to empty the fare collector. The other man chuckles and asks what I'm guessing "why are there still people on this bus?" We assumed he wanted us off at that point, but... he drove out of the busyard and stopped the bus again. I am then screaming in my mind (OH NO!!!! HIS SHIFT IS OVER HE WAS SUPPOSED TO GO HOME AFTER GOT TO THE BUSYARD!!!!)

The bus man then walks to the center of the bus where the route map is and points to it asking where we need to go. We point to one of the train stations on the route map, the bus man then kneels down and goes silent as he looks over the map not understanding what we want. Miki then remembered that she had a sentence prewritten in Chinese in her notebook that says, "please take me to the nearest train(MRT) station." She showed it to the bus man and he nodded. He then went back into the driver's seat and sat there for 3 minutes with his face buried in his hand. After he thought to himself, he started the bus and drove off to restart the route.

After passing three stops, people started signaling to get on the bus (here, you actually need to wave your hand if you want to get on, if not, the bus will pass you). It's midnight and the bus is half full. (no buses are running at all at this time). Me and Miki are talking to eat other, "wait a minute, he's willing to drive the full route and drop off all these people, even though his shift is over, for the sake of getting us back safely?!" At this point, we feel very horrible about ourselves. Because of us, he's doing something he shouldn't be doing. He is going to waste 3 hours of unpaid time because of us. He is the nicest man we've ever met since arriving in Taiwan... I wanted to cry right there on the bus (but I couldn't, instead, my chest hurt during the ride), I'm crying now though, that bus man was too kind to us. The bus does stop in front of our apartment, but we wanted him to drop us off at a train station because we didn't want him to drive any further(we assumed he would turn back), but with all those other people, he had no choice but to drive the entire route. When got close to a train station he called us to the front of the bus to make sure we'd get on the train. He gave us a weak smile and we both thanked him. We got off the bus and went into the station, then boarded the train back to the apartment.

We got off the train and continued walking down Xinyi Rd (the street in front of our apartment). The station was a few blocks from our apartment, so the walk wasn't bad. The 204 bus is a route that drives down Xinyi Rd. It's 12:30 am, his bus is the only one on the street. As we walked to our place, we had just reach the front of our apartment. I turn to look at the street... and it felt as if my heart had shattered into a million pieces as I saw that same bus man driving that 204 bus right in front of us. I really wanted to cry, what bad timing that we'd meet one last time. Bus man... we never got your name, but we will never forget you.

I wanted to keep his face in my memory, so I did a quick doodle of what he looked like. It's a general idea, but it's close, I still need to revise it.

We need to find this man and thank him properly!!!
I need to redraw this more accurately first... I curse my chibi skills.
 

The end was no joke, we did see bus man in front of our apartment, we didn't think he'd actually drive up that far.

epik_noodles: (Default)
I don't have much to write about yesterday.
Besides waking up at 4am from jetlag and getting lost around the SOGO shopping district, nothing interesting happened.

Well... we did go to "Breeze Center" which is a large western-style mall. It was because when we were making our usual round of buying water at the 7eleven near our apartment, I saw a girl carrying a bag  with the "Tokyu Hands" logo on it. Which Tokyu Hands is the best store in Japan EVER!!! Except the logo didn't say Tokyu Hands it said "Hands Tailung." I yelped and told Miki that we must find the Tokyu Hands look-alike. I fortunately found the Tapei locations on google. We got there just fine, but we got super lost on the way back. It was because we decided to hit up a nearby night market. We wandered inside on of the SOGO buildings, exited, then we forgot which direction we should go to get back to our apartment.

We figured it out eventually. But we were really tired from wandering aimlessly.

So today, we woke up really early to go to the weekend flower and jade market a block away. It's the largest outdoor market for both objects. There were so many amazing flowers and plants in the flower market. I really wanted to take a mini bonsai home or even a baby cactus in a pot the size of a tealight candle. They had a lot of pretty orchids too. The jade market which was just across the street from the flower market was amazing. There were so many varieties of jade. There were many rings, pendants, carvings, and sculptures. I wanted a jade ring, but I'll probably buy it next week if I still have a lot of money left. I want more models to build!

We attempt to go see the Dragon Boat Festival today... We took the right bus and everything. We count the distance by stops, since we can't read Chinese. It was 9 stops and we needed to get off so we could hop on a different bus to take us to the river... I think we got off at the wrong stop because the bus we needed to change to wasn't listed at the terminal. We were in an unfamiliar place in the city. Feeling so lost and hopeless, we decided to try the festival tomorrow. Next big issue "HOW THE HECK ARE WE GETTING BACK?!" We figured it out from reading the destination list for the bus routes (thankfully that part was in English).

On the way back, we got off the bus halfway because there was a cool farmer's market on the side of the road. I bought some delicious syrup glazed olives. They are super sweet and delicious. We got some wild boar sausage, YUMMY! We also got some grilled meatballs.... reminds me of Thailand. We also wandered into the electronics market, man it looked a lot like the electronic market in Akiba. Then we finally got on the right bus that dropped us off in front of our apartment.

We ate all the stuff we had bought outside for our dinner.
This sounds sad and makes me feel very awkward, we had to eat our durian in the bathroom bathtub. Durian... the nastiest smelliest fruit in the world which we would've gotten complaints from our neighbors it they had known we snuck it into the apartment. We had to eat the durian in the bathtub because it is the ONLY isolated room with a big window for ventilation. And my friends ask me, "what did you do in Taiwan?" my response, "oh... I ate durian in the bathtub..."

*groan*
I'm so tired from walking so much.
It's more tiring to wander around lost then to know where you're going.

epik_noodles: (Default)
When we first arrived at the airport, we could feel the heat right away. It's really hot in Taiwan and I was wearing a hoodie after I got off the plane.

Miki giggled and said, "Wu Chun is going to greet us when we arrive!" She then points to a life-size cardboard standup of "Fahrenheit." I then laugh inwardly at Miki's randomness.

We signed our apartment lease and went to sleep.
Next morning, our first day, we ate breakfast at the Caesar Park Hotel which was only a few train stops down. We ended up wandering for several hours after eating because nothing opens until 11am and we woke up around 7am. It was hard finding a food place open at that time.

We then walked into a multi-story department store called Shin Kong. We were freaked out when we walked in and saw all of the employees lined up symmetrically along the entrance. Right when we get close to them, they bow in unison and shout "NIHAO GOOD MORNING!!!" I actually jumped in shock because I totally wasn't expecting that. They almost gave me a heart attack! It was like that on every floor. Whenever we got up to the next floor, we would walk to the next escalator but not look at anything on that floor, there would still be rows of store employees on that floor to bow and greet you. It was so awkward.

We then went into a neighboring mall that had a few Japanese stores. Guess what's in that mall... Gundam Base Taipei, oh yeah! I looked at the pre-assembled models in the gallery. I also got my picture taken next to "EXIA." I forgot to take my gundam model # list with me, so I actually forgot which ones I needed to buy for myself and my friends. In Taiwan, they look up the Gundams based on model number. Without the numbers I can't find them on my own. I ended up buying BB# 040 and a Sgt Frog character model. I will be going back to buy the ones on my list.

After all that shopping, we took a break in the apartment, then we headed out again.
So we made our 3 train journey to Ximending, which basically looks exactly like Shibuya in Japan!!! But the store layouts on the street look more like Harajuku. It still looks like a mini Shibuya. There are many vendors and shops that sell Japanese products here and there. We left early because we couldn't find what we were looking for (a way to refill our phone card).

After that, we went off to Shilin Night Market. It's pretty cool. Lots of vendors and street food carts, what's not to love? There were so many fried foods, fruits, weird seafood dishes, and strange snacks. FRENCH FRY COATED CORNDOGS?! We just bought some fried crabs, fruit, sausage, yakitori, gigantic fried chicken the size of my laptop keyboard and oyster pancakes... YUM! There were so many carnival games and there was shrimp fishing, the shrimp are too cute, but they cook em for you when you catch one.

I had one adventurous day, we hit so many places in one day. It was fun... except for the random rain which we forgot to pack an umbrella for. We got soaked on our first day running to a 7eleven to buy an umbrella which by the time we got one... it stopped raining.

I have a whole month here, what's in store tomorrow?

I Made It!

Jun. 1st, 2011 09:19 am
epik_noodles: (Default)
Status update on my trip...
I rode on three planes!!!! I thought I was going to die!!!!!!!

I was in Japan 5 hours ago!
Now I've arrived safely in Taiwan! It's like 10:20 pm right now. I'm settled in my new apartment. I'm off to explore the wonders of the night market.

I'll update soon!
epik_noodles: (Nerd)
I forgot to start the countdown way earlier, so I'm starting it now...
ACen is sooooo close! Right after ACen is my vacation to Taiwan. The end of the semester is approaching too!

ARGHHHH!!!! I need to prepare comics in advance for the days I won't be in Chicago.
I'm gone for ACen (my awesome anime convention) for the entire weekend. Then I'll immediately be in Taiwan for A WHOLE MONTH! Yikes! That's 4 comics I need to draw in advance.

My spring break starts next Monday, so that means I'll have plenty of time to work on my cosplay outfit and I can get some comics done.

I have a lot of stuff to think about until then.
epik_noodles: (Default)
I got another phone call this morning from the vacation group.
I totally called it!!!

All their visa requests were denied!
My roommate whom is dumber than a pile of bricks, cannot begin to understand the reasons why all the people who flew in from Thailand including herself were denied access into Canada.

Miki and I explained in the easiest to understand terms.
My mom and dad can get into Canada no problem, but it's the 4 people from Thailand who have problems.

These are the reasons why they were denied visas:
  1. Roommate goes to language school in Chicago (not considered credible institution) (no incentive to return)
  2. Roommate's mother is retired and has almost no financial background (high risk of illegal residence)
  3. Aunt Nang, runs a legit business but it does not appear in career registry (no career background, flight risk)
  4. Cousin Nutt, travels with her mother (auntie Nang), she's in the same boat as her mother.
No matter how many times we explain to my stupid roommate, still doesn't get it. Too focused that she got denied. As for auntie Nang, she runs a shrimp farm with her husband back in Thailand and they're raking in a lot of dough, but in Thailand, the business registration is run differently, especially for independent businesses. As a matter of fact, we kind of don't have an FDA...

Anyways, Miki and I are high fiving each other out of happiness because we didn't go with them. Now they can't go to Canada, so instead they're going to Buffalo to see the falls from the US side. They'll arrive in Chicago tomorrow.

So glad we didn't go with them.
Oh man, I totally called it!

Not Going!

Jan. 3rd, 2011 11:52 am
epik_noodles: (Default)
Everyone left this morning for Canada.
It's just me and Miki here, all alone.... we stayed behind.
I'm not going to Canada, yay! Miki and I were originally planning to just hang out in Toronto by ourselves while they do the boring tourist stuff (which is illogical for us because we've been to Canada 10 times already). However, our mother disapproves the idea of us being away from parental supervision. Come on! We're adults!!! We went to Japan on our own for 2 weeks, would it kill you to leave us in Toronto for 3 days?! I would've gone to Canada if they had let us stay in Toronto by ourselves.

Anyways, they called us up in the morning to tell us that they arrived in Detroit, MI and the "Canadian Consulate" is closed from a New Year break. I screamed into the phone, "serves you right for wanting to leave to Canada so early!" They then asked for directions to go to Buffalo, NY, since I'm the best navigator and I know how to get everywhere (the first reason they wanted me to go). The next plan was to try the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo. After I gave them routes and estimated mileage, they changed their mind and said it was too far because they obviously can't cut through Canada. They would need to go south and wind around Cleveland.

Instead, those idiots told us to find them a hotel on the internet. Detroit is among one of the dangerous cities in the US, we kept asking "are you sure?!" repeatedly. So we just booked them a night in a casino hotel. It's going to be hell for my cousin Nutt, because she's not 21 and she will be bored out of her mind in the hotel room while all the grownups go play in the casino.

Well at least she has the hotel room. I remember when I was a kid, we checked out of our hotel in Joliet, IL, but my family still wanted to play in the casino. Since I couldn't call them (had no phone at the time), and I couldn't go get them (I was only 13), I waited 18 hours outside and even slept on the street. The guards were trying to chase me away and telling me that I couldn't sleep there, all I could tell them is that I was waiting for my parents who were still in the casino. Every time a guard pulled my dad out to come get me, he would tell me, "just a few more hours sweetie, daddy's trying to get mommy away from the blackjack table."  and he would walk back into the casino and leave me outside. Miki wasn't there with me, she was staying at our aunt's house at that time. It sucked! That's 18 hours I'll never get back.

I hope their Canada trip fails!

epik_noodles: (Default)
As everyone saw, I put up the new comic yesterday.
Actually, I just got back from Wisconsin. We went to Wisconsin Dells for a ski trip. Seriously, who goes to the "waterpark capital of the world" in the middle of winter on Christmas day?! Everything except hotels were closed, we starved because all the food places were closed.

I was very worried and didn't want to ski because I had broken my collarbone years ago from skiing and I couldn't use my left arm for 3 months. I ended up skiing, I'm still very good at it even though I had an 8 year break from it. I even taught Miki how to use the ski lift (she's been on the bunny hill since we were kids). The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Rome, which weirdly enough is located in the "Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park?" When did Rome end up in Greece?! We stayed inside the Roman Colosseum... which was right next to the giant Trojan Horse. The inaccuracy they're feeding to the tourists!

Wanna see the gingerbread house I built for my Christmas Party?

I was so yummy and candy-loaded. It was destroyed so fast.

Anyways, my family is planning yet ANOTHER trip, this time to "Canadia" (yes, misspelling out of hatred).

Ugh, I really don't want to go! We're visiting my cousin that lives up in Toronto. My only motivation for going to Toronto is the Chinatown(s) and the exotic Thai fruits that are illegal in the US but can be sold in Canada. I am going to stuff my face with mangosteen, dragonfruit, custard apples, and durian. I don't care for Niagara Falls, I'm sleeping in on the day they go to the falls.

I'm going to see if I can get out of going to Canada.

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