these here are the tales of...

Belarus (2) Canada (7) China (2) creative (4) Czech (5) dance (4) design (1) Egypt (3) Estonia (3) family (10) festivals (2) health (6) Indonesia (1) inspiration (14) Japan (2) Korea (1) language (11) Lithuania (1) London (2) nature (24) philosophy (6) photos (8) politics (5) roadtrip (4) studies (8) sustainability (8) Taiwan (38) teaching (5) Thailand (9) Turkey (2) video (3) wisdom (3) workie (2) yummm (6)

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

Monday, December 7, 2009

Inspiration for the house-bound: Bach Family on the Kai Ohana

Well, this is something a little different!

A US family has spent 2 years aboard an old-style wooden sailboat, reviving the maritime tradition, learning about the world in the most experiential approach and contributing to the communities they come across through humanitarian projects, music and art and documenting it all on this fabulous blog.

Here's an excerpt from the mission statement:

We, as a united family of global citizens, have embarked upon Kai Ohana to travel the world and contribute to the global community as artists, thinkers and activists, consciously striving to make a difference in serving the common good of humanity.

Our hope is to one day share the planet with all its citizens who live in a free, civil and environmentally sustainable society where justice, tolerance, racial and sexual equality, abundance, literacy and peace are commonplace.

They seem like quite the talented group, originally spending 2 years to restore the boat, shooting film and video of their experience, making music and art along the way, not to mention envisioning and keeping up this whole endeavor.

They are back in the USA after 2 years but I'm not sure if that means they will stay or just keep on cruising... Very cool!

I already have a latent love of the ocean and boats, this has just served to inspire that sense of adventure and being creative in everything we do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I really enjoy studying languages, so even though it's a tough one, it's definitely fun slowly cracking the code of Chinese speak. Recently I've also been meeting some Russian folk and had a nice chat over lunch with two girlies yesterday, quite proud of myself for communicating well enough to joke around. When I got home, I slipped back into English with my roommate and house guest, before writing an email (mostly) in Chinese to meet my Taiwanese buddy for a Language Exchange next week.  I can't call it a seamless transition yet, but I'm definitely on my way to being a trilingual!

Мне очень нравится учить иностранные языки, по этому хотя он и трудный, очень интересно постепенно расскрывать "код" китайского языка.  В последнее время, я также знакомлюсь с русскими и вчера приятно поболтала за обедом с двумя девушками, гордясь что я даже могла шутить. Прибыв домой, вернулась к английскому с моими друзьями по квартире, перед тем как написала письмо (в основном) на китайском тайванской подруге, с которой встречаюсь на "язычный обмен".  Ещё конечно не как настоящий переводчик, но по–тихоньку приближаюсь к цели.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

YES! Fabulous News about Algonquin

from a November 3, 2009 News Release

Today the province of Ontario announced an increase of protected area inside Algonquin Provincial Park from 22% to 35%!  The total area off limits to logging is now 371,238 hectares - equal to six times the size of Toronto.

Of the 631 protected areas in Ontario, Algonquin is the only one open to industrial logging operations.  Conservation groups like CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) hope to phase out the logging entirely with future legislation.

Algonquin is is the very first provincial park in Canada, established in 1893. Glaciers retreating from the last ice age left a legacy of over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers within its current borders.

It straddles northern coniferous and southern deciduous forests, sheltering a huge variety of plants and animals in its green beautiful arms. Some of the more fun names of species in fish: Shortjaw Cisco, Slimy Sculpin, Ninespine Stickleback, Burbot... birds: Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Indigo Bunting, Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift, Eastern Wood Pewee, Veery, Hooden Merganser... reptiles and amphibians: Painted Turtle, Mudpuppy, Milk Snake, Spring Peeper... and among the majestic American Black Bear, Eastern Wolf and simply-named Moose, other mammals include Southern Bog Lemming, Gapper's Red-backed Vole, Star-Nosed Mole and Little Brown Bat. I bet you also didn't know that weighing in for trees, maples came in Striped, Silver, Red, Sugar AND Mountain varieties.

Among recognition for pioneering park management and visitor programs, Algonquin has inspired many artists, through their work reaching imaginations throughout Canada and the world. It is also an important centre for wildlife research.

Wikipedia has a selection of maps showing Algonquin through the years, from its inception to recent cartographic details.

"CPAWS is Canada's voice for wilderness. We're working to keep at least half of Canada’s public land and water wild — forever."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

To Chew or Not to Chew...

I'm finishing up a much welcomed week off between semesters in Chinese school. It's translated into several mornings of sleeping in and a glorious afternoon of sitting in a park, nosing around a delightful museum and meeting strangers.

I also took this opportunity of unassigned time to do a cleanse. Salt water to flush out the digestive tract on the first morning, 2 days of the Lemonade Diet, 2 days of orange juice. Today is Day 5 and I've re-entered the world of solids. Well, I'm at least halfway there, assuaging my hunger with congee which is really really mushy soupy rice. I think in several ways I preferred the drinks. Anyway, tomorrow vegetables are back on the menu and then I'm home free, just in time for an all-day class field trip to a pottery town which will likely involve a feast for lunch.

Prior to the cleanse, the weather got cold enough for some baking! With cornmeal imported by a friend who'd returned from California: sauteed-veggie cornbread. Egged on by a homesick American classmate: pumpkin pie, my first pie actually and entirely from scratch! It's pretty straightforward, just took me a few hours... I kept the pumpkin theme going with a seedy pumpkin loaf. All were well received. : )

Tomorrow Halloween celebrations are starting! I'm planning to give my students the creeps with an all-white outfit, one hot pink boa thrown in for just a touch of comic relief. Pictures to come.

Wishing you all fabulous fun as the veils thin between the worlds of spirit and matter! Mwahahaha!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hug a friend today

Just because...

Actually this is posted by Anastasia... just before Rich gets any flack for being a gooshy-cuddly-shnookums

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Typhoons sweeping South-East Asia... 

On the heels of Typhoon Morakot, which did so much damage in Taiwan, China and Japan... last week's Typhoon Ketsana brought the worst flooding in living memory to Philippines, where hundreds of casualties are reported, roads unusable, landslides and water covering whole settlements, and to top it off a huge oil spill from a paper-making factory is hampering rescue efforts in Manila.

Natural disasters are increasing the world over.

Remember the tsunami in 2005?  So many people did what they could by donating time or resources.  If you want to help in today's world, which problem are you going to tackle first?

We are running out of resources...

While the super-powers secretly haggle people's lives for oil = economic control = world domination, our home the Earth is losing animal species, huge tracts of forest, clean water and is getting a whole lot of pollution in return.

People are stressed, depressed and some turning psychotic

Witness last decade's rise of suicide rate, suicide bombers, high school shootings.  Physical health isn't much better, with new diseases, epidemics, deaths caused by prescribed drugs, diabetes and cancers running rampant, allergies sky-rocketing from toxins in the environment.

Economic Emergency

Most governments are panicking about all the financial equations no longer adding up... People are losing jobs, can't pay for their homes, banks are filing for bankruptcies...

WOW.  I think we are in trouble.

Of course this isn't news!  I've been hearing about conserving water, shady conspiracies and the pressing need to relax and eat more naturally for years.  We all have.

But are we paying attention?  Are we changing our habits?  Some of us can't bother to recycle, but I have to tell you - recycling is no longer enough!


First, seek out some information on what's happening and more importantly, why.  These are sources I've found extremely eye-opening and motivating:

THE STORY OF STUFF - a 20-minute entertaining, scary and very important film about how we got into this mess and how bad it really is.  PLEASE take the time to watch it.  You can even find it in other languages such as Russian and Arabic.  If it's playing in a patchy way from the website, you can try downloading it or watch it on Google Videos.  Please pass it on!

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH - a movie project by Al Gore highlighting climate change.

DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION - I so incredibly admire this Canadian forefront environmentalists, whose views and work aren't popular with major corporations because he doesn't sugarcoat the truth about what those corporations are destroying.

Second, don't get disheartened or feel like there is nothing you can do.  In fact, there are many vital things that you can and MUST do because this global crisis will not just be the problem of future generations - you have a choice now about the coming years of your lifetime. The most important and also fairly easy habits to observe:

1. CONSERVE RESOURCES. Water. Electricity. Food. Gas.
2. MAKE LESS TRASH. Buy less stuff. Reuse bags, containers, clothes.
3. THINK SUSTAINABLE. Recycle. Make less pollution. Tell others.

Third, invoke some higher powers 'coz heck, we certainly can't do this alone!  This can mean very different things to different people.  It may be:

* Reciting Mantras. Praying to whomever you feel connected to - a God or Goddess, the God of your religion, nature, angels, your ancestors... they can all help. If you'd like to learn a Tibetan Buddhist mantra for the Bodhisattva of Compassion, I'd be very happy to share it with you directly. 

* Think positively, find joy, be responsible for your own emotions as a direct contribution to the world all around you!

Do something today.  

Do it everyday.  

Change the world.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Typhoons: Reality Check

While the typhoon last week battered Taipei a bit, I admit I had no idea about the magnitude of disaster typhoons are capable of until recent news about the south of the country! Here are a few online-news quotes:

"... the conditions delayed rescuers from reaching a mountain village where as many as 600 people may have been buried when a hillside crashed on to their homes."

"A part of the mountain above us just fell on the village."

A man stands on a roof as he awaits rescue from heavy flooding in Taiwan

"Television footage shot from helicopters that tried to reach Hsiao Lin village yesterday showed only a few rooftops peeking through rivers of dark grey mud. Almost the entire village had disappeared but about 45 people were brought out alive. The main bridge to the village was also swept away by Typhoon Morakot."

The island has experienced its worst flooding in half a century

"Morakot (meaning emerald in Thai) has dumped a record 2.5m (100in) of rain on the island. The village was still cut off from the outside world Monday evening, after flood waters destroyed a bridge about eight miles (12 kilometers) away. Military helicopters have dropped provisions in the area and rescued survivors."

Local residents received bottled water as they catch fish brought in by floodwaters caused by Typhoon Morakot in Chiatung, Pingtung county, in southern Taiwan

The fury came from the Philippines and moved on to China, also causing deaths and damage in both nations. It has been downgraded to a tropical storm in the last few days. Meanwhile, in Japan typhoon Etau has claimed lives and people were ordered to leave their homes.

A bridge collapses on the Maruyama River, in Asago city, Japan

"Japan was also hit by a 6.6-magnitude earthquake yesterday, with its epicentre in the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles southwest of Tokyo. Although tremors were felt in the capital, there were no reports of casualties. A 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck 160 miles north of India’s Andaman Islands last night but feared tsunamis did not materialise."

Info and Image Sources: UK's Times Online and NY's Daily News
For more unbelievable photos: Typhoon Morakot and Typhoon Rescues on

Here is one final image from October 7, 2007 in east China’s Jiangsu province.After killing five in Taiwan, Typhoon Krosa crashed into the Chinese coast on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of 1.4 million people.

Wild, wild nature. I recently researched an article on how typhoons are now believed to prevent serious earthquakes in places like eastern Taiwan. Five years of scientific study in the area has shown they set off slow hours-long imperceptible earthquakes that release built-up pressure between tectonic plates. Maybe it's possible they are saving more lives in the long run by taking some now.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Drums and Downpours

August is here and the first big typhoon hit the north of the island, drenching Taipei residents and letting everyone stay home from work and school on Friday. Alas, we were already on break or not scheduled in, so it was just a soaking blustery day with stuff flying around outside. Actually, it was really on and off, so plenty of times when I went outside it was just dripping and blessedly cool. But when the rain and wind picked up.... oh me oh my! It was like being inside a car wash determined to scrub the smallest dirt spots... minus the brushes, I guess!

Even though this was predicted to be a relatively small one as far as typhoons go, I'd never seen the grocery store so packed with frantic shoppers just prior. There were NO VEGETABLES left whatsoever, except for squash which were hidden behind a column. I guess people panicked a bit. It's now early Saturday afternoon and the outside world looks freshly rinsed and feels cool.

August 8th or 8/8 (eight/eight, which is "ba ba" in Chinese and sounds almost the same as "daddy") is Father's Day in Taiwan. At the Buddhist centre we're part of a big shindig is going on today with a feast and 3 hours of performances from the Taiwanese and foreign students. I'm part of an improvised Stomp-inspired 10-minute scene where we use shoes, buckets, water bottles and the floor etc to create a beat with some courageous acrobatics to round off the entertainment factor.

For the next big event in October (appropriately titled Oktoberfest) we're already planning a Bollywood number. Watch for us on tour near you! hahahaha...

Happy August, everyone! Go put some shrimp on the barbie!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Captain's Log: The Heat and the Madness

Uh... wow, it's July!!! Heh... well, let me catch you all up a little...

True to this entry's title, there is a lot of heat and a fair amount of craziness.
I feel like we are melting from the inside out. How else could a person possibly sweat so much? I'm certain my brain is leaking out of my pores as it's definitely not functioning as well as it should if the whole thing was still up there. I remember going on about how I disliked air conditioners and avoided them at all costs... Those days are certainly long gone. I can't imagine living through a summer here without "climate control." I mean, I'm sure I could... But I'd rather not think about that possibility.

The official temperature reading usually hovers around 30C... but add in 75% humidity (akin to walking through a steamy shower) and it's whole different ball game...

Luckily, we recently acquired a second-hand tent from a young Scot returning back to the highlands. We've yet to set it up outside of our living room, but I keep talking about it!.. haha... We're also getting a scooter from a friend who's heading back to the States for a month, so there will be a lot more scoot(er)ing on out of the city.

In other news... just over 2 weeks of the second semester left in Chinese school. We're flying through chapters fast enough to get whiplash, so everyone is really looking forward to the 10-day break at the beginning of August. Maybe Rich and I can make it down south to the infamously amazing beaches of Kenting for a long weekend, as I'm still working Monday-Thursday. But instead of English grammar, I'm teaching 9 hours a week of cooking, art and story-reading classes. It's been great fun. Here are some flowerpots and cards the kids decorated.

In Buddhist news, I've been nominated to be the Smile Ambassador of the foreign group of students at our centre! The idea is to spread infectious smiles until everyone is naturally happy and relaxed. I think it's a fabulous way to remind me to set my own mood and start all interactions on a good note. Plus it'll cut back on the sulking.

We're moving at the end of the month! Our new apartment is just a 3 minute walk away, so the move will be breezy and we're still in the convenient locale we've come to love. We're also getting roomies - Bob and Nicole, who pretty much introduced us to all things Taiwan and it was Bob who had recommended we come see what the country is all about. And our new place has 2 rooftop terraces that no one currently uses! These are my before and (proposed) after pictures.

Last but not least, to my Dad's delight I am sure, we visited the popular Modern Toilet restaurant for a friend's birthday. Don't go there for the food, but the decor is pretty fun. Here is a sample of how dishes are served.

On that classy note, I hope you are having a wonderful summer! Be sure to spend time with the ocean and the trees! : )

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wordsmith Ana: Aboriginal Food

I've mentioned I've been doing some freelance writing of short amusing articles for high school students studying English. Here's a recent one that will introduce you to some very unusual dishes enjoyed by Aboriginal tribes around Taiwan. You can find some pictures and more information by clicking on those links.

** WARNING ** This is NOT for the faint-of-heart-or-stomach, but it is very interesting!!!

~ ~ ~

Newcomers to Taiwan have plenty of strange food to sample: stinky tofu, chicken feet, squid on a stick… But leave Taipei, and the world of food will leave an even more bizarre flavor in your mouth.

In small self-sufficient Aboriginal settlements the surrounding environment largely dictated the menu. Thus local species of birds, wild plants and even monkeys became regional delicacies. 

Since aboriginal cuisine evolved without fridges or gas stoves, the cooks had to be creative with their pantries. Traditionally, meat is patiently roasted on a bamboo spit. Game is preserved in salt or millet wine, or smoked. Snared mountain rats have their hair burnt off (with the modern addition of a blowtorch) before being grilled or fried in a wok. These are reportedly huge crowd-pleasers at potlucks.

In Bunan tribes, hunting and cooking comprise important social gatherings. To prove they have grown up into men, young warriors bring down a wild boar with a hunting knife as their only weapon. To cook the beast the whole village turns out and helps with the carving. Nothing is wasted: the innards end up in a delicious soup and boar skin can be served as an iced treat.

Around Taiwan, a number of restaurants with aboriginal menus are doing brisk business. Adventurous diners can order betel nut flower salad, fried hornet larvae and wild dove and deer meat. And don’t worry about promoting hunting – deer and rats are often sourced from specialized farmers.

Some of the dishes have been adapted for a wider appeal. For example, a Paiwan dish made from fermented millet and pork receives a lighter fermentation that’s further masked with a spicy dipping sauce. Yet some true delicacies are still off the menu.  If you want to try raw pickled flying squirrel intestines, you’ll just have to travel to the heart of an aboriginal village and follow your nose!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The One-Year Milestone

Lately time's been moving with the speed of a thief who's been surprised ransacking your family's jewels and is diving for the nearest windows before you can say: "That's my aunt Hettie's pearls, you son of a ...!"

Amazingly, a year has passed since we left Canada for adventures beyond the horizon! We managed to touch down on three continents before settling on this small island nation. It was all a bit spontaneous but now we've found ourselves building a life here as the intended half-year stopover is turning into... well, we're not sure really. Indefinite time-frames and various possibilities are about all that seems guaranteed.

But I must say I'm enjoying the ride. In fact, this is one of my happiest times and scenarios (and there have been many!) Taipei is bustling and spilling over with fun in many-varied incarnations - there is modern theatre, music and film festivals, traditional street markets, temples and meditation, shopping, tea culture, plants plants plants everywhere, abundant yummy flavors, afternoon drum circles, and a vast amount of exploring to do beyond the capital's borders, filled with promises of mountains and hot springs.

I'm happy to be learning - Chinese Mandarin, Buddhist practices and on-the-job training for how to teach children, where everyday it's uncertain who's teaching who. ; ) I certainly have frequent moments when it feels über-frustrating to be a struggling combination of entertainer/baby-sitter/group leader/instructor in front of a mixed-temperament gaggle of pre-teens, but it's true that anything truly fulfilling is challenging in equal proportion and when something really works, it comes with the heady joy of a small miracle. I humbly and gratefully bow low before the thousands of kind strangers who've posted lesson plans, classroom games and grammar worksheets online, as well as all the teachers I've had in the past who must've felt the same mix of elation and disappointment in their knowledge-imparting efforts. In short, I may have found at least part of my calling on this earth and it's a sublime feeling after over a decade of feeling so very directionless. I'm especially loving bringing art into the classroom and during the summer break I'm booked for art and cooking with the little ones!

In the future our sights are still set on roaming around Asia and we've got a long list of countries we'd like to see... India, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Japan... But right now we are biding our time, fixing up our bodies at a Chinese medicine clinic, observing the mysteries of the mind through Buddhist teachings and hope to see a lot more of Taiwan in the coming months.

I want to thank everyone we've encountered on our year's journey who's welcomed us into our homes, suggested places to see and shared a great conversation. Thank you so much to our families and friends whose continuing curiousity about our comings and goings makes us feel tingly-warm and loved!

I hope to regale you with more adventures abroad and maybe you can even be part of them - please do come and visit!

Here we are on a trip with our Chinese language school - April 25, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Easter!

A little wish of chocolate delivered by friendly bunnies to your bellies,
wherever you are!

Things are hopping along here... With our new full-up schedules, weeks of work/school as well as weekends seem to fly by. Monday already? No worries, it'll be Friday again in a blink of an eye.

This last week we've tried to capitalize on time with a few friends who are departing for exciting travels abroad... lucky ducks! I feel I'll especially miss Anita's presence as she really became part of my Taiwan experience but now she's off to grand adventures in Borneo and beyond before returning to Toronto... I hope she posts exciting pics and stories on her blog.

In Chinese school we're wrapping up Chapter 4, which has largely consisted of measure words. Think "cluster of, bunch of, pair of, plate of" etc but with very specifically denoted matches to most nouns. So if you want to say "one shirt", it actually translates to "one-measure word for clothes-shirt" but if you're talking belts then you would say "one-measure word for long things-belt", "one-measure word for pairs-pair of socks" etc etc .... etc. It's not entirely arbitrary but it is a heck of a lot of memorizing. At least each one comes with a new pretty Chinese character to write. :)

We were asked to bring in a photo of our family to discuss younger/older siblings, parents' height, etc. As I'm entirely lacking hard copies of photographs, I decided to sketch a quick line-up of my wonderful familia. I hope you enjoy! ;-P

Friday, March 20, 2009

Show and Tell: Image Updates

I've been updating our online photo library.

Please enjoy these brand-new albums with full commentary giving the background story. Feel free to just look at the photos (for anyone who doesn't like reading subtitles! haha...)

Egypt aka Dana and Marwan get married!


Patterns and Textures

I've also added a few new images to these existing albums:

Czech Land


Still to come: Macau, Hong Kong and of course - Taiwan. Thank you for your patience!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Student Life...

We're 3 weeks into a 3-month semester of
Beginner Mandarin.

7am starts to our days have been a bit challenging... but the course is great. We have 2 teachers, one for the first 2 hours and a second for a 1-hour review and extra vocab session. They're both very nice Taiwanese ladies with a lot of patience. Our classmates are four smiley Indonesians and one each of American, Japanese, Vietnamese and British.

Here we are, bleary-eyed in front of our weirdo-looking branch campus of the Tamkang University.From the second week, we've started writing Chinese (traditional) characters. After a bit of research on the web, I found that the only other countries who still use traditional rather than simplified writing are Macau and Hong Kong... and they speak Cantonese, pronouncing that same writing in a very different way. So we're in a pocket of classical Chinese culture that's become obsolete on the mainland. I feel like we're part of a preservation of the beauty and style of old... Simplified characters are much more utilitarian and (subjectively?) less graceful plus I've been told it's reasonably easy to read simplified if you've learned traditional, but very difficult to go the other way. Here's a sample of my week 2 practice scribbling.As we're still teaching in the afternoons and evenings, our schedules have become pretty tight... I now have an excuse to be a regular coffee drinker (although still highly devoted to the local art of brewing and enjoying high quality oolong teas). All in all, slowly, some meaning in the mysterious language surrounding us is emerging for the senses. My eyes hunt for recognizable squiggles on shop signs and I dream of holding conversations in Mandarin about the latest nebula discovered in space. For now, I'm content to be more verbose in my food-ordering interactions.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hong Kong: City of the Future

Despite spending our four and a half days in Hong Kong with runny noses and frightening coughs, we managed to have a good time. This was our second opportunity to stay with locals, getting an insider look and saving on accommodation, via the CouchSurfing network. David kindly took us in, fed and hosted us and took us scrambling up mountainsides and down creek beds in the New Territories part of the city. We came across many traditional graves, including that of Madam Yang, mother of Dr. Sun Yat-sen who is known as the Father of Modern China and also highly revered in Taiwan. Here we were high above the sprawling city, lying in the haze below.

For our first three days in Hong Kong the city was celebrating the lunar Chinese New Year. This is a time traditionally spent with family and the city was pleasantly quiet, although we jostled elbows with many others for a glimpse of international performers during the Monday night parade.

On Tuesday we made a pilgrimage to the island of Lantau to see the huge seated Amitabha Buddha, one of the five biggest Buddha statues in China. His lotus throne is a three-tiered altar modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The outing quickly turned into an expedition, mainly because we forgot the first tenet of sight-seeing:

"Thou shalt not go to tourist sites during public holidays." It was a nearly 2-hour wait for the cable car to Lantau's peak where Buddha and Po Lin Monastery awaited shrouded in clouds. Our teeth practically chattering on arrival, we raced through the mist to the monastery's restaurant and thawed out over a vegetarian 5-course meal and jasmine tea before paying our respects to the ever-composed meditating deities.

Hong Kong means "fragrant harbor" in Cantonese and gets its name from incense stored for export near the docks. It has the largest number of skyscrapers worldwide (nearly 6.5 thousand) and feels a bit like landing in a space-age movie, minus hovering cars. I really liked the downtown core, where narrow cobblestone lanes and winding streets are lined with stylish restaurants and boutiques. Walking to the nearest district took us through a labyrinth of above-ground walkways, past ultra-modern office towers and small green spaces. At night, everything was lit up with season's greetings and advertising.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Asian Avocado Smoothie

When we first got to Taiwan, I was wondering how I'd be able to concoct really fabulous dishes with unfamiliar ingredients and lack of international foods which I've so come to take for granted, living in big Canadian cities full of immigrants and their specialty food shops. Here Mexican, Italian, Middle-Eastern and even Indian foods are hard-to-find expensive imports.

Fear not, it seems we have found our groove. Rich made a fantastic Thai-inspired curry coconut soup, even mixing up his own version of a fish sauce.

I blended up a yummy nourishing thick smoothie, almost like a creamy cold soup. But don't wait until the next time you have lychee yogurt on your hands... Just experiment! That's what blenders were made for! :D I was recently told about a banana-Bailey's-ice cream shake!... Yummm... :-P

Asian Avocado Smoothie
- this made almost a full blender -

* 2 bananas
* 1/2 huge avocado (here they are huge and watery in texture)
* ~ 2 cups non-GMO sweetened soy milk (variable amount)
* 3T lychee yogurt
* vanilla tea (for flavor and to dilute it to desired consistency)
* a few shakes of cinnamon