1/23/16

Taipei


Ok I admit it... this post comes a little late. Very late. In July 2015 we stayed for 3 days in Taipei. 
I wanted to write about it months ago but never did. In August we went to Bali for 2 weeks and in November to Vietnam - Cambodia - Laos. In between we were in Germany for quite a while. Sooo.. I have a lot to write about. Then I started to plan our destination wedding in Thailand and everything got out of control (yes, we are getting married soon "again" ) I know it's not an excuse for NOT blogging but I totally lost it and procrastinated as usual...

So back to Taipei! What can you do there and must see? 

Taipei is famous for night markets. They offer a variety of fresh Taiwanese snacks, clothing, or fun accessories. You won't be disappointed, it's really fun and this experience shouldn't be missed. For the history lovers -  there are many temples and museums in Taipei. ( I don't really like going to museums, except art museums... and now, after our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam I will NEVER EVER set a step into a temple again! It was too much!!! ) The 101 Tower  is also a very famous sight. If you have children, the Taipei Zoo probably is a must see. I've heard they have Pandas there. ( I didn't go, not a big fan of zoos) What else can I recommend? We also went up with the Maokong Gondola, passing the Taipei Zoo station. I didn't like it tho. The Gondola ride was too long for my taste and when we finally reached the top, there was nothing special and the view wasn't good that day as it was smoggy. If you have enough time take trip to outside of Taipei. You should go to Jiufen. We went there, it was about 45 minutes out of town and was so worth it! This was my favorite part of or whole stay!  More about that later.

We stayed at the Madison Hotel. A very new and modern, rather small hotel. The room was nice and clean. Hotel has a good location - it is located between two metro stations and just a short walk from the main shopping street with many restaurants in the area.



NIGHT MARKETS

I recommend the night markets Shi Lin 士林夜市 and Raohe 饒河夜市. 
Shi Lin is quite modern, there are many Nike and Adidas stores. In general you can buy a lot of clothes and gimmicks there.  Raohe is more traditional, there are tons of street food! I usually never eat street food. I do not like how it looks and it makes me feel sick when I see all the stuff floating in grease...Not to mention the strange smells!!!! Anyway,  I am proud of myself -  I've tried a few things in Taipei! The famous Taiwanese sausage, pineapple cake and crunchy peanut ice cream wrap. All of these were very good. The ice-cream wrap was my favorite.  A Must try! 



JIUFEN

My highlight of our trip was definitely the day we spent at the small town up on the hills called "Jiufen". When I read on the internet that the movie "Spirited away"by Miyazaki was inspired by this town, it was out of question that I had to go!!! It's is one of my favorite movies! I was excited like a five year old to see the real "Spirited away". FYI - We booked the trip at our hotel. Can't remember how much it was, but it wasn't expensive. We went there with a minivan and had a nice tour guide. On the way we stopped at the ocean to take some pictures. All together we were 6 people and the trip was half-day tour.

 


What do you need to know about this town? Jiufen is a very busy and crowded place, do not expect  your visit to be like a nice relaxing afternoon walk! Many many tourists travel there especially on the weekends. We went there on a Saturday and it was boiling hot! I was sweating like crazy and pushing around with other sweating people is not very cool ... but the hassle was totally worth it. This small town is sooo charming and an extraordinary place! I really could imagine Chihiro running trough the small alleys -  looking for her parents, who already turned into big fat pigs because they tasted the wicked food at the stalls! HA- in case you do not know what I am talking about... Go watch the movie or click on this link  Spirited away  to read about it.


Even if you are not a fan of the movie, it's a lovely place (despite the amount of tourists) During your walk up - you should try some of the snacks at the food stalls, like the sausages or famous pineapple cake...When you finally reach the top (end of the town) you will have a great view. Afterwards you should relax, with a nice cup of tea (or coffee :)) at one of the famous teahouses. 



1/13/16

What I really like about living in China


We recently hit the "2 years living in Shanghai" mark!
By the way....happy new year to all of you!

Usually people always set goals for the new year... I don't. Nonetheless, I am thinking about the future and what the new year will bring. As our final year in Shanghai has approached, we are asking ourselves if we should should stay longer or go back to Germany for good? As you might now, I am in a love-hate relationship with this city. I often complain about things which I hate and annoy me but I also like it here and when I think about leaving I feel kinda sad! Omg...did I really just wrote that?!

So I thought - I should write down all the good things which I really like about living here and try rather to focus on the positive stuff than on the negative... So today only positive vibes!


1. Taobao - YES I LOVE IT. I do not know how I can live without it when we are back in Germany!
2. Grocery delivery - for example Epermarket... So convenient!
2. Fancy restaurants - there are so many different choices for eating out in Shanghai! Cheap local to top notch fine dining cuisine. 
3. International Community - It's so nice  to get to know people from all around the world. Even tough I am a loner by choice and don't have much friends here, it is really refreshing to NOT hang around all the time with Germans ;) 
4. Ayi (housekeeper) - I don't think I need to explain this any further...
5. Housing allowance - that means the apartment rent is being paid by the employer...
Did I ever mention that I love our Apartment? Can we please have the same in Germany too? That would be a dream! 
6. Tailor market - once in a while it is really cool to have a dress or a coat tailor made for a decent price.
7. Exploring Asia and travel around - whenever time allows 



9/2/15

Dirndl made in Shanghai




Hi again!
I am in Bali at the moment - relaxing at the pool and drinking a cocktail ;-)
I decided to write a quick post as I haven't blogged for a long time!

This post is more for my German readers ...
The countdown is on - in about two weeks the famous Oktoberfest aka "Wiesn" begins in Munich. Before we moved to Shanghai I lived in Munich for 3 years! I love this city and I'm also a big fan of the Oktoberfest and was quite often there. The Most important thing about the Oktoberfest is the right outfit - the dirndl! I just love Dirndl! I find them beautiful and feminine. I think it suits every woman! There are many different dirndl - modern, traditional, various lengths and colors!

There is one Stall at the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market where dirndl can be made. ( I am not sure if this is the only stall who can make it, if you know others please let me know!) It is on the second floor and you will recognize the stall because there is a dirndl outside on a display dummy.

The standard price for a regular dirndl with blouse is about 700RMB.
Last year I had one dirndl made there, but I was in a rush and didn't really have time for alterations.
The Dirndl was too big in the end and the apron didn't really match,  but I needed it for the next day - the Oktoberfest at Paulaner in Shanghai! (boring and not worth to go in my opinion, can't really compare it with the real Wiesn)

When you decide to have a dirndl made at the tailor, expect to go to there at least twice because I'm pretty sure it won't fit at first time. They always make it too big... well better than too small I guess.
Anyway I think they make a pretty good job, even if I have to tell them everything at least three times because they always forget stuff and are sloppy. But 700RMB compared to normal Dirndl prices are a very a good deal, as for that money you mostly just get rubbish cheap dirndl in Germany. A really nice high quality designer Dirndl can cost up to 700Euro. Normal Dirndl between 150-250Euro.

Next week I will pick up my new Dirndl at the fabric market. It is powder pink and raspberry color.
I will make a new post about it and show you how it turned out :-)


Some Dirndl inspirations which I really like :)







7/21/15

Xinwei Cook



Xinwei Cook...

Ever heard of it? It is an online delivery service which makes cooking easier for everybody!
Unlike sherpa you get not delivered a ready to eat meal but one that still needs to be cooked.
Does this sound odd to you?
Well, I must admit at first I was a bit skeptical about Xinwei Cook, too!
Is this really something useful or totally unnecessary and complicated?

I had the chance to try two of their meals.
Now I must say after trying - I definitely like their concept! Everybody can create a gourmet meal at home even without outstanding cooking skills :)

On their website http://xinweicook.com you can order online and choose between various meals.
For example Western or Asian cuisine, fast food, salads, pasta, meat, fish, vegetarian…(not sure if there is something vegan though) Xinwei Cook really offers a wide range and some extraordinary combinations - Sauteed Prawn with Pitaya and Macadamia or Tiger Prawn on Squid Ink Pasta! Curious now? :)  Each set includes all the ingredients which you need to create a perfect meal. The good thing - you don't need professional cooking skills!  Everything has already been measured, portioned and vacuum packed. All you might need to do is chop a few vegetables and follow the instructions step by step… Voilà - your gourmet meal is ready!

Now you probably wonder why not just go to the supermarket buy a few things and toss it in the pan? Or just simply order from Sherpa and save all the cooking? That was exactly what I was thinking!
Well, let me explain...

I bet everyone had before the following situation:  

You get home after work and you are very hungry! But your fridge is empty. Just an onion and a carrot are left. You are definitely not in the mood to go to the grocery store right now! Ok whatever, then you just are going to order something from Sherpa… but wait - now you have so many choices online that you  can't decide what you really want to eat!? You end up staring 30 minutes on your laptop thinking if you really should get Pizza again or the salad from Element Fresh which you always eat - while arguing with your partner what you are going to order now!? Finally both of you agreed for something, but it will take another 45 minutes until it will be delivered! By then… you probably starved ;-)

that's exactly the point at which you could use Xinwei Cook!

My recommendation: 
Simply order one day in advance (or same day, they deliver within inner ring of Shanghai in 45 minutes) , put the meal in the fridge and then for example cook on the next day in the evening. Saves you a lot of  time and hassle - no need to rush to the grocery store after work or spend a lot of money on Sherpa. Another positive aspect is that you know exactly what your dish contains. You see all the ingredients before you cook it - All of it is fresh! You can also decide how much oil you want to use. The prices for the meals are reasonable, it doesn't cost a fortune to have a nice Xinwei Cook gourmet meal.

Give it a try guys!

I tried the Stir - fried Marbled Beef with Poplar Mushroom and Cumin Sauce! Sounds fancy, right? It was really delicious, my husband loved it! It just took me about 15 minutes to cook it. The portion is quite big, definitely enough for one person. If you eat it with a side, for example rice it will be enough for two people. 










tadaaa….ready to eat :)









7/11/15

Beijing - Great Wall

While I'm writing this post about our last trip to Beijing, I'm already packing my bags for a long weekend in Taipei :-)

Actually I was never really keen on traveling to Beijing. Many of my friends told me that the city is ugly, grey, polluted and people are unfriendly there! But anyway I wanted to go to see the great wall! A few weeks ago we finally went there for a weekend. The Great Wall was really stunning! In my opinion this is a must see when living in China. I was also positively surprised about the city itself! Unfortunately we didn't see the summer palace and the forbidden city, because we had to change our plans and need to go back to Shanghai earlier. Nonetheless, we had an awesome trip!(except of the delay of our flight) Walking on the Great wall was definitely something memorable!  I would recommend to everyone to go to Beijing, it's really worth to visit. We were super lucky during that trip as we had the best sunny weather we could have wished for, blue sky and no air pollution. We hired a driver for the whole day (600kuai) and he drove us to the wall at "Mutianyu", which is about 1,5 hours drive away from the city. We went up to tower 14 with the cable car. Instead of walking the route down to the next towers, we climbed up to tower 20. ( awesome view! not so many people there)

We stayed at the Park Hyatt  hotel, very nice modern rooms and good central location. The silk market is just about 10 min walking distance from the hotel. You can buy clothes, fake stuff and all kind of souvenirs there.

I highly recommend the  "Temple Restaurant Beijing" for dinner. A really nice fine-dining restaurant at a unique location. The service at this restaurant was definitely the best I have ever experienced in China so far! Of course the food was great too! The Oysters as starter were my favorite and the fresh bread with butter…mhh delish! It is pricy, but worth the money. We ordered three courses - but had a total of at least seven courses. ( you get served some complimentary dishes between) We even got wine for free!

view from our hotel room












Dinner at Temple restaurant