Taste of Taiwan (part iv)

Day 6: Flea markets // More shopping

So after multiple day trips to places outside of Taipei, we decided that it was time to do some shopping again and explore the city of Taipei a bit more.

First stop: Tools to live by (Da An district)   

So I heard about this vintage stationery shop in Taipei and straight away it was on the top of my MUST GO list. But as expected, the stationery was a bit pricey, so I ended up just buying some stickers (though I was tempted to buy more things, including a travel map of places around the world).

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Second stop: Shan Xi Dao Xian Mian 

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Up til that point, we still haven’t tried any beef noodle soup in Taiwan (like what..!), so I was quite excited to finally dig into some tasty beef noodles and DUMPRINGS.

Third stop: Gong Guan Flea Market

Again, on the top of my MUST GO list was definitely the flea markets in Taiwan. We managed to find some pretty good buys too! *THUMBS UP*

My friend came across a stall that sold A5 memo bottles, which was super cool but pricey.
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Fourth stop: Samovar Tea Cafe

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Besides being a cat enthusiast, my friend was also a huge lover of tea. And so thanks to her, we managed to spend a lovely afternoon in this cosy little cafe sipping on tea and enjoying cheesecake. And lucky for her, we spotted the owner’s cat chillin at the table next to us LOL, so it was win-win for my friend.

And I have to say, the atmosphere was perfect for some afternoon reading and even studying – there was even free wifi to use! I could spend hours in there sipping on tea while doing some casual reading.

Fifth stop: National Taiwan Normal University Art Market (Da An district)

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So this market had a very different feel from the other one – as the name suggests, this one was solely run by university students, and pretty much all items were handmade (quite impressive tbh). If I had more money, I would’ve wanted to buy pretty much EVERYTHING lol.

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The biggest stitch I’ve come across so far!

Sixth stop: STEAMED BUNS (aka. Man Tou)

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We stumbled across some irresistible-looking steamed buns while leaving the art market, so we had to get ourselves some. They were HUGE and came in so many different flavours. I tried taro and chocolate.

Last stop: Xi Men Ding – Red House market 

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Street dancers

To finish off the night, we did some shopping inside and outside the Red House (I had no idea that there were actually art stalls inside!), then around the Xi Men Ding malls. There were SO MANY AMAZING THINGS to see – I absolutely love looking at artsy, handmade, crafty things. And I managed to add to my collection a couple of vintage badges and creative postcards (as seen from the photos above).

Day 7 – Leaving Taipei

One week had gone by too quick! But I was really thankful for the many things that I got to see and try out during that short time in Taiwan 🙂

So on our last day in Taipei, we tried out a beef noodle place near our hostel for breakfast. It was quite a popular place for breakfast and apparently people have to line up to get in after a certain time. The food was quite good, though I was still reminiscing the beef noodles that I had in Baoshan, China 😛

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Bye for now, Taiwan! I will surely be back for more fun adventures 🙂

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Taste of Taiwan (part III)

Day 5 – DANSHUI

1434350204974On day 5, we decided to visit the beautiful Danshui. But before that, we also made a quick trip to the National Palace Museum in Shilin.

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Danshui

First stop: Cat Cafe!

I’ve never been to an animal cafe before, so this was quite an interesting experience – the cats were really cute I must say.
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After our little visit to the cat cafe, we walked along the streets of Danshui and headed towards the fishermen’s wharf. Almost immediately, we came across more FOOD – too irresistible:

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Spring onion pancakes! – so much happiness in that bag

During our little stroll, I was able to admire the beautiful architecture and scenery..that place was stunning. I also especially loved the little antique-y gift shops which sold all things fancy and quirky.

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Next stopFort San Domingo

Being the adventurous people that we were, we paid a visit as well to Hong Mao Cheng, aka Fort San Domingo. I actually have a love for visiting these historical/museum-like places – it always fascinates me and it’s almost like visiting a small part of history.

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And finally, we got to see what we mainly went to Danshui to see – THE SUNSET.

God, you are amazing!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalm 19:1

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On our way back to the train station, we hopped into different shops and sampled various foods (like a true Asian tourist lol). But I also grabbed a bubble-tea along the way, which I wish I had gotten more of when I was in Taiwan.

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Left photo: Believe it or not, the church-like building is actually a university! Seems like a pretty cool place to study at, ey?

Shilin Night Market – Take 2

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Back at Shilin night market but with extra company this time hehe

IMG_20150615_173810Got to try out more food this time! Though we didn’t actually buy the duck cotton-candy, I had to at least get a photo of it cos it’s sah kewt.

Taste of Taiwan (part II)

Day 3 – HOUTONG// RUIFANG

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So DAY 3 in Taiwan. My friend, being a cat enthusiast, insisted on visiting a cat village which she had managed to hunt down. And so cat village we went! Again, it was a shame that it rained pretty much throughout the entire day..but we still managed to see what we went there to see, cats; so it was still worth the train ride. And the village itself was really cute – as you could imagine, everything was centered around cats, from actual cats to cat merchandise and cat-shaped food.

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Cat-shaped pineapple cakes – too adorbs.

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Ruifang

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On our way back from the cat village, we dropped by the nearby suburb/village called Ruifang. Again, I loved the buildings, architecture and the whole rustic feel to the place. Funny story, as we arrived there we desperately wanted to find a place to rest and eat the sushi that we brought for lunch. But it proved to be unsuccessful. So we ended up just going into a dessert place and ordered something to eat so we could stay in there for a bit. For some reason, I chose to order “peanut soup” with a bread/doughy thing (top-right photo; the bread had melted in the soup) which thankfully tasted better than it looked and sounded.

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After our mini pit-stop, we continued roaming around the streets of Ruifang, and ended up at another food market (LOL). But at that point I still had room for a bit more food, so I went ahead and tried a veggie sausage from one of the award-winning street-food stalls (which did taste AMAZING) and a freshly made pork bun. Seeing the whole process of how the buns were made was also interesting in itself.

Dinner @ Coffee Alley

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Thanks to my friend, I was able to visit and dine at some pretty cool and interesting places, such as the one above. The dish on the top-right was actually ice-cream with cotton candy & espresso. The idea is that as you pour the espresso over the cotton-candy, it would shrink and melt into the ice-cream. Pretty cool. So to sum it up, a plate of happiness is what it is.

Day 4 – SHIFEN // BEITOU // SHILIN NIGHT MARKET

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Making breakfast out of leftover waffles 😛

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This was perhaps my favourite day-trip of the week. Funnily enough, we didn’t actually plan to visit Shifen originally; we re-arranged our schedule and added it in after an interesting experience we had the day before. So as we were departing Yehliu and deciding on a transport route to Jiufen, we got approached by a taxi-driver who tried to negotiate a deal between us and two Korean girls who were also waiting at the bus stop. Since we were heading towards the same direction, she suggested that we all catch the cab together, and she will charge us a fixed amount (not entirely sure if it was legal lol..) Anyhow, we went ahead with the plan, and there were a few wins to that:

1. We discovered SHIFEN through a travel brochure from the cab driver , and decided to add it to our itinerary

2. I got to practice a bit of my Korean with the two Korean girls whom we shared the cab with, ahaha

3. Obviously, we got to arrive at Jiufen a lot quicker than planned, which was great!

Shifen Old Town

This little town of Shifen is actually a popular tourist destination, best known for the lighting of sky lanterns. And it was indeed so much fun 🙂  While most people released the lanterns for superstitious reasons – wishing for good fortune, health, etc., my friend and I took a different approach. We still each wrote down a few goals for the new year but at the same time, we wrote down something that would share our faith and God’s love.

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It was so perfect that the “verse of the day” from the bible app happened to have been none other than THIS VERSE!

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Shifen Waterfall

About a 15min walk from Shifen Old Town is the Shifen Waterfall. #somuchbeauty

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20150108_132824 Beitou // Shilin

To top-off the day, we relaxed ourselves at the Beitou hotsprings (which was a must-go when in Taiwan!), followed by many noms at none other than Shilin Night Market. It was a very satisfying day I must say!

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Aside from the fact that majority of the people there were middle-aged aunties and uncles…it was still an alright experience. And the entry fee was so cheap, so was defs worth it!1430740005458PhotoGrid_1430738783058

Food that I tried:

1. Bubble waffles – honey flavoured

2. “Sausage in a sausage” – sausage wrapped inside sticky-rice

3. Warm soup with noodles

4. “Coffin toast bread” – by far the most interesting thing I’ve had!

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Toffee strawberries – super delish!

Taste of Taiwan

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Ah, Taiwan. What a wonderful place.

Throwback to early January, I had the amazing opportunity to embark on a mini Asia trip. Though I only got to visit two places, Taiwan and Korea, it opened my eyes to so much and definitely kindled a deeper passion in me to travel and explore different cultures. And I have to say, before this trip I actually have forgotten how crazily awesome Taiwan is (I have been here once a longgggg time ago). From its vibrant night life to its natural and breathtaking scenery, and more importantly, the humble people that you come across; I was very impressed. Sadly, I was only there for a short six days which only gave me a taste of what Taiwan was like. But I WILL BE BACK for more adventures 🙂

So here I’d like to share some of the highlights of my week in Taiwan.

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I have to give a special shout-out to the lovely hostel which I stayed at for the week: BANANA HOSTEL. It’s funny because the place was very hidden on the outside; you can’t tell that people actually stayed in there. But once you enter into the apartment, you would find yourself inside a very fun, quirky and cosy environment. Everything about it was great – the staff were friendly, the place was SUPER clean (which ranks quite highly for me), the location was quite good (close to Dongmen station!) and the best part: there were free bananas for grabs (plus banana cake on weekends, tehe). So it pretty much ticked all the boxes for me for a great place of accommodation. The only one thing that could’ve enhanced my experience was having more space in the room. My friend and I shared one of the 2 person bunk-bed rooms which literally just had enough room for the beds and two people to STAND. There wasn’t even enough room for me to lay out my luggage. But I suppose it was a backpackers place afterall, so space isn’t the priority. The interesting thing however was the room next to us – it was one of those massive dorm rooms with individual capsules, which seemed pretty cool. So I suppose it’s good for a budget traveller, but not if you are a light sleeper (cos of potential snorers :P)

Day 1 – EATING // SHOPPING // TAIPEI 101

So here it is: Day 1 of our Taiwan travels. We spent the day solely just eating, shopping and exploring the amazing and vibrant Ximending. There was so much to see and SO MANY THINGS I WANTED TO BUY.

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Left: diabetes on a stick..  Right: pop-corn in soooo many different flavours!

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I absolutely loved the above shop which sold vintage, handmade stuff.

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When I was in China, I discovered a new found love for Stitch. And Taiwan helped me maintain that 😛

Lunch @ Modern Toilet, Ximending

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to eat at such a gross yet awesome restaurant – the photos pretty much sum it all. #sogrossyetsogoodIMG_1893 IMG_1920

Taipei 101 Observatory

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I know, it was only day 1…but we already couldn’t wait to visit TAIPEI 101. Needless to say, the view was stunning. And I shamelessly took out my selfie stick and simply embraced it 😛

But hey I was amongst other selfie-stick-companions.

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One of the things that I was looking forward to the most about Taiwan was actually the night markets. It’s all about the fooood. And good thing for me was that in Taiwan, there are night markets EVERYWHERE. As you can sort of see from the sign – four night markets in the one area..like what??

During my high school days I’ve gone through the phase of Taiwanese dramas, Taiwanese singers and boy bands and all that embarrassing stuff (as I’m sure most teenager, Asian girls have!). But it was through one of the dramas I’ve seen that has sparked my love for oyster pancakes. And til now, it is still my all time favourite Taiwanese streetfood. #somuchnoms

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Top left: oyster pancakes; Bottom: apparently they’re called ‘Exploded cake’ – the egg inside did explode on me unfortunately…

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Yummy desserts!

Day 2 – YEHLIU // JIUFEN

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After a full and tiring (yet satisfying) day of shopping on day 1, we decided to change things up a bit and decided to GO ON A ROADTRIP the next day 😀 As you could probably tell, we wanted to do as much as possible during that one week in Taiwan, so we lived on fairly tight schedules. But it was fun 🙂

So early on Day 2, we grabbed our backpacks, bought a few sushi rolls from 7-Eleven and headed for the bus to Yehliu.

*Side note*

Speaking of 7-Eleven, it is absolutely awesome in Taiwan. It was hilarious because my friend was super amused when we first entered a 7-Eleven store (she has never been in an Asian 7-Eleven I don’t think..) and I started hearing her say “oh my gosh. they have THIS?!” But I kind of joined in not long after, and yeah we felt like little kids in a candy shop. But they did sell pretty cool stuff: cheesecake flavoured soft-cones (so sad I never got around to trying it though..), the best asian iced-coffee, a variety of sushi-rolls (the korean/triangular kind), and much more.

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A very good buy

Yehliu

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After a long-ish bus ride, we finally arrived in Yehliu, which is known for its natural beauty and funky looking rocks (at the Geopark).

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Right: they call it the “ginger rocks”. Yeah, I can see why.

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Right: Me trying to lick the “ice-cream” (..not literally)

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Left: “Mushroom rocks”                            Right: Happy snap with “the Queen”

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Jiufen

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Jiufen is absolutely beautiful. I love the scenery, the architecture; the whole place is just amazing for lovers of art and photography. Especially when evening comes and the lanterns get lit up – the whole village just comes to life. Shame that the weather didn’t hold and it started pouring at some point..but that actually gave us the opportunity to sit inside a cosy tea-house and sip some tea 😛

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The famous Old Street of Jiufen. They say that this was the very location which inspired the creator of Spirited Away to use as the backdrop of the movie; true story.

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While it was raining cats and dogs outside, we chilled in the tea-house and enjoyed a ‘tea feast’ (..which costed a fair bit). But it was an experience.

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So many things to see and buy!

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Dinner @ Ding Tai Fung

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Topping off the day with DUMPLINGS and NOODLES for dins! 10/10, would go again.

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Super cute merchandise inside a…BAKERY.

OSAKA & KYOTO

So this was my second time traveling to Japan. The last time I went was to Tokyo back in 2003, which was well over a decade ago and I don’t recall too much of it. So this time round, I was quite excited to be able to explore other parts of Japan: Osaka and Kyoto. Though it was only for a short few days it was still an awesome experience. Now some photos:

1. ARRIVING IN OSAKA

Our dinner at the airport upon arriving in Osaka // bottom right: taro + salt & cookies ice-cream

After checking-in to our hotel (U-Community Hotel, Kawachi-Kosaka ), we decided to have a short walk in the vicinity of the hotel and grab some supper (that’s right, we eat all day, eryday). I also stumbled across some amazing looking ice-cream at the Family Mart near our hotel. Why can’t we find such amazingness in Melbourne…

Also something to note, I was really impressed with how clean and accommodating the hotel was – there were heaps of freebies to grab: free combs, free hair-ties, free spa soap, and even a free drink of choice each day. But what impressed me the most (though it sounds weird) was actually the hotel toilet lol. It was one of those fancy ones that cleans your bottom and has seat heating (which is helpful after a cold and long day out).

DAY 2 – UNIVERSAL STUDIOS (DA BEST DAY EVERRR)

Without a doubt, the day at Universal Studios was my highlight of the trip. Funnily enough, the weather that day was actually terrible as it rained throughout most of the day. However, because of the crappy weather, there were actually a lot less people in the theme park which turned out well for us. Also, my only wish was simply to go into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which did happen, so I was forever happy and grateful 🙂

Starting off the day with some scrumptiously satisfying donuts

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BUTTER BEER: tasted a bit like creaming soda with a tint of ginger flavour
what. a. view.

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Top left: pudding flavoured kitkat from a shop along Universal City Walk // Bottom right: my stash of goodies from universal studios 😛
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our dinner: sushi/sashimi platter/ grilled meat/ shabu shabu // bottom right: takoyaki inside a sushi, how interesting

DAY 3 – UMEDA SHOPPING OUTLET // KUROMON MARKET // SHINSAIBASHI // OSAKA CASTLE

Breakfast at a coffee shop – interestingly, the food itself was cheaper than the cost of a cup of coffee. but the catch was…when you order food, you HAVE TO order a drink as well (what a way to do business..) // Umeda shopping outlet // Snoopy town!
food from the Kuromon Market: chicken skewers, oyster with fried rice
more food, so much noms // also a sign that caught my attention
I absolutely love these night views & dem colours
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At the Osaka Castle Light Show: absolutely stunning. *starts singing* “and at last I see the lightttt…”
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pigging out on more food from the Kuromon Market. Adding to my KitKat stash!

DAY 4 – KYOTO

Breakfast: donuts, take 2
DAY TRIP to the BEAUTIFUL KYOTO // Highlights: the AMAZING scenery and architecture; the overload of green tea flavoured foods

We came across a very interesting restaurant rich in Japanese culture, as seen from the decorations. What’s even more awesome was that there was a FREE stamping booth just outside, which is a common touristy thing found in Japan. I LOVE STAMPS.

the perfect place for lovers of green tea

sushi or candy?

middle: corn soup from a vending machine (never heard of before) – it tasted SO GOOD; bottom right: my KitKat collection

DAY 5 – OUTLET SHOPPING // DEPART FROM OSAKA

Doraemon comics – my childhood
Ah, so in Japan, you come across the most interesting things. For me…I found a book on poo. Enough said. (Lol to be fair, I did have a look through of the book and it is somewhat educational.)
View outside our hotel: a grocery store plus some shops

At an outlet near the airport. It was HUGE – there was already so much to look at even before entering the outlet itself!

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Seed of Hope 2014

Flash back to December 2014, I went on my first overseas m-trip to Baoshan, China. It truly has been an eye-opening and memorable experience. To name a few things, I will always remember the bumpy car rides in the Jeep, the wonton noodles we’ve had for breakfast every day, and teaching the team how to play 500, aha. Of course, spiritually it has been a learning curve as well. I’ve learnt so much and really experienced God’s love through the different people that I’ve encountered, be it the villagers, children, local students, or people at the drug rehab centre. I also loved our team and we had a lot of fun times. Anyway, here are some of the things we got up to during the trip:

1. Church

So on the second day, our main agenda was attending two church services at the same church, as well as taking part in their Christmas celebration, which actually ran for the whole day. This was one of several choir performances during the morning service. In particular, I was really moved by one of the songs they sang, called En dian gou yong, meaning Sufficient grace. It was a reminder to me that His grace is indeed sufficient for ALL of us.

Later that afternoon, we came back to the church only to realise that there was a massive baptism service happening at the time. We found out that around 60 people accepted Jesus into their lives that day, which was incredible. Whenever one person got dunked into the water, the choir would start singing the “Allelujah song”, which then became the theme song for our whole trip as it was so repetitive.

After the baptism service ended, Christmas celebrations began in which different individuals or groups would perform an act, mostly being dancing, or some occasional singing. There were so, so many performances that it was craaaazy. And I have to give special mention to this particular old guy in the photo who was quite hilarious with his singing.

Of the many dance performances during the day, this was one performed by the Lisu group. It’s quite cool how they incorporated a contemporary twist to a traditional-looking dance performance – their outfits were traditional Lisu costumes, yet the song and some of the dance moves were more contemporary. Some of the dance moves looked so fun that I wanted to join in as well lol.

  1. Village visits // Medical clinics

This was my first time ever visiting a remote village and it certainly was an eye-opening experience. After a 2+ hour long and bumpy car ride, we finally arrived at the first village. I still remember as our Jeep pulled in, immediately our car got swamped by a big group of kids, waving and staring at us curiously. Then some of them started trying to climb onto the car and knocking on the window. But to my surprise, a lot of them were actually quite well-mannered and some of them even shook my hand to welcome me as I got out of the car. There were soooo many little kids, and as grubby as they were, they were all so adorable. What also really impressed me was the fact that a lot of them actually understood Chinese (since they grew up speaking the Lisu language and have only been attending school for a few months I think). And for most of the day, me and a few others just dedicated our time in entertaining these children and building a relationship with them. There were a few things which really stood out to me from that day:

  1. The fact that the villagers served us with the BEST food that they had.

From what we were told, all that they could normally afford was to eat corn every meal, every day (bowl in the top middle). But because of our arrival, they served us with meat and vegetables, and treated as like ‘kings and queens’, as someone from the team said. We were so, so privileged and blessed by their hospitality

2. The fact that the villagers had so litte (compared to us) and lived such a simple life, yet they were so content with the little that they had.

There is so much to learn from these villagers. The funny thing is, as much as we’re there to bless and serve these people, we are in turn very blessed by their acts of kindness and learnt so much as well. Funny story, at one point during the day, me and two friends decided to have a stroll around the village and admire the beautiful scenery. Then all of a sudden, we noticed one of the villagers waving at us and signalling us to come into their home. We couldn’t refuse that, so we, slightly hesitantly, entered their home (which was more like a hut). But upon entering it, immediately what struck me was the large amount of smoke coming out of their home – placed right in the middle was a large pot (they were cooking corn at the time), which took up most of the space. Straight away, they poured us some tea and insisted that we sit down with them. As grateful as I was for their hospitality, I really couldn’t stand the smokiness which not just burned my eyes but also made it so hard to breathe. So after drinking one third of the tea, I awkwardly gave them back the cup, thanked them and left lol. But it’s crazy to think that these villagers live in such conditions EVERY DAY. I couldn’t even stand 10 minutes in there, let alone living there my whole life.

Where they store their corn stash

The next day, we did medical visits again but at another village. As we got there, what stood out to me was the fact that the kids were a lot more tame and well-behaved haha. But that didn’t last for very long…as soon as the balloons came out, human nature was unleashed and the kids started going CRAZY. It was a struggle trying to get them to line up if they wanted a balloon or a lollie. But then we realised one thing: kids would do ANYTHING to get what they want (you probs already know that anyway). So we used that to our advantage and played along with it. A few of us decided to teach them a few English words and rewarded those who participated and raised their hands. But the funny thing was, we taught them absolutely useless words, like ‘GO-PRO’ and ‘Thank you EV’, ahahaha. But it was quite funny.

Balloon making – here the kids were actually lining up

More photos from the village visits:

Little girls playing with jumping ropes
Balloon making at the first village – as you can see, we attracted a big crowd of kids..
This was taken on our way down from the first village (it was one adventurous hike…one I did not expect) and we came across a pile of dried corn just on the side of the road.
What the village ladies use to carry their corn home – the physio did not approve
This view was definitely worth risking my life walking down those steep slopes
This was on our way up to the second village. The Jeep couldn’t go up this part of the road so we all had to leg it. But then..we bumped into these new friends lols
Ahhh so beauty
Spot the cows!
Happy snaps with the village kids
  1. CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS

The next two days after doing medical clinics, we had Christmas celebrations at various villages. We briefly went back to the first village that we were at, and then visited other villages at the bottom of the mountains. As part of the Christmas celebrations, our team also performed a few items: a Christmas Carols medley, the rehab song (written by ex-drug addicts), and the Lifehouse skit. One of my highlights from those days was hearing the children sing at the very first village. They sang a Chinese worship song which reallyyyy touched my heart – they sang with so much passion, and the lyrics also stood out to me.

The children practicing the song. It was also cool to see them wearing the shirts that our church got them!
The children receiving shoes as gifts (from another organisation)

We briefly visited one of the home churches at a nearby village – so different from the churches that I’ve been to

This was at one of the bigger churches at the bottom of the mountain. Prior to the service, we also joined in a super early dinner with them.
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Morning/Afternoon service at another church; Here we were greeted by people from the church as we walked in
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Sharing a meal with the villagers prior to the service. It was really nice of them to have prepared so much food, but the sad thing was, none of us were hungry as we only just ate before we arrived lol.

And there was one thing I realised: these villagers have their meal times SUPER early. Lunch time is around 11am, and dinner is around 5pm, which is quite interesting.

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This granny looked really cute in her Lisu clothing

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So during break time, our team got to visit one of the local pastor’s in-law’s home and his sister-in-law kindly offered to let us try on some of the local dresses worn by Lisu women. Little did I know that what I was wearing was in fact her wedding gown…lol. It wasn’t until she put the head thing over my head then I realised. So as a joke, some of the guys from the team told others that I was ‘married off in China’…20141225_160107

At the Christmas service, our team again performed the few items that we prepared, followed by some performances by the villagers and a message from our Pastor.

  1. J. FRASER MEMORIAL // CHILLI FARM

So during Day 7 of our trip, our team had the chance to visit the memorial of James O. Fraser, a missionary who pioneered work among the Lisu people. It was quite awesome to hear the incredible and inspiring story of how he dedicated 30 years of his life to work and serve amongst the Lisu, then subsequently left behind a legacy.

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After visiting the memorial, our team also had the opportunity to serve the local community –  we briefly helped out at the Chilli farm and did some weeding. It was meant to be super hot in those greenhouses (about 40+ degrees apparently) but thank God that it wasn’t too bad.

  1. UNI STUDENT FELLOWSHIP

Over two nights, our team also had the amazing opportunity to have fellowship with two groups of local uni students. It was in fact THE highlight of the trip for me – I enjoyed the relational aspect of it, and it was awesome meeting peers from across a different country as I’ve never been on study exchange before.  I was also surprised that my Mandarin was still up to standard, and I was able to communicate and connect quite easily with the students.

This meal was prepared by the students! We were really blessed by their hospitality, and the food tasted great too.

After dinner, we joined together for a time of ice-breaker games, worship, then our team performed a few items for them as part of Christmas celebrations. One of the guys on our team also preached a short yet powerful message/ shared his testimony afterwards and ended with an altar call. It was absolutely encouraging and touching to see the many who gave their lives to Christ those two nights. God certainly moved in that place and not only touched the hearts of the local students but also those of us on the team. New friendships were made, tears were shed; those two nights were definitely something to remember.

  1. DRUG REHAB CENTRE

My second hightlight of the whole trip was actually visiting the drug rehab centre and having fellowship with the people there. It’s interesting because it wasn’t something that I had expected, and it goes on to show that God can speak to us/ touch our hearts in unexpected ways.

The rehab people leading us in a time of worship. It’s pretty amazing how some of the songs were actually written by the people there and we even performed one of their songs back to them.

So after our performances, we broke off into smaller groups where we had the chance to do some sharing with each other. Three of us from the team were put in a group with about 4 of the rehab patients. And what followed was something that I will always remember. As we went around in a circle to share about our faith and testimony, I was so, so touched by how openly the people shared, and the amazing stories of how God had transformed their lives. Two of the guys had become Christians since coming to the rehab centre, and their testimonies were such a reminder that God’s love is for everyone, and he can work in the craziest of ways. One of the ladies mentioned that she had sort of turned away from the faith while growing up, especially having to battle with a sickness all her life. But it’s absolutely CRAZY how timely it was that we so happened to have met her that day, because she only moved in to the rehab centre literally a week before we got there! And she said that us being there really made her day and was an encouragement to her.

And lastly, there was one non-Christian guy in the group who was a modern-day Saul/Paul. He mentioned that prior to meeting us, he was a person who in a way ‘persecuted Christians’. However, since meeting us, he is more open towards Christians, and is one step closer to possibly becoming one (one day). It was absolutely CRAZY how encouraged I was from that time of sharing. And I also had the opportunity to share my own story with the rest of the group in Mandarin, which was a pretty unique experience.

After everyone has finished their sharing, we decided to pray for them. So we gathered around and prayed specifically for each person. In particular, we wanted to pray for healing over the woman who suffered from her illness all her life. Though we didn’t see God’s healing right on the spot, she really appreciated our prayers, and we also knew that God still has it in control.

  1. KUNMING

After about a week of ministry related things, we had the opportunity to visit a sister-in-Christ who has been serving full time in Kunming, China for the last couple of years. For me, it was quite exciting to see her as it has been a long while since we’ve last had a catch up.

We were really blessed by her hospitality – she took us out to eat AMAZING local food, and opened up her house for us to visit one morning. Kunming was also quite nice and a lot bigger than Baoshan, lol.

Leaving Baoshan airport

One of the best meals of the entire trip
There’s nothing like eating ice-cream on a cold winter night, ahaha.
Final lunch in Kunming, and the food was gooood.

Another thing which made this m-trip special to me is the fact that I get to celebrate my birthday on the trip, and not only so, BUT also celebrate WITH a friend – we actually share the same birthday 🙂 How often do you get that?!

Departing Kunming 😦 that was the saddest part of the trip. It was such a fruitful trip filled with awesome memories, and so it was hard to say goodbye to everyone.

birthday lunch for the birthday gals 😛

But on the flip side, I get to see my family again and celebrate my burfday with them.

  1. FOOD

One of the best things about travelling is being able to taste delicious and authentic cultural food, and this trip was no exception. In fact, besides actual ministry things, eating was perhaps the thing we did the MOST, as we’ve found ourselves eating ALL the time..

This was during our very first night in Baoshan. Upon landing and checking-in to our hotel, we immediately found ourselves at one of several night food stalls on that same street (we couldn’t resist it). And this became our supper, which tasted absolutely delicious.

During our time in Baoshan, we spent every morning in this breakfast shop and the whole place was pretty much taken up by us. It’s crazy how delicious AND ridiculously cheap the food was. To give you a bit of perspective, one big bowl of beef noodle soup costed approx $2 AUD. like whaaattt?

Possibly the best beef noodle soup I’ve ever had, no kidding. A warm, satisfying bowl of noodles is a great way to kick start your day.

The outer shell of the ice-cream was actually shaped like a corn and tasted like corn – 10/10, would try again
I didn’t expect to find a cosy little cafe like this in China. The coffee wasn’t bad, and it was quite a relaxing environment.

9. Other interesting things…

Lastly, there were some interesting things I stumbled across in China which I thought is worth a mention 😛

Oh these signs always amuses me

In case you didn’t see clearly, this is a a jar of marinated ANTS…

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Anyway, to wrap it all up, Praise God for an amazing and fruitful trip where I really got to experience His love through the numerous and various people I have encountered along the way. Really blessed to have been able to spend 10 days with my team, serving alongside them, and also just mucking around playing games and singing songs; our friendships have definitely deepened.

But as someone from the team had said, the real challenge really begins NOW. As I step back into reality and normal life, I could choose to let this experience gradually fade away, or to be intentional about making missions a part of my everyday life.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””  – Matthew 28:19-20

The best thing about travelling…

There are so many awesome things about travelling: trying out different cafes, restaurants and interesting eats, shoppingggg, sightseeing…But for me, the best thing about travelling has got to be the people you meet along the way – people from across the world, and the new friendships that you make from that. 

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a few places across Asia – China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Somewhere along the way, I’ve come across some of the nicest and most sincere people I could meet, and also had interesting conversations with some others.

On my flight to Seoul, Korea, I had quite an interesting conversation with a Korean couple who sat next to me. It was quite funny because there was evidently a language barrier (though I understand a bit of Korean) and a lot of times I just kept nodding my head though I had no idea what the Korean lady was saying. But we still managed to have somewhat of a conversation, and I was actually so excited that I got to practice my Korean, haha. I also ended up teaching them a few English words, which proved to be an interesting experience as well.

On another occasion, my friend and I stumbled across a little craft shop in Insadong, Seoul. That night was quite chilly, so we decided to go into the shop to “defrost” a bit. The shopkeeper lady was really friendly and greeted us as we walked in. I decided to make use of my limited Korean vocab, and said “it’s very cold” to the lady. Funny thing was, because of what I said, she may have assumed that my Korean was better than what it actually was, so she went ahead and started speaking a bunch of Korean words to me. So I did what I do best in those situations..and simply nodded.

But at the same time, being the kind soul that she was, she grabbed my hands and was like “oh they’re freezing!” Then she subsequently tried to warm my hands with hers. She also offered us coffee in take-away cups, not just to drink but to warm our hands with the cups. She was by far the sweetest person I’ve met in Korea, so generous and asking for nothing in return. (And I felt bad cos I didn’t buy anything from her shop…oh well)