Walk Down Memory Lane

Last night after running some errands, I took a walk down memory lane. I was around Zhongshan area, where my first work and apartment used to be. It was close to dinner time so I headed to that night market where my colleagues and I spent many a summer night chowing down fried chicken fillets, iced sugary drinks and our favorite dessert- ding xiang dou hua (tofu pudding).


I strolled a bit, re-familiarizing myself with the place. A few stalls closed down including one of my favorites- the omu and sukiyaki rice stall. I bought my 'usual' meal- seaweed takoyaki with mayo and freshly-made sugar-raised doughnut. The tea shop had a long queue so I settled with just a bottle of water from nearby Family Mart. I walked to the end of the lane until I reached the children's park.

I sat at one of the benches and watched little girls and boys take turns going down the slide. I ate my food in peace while observing moms and dads from afar, happily looking after their kids. It was endearing to see parents enjoying a moment together-- peaceful and quiet, without the worries of tomorrow.

Memories of 8 years ago came rushing. I was 23. I was happily employed at my first job after my MA graduation, just moved into my first apartment, made new friends with new colleagues, started learning the ropes of adulthood. This night market became a third home and even a friend-- the place I run to when my horrible PMS strikes with only the basil fried chicken can pacify... or when days are slow at the wire desk, or when I'm having one of those give me a break I'm so homesick- kind of day.

How different my life was back then. I actually smiled at the thought of this... my thumb traced the piece of jewelry wrapped around my finger... and my eyes shut for a moment. I never knew this would come. I looked at the people in the park and imagined a future like theirs.


And just when I was about to be emotional, I was reminded of the dessert place's closing time. The auntie at that stall can be masungit when you place your order before her closing time so I had to rush. True enough, she was still masungit but this tofu pudding is still the best. I ordered the iced version, with mini sago, sweet potato balls and nuts. The hot version is perfect during colder months. What a nice and sweet ending to a small trip down memory lane :)



Chocolate Banana Bread



I bought a tub of cocoa powder for the Peanut Butter Oreo Cheesecake I made previously, but just used around 4 tablespoons of it. I was thinking of trying other recipes to make use of the cocoa powder, something not overly sweet and can be eaten for breakfast and tadaaa... Chocolate Banana Bread it is!

If you're bored at home and have nothing to do, please please make this one! This turned out really moist with just the right amount of sweetness. I didn't add chocolate chips on top because I'm saving them for my brown butter chocolate chip cookies :)

Recipe from: https://www.sweetestmenu.com/chocolate-banana-bread

Ingredients
1 and 1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
2 overripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips


Instructions
1. Grease and line your 9 x 5 inch baking tin with baking or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180 C (360 F). In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Add sugars, and cinnamon and gently stir.

2. In the microwave, heat the butter in a large heatproof bowl until just melted, stirring in between 10 second bursts. Remove the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, mash your bananas well using a fork.

3. Next, add your vanilla, eggs and milk to your cooled butter and whisk gently until combined. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and mashed banana. Very gently fold the mixture using a spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture is just combined – be careful not to over mix.

4. Add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to the batter. Pour mixture into prepared tin and sprinkle 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top.

5. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Taipei Series: English-speaking Dentist


Hello! It's mid-autumn festival today. People are out grilling and eating mooncakes. I plan to just stay home and do nothing... or maybe do something hehe... so here I am resurrecting my Taipei Series with a new post, this time for expats' dental needs.

I discovered this dental clinic when I was still working at The Post. Their old clinic (they moved to a new location) is around the corner of our office's building so I thought it was the most convenient one. However, I didn't know if any of the doctors can speak English. My Chinese at the time was not that bad, but it would put me at ease if I can communicate to my dentist in a language that I'm most familiar with.

I still remember walking in for an oral prophylaxis and asking the receptionist if they have a dentist who speaks English. I was told that it was my lucky day because Dr. Zhan, their dentist who studied in New Zealand, was in the clinic.

I've been seeing 詹業勤醫師 Dr. William Zhan (I just recently learned of his English name!) since 2011. He is very nice and explains in detail what he needs to do, or what your "teeth situation" is. If a tooth needs to be filled, he orders a dental X-ray and shows you the results on screen.  I'm not sure if that's the standard practice, but I've been to two other dentists here in Taipei back when I was still a student, somewhere in Muzha area, but I don't remember having X-rays and such detailed consultations with them.

Dr. Zhan holds his clinic at 京站全人牙醫診所 Q-Holistic Dental Clinic.
Address: 台北市華陰街59號2樓/ 2nd Flr., No. 59 Hua Yin St., Taipei City
Nearest MRT Station: Taipei Main Station, Q Square Exit
Contact No.: 02-2552-5652
Website: http://www.periocenter.com.tw/front/bin/home.phtml

If you can read and write Chinese, or have a friend who can help, you may book an appointment online on the below website, just be sure to select Dr. Zhan's name on the drop-down list. You will receive a call from them to confirm your appointment.
periocenter.com.tw/front/bin/form.phtml?Nbr=4

Hope this helps!

Photo Credit: awarenessdays.com

Ten Years in Taiwan


Has it been 10 long years since the day I pushed my suitcases under the scorching heat of the summer sun, sweating and panting until I reach Zhuang Jing Dorm Number 9? Ahhh those days. I'm thankful for this journey, for my God who sustains me, and for the people who continue to help me make it through.

Halfway Done



Wow. Half a year’s gone. We’re left with six more months to fulfill our goals and resolutions. I know time is ticking, but as much as I want to tick all those checkboxes, I have to constantly remind myself of what truly matters… that sometimes, I can just marvel at the beauty of the sky above, let the moment linger for a bit and just be glad I survived yet another day. 

All too often we get swamped with things that need to be done— office work, errands, life. We forget to nourish ourselves and take care of our core, to be with “our” people, those who fill our life with so much color, to connect always with our faith and the Divine. 

Ahhh things that matter. They usually take a back seat, but now that we’re halfway through, perhaps we can let them take the center stage. 

 

So much had happened since my last entry. Our office had a short trip to New Delhi, my niece turned one, and my dearest aunt passed away. It was truly a difficult time for the family as my aunt was my mom’s closest sister. I was on the phone with my mom just hours after my aunt passed, and it was heartbreaking to hear sobs and muffled cries. I flew home to be with her, and to thank my aunt for everything, but mostly for her love to my mom and our family. Theirs was a perfect sister/sibling relationship. If one day I’d be blessed with daughters, I pray that they’ll share the same bond that my mom and aunt used to have. 

Happy month of July, everyone! Sending love and gratitude also to those who DM-ed saying the Taipei Series is a big help. I’ll try to write more Taipei guides soon. 

Normalcy



Hello. Been quite a while. After several months of packing bags every so often, I finally felt some calm and normalcy over the weekend.

I did two loads of laundry, had a nice traditional Taiwanese breakfast just near the apartment with a couple-friend visiting, then cooked my packed lunch for the work week ahead.

I put on our Spotify playlist while folding my freshly-laundered clothes. On Sunday morning, I went to church and served at the 12 noon Mass. I walked along Xinyi District after lunch and reminisced those many years spent living in the area.

I had a nice quiet time, just sitting there at one of the alfresco restaurants with my lightly-iced caramel macchiato, people watching, reflecting. The weather was cool, but not overly so. I went home as clouds were looming. I caught up with my books and spent online quality time with loved ones.

I love these kind of days, even if lately it feels difficult... but I carry on, we carry on.

Perhaps this normalcy, is my new normal.

May we all have a blessed and meaningful Lent. 

Tired in Turkey

Two days after our Maldives event, I left for Turkey to help out in our annual conference. With the 5-hour time difference, and my body still drained from the past work week, I was dead tired upon landing Istanbul. I was dragging myself while lining up at the immigration and the queue was sooooooo long I thought I was going to pass out.

Glad we had a great turn-out at the conference. We all went home exhausted but with smiles on our faces. We were able to join the half-day city tour offered by the host organization (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar) and these are some of the very few photos I have.


Blue Mosque 



Hagia Sophia

Omg this baklava is sooo good.

 Turkish Delights!

Maldives

Welcome to Maldives, where the skies and the waters are the bluest of blue... and where I ate the most expensive Caesar salad in my lifetime.

I had the opportunity of  visiting "the" Maldives in November last year for work purposes. It was beautiful... however, the idea of spending so much money to visit the place (and to check-in at one of those water villas) is really beyond me. But then again, let me contradict myself by saying that people pay for experiences, and the joy you get from them is truly priceless.

Some photos from the trip. Just to remind me that once upon a time, I set foot in Maldives.

Nice touch from the resort staff!


 

Pardon my vanity!

Hello, 2019


Happy Lunar New Year! It's already the second month of the year and I hope 2019 is treating you well.

I chanced upon this beautiful sunset while we were driving along Tplex on our way back to Manila from Pangasinan. The colors reminded me of those many days spent at the uni library watching the sky and typing the day away, rushing before dusk and walking home, savoring the last few glimpses of light before it turns dark. Ahhhh year 2009... you were glorious... you taught me everything I know about life.

So much can happen in a span of 10 years. Sometimes I regret not documenting some days, but I think there lies the beauty of undocumented moments. Trying to recall images, tastes, sounds, silly conversations... digging your heart, the nooks and crannies of your mind just to remember moments. I live for those undocumented times.

Dear 2019, I hope to keep as many moments in my heart, perhaps more than ever.