Fairy Tales and Survivor

Survivor, the reality TV series is in its 34th season. Yes, 34 and among my social circles, I’m one of the very few who still watches it. Most of my dearest and nearest can’t quite understand and wonder why I still do.

Well, it’s because it’s really like real life. Every season I watch it going, “OMG that’s exactly what happens in the office or on the roads to at a sale in a department store.” In the TV series, I get why these contestants can get ruthless, they could possibly get a million dollars at the end. In my real life, I don’t understand why some people can be the worst version of themselves for the most insignificant of rewards. Maybe for them, it may not be a million dollars but enough to throw human decency out of the window.

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But but but every so often there will be a season that makes me realise in Survivor or real life, good guys do and can win. Not often, just enough and that’s all I need. The world IS filled with shitheads and douchebags. I’ve even had the unfortunate opportunity to be acquainted with some of them but I don’t live for them and all the toxicity they bring.

mama-goat

I live for the fairy tale moments shared between kind, compassionate souls. And truth be told, even shitheads and douchebags are capable of them and those are the moments, the good days that make everything else worth while. Like the last episode of Survivor: Game Changers, the moment when crazily competitive contestants let a Mama goat and her kid go and choosing not to kill them for food. I never thought I’d ever see it on Survivor. When I did, my heart warmed up and knew at the end of the day decent humanity will always triumph.

 

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Hi Yo Silver

Giddy up!!  If you haven’t noticed, it’s the year of the Horse and I have officially over ate.  I don’t think I’ll feel hungry again for a long long time and I truly can’t complain about it.

It started with the annual reunion dinner and the ubiquitous steamboat.  With my Mummy in town, I had every craving met with all the traditional dishes my Grandma use to make but vegetarian!!  How lucky am I?  All I can say is that the year of the Horse is looking good for me 🙂  It’s off to a bountiful start.

Depending on the sources you refer to, this year being the Wood Horse is suppose to good for the Wood Rabbits, which is what I am except for their health.  We’ll see how healthy I am when I usher in the year of the Goat next year.  Meanwhile, I’ll take all these advice with a pinch of salt, like I do every year.  That’s because I’ve learnt, every year will have it’s ups and it’s own downs, typically a fair share of both and it’s things we can’t control.  What I can control is how I react and deal with them.  For now, let’s see how much control I have over the remaining traditional Chinese New Year yums that’s still in my house.

Being Vegetarian in Taipei

I’ve said this more than once or twice, being vegetarian in Taipei is great!!  I don’t know where else in the world you can find a vegetarian version of nearly every Taiwanese dish there is.  Needless to say, I’m always a happy camper when I have to go to Taipei for work.

I love noodles.  Fat ones, skinny ones, long ones and short ones so when I found Hoshina, a restaurant that hand makes their noodles, I was happy happy happy.  It was delicious too!!  Though Taiwanese have no idea what they are talking about when they say spicy :p  They have an array of different noodles dishes, most of them were soup based and interesting side dishes too.  They are mostly vegan though you can add an egg to most of the noodle dishes.  I went back twice in the week was in Taipei.  If I lived there, it would be one of my favourite haunts.

The thing about Taipei I really like is the different quaint little shops you can find hidden within the maze of back lanes that is, in my humble opinion, the backbone of the city.  One afternoon, looking for a quick lunch I stumbled into a cafe that I don’t have the name for.  It made a decent salad with home dressing and freshly squeezed orange juice.  Good salads are hard to find in Asia.  Too bad though, I wouldn’t be able to find this cafe again, even if my life depended on it.

You can’t go to Taipei and not eat stinky tofu.  At least not when you’re me 🙂  I love food with strong smells.  So there’s little vegetarian Taiwanese hole in the wall type spot does does excellent vegetarian version of Taiwanese cuisine.  There is no signage to the place and it’s easy to miss the spot but together with a Taiwanese friend who knew where we were going.  I went home with yet another full belly.

Though they don’t hand make their noodles, it was yummy too.  The soup was was rather hearty.  I’m definitely a soup person and with monkey head mushrooms, I bet I could take my sister there for a meal too.  I think she’ll like Taiwan.  It’s a foodie paradise for meatasourous too!!

Of course, I made a pit stop to Loving Hut.  A vegetarian chain of restaurants that even has a presence in Singapore.  Again vegetarian versions of Taiwanese cuisine.  I even got some road side vegetarian dumplings for my last night in Taipei.  I love Taipei 🙂

中秋节快乐

My family got together early to celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival 中秋节 (zhong qiu jie) where we had mooncakes galore, even vegetarian ones with vegetarian yolks.  It was yummy!!  Coupled with tea and good conversations, we ushered the full moon in about a week earlier than everyone is going to do today.

Of course, there was the customary walk with lanterns and traditional ones at that.  None of those music blaring battery operated modern lanterns … actually we had a couple of those but when came time to take a walk everyone chose the candle lit ones 🙂  And not forgetting sparkles.

There’s something about sparkles that just adds to the celebrations.  From my family to yours, may mooncakes fill your belly and the lights of sparkles fill tonight and all of your nights!!

The Scarecrow

It’s no secret that I’m a vegetarian that borders on being vegan.  The jury is still out for me when it comes to bees and honey so I can’t honestly say I’m vegan.  There are many reasons why I’m vegetarian and mostly it comes from an awareness that I didn’t have before.  When something is made clear to you, it’s kinda hard to ignore and that’s why being vegetarian hasn’t been difficult for me at all.  So when I chanced upon this campaign, I was reminded about my answer when people ask me if I’ll ever stop being vegetarian.

I’ll stop being vegetarian when I’m prepared to kill the animal I want to eat.

Yes yes yes, the FaceBook guy said this too.  For the record, I said it way before he made it popular but it’s totally possible he said it to his friends before I ever thought it.  It really doesn’t matter who said it first but I understand what he means.  Like the Game of Thrones pilot episode where Ned Stark was teaching his young son about accountability, “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”

Back to the campaign, I did like Chipotle when I tried it but I’m not entirely sure they are totally fresh food served at its best.  Nonetheless, it’s a great branding exercise and will make me seek out a Chipotle the next time I’m near one so I guess it worked 🙂

One day I hope I can put my name on something like that too.

Part 2 of the Honeymoon

Our first full day in Banff is day 6, we took it easy.  Enjoyed our egg free muffins for breakfast and I’m loving this B&B route we decided on.  Then we walked into the town, had lunch and went to the museum.

Found out how the town of Banff was founded and how the love for skiing and mountaineering in Canada started.  I particularly love the photo in the bottom left hand corner which are hand made goggles from the late 19th century to face the ice storms in winter.

Day 7 was another road trip in itself.  We were going to see the icefields that were a two and a half hour drive away from Banff.  It started with my favourite muffins of the week, Cherry Vanilla Crumble Muffins.  Then we saw an elk and a Mama bear and her two cubs on the way!!

Again the views were stunning.  There is something about water that immediately calms me and something about mountains that humble me.  I was often speechless, which is rare for me :p  When I finally got to the glacier, I was as excitable as a kid in a candy store.

Being on top of a glacier that feeds into three ocean was quite the thrill for me.  I even managed to have a sip of glacier water.  It was icy cold and extremely fresh.  It was a lovely summer day and in my mind, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like during winter O_o

By the time we came down from the glacier, it was dinner time.  The sun was still out but our tummies were ready for dinner and guess what we had.  Chinese food!!  Yep, in the middle of Canada by the Rockies, we had pretty good Chinese vegetarian food.  Can’t wait to bring my parents and my sister there now 🙂

Day 8 saw us being in total tourist mode and getting on the Banff gondola.  The queue going up was long but not as long as the line up coming down!!  You’d think it’s a ride at Disneyland.  All in all, it was worth it 🙂  You can see the whole town of Banff from Mount Sulphur, they did a good job with the board walks and making it friendly for all ages.  Again another spot to bring my parents and my sister!!

Day 9 was a long day for us.  It started with a pretty hike by Johnston Creek.  Again it was friendly for all ages so it was crowded because it was a lovely summer day to be out and about.  We took out time and enjoyed the sights and little chipmunks aka pikas along the way.  They were chubby little things because everyone was feeding them.

Then it was off to Lake Moraine.  A beautiful turquoise lake nestled in the Rockies.

We took a lovely hike along the lake and stumbled on a trail that needed 4 or more people to do.  Yes, apparently bears and cougars are less likely to attack if you’re part of a bigger group and noisy.  After Lake Moraine, we moved on to Lake Louise.

Less turquoise than Lake Moraine because of the rock flour.  So Lake Louise is more green.  Then we headed back to Banff.  In time for jaunt to the place where we met some 12 years ago 🙂

It was 2001 and during the Banff TV Festival, we met in one of the rooms of the convention center.  So it was nostalgic for the both of us to walk through the hallways and the bus stop where we had a brief conversation that is clear in both our memories.  A wonderful wrap to a beautiful day 🙂 and part 2 of the post.

6 Year Wait

Some things are truly worth the wait and my honeymoon is one of them.  We got married in 2007 and knew that we wanted to do our honeymoon in Banff, Canada where we first met.  Time and money usually got in the way of making it happen but finally the stars aligned and we made it happen this year.  Here’s part 1 of 3 to a quick recap of being away for 2 weeks.

It takes a little more than 24hours for us to get to Vancouver.  The transit in Taipei was quite a while and of course, I filled up on yummy veggie dumplings 🙂  We landed in Vancouver at 8pm and the sun was’t even down yet.  I love summers in Canada!!  Actually I love summers everywhere.

Day 1 saw us going into the States where my Father-in-law recently bought a cabin on Mount Baker.  It was a lovely getaway and just what we needed to get into the time zone.  There’s something your body gets from nature.

Day 2 was my husband’s 39th birthday and he was so happy to be back home celebrating it with family.  Birthday celebrations were at my sister-in-law’s new place where we chanced on a couple of deers who didn’t seem to mind us at all.

For the birthday celebrations, my sister-in-law cooked up a dinner and made an awesome vegan carrot cake.  Needless to say by the end of the night, we were all satiably in need of a bed.

My husband and I stayed over at my sister-in-law’s and got in some work on day 3.  Picked up our rental car for the road trip and went to the Naam for dinner.  It is my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver!!  I could eat there EVERYDAY 🙂  Had an apple blueberry pie BEFORE dinner and was again very happy by the end of the night.  I’ve come to realise vegan desserts make me very happy.

Day 4 was the official start of the honeymoon and after lunch, we drove out of Vancouver towards Banff.  It would take about 8 over hours so we broke the trip up and planned to stop in Sicamous.  I’m so very glad we did.  We ended up at Owlhead Creek B&B and I would go back again for sure.

If nothing else, Deb the owner, makes AMAZING breakfast.  The best we had the whole honeymoon.  I would consider moving back to Vancouver just so I can take long weekend breaks at the Owlhead Creek B&B :p  The surrounding trails were beautiful.

After a quick hike where I saw the biggest pine cone ever and a wooden branch that looks like an iguana, we were back on the road towards to Banff.

The views on the road were stunning and we stopped at the rest stops just to take them in.  My favourite stop was the Northern Light Wildlife Wolf Centre.

Everyone knows I’m not crazy about zoos and aquariums.  I understand the necessity for them but I’m not crazy about them.  Same with this center, I totally understand the need and appreciate the fact that I could be looking straight at wolves.  Yet a little part of me was sad.  I would never like to be enclosed and I guess that empathy for wild animals is why I’m not crazy about zoos and aquariums.  That said, if you are in the area, it is worth checking them out.  While I’m not crazy about enclosures, I’m all for helping 🙂  We bade farewell to the pack, went back on the road and arrived in Banff ready for dinner.

Once we settled in our cozy cabin, we took a quick walk to the only vegan restaurant in Banff, Nourish Bistro.  It was a little expensive for what they were serving but not bad at all 🙂

Part 2 and 3 coming up.