Taking a break

This weekend has been both exiting and relaxing. After a focused week of studies, and a successful test, I allowed myself to enjoy some good experiences in good company. Studies can wait until next week :).

People's RestaurantFriday I visited a rather stylish restaurant called “People’s”. It is located on the hip 安和路/ĀnHé road, down the street from Carnegie’s and right across from the Shangri-La hotel. The entrance area was calm and zen-like, with minimalist decor. The stairs leading down to the restaurant ended up in front of a huge, metal double door. To open the door, you have to put your hand into the mouth of a nearby lion statue…

Zen stairsThe styling and serenity of the place continued once past the doors. Spacious rooms with concrete walls, with dimly lit tables and small pools of water. The restaurant is divided into a dining area, and a lounge area, so all tastes and uses are catered for. The presentation and quality of the food was excellent, and the small portions enabled us to order several small courses, building an eclectic meal. Due to the dim lighting and the calmness of the place, though, I felt it inappropriate to take pictures once inside…

After dinner, we went to a small restaurant/pub called Mango Tango. My friend knew the owner and many of the regulars, so it was a fun and friendly place to be. I’m not much of a cocktail person, but this night was perfect for trying out some of the local specialities, and also a few classics. We started out with the local favourite Mango Mojito, and I also got to try a rather delicious Long Island Ice Tea, before moving onto the Peron Tequila…

HairdressersNaturally, Saturday started a bit late for me, but I managed to get to TKD training on time. After that I decided to have a quick haircut. I have been dreading the day I was going to get a haircut, having seen too many of the small corner-shop type shops with old men getting their hair done by another old man. Suffice to say, they are not really accustomed to western tradition and western language, so this could prove difficult. Fortunately, in the area of the MMA gym, there are also a lot of beauty shops and hairdressers. Exploring these for a bit, I found a place that looked like it had a more western flavour to it, so I decided to stop by. I was not prepared for how well taken care of I would be.Getting a haircut One and a half hour later, I emerged with my new haircut. It started with me relaxing in the chair with some magazines and a continuous stream of iced milk-tea. Then, a long session of shampooing+head massage in a dimly lit room with soothing music and beautiful and skillful girls doing their best. The hairdresser did a good job, and our combined knowledge of English and Chinese made for a mutual understanding sufficient to produce a great result. What surprised me a bit, in a good way, was that after the initial haircut, it was back in to the head massage room, for more washing and relaxing. Then it ended with styling and finishing touches. And for all this I payed less than what you pay for a child having a 10 minute haircut in Norway… I will definitively not wait long before my next haircut :).

SingerLED tambourineThe BandSaturday evening was approaching, and with that a visit to a pub in Taoyuan City. Marco from work, and his wife, picked me up for the 40 minutes drive from downtown Taipei. The band that was playing are friends of Marco, and he previously played with them as well. The place was small, but that seems common in Taiwan. We got to sit up close to the band, and before and between the sets they came over to chat. It was a friendly and fun atmosphere. The band played pop music with a jazzy flavour. And they also engaged the public in different ways, either by inviting them to the stage to sing or participate in some way, or by selecting material by request, or to suit the mood of the crowd. I had heard that people in Taiwan really like cha-cha, but this night there were mostly students. So only two cha-chas were performed, and I got to dance to one of them :).

Marco playingTowards the end of the last set, Marco got to try out the guitar, and while the guitar player relaxed with a beer, Marco performed a few songs with the band, including a passionate rendition of Hotel California. We left shortly after the band ended, since morning was fast approaching. Everybody was in a good mood, except perhaps the Budwiser Girl whom, wearing a skimpy outfit, tried to convince people to drink Bud. I tried one, but had to dissapoint her with going back to Heinikens…

Fava beanOn a culinary note, the beer in the pub was superbly accompagnied by a snack called 蠶豆/cándòu/fava bean. It was a kind of fried flat nut, that had a very thin shell. It was dryish and not fatty; it tasted closer to a nut like pistasio, than peanut. And it absolutly killed the artificually flavoured butter popcorn that was on offer.

Sunday will be short this weekend. A few hours of studies and dinner, maybe a few episodes of Lost. And then, trying to break my daily rythm back into coinciding with class and work :). Until next time, 再見!

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