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I never knew I’d fall in love like this. I never knew how closed-minded I was until now. I used to be so set in my ways & opinions. I always stood my ground on my opinion that Tokyo was my most favorite city in the whole world & no other place could come close in comparison. Man, I really proved myself wrong on so many levels during this past trip to London. London completely blew my mind away & has quickly become my new favorite city in the whole world. I know that’s quite a bold statement to make, but I cannot stress enough how much & how strongly I’ve fallen in love with this incredible city!

First things first, I would like to address one small elephant in this blog post. Jian doesn’t do tourist traps or stuffy museums, but he wholeheartedly went for it on this trip. I guess it helped that all of our friends, who at one point in their lives lived in London, strongly encouraged us to take advantage of the free admission at museums & soak up all the rich British history. Another interesting thing I wanted to note, Jian was the one who was most looking forward to eating & exploring all the food options in London, but came back feeling a little disappointed with his food experiences. I, on the other hand, was not expecting too much culinary-wise. I was excited to try a few traditionally British foods like fish & chips & meat pie, but otherwise I was mostly hoping I wouldn’t get sick on this trip since sometimes I can get a sensitive stomach (e.g. my first trip to New York). However, I was the one who ended up having the most fun eating my way around London. I mostly loved all of the food we ate, while Jian had a few critiques here & there.

I wish I had taken a few more food photos, but I’m not one of those exasperating “foodies” (I detest that term) who takes a hundred trendy food selfies at restaurants & food trucks. I can’t stand it when people, especially from my generation, spend more time artfully arranging the food & taking photos than actually enjoying eating the mother cussing food. I will say there was one incident when Jian & I were eating supper at a seafood restaurant, & a group of middle-aged women from Hong Kong were not only behaving obnoxiously but also being downright inconsiderate to the other diners at the nice restaurant by walking around their table taking flash photography (with a creepy plastic toy doll) & talking loudly. Jian was about to turn around & tell these ladies in Cantonese to stop taking photos, but by that time we were nearly done with our dinner & he didn’t want to start a fight with feisty middle-aged Cantonese women who won’t back down from confrontation. Other diners had asked the waiter if he could politely ask the ladies to turn off the flash on their smartphone cameras. These ladies were extremely inconsiderate, & im glad we left before they could annoy us even more.

I truly enjoyed our food experiences in London, even though Jian was disappointed at times. We really got to try a variety of foods which kind of surprised me because I was expecting that we’d eat more pub food, but there were so many culinary choices just around our hotel alone that we had no problems choosing a place to eat. There’s still a lot of food I would love to go back & try, but I think what we had was a goog first time exploration of food.

  • We ate Japanese ramen twice at 2 different places. First at Bone Daddies Ramen Bar, then at Shoryu. Bone Daddies was one of the meals that really let us down. We were not happy with the ramen at all. The broth was bland & the noodles were mediocre. The only part of the ramen I liked was the grilled corn I added to my ramen. Shoryu on the other hand was a hands-down winner. Our friends were seriously pushing us to eat there, so we caved in & took their recommendation & was not disappointed. The ramen chef at Shoryu came directly from Japan to open up his first International restaurant, & it was a success. I have to say though, the hitting of a taiko drum every time someone walked in to the restaurant was a little cheesy. Other than that, the ramen was pretty good.

Hakata-style ramen from Shoryu

  • Sticking to the topic of noodles, we also ate Vietnamese Phở for lunch one day. There is a hip-looking Vietnamese restaurant one block down the street from our hotel, & we passed by it several times before actually eating there. There was one day when Jian was seriously hungover from overly drinking the night before. I was feeling the effects of the alcohol as well, but was by no means hungover. (I don’t know how I managed to avoid a hangover while Jian had a nasty hangover.) All we wanted was a nice, hot plate of comfort food to ease Jian’s hangover symptoms, so we opted for a bowl of Phở. Jian was disappointed with his Bún bò Huế, saying it was too salty, but I thoroughly enjoyed my regular Phở. I’m not really a fan of the Northern Vietnamese thick noodles, but it was a good cure for all the crazy antics we got up to the night before.
  • We also ate traditional pub fare at a place where I forgot the name, but apparently it was located in an historical building that was built from the 1800s. Jian got what he wished for & had the quintessential bangers & mash, while I had a steaming hot chicken pot pie. We washed that down with 2 pints of beer & rested our tired feet after walking all day. The food was hearty & gave us our second wind back so we could head out for a night of bar crawling.
  • We ate fish & chips at a pub (Princess of Wales, I think that’s what the place was called) on one of our first full days in London, right after I recovered from my short allergy spell the day before. We shared a small platter of fish & chips along with a pint of pale ale for him & a pint of cider for me (because I love apples). I love how the cod batter was crispy but didn’t taste greasy. I was nervous before the trip that I’d end up eating too much greasy fried food on this trip, but I was lucky enough to adjust my eating habits.
  • One of our favorite meals was at a restaurant called Blacklock. I would probably call this place a modern chop house, definitely a carnivore’s paradise. We ate so many different types of “chops” at Blacklock, we ended up eating there twice on our trip. Also, the cocktails were only 5£, so there’s that too. The chops were perfectly cooked, & they come in different sizes, so you can eat a variety of meats without stuffing yourself silly. They had small 3oz portions they called “skinny chops” that most diners ordered a platter of them to share, so Jian & I did just that. We had a varietyof beef, lamb, & pork cuts plus a side of beef drippings chips (a.k.a. French fries cooked in beef gristle). The beef drippings chips were by far the best French fries I’ve ever eaten in my life, & I can say that with complete confidence.

 

super yummy menu from Blacklock

  • Who knew that we’d end up eating Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches in London? Well, we also didn’t expect to visit London during one of the country’s most important holidays: Easter. On Easter Sunday, most shops & restaurants were obviously closed, except for a few Sunday Roast places which requires advanced reservations. However, we found one Scandinavian deli, called Scandinavian Kitchen, that was open for lunch, & we wanted to eat something light so we’d have some energy for the day but also an appetite for dinner & supper. The open-faced sandwiches were amazing. I could not believe how much caviar they put on their smoked salmon sandwich!! I mean, they put a heaping dollop of delicious caviar! In America, caviar is extremely expensive. It’s also considered a high society, upper-crust delicacy, not meant for the lower-crust masses. So, when I saw how much caviar this deli used on their extremely inexpensive open-faced sandwiches, I was blown away. Although this was a casual, on-a-whim lunch, this was one of our most memorable meals…props to the caviar!
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example of Scandinavian Kitchen’s open-faced sandwiches courtesy of Yelp.com

  • On our very first day, touching the soils of London, we ate at a restaurant called Mac & Wild. It was very basic British fare, but it was so well made, it was Jian’s most memorable & most favorite meal of our entire trip. We shared a cup of beef broth, which Jian vividly recalls came in an actual mug, & it was a broth made from beef bones & slow cooked for 48 hours. I ordered a grilled polenta dish & Jian ordered a lamb dish,  up it was the cup of beef broth that really made the meal special. I was having really bad allergies that day with a runny, sniffling, stuffed up nose & low energy, so a cup of soup was just the ticket to help me recover faster.

exterior of Mac & Wild

  • Remember when I mentioned those annoying ladies taking personal photos at the seafood restaurant? Well, how about I talk about that seafood restaurant instead? It was called Wright Brothers, & it was the best seafood we’ve had in a long time. I mean based on the value, it was well worth the stuffed bellies & food coma. We paid 59£ for a deluxe seafood platter which included: razor clams, snails w/ shell, mussels, clams, langoustines, shrimp w/ head, oysters, & a whole crab. According to London Yelp standards, this place is supposed to be expensive, like $$$$ (4 dollar signs) expensive, but look. Jian & I are from San Francisco, California where the price of everything is eye-popping expensive, so these prices did not seem that crazy to us. We had a great time feasting on this culinary explosion from the sea. Then, we were just insane enough to order a side of pomme frites (a.k.a. a fancy French term for fries/chips), which we could barely eat because we were already stuffed to the gills. Oh God, I just realized I wrote a lame pun there.
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the deluxe platter (a.k.a. seafood explosion) at Wright Brothers

  • Oh I just have to mention my new favorite bake shop called Crosstown Doughnuts!! Once you have a doughnut (I don’t like to say “donut”) from Crosstown, you’ll NEVER go back to Krispy Kreme, or Dunkin, or Voodoo, or Blue Star, or Mr. Holmes ever again. I know that’s an awfully bold statement to make, but I will proclaim it proudly, here & now. I am a huge fan of doughnuts. I’ve been eating them ever since I was a little kid & my mom would bring home a box of a dozen doughnuts from Happy Doughnuts (a former chain shop in the Bay Area). After Krispy Kreme’s popularity skyrocketed, Happy Doughnuts closed a lot of their locations, & I never found a doughnut shop that I liked after that. It wasn’t until I took a trip to Portland, Oregon, when I found a renewed love for doughnuts. No, I did not go to the severely over-hyped Voodoo Doughnuts (just one look at their photos & I knew there’s too much sickly sweetness in their kitschy doughnuts). I went to Blue Star Doughnuts, & I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed eating doughnuts. I was never able to find a comparable doughnut in the California Bay Area since then. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is pretty close I guess. They do have a good quality doughnut batter, but it wasn’t until I traveled halfway across the country, when this doughnut changed my life forever. So fresh, so delicious, & not overly sweet. I really wanted to eat Crosstown doughnuts everyday for breakfast, but Jian wouldn’t let me, so we only ended up eating there twice. I did, however, manage to stop by there on the day we were leaving & grab 2 more doughnuts to bring back home. Yes, folks. I was so in love with these doughnuts, & so determined, that I hand-carried these 2 doughnuts (one classic glazed & one chocolate truffle) on the plane & brought them home with me. I was so surprised that not only did these doughnuts maintain their shape, but also their freshness. I didn’t eat the doughnuts immediately. I put them in a food saver container & ate them 2 days later. It sounds gross the way I’m describing it, but let me tell you, they were still good days later.
  • Aside from eating whole meals, we also ate many delicious snacks along the way. One such snack that blew our minds came from a Jamón Iberico butcher/deli shop 2 blocks down the street from our hotel called Enrique Tomas Jamon Iberico Shop. Most places in the United States (like an artisanal butcher shop, Spanish restaurant, or even Costco) that offer this fatty, salty, delicious cured ham treat sell a few slivers for nearly an arm & a leg. This specific cured ham charcuterie is muy caro! For example, my brother took my mom to a Spanish restaurant in San Diego for her birthday. He ordered the Jamón Iberico,  & SIX slices cost him $300 USD!! My mom nearly fainted at the price. Costco, the giant American megastore also sells this jamón in a slim, 5oz, shrink wrapped package for $26 USD. On our trip to London, we kept walking past this jamón deli everyday & promising ourselves that we would eat there at least one time before we go home. Jian & I are huge fans of charcuterie meats, especially Jamón Iberico & prosciutto, so it was only a matter of time before we ended up at this place,  which was packed from floor to ceiling with different types of jamón & different cuts lining the display window enticing our senses. One late night we were walking back to our hotel to retire for the evening. Lots of shops had already long since closed & many restaurants were also preparing to call it a night. We were walking by the jamón shop when the guys working there noticed us staring from across the street. They shouted at us to come inside & grab a few slices. I was all for it, but Jian stopped me saying that we shouldn’t bother them if they were closing for the night. The 2 guys said they didn’t mind staying open for us, so we ran across the street to grab a late night snack. We chose a cone of jamón bits, & to our shock, it only cost us 7£!!!! What in the world?! Did we slip into an alternate universe where everything was affordable priced?! We paid for our delicious ham, profusely thanked the gentlemen who were so kind to stay & chat with us for a bit before closing. We brought our special ham back to our hotel, plopped our tired derrières at the Lobby Bar counter & continued our late night with some phenomenal cocktails to pair with our cured treat. Not only because of the extremely affordable price, but also because of its sheer deliciousness, I will never forget this experience for as long as I live.

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

  • Have I ever mentioned how much Jian & I love to drink coffee? We love this artisanal craft roast coffee movement that’s popular right now, but we will also patronize big box chain Starbucks, & if need be will grudgingly drink instant coffee. We wouldn’t call ourselves coffee snobs, even though we hail from San Francisco, one of the epicenters of the artisanal coffee roasting trend. However, we do appreciate a good quality coffee bean roast. Of course some of the best & most memorable/life changing coffee we’ve ever had was in Portland, Oregon. We probably had coffee at least twice a day when we visited Portland. We also bought several bags of beans to bring home. How could you not drink coffee in Portland when you’re right at the heart of the artisanal coffee trend, with the likes of Heart, Barista, Coava, Stumptown, Sterling, & many more of coffee roasting’ greatest hits. We’ve also had some pretty good coffee in Hong Kong at Omotesandō Koffee & The Coffee Academics. We’ve also tried coffee in Japan right at the start of their craft coffee movement at notable places such as: Streamer Coffee, Identity Coffeebar + Gallery, Little Nap Coffee Stand, Be A Good Neighbor. Who knew we’d extend our craft coffee tour in London with some awesome coffee from Soho Grind, TAP Coffee, Caravan Coffee, & shops like Flat White & Kaffeine. Oh man, every morning we looked forward to having breakfast with a hot cuppa joe. Jian’s caffeinated drink of choice is usually a macchiato, & I like to drink lattes, but we both fell in love with flat whites (not necessarily from the shop Flat White). Flat whites are my new favorite espresso drink. My favorite part about drinking coffee in London is that their coffee cup sizes are the exact same as in Asia, especially Japan….small. A regular cup size of take away coffee in London is still slightly smaller than a child/junior/short size in America. I love that because it’s so much more manageable than the average small cup size back home. For example, when I order coffee at Starbucks, I always choose the child size, which they call a short size. I still can never fully finish this cup, & by the time I reach the bottom, the coffee has already become soggy/watered-down & cold. The coffee sizes in London are small enough that you get just the right amount of a caffeine fix to power you through the morning & the spdrink stays hot until you reach the bottom of the cup.
  • One of the last meals we ate before we had to pack up our suitcases & head home was a nice little chain restaurant called Burger & Lobster. From what I’ve heard, this restaurant started in New York City, but they’ve opened a few locations scatered around central London. We ate at the Harvey Nichols department store in the exclusive Belgravia district/neighborhood. Jian ordered the traditional lobster roll, while I went for the more meatier whole lobster. Both of our lobster dishes came with a cup of refreshing mixed greens salad & a side of French fries. The lobster was delicious, & you probably don’t already know this but I am a huge fan of lobster. I mean, it’s my favorite type of seafood. However, I’d definitely say my favorite part of the dish was the super creamy clarified butter sauce that came with my lobster. The eatery gives you a hearty portion in a gravy boat perfect for dipping your lobster meat, or for slathering your entire plate in a fatty, buttery gravy. I thoroughly enjoyed eating my whole lobster. It’s my favorite way to enjoy lobster, but I dislike when the shell is too hard to crack. I was having a really difficult time cracking my lobster shell, mostly because the shell, especially the claw, was so thick. It was quite literally as hard as a rock. I was almost tempted to ask for a hammer/mallot, or just place the claw on the floor & smash it with my foot. But…I perservered & kept going. Eventually, after soaking my figertips in clarified butter, I was able to finish my entire lobster from head to tail. If I ever get a chance to go back to New York, I would really like to track down the original chain of Burger & Lobster, if they’re still around in the States.
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photo courtesy of Yelp.com

 

 

I will sum up our London food exploration by saying I had a great time eating my way through London. Jian, however, was quite dissatisfied & unenthused about the food. He felt some of the food we ate was a bit too salty or bland. Not very many dishes wowed him, except for the bone broth soup from Mac & Wild & possibly the seafood platter from Wright Brothers. Let me just say in Jian’s defense, that he’s not a picky eater, but he is hard to impress. I, on the other hand, am a picky eater, but I’m not hard to impress, usually. I went on this trip with the preconceived idea that I would not find very many things that I would like to eat. I was putting doubts in my own mind, making myself think that there would be a lot of weird or exotic food that maybe Jian would want to try, but I would not be interested in. That was not the case, at all. I pretty much loved all the things we ate (except for the Bone Daddies ramen). There are a few places, like Yauatcha, The Breakfast Club, The Duck & Rice, & Blanchette for example, that I’d like to go back & try.

Stay tuned for more of my London vacation blog! This food exploration was only the begining… Until then, cheers mates!

Today’s song of the day:

“Friendship (Is A Small Boat In The Storm) by Chicano Batman

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  1.   When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with A LOT of food allergies. I could’ve become the kid in the bubble who couldn’t eat anything, but over the years, I’ve given my allergies a big “F…You”, &have overcome most of my ridiculous food allergies. For the foods I still am allergic to, I take an allergy pill & proceed to eat my heart out without feeling the effects of an itchy mouth.
  2. I am a creature of habit. Once I find a food/dish I really enjoy eating (eg. roast beef sandwiches, macaroni & cheese, etc.), I can eat that same dish everyday for a week or more without getting sick of it. That’s why I always buy the exact same coffee drink & pastry at my local coffee shop.
  3. BUT… That doesn’t mean I don’t like to explore new &/or other foods. I was an extremely picky eater as a child, but now I heartily eat all the different foods I would never even look at let alone try (eg. tomatoes &/or most vegetables, Persian food, etc.).
  4. I have eaten some pretty crazy, Fear Factor style Asian foods in my life, which even surprises ME to this day. My family always makes jokes about how I mostly like to eat plain foods like: white toast with butter or naked pasta sans sauce or seasoning, which is often times true. So, I shocked myself when I dared to try snake soup in China. (I didn’t like it because who eats steaming hot soup in the middle of Summer?) I have also tried whale meat sashimi in Japan, which was not as weird as I would’ve thought. It tasted like very, very rubbery beef. I don’t think I will ever eat whale in Japan again due to their extremely appalling & inhumane whaling practices. That was a one-time deal. In Japan, I have also eaten horse meat sashimi. I fell in love with it immediately. That’s the most craziest thing I’ve ever tasted, & I absolutely cannot believe that I love it, let alone like it.
  5. I am Asian, but I’m not a very big fan of noodles (of any kind). Noodles don’t really appeal to me, but RICE on the other hand, gets me all sorts of excited. I love to eat rice, especially white rice of course, but fried rice, clay pot rice, crispy pan fried rice, are all tasty as well. Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy a bowl of soup noodles, Phở or ramen every now & again, but I will not go out of my way to eat it. I am #TeamRice all the way.

Today’s song of the day:

“I Need Never Get Old” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

 

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Almost immediately after returning from Portland, OR (I will write about that trip shortly) I was whisked away to San Francisco’s annual music festival Outside Lands, held over 3-days in Golden Gate Park. This wasn’t really a planned event; I kind of planned all of this at the very last minute. My travel companion & I wanted to go to Outside Lands ever since we saw the music lineup for this year, but we were very skeptical to shell out big bucks for tickets, since we were originally planning a vacation to New York & needed to save our moola for that massive expense. So, we decided at the beginning, on not buying tickets. Plus, there was a small discrepancy on which tickets to get. My concert buddy only wanted to go for one day, & I wanted to go all three days. My concert buddy only wanted to watch The Killers on stage, but for me, there were so many other bands/artists I wanted to watch perform (ie. Arctic Monkeys, Bleachers, Capital Cities, Grouplove, Death Cab For Cutie, & my secret love…Big Freedia).

Ok, back to the original topic, my re-cap. I was really quite impressed with the way the event planners handled the whole festival. Everything was well-organized & clearly marked (I was expecting massive queuing lines & disgruntled concert-goers), except I wish they had done better bag checks because too many people were able to just waltz right in with their own alcohol & party drugs without one single staff member even batting an eye. I think what surprised me the most was 1. The very short lines to the Port-o-Potty bathrooms & 2. Everybody from the shins down was covered in dust & dirt from kicking up all the soft earth while walking on the unpaved footpaths. (I felt like I was camping like I used to do when I was a kid.) What surprised me the least was there was no TP in any of the stalls…oh & girls dressed in skimpy outfits.

Proper WOMEN’S attire for Outside Lands:
cut-off denim booty shorts, slouchy vintage t-shirt, boyfriend-style plaid shirt (to show off how grunge &/or bohemian you are), ankle boots, Ray-Ban wayfarer &/or aviator sunglasses, plenty of unnecessary jewelry (that says I’m trying way too hard to be girly AND edgy) & pasted-on makeup.

Proper MEN’S attire for Outside Lands:
vintage/graphic t-shirt or tank top, chino pants, Van’s sneakers, Ray-Ban wayfarer &/or aviator sunglasses & a haven’t-washed-my-hair-in-weeks hairstyle.

Other than the music (obviously), I loved all of the food & activities at the festival. Oh my stars! I could just spend an entire day sampling all of the food from each of the food stalls…So. Mouthwatering. Good. (I’m getting hungry just thinking back on all the food!) FYI, to eat I had the pork fried rice from Chino, beer-braised chicken soft tacosfrom Tacolicious, & a cheese tamale from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas. To drink, I had lemonade, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale beer, Bulleit Bourbon manhattan cocktail, & Coke.

One of the highlights of my entire music festival experience was the charcuterie break dance-off. Yes, you heard it here first…a break dancing dance-off featuring two butchers from 2 local charcuterie/butcher shops. The break dancers would dance at the front of the small stage while in the background, the butchers were chopping & slicing up a whole pig. The day’s guest butchers were from Fatted Calf Charcuterie & Avedano’s Holly Park Market, both from San Francisco. This, by far, was the most weird yet interesting live events going on at the festival. I had so much fun watching this. The most fun part was watching the butchers carefully hacking up a pig’s head. The break dancers weren’t so bad either. At the end of the show, all of the pork cuts that had been made on stage were not going to be wasted. They were going to be used to feed all of the volunteer staff (the guys picking up trash, passing out maps, etc.).

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Photographic evidence this charcuterie break dance-off actually happened.

Now on to the music…Various artists & bands were performing on stage throughout the entire day, but the main event we were there to watch did not go on stage until the end of the night. So, we mostly wandered around the park for most of the day, soaking up the enormity of the festival. We got ⅓ of the way up to the stage just in time to watch THE FLAMING LIPS perform right before our favorite band THE KILLERS shut the house down. I’ve known of The Flaming Lips for many years, but am not really a fan of their soft, ambient rock music. Let me just start this off by saying Wayne Coyne is pure magic. He is also full of rainbows & sunshine, literally. No, I’m not joking, he invited a number of costume-clad guests up on stage during his set (including, a grassy hilltop with a rainbow-haired woman lying inside & peeking out of it, a 2-person manned rainbow, butterflies, a giant sun, 2 mushrooms, an alien, & I can’t think of the rest). I didn’t quite “get” Wayne’s outfit, a flesh & muscle depicted bodysuit that made him look like a character from the Attack On Titan anime with silver string tassels hanging from the crotch like a Japanese fundoshi (loin cloth). I enjoyed this set. I only recognized two of the songs they played, but I was still captivated by the eclectic stage show & Wayne really knew how to engage the crowd. However, I spent a fair amount of time trying to explain this band to my concert buddy who didn’t know who The Flaming Lips were at all & didn’t take a liking to their more Avant-Garde approach to music.

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Pardon my lack of quality in these photos. I strongly dislike taking out my mobile phone at concerts to take photos &/or videos. I am there to enjoy the music, not to hold up my hands & stand stock still while I block the view of the guy behind me.

I’ve seen The Killers in concert before, but somehow this performance was so much more high energy & exciting for me. Maybe it was because the moment had finally arrived, & I was ready to get the show on the road. It was such a relief when the lights turned down & the band ascended the stage.  I truly believe the light show nearly stole the spotlight from Brandon Flowers (who killed it on vocals, by the way).  You could tell that the light show was an homage to their Las Vegas roots, a bit of a nod to the flashy Vegas Strip.  One of the things I love the most about The Killers, other than their strong family values & bonds, is their love for their hometown.  In a lot of their songs lyrics or album cover art, you will notice the tongue-in-cheek homage to Las Vegas, at once making fun of the touristy glitz & honoring their beloved city all at the same time.  This set was particularly memorable for me (as well as for my concert buddy) since it was more like a Direct Hits (<—a nod to their CD’s name) set list.

The Killers played all of their hit songs & then some, really amping up the crowd between the lighting choreography changes.  I don’t think I have ever sang along or screamed so loud at a concert in my life (except at the Save Ferris concert back in 1998).  It was a good thing I had a drink with me the whole time, otherwise I would’ve lost my voice by the end of the night.  I have to admit, the greatest moments of The Killers’ set (& there were 2 separate moments) were when they performed two cover songs in between playing their own hits.  They first performed a cover of Credence Clearwater Revival‘s song “Bad Moon Rising” (a nod to a classic Bay Area band).  Then later on, they performed a slightly altered cover of Otis Redding‘s song “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (which is a song about San Francisco). They changed the lyrics “…home in Georgia” to “…home in Las Vegas” and the lyrics “…heading to the ‘Frisco Bay” to “…heading to Outside Lands“.  Those two moments really stood out in my memory.  The Vegas boys started their set with the oh-so-popular “Mr. Brightside” & ended on a roaring bang with “When You Were Young”.  In between were a sprinkling of Hot FussSam’s TownDay & Age, & Battle Born top hits.  I kind of wish they had played their newest singles “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “Just Another Girl”, but I was still happy they performed almost all of my all-time favorite songs.  By the end of their set, I was grinning from ear-to-ear.

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The Killers! Can you see them? They’re the little guys behind everyone’s Go-Pros & cell phones…

In the end, I was exhausted & very sweaty from A. the whole day’s exertions (did I mention we parked 10 blocks away from the venue?), & B. people pushing shoving you just to get 1 inch closer to the stage (with lame excuses like, they have to meet their “friends” at the front of the stage). There was absolutely NO space for anybody to move even half an inch, but you’d still get pushed & squeezed in every direction.  I can’t tell you how many times I got jabbed or groped by someone’s elbow or backpack right in the chest, or how many times my feet got stomped on (practically steamrolled right over my feet).  I was, in the most extreme way possible, harshly shoved, squeezed & quite frankly barreled over by the most rudest concert-goers I’ve ever encountered in my life, & trust me…I’ve been inside a rowdy mosh pit at the Van’s Warped Tour back in the late 90s when there weren’t so many laws against trampling over people at concerts.  The event staff was great at policing the kids who thought it would be cool to sneak in a water bottle filled with tequila, or catching cheapskates not wanting to buy full-tilt cocktails at the festival & sneaking in bum-sized bottles of Fireball whiskey (which tastes appalling, in my opinion).  They were also good at catching kids trying to hop fences & bum-rush the stage, but other than that, nobody could police the courtesy, civility or manners of the general concert-going population.  While as patiently as humanly possible in that situation waiting for The Killers’ set to start, all I could hear around me were smug talks of the last time that person tripped out on ecstasy (more affectionately known as “Molly”, a word made popular by the incorrigible Miley Cyrus) or of all the marijuana smoking going around.  It made me sick to my stomach, that these kids would try to glamorize the copious & very public use of “Molly” and “Mary Jane”.

One of the main reasons people were being so unbearably rude at the music festival was because they were either highly intoxicated on drugs, alcohol, or both…on that day, it was both.  Aside from all of my ranting & hollering about the rudeness of the people, I would definitely go back to Outside Lands next year.  Although, I will bring some sort of non-weaponized stick next time, so I can poke others in their butts if they try to cop-a-feel.  Eh, maybe not. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:
“Triple Trouble” by The Beastie Boys
triple trouble

I had so much fun on my trip.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I started my vacation with the intention of blogging photos of each day, but *pffffft*, that obviously DID NOT happen.  Every day was like a whirlwind, & by the time I had gotten back to my hotel room, it was extremely late & I was exhausted.  My two friends who got married had a beautiful wedding (with a few very minor glitches).  I have never experienced a half traditional Taiwanese , half Western mixed wedding before, & my friends pulled it off wonderfully.

One part that really amazed me was that my male friend was asked to sing a song during the wedding reception.  According to my female friend (who is Taiwanese), it is part of a newer type of wedding tradition where the groom is required to prepare & choreograph a special song (of one’s own choice) & sing to the new bride.  I was so happily surprised to see my male friend, who is usually quite shy, get up to sing in front of the entire wedding party.  He chose to sing a popular/well-known Chinese pop song, & he sang the lyrics in Mandarin…which was a feat by itself, since my male friend mainly speaks Cantonese & English & was not very familiar with the Mandarin language until he met his new bride.  He was really great with the choreography too!

Overall, all of us as a group had a really awesome & memorable experience in Taiwan.  For some of us, it was a first-time experience.  For others, it was like visiting familiar territory.  I didn’t go as crazy with the food eating as I had initially thought I would.  However, I DID go a little buck wild with the shopping.  I really wasn’t expecting to do that much shopping in Taiwan.  I gave myself a budget (I did stick to it) & had planned to spend a majority of my shopping budget in Japan…but I could not resist all of the cute stationery popping up around every corner!  I ended up purchasing quite a bit of postcards, greeting cards & sticker sets.  (Yes, I was a bit of a naughty girl.)

I have a special use for all these things, I promise!

I have a special use for all these things, I promise!

Here’s a quick rundown of all the things that happened on the Taiwan leg of our Asia tour…

A glimpse at the food we ate:


01. Won Ton soup noodles
02. Ramen Kagetsu Arashi (花月嵐拉麵) – tonkotsu ramen with onsen egg
03. Japanese beef curry with rice
04. Lion Head meatball (獅子頭 – shi zhi tou)
05. Locally farmed organic chicken with sliced green onions
06. Mini soup dumplings (小籠包 – xiao long bao)
07. Rao He night market – a very popular fried bun filled with minced pork & veggies
08. Fong Da cafe latte – this place is very famous & has been open since 1956!
09. Ice Monster red bean shave ice with ice cream & condensed milk
10. Ice Monster (very popular) mango shave ice with mango sorbet
11. All-you-can-eat hot pot – side A = spicy broth, side B = mild broth
12. You can choose up to 3 types of broth for your hot pot!
13. We celebrated our dear friend’s birthday with a tiramisu Mille Crêpe cake!
14. Believe it or not, Taipei is known for some really good Japanese sushi spots. We topped off our sushi extravaganza with some Negi Toro hand rolls.
15. We visited a 50+ year old beef noodle soup shop to have 紅燒牛肉麵 (hong shao niu rou mian – red roasted beef noodles).
16. Yes, we also tried Shanghainese food in Taiwan. This was some good slow cooked beef with some veggies in a delicious broth.
17. Didn’t get enough veggies yet, so we ordered a steamed cabbage dish
18. Shredded chicken noodle soup
19. Shredded bean curd served cold
20. Small river shrimp with a special vinegar sauce for dipping
21. The best thin rice noodles I’ve ever had at the 阿宗麵線 (Ah Zong Mian Xian – Ah Zong Noodle Line) food stall. No tables, no seats. Everybody just stands around the shop & eats on the sidewalk. You can add your own fresh mince garlic or special hot chili sauce.
22. A plate of duck with a bowl of soup noodles at 鸭肉扁 (Ya Rou Bian – Duck Meat Slice). I found out recently that the meat is actually wild goose, not really duck.

 

MORE PHOTOS AND INFO TO COME…

Happy Friday. I had a small revelation about myself today while I was driving alone in my car. Well, it wasn’t that dramatic. It was more like, I was thinking about random, unimportant things. Then, I suddenly started to realize some quirky things that I tend to do without consciously acknowledging them.

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Poster courtesy of: minimalmovieposters.tumblr.com

1. Unlike my husband, who gets incredibly excited to watch new movies in the theater upon their fresh release, I don’t really get hyped up to watch new movies. It’s hard to get me excited to watch a new movie in theaters. I tend to gravitate more towards older movies. I don’t only mean classics from the 50s & 60s… I’m more likely talking about movies that are already released on DVD. If I find a movie that I like, I can watch that movie over & over (5, 6, 7+ times) without getting bored or tired of it. I am not going to say which is my favorite movie. I just can’t say. However, I can say this for example, I have a watched Ratatouille about 10 times already…probably more, & I am not sick of it. I don’t understand why I get this way over movies, but I just like what I like.

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2. I tend to be a compartmental eater. Whenever I’m eating, I eat my food in sections. If I have rice or other starch items on my plate, I don’t like having other foods with sauce touching it. I like to eat the side items first, then the main item, & save the starchy items for last. When I visit Starbucks, I tend to only get their cheese & fruit box if I order food. The box contains: a packet of multi-grain crackers (6 pieces), green apple slices, a small container of dried cranberries & almonds, & a selection of 3 cheeses (aged Cheddar, Gouda & Brie). I will first eat the apple slices, then the container of cranberries & almonds. Even with the berries & almonds, I will eat them separately. I will eat all the cranberries before I eat all the almonds. Next, I will eat the cheeses separately. First I will eat the Cheddar, then the Gouda. Then, I will eat the crackers. Hwre’s where I kind of loosen my compulsive reigns a bit. I usually save the piece of Brie for last, but sometimes I will deviate & eat it with the crackers. (Oh! So scandalous!
Not.)

Well, that’s pretty much it. I recently told my husband about these 2 quirky things/habits of mine. He thinks I’m a bit odd, but he’s OK with it & so am I. I hope it’s sunny & hot wherever you are today. It’s nice & toasty where I am. Let’s enjoy. Cheers!

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