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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sister Wei Heart Tapioca (魏姐包心粉圓): A Restaurant Review

Sophia Hong

Sister Wei Heart Tapioca is chain restaurant, and I visited the store in Jiaoxi, Yilan. When I first visited this restaurant, I didn’t think it was a popular restaurant. Sister Wei Heart Tapioca looked very ordinary – not brightly lighted or obviously clean – but they seemed to have slightly more customers than other shops.
  
All photos by the author
Heart Tapioca is a kind of dessert. It is just like the pearls in pearl milk tea. However, there is one big difference in Heart Tapioca – the tapioca balls are bigger because there is a surprise inside! The surprise is red beans, which give the Tapioca a springy texture. At Sister Wei Heart Tapioca, they mix tofu pudding, ice, condensed milk or beans with their Heart Tapioca.

I ordered the Number 3 dessert. It is a simpler kind of dessert; it contains only Heart Tapioca, ice and tofu pudding. It is said that simpler things are more difficult to do if you want to be better. I was very satisfied with my order. Their tofu pudding is very simple, so I think it is just so-so. Anyway, I want to tell you about their ice, because the ice was fresh and cool and their syrup was sweet, soft, and light. Most importantly, Heart Tapioca is hot. I have always thought that mixing cold things and hot things was very strange. At Heart Tapioca, when I tasted the hot tapioca blended with cold ice, I changed my mind; it was TOO perfect!


Sister Wei Heart Tapioca’s service is just like all chain stores, polite but not kind enough; maybe they were too busy, but I think this is a common failing in chain stores. However, when my friend said she want a take-out box because she had eaten only half of her meal, the clerk did answer with a little smile.

Anyway, I had very happy experience this time; I like sweet snacks, and my order was perfect. While they say that Number 4 is the specialty of the restaurant, I still recommend Number 3. There are Sister Wei Heart Tapioca branches in Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, Hualien, and Kaohsiung, and you can even try Sister Wei Heart Tapioca if you are traveling to Thailand at their shop in Bangkok!

  Sister Wei Heart Tapioca
  Address: 35 Jiaoxi Road Section 5, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County
  Phone: (03) 988-9566 
  On the Web: http://www.weiheart.com/about3.html

"Who Moved My Cheese?" - A Book Review

Jennifer Li

Dr. Spencer Johnson’s, Who Moved My Cheese? is a true story that  starts at a reunion. The people at the reunion were good friends in school, but had lost contact for a long time. Getting together again, they could not wait to hear more about what was happening in each other’s life, and ask for advice on how to deal with the unexpected changes that had come to them. Michael, who had encountered an enormous change and had dealt with it successfully shared a funny story with everyone called, “Who Moved My Cheese?”
Image courtesy Penguin.com, publisher
The book is about “changes,” changes in work, relationships, in life in general. There are only four characters in this funny story: Scurry, Sniff, Hem, and Haw. While each of them has a unique, strong personality, there is a one thing they have in common – they love cheese. The cheese in the book is a metaphor for what we are pursuing in our life - an ideal job, a harmonious relationship, a rewarding lifestyle.

Change sounds like an abstract concept, and we seldom think about it. However, the author makes sense of change by telling us a story in easy words and with a clear structure. It was easy for me to enter this story.  The four characters seemed alive; they confused me, made me aware of some things I had not thought of, and also made me laugh. This book actually built a thinking space for me to explore, and always encouraged me think deeper.

When I first saw this book in the bookstore, I thought that it was probably like a fairy tale book that would try to give readers some moral lessons. However, Who Moved My Cheese? taught me much more than I expected. It was easy to see how the characters were different by the way they reacted to change. As I read this book, sometimes I was running with the characters to find the cheese, and in other situations, I wanted to pause for a while and then move on. Whatever happened, “cheese” reminded me to rethink my behavior. In other ways, this book helped me become more aware of everyone and everything around me and how I needed to reorganize my life.

Now that I have finished the book, I am lucky to have the opportunity to share it with all of you. Take an hour to experience the adventure in Who Moved My Cheese?, and you will find an ideal way to deal with unexpected changes and to get the “cheese” that you deserve.

"Lost On Journey" - A Movie Review

Harry Chang
Lost on Journey is one of my favorite comedies from mainland China. This movie gives you an amusing view of social issues in China and reflects the many common complicated problems that occur in this densely populated society. This movie is mainly about a milk extraction technician, Niu Geng (played by王寶強), who is on a trip to Changsha to ask his employer for back pay, and a business man called Li Cheng-gong (played by 徐崢), who is on his way home to the same city for the Spring Festival celebration and family gathering. The movie consists of their dialogue and how a series of troubles hinder their ridiculous journey.
 
Poster courtesy chinesemov.com
There are many interesting and thought-provoking points and details I want to share with you. To begin, Niu Geng is unclear about the regulations that airplane passengers should follow since this is his first journey by air. He gets angry because he is forbidden to carry milk on the airplane; therefore, he swills down the entire bucket of milk he had brought for his trip.  When he starts to feel like vomiting during the flight, he asks the stewardess to open the window and let some fresh air in so that he could feel better.  Haha! How naive and funny this migrant worker is! Later on their trip, Niu convinces Li to buy a lottery ticket. To their amazement, they win first prize, which is a car! So, they decide to drive this car to Changsha. Suffering from lack of sleep, Li decides to let Niu drive for a while. Niu falls asleep and drives the car into a ditch. The two frantically pull themselves out of the car in anticipation of an explosion as they often see in movies. Nothing happens, but the car still cannot be driven and they have to spend the night in the middle of nowhere.

In this adventure, Li Cheng-gong is definitely a man out of luck. The flight, and the train and bus rides drive him mad. That was just the beginning of the trouble that awaits him and Niu. Later, while they are having a barbecue on New Year’s eve, Li told Niu his story and admitted that he was useless.  He had spared little time to help his daughter with her studies, he had started a relationship with a mistress while he still loved his wife, and he had treated his employees badly. I think that’s why the director made so much trouble happen to this guy.

This movie offers you a closer look into Chinese society. Firstly, Spring Festival transportation is a serious problem that the Chinese government has tried to solve. Laborers want to return home and see their families during the Spring Festival, and the resulting crowds of people moving around China at New Year has been said to be the largest annual human migration in the world. The railway network is insufficient to handle the number of passengers, and many social problems result.

Moral issues are also addressed in this movie. When they are about to get on the bus from Wuhan to Changsha, Niu is very sympathetic to a beggar begging money for medical treatment for her daughter. Niu wants to give her some money, but Li thinks she is a swindler and discouraged Niu from doing so. On the other hand, Li was very impressed by Niu’s kindness and thought he was naive and silly.  It turns out that Li is right – that the daughter wasn’t really sick. Truth be told, such phenomena are common in China and people in China are confused about how to cope with seemingly pitiful beggars.

Lost on Journey is an accurate portrayal of modern China; it shows both positive and negative sides of this complex society. What makes this movie so successful is that it uses humor and entertainment to give us a real sense of modern China.

Taking a Break - A Daytrip to Xitou

Renee Poon

My last mid-term examination was endless and tough, so a day trip to Xitou (溪頭) would be perfect for a break. My friends and I joined a cultural trip organized by the Office of International Affairs, so we did not have to do any planning for our Xitou trip while wrestling with our exams.

All photos by the author
Before the trip, I did not expect much; and that’s why I had so many “WOWs” afterwards. On the morning of our trip, we spent several hours at the Xitou Nature Educational Area. Here we learned a lot about the Xitou area. For example, Xitou means, origin of the river.” During the Japanese occupation, Xitou was used for practical training by the agricultural department of Tokyo University, and then, in 1970, it became a forest recreational area as well as continuing as an area for forest research for National Taiwan University. 
 


Our coach driver told us that we should go to the University Pond. However, with our unclear map, we simply could not be sure where were we going and how far would it be. Nevertheless, we had a great time doing this kind of “treasure hunt.” On our way to the pond, trees surrounded us on every path, breezes blew, and birds sang. It was terrific to be embraced by nature after living next to the night market for so long.
 
We were sorry that we did not make it to the giant trees; those who did make it told us how amazing it was walking “above” tall trees at the Sky Walk on the way to the giant tree. Although my friends and I did not get a close look at the giant tree, we pretended we did as all the trees there were so divine and refreshing to us. After a short lunch break, we headed to the Monster Village, an approximately 15-minute walk from the Xitou Nature Educational Area.


There was a hotel in the Village, Ming Shan Hotel, along with a small monster-themed commercial area. We discovered all sort of weird things like “bite the cat bread.” This is not a kind of bread that looks like a cat or that will make you want to bite a cat if you eat it. It is a kind of bread that is made with a poisonous herb that will make you itchy if you don’t prepare it properly. The village also has lots of ancient, Japanese-cartoon-style architecture.  This commercial area isn’t very big at all, but it is worth spending a little time there. I will definitely back to the Monster Village again for the foods since time flew too quickly this time. 


Before I visited Xitou, I was told that it was kind of boring. Therefore, I was surprised that I enjoyed this short trip very much! I think the feeling in the group you are with and the purpose of the trip are the things that matter. I had my friends with me, and I could escape from exam stress for awhile. It was just what I needed. While Xitou may not be the ideal place for you, you should still give yourself a break when you under a lot of pressure. Some people say Taichung is a bit boring, but it can be fun if you have the right companion and find somewhere you haven’t been to or even noticed before. You might want to try this out after your final exams!

Xitou Nature Educational Area: http://www.exfo.ntu.edu.tw/sitou/cht/
Monster Village: http://xitou-kuma.okgo.tw/