Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jade, Big Macs, and Fireworks

We had a very exciting day! This morning, we ventured over to the Holiday Jade Market here in Taipei. This is supposedly the largest jade and semi-precious stone market in Asia, and it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. If you are in search of a bracelet, necklace, or any other type of jewelry, this is definitely the place to be. We wheeled and dealed and walked away with a few souvenir items. These of which will remain unknown, because they are probably the gifts of many of our blog readers :) After the market, we set out in search of lunch. We just happened to come across a McDonald's and chose this over the all Chinese menu of its competitors. Although I will have to say that this is not something I plan to do on a regular basis, I thoroughly enjoyed my chicken nuggests and french fries. The menu was quite different from what we were used to, no grilled chicken sandwiches or salads were in sight. Ironically, this was the first time that Nick's ever had a Big Mac. Evidentally he went straight from the Happy Meal to the Double Quarter Pounder. We were finally able to have a soft drink for lunch too, something that I have missed very much.

After lunch, we walked over to the Holiday Flower Market. This area was overflowing with gorgeous flowers and plants. There was also an overwhelming number of bonsai trees. Some were small and cute, while others were large and beautiful. Nick wishes that we could smuggle one back home, but I assured him that I didn't think we could get past customs.

After the flower market, we walked (notice how that word is used rather often) to the Chinese Handicraft Mart. This was four floors of jewelry, ceramics, and other collectable items. Nick and I fell for this tourist trap, and we purchased a few interesting things.

Tonight, we were hoping for a rather relaxed evening; however, Yan Kei and three others from Nick's lab offered to take us to see some fireworks and then to the night market for dinner. Of course we could not turn down this kind offer, so we set off with them in hopes that we would not go too long without dinner. From what we gathered from Yan Kei, the music and fireworks were in honor of a new movie opening in Taiwan, Red Cliff. The fireworks were definitely some of the best that I had ever witnessed, and they used some very unique features that we had not seen before. The fireworks were set off on the riverfront, and we were very close to them. I have a feeling that this would be illegal in America. At times, it felt as if they were exploding directly above us. A bridge spanning the wideth of the river was used as an integral part in the show. Fireworks were shot off from its sides into the air, and at other times, they cascaded from it like a water fall. Small objects were also placed into the water that shot off fireworks and looked like sprinklers. It was a fantastic show, and we were glad for the experience. After the show, we went to the Jingmei night market. There were many different types of food and clothing for sale. Much of the food I did not find appealing, but I was able to find a few things that I liked. I had a Chinese dumpling filled with cabbage and bits of pork that was very tasty. I also had a chicken and onion sandwich that I labeled as "very American". For dessert, Nick and I split a pancake sandwich filled with a small amount of chocolate. This was my favorite, and I wished that I didn't have to share!

I have to say that although today was very busy, we had lots of fun! I plan to have a leisurely morning tomorrow. Maybe hit the gym and do some laundry? Dirty clothes pile up fast in this hot, humid weather!

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