How to Make Your Own Chinese-Style Dumplings

Anyone who has eaten authentic Chinese style dumplings will tell you that they are awesome! So much better than what you can get in American Chinese restaurants.

But what are you supposed to do if you live in America? Easy! Make your own.

It may sound like a daunting task, and it can be a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it it'll be a piece of cake (and a ton of fun too!).

First, there are a few things that you will need. So head on down to your local Asian supermarket. I'm sure you have one in town, just google it.










Here's your shopping list:

1. Ground pork

2. Cabbage 

3. Green onions

4. Dumpling skins(they'll be in the frozen section)

5. Soy sauce

6. Minced garlic

7. White pepper

It also helps if you have a food processor, but you don't need to buy one just for dumplings.

Now that you have everything that you need, let's get cooking!










Here's how you do it:

1. Thoroughly wash all of the vegetables.

2. Finely dice cabbage and creep onions.

3. Put your ground pork in a mixing bowl, and mix in the vegetables.

4. Set out a tray to put your finished dumplings on, and a bowl of water to the side.

5. Grab a dumpling skin, slap on a spoon of your pork/veggie mix.

6. Dip your spoon in the water and wet the edges of your dumpling skin.

7. Fold it together and fold along the sides to keep it shut.

8. Repeat about a hundred or so times!










Cooking dumplings is easy, but you have a choice to make. There are two different ways to prepare them. Steamed, or pan fried. To steam them, it works best if you have a pot with a steamer attachment on top. If you want to pan-fry them, oil up a hot pan, set your dumplings in, mix a cup with flour and water and pour it over the dumplings. This makes them nice and crispy! 

To eat them, you can prepare a small bowl of soy sauce, mix in some garlic and pour it over your dumplings, or just dip them and eat. 










However you choose to make them, you can be sure that you will have an awesome meal!

I hope you enjoyed the article and are ready to try out your own homemade dumplings! Let me know how they turn out!
Also, I'd like to take a moment to tell you guys to hop on over to my new friend Yang Yang's site. They recently interviewed a lot of Chinese language learners(myself included) about their top Chinese learning resources. Check out what they (and I!) had to say here!
Like always, comment below and let's get a discussion going!

Lesson 19: Chinese Idioms

Hey everyone, it's been a while since I posted a new Chinese lesson, so today that is exactly what I'm doing! Today we will be learning about one of the most difficult parts of the Chinese language: 成語(pronounced chen yu), or idioms. It can be very challenging to learn a foreign language, even just literal every day language, but idioms will pose a serious challenge. There are still tons that I don't know! And the meaning is not always clear. Basically, they're often something older people will say to us youngsters (I'm 30, that's still youngish, right?) to sound wise and experienced in the ways of the world. While you don't really need to learn any idioms to be able to communicate and get around in Taiwan, they will add a lot of credibility to your Chinese, and they're fun too! So let's learn some, shall we? Here are some of my favorites:

感激不盡 gǎnjībùjìn-

This means "I can't thank you enough", and it's to be used in a situation where saying 謝謝 just doesn't cut it, like if someone were to save your life.


吹毛求疵 chuī máo qiú cī-

This mean "nitpick", and is useful for when your wife or girlfriend is laying into your every action/word. Next time, tell them 不要吹毛求疵 (don't nitpick). And then you might want to run!


隨心所欲 suí xīn suǒ yù-

This means "do as you please", so if someone is retired, they can go ahead and 隨心所欲.


船到橋頭自然直 chuán dào qiáo tóu zì rán zhí-

This basically means "just go with the flow", when a ship comes into dock, it doesn't fight the waters, and you can't control everything on your own life. You'd go crazy if you tried!


青紅皂白 qīng-hóng-zào-bái-

This is used to mean " black and white", or "right and wrong", so if we are discussing someone that has done something wrong, like a politician, a celebrity or a friend, I may say "他不分青紅皂白".


馬馬虎虎 mǎmǎhūhū-

This literally means "horse horse tiger tiger", which of course makes no sense in English! The idiom is used to mean "so-so". If I see a moviend my friends ask me how it is, I may reply 馬馬虎虎 if I didn't think it was that good.


津津有味 jīnjīn yǒu wèi-

This can mean to "relish" something. For example, 他們吃得津津有味 means that they greatly relished their meal. 


知己知彼,百戰百勝 zhījǐzhībǐ, bǎizhàn-bǎishèng-

This is probably the most famous Chinese idiom in the West, as we see the reference in a lot of literature and movies. "Know yourself, know your enemy, fight a hundred battles, win a hundred victories" is pretty self explanatory, so I won't go into depth on the meaning. It's a quote from Sunzi's "The Art of War", for those of you that may not have heard it before.


百看不厭 bǎi kàn bù yàn-

This literally means that If you see something one hundred times, you won't hate it. Or "you won't get sick of it". This is good phrase for talking about your favorite movie.

For example, 那一部電影百看不厭.


羊入虎口 yángrùhǔkǒu-

This means "a lamb enters a tigers mouth", which is used to mean that you(the lamb) are treading dangerous grounds(the tiger's mouth).


As you can see, some of these idioms are easier to understand than others, but most of their meanings are not readily apparent. That is why Chinese is so challenging, and such a fun language to learn! What is your favorite idiom from our list! Let us know!


Taipei in Seven Days: Top 5 Places to Hang-Out Near 101

Hey everyone, before continuing on, I want to remind you that this is an ongoing series. If you haven't been following it, click here and here to see the first two installments that I have posted over the past few weeks. Enjoy, and let us hear your opinons down below! 


All right, now that we've checked off one of our must-see destinations from our list, I'm going to give you guys some time to freely explore.  See, aren't I nice? Though I strongly suggest that you spend some time walking around downtown. There is always a lot of art on display, which I personally always enjoy checking out. And there are heaps and heaps of department stores and shopping malls for those of you who want to shop-til-you-drop! Even if shopping isn't your thing, take a look around. The new ESLITE shopping center located a short walk from the city hall MRT station has a lot of cool alternative activities for those of you who don't need any new clothes or shoes.

There you can participate in a DIY silver smithing class where you can choose to make either a ring or a bracelet from a bar of silver, or you can try your hand at *blowing glass or pottery. That's where my wife and I got our wedding bands, FYI, because nothing says love like "hand-made". You can even conveniently rent a bike and ride around for fun if the outdoors are more your thing. Especially if you're from the suburbs like I am, the big city can be an awesome experience, so make the most of it!

Here's my top-five recommendations for how to spend your free-time. And again, these are just some of your options. There is really so much more that you could do and see. Whether you follow my lead and visit on of my recommended spots from the list below, or pave your own adventurous path, the choice is yours. And as these are "extracurricular" activities, I'll leave the "cheapskate" and "big spender" tips out of this section. It's your time, and your money. I'll offer you some suggestions on how to spend them, but  I'll leave the decision making up to you. Just do me one favor though…have fun! You're on vacation, remember?


1.Simple Market

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Conveniently located within walking distance from Taipei 101, Simple Market is just one of the many art markets that have popped up around Taipei over the last several years. I have to say that I really love how the Taiwanese people take run-down old historical buildings and re-purpose them. Rather than tear down these rich, culturally significant buildings, they make them into places of art, and beauty. 44 South Village(44南村) was originally a military dependents housing complex that had been abandoned and in shambles for years. Now every Saturday and Sunday, it houses Simple Market. On Saturdays they rent-out stalls to people selling second-hand clothing and other items, while on Sunday's they're filled with vendors selling their own hand-made foods, clothing, leather bags, accessories of all kinds and much more. Back in our hay-day, my wife Ruby and I would often rent a space to sell our own handmade wares. She sold handmade dresses, shirts, scarves and other things like that, and I sold handmade leather bags, belts and wallets. We got to supplement our income nicely, and had a blast being there and checking out all of the unique items that were for sale. They also have a restaurant, an ice-cream shop and several stores selling various hand-made and novelty items, even a guitar store, all inside the main building. They also always have an art exhibition of some kind or another in one of the rooms in the same central building. Outside, in addition to all of the handmade goodness, you can also buy fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmers market, and one of my favorite snacks, baked sweet potato (烤地瓜). Those suckers are both delicious and nutritious, plus they're cheap and will fill you up. The  market also has several grassy areas and trees to sit under and rest and enjoy the weather on a nice day. Plus they usually have live music, so that's just one more thing for you to enjoy as you soak in the sunshine.

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This is the trickiest destination to get to on this list. It's very close, and easy to walk to, but if you are worried about getting lost, you can grab a taxi from in front of 101 and show him the Chinese sentence 「我要到四四南村」. The driver will know where it is. If you want to hoof it, then follow my directions closely. When you exit Taipei 101, turn right on Songzhi St. Keep going until you reach Songqin St. And then turn right. Keep straight, pass Xinyi Elementary School and go straight until you come to the next intersection. Cross the street and you'll be at Simple Market.


2. Songshan Cultural and Creative Park and Songyan ESLITE

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Like Simple Market and the restored 44 South Village, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is another prime example of how the Taiwanese give new life to their old, run-down buildings. The park occupies what was once the Songshan Cigarette Factory(松山菸廠), and the area surrounding it. The first building you come across when you enter former cigarette factory grounds is now home to a store that sells all kinds of fancy glass figurines and decorations, as well as a high-class restaurant. The area right out front has lots of picnic tables, and a pond with a path around it which is nice for taking a stroll. The water is home to fish and turtles, and lots of birds make there home there, in fact you can buy seeds from a vending machine to feed them if you want. I think it's especially nice to hang out around the water and relax when it's evening, and there's a cool breeze. To the left of the restaurant is some kind of tall smokestack that I assume must have once been integral to the functionality of the factory, but now you can sometimes go in and check out exhibitions inside.

Last time I was there, there were a lot of photographs on display as well as an artsy film projected on one of the walls. When you continue in to the largest building of the complex, past the restaurant, you have the option to explore it further. It's quite large and you might get lost, but don't worry, it'll be easy enough to find your way. There's a neat garden in the middle between two of the buildings, and the frequently have art exhibitions on the first and second floors of the building. You may find something cool that you never expected you'd find, so check it out! Outside on the right side of the compound are several other exhibition halls, which always have something to see in them. The coolest one that I've been to was Nathan Sawaya's amazing collection of larger-than-life LEGO sculptures.  Once you've checked all of that out, you can head into the Songyan ESLITE department store and do some shopping. You can grab some bread from their famous bakery on the basement level, but be warned, there's always an insanely long line (that's just part of life in Taiwan). After chewing down. Check out the theater next to the bakery. They play really artistic movies, do they may not be your thing, still it's an option. There are also some really cool and unique activities for you to try your hand at upstairs. You can be a silver smith for a day, and craft your own bracelet or ring. If jewelry isn't your thing, why not blow glass, or make pottery? Making something with your own hands makes for a much better souvenir, and a memory that you'll always treasure.



It's pretty easy to get there from Taipei City Hall Station, all you have to do is turn left on Zhongxiao E Rd and walk straight and cross the intersection, then keep going straight for around 3-5 minutes until you pass the park on the right side of the street. The building directly behind the park is home to one of the cram-schools that I worked for in Taipei, if anyone's interested. You can see their advertisement draped across the side of the building. You'll want to cross over to the park-side of the street, and then turn right down the alleyway directly after the park. Head down that way for a few more minutes, and you'll see the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park on your left-hand side.


3. Hankyu Department store (阪急百貨公司) and Xinyi ESLITE (信義誠品)

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Hankyu department store was always one that I frequented when I lived in Taipei, especially since it's conveniently connected to the City Hall MRT Station, and Xinyi ESLITE underground and to the City Hall Bus Station one the ground level. There are tons of great shops throughout the department store, but my favorite is definitely MUJI, which can be found in the basement level. MUJI is a world-famous Japanese brand that sells everything from slippers to stationary, and both my wife and I loved shopping there, we just didn't usually purchase much since their prices are quite steep. I bought the most comfortable, form-fitting bean-bag chair that the world has ever seen from one of their locations, and I really miss it since I left it with my in-laws in Taiwan…it was the perfect video-gaming chair! Another store you should check out is UNIQLO. It's another famous Japanese brand and they always have a lot of trendy clothes. Unlike MUJI, however, their prices are quite reasonable and they have some good sales. On the rooftop level above the bus station is another cool spot to visit. The space used to not be used for anything, which I always thought was a shame since it's such a nice space. Now they've remedied this by hosting another art market on the Weekends. You can browse the various hand-made wares, try some gourmet coffee and listen to live music. There's also a Starbucks up there, as well as a TGI Friday's and a NY Bagels(This is the best place to get American style breakfast food in Taipei, in my opinion) if you need a snack. After checking out Hankyu, I'd take the underground path over to ESLITE. There's a lot more to see and do here. There are floors upon floors of shops, an awesome food court (I especially love the Korean stone bowl rice, and the shaved ice store that's by the escalator), exhibitions and special events, and the largest bookstore in Taiwan, which happens to be open late. I can't even begin to tell you how many hours I've spent at this place, and while the selection of English language books is considerably smaller than that of Page One, I still find ESLITE to be the more interesting, and entertaining of the two. Check them out and let me know what you think.




It's pretty easy to get there; all you have to do is turn left on Songzhi St. when you exit Taipei 101. After that it's just a straight shot to ESLITE. Now all you have to do is keep walking straight, between the two buildings on the walkway and you'll arrive at the back entrance to Hankyu.



4. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Is a memorial to the Father of Taiwan, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, and was completed on 1972. The building itself is massive, and the park that surrounds it is beautiful. Throughout it are displayed statues depicting Sun's life and the revolution he led which led to the founding of The Republic of China. If you want to learn more about his story, then I suggest you rent a copy of the 2009 film, Bodyguards and Assassins. While the film is very much a dramatization of events and not to be taken as an accurate account, it is still a good movie and one I recommend you watch. There is always a pair of guards silently standing watch in the hall, still-as-statues, much like the Queen's Guards of England. And if you're lucky, you just may whiteness the changing of the guards, which is a very special and memorable ceremony. On a sunny day, the park will be filled with families having picnics, playing games and flying kites. You may also be lucky enough to witness one of the traditional Chinese Kungfu classes that take place in the shadows of the memorial hall. And there are often large groups of young-people break dancing, or playing guitar or involved in some other kind of activity. And during the lantern festival, the park will be filled with decorative lanterns of all shapes and sizes. The festival takes place in either January or February, close to Chinese New Year, and the lanterns are best viewed at night. It's a must-see if you're there when the festival is taking place. You can get there by MRT (the stop is Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station) or you can take a walk, or rent a bike and pedal your way over there if the weather is nice.



You can get there by MRT(the stop is Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station) or you can take a walk, or rent a bike and pedal your way over there if the weather is nice. If you choose to be adventurous, it's just a straight shot down Zhongxiao E Rd, like you were going to the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, only you keep going until you see the memorial hall. It'll be on your left, and you can't miss it.


5. Taipei World Trade Center

The World Trade Center is home to most of the big, important expos in Taiwan. Or, rather, "they" are. I say "they", because the Trade Center actually consists of three separate buildings, all of which are conveniently located close-by Taipei 101. When I say "close", I really mean, "right next door". The architectural design of the buildings themselves is very modern, and pleasant to look upon, much like the buildings that surround them in the heart of the Xinyi district of the capital city. The buildings resemble an assortment of boxes stacked one-on-top-of-the-other, like the "blocks" you may have played with as a child. And inside, they are very spacious. They have to be by necessity, as they are constantly filled with elaborate displays, stages and booths for the variety of exhibitions that they are used for. I've been to several such exhibitions. I've been to one on travel, one on books, and several other subjects as well. One of the most popular is the comic convention they host yearly. Expect to see plenty of scantily clad anime heroines straight from the pages of your favorite manga, and flocks of fan-boys crowding around them. And expect to find a lot of merchandise for sale, so I hope you brought your wallet! Just check online before you go to see if there is anything on exhibit that interests you. It can be a fun way to kill some time. Here's their website:



It's just next to Taipei 101, all you have to do is walk outside and over to the trade center. Look for the building shaped like a bunch of blocks stacked on each other.

Taipei in 7 Days- Into Taipei, and 101

Hey guys, today's post is a continuation of out Taipei in Seven Days series. Here's the article that I'm refering too, in case you missed it. Let me know if you have any questions below, and let us know about your experiences traveling in Taipei. Enjoy!


Getting to Taipei:

Congratulations, you're now in Taiwan, exiting your plane at Taoyuan International Airport. It's likely full of travelers(it always is when I travel) and just finding your way around can be a challenge. Luckily for you, there are English signs all over, so you should be able to find your way to customs with relatively little pain. Make sure you fill out the customs form(they'll want simple information, like the address you'll be staying at, and why you're visiting Taiwan, etc.), and get your passport ready. Some countries make it a real hassle to get through customs, but it's pretty easy in Taiwan. Once you've gotten your passport stamped go to luggage claim, grab your bags and head out into the terminal and exchange your cash for a Taiwanese money. So what's next? The first thing you're going to need to do after you pick up your luggage and exchange your currency for NT, is get to Taipei. Now, you have two options.


Cheapskate: take the 國光 bus from the airport terminal to Taipei city.  This is definitely the cheaper of the two options, as a ticket will only run you around $95NT($3USD). If you go this route, I'd recommend that you get off at Taipei Main Station(your hub for transit around the city) as it's the last station, so you won't miss your stop.


Big Spender: hop in a cab and ride in style to your destination. Don't worry, the cab should only cost you around $1000NT($30USD). If you have reservations at a hotel, make sure you give your driver the address written in Chinese, as he may not speak English. You can translate the address using this website if you can't find it online:



I know, I know. You're in an exciting new city, and surrounded by all sorts of new and unusual sights, sounds and smells. It's only natural to want to explore, but unless you want to lug your suitcase with you through all of the crowded Night Markets and MRTs, then you'd better go check in at your hotel. As before, I'm offering you two options. But if you have already made other arrangements, skip on down to the next section and let's have some fun!



If you happen to be saving your funds up for an awesome souvenir, or if you just have a limited amount of money to vacation with, then I recommend that you stay in a youth hostel. It's cheap, you have the opportunity to meet new, interesting(or weird) people, and how much time do you really plan to spend in your room? You only have a brief window to see this beautiful country, so don't waste time sleeping in! If what I've said here sounds like what you're looking for, then why not stay at Taipei Hostel? They've been open since 1975, and they are in fact, the first youth hostel in Taipei. Their prices are reasonable at $300NT ($10USD) a night, which isn't bad considering it's very close to the transportation hub of Taipei: Taipei Main Station.

Here's the address in Chinese and English, along with contact numbers and their fax number. If you have any trouble finding the place, give them a call and someone will help you out. Don't worry, they have English speaking staff. It's located just down the street and around the corner from Taipei Main Station. They have a map on their website that can help you find it too. You can also make reservations online. Their website is:

Taipei Hostel


台灣台北市中正區林森北路5巷11號6 樓


TEL:    +886 2 23952950  |  +886 2 23952951

FAX:    +886 2 23952952


Big Spender:

Right across from Taipei Main Station is one of the nicest hotels in the area,  Caesar Park Taipei. It's going to be a lot more expensive, but it places you in the perfect spot for taking advantage of Taipei's famous, and incredibly convenient MRT system. Do getting around the city to all of the destinations in this guide will be a lot less hassle, so you'll be able to further maximize your time. So the question is, what's more important? Your time, or money? Hmmm, tricky question indeed, since time is money. if you answered "time" then you've come to the right place. Plus with all the top-notch accommodations, and the plush decor, you can bet that your stay will be a comfortable one! A room in the Caesar Park is going to run you ~$4300NT+ (~$140USD+) a night.

Below is the hotels address and contact information, including their website, which you can check out for more information and to make reservations. This is where my family stayed when they visited me the first time in a Taiwan, and I would recommend them to anyone. The service is great, and it's a relaxing and comfortable place to stay. Remember, you get what you pay for. Check them out and make your reservations here:

Caesar Park Taipei


No. 38, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao W. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist.

Taipei City, 100, Taiwan



Morning to Afternoon:
First thing you're going to see in Taipei is Taipei 101. Taipei 101 was formerly holder of the "worlds tallest building" title, but has since been overtaken by Dubai's Burj Khalifa, but at a height of 1,667 feet(or 508 meters for my non-American friends), it's still probably the tallest building you'll ever see(that statement holds true for me at least), and it is still credited as the tallest "green" building in the world, due to its unique, energy-saving design, and to his credit, architect C. Y. Lee took the "green" theme over board by designing the building to represent a bamboo stalk reaching to the heavens, hence the tiered appearance of the building. You may have noticed that there are also eight tiers to the building, well, that's no coincidence. Readers of my blog will know from my previous writings on Chinese culture that the number "8" and the number "4"  have an inverse relationship in Chinese thought. The number "8" (Chinese character "八" pronounced ba, and very similar in pronunciation to the Chinese character 爸 which means father) is a lucky, or auspicious number, thought to bring prosperity and wealth, and for this reason Chinese Fathers Day is August 8th, or 08/08, which is a very lucky day. The number "4"(Chinese character 四, pronounced si, and very similar in pronunciation to 死, the Chinese character meaning "die"), on the other hand is a very unlucky number, and this is why Chinese people, being extremely superstitious leave the fourth floor off of hospitals and hotels, and soTaipei 101 doesn't have a 44th floor, which would be twice as bad! It's called Taipei 101 because there are 101 floors above ground, but there are also 5 floors below ground, so you could technically call it "Taipei 106", but that doesn't sound quite as good, does it?


Anyway, I could keep on heaping the facts on you, and tell you about things like the impressive wind dampener, and other architectural features of the building that make it stable standing so tall in a country that is no stranger to earthquakes and typhoons, but that's not really the point here. Like I said, It used to be the tallest building in the world, but alas, no more…it's still a must-see destination for anyone who goes to Taiwan though.



Taipei can be tricky to navigate at times if you're unfamiliar with the layout of the city, but 101 has got to be the easiest place to find in the city hands-down.  For obvious reasons, you can't miss it(I mean, it's kind of hard to miss the gigantic monolithic structure towering over the rest of the Taipei cityscape, and you can see it from practically anywhere in the city!)! How you get there is up to you though, but I'll lay out the options for you down below.



Gotta love Taipei's MRT system. You can get anywhere in the city, and mist of Taipei county even in a real hurry. And the massive network of MRT routes are only going to grow. These days, since the MRT system has grown out so much you can just take the subway to the World Trade Center Station and from there just walk to 101(it's really close, and like I mentioned, you can't miss it!). When you first enter the MRT station, you will have to get yourself an easy card. You have to pay a $100NT($3USD) deposit and then load it up with money. Start with $500NT($17USD) and you can always put more on it later. You'll be using this all week to pay for your bus and MRT fares. Alternately, you can just pay for a one-time use token. It'll save you money for now, but in the long-run, you'll want an easy card. Plus, you can always return your eazy card at the end of your vacation to get your deposit back. Or keep it as a souvenir, the choice is yours.


Big Spender:

Or if you want to steer-clear of the crowds on the subway, you can always grab a cab. There are plenty of cabs to choose from around Taipei Main Station. Dont worry about speaking Chinese to the driver. Just tell him "Taipei 101" and if he doesn't understand that, say "Taipei yi-ling-yi", and if he still doesn't know what you're talking about, show him this Chinese sentence. 司機,我要到台北101。謝謝你。



There's no lack of options in the entertainment department. But ultimately different things will appeal to different people. Stores galore, Page1(the best bookstore in Taiwan, hands down, for buying English language books), an international grocery store, and tons of other ways to kill time(and money!). And price is always a factor. Let's check out what Taipei 101 has to offer!



There are lots of things to do here. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend, and if you're cheap like me, you might want to play it low-key. They quite often have interesting sculptures and art exhibitions, which are fun to check out for free! During one Christmas, season they had a "Christmas Village" set up,  with several DIY craft stands, and elves to boot! There's also a large fountain on the ground outside the building which intermittently sprays water, and children can always be found darting through, laughing and shouting. There's plenty of window shopping to be done, and a great food court in the basement with plenty of international selections, though you should eat Chinese food, after all you're in Taiwan! You can also go to the top observation deck, order a coffee and look down on the ants…I mean people of Taipei. They have lots of cool things to see up there, including solid gold sculptures from a famous Taiwanese artist, Zhu Ming,  and intricate sculptures carved out of coral. Plus, you can really see everything from up there! It's $400NT($12USD) for a ride to the top, but it's really worth it, and the ride is half the fun! You don't have to spend a dime on anything else if you don't want to, though a coffee or tea might be nice, either way it's your choice. The elevator up is so fast that you feel like you've just gone up 3 floors, not the close to a hundred floors that you've actually traveled, and be prepared for your ears to pop! Heck, if you're here for NewYears Eve, then you could always watch the world-famous firework display, as brightly colored missiles of light shoot off the sides of Taipei 101 into the midnight sky. Bottom line is there's something for everyone, so check around, you'll probably find something interesting!



Big Spender:

If you really want to go all-out, there are quite a few fine dining establishments here, in addition to the food court. The fancy places are all on the upper floors. And instead of window shopping, why not get yourself a new Gucci bag, or an Armani suit? All of the name brands in fashion have stores open here, and you could easily drop a fortune shopping. You could also buy yourself some fancy coral jewelry and artwork at the top of 101 if you wanted to take home a truly unique souvenir.  You could also always take home one of Zhu Ming's lavish sculptures too, if taking them in with your eyes isn't enough. I remember last time I was there seeing a really sculpture if a human skull, all in gold of course, that would look awesome on my desk. Or take home something a little more mass-produced, but equally enjoyable from the souvenir store. There's also plenty of opportunities for photo ops while up top, so be sure to charge your camera batteries, and bring an extra while you're at it! If you're feeling adventurous and have a problem with authority(and can afford trouble with said authority figures), then why not parachute off the uppermost, outdoor observation deck? There was a guy that did that back several years, and I'll bet he had a very memorable trip to Taiwan, as the police were waiting for him when he landed! It's obviously not a very good idea, but who am I to tell you how to spend your time and money? I just hope you have lots of noth if you go down that path.



After spending what amounts to the last day of your life either onboad an airplane, or waiting around in an airport terminal, I'm pretty sure you're tired of "air-food". You may or may not have had Chinese food back home, but don't expect the local cuisine to be the same. It's time to get you your first authentic Taiwanese meal, and you're in for a treat. Come on, grub's on, let's eat!



The food court has it all. Anything from Subway, to McDonalds, to your Taiwanese chain store. If you want to eat on the cheap, then I recommend going to 鼎泰豐 or 南雞飯. They're famous chain stores, and they've got some really good food. There's a lot more to eat and drink too, including  a juice bar if you're in the mood for some freshly blended juice, an Indian restaurant with really delicious Indian style flat-breads among other dishes(the bread is my favorite though!), and tere's also a great Korean restaurant that sells an awesome stone bowl rice. Or you could try out a selection of Taiwanese baked-goods(my favorites are honey-covered mini-croissants, bolo bread, loaves of garlic bread, sun cakes and pineapple cakes…you can't go wrong with any of it!). A few more dishes I recommend are curry rice(you can choose to have it served with either a fried pork steak or fried chicken steak, they're both good, so I'll let you choose), 滷肉飯(Chinese pork-stew over rice, a traditional meal that tastes great and is really super cheap), any kind of noodles, and 小南門's delicious 豆花(a soft, delicious desert made from soy beans) for desert. Anyway, look around and find something that you like. Expect to spend $120-200NT($4-6USD) for a meal. Not super cheap by local standards, but by American standards, I'll take those prices any day! What about you? Try it out, and let me know what you think!


Big Spender:

If you have the funds and really want to make a lasting memory, then check-out Diamond Tony's Observatory Restaurant. It's on the 85th floor of Taipei 101, so expect to enjoy a spectacular view while you wine and dine. Make sure to make reservations, as it's a popular location. It's comparable to Wang Steak as far as quality goes, as well as cost.  So expect to spend a fair amount, around $3000NT($100USD) per person. Like I said, it's not cheap, and I've never personally eaten there, but if you enjoy a fine steak dinner, and your not worried about the cost, go for it. There's plenty to choose from on their menu, such as crab, lobster, and steaks. Enjoy a bottle of their fine wine with your meal if that's your style, or a cold beer if you prefer, and enjoy the live entertainment and the view of the city. You only live once, and you're on vacation! Another option, more traditionally Chinese, would be Shinyeh which is also on the 85th floor. Check them out to get a taste of Taiwanese family style meals, with all of your friends seated around one of their big, round, dining-tables, and everyone sharing dishes in the middle of the table. It'll be an interesting experience for you culturally, and for your taste buds! You can find out more about each of these fine establishments on their websites. Go to for more information on Diamond Tony's, and here for Shinyeh. Bon appetite!


That's it for today's installment. I'll be ofering ideas for how you can spend your free time after checking out 101, and before heading to our next stop in our next update. Stay tuned, and let me know what you think!

What do you want from EazyChinese?

What do you want from EazyChinese?

Hey everyone, here's a questionaire that I wrote-up for you guys. It'll only take you a minute to fill-out, and it will help me a lot. Thank you for your time and let me know if there is anything I can do for you to make your experience with us even better in the future. 

Thanks everyone!


Taipei in 7 Days: Your Guide to Making the Most of Your Time + Culture Shock

So you only have seven days to take a vacation. While some people would tell you that you couldn't see much in seven days, and that you'd pretty much just be wasting your time and money, I say: "No problem"

You really can do a lot in seven days, but you can't do everything. So you are going to have to be realistic with your expectations. You're going to need to maximize your time. In short, you'll need a plan.


That's where this guide comes into play. Between these two covers(unless you're reading the ebook version!) you'll find a carefully thought out itinerary for your week long adventure in Taiwan. While each day will consist of its main destinations, dining and entertainment recommendations, I have also allowed you "free-time" to explore on your own(as well as some suggestions for how to spend that time), so I've really taken out a lot, if not all, of the guess work, whereas other travel guides tend to leave you feeling swamped down with there plethora of suggestions. Don't get me wrong, it's good to have options, but sometimes enough is enough!


I've also included some suggestions on how to save some of your hard earned cash, since I know many backpackers are on a budget. But if you do,have a little extra money to spend, there are some options for you too! These will be distinguished with the labels: "Cheapskate" and "Big Spender" respectively.


This guide is the product of my own experiences living in Taiwan, and what I have included in here are what I feel to be the best uses of your limited time. It is my hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and that you will have an amazing adventure here in Taiwan.


Now, let's get started!

Day 1

Okay, slow and steady is the name of the game today. After all, you've likely just flown in from the other side of the world, depending on where you're coming from, and you are probably feeling at least a little off due to jet lag. So we're going to take it easy. This day is going to be about recouping, and enjoying you're first exposure to a new culture and language.


And Taiwanese culture is very colorful and mysterious to us Westerners, no doubt about it. What, with the esoteric practices of Qigong and Gungfu(traditional Chinese martial arts), acupuncture and other forms of traditional medicine, the mix of modern structures and several-hundred year-old Buddhist, Taoist and Confucianist temples strewn about through the streets, lavishly decorated and very foreign to us, the difference in culinary tastes, and just the way of life on the densely populated island; rest assured that it is all going to feel very novel at first(unless you choose to live there for five years like I did, then it's all going to feel pretty ordinary after a while!). Expect to feel excited, and most likely overwhelmed by all of the new sights and sounds. It's okay, it happens. It's called culture shock, and it hits everyone differently. While culture shock is definitely going to impact expats much more deeply than it will their vacationing counterparts, it's still something that you are going to want to be aware of, just so you will know what you're experiencing is a normal reaction to your new surroundings. In general, there will be a period of excitement or possibly euphoric elation as you experience new and novel situations. These initial "positive" symptoms of culture shock are often followed up by more " negative" symptoms. Below is a list of common "negative" symptoms of culture shock that you should watch out for.


Some symptoms of culture shock to be aware of are:

-Extreme homesickness- You may not experience this if you are merely visiting a country for a week, but if you choose to stay or an extended period, like I did, then you are going to feel this way sometimes, especially if you have family back home. I myself have experienced this to a degree.


-Feelings of helplessness/dependency- It is common for people to rely on a guide, or a native friend or significant other when they are in a foreign country. While this is natural, especially if your grasp of the local language is poor, though it can be crippling and severely limit what you are able yo do, and when you're able to do it. I for one, in my early days in Taiwan, was very dependent on my boss, and other co-workers, and later my girlfriend at the time (now wife), Ruby. There is nothing wrong with relying on others to a certain extent, but you need to be willing and able to learn to handle things on your own.


-Disorientation and isolation- You may feel out of place, you won't know your way around, and you most likely won't know anyone in your host country. And believe me, it can be a very daunting task making new friends in a foreign land, though it is easier for some than others. As such, you may feel like you're on your own. When I first arrived I. Taiwan, I was only really comfortable going to and from work, along with a handful of other places, and I spent most of my free time after work home alone, watching TV or reading. It didn't take me long to branch-out, but unfortunately, some people never get over this.


-Depression and sadness- You may feel depressed, or helpless. Like you have no control over what happens, which may lead you to question your choice of moving/traveling abroad. I felt a little bit like I didn't know what I'd gotten myself into for a while, but I got over it.

-Anger- Some people may be come angry, and hostile to others as a way of coping with the changes in their life. I never really experienced anger, though everyone will be frustrated from time-to-time.


-Sleep and eating disturbances (too little or too much)- If you weren't a night owl before, you may become one. If you've never been a binge eater, you may become one. Inversely, you may oversleep, and under eat. I was young, and had always been somewhat of a night owl, but due to my work schedule, my sleeping habits became much worse. This lasted for a few years. I also gained a lot of weight my first year in Taiwan, as I discovered tons of new foods and drinks that I loved. Some people I know list a lot of weight though, because they just couldn't acquire a taste for authentic Chinese food.


-Excessive critical reactions to host culture/stereotyping- Things like "they eat with sticks, they're animals" may be some criticisms that people express. Thus is extremely inappropriate, as you are a guest in their country, and as such, should be behaving with  respect and dignity. Remember, you may be their first impression of your own homeland. I am proud to say that I never experienced this symptom. In fact, I have grown to deeply live and respect Chinese people and their cultural traditions. This is the one thing that you MUST be open to if you are going to be spending time in a foreign country. So please, be a good representative of your country. First impressions are BIG.


These are just some of the ways symptoms of culture shock may manifest, and keep in mind that everyone is different. Some of the things I experienced might not bother you at all, but rest assured you will have your own struggles if you stay in a foreign land for long. So ease into the water, don't overload your system. What's the rush? You've got plenty of time!



Anyway, I've kind of run on a little longer than I intended to. In our next installment, we'll be covering your plan for your first day in Taiwan. So stay tuned!

Lesson 18: Spice up your Chinese

Just like every dish needs the right spices to really bring out the flavor, so too does your Chinese. These phrases will help you to make your Chinese sound much more "flavorful", so let's get started with today's lesson!

雖然- even though;often used in conjunction with 但是

suī rán                                                                                                        dàn shì 



tā suī rán lái měi guó shí nián le ,dàn shì hái bù gǎn jiǎng yīng wén 。

Even though he's been in America for ten years, he still isn't confident speaking English.


其實- actually

qí shí 


wǒ de shì yǒu shì yá yī 。qí guài shì tā de yá chǐ qí shí bù tài hǎo 。

My roommate is a dentist. The weird thing is, his teeth are actually pretty bad.


實在- really 

shí zài 


zuì jìn wǒ men chá diǎn shēng yì tè bié hǎo ,wǒ shí zài bù gǎn xiàng xìn le lā !

Recently, our tea store's business has been so good, I really can't believe it!


不但。。。也是- not only, but also

bù dàn ………..yě shì 


wǒ de shī fù bù dàn lì hài ,yě shì qiān xū de 。

My master isn't just really talented, he's also humble.


幾乎- nearly

jǐ hū 

wǒ de péng yǒu jǐ hū dōu yǒu xiǎo hái zǐ le 。

Nearly all of my friends have kids now.


隨便- do as you wish

suí biàn 


bù yào zài lù biān suí biàn wán 。

Don't goof around by the road.


結果- result

jié guǒ 


tā shuō bù xiǎng qù kàn yī shēng ,jié guǒ zǎo shàng qǐ lái fā xiàn tā sǐ diào le 。

He said he didn't want to go to see a doctor; in the morning I discovered that he was dead.


而且- and also

ér qiě  


nà jiān fáng zǐ hěn gāo ,ér qiě hěn háo huá 。

That house is really tall, and also luxurious.


而已- that's all, only

ér yǐ


bù yào duì nǐ de zǐ zǐ tài xiōng ,tā jiù shì xiǎng gēn nǐ wán ér yǐ 。

Don't be too mean to your nephew, he just wants to play with you.

That's it for today, you have your new vocabulary and your examples, so start practicing owning them. Before you know it, your Chinese will taste much better!

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Unlocking Chinese in 28 days is out!

Hey guys, today I want to introduce myself a little and share my story with you. You may have heard I've released a Chinese learning book "Unlocking Chinese in 28 Days", so let me share with you how I came to learn Chinese. But first…

"What were you  doing in Taiwan?" is a question I have heard countless times, but not one I enjoy answering, because it's hard to do it justice without a long, drawn-out answer.


I first moved to Taiwan shortly after graduating from college, and at that time I really had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I had a bachelors in education, and I had always loved traveling and learning about foreign cultures and languages. So I decided to spend a year abroad. But not in Taiwan.

Originally I had looked into living abroad in Ireland, but that was a no-go since I lacked a European passport. Oh well. Then I started talking with a friend who also wanted to live abroad and teach English for a year, and we settled on Japan. But after interviewing for a job, my friend was accepted into the program, and I wasn't! Curses, foiled again!

So after getting turned down for the second time, I got up, dusted off my jacket and applied to another recruitment agency called Reach To Teach. This time I wanted to get a job teaching in China. But when the first few schools that I had offers from didn't pan out, eventually the agent I was working with told me of a school in Keelung, Taiwan that wanted to hire me. I decided that it sounded like a great place to spend a year abroad, I was emailed a contract, read it over, signed it and faxed it back. And my life was forever changed.

That, in a shell(tried to keep it very brief for you guys since I've written on the subject on my blog) is what I was doing in Taiwan. I was there to travel, work and learn Chinese. And I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was in Taiwan that I discovered my passion for Chinese food, culture and language…oh, and did I mention that it's where I met my wife? Talk about an awesome souvenir!

That's it for today, we'll continue tomorrow with more information on how I learned Chinese in Taiwan, and what my philosophy is on language learning. As always, let me know if you have any questions. See you soon!


Get a Free chapter of my book! 

I want to get print colorful copy, and get 10% off now.

I don't want to wait and get E-guide version now.

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5 Things to do When You\’re Bored in Taipei

The last few days have been pretty darn boring here in Houston Texas.

Why, you ask? Because it's been pouring down rain constantly, and my wife and I are running out of movies to watch. I mean, it feels like we've seen everything on Netflix!

Do you ever get bored? If so, what do you do to keep from going crazy? Whether withstanding, here's a list of five things to do when you're bored stupid in Taipei. Read, and enjoy!


1. Purchase an MRT day pass and ride the lines from one end to the other. There are tons of stops, do why not check them all out! Who knows, you may just find an interesting place that you never knew existed. 




 (Picture from Taipei MRT)



2. Go to the ESLITE department store in Xingyi District.

There are always exhibitions going on, good foods to eat in the food court, lots of interesting and novel stores, and of course   the largest bookstore in Taiwan! They're usually open to 2AM(just the book store), so it's great for those of you who suffer from insomnia. 





















3. Go to the night market. Any of them. Heck, make it a night market night and hit up all of them! Everybody loves going to Shilin Night Market, but that's not the only good one. I used to love going to Tonghua Night Market and Shida Night Zmarket, since they were the closest ones to my home. There's also tons more that are worth a visit.

\"下載\"(Picture form here






4. Take a walk through the beautiful Da'an Forest Park. It's a fun place to go in the morning on weekends, since there are always lots of families there, playing, laughing and eating. It's even easier to get there now that they gave finished constructing the new(ish) MRT station there.

\"images\"(Picture from here)






5. Call up a friend and go to an all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurant. It's fun, because you get to barbecue everything yourself. It's a lot more fun than just eating out, since you're  doing the cooking, and it's a great fun with a group of friends telling stories and joking. You can conveniently find places like this in Gonguan and Ximen. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

These are just five suggestions of fun activities for when you're bored in Taipei, try them out and let me know what you think. Also feel free to share with us your favorite thing to do when you're bored to tears! 


5 Things to do When You\’re Bored in Taipei

The last few days have been pretty darn boring here in Houston Texas.

Why, you ask? Because it's been pouring down rain constantly, and my wife and I are running out of movies to watch. I mean, it feels like we've seen everything on Netflix!

Do you ever get bored? If so, what do you do to keep from going crazy? Whether withstanding, here's a list of five things to do when you're bored stupid in Taipei. Read, and enjoy!


1. Purchase an MRT day pass and ride the lines from one end to the other. There are tons of stops, do why not check them all out! Who knows, you may just find an interesting place that you never knew existed. 




 (Picture from Taipei MRT)



2. Go to the ESLITE department store in Xingyi District.

There are always exhibitions going on, good foods to eat in the food court, lots of interesting and novel stores, and of course   the largest bookstore in Taiwan! They're usually open to 2AM(just the book store), so it's great for those of you who suffer from insomnia. 





















3. Go to the night market. Any of them. Heck, make it a night market night and hit up all of them! Everybody loves going to Shilin Night Market, but that's not the only good one. I used to love going to Tonghua Night Market and Shida Night Zmarket, since they were the closest ones to my home. There's also tons more that are worth a visit.

\"下載\"(Picture form here






4. Take a walk through the beautiful Da'an Forest Park. It's a fun place to go in the morning on weekends, since there are always lots of families there, playing, laughing and eating. It's even easier to get there now that they gave finished constructing the new(ish) MRT station there.

\"images\"(Picture from here)






5. Call up a friend and go to an all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurant. It's fun, because you get to barbecue everything yourself. It's a lot more fun than just eating out, since you're  doing the cooking, and it's a great fun with a group of friends telling stories and joking. You can conveniently find places like this in Gonguan and Ximen. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

These are just five suggestions of fun activities for when you're bored in Taipei, try them out and let me know what you think. Also feel free to share with us your favorite thing to do when you're bored to tears!