A somber family reunion in Taiwan


079On Father’s Day, June 21, 2009, while I was out for a run and minutes before I was planning to call home to wish my father a Happy Father’s Day, I received a call from my mother, who seemed distraught.

“I have bad news, Jeanne.”  I stopped cold.  It was not good news.  It never is.

My grandfather – my father’s father – had passed away that morning.  The irony of it did not escape me.  Seriously?  Father’s Day?

What a joke.

But it wasn’t.  I spent the rest of that day kind of dazed in Oceanside with a friend (I guess I seemed normal by the time I got there – I was sort of lectured by a friend for not seeming too sad about my grandfather’s death, but in that sense . . . I think the blood of my father’s side of the family runs strong in me – we tend not to show much of our strong emotions, preferring to keep them inside).  The long drive south definitely helped though.  By the time I got there, my tears had dried (for the time being) and the ocean was too beautiful . . .

In any case, it was a rather abrupt decision, but I returned to Taiwan the following week for the funeral.  The ceremony was beautiful.  I miss him, and I wish I had gotten to know him better.  Love you, grandpa.

And why is it that the only way we can ever get the entire family together is for funerals?

I didn’t get much of a chance to eat out and explore Taiwanese cuisine as much this time – I was only in Taiwan for a week, half of which was spent in 屏東 (Pingtung) for the funeral.  Here is what I did manage to capture:

094This was one of the appetizer dishes of tofu cubes we ate while in 屏東.  Unfortunately people were a little impatient, and eating family-style is not particularly conducive to picture-taking when there are 20 other hungry people in the room.

101So I only managed to get a picture of a few things, including this glass.  It is approximately three-and-a-half inches tall, and that is the average glass size in restaurants in Taiwan.  Weird, huh?  This was a tea, I think.  Although I’m not sure.  Everything in Taiwan is so watered down that I’m amazed to see anything above 10% juice from concentrate.

Giant Mango!!!!  超大 的芒果!!!!

250This picture does not do that mango justice.  It was HUGE.

248 Impressive, no?

254Thin skinned, small-boned… and sweet beyond belief.  I dream of this.  Seriously.  I am salivating as I type right now.  This mango is orgasmic.

In Taiwan – especially in the South, and especially amongst my father’s friends – they have been bioengineering fruit to be bigger, better, stronger, etc. . . And to make a mango even better than it already is . . . I AM IN LOVE!

I don’t think I’ve gushed enough yet, do you?



These were regular, vegetarian 包子(buns).  Not much to say, really.  Technically speaking we were supposed to be eating vegetarian during the entire funeral period, but we decided not to keep 100% with tradition.

I’ll have to say, we didn’t do as much with tradition this time around.  But considering the time fram we had to work with – all of the cousins and our parents were scrambling to make it and take time off from various jobs, etc., so we were trying to make it so that we all were present for the funeral.


水煎包.  Literally translated as water-fried-buns, this is kind of like a huge, thick pot-sticker.  Tasty.


米漿.  Rice milk.  I think it’s actually made with peanuts too.  I’m not sure how to make this – my aunt bought it every morning.  The problem with Taiwan is that everything is SO CHEAP that it’s really cheaper to eat out every day than to cook.  Sad, maybe.  But now I wonder why more people in Taiwan aren’t obese.  Hmm . . . Nevertheless, this drink is warm, thick, and delightful.  Too bad they don’t have it in the US.  And even if they did, it wouldn’t be nearly as good.  Why is that?

My brother and I left a little earlier and rode the High Speed Rail (HSR) from the South of Taiwan to the North, where my mother’s side of the family was waiting to pick us up.

We went to visit my set of living grandparents the next day, and then I took Jeff to explore Taipei.  We went to Taipei 101 first.  We didn’t get a chance to go up to the top (next time, I promise, Jeffkun!), and we weren’t about to eat any meal there either, so I took Jeff to 西門町, aka the Ximen district.  A place of young, hip, and stylish people (including many tourists because I definitely heard a lot of English being tossed carelessly about), Ximen is a great place to go to buy fashionable clothes, cheap but tasty food, and just wander about in aimless bewilderment if you end up in the shady Tattoo Alley.  Haha.  But first things first, because we were hungry by the time we emerged from the MRT.  I introduced him to . . .

Mr. Donut!!


384Why do they not have Mr. Donut in the States?  I lament this fact.  Although I have to admit that maybe it’s a good thing we have no Mr. Donut here because I might otherwise be morbidly overweight.

For those of you who don’t know – Mr. Donut is the Japanese answer to Dunkin’ Donuts.  A lighter version that isn’t as greasy and comes out with limited edition flavors periodically.

I don’t know about you all, but I love it.


My original plan was to take Jeff to 士林夜市 (Shilin Night Market) for dinner, but that’s when it started raining.  Jeff – sweetie that he is – bought us both umbrellas, and we headed off into the MRT again.  We got to 台北車站 (Taipei Main Station) and while we were pushing our way through the rush hour crowd, our growling stomachs persuaded us to stay in the underground mall (臺北地下街) and eat 牛肉麵 (beef noodle soup).  Jeff has a LOVE for this particular dish, I swear.  I’m pretty sure he ate at least 3 or 4 different versions of it while were in Taiwan.

Here he is enjoying his.

I got 炸醬麵 (zha jiang mian – or as the Koreans know it as – jyajyangmyun).


It was pretty amazing.

. . . and like that, my trip to Taiwan was over.

I want to go back already.  ❤

One Response to “A somber family reunion in Taiwan”

  1. sorry to hear about your grandfather.. i remember when my grandpa passed away over 7 years ago i felt the same way- why do we all get together as a family when it’s too late? so i try to spend more time with my grandma now that i’m in taipei more.

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