Friday, March 30, 2012

After the MUOSS Night Market...

As nice as the Night Market was, I don't think I'll remember the market itself as much as the little mis-adventure that happened afterwards. I should provide some background information. The night market started around 6pm, and I went there with Tommy, who I met from Melbourne Welcome, and some of his friends. Tommy lives in Trinity College, one of the residential colleges on campus. Before we all headed over to the market, he let me leave my backpack in his room. I didn't want to carry my big backpack around the market since I expected it to be very crowded.

And the market was indeed very crowded. We went around checking all the stalls together, but during one of the times that I was being silly and taking a picture, the others disappeared! Luckily, I ran into them some time later around the Indonesian booth. But then we decided to split off to buy different things.

After I finished eating the two things that I bought, it was already 7:30. I started to look for the others. Not only did I want to find them, I had to, since my backpack was in Tommy's room. I went around the booths once. No sign. I went around again. Still nothing. So I went around and around and in different directions. After the sun went down, it became extremely hard to identify people, even those that were right next to me. But I kept on searching. After 30 minutes or so, I started to become really worried. This was not looking good!

If you're wondering why I didn't just call them, it's because... well, I left my phone in my backpack, which I left in Tommy's room! Argh!! I felt so so so stupid for doing that. Why couldn't I just carry my phone around with me like most people?

As time passed, I felt less and less likely to find them at the market. But eventually I gave up. I thought of two things I could do: I could try to contact Tommy through the internet, or I could go look for Tommy at Trinity.

So I ran (literally!) to the library to try to contact Tommy through the internet. That was unsuccessful. I was tired from running, so I walked over to Trinity. Once I was inside, I started looking for people, so I could ask them "Do you know a Tommy?". Normally, I would not feel comfortable going around doing something like this, but I was super desperate! It was late and there weren't many people outside. The first person I asked didn't know Tommy, but he was nice and took me into the building to his room. Tommy wasn't inside.

There was no one else around outside. I walked around the area, looking inside buildings for people to ask. Then I ran into two girls on their way to the library in Trinity.

"Excuse me, do you know a Tommy?"
"Tommy Chiu?"
"YES!!!!! Would you happen to have his number?"

Wow! I could not believe how lucky I was! During this time, they seemed pretty amused, and they explained to me why: When they first saw me approaching them, they thought I was Tommy! (Apparently, we look alike?) But when I started talking, it became obvious that I wasn't Tommy. But I asked about Tommy!

Anyways, we called Tommy. I had been worried that he had also been looking for me all this time. (If he had been looking for me, I would have felt that I was wasting his time.) But it turned out that he had been watching the performances. (I had gone over and checked the audience so many times! How did I miss him?) He came over to Trinity, and everything was good again!

That was a tiring night, so after picking up my backpack, and apologizing over and over again, I went straight home and showered and went to bed.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures during that time. Not surprisingly, I wasn't quite in the mood for pictures when I was panicking at the market. In the future, if something similar happens, I need to tell myself "Don't worry! You'll get through this! And you should take some pictures right now in case this ends up being worth writing about!"

Well, here's a picture. It's of me and Tommy at the formal dinner at Melbourne Welcome. Do we really look the same?

Two events by the Melbourne University Overseas Student Service

This week, the Melbourne University Overseas Student Service (MUOSS) hosted two events on campus. The first one was the Student Experience Fair on Tuesday, and the second was the Night Market on Thursday.

The main goal of the fair was to let students know of the different services offered by the university.

There were booths set up by the different departments.
Hmm... I wonder what this long line is for.
Aha! They're giving out free twist potatoes! (Remember these from the Suzuki Night Market?)
Free Red Bull! But I didn't take any because energy drinks scare me
There was also free cotton candy! (An Australian would actually call it "fairy floss"!)
No, I did not stand in line to consume all that sugar! I went to the front of the line, and asked the person making them and to let me take a picture with one. Then I handed the fairy floss off to the student at the front of the line, who probably thought I was crazy.

Anyways, Thursday night was the Night Market. A lot of the student clubs performed and others sold food! There was a nice variety of cultures represented!

Here's the banner in front of all the tents!
So many food booths and so many people!
Taiwanese Student Association!
I think my picture with the Korean booth turned out well!
As you can see by this example (Vietnam), pretty much everything at the market has meet in it. Hmmm...
The Indonesian club had something vegetarian though!
Tahu isi - fried tofu stuffed with vegetables!
Yikes! Here's the wrapper after I finished eating the tofu. I'm not sure why I am smiling...
So much deep frying was going on at the night market! But look! What's inside that pot?
Herbal tea egg! (cha ye dan)
Performances lasted throughout the night.
I ended up only getting the tofu and the egg at the Night Market. There simply wasn't many vegetarian options available. But also, watching the clubs prepare the food also scared me a bit. Maybe watching something being deep fried can make certain people really hungry, but it has the opposite effect for me. Also, I was about to get a cup of sweet potato and tangyuan soup, until I watched the people put a huge block of sugar into the pot. Ahh!

I still had a lot of fun walking around and exploring though! But actually, it turns out the most exciting part of the night wasn't everything I've just shown. I don't think it's fitting to talk about that here, at the end of this entry, so time for another post!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Initial attempts at cooking

When I was sorting out my living arrangements for this semester, I ended up making the fateful decision to cook for myself, despite having no experience with cooking.

My very first attempt at cooking something on a stove here was an "egg with tomato" dish. Originally, I wanted the egg to be in one piece, but it just kept breaking apart. (I probably shouldn't have prodded it so much with the spatula.) In the end it was a big mess, consisting of tiny chunks of tomato mixed with even smaller pieces of egg. And I didn't know how to tell when the egg was done. I was well aware that it was not a good idea to eat raw eggs, so I probably overcooked the egg by a lot.

When I first came here, I did have the idea of taking a picture of everything that I cook, but I was feeling so discouraged and embarrassed after this first attempt that I didn't take a picture. (I didn't even mention what had happened to me before I even started cooking: while lighting the gas stove with a match, I burnt my thumb nail!) I didn't take pictures of the next few dishes either, which consisted mostly of stir-fry vegetables. Not taking pictures of any of these is quite a regrettable decision.

Here are the pictures that I do have. Before moving on to them, I should give a warning: When people usually write about food and include photos, those photos probably contain food that looks super delicious. But when you see these, I highly doubt you will think "Wow! I wish I could try that!" (But maybe my photos will for some people! I'll keep my fingers crossed!)

I should also talk about how these dishes ended up tasting. Being the overly health conscious person that I am, I didn't add any salt, pepper, spices, or other seasoning to these dishes. People might say that these dishes have no taste, which confuses me a little. Don't vegetables have taste on their own?

4 March 2012

Here were some vegetables with a little bit of lentils on the side. I don't know what I did, but the lentils turned into mush!

10 March 2012

Some more vegetables, but with rice this time. I started with around half a cup of uncooked rice. I didn't know it would turn into this much!

11 March 2012

Cooking with tofu for the first time! (I got it at a local health food store. There's no Asian supermarket within walking distance.) I didn't end up with too much rice this time!

14 March 2012

Ever since I became acquainted with tempeh at Princeton, I've always been fascinated with it for some reason. I could never find it at any of the supermarkets back in California, but I found it here at the health food store. Cooking with  baby bok choy makes me feel Asian!

15 March 2012

I was finishing up the rest of the tempeh. I also cut up an entire eggplant, so I ended up with more than I could eat in one meal. (Note the pot to the left of the pan. I was using it to cook the rice. I always add too much water to the rice, which I have to pour out at the end. It's better than not adding enough water though.)

17 March 2012

I took the leftovers from the previous photo and made a noodle soup. My mom did this so often back home, and I always loved how the noodle soups turned out. So I knew I had to try that here! And I liked it, so now I know what to do with leftovers! (I got the noodles at an Asian supermarket I found during my exploration of the city centre.)

18 March 2012

Here, I tried to cook with a type of tofu called dou gan. It's drier than regular tofu. I like how the carrots make this dish look brighter and more colorful!

20 March 2012

Surprise! Leftovers turned into noodle soup!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A visit to the city centre

(Warning: This is a very long post with a lot of silly pictures!)

I can't believe that I've completed three weeks of classes already. Time here sure is passing by quickly! I probably should write about how things are going at the university, but that will have to be put aside for another blog. Right now, I want to talk about the stuff that happened today (Saturday, 17 March 2012).

Hmm... so where to begin. I got up around 5:30am today, probably because I needed to use the toilet. (I've been getting used to saying "use the toilet" here instead of "use the bathroom"!) Naturally, I tried to go back to sleep. (Even though I do tend to get up early, I don't usually get up that early.) I couldn't fall asleep though. My brain just kept drifting through different thoughts. At some point, I was thinking about a math problem posed by the Maths and Stats Society at Melbourne Uni that I had been stuck on. And somehow I solved it! I guess my brain didn't want to go to sleep. It wanted to solve math problems...

Sorry, I thought that was kind of interesting to share. I'm not going to go into so much detail in the rest of this entry. I'll focus on the afternoon, when I decided to go and explore the city centre, also known as "the CBD" ("central business district").

It was a nice and sunny Saturday, which made it the perfect time to walk around. There have been some places in the CBD that I wanted to visit for some time now, so why not today? I made up my mind and left to house to do some exploring!

But wait! I said it was "a nice and sunny Saturday." This meant I should use some sun protection first!

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat!
I live in Collingwood, which is an inner city suburb. There's a tram stop about five minutes away from where I'm staying that goes straight into the city centre!

When I got to the tram stop, the tram had just arrived, so I quickly hopped on. I wanted to take a picture of the tram arriving, but it would become a picture of the tram leaving me stranded!

I made it just in time!
20 minutes later, I got off at a stop inside the CBD. (I know the time it took because of the timestamps on my photos!)

Without having to walk very far, I came across some people pretending to be statues.

This reminds me of when I was in the Boston Commons!
Stop 1: David Jones

My first destination was a place called David Jones. I heard that there was an section with American products, so I went to see what they had in stock! (I wonder if homesick Americans go there!)

You could not miss the place! It was a huge department store!
I found some American Cheerios!
What?!?! Does it really cost $16.95?
There are in fact Cheerios in regular Australian stores (although they're packaging looks different). If they wanted to sell breakfast cereal at crazy prices, shouldn't they choose ones that didn't exist in Australia? One example is Rice Chex. As anyone in the "Princeton morning breakfast group" can guess, I've been missing Rice Chex so much since I came here!

But as it turns out, David Jones only stocked Cheerios!

No Rice Chex in sight!
Off I went, kind of confused. Along the way to my next destination, I passed by the Vietnamese restaurant I went to on my first day here, so I had to stop for a picture!

Here's the restaurant I went to on my first day! (I have a short blog post about that day.)
Stop 2: QV

My next stop was the QV Villiage, which is a mall. I didn't have anything I wanted to see in particular, so I just walked around.

Here was the entrance that I went through.
In Australia, bubble tea (or "boba" or "pearl milk tea") is called "bubble cup"!
There's Tutti Frutti in Australia too! (I went to one in the U.S. during my time in Berkeley a few months ago!) It's a little more expensive here though.
I also stopped by the supermarket in the QV to get a picture with regular Australian Cheerios. One box is $7.94 (which is still a lot, but way cheaper than the other one).
At that point, I probably spent enough time in the mall, so I left.

Stop 3: Mind Games

I made my way to a board game/card game/puzzle store called "Mind Games" that Tim told me about during my first RMIT Cube Club meeting.

Store entrance! (Note the trefoil!)
The store might not look very big on the outside, but the store goes very far in, and there's a second floor!

Everywhere in the store is just packed with games!
Set! I haven't played that in a while!
Look at all those cubes! (And non-cube-shaped puzzles!)
After some browsing, I headed for my last stop - an Asian supermarket. My plan was to buy some Asian groceries and then head back home. (Until this point, I had not bought anything from an Asian supermarket yet!)

To get to the place, I passed through Chinatown!
 Stop 4: Great Eastern

I made it!
Like Mind Games, this store didn't look very big from the outside, but one you go in, it's enormous!

There were so many aisles of products!
I don't know what inspired me to get a picture with ramen. I didn't actually buy any.
After taking enough pictures, I decided to get a basket and actually buy stuff. I got some noodles, some mian-jin (fried wheat gluten), some tofu, and some bean sprouts. Time for my food to start tasting more Asian! Here's a picture of everything I bought:

(Since this picture was taken after I got home, it's way out of sequence. I don't know why it bothers me a little. Maybe because it ruins the flow of this blog post.)
Homeward bound!

At the tram stop, with my groceries!
I wanted to get a shot of me with the tram arriving. I can't say it turned out very well. (I only had one try!)
Here's me getting off and the tram leaving, 20 minutes later!
When I got back I decided to make dinner! I had some leftover vegetables in the refrigerator, so I mixed them with the noodles and bean sprouts to make a soup.

Here was the result!
Bon app├ętit?
I thought it turned out well, but I'm sure most people would say that my noodle soup has no taste. I didn't add salt or anything else to give the vegetables or the soup flavor. But that's because I'm a little too worried about having too much sodium. Oh well...

It has occurred to me that I should probably write a blog entry about my attempts at cooking! That would be pretty fun (and painful) to write! But that will have to be for another day.

Anyways, this is where my mini-adventure of the day ends. I'll stop with all the silly photos for now. (I had much more that I didn't put on here!) It's 10pm, so time for bed!
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