Vegetarian Spring Rolls

I had a quite filling yet inexpensive lunch today — two pieces of vegetarian spring rolls.

Ordering these spring rolls before grocery-shopping at Walmart-SM Mall has been a habit of mine for years now (Walmart-SM is on the island, so I only go there once or twice a month.) A friend of mine introduced the restaurant to me at least 10 years ago, and I’ve been going to that restaurant for their spring rolls ever since.

  • These spring rolls have dried tofu, cabbage, celery, cilantro, carrot and peanut sauce.

  • A very simple yet filling and healthy meal.

    There are a number of spring roll recipes online. You can try making your own.

    Apart from finding time to exercise, it isn’t very hard to lose weight. Stick to a healthy diet.

    Good luck!

    T.

    Beautiful November Morning

    I went out for a walk this morning and couldn’t help taking photos as I thought the weather was perfect at 70F and it was breezy with blue sky above and quiet except for the rustling of the leaves and chirping of the birds.

    Life is beautiful.

    I hope you have a beautiful morning (or evening) too! 💕

    T.

    LAPC: Monochrome

    Huawen Xue Yuan, Jimei, Xiamen

    This week Patti chose “Monochrome” for LAPC’s theme.

    She said, “Monochrome can also add drama, mystery, and emotion to a shot…” and I agree!

    These are some photos I took yesterday when my husband and I went out for a walk.

    Long Zhou Hu (Dragon Boat Lake), Jimei, Xiamen

    Happy Sunday!

    T. 💕

    Lens Artists Photo Challenge:Monochrome

    In search of Gong Bao Ji Ding

    In my first few years in China, I often ordered Gong Bao Ji Ding (宫保鸡丁 or Kung Pao Chicken) and Mapo Doufu (麻婆豆腐)whenever we went out to eat simply because the Chinese restaurants my friends and I often went to were Sichuan restaurants.
    But as years passed and my friends left in China, my husband and I seldom go out to eat, and when we do we don’t usually eat Sichuan food. So I had not eaten Gong Bao Ji Ding in at least 4 years even though I live in China! Until today.

    We purposely went out to find a restaurant that serves Gong Bao Ji Ding because the restaurant we used to go to no longer serves my favorite dish! We walked about 3 km until we found one that serves it. Though I was a little disappointed it didn’t taste the same as I remembered it, I was still glad I finally got to eat it again!
    Another dish I recalled liking then and ordered today was Gan Bian Si Ji Dou (干煸四季豆).

    This one tasted the same though.
    All in all we had a beautiful morning walk that culminated in a good lunch that brought back memories of good food and fun company.

    Have a wonderful weekend! 💕

    T.

    A Trip to Gulangyu

    I’ve been living in Xiamen for 17 years and I’ve visited Gulangyu over a hundred times over the years, but there are places on both islands that I still have to see.

    So I was glad to get to the top of Sunlight Rock for the first time yesterday and be able to take pictures of the southern part of Xiamen island and the view of Gulangyu taken from the top of Sunlight Rock.

    As we arrived there early, we were able to avoid the crowds of tourists that started to come around lunch time when we had already walked over 7km.

    I was also able to get inside the Christ the King church which had to be unlocked by a kind lady who asked me if I was from the Philippines and did I want to pray.

    It had been awhile since I last came, so I was happy to be able to come to this church again where I came to hear mass every week for years.

    You can come to Gulangyu by ferry from Youlun Zhongxin (for tourists) and tickets cost 35RMB. (Thankfully we have a card that shows we work in Xiamen, and so we pay the local’s fare of 8RMB and get on a different ferry that is not crowded at all!)

    We spent one morning on Gulangyu and walked for over 9km.

    But surprisingly, I wasn’t tired at all.

    If you’re ever in Xiamen, you can’t miss Gulangyu. It is truly worth a visit.

    Have a lovely Thursday!

    T.

    Darkness and Light

    Zheng Chenggong, Gulangyu Museum, Xiamen

    We went to Gulangyu this morning, and I was able to visit places that I had never been to before.

    One of these places was the museum that one could go in for free. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular place (there were thousands of tourists outside but less than 50 people inside this 3-story museum), so it was nice to walk around and learn about the history of this tiny island.

    I took a picture of this statue of General Zheng as I liked the contrast of darkness and light where it stood. It was dark coming from the left side, but there was light coming from the window to the right. I thought it was the perfect location.

    As a general he probably went through many times of choosing between darkness and light.

    At least that’s what I saw/thought of it. Or maybe I am just overthinking again!

    What do you think?

    T.

    Trees and Roots

    (I do not know what this tree is called, so if you do I’d be very grateful if you could drop me a line in the comments section. Thanks! 🙏🏽)

    Jimei, Xiamen, China

    I’ve taken photos of these trees’ roots before for the Weekly Photo Challenge. The roots then were not as big as they are now.

    Have a lovely Monday! 💕

    T.

    Lens-Artists Photo Challenge

    Nanputuo Temple

    I have been to so many temples in China, and the most impressive ones I’ve been to are up north. After visiting so many temples over the years, I no longer have any interest in visiting another one. But as we had a guest who was in Xiamen for the first time, we took him to Nanputuo Temple.

    Nanputuo was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) It was destroyed during the war around 1300s and rebuilt in the 1600s.

    Many practicing Buddhists come, but there are probably more tourists.

    When I first came to China I did not really think of a temple as a place of worship because most people were just taking pictures. But one Christmas at the church where I used to go, tourists came inside the church during mass and took pictures of the altar and the priest. I was at first shocked, and then angry. When I calmed down I realized the rudeness of these people were due to ignorance. They thought the mass was a show, like a concert.

    Although I had never misbehaved in a temple, I became more conscious of my actions in a temple which may be misinterpreted by Buddhists.

    Nanputuo can get very crowded especially during weekends, but if you visit Xiamen, it is one of those must-see places. It is right next to Xiamen University, which has a beautiful campus.

    Nanputuo also has a vegetarian restaurant, which serves a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes. But if you are not vegetarian, there are countless restaurants nearby to choose from. One good thing about going to touristy places in China is you will always find some place to buy food!

    Buffet at North Bay in Jimei

    If you ever find yourself hungry in Jimei, try the buffet at Cafe Realm at North Bay Hotel. (No, this is not a paid ad. I wish it were. Maybe I should ask? Lol.)

    This weekend I was fortunate to have had Saturday lunch and Sunday dinner at North Bay. It made me smile when the guy who prepares the sashimi recognized me, said “Hello!” and spoke to me in English. He knows I love salmon!

    The buffet includes a soup selection, and seafoods, barbecue/steak, rice and pasta, fruits, Chinese, Japanese and western dishes, ice cream (local and Haagen Dazs) and what I love best — the pastry selection! All you can eat cheesecake and many other sinfully delicious cakes!

    They also offer a variety of fruit drinks, coffee, milk, soda, Budweiser. In the evening they serve wine as well.

    North Bay Hotel, Jimei, Xiamen

    Lunch: 11:30 – 2:00 P.M.

    Dinner: 5:30 – 9:00 P.M.

    Price: 26-28 USD

    Now, I hope North Bay sees this and rewards me! 😉

    Have a lovely week! 💕

    T.

    Something to warm the heart on a cold, rainy day

    It’s a cold and rainy day, and my apartment has become too quiet for me, so I decided to bring my work to the McDonald’s in the mall across the street from our university.

    A few minutes after I sat down, a young woman with a baby sat a few tables across from mine. She was having a difficult time watching the baby, making sure he won’t fall down from the chair as she tried to get something from the baby bag. Another young woman at the next table looked like she wanted to help, but as most Chinese do, she probably did not want to seem like intruding.

    When their food came, the young mother (she has to be the mother) became busy with arranging the food on the tray and just for a few seconds perhaps, forgot what the baby was up to. And it turned out the baby had reached for the cup of milk tea and spilled the whole thing. The young mother panicked a little as she called for the crew. Two McD staff calmly came over and even smiled at the mother, cleaned the mess, and one of them later brought her another cup of milk tea.

    Before they left, the young mother apologized to the staff and the same man who had helped her earlier just smiled (I couldn’t hear what he said) and also said something to the baby.

    Why am I writing about this? Obviously because this is something I don’t often see, especially here in Jimei where workers often look so unhappy and unhelpful.

    So, I am grateful to the staff of McDonald’s in Jimei Wanda for making this cold and rainy Jimei day feel warm.

    Have a beautiful Tuesday!💕

    T.

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely

    My husband and I were walking from the restaurant to the post office when he spotted this caterpillar. I wouldn’t have seen it because it was high up on a vine on a fence, and I’m short. Luckily phone cameras have a zoom function.

    Weekly Photo Challenge:
    Unlikely

    Daily Prompt: Varnish

    The over 200-year old trees on Gulangyu that were uprooted by Super typhoon Meranti were turned into works of art by Chinese artists. This trunk has been varnished and inscribed with Chinese characters that mean “remember” and its synonyms. It is also fitted with several speakers that play recordings of local people talking about their memories of the island.

    Have a lovely weekend! 💕

    T.

    Daily Prompt: Varnish

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

    I spent the whole day today on Gulangyu (Gulang Islet) and was able to visit the church that my husband and I used to go to every Sunday more than a couple of years ago, before we had our baby.

    The church was locked when we arrived (as is usually the case when it’s not Sunday and there’s no mass), but the priest’s assistant opened it for us. (The young couple in the photo were just getting their wedding pictures taken outside the church but didn’t have a ceremony inside. )

    Gulangyu was very crowded and noisy, but inside the church, it was quite serene.

    Christ the King Church, Gulangyu, Xiamen

    Weekly Photo Challenge
    Serene

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

    I’ve been living in Jimei for over a decade, and this place is just a 10-minute walk from my old apartment, but I’ve only been to this place twice. It’s not my in my usual route when I go walking. Yesterday though I decided to show my friend this place, and we loved it. It was 17 degrees C, cloudy and breezy.

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

    Daily Prompt: Honk

    It’s early morning,

    Hardly anything is astir

    Save for a couple of cars

    And the birds overhead

    Singing a happy tune.

    I say a prayer of thanks

    For this time of quiet

    Before it is broken

    By the loud honking

    Of trucks and buses

    That rouse the city

    From its much needed sleep.

    Daily Prompt: Honk

    Daily Prompt: Elastic 

    To be elastic is to be flexible, tolerant, resilient, to easily recover from depression or exhaustion.   

    To be elastic should be everyone’s goal. 

    I easily get angry, but I also easily get over the anger which sometimes annoys me because I think people shouldn’t just be allowed to readily forget the hurt they caused you. But that’s me. 

    I also get depressed so easily, but let me walk around a quiet park and give me solitude and let me have a good cry, then I’ll be fine. 

    Fuzhou Normal University

    Jimei University

    I like to think I’m “elastic,” but my husband doesn’t think so. He always tells me I’m stubborn, and maybe he’s right. But there’s one thing I’m 100% certain of — that both us have some “elasticity” within us or we wouldn’t still be happily married after 11 years! 

    Have a lovely weekend! 💕
    T. 

    Daily Prompt: Elastic 

    Daily Post: Disastrous 


    This is the trunk of one of the many mango tress that line the roads of our campus. It seems this mango tree is dying even though its leaves are still very green.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with the disastrous super typhoon that struck the city last year, or that this tree is very old. 


    I took this photo a week before I left Xiamen. Perhaps by the time I get back weeks from now, this tree shall have been replaced by a healthier-looking one. Like everything in China, old stuff can easily be replaced. Even trees. 
    Daily Prompt: Disastrous 

    Images of a Jimei Evening

    This year Xiamen hosts the 9th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit from September 3 to 5. The city has been preparing for the summit for some time, and this is the reason the whole city, not only Xiamen island, but its district on the mainland as well, has seen so many changes — all to make Xiamen more attractive. 

    Right after super typhoon Meranti struck Xiamen last year, Jimei looked so dark at night viewed from the plane. It was such a sad sight 

    But these days, Jimei is all lit up, and I enjoy walking around the campus in the early evening when the lights are on. 


    Have a lovely weekend!💕
    T. 

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge 


    This new bridge  over Yinjiang Road is an overpass for pedestrians. It’s not as yet operational as the workers have not finished painting. It’s just one of the many things to see in China. Here, there’s construction going on everywhere you go. 


    Jimei Bridge, completed in  2008, has a total length of 10 km. It connects Xiamen Island to the mainland at Jimei District. 

    This is one of my favorite photos and also the one that received the most likes in this blog so far. I took this photo as the plane from the Philippines was about to land. I left home to come to my second home. And this bridge will get me there. 
    T. 💕
    Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

    Changes, Transitions and the Passing of Time

    JMU at 6A.M.

    Yesterday I went out for a walk at about 5:15 in the morning. These days sunrise is usually around 5:30. As most of the students have already left for the summer, the campus was blissfully quiet when I walked around.

    Jimei at 6:30 P.M.

    In the evening, I went out again after spending the whole day working on the computer. This time I went out of the campus. I took a picture of this new bridge that will replace the rickety temporary one that they put up after closing the old underpass, which I kind of miss because of the memory I have of the people who were always there during my first year here: the friendly fruit lady, and the old man who played the erhu, the melody of which echoed around the walls of the underpass and even above ground.

    Jimei at 7:15 P.M.

    Getting back to the campus, I walked towards the west side. I  took a photo of these new apartment buildings situated in what I used to think was a swamp. A taxi driver whom I’ve known for as long as I’ve been here once told us that they used to take a boat from their home on the southern part of the district to this place where these buildings are now.

    For me, Jimei  has changed so much in just over a decade. For the quinquagenarians and older, even more so.

    Everything changes. Everyone changes. 

    All one can do is move on.

    Have a lovely weekend!💕
    T.

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

    Jimei Bridge, Xiamen


    This photo was taken last month as our plane was landing at Gaoqi Airport, Xiamen. 

    For the  last two years, I’ve been flying home every month, which means at least four flights a month. So I feel something like a transient in the two cities I call home. They are both home, yet when I am in either place, it seems I’m only there as a guest. 

    I am hopeful that this year, I will cease feeling like a transient and have more stability in my life. I hope my whole family can be together in one safe place. 🙏🏻
    T. 💕

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

    De-stressing after socializing 

    As an introvert and a creature of habit, I get stressed when my routine gets thrown off especially by socializing with people with whom I’m not really keen on socializing. A friend asked why I meet with such people when I don’t like doing so. The answer is simple: because as a member of society, I have to.

    I have a very small circle of people I get in regular contact with, and I usually initiate the communication. So when I have to meet with people outside that circle and put on some kind of a role, where I make “polite” conversation, I get exhausted after such an “event.” It IS like an event.

    You may say, ” You don’t have to pretend! Just be yourself.” Now, if being myself is looking unhappy while having a meal with people, is that a good thing? You may also say, “Nobody is forcing you to hang out with these people.” Well, I am forcing myself to hang out with these people because I do not want them to think there is something wrong with them that I do not want to spend time with them! This is really true — it’s NOT them; it’s ME! Just because I do not find them interesting or like listening to them does not mean they are bad people. They are not, so I do not want to hurt their feelings. Besides, what I feel about them is not a rational judgment of them as a person. What I feel does not really determine who or what they are, but it says so much about who and what I am. Hence, I socialize and suffer afterwards.

    So what do I do to de-stress after socializing? I go to a place where I don’t know anybody and nobody knows me. And then I go dark.

    Earlier today I visited a park I had not been to in 10 years, and right now I’m writing this as I’m having coffee at a McDonald’s I had not been to in at least 5 years. It’s a busy place, but nobody’s talking to me, and I’m at peace.

    Is it age that makes me get easily exhausted after socializing and disoriented after a change in routine? Or am I no different from my son?

    Here are some photos I took at the park.

    Hope you have a relaxing weekend!
    T.


    Zhong Shan Park, Xiamen 

    Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient 

    A super typhoon struck the city three months ago, knocking down many of the trees and uprooting a few others. On my way to the apartment from the airport, I noticed a huge change in the city from what it was before I left and the typhoon hit (yes, I missed one of the biggest events in the city’s history!) It was so dark and fellled trees were everywhere one week after the typhoon.  And  later, I learned that in some areas people had no water nor electricity for over a week. 

    Thankfully, the local government did a great job of organizing the clean up and restoration of electric and water services, and the citizens themselves went out of their way to help others and clean up their respective areas. 

    For several weeks after that, I did not hear chirping birds from my balcony. But now they are back. The trees that had remained standing after the typhoon have grown new leaves — a beautiful green. 

    This city and its people have bounced back from the ravages of Meranti. They are as resilient as its trees. 

    I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and happy 2017. And should the storms of life come you way this year, I hope you will be resilient enough to bounce back and be stronger. 

    Happy New Year!!!
    T.

    WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: RESILIENT 

    Two Cities: Iligan and Xiamen

    Xiamen is not what most Chinese would call a big city, but perhaps to a lot of people from my city in the Philippines, Iligan, it would be pretty big. Xiamen has an area of 1,699.39 km2, while Iligan has an area of 813.37 km2; Xiamen had an estimated population of 3, 531, 347 at the 2010 census, while Iligan had 322, 821 in the same year.  (Source: Wikipedia.)

    Even though Wikipedia describes Iligan as a “highly urbanized city”, by Chinese standards, it is perhaps just a village. But size is not everything, and Iligan also has some things to offer that would not be easy to find in richer Xiamen.

    Iligan is known as the City of Majestic Waterfalls, boasting of 23 waterfalls, the most famous of which is the Maria Cristina Falls, the primary source of electric power for the city’s industries. It has one mall (hopefully another one in a couple of years), a couple of parks, spring pools and beaches. I know it doesn’t sound like Iligan has a lot to offer, but as it is where I grew up, I still find it more convenient to live there. First, I know a lot more people there – former classmates, former students and colleagues– and have more relatives there (and that counts a lot especially if these people work in banks and government offices or company with whom you have to do business. Wink.) Second, shopping for food is way easier. I can easily buy butter, cheese, pasta, spaghetti sauce, etc. even in corner stores, and they are cheaper too! (In China I have to take a bus to go to a German-owned store that sells imported products! Hopefully that will change.) In Iligan I can go to the church whenever I want – especially when I want to be alone and have some quiet time. (I once took a 45-minute bus ride to a church in Xiamen only to find out it was closed on weekdays. Sigh.)

    To be honest I do not know exactly what Xiamen should be famous for, although whenever  asked what is there to see in Xiamen, I, and most people living here would say “Gulangyu.” Gulang Islet is known for its old buildings, most of which were used as consulates or embassies. But there is so much more residents can do for entertainment in Xiamen – there’s the beach and swimming pools or spas, numerous parks for people to go to, countless malls and shopping streets and KTV’s and bars and clubs. But these are not the things that make me like living in Xiamen. I like living in Xiamen because I feel so much safer here. I can go out without worrying about bomb explosions or people firing guns. I can sleep on rainy nights without fear of our home getting flooded. (God forbid there’ll be an earthquake as I live in a 6-story building!)

    Seeing Xiamen develop so fast in the eleven years that I have been here, I wish the same could happen to my beloved Iligan. Sadly, my beloved hometown has not changed much for the past eleven years. (Except perhaps for Gaisano Mall, and the unusual color that the RVM Sisters chose to paint St. Michael’s College to match that of the St. Michael’s Cathedral’s, there’s really nothing new.)

    When I go around Xiamen and notice what the city has to offer, I truly wish I could become the mayor of Iligan one day (IMPOSSIBLE!) and make my “yuta’ng natawhan” just as peaceful, modern and beautiful as my second home. (If not me, then somebody else who really cares about Iligan and help it develop as a city.)

     

    Happy Easter to all!

     

     

    Xiamen University

    Xiamen University

    Xiamen beach

    Xiamen beach

     

    Maria Cristina Falls

    Maria Cristina Falls

     

    Xiamen at night

    Xiamen at night

    Timoga Spring Pools (panoramio.com)

    Timoga Spring Pools (panoramio.com)

    Cheradel Suites, Iligan (panoramio.com)

    Cheradel Suites, Iligan (panoramio.com)