A Few Days in Berlin

My brother-in-law lives in Berlin with his family, so we headed north for a long weekend. It was Hugo’s first time to meet his cousins in person and to say he was thrilled to have another child to play with would be an understatement. He would disappear into his cousin’s room for hours at a time, the two of them playing with Lego or dinosaurs or Star Wars ships or whatever it is little boys do, while we adults happily sipped our coffee in peace. This is why people have more than one child, right? They play happily together all the time, right??

We did a little sightseeing, too.

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We wandered through the Brandenburg Gate

And in and out of the concrete monoliths of the Holocaust Memorial.

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There were a lot of other visitors on such a bright, sunny weekend

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It doesn’t take long before you are alone in the narrow canyons

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Known formally as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, it consists of 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. They are designed “to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.”

Not everything in Berlin was a somber reminder of turbulent history. We had a chance to visit the farmer’s market at Kolwitzplatz and eat food from food trucks.

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I think Hugo will eat pretty much any kind of food from a truck

But mostly the weekend was a chance to reconnect with family we don’t get to see in person very often.

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Plus lots of shoulder rides, Lego space ships, and trips to the playground.

 

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A Morning at the Market

One of our favorite things to do at home on Saturdays is to go to the farmer’s market. Here, we can do the same thing, except the setting is a little more dramatic.

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Dom St. Stephen

Although there are other outdoor markets throughout the week, the one in the plaza in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the closest to our apartment. It’s the usual fruits and vegetables you’d expect from a farmer’s market, plus some bread, meats, and cheeses, and several vendors selling potted plants.

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Produce stands in the plaza

What’s for sale these days? Well, it’s strawberry and asparagus season!

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These strawberries were so good that I may never eat an American strawberry again.

A local regional specialty is the white asparagus you can see in the top part of the above photo. It has a thicker stalk than the green asparagus, has a milder flavor, and a softer texture. It is grown the same as green asparagus, but as the shoots come up they are covered with soil. Without being exposed to sunlight, no photosynthesis occurs, and they remain white. I had some the other night for dinner, slathered in a butter sauce. Delicious!

There was also a stand selling wooden toys and kitchen utensils.

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Hugo keeps insisting that there is a zoo in Passau, but I’m pretty sure these little wooden creatures are as close as he’s going to get

After a lunch of bread, cheese, and strawberries, the cathedral bells started ringing and the crowds of tourists from the Danube cruise boats started pouring in to the square.

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Time to head home.

The Taichung Second Public Market

The Taichung Second Public Market is the kind of place where you can find almost anything you might want: vegetable stalls are next to fabric stores are next to toy stores are next to butcher shops, and on and on until you are dizzy from taking in all of your options.

A view of the main entrance of the Second Market

A view of the main entrance of the Second Market

The Second Market was originally built in 1917, but was rebuilt after being destroyed in a fire in 1936. It has a distinctive hexagonal shape, with spokes radiating out from the center and narrower walkways interconnecting the stalls. At the center of the hexagon is a small temple dedicated to Mazu, goddess of fishermen and sailors.

Approaching the center of the market.

Approaching the center of the market and the Mazu temple.

Originally each “wedge” of the hexagon had different types of goods for sale, but nowadays they’re all mixed together, making for an interesting shopping and dining experience. The myriad food stalls are selling all of your favorite local foods such as pork buns, radish cakes, and various kinds of noodles and wanton soups. If you’re looking to sample lots of different things and not sure what to order, this is a great place to point to someone else’s food and say “I’ll have what he’s having.”

I could eat baozi every day. Side note: It's hard to take a good picture of food.

I could eat baozi every day. Side note: It’s hard to take a good picture of food.

Of course, the fish were a big hit with Hugo. I think he’ll be disappointed at the lack of living creatures in our American supermarkets.

Watching the live shrimp wriggle around.

Watching the live shrimp wriggle around.

Taichung Second Public Market Visitor’s Notes:

  • Name in Chinese: 第二市場 dìèr shìchǎng
  • Hours: 7am-4pm daily
  • Map

Taichung Big Jade Market and City Hall Park

In search of some last minute gifts, Hugo and I went to the Taichung Jade Market (台中文心玉市 Táizhōng wénxīn yùshì) to see what we could find.

The Jade Market is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and is just around the corner from the City Hall BRT station

The Jade Market is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and is just around the corner from the City Hall BRT station

Situated in a warehouse-like building, the Jade Market has row after row of every sort of jade jewelry and trinket you can imagine. In addition to jade, there were glass ornaments, some artwork, and more teapots in more shapes than you ever imagined.

A real turtle shell!

A real turtle shell!

The vendors were less than thrilled to have a small child pawing their wares, so we ended up leaving pretty quickly without buying anything.

Since it was still pretty early in the morning, we wandered over to the Taichung New City Hall building which is surrounded by a vast open square and a newly built park.

The shiny and imposing Taichung City Hall building. You can see it was an overcast and hazy morning.

The shiny and imposing Taichung New City Hall building. You can see it was an overcast and hazy morning.

I have walked by here dozens of times but I’ve never actually gone into the park before. I had thought it was just a small greenbelt between buildings, but was surprised to find some very nicely landscaped gardens and pathways, a small temple, and lots of benches to sit and escape from the hectic traffic of the city.

I imagine there are a lot more people here on days when Google isn't sending out poor air quality notices

I imagine there are a lot more people here on days when Google isn’t sending out poor air quality notices

Then, we stumbled upon the best part of the park:

A huge sandbox!

A huge sandbox! A much more fun place to play than the Jade Market.

I think this made up for taking him to a place where he wasn’t allowed to touch anything.

Taichung Jade Market Visitor’s Notes:

  • Name in Chinese: 台中文心玉市 Táizhōng wénxīn yùshì
  • Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9am-6pm
  • Map

Feng Jia Night Market

The Feng Jia Night Market (逢甲夜市 féngjiǎ yèshì, map) is the biggest one in Taichung, and I can’t believe it has taken us two weeks to get here. Night markets are a big attraction in Taiwan, and are a great place to walk, people-watch, sample foods, and shop for pretty much anything you can imagine.

We arrived around 5:30pm, and as you can see it was already busy.

We arrived around 5:30pm, and as you can see it was already busy.

The night market fills the side streets around Feng Jia University. At every corner there are new shops and stalls to explore. Sometimes the choices were overwhelming. Night markets here are really focused on food. It is kind of the opposite of what we saw at the Sunday market in Chiang Mai where it was mostly things like clothing and art for sale, with the odd food cart thrown in.

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The Porky Box was delicious!

If you catch yourself thinking “I really want to eat an entire roasted squid! If only it were flattened and on a stick so I could eat it while walking through a crowded market,” have I got the place for you!

Squid on display.

Sesame squid!

I was really hoping for a Beijing-style jianbing, but we had to settle for a small egg crepe.

Our crepe on the griddle.

Our crepe on the griddle.

Can you get good jianbing anywhere outside of Beijing? Is it available near my house? Am I going to have to open my own jianbing cart and sell them myself in order to introduce their deliciousness to the Pacific Northwest? Shall I do a kickstarter?

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Roasted ducks hanging in a row.

As the night grew darker, the crowds grew bigger. We left the food area to check out some of the other shops.

Clothing, books, shoes, music...

Clothing, books, shoes, music…

Hugo’s favorite was the toy store.

Hugo's favorite was the toy store!

Unfortunately all the toys were wrapped in plastic, so there wasn’t a chance to give them a try.

There were even carnival-style games!

Our round of balloon darts did not go well.

Our round of balloon darts did not go well. Although I’m not sure what we would have done with a giant stuffed chipmunk anyway. If you can’t read the sign, it says that men have to pop 7 to win, but women only have to pop 6.

We left with tired eyes and full bellies.

Feng Jia Night Market Visitor’s Notes:

  • Chinese name: 逢甲夜市 féngjiǎ yèshì
  • Map
  • The map pinpoints the center of the market, but it extends to all the side streets around. If you’re taking a taxi, I recommend getting out at the intersection of Fuxing Lu and Fengjia Lu
  • Hours: every day after 5pm

Yogyakarta Bird And Animal Market

I feel like in the US we have well-defined categories of what kinds of animals we would consider to be pets and what kinds of animals should be “wild”.

A visit to the Yogyakarta Animal Market will challenge those assumptions.

If you're in the market for a messenger owl, this little guy is more of a Pigwidgen than a Hedwig

If you’re in the market for a messenger owl, this little guy is more of a Pigwidgen than a Hedwig

There are a lot of birds for sale.

It seemed like there were a thousand of these little brown ones

It seemed like there were a thousand of these little brown ones

Some familiar (pigeons, parakeets), some more exotic.

Is there anything more exotic than a hot pink baby chick?

Is there anything more exotic than a hot pink baby chick?

And lots of beautiful cages.

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There is a fish section, which you know was Hugo’s favorite part.

Baby koi

Baby koi

Jars of colorful bettas

Jars of colorful bettas

There were kittens and puppies and bunnies to pet.

And if you venture to the back part, sometimes you see some monkeys.

Did you know that monkeys like to eat carrots?

Did you know that monkeys like to eat carrots?

Last time I came here, there were two baby monkeys that looked very sad and probably should not have been separated from their mothers. These seemed healthy and calm.

This market leaves me with mixed feelings. Seeing fish in aquariums or many kinds of birds in cages don’t seem unusual, but monkeys, squirrels, bats, and owls are the kinds of things I’d rather see in trees.

Beringharjo Pasar: Open For Business Since 1758

Today we went to walk around the historic Beringharjo Pasar, where you can buy anything from clothing to food to herbal medicine all under a single roof.

The market has been in the same location since 1758, but the current building was built in 1925.

You can buy fresh spices in bulk and even ready-made mixtures of spices and sauces for cooking

You can buy fresh spices in bulk and even ready-made mixtures of spices and sauces for cooking

There are different types of sugar available in large crystals.

The sugar vendor gave Hugo a free sample. I think it's his new favorite snack.

The sugar vendor gave Hugo a free sample. I think it’s his new favorite snack.

Of course there is a huge array of fruits and vegetables available.

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And you might even find a jackfruit as big as tour toddler.

I'm not sure who weighs more

I’m not sure who weighs more

There is row after row of these little multicolored disks that look like chips that are a favorite local snack called krupuk:

These are actually raw krupuk

These are actually raw krupuk

When you fry them in oil, they puff up to many times their original size.

One of those small baskets in the previous photo can cook up into a giant man-sized bag of crispy krupuk

One of those small baskets in the previous photo can cook up into a giant man-sized bag of crispy krupuk

The best part of the market is the part where you can buy all kinds of snacks, including these delicious coconut balls:

Hugo approved street treats

Hugo approved street treats

Malioboro Market

We started out this morning in familiar territory – at least familiar to me since I have been there before – Malioboro Market.

If you get there early enough there's almost no one else there

If you get there early enough there’s almost no one else there

“Lucky” for us, Hugo wakes up at 5am these days so it’s easy to get out before the heat of the day settles in.

Malioboro is at the center of Yogyakarta’s tourist area and is lined on both sides with stalls and shops selling local arts and crafts.

Endless rows of batik clothing

Endless rows of batik clothing

So far on the trip we haven’t found an outdoor market that Hugo doesn’t like.

Toy cars made of wood!

Toy cars made of wood!

After walking all the way through the market, we picked up some fruits to eat at home. I had some questions about rambutan yesterday, so here’s a picture of what they look like on the inside:

Rambutan, half peeled

Rambutan, half peeled

We also picked up some mangosteen, which I love but Gareth hates. More for me!

Mangosteen on the outside

Mangosteen on the outside


Mangosteen on the inside!

Mangosteen on the inside!


Mangosteen is sweet and amazing.
It tastes like your favorite day dreams manifested in fruit form.

We also picked up a few of these:

It's called salak, or snake fruit, or alligator balls, depending on who you ask. It has a thin scaly peel over white sections of fruit.

It’s called salak, or snake fruit, or alligator balls, depending on who you ask. It has a thin scaly peel over white sections of fruit.

Gareth loves salak, but I’m not crazy about them. They taste like a really dry apple.

Welcome to Penang!

The sun is hot, the sky is blue, Chinese lanterns hang in the trees, and the call to prayer fills one ear while throbbing Bollywood beats fill the other. Welcome to Malaysia!

Not everything the group does is particularly toddler friendly, so Hugo and I hopped a plane for Penang, Malaysia this morning and will be joined later by everyone else.

Attempted airplane selfie

Attempted airplane selfie

Hugo is pretty adept at taking airplanes. Mostly because he knows he can watch as many movies and play as many iPad games as he could possibly want.

Finding Nemo for the zillionth time, anyone?

Finding Nemo for the zillionth time, anyone?

I’ve been pretty excited to come here since I first saw it on our itinerary because it’s my first time to Malaysia. I’ve traveled a lot in Asia, but every new place is still surprising.

We’re staying in the city of Georgetown, a former colony full of twisting lanes and crumbling European-style architecture that’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’re even staying in one of these crumbling-but-redecorated buildings.

I didn't know the stairs were so steep when I booked this place

I didn’t know the stairs were so steep when I booked this place

Also of note: Hugo napping in the above photo. Napping in a new place. It used to be impossible to get him to sleep for the first few days in a new place, but here he is, snoozing away. I guess this trip really has taught him something!

After he woke up we stepped out to do some exploring and found that there is a street market on Saturday evenings.

As you can see, we're in the Chinese part of town

As you can see, we’re in the Chinese part of town

Hugo immediately found a favorite vendor selling various vehicles welded out of leftover hardware parts.

This motorcycle is serious business

This motorcycle is serious business

Our little neighborhood is famous for street art murals, which are painted on every available surface.

Many have some kind of cat and mouse theme

Many have some kind of cat and mouse theme

There were people all over making silly poses with the paintings.

Some walls are less exciting than others

Some walls are less exciting than others

We came home after dinner to discover that the WiFi wasn’t working in the house and no way to contact the owner to fix it since my phone doesn’t work here either. I’ll have to go to see her in the morning down the street at the café she runs. It’s a peculiar sensation to be so out of communication. I guess I’ll have to read a book!