Author Archives: screamfmlondon

A complete and thorough guide to BTS’s ‘오,늘’ Exhibition

BTS’s 2018 exhibition, ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ at Ara Art Center in Seoul. SCREAMfmLondon

Sunday was an emotional rollercoaster.

After getting my phone stolen on Saturday night, I spent the morning checking in at the police station (2 hours), trying to dance away my pain in the studio (2 hours), then navigating the task of buying and activating a new phone (1.5 hours).

Finally, it was time to see my spot of brightness in this dreary world: the seven boys of BTS. Using a map the police had graciously drawn for me on a Post-it, I found my way to the ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ exhibition at Ara Art Center. But the adventure didn’t end there! Without a phone to show my booking confirmation, I had to beg and plead to be let into the exhibit.

When the staff eventually took pity on me and allowed me to enter, they told me not to worry about the phone and “just enjoy your BTS!”

Honestly, what would we do without them?

“Past the end of this cold winter / Until the spring comes again / Until the flowers bloom again / Stay there a little longer,” soothes BTS in 2017’s “Spring Day.” SCREAMfmLondon

Guides are available in multiple languages to help visitors work their way through the ambitious, four-floor exhibit. On the first page of the guide is a romantic inscription: “In the middle of this vast ocean / I sing for someone who will listen to my voice / In the middle of this vast ocean / I hear a song that comforts me / A story we build together, you and I.”

The first rooms, entitled “BTS BEGINS” and “DOPE,” feature golden discs engraved to depict each member’s unique personality and then some beautiful portraits of the beautiful boys themselves.

Jimin, Jin and J-Hope as seen in the “DOPE” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Next comes the “MIC Drop” room, which contains photos of BTS’s significant wins on award shows, from their first Korean music shows to recent achievements abroad like the Billboard Music Awards.

The “MIC Drop” room at BTS’s ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

SCREAMfmLondon

SCREAMfmLondon

Then a mirrored hallway leads you to “Young Forever,” one of many rooms filled with never-before-seen photos of BTS throughout the years. You’re not supposed to take pictures in there, so I didn’t, but other people definitely did, so I’m sure they’re all online somewhere by now.

This is one of the most crowded rooms, and it’s hot in there, too. In here, I felt like the chaperone of a school field trip, peering over the shoulders of young fans all giggling over how cute Jimin is in the pictures (which he is, of course).

SCREAMfmLondon

Next up is the “BANGTAN ROOM,” partially made up to look like the boys’ old studio spaces with computer monitors, equipment, polaroid photos and other personal touches.

Computer monitors looping through old videos in the “BANGTAN ROOM” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

SCREAMfmLondon

I tried so hard to take a picture of Namjoon’s cute little “Give Up” tomato sculpture lamps from behind the glass, but the glare was too real.

These little lamps were created by Case Studyo based on Dutch artist Parra’s original fiberglass sculpture “Give Up.” I love them, and I love Namjoon’s aesthetic, and I love Namjoon. SCREAMfmLondon

Lyrics from BTS’s “Whalien 52.” SCREAMfmLondon

This nearly wraps up the first floor of the exhibit. The next stop is “We On,” which is absolutely one of the coolest parts of the whole thing, bringing to life several of BTS’s most memorable music videos and allowing fans to step into the sets and be a part of their worlds.First comes the set from “I Need U,” featuring the bathtub scene where we see Jimin in the video, as well as some doodles added by the boys upon their visit to the exhibit.

Jimin in “I Need U.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “I Need U” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Namjoon drawing his BT21 character Koya on the bathroom walls at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

Then there’s me! SCREAMfmLondon

SCREAMfmLondon

Across from this are the blue train cars also featured in “I Need U.”

BTS in “I Need U.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “I Need U” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The next set is from the “Spring Day” music video: the Omelas hotel, a reference to Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” about a utopian city named Omelas that is in a perpetual state of happiness as long as one child is kept in constant misery.

Yoongi, Namjoon and J-Hope in the “Spring Day” music video. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “Spring Day” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Should I stay or should I go? SCREAMfmLondon

Then comes the Magic Shop, a set from BTS’s “Fake Love” teaser. Here, you can exchange your fears for something positive.

Yoongi visits the Magic Shop in the “Fake Love” teaser. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The Magic Shop at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

I have an animated discussion with the keeper of the Magic Shop at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The final music video set in this section of the exhibit is from “MIC Drop,” but this room has some cool video and audio elements, so you’re not allowed to take pictures.Across the hall, there is another room of unreleased pictures (this one called “Spring Day”), which leads into “Love Maze.” “Love Maze” is a literal maze of mirrors, some of which have been autographed by the members of BTS. I completely neglected this part, though, because the other rooms on this floor are so cool. Which brings me to…

The next room  — another amazing highlight of the exhibition: “Tear,” a room filled with flatscreen TVs showing never-before-seen dance practice videos! Again, no photos or videos were allowed, so I just took my time taking in the videos that spanned the years of BTS’s existence.

The second floor concludes with the “ARMY BOMB” room, which houses the fence as seen in BTS’s “FIRE” music video. On the wall, there is a video projection of the band from a concert on the 2017 Wings Tour, and fans feel as if they are standing inside in the official lightstick itself.

The first room on the third floor of the exhibition is “Whalien 52,” the blacklight paint-splattered set from J-Hope’s “MAMA” scene in the Wings short films.

J-Hope in BTS’s Wings short film “MAMA.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

J-Hope and Jungkook take photos inside the “Whalien 52” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

SCREAMfmLondon

Then there’s me! SCREAMfmLondon

Around the corner is the “House of MASKs,” showcasing the masks worn in the “Fake Love” music video and featured in Taehyung’s “Love Yourself: Tear” comeback trailer, “Singularity.”

The “House of MASKs” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The next room, “DNA,” presents several of BTS’s most popular song lyrics in artistic formats that cover all of the room’s white surfaces.

The lyrics to BTS’s “Magic Shop” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The lyrics to BTS’s “MIC Drop” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Following this is another great highlight of the exhibition: “If I Ruled the World,” a room displaying costumes the BTS members have worn in different music videos as well as representative gas masks the boys designed to go along with the outfits.

The “If I Ruled the World” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Jin’s costume from the “Blood Sweat & Tears” music video at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

J-Hope’s costume from the “MIC Drop” music video at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Yoongi’s “Not Today” costume and Jungkook’s “DNA” costume at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

A closer look at Yoongi’s crushed velvet gas mask. SCREAMfmLondon

SCREAMfmLondon

Taehyung’s “Run” costume at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

SCREAMfmLondon

A hallway full of videos entitled “Tomorrow” leads the way to the next and final floor of the exhibition.

First up: another room of unreleased photos (these ones from live performances) called “Wings.” In the center of this room sits the phone booth prop that Namjoon used in his Wings short film “Reflection,” as well as onstage during the tour. The booth is covered in quite a lot of cryptic writing and poetry, so it was thrilling to finally have the chance to inspect it up close.

The fourth floor also features some polaroid photos of the boys in a room called “RUN” and a room of kind of Harry Potter-style moving portraits called “Blood Sweat & Tears.” I wish they’d let us take pictures in this room because Namjoon’s portrait was peak cuteness, and I still dream of it at night.

Finally, fans are invited to write down their feelings on the exhibit in the ARMY capsule in a room called “IDOL.” Overwhelmed, I just wrote down my feelings honestly (they were: “Namjoon is cute!!”) and exited through the gift shop.

The layout of the BTS exhibition at the Ara Art Center. SCREAMfmLondon

And there you have it: a room-by-room, thorough and detailed account of BTS’s ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ exhibition. ARMY af.

2018 BTS Exhibition ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’
Ara Art Center
26, Insandong 9-gil, Jongno-gu
Tickets are 18,000 KRW.
The exhibition runs through October 28.
For more information, visit www.ticket.interpark.com.

Advertisements

Tea cocktails at Basilur in Sinsa-dong

Tea cocktails at Basilur in Sinsa-dong. SCREAMfmLondon

Sinsa-dong is one of Gangnam’s most popular neighborhoods for shopping and dining. Its most famous shopping street, Garosu-gil, is lined with chic boutiques and trendy cafés. In a city full of Instagram-worthy cafés, you can find a number of them right here in Sinsa.

One café you won’t be able to miss is Basilur Tea & Coffee. The shop takes up two spacious floors of a larger building on one of Sinsa’s side streets, and huge tin cans of branded teas are visible through the floor-to-ceiling picture windows.

Tea cocktail at Basilur in Sinsa-dong. SCREAMfmLondon

Basilur offers a wide variety of hot and iced teas, but I’ve always been drawn to the specialty “tea cocktail” menu for obvious reasons.

Tea cocktail at Basilur in Sinsa-dong. SCREAMfmLondon

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed to learn that these drinks don’t actually contain any alcohol. Why call it a tea cocktail, then, and tease me like that? I was ready to turn up at the tea house.

Tea cocktail at Basilur in Sinsa-dong. SCREAMfmLondon

The tea cocktails come in many different color and flavor combinations, although they all kind of taste the same. Each runs around 6,800 KRW. They’re slightly bubbly, super sweet lemonades, more or less. We now know there’s no alcohol, and if there’s any tea, I definitely couldn’t taste it.

The coolest thing about the drinks are the boba-adjacent little tea bubbles inside. The balls are filled with even more sweet syrup, and they burst in your mouth, making the whole experience a bit more fun.

Tea cocktail at Basilur in Sinsa-dong. SCREAMfmLondon

I do actually quite like Basilur. It has great atmosphere for hanging out and chatting, and the drinks are sweet and tasty. Most of all, it’s aesthetically-pleasing. What more could you ask?

 

 

 

 

Basilur Tea & Coffee
Nonhyeon-ro 159-gil, Gangnam-gu
Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday – Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday

 

Learning how to surf in Yangyang, South Korea

Our surfing instructor gives Hailey, me and Shayna some pointers on Yangyang’s Jukdo Beach (양양 죽도해변) in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

Find out more about Yangyang, South Korea’s coolest surfer town, in this post.

An express bus from Seoul zipped along the winding roads as city skyscrapers gave way to lush greenery and tall mountains. Yangyang, an idyllic surf town in South Korea’s Gangwon Province, is about a two-hour journey from the country’s capital. It doesn’t take long to reach the northeastern coast from Seoul, although it feels like a different world there.

We arrived late Tuesday night in order to wake up for our surf lesson, courtesy of Candy Surf, at 10 a.m. the following day.

Candy Surf offers surf lessons and accommodations in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Candy Surf is one of the many, many surf shops in Yangyang that offer everything from surf lessons and rentals to repairs and lodgings. The shop is rustically-decorated with hardwood paneling and glass bottles of sand from the world’s beaches adorning its front desk.

Candy Surf bringing SoCal vibes to Gangwon-do. SCREAMfmLondon

Some more beachy decor. SCREAMfmLondon

We stayed overnight in the guesthouse portion of the shop. It’s set up like a typical hostel, with rows of bunk beds lining each wall of the (separate) men’s and women’s rooms.

The room comes complete with a nice floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the beach, which is perfect for ogling the surfers walking around in their wetsuits outside.

The women’s bedroom at Candy Surf’s guesthouse. SCREAMfmLondon

The rooms are clean and well-maintained. Our only major complaint about the guesthouse is that there is no indoor shower — only one outside in the alley. Which is fantastic when you’re coming back from surfing, but sucks when you’ve just finished a long bus ride.

Candy Surf’s outdoor shower room. SCREAMfmLondon

Very outdoors. SCREAMfmLondon

But, anyway, we didn’t come here to shower! We came to surf!

I have always, always dreamed of being a surfer and living in a chill beach house in Santa Cruz with all my surfer friends. But I somehow never got around to trying it in California.

I know Korea doesn’t immediately come to mind as a surf destination, but some of the Korean beaches are really hidden gems. As we woke up for our surfing lesson, the whole town of Yangyang was buzzing with talk about the great waves that were expected that day.

Candy Surf in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

First, we got suited up. Changing into a wetsuit is a whole process in itself. It’s like putting on full-body yoga pants. Once I got my legs in properly, I stood up to take a break, already sweating and breathing heavily. I kind of don’t understand how actual surfers do this quickly without getting it twisted around themselves a dozen times.

A supply of wetsuits at Candy Surf. SCREAMfmLondon

When we were sufficiently clothed, we went inside to view a slideshow presentation on some of the basics of surfing: don’t step on jellyfish, don’t “drop in” on somebody’s wave, don’t get caught in a riptide, etc.

And then we trekked down to the beach, during which process I realized that surfboards are really heavy?! I’ve always seen people carry them on their heads like it ain’t nothin’, but doing that hurt my head. But the boards are too big and unwieldy to carry in your arms without smacking people around you. Again, this ability must come down to surfer magic.

Let’s go! SCREAMfmLondon

Jukdo Beach in Yangyang is packed with surf instructors and their classes. We found our own spot to settle on the sand and practice some techniques, such as paddling and quickly standing up on the boards, before we got into the water.

Learning some technique with Shayna. SCREAMfmLondon

It wasn’t long before we were ready to hop into the ocean.

From the beach, I felt pretty scared. The waves looked huge, and the water looked frigid. As soon as I stepped close enough, a wave smashed me in the face and dunked me under. I gasped and consequently took a big drink of salty ocean water. Sputtering, I resurfaced and wiped the water out of my eyes, thinking, Oh, well. With that out of the way, the ocean didn’t seem so intimidating anymore.

Heading off on our big adventure. SCREAMfmLondon

Our instructor was a big help guiding and helping us all try to catch the waves. It was super fun, although actually getting up into a standing position on the board was pretty challenging. It was also difficult to get the timing down — when to start paddling, when to try standing, etc. — without our instructor yelling behind us.

I think with some more continuous practice, though, I could totally be an excellent surfer.

After a while, the instructor left to teach his next lesson, and we were free to play with the boards on our own. Despite feeling so apprehensive that morning, convinced I was going to embarrass myself and drown, I was really loving surfing, and I never wanted to get out of the water.

South Korea may not be known for its surfing, but my first surf lesson in Yangyang was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m so glad I did it.

Immortalized on the polaroid wall at Candy Surf in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Trying Henry Lau’s Taiwanese restaurant in Apgujeong

The spread at Xiao Zhan (샤오짠) — Henry Lau’s Taiwanese restaurant in Apgujeong. SCREAMfmLondon

Henry Lau is a busy man. The singer/musician/actor/songwriter who speaks five languages also recently opened his first restaurant in Seoul. And here I am, barely managing to post one blog entry every six months…

Xiao Zhan, located on a cozy Apgujeong side street. SCREAMfmLondon

Henry is primarily known for his music as a member of Super Junior-M, the Chinese sub-unit of Korean boyband Super Junior. He’s also previously shown his passion for food by appearing on the competition show Master Chef Korea – Celebrity and in the film Final Recipe, in which he portrayed a struggling chef.

However, this April, he completed his ten-year contract with SM Entertainment and officially left the group and the company. Now, he appears to be open to more solo opportunities and business ventures (such as restaurant management?).

I’m definitely not a big fan of Super Junior (sorry… sorry), but I love food, and Henry’s restaurant is conveniently located a few blocks from my apartment in Apgujeong, so I decided to come along with my friend for the grand opening.

Pai gu fan and niu rou mien at Xiao Zhan Taiwanese restaurant in Apgujeong. SCREAMfmLondon

If you don’t know, Henry was raised in Canada but is of Hong Kong and Taiwanese descent. His restaurant, Xiao Zhan, pays tribute to his heritage by serving up Chinese and Taiwanese dishes.

The restaurant is cozy and warmly-decorated, and its offerings are affordably-priced. Although it’s located in the heart of Apgujeong’s shopping district, it can be found on a less-trafficked side street rather than a main thoroughfare.

We ordered pai gu fan (8,000 KRW) and niu rou mien (9,000 KRW), along with some Taiwanese beer.

Niu rou mien: beef noodley goodness at Xiao Zhan. SCREAMfmLondon

The niu rou mien is a tasty beef noodle soup. The broth is comforting and flavorful with a little kick of spicy peppercorn. The beef is soft and tender, melting in your mouth as you enjoy the large serving.

The pai gu fan is like fried pork chop over rice. The pork pieces were crispy, although rather dry. The delicious bok choy was probably my favorite part of this dish. Overall, the rice-to-toppings ratio was too far off. I had no interest in eating all that white rice when there were far more tasty things on the menu.

Next time, I’d like to try the Taiwan-style popcorn chicken (7,000) that I saw on so many other tables. It smelled amazing, and I was jealous that we didn’t order any of our own.

Pai gu fan: fried pork chop and like 20 pounds of white rice. SCREAMfmLondon

Xiao Zhan, with its close proximity to other tourist hotspots, would be a fun place for k-pop fans to visit in Seoul. The price point is certainly reasonable, and the delectable beef noodles offer a great taste of Taiwan.


 

 

 

Xiao Zhan (샤오짠)
657-22 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Hours: daily from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for lunch, 4:30 – 9 p.m. for dinner

Visit Korea’s coolest surfer town, Yangyang

A lone surfboard sits on the sand at Yangyang’s Jukdo Beach (양양 죽도해변) in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

When my friends and I rolled into Yangyang around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, the cool sea air was almost as shocking to our city-girl systems as the dark and deserted streets. We stepped off our bus from Seoul and searched for our guesthouse among the storefronts — all closed for the night.

I guess we won’t be getting any dinner tonight, I thought.

“It is only nine, right?” we double-checked our phones for the time.

Yangyang’s streets are lined with surfboards and trafficked by bicyclists and skateboarders. SCREAMfmLondon

We finally located our guesthouse, but there were no signs of life there either.

“Hello?” we called. “Is anybody there?”

Rounding the corner, we spotted two employees. One was sound asleep, reclined in a massage chair. The other was lying beside him on the couch, sleeping with a magazine over his face.

“Hiiiiii,” we tried again. Magazine Guy stirred and began smacking Massage Chair guy to wake up and help us.

So, Yangyang seems pretty chill, I concluded as he drowsily checked us into our room.

Surf shops and guesthouses as far as the eye can see. SCREAMfmLondon

Surfers enjoy the clear water in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

The convenience stores were still open, though, so we bought some beers to enjoy at the wooden tables near the beach. We sat and talked for a few hours before something strange happened.

People started rolling by on skateboards and bikes. The taco stand next door flipped on its lights and opened its doors. A loud group of friends sat down outside of the bar down the road.

I finally understood. Yangyang wasn’t dead — it was just having its siesta before the late-night party started.

Cold but refreshing. SCREAMfmLondon

One of many surf schools in Yangyang that offer rentals, lessons and repairs. SCREAMfmLondon

The next morning, Yangyang was even more exciting. There are more than 20 surf shops in the small area offering rentals and lessons, and the beach was full of instructors teaching their students the proper techniques.

Everyone enthusiastically spoke about the waves in Yangyang — perfect for surfing, they said. The water is cold but not unbearable, and the beach popular but not too crowded.

Beautiful, clear water in Yangyang, South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

The primary modes of transportation for Yangyang residents: surfboards and skateboards. SCREAMfmLondon

Yangyang is such a cool, fully-developed surfer town, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t always been like this. Surfing is not something typically associated with South Korea, and the sport has been gaining popularity only in the past few years.

What’s a surf town without a burger shack? SCREAMfmLondon

Bikini Burger in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Busan’s Haeundae Beach is famously crowded in the warmer months, and there aren’t many surfable waves along the Korean coastlines. Yangyang is a hidden treasure for surf enthusiasts in South Korea.

Surfers enjoy riding the waves in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

All streets lead to the ocean. SCREAMfmLondon

Jukdo Beach in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Aloha from Surfrise, a popular surf shop in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Yangyang residents are often dressed in wet suits or casual, beach clothes (ponchos, board shorts, etc.). Many of them even sport long hair and tattoos.

A man rinses off his board after surfing in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

A chill coffee shop in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Walking around Yangyang, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually in Southern California. Until you see the little old ladies hanging up their laundry, or taste the fresh kimchi (delicious!).

Hikers enjoy the view from the mountain beside Jukdo Beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Lush plants growing everywhere in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

A trail beside Jukdo Beach leads up a mountain where we found gorgeous plants, a spectacular view of the city, and a breathtaking Buddhist temple.

A Buddhist temple in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Buddha overlooking the water. SCREAMfmLondon

The view from above Jukdo Beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Sorry, Seoul. We love Yangyang now. SCREAMfmLondon

A food journey through Taipei, Taiwan

Excited to greet my first meal in Taiwan: oyster omelette, pork over rice and milk tea. SCREAMfmLondon

I rolled up for a long weekend in Taipei, Taiwan without many plans beyond a long list of foods to eat.My first stop was checking into the luxurious Airbnb I’d booked (which boasted cable TV and a spacious, sunken bathtub) — only to find out I’d need to wait a few hours more for cleaning. I was just about to feel dejected when the cute Taiwanese guy who’d come to meet me on behalf of the host offered to take me to lunch and show me around the neighborhood.

So, I stashed my bag in the building’s basement and we took off onto the vibrant streets of the Da’an District. He gave me all the scoop on the neighborhood, regaled me with tales of Airbnb guests who’ve come and gone, and bought me all the milk tea I could handle.

When we finally stopped for a proper meal, he recommended the classic Taiwanese braised pork over rice and an oyster omelette. The omelette consists of oysters and vegetables cooked with egg and sweet potato starch, covered with a sweet chili sauce, and is absolutely delicious. The pork rice is a simple but unmistakeable quick meal in Taiwan.

My first day in Taipei was such a success, I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

It doesn’t get better than this street food! SCREAMfmLondon

It was straight to the night market once I was out on my own. Taipei has a number of these bustling markets full of cool clothes and accessories, gadgets and, of course, amazing street food.

Mysterious and delicious Taiwanese street food: barbecue pork stuffed with green onions. SCREAMfmLondon

I was immediately drawn to some fabulous-smelling barbecue pork concoction. I watched some other foreigners order it with ease, but once it was my turn, I was somehow roped into a full-on conversation with the vendors in Mandarin Chinese. Which perhaps would’ve been cool if my Mandarin wasn’t limited to “thank you,” the numbers 1-10, and “I love you.” But the food was worth it — smoky barbecued pork stuffed with green onions and seasoned with pepper and other spices.

Candy or nah? Candied tomatoes on a stick at the Raohe Street Night Market. SCREAMfmLondon

Next up was some dessert! Or so I thought. These columns of brilliant red fruits dipped in sugary syrup alluringly glistened under the warm lights of the Raohe Street Night Market, enticing me. But… they’re actually candied tomatoes and plums. I nibbled on the crunchy candy that coated the outside, but homie don’t play with tomatoes, and homie especially don’t play with tomatoes presented as dessert.

I wish I loved this, but I guess it wouldn’t be a food adventure if I didn’t try something that I found completely strange.

Blueberry swirled ice cream in Taiwan. SCREAMfmLondon

The next day, I met up with a friend from Korea to check out the Taipei Zoo. We grabbed some ice cream cones on our way to the train station. Mine was blueberry and vanilla swirled together, and was a more crisp consistency than typical ice cream.

Rice burger at the Taipei Zoo. SCREAMfmLondon

While starving at the zoo, I grabbed a rice burger — that is, pork sandwiched between two “buns” made from lightly-seasoned rice — and some cheese fries.

And some Taipei Zoo cheese fries. SCREAMfmLondon

After the zoo, we rode the Maokong Gondola and saw a total of zero stunning mountain views because it was too dark. But at least there was no line that late in the day. The best part of the ride was, naturally, the delicious street food that greeted us at the top!

Sausages in Maokong. SCREAMfmLondon

I immediately grabbed some amazing skewered sausages from a street vendor. These were one of the highlights of my food journey, actually. They were cooked to perfection and the flavors were so rich.

Taiwanese milk tea with herbal jelly. SCREAMfmLondon

And would it be Taiwan without some more milk tea? The one I bought in Maokong was slightly different, though. Instead of your typical boba tea with tapioca pearls, this one is served with cubes of chewy grass jelly. The jelly is made from a plant similar to mint and has a slight herbal taste to it that really enhances the delicious flavor of the tea.

Street food vendors in Taipei, Taiwan serve moon-shaped shrimp cakes and other delicacies. SCREAMfmLondon

Before the weekend was over, I needed to make one more trip through the night markets. After all, I was saving the best for last…

Vendors serve up Prince Cheese Potato’s famous dishes at Shilin Night Market in Taiwan. SCREAMfmLondon

Prince Cheese Potato was at the very top of my must-eat list. It was actually a pretty essential deciding factor in planning my trip to Taiwan in the first place. This famous stall at the Shilin Night Market stuffs its baked potatoes with all kinds of delicious toppings (including octopus, pineapple, scallops, chicken, tuna and German sausage) and then drowns them all in melty nacho cheese. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

Prince Cheese Potato’s Club and Cheese at Shilin Night Market in Taiwan. SCREAMfmLondon

I ordered a Club and Cheese, one of the most popular menu items. It’s a baked potato filled with ham, corn, egg, etc., doused with the trademark cheese sauce. Ah, it’s heaven. It’s well worth the trip to Taiwan, I promise. I love it so much. I want to marry this dish and become the Princess Cheese Potato.

Banana mango shaved ice dessert in Taipei. SCREAMfmLondon

On my way home, I decided to make one last stop for some dessert in a random back-alley restaurant, and I’m so glad I did. This banana mango shaved ice treat was probably the best shaved ice I’ve ever had. It’s similar to Korean bingsu — a refreshing dessert that often pairs thinly-shaved ice with fresh fruit and sweet syrup — except the Taiwanese version was swimming in condensed milk and was infinitely sweeter. It was so fantastic.

And, just like that, the Taiwan adventure was over and it was time to head home. But there was one just more thing to eat.

Taiwan’s famous pineapple cakes. SCREAMfmLondon

You cannot pass through a Taiwanese airport without getting some souvenir pineapple cakes to bring back for your friends. The small cakes are travel-friendly and famously tasty. The outside is flaky like a pie crust, and the inside is filled with gooey pineapple jam.I had a delicious and action-packed adventure in Taipei, and I just dream about all the foods I wasn’t able to try yet. Until next time, Taiwan!

Capsule film reviews: Four horror movies from 2017

‘Get Out’
Release Date: Feb. 24, 2017
Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams and Bradley Whitford
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: R for violence, bloody images and language including sexual references.
Grade: A+

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Obviously, I loved “Get Out.” If you somehow have not seen and loved “Get Out” by now, I hope you do so immediately. What more can be said about this hugely successful movie? It’s easily the best horror film of 2017 and one of the defining horror films of our generation. So many things about “Get Out” are brilliantly executed, thanks to Jordan Peele’s excellent writing and directing talents. It’s frightening, savvy and thought-provoking — so topical it’s inspired countless analyzations, memes and major award nominations. The film follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black photographer, who is going to meet his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) family for the first time. He quickly notices something off about the countryside neighborhood, the father who is swift to brag about voting for Obama, and the only two other black people present — a highly-strung maid (Betty Gabriel) and a silent groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson). As the visit goes on, the film’s clever twists and turns lead the viewer on a terrifying and all too real journey. Best of all is the brilliant conclusion and electrifying final scene that seems to succinctly sum up the film’s overall message.

‘XX’
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2017
Director: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama
Starring: Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey and Breeda Wool
Genre: Horror
Rating: R for horror violence, language and brief drug use.
Grade: C

Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

I enjoy horror anthologies for a lot of reasons. I appreciate the short story format, and I love the opportunity to see multiple directors’ takes on the genre. “XX” is a 2017 horror anthology featuring the work of only female directors, which is also cool. It would’ve been cooler if the shorts were better, but what can you do? The best piece is “The Birthday Party,” also known as “The Memory Lucy Suppressed From Her Seventh Birthday That Wasn’t Really Her Mom’s Fault (Even Though Her Therapist Says It’s Probably Why She Fears Intimacy).” This short was written and directed by indie musician Annie Clark, who performs under the stage name St. Vincent. Starring Melanie Lynskey as neurotic housewife Mary, “The Birthday Party” is the most put-together and well-acted story. It’s darkly funny, slightly creepy and thoroughly entertaining. The scariest piece is the anthology’s most simple, Roxanne Benjamin’s “Don’t Fall,” which is straightforward in its depiction of a group of friends who encounter a demonic creature while camping. They hear it, then it gets ‘em, and that’s it. The end. Karyn Kusama, who brought us “The Invitation” last year, presents “Her Only Living Son,” a complex piece that could absolutely be expanded into a full-length feature tackling the idea of Rosemary’s baby growing up to be Rosemary’s pubescent teenager. And, finally, Jovanka Vuckovic attempts an adaptation of a Jack Ketchum short story with “The Box.” It’s a thought-provoking and eerie story, but it’s poorly executed and the acting is abysmal.

‘Raw’
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Director: Julia Ducournau
Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Laurent Lucas
Genre: Drama, Horror
Rating: R for aberrant behavior, bloody and grisly images, strong sexuality, nudity, language and drug use/partying.
Grade: A

Photo courtesy of Focus World.

“Raw” is a great horror film. It’s so disturbing and bloody that viewers reportedly fainted during early screenings, but it’s also very relatable! There are some really sick, depraved scenes that are all kinds of fun for gore aficionados, and some excellent character development to elevate the story beyond the surface level. Justine (Garance Marillier), a lifelong vegetarian raised in an all-vegetarian family, is heading off for her first semester at the same veterinary school her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) attends. She is shocked by the unfamiliar environment and struggles to fit in. During a hazing ritual for incoming freshman, Justine is pressured to eat raw meat and finally does so after seeing her sister do the same. Unfortunately, this small taste awakens a dark thirst inside her for more. Like “Ginger Snaps” before it (which equated girls’ coming of age to becoming a werewolf), “Raw” appropriately compares cannibalism to female adolescence. Despite the strict protectiveness of her upbringing, Justine eventually finds a way to become free and explore her own identity. She is no longer able to suppress her inevitable growing desires — both sexual desires and the desire to eat human flesh. It’s an interesting film and a nicely-done take on the monstrosity of young adulthood.

‘It’
Release Date: Sept. 8, 2017
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård and Sophia Lillis
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Rating: R for violence/horror, bloody images and language.
Grade: C

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

“It” was definitely the high-budget, must-see horror film of the year, but I wasn’t too impressed. I was hoping this remake would fill in some of the gaps where the 1990 Stephen King adaptation was lacking (there were a lot), but it didn’t really do that. The 2017 “It” mostly excelled in its visuals. Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown is fabulously constructed and aesthetically impressive with his creepy, lurky smile and a costume ruffled for the gods. Several of the film’s phenomenal sets seem ready to be transported directly to Universal Studios for a Halloween Horror Nights maze. But the plot was as convoluted as ever. Basically, a group of youngsters have to work together to defeat a mysterious evil being that lives in the town’s sewer system, dresses in a clown costume and kidnaps children. Why does no one mention how strange this story is? It’s super weird and makes no sense for this monster to appear as a clown. Like, WHY is it a clown? In the original novel, It is actually a shapeshifting demon that takes the form of your greatest fear, which is an important bit of explanation that is never, ever brought up in the film. I guess they’re just assuming everyone’s greatest fear is a clown with a gigantic forehead?