Archive for March, 2008


Interested in Teaching in Taiwan SOON???

Hi all, this is a shameless plug for my school.  ETA:  We have our new teacher, but there should be options to teach in the fall.

One of my colleagues is heading off to the foreign service and we need someone to take over her classes for the next three months. If you’re interested in teaching, my school is a fantastic place to be, since it has small classes (no more than seven students a class), and works with an American curriculum. My director is a very supportive person to work with, and the kids are a lot of fun. Your classes would probably be 2nd to 4th grade level English.

A North American accent is preferred. ABCs and CBCs are welcome.

We’re conveniently located a five-minute walk from the subway station, a yummy bubble tea place, markets, a park, the 7/11, dumplings, and a fruit stand (seriously, the necessities of life in Taiwan!) It’s around a 15-minute ride on the subway to Taipei Main Station from here, and not too far away from Tai Da and Shi Da either, if you’re interested in taking Chinese classes.

If you’re interested for a longer stint of time, my director will definitely be hiring for the fall as well.

Send an e-mail to euchi <at> if you’re interested!


“Rosy-fingered dawn” or “The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze” over Alishan

So the big crowd-pleaser at Alishan is the sunrise. We all crashed in this hostel where there were three double-bed bunkbeds crammed in a room with two bathrooms. It was perfectly pleasant and reminded me of my backpacking month in France. My little cell phone alarm woke us up at 4 AM and we headed up for the ridiculously long line to take the mountain train up to see the sunset. The mountain train was very narrow with benches on either side and room for about two people in the aisle clinging to the hand grips for dear life as the train swayed back and forth chugging upwards. The Taiwanese capacity for crowding was as usual rather impressive (though I’ve been in worse). I think the crazily crammed train might have accounted for the odd sensation of a grain of sand lodged in my throat that became a full-on bout of thready voice/sore throat and a cold for the week and a half afterwards. (My last experience with a crazy-crammed train was coming back to Tainan from Hualien, and that one resulted in half the party getting a vile tummy-thrasher for the new year.)

This is the station after most of the passengers had poured out and up the stairs to the viewing platform where there were breakfast shops and at least one guide with an obnoxious bull-horn…

The zoomed shot past all the people…

We didn’t stay here. Instead we followed this path up…

To a mostly abandoned higher platform that afforded views of the mountains all around us.

The sea of clouds completely obscured the valley, and the mountains were only shadows that echoed the clouds. Sometimes I wasn’t quite sure whether the shadow I was looking at was a mountain ridge or a cloud bank.

Sunrise is different from sunsets of my experience (Being a mao toe ing–owl, or yeh mao tze–cat, or any other beings with nocturnal tendencies, I so rarely see the sun, and morning light tends to be outside my span of wakefulness…) The horizon does have that orange glow before the sun rises, but the sun rises brightly, blindingly instead of that slow, easy-on-the eyes large orange ball of a sunset. If I could just get cool sunglasses that I wouldn’t forget in my bag where they get scratched up by my keys…. I just fiddled with the ISO in my camera and looked through the viewfinder to take a break from the sun, but here were the other methods to see the sun.

The other sunrise photographs are here.

Oh, and excuse my nerdiness for quoting Homer’s Odyssey and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado in the subject line…


Temple on Alishan


People come to this temple at a particular time because it is a stopping place for this particular kind of moth.  (This is a photo of a poster in the temple showing off how the moths hang out here for fun.)


Light in the forest

This was after the sunrise we woke up for at 4 AM. Taking photographs in a forest is difficult because the light is generally limited, splotchy, etc. But by the time I was out of memory on my 1 GB card, naturally the light was lovely. (One unpleasant side-effect of shutterbug is that I keep on reaching for my camera to try to catch things, and if I can’t, the beauty of what I’m looking at is slightly clouded over by shutterbug frustration. Is there Shutterbugs Anonymous? I think I may need help.)


Fauna and Flora– Alishan

I wouldn’t have noticed this if one of the girls in our group hadn’t posed it for me.  I have no idea where she found it.

This was in a kitchen garden in a little town we stopped by on our way back down the mountain.   Any ideas on what it is?



Anyone know what the orange stuff is?


Alishan Tree Textures

The stumps and the shapes of the trees here remind me of driftwood at times without the wearing smoothness of the sea.

The sheer variety of mosses and things growing on the trees amazed me.

This tree was probably recently unwrapped from its protective sleeve, considering the horizontal striations–

which many of the trees have to protect them from zealous tourists taking bark shreds for souvenirs I think…

Otherwise they’d look more like this:

With vines…

Or this… The little spidery plants growing in the bark look like those aero plants that were a fad back in the US– people were supposed to put them in a glass bowl and leave them in the bathroom I believe.

More feathery moss!



My students ate so many M&Ms and Skittles that their teeth turned blue. I didn’t even open the bag of peanut M&Ms.

And after we read the The Outsiders a little before the part that makes me cry, but at the part which still drew me in enough to totally forget to mark which parts we would talk about in class and which parts would be served by a verbal summary, we played Taboo! with very generous squeals of the red spike-headed squeaker. Predictably, two kids flicked their socks off, one rolled on the floor laughing, and we had a jolly good time. Also, possibly predictably, my team won. ;D

On the way home, I stopped in my little corner 7/11, where I know all the staff and they all know me dashing in to grab a box of microwave dumplings at three in the afternoon for the day meal that isn’t really breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the way to class or sometimes the night meal on my way home after nine, or the daily bottle of orange juice or cranberry juice or in pre-diluted milk tea days, milk tea.

One of the cashiers was in her day clothes with her little daughter in tow, and two of the teens were manning the register in the requisite burgundy-tan shirts. I was walking back with my bottle of orange juice and noticed a white butterfly fluttering and flitting over the blue-silver tinsel garland hung from the ceiling to decorate Mother’s Day cake promotions. It was suspended in a blur of white wings looking for the heart of this long strange flower-wannabe. The tinsel threads swayed just a little as the white wings frantically beat the air around them. The little girl and I watched it weave around the shining strand and finally settle to take a deep breath on the ceiling, eyes still on the tantalizing tinsel.

It was a cabbage butterfly, I think. My cousin told me that it’s a plague for Taiwanese farmers, as it hasn’t much in the way of predators.  This one was happy drinking from daisies by the river in Gongguan.

Anyway, the tall cashier with a smooth white forehead and curly long hair got a wooden stepping stool to stand on, her hands cupped as they tried to encircle the butterfly without hurting it. She ended up chasing it with a large translucent plastic bag to the back of the store, then a plastic basket. In the meantime, I’d checked out my bottle of vitamin C and thought I should get back, but the drama forced me to stand outside the sliding doors in the darkening twilight and watch as she skipped and hopped trying to get it into the bag.

Finally she met with success and the daughter of the off-duty cashier got to look at the butterfly fluttering in the bag filled with air, a giant slightly opaque white bubble. The mother took her daughter by the hand, and they stepped past the singing sliding doors and crossed the street to let it go in the park.

I got back and found out that more of my long-term lottery tickets haven’t paid off, and I may be destitute as far as having a clue with my life next year goes. I’m homesick, but maybe I’m homesick for a place that only exists in my head. And maybe it’s a strand of blue-silver tinsel that will leave me thirsty, and I’m a butterfly that will end up lost again where it all began.

Free Rice

March 2008
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