Archive for August, 2008


Barclay Park 2

When we went to Barclay Park this spring (yes, there’s a backlog of postings, my apologies– but fortunately for ye readers who like attending my witterings and pretty pictures, since there is a backlog, the blog will likely not die even after I finally return to the US in the fall for the kiss and cry of the election…  Oh, where was I?  Right… Barclay Park, a spring morning when I actually woke up REALLY early to go take photographs), the air wasn’t oppressively hot, and there were plenty of people doing their morning exercises of Tai Chi, and stretches and strolling energetically about.  In spite of the hopping pathways which hosted adorable tots being walked by their parents, there was a certain ambiance that retained that silent watchful quality nature has, even when it’s not all that silent…


Cute lizards



A smushed flower– these are pretty common if you stroll underneath the trees with slightly fern-like leaves and red flowers which I don’t know the proper name of.  They’re beautiful though, and I’ll photoblog them at some point.  ETA: My mother informs me that they are called “flame trees” and that Tainan has also been known as the “flame tree city.”


Another flower that was growing on bushes close to the water’s edge.

I think these are vaguely orchid-like, even though they are attached to a bush.

A water hyacinth.

Sunflowers always make me think of Provence, but there was a little field of them in Barclay park too.


Barclay Park

Barclay Park is a nice little park in Tainan that I visited with my aunt this past spring.  It is named after a missionary.  I was on a mission to shoot photographs of lotus.  Unfortunately, the park didn’t have any lotus (so I am still on my quest– tips on places to shoot lotus anyone?  For some reason whenever I want to shoot lotus, I run out of battery after one shot, or it’s raining, at night, etc…)

However, there were many other things to take photographs of…

Fishing in the pond.  I always think those long black fishing poles look like antenna, flicking up and down, tasting the air above the water with a graceful arch.

A sleepy red-eyed duck.

Geese eating bark for breakfast…  Mmm…

This is a close-up of breadfruit, which I have yet to eat.

Mangoes hanging from the tree. (This reminds me of an illustration class I was in once, where an extremely talented artist in my class made a gorgeous illustration, except all the mangoes were hanging upside down on the tree.)

Shuei lien are water flowers that only open at night and close by mid-morning.

Close to the stream, the sound of the cicadas rose into a pelting loud chorus as we walked under the trees. This is my attempt to shoot the living one that my aunt pointed out to me.

Her shot was better…


Take me out to the ball game…

Taiwan takes baseball seriously.

My father once drove my brother and I (I think it was three hours during which we whined all the way) to the world series little league game (which mystified my brother and I, since usually, my dad railed against the waste of time sports are, and neither of us were into baseball).  It turned out that Taiwan was playing the US, and my dad knew that every TV set in Taiwan would be on the game.  He thought we might end up being little dots on a screen back in Taiwan.

My cousin, who spent his elementary school years in Taiwan and can skip rocks 7 times across a stream until they hit the other side, said that he and his friends used to play in the dirt rice fields after the rice harvest, and it was a shame Taiwan didn’t have the infrastructure for a team back then.

On my first Christmas in Taiwan, I ended up going to a Taiwanese church service with my aunt and uncle, where after prizes were given out, an old man got up and started explaining the rules of baseball (when I whispered over to my cousin about what the rules of baseball had to do with Christmas, he shrugged, said he didn’t know, but maybe it was because everyone’s been watching Wang Jie Ming, the current pitcher for the Yankees).

So, if you didn’t know– today Taiwan played China in the Olympics, under the name, Chinese Taipei.  I just got back from a lunch that I intended to eat in half an hour, which took almost two hours, because in spite of the fact that I generally find baseball a boring game (sorry baseball fans, but ball-no hit, ball-strike, ball-no hit bores me after a while), I got sucked in.

This morning, our Chinese teacher said she wanted to have class in front of the TV in the hall today, since Taiwan was playing China.  According to her, the audience dances and sings at a Taiwanese baseball game.  We had a school Chinese competition (during which I proved that I can generally remember half of a character’s radicals, but not the other half)…  and I headed out to lunch where the game was on and tied, 3-3.  I and a couple other lingering lunchers ended up groaning and shouting together as the game wore on.

I allowed myself to leave when Taiwan was up 7-3.  A stroll down the street edged with offerings for the ghosts who wander this seventh month of the lunar year proved that every television in every restaurant was on the game, and surrounded by fans.

I couldn’t pass by the tea place’s beautiful little lcd screen turned to the street where the entire staff and a few other passersby who got caught by the game were watching.  As people would walk by, their steps would slow down to note the score, if they didn’t stop all together.  When it was Taiwan 7, China 5, with a batter up, and two on base*, the batter hit the ball…

And our signal cut out into a black screen, which we greeted with shouts of dismay.  I guess it couldn’t bear to actually show the Chinese team making the three runs that would win them the game, 8-7.  When the little mini antenna was finally adjusted so we got a picture, we saw the jubilant Chinese team, and gave a united sigh of despair.

I came to interview in NYC during the subway series where customers were asking for the score in the grocery store, and I worked one subway stop up from Yankee Stadium with a class full of Yankee fans.  My friends once dragged** me to a Mets game where T-shirts were shot into the stands, and fans shivered in the rain.  I still never really understood the fanaticism associated with baseball.

However, today…  Ah, my heart is broken.***


*thanks to specific Olympic baseball rules that I didn’t understand when the tea shop owner tried to explain it to me in a mix of Chinese and English.

**correction: kindly invited me, and really, it was an interesting anthropological study and actually fun seeing T-shirts shot into the stands and sitting in a big stadium…  I just wasn’t into the game that much, though the celebratory music was nice, and the company cosy.

***exaggeration– I did feel a certain groaning mourning (one reason I don’t really get into competitive sport and games– people lose, it’s sad), but I didn’t end up crying in the park and crocheting a forever unfinished circle or blubbering to a friend or losing my faith in higher powers that allowed a certain Republican to retain presidential office.  It kind of feels wrong to say “my heart is broken” when, um, this guy’s heart did give out…

PS– this is the last year for Olympic Baseball, a better blogging of the game, and I’m going to close up my tabs and take a break from exercising my googlefu (If googling and internet marathons were an Olympic sport, I’m afraid I’d be a medal contender) and do my Chinese homework: what I would buy if I had lots of money– right now, I’m considering islands, conserving rainforest, starting schools, libraries, and art programs, several domiciles that include villas, cottages, and my own earthship in varying places in the world and a research lab to create a little solar glider I can zip from one to the other in…  Unfortunately my vocabulary doesn’t extend this far, so I will probably buy a green tea instead…


A quick post…

I’m much busier than I thought I would be here in Tainan.  Apparently my Chinese has improved to the point where my aunt can tell me Chinese mythological stories about the gods and goddesses and after a very long time of her explaining every other word to me, I can understand why the lovers are separated by higher powers…

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the celebrations for the children turning 16, and the lunar 7/7 day which always rains at night because the weaver and the cowherd are reuniting on a bridge of birds, and raining tears of joy and sadness.

I also picked (and nibbled) longyen (a fruit directly translated as dragon-eye), gave myself a mini-shower in my first attempt to pump the flooding from the typhoon out of the basement (oh, right, attaching the hose–an excellent idea, and I didn’t actually electrocute myself!), and got a mini-lesson in shufa or Chinese calligraphy from my aunt (well, it’s more like beautiful Chinese printing for my very elementary skills at writing words).

Tainan is hot, but there is oftentimes a small (if also at times warm) breeze floating through the air. 

Oh, and I printed out some of the photos I’ve taken over the years for the very first time, and they turned out well!  It was rather exciting, since they usually sit in my hard drive…

I’ve gotten myself (slightly) lost walking past temples, and through back alleyways which are so narrow one can hear the voices behind the doors chatting in Taiwanese.

My aunt and I stopped by Chikan towers, where there was a quartet of musicians playing traditional Taiwanese songs and children’s music (the theme to Doraemon was one of the ending pieces), in front of a backdrop of beautiful Chinese buildings that I’ll have to go back to shoot photographs of during the day at some point.

My Chinese has improved to the point that people now ask if I’m from Singapore, instead of Japan when they meet me and realize I speak English and Chinese that has possibly progressed from tot to pre-school level.


Ways the Taiwanese government gets citizens to do what they’re supposed to…

Give Prizes!!!

For taxpayers residing in Taipei County, you have a chance to win a motorbike in a prize draw if you pay the second term commercial vehicle license tax on time by October, and the land value tax, to be launched in November!

From the Taipei Revenue Office website

This is not unlike the receipt lottery (fa piao lottery) used to try to get businesses to issue receipts (and thus pay their taxes).  Every receipt has a lottery number on it, so every purchase one makes is an opportunity to win money…  Being a packrat, I’ve collected lots, checked a few, but have yet to get lucky.

Now if the IRS in the US gave prizes for on-time filings, maybe I’d stop getting my automatic extension…  Oh wait, that deadline’s next Friday.   Excuse me…


Oh, but if you’re a foreigner in Taiwan needing to figure out taxes–the Tax Guide for Foreigners and Foreigner’s Income Tax Q&A links may be helpful for you.

Good luck getting your refunds!

Free Rice

August 2008
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