Archive for the 'Taipei' Category


Bamboo in the garden

Bamboo in the familial garden.


Back in Taipei!

I’m safely back in Taiwan for a week before heading back East to cuddle babies and torment cousins on the West Coast and then flitting back to my parents in time to shock them with my capabilities for chocolate consumption for Halloween.

I had a bit of difficulty getting my boarding pass to return to Taiwan since I hadn’t applied for a visa and needed proof of an onward flight ticket at Chiangi in order to get my pass from Jet Star. They were quite nice about it though and allowed me to e-mail my on-ward e-ticket so they could print it out. Taiwanese Immigration at the rather grim Taoyuan Airport (compared to the purpleness of Chiangi, Taoyuan could use an art action that involves color and cosiness)  didn’t ask to see the onward ticket (though the form asked for my on-going flight number), but they did go on a scavenger hunt for the “CANCELLED” stamp and reminded me that I had only 30 days to visit without a visa.

My aunt kindly met me at the airport and then helped me call my cousin who hadn’t realized I was coming back yesterday and staying with him (I’d forgotten to give him a reminder/heads-up.)

Now I get to play the shuffle-stuff-in-baggage game and run around hugging people to say good-bye.

I’ll try to write up my misadventures in SE Asia when I get the chance…



On a memorable weekend before I left Taipei, my dear cousin took me out to the beach by Keelung.  We drove to a scenic point on the mountain where I had fun with my zoom lens figuring out what people were doing on the shore.

I am guessing that they are checking out a fish, or perhaps a snail.  Or maybe someone dropped a contact…

A little purple wildflower that was all over the mountain where we first stopped to enjoy the view.

Tiny blueberries growing by the side of the road.

We hung out by the tide pools and my cousin and his friend attempted to catch fish with no luck, though they did catch a crab, and a few snails I believe.  We let them all go before we left.

I wonder what they’re looking at.

Something about this picture makes me think of zen.

Dusk on the beach.

The fishing boats all have these garlands of humongous clear light bulbs to illuminate the area around the boat and attract fish.  At night, the boats are independent stars bobbing on the darkness of the ocean on the edge of the horizon.  According to my cousin, one needs a permit to go with a fishing boat out to do deep-sea fishing.  (Thanks go to my cousin for the patience and help in setting up this not-completely blurry shot of the fishing boat at night…  I actually bought a tripod, but just don’t seem to bring it when it turns out I could actually use it…)

Corn dogs.  The one with the orange bit wrapped around it is cheese, and the one with the green bit wrapped around it is wasabi (I think).  I’ve eaten duck tongues, pig feet, and all manner of intriguing cuisine here in Taiwan, but the cheese corn dog ranks as the most disgusting thing I think I have ever eaten.  So much for rebelling against nutritionist-mothers!

I know what you’re all wondering… Would drinking one of those bubbling steamy drinks make steam shoot out of your ears???  Sadly, no.  My friend said it wasn’t half-bad and she got to keep the cup with a steam vent on it.  I think there was dry ice involved…


How I Lost My Camera or How I Was Stupid.

So, I was on my way to Tainan right after my final fat-lady-sang-the-last-encore day of school (subbed for the first week of summer school), and had received my last hug sandwiches from the kids and so forth.  I had been operating with a sore throat and slight froggy voice for the week post-our big school trip to Hualien (which was beautiful, but rainy and a bit dazed in the company of many children and parents.)  I miss my students already, but after operating fueled by the ashes of burnout, I was ready for the year to end.

I was packed up and since I figured slinging a big bag on the back of my auntie’s scooter was ma fan (troublesome), I decided to be oh-so-much-more-intelligent and use two little bags and my backpack (which goes up front with her).

I wasn’t feeling so hot, but I like to soldier through colds instead of dealing with doctors, even though I really like my current doctor in Zhonghe (I found him after a few months of the morphing neverending cold which welcomed me to Taiwan and finally drove me to the doctor with double pink-eye added in– the demonic look was hardly effective behavior-management combined with the coughing and congestion.  He doesn’t drug me silly and has excellent English– I’ve happily referred colleagues to him). My suitemate beseeched me not to go sick as I was about to walk out the door.  I did remember that I’d forgotten my toiletries and ducked back into my room to get them before stumbling out of the apartment.

Well, I stopped off at a few places for breakfast, technical pen, etc., admired babies on the subway and got on the high speed rail.  Finally I slowly slipped into a doze next to the nice older lady beside me as the scenery whizzed by.  Suddenly, I was seized with the realization that there was more space in the seat than there would be if I had both my bags with me.

Then I began calling frantically on my cell phone to see if someone back in Taipei could help me track my camera down.  In case you haven’t noticed, I have severe shutterbug, and losing my third eye was putting me into a panic.  I do not recommend trying to sustain a cell phone conversation on the HSR.  In Taipei, it is perfectly fine to try to chat on a cell in the subway MRT, unlike it was in my days in NYC’s subway.  However, the HSR involves lots of tunnels, and travels so quickly it defies cell phone signals.

So, I left a couple messages, and called my landlady so I could call my suitemate (who reassured me on the third broken call that perhaps I was benighted enough to have left my camera in my room in my quest for toiletries, though I wasn’t benighted enough to leave it in the entranceway with my shoes).

I was back in Tainan to check on a possible job lead and hang out with the family.  Though I doctored myself with ba boo (a kind of non-creamy traditional ice cream that is very yummy), and lemon-honey (which I keep on mixing up with the “bee” in Chinese.  “Honey” is “fong mi” and “bee” is mi fong, but my aunt understood me anyway) tea, I was a pretty miserable wreck.  Relative intervention led me to my uncle the doctor, despite my assurance that I’d go back to Taipei and meet up with mine.

He took my temperature, announced excitedly, “You have FEVER!” (38.1 Celsius, which is over 100 Fahrenheit) and the nurse muttered something about my hong bao coming right up.  I was a bit confused, because I associate hong bao (red envelopes) with Chinese New Year money.  I get a prize for a fever?  However, it was a cluster of pills wrapped in red paper.

When one goes to the doctor in Taiwan, most commonly, one gets a buffet of pills and medicines, even for a simple cold.  I ended up drugged and asleep for most of last week.  (Aren’t I fun on vacation!?  Last year after school I ended up on horse pills.)

I finally got back after my last course of and began inquiring after my camera in Taipei (I’d filed a missing object report with the very nice info desk at HSR in Tainan who called up Taipei to check for me.).  After retracing my steps and asking all the very nice people (sometimes I feel like I’m on Sesame Street– I’m friends with the 7/11 clerks and my breakfast servers…), I finally made my way back to the MRT with a leaden heart.  I’d arrived too late to check their lost and found as soon as I got back from Tainan (which didn’t prevent me from asking the HSR people in Taipei).

So I stopped in at their lost and found, and was rewarded with the return of my camera.  I hugged it and convinced them that I was looney tunes.  I was, after all, already suspect, considering that I’d managed to lose such an awesome camera and not come back looking for it until a week later.  The tall desk protected the marvelous lady who returned it from me hugging her and dancing her across the room.

The lost and found service, I couldn’t help noting, had a veritable wall of umbrellas.
I’m still sniffling and using up pocket packs of tissues like nobody’s business…  Maybe I’ll go back to the doctor.


Dear People of Taipei,

I love you!  Especially the person who turned my camera into the lost and found at the MRT.  You ROCK!

Any suggestions on how I can spread more good karma?


(Oh, and a more post-y post soon, promise.)


Rainbow on a Rainy Day in Taipei

That’s the Grand Hotel and the Taipei Story House in the background, with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum invisible on the side.  Catching this image made me quite happy on that particular rainy day.  That, the exhibits at TFAM, and the pleasant company of my cousinlet were all really lovely.  I really enjoyed the watercolors by Ma Pai Sui (this link’s examples aren’t quite as cool as the work I saw in the museum) and Yang Cheng-Yuan there .  There were also some funky-fun exhibits in the basement– one freaky dark sound installation that had speakers lining a dark room, each playing something different–a classical choral piece, radio static, interviews in Spanish or Portuguese, soundscapes, etc.  There was also a large exhibit that had lots of fun things in it which allowed the viewers to be a bit more interactive– scrawling messages, signatures, pictures and cartoons into a huge blank book, taking a post-it that says “the sky is not big enough for two suns” and other things that were more clearly don’t touch…

I was disappointed that they aren’t publishing a book based on their exhibit of modern ink painting last spring.  It had some incredible work in it.

Anyway, I approve of cheery umbrellas on rainy days.


Around Tai Da

National Taiwan University, or Tai Da, is regarded as the best university in Taiwan.  It’s kind of a mellow place to hang out when one isn’t sweating over taking the GRE test with a bunch of stressed out Taiwanese students poring over their English cram school booklets.  According to my father, it was a bastion of studying students who had no time for fun in his day (though he shoots some incredibly mean pool, so I suspect he learned SOMETHING outside of the library!).

Note the yellow-green spike on the palm tree?  It’s turning over a new leaf.

The main avenue of palms that proudly lead up to the library.

Note: Not a squirrel.  This photo credit may actually go to my colleague B.  I handed over the camera at some point and he crept up to this twitchy lizard.

White flowers in Taiwan always seem to be sweetly fragrant.


There were all these tadpoles bobbling through the pool along with a couple of floating pomelos that looked as if they were some kind of offering that had yet to be received.

The resting remains of one of the first presidents of Tai Da.  It’s interesting that it has Western classical architecture.

Double-decker bike parking!

It’s not all fun and games!

Free Rice

September 2019
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