Archive for the 'travelin’ on' Category

21
Apr
09

Caterpillar in Hualien

My students thought I was weird for stopping to take a picture of this caterpillar munching on a flower.   Caterpillars in Taiwan tend to be quite exciting and fairly common.  Butterflies flit about in many varieties and colors on the mountain trails.   Someone once told me that Taiwan was the empire of the butterflies or something like that.   Of course, gardeners like my aunt aren’t overly fond of caterpillars.

21
Apr
09

Roadside Scenery around Hualien

Sorry I’ve been dreadful about posting and responding to comments recently.

Here are some photos of the countryside of Hualien from the vantage point of a tour bus full of children…

Many of the riverbeds in Taiwan are dry as this one is.  Often the water is diverted into rice paddies.

There tend to be a lot of tour buses that frequent Hualien.

It’s a good thing I never had to drive around Hualien– the clouds and mountains are far too distracting.  I’d never figure out proper directions.

The lamppost looks like an odd sort of tree…

Sitting on the bus, watching the scenery flow past the windows, I relaxed with the view of all that green and blue.  My kids and I all ended up dozing off at some point or another.  The nice thing about a bus is that I didn’t feel compelled to count heads every five minutes to make sure that I hadn’t lost any children on our field trip!

03
Nov
08

Back in my Swing State!

Now I’m back in the house I grew up in where the trees got all dolled up in gold to welcome me home.

It’s kind of weird being back in a place where I never quite fit.  Things feel smaller somehow (and I haven’t really grown in height probably since sixth grade… Um, yes, I’m that short.)

I ran into one of my middle school teachers when I went to volunteer to get out the vote and she didn’t recognize me (though to be fair, I wasn’t completely sure until I left the building either).  Note to all of my former students that may be reading this– if ever you recognize me and I don’t recognize you– do run back, introduce yourself, and submit yourself for hugs.

Things I miss about Taiwan already:

1.  FOOD.  My mother has been making me yummy food, and my cousins and auntie treated me to some very yummy food too in CA, but it isn’t quite the same.

2.  7/11.  I didn’t realize it, but being able to go anywhere and rely on a 7/11, FamilyMart, or (what’s the pink one’s name again?!  Ack, it’s only been a week and a half post-my whirlwind bye-bye tour and I’ve forgotten!) to be in the immediate vicinity was really convenient.  Gas stations just aren’t the same.

3.  The MRT.  Actually this is a Taipei one, and really if I were in NYC or Boston, I might not miss it as much as I do in the car culture of suburbia, where the closest thing we have to public transit is a bus that stops around four times a day around a mile away.

4.  Not wondering if people are looking at me funny just because I’m… well, rather atypical for the area.  I don’t know if that’s fair to say– considering that it is something I didn’t feel or was oblivious about before.  Arriving in our local airport with its three baggage claims (which is WAY nicer than the in-renovation scariness of LAX.  I know it was almost Halloween when I arrived, but the DANGER and CAUTION strips hanging off of the exposed ceiling were rather odd, and the customs agent didn’t even say “Welcome Home” which is a small thing, but I missed it.  LAX has to be the least foreigner friendly airport — all English signage– even Atlanta had digital signage in the terminal shuttle in Arabic, etc.   LAX was also not friendly or helpful when I got my tea through Agricultural Inspection.  I ended up falling into the conveyor belt with my luggage.   It didn’t give me a very good feeling about coming home.  P was my fun seat neighbor though, and he and his co-workers were really gallant and chivalrous in helping the people around them get their bags, so I knew that there are still friendly Americans.  Sorry, /end LAX rant.)*  Umm…  What was I talking about?  Oh, yes, I know there were heads swiveling when my mom and I reunited and I practiced my Chinese as we left the airport.   But I do (fairly or not) feel an impulse to shrink a bit the way I did when I was in middle school, and school was a dangerous territory considering how much I got picked on.

5.  And most of all– my students, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends, colleagues, and roommates in no particular order.  Hugs to all of you (and I just remembered, I forgot which relative I was supposed to call when I got in safely, sorry…).

* to be fair, the Taoyuan Airport is a bit grey and dry, and I had a nervous moment while they went searching for the “Cancelled” stamp to put on my visa before my 30 day re-entry bit was to begin.  They were pretty polite about it though.

And for my fellow Americans stateside– Tomorrow is Election Day!!!  If you haven’t already voted, GO VOTE!  If you have questions about your registration or what your polling place is or how to volunteer for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, click here…  and hopefully we’ll get to party Tuesday night!

18
Oct
08

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…

01
Oct
08

Retrieved from the drafts bin…after I thought I’d lost it to the funkiness of a hostel connection.

Expats– VOTE!

I’m going back to watch the excitement of the elections up close, but even if you’re overseas (and hopefully it’s not too late) register and vote! And for anyone vaguely curious– Malaysia is a really fun place to visit and the people on Palau Tioman and in Malacca are really sweet, though KL is a bit crazy (but that might just be because I’m good at getting lost… in the rain). Selamat Hari Raya and Happy Eid! Oh, and from now on, everyone I meet has to write their name in my book, because otherwise I won’t remember it, and then will be silly and feel too dumb to ask for it later. I just know people as– the lovely diving guy from Nottingham, or the guy who left Japan to work on farms in Australia, or the Dutch girl, or the wild Aussie/Canuck/American/Brit/German who drove trucks with chickens in them in South Africa… This blog will return to Taiwan-ness, but not for at least another few weeks, if not until November. And if anyone has tips for how to turn into Mary Poppins with a magical carpet bag that fits hat stands and an umbrella that doesn’t require going through airport security, I’m all ears!

02
Sep
08

Keelung

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…

23
Aug
08

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…

lizards

Cute lizards

lizards

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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.”

flower

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.




Free Rice

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