Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Top 10 reasons for YOU to come visit me in Taiwan

I've spent the last 6 days giving my friend Amanda a whirlwind tour of Taiwan, including many of what (I think) are the best things to do and see in Taiwan! I'm tired, a little sunburnt, and more than a little bruised after a tiny scooter mishap, but it was a great time! More details to come soon!

10. Snorkelling in the ocean

9. A boat ride in Danshui

8. Seeing Taipei city

7. The world's tallest building Posted by Picasa

6. Taroko Gorge Posted by Picasa

5. Giant ferris wheel at Miramar Posted by Picasa

4. Shopping for (and playing with) souvenirs Posted by Picasa

2. Old Streets in historic cities Posted by Picasa

3. Green Island Posted by Picasa

1. Ocean Sunsets Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

Natural Beauty

This weekend I had the chance to visit a protected garden and scenic area. It reminded me a little of a plant and widlife preserve I visited once near Creston, BC for a high school biology trip. It contained different wetlands that you could view by walking on wooden platforms. You can see water lilies, tons of dragon flies and frogs, and a ton of different plants in the pictures below.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Traffic Travails

Yesterday I drove on my borrowed scooter, outside Yilan's city limits to a little town between Yilan and Luodong. I went into the office and they sent me to take a medical 'exam', which consisted pretty much of entering my height, weight and pointing at a couple of pictures (to check my vision). I excitedly returned to the office to take the test, and..... they wouldn't let me take it. She looked at my ARC (Alien Residence Card) and said there wasn't enough time on it!! This of course sounded completely ridiculous to me, but after arguing with her for a bit we finally left because I was getting really upset, and she wouldn't budge. I drove home disappointedly, and went to exchange the scooter for my Hello Kitty bike, pedalling home with a bitter taste in my mouth. Later phone calls to my Taipei office confirmed that it shouldn't be a problem, and that the lady was mistaken, so my co-worker tried calling again to see if I could take the test later in the week. She was still insistent that I couldn't do it. The next suggestion was that I go to Taipei to take the exam. SIGH. So for now, no driver's license for me..... waaah

Since I've been thinking a lot about driving lately, here are some of my observations on Taiwan traffic rules and practices that you just don't see every day in Western Canada.

  • You can't turn right on a red light.
  • There's a box at the front of major intersections specifically for scooters and bicycles. During a red light they all weave through traffic to the front, and then are the first to take off when the light changes.
  • According to one thing I read, the person turning left has the right of way.
Status Quo:
  • You can turn left from the far right lane, or if convenient, change lanes (so you're driving against the flow of traffic) and turn left from there.
  • It's acceptable double park anywhere you want as long as your turn on your hazard lights (in theory for 3 minutes or less).
  • You may pass someone who's going around a car that's double parked.
  • When the light changes to yellow, and then red, expect 2-4 cars to rush through the intersection before traffic begins to go.
  • Most pedestrians walk on the side of the street because sidewalks are usually blocked by vendors, parked scooters and various other obstacles, in addition to being at a different level in front of each store front.
  • You should honk your horn and optionally, flash your headlights before running a red light or stop sign

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Beating the Heat

It is HOT here! Only to be expected of summer on the 24th parallel, remember, the Canada/US border is on the 49th! I went with my Chinese teacher and some of the kids from their church to Children's festival (another area I hadn't gone to last time) and I may be going back tomorrow with some friends. Here are some pics of the kids playing, doesn't it look fun???

Also in the plans this week (hopefully) getting my driver's license. I'll let you know tomorrow (or if i fail, maybe i won't let you know!). I borrowed a scooter to take the test on and I drove it around this afternoon. Wish me luck! I've been taking some online practice tests with very interesting translations of the questions. For example:
  • (True or False) Motorcyclist must avoid the blind spots, to avoid accidents from happening when other cars are making turns.
  • (True or False) Randomly honking the horn create the noise pollution. It is immoral behavior.
  • Driving car a living is called(1)ordinary driver(2)ordinary driver or professional driver(3)professional
  • If you slip and fall down because there is some oil on the road, you should (1)take it as bad luck and ride away(2)report to the nearest police station.(3)put tree branches or other visible markings on the area to warn other people.
  • If a motorist wants to keep the traffic order to gain a good image for the country, strengthen the social safety and have the happiness of his family, he should(1)have good riding moral and spirit of obeying the law. (2)have good riding skills (3)not smoke and drink.

Monday, August 07, 2006

You learn something new every day, right? One valuable lesson I learned this weekend was that grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon should be avoided at all costs.
Today I opened a new bank account and got my bills all set up to automatically come out each month.... it should make life much easier! While things like paying bills here can be done at any 7-11, it's easier not to have to worry about it, or to risk forgetting about it and incurring late payments.
There are three typhoons in the area right now, but it looks like only one will hit Taiwan. Chances are low that we'll have a "Day After Tomorrow" scenario where they merge into one super-typhoon (which would be kinda cool in theory, if it weren't coming toward your little island).
Pet peeve of the week: people who I regularly speak Chinese with (more often than they speak English with me) saying "Maybe you can practice your Chinese with _____" or asking me if i can say basic things that they've heard me say before "Do you know how to introduce yourself in Chinese?"
Cute question of the week: the lady at the bank today was making small talk and asked "What are you?" I know she was inquiring about my occupation, but it was still amusing... "I'm a human, what are you?"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

As any elderly Taiwanese person might say "Pai sei, pai sei" which means excuse me, or I'm sorry. Never fear, I'm still alive, just not updating my blog. More classes, camps, a trip to Taipei, and getting settled in my new apartment (cooking, geting the washing machine repaired), have all kept me from visiting this website to share my mundane thoughts and happenings with you all.

I even opened the update page last night and then promptly fell asleep! I remember the days I used to mock my mom for falling asleep at 10:00, and that's precisely what I did last night! That could have something to do with the fact that I've been teaching mornings from 8 - 12. My summer classes are going well though, and I've been meeting a ton of new students, many of whom I'll be teaching for the rest of the year. I'm excited that I can watch these students grow throughout the year, and I hope I can have a positive impact on their lives.

I've been cooking a little, including simple things like chicken nuggets, and nicer meals including scalloped potatoes, chicken breast stuffed with red pepper, and cold noodle japanese salad, which I decided to add a little wasabi to (to 'spice' it up). Lesson learned: even a little wasabi can have a big kick - test before adding too much to avoid damage to your sinuses.