Saturday, May 31, 2008

a few of my favorite things

There is this great restaurant not too far from the place I stay in Taipei which is part of an Australian chain (I think) called FROOT! It serves delicious yogurt smoothies and other treats all made from fresh fruit. You can also add multivitamin boosters, calcium, etc to drinks for free. Today I decided to try their lunch special, so I had a smoked salmon sandwich on whole grain bread, a salad with yogurt dressing, a few pieces of fresh fruit, a mango banana smoothie, and a blueberry/yogurt tart for dessert! It only cost me NT$149 or around 5 dollars Canadian! What's nicer than a lazy Saturday afternoon with good (cheap) food, a novel (The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger), and no responsibilities! (Especially since I have a workshop next Saturday morning!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The gas crisis has arrived in Taiwan

Today I'm really happy that I ride a bike for daily transportation. Gas prices are going up all over the world, but that's especially true for Taiwan this week. The outgoing government froze gas prices after the election; maybe it was an attempt to go out with a little favor. On May 20, the new president was inaugurated, and subsequently the gas prices could no longer stay the same. Since they've been frozen since the end of March, there's quite a ways to go. Officially, at midnight tonight the price of gas will rise 2NT per litre, or about 6 cents (to just over a dollar a liter in Canadian money). In the next month it will happen twice more. So what were people all over Taiwan doing tonight? Waiting in line to get gas! The police even joined in the party doing crowd control. On the way home from Chinese class, people were lined up about 2km along the highway near the gas stations.... though I had to wonder if the gas they were wasting while idling in line was even more than the money they were saving by getting gas before midnight...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

funny English of the week #3

Sometimes it's just plain fashionable to have English on the sign, whether the words or coherent, or you just let your 5-year old bang on the computer keyboard....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Small World!

I got a text message on Tuesday morning from my friend Esther from Yuli saying she was on her way to Yilan. It was a surprise to hear that that she was coming to visit the principal of the school that I was teaching at. It turns out that he used to be an English teacher in Yuli of all places! He was her high school teacher about 12 years ago. Now he's the principal of a large high school.
After she had lunch with him, the two of us went out for the afternoon. The principal even lent us his car! The great thing about Taiwan is that these kinds of connections happen all the time, but particularly among people from the east coast, which has a lower population.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I had the pleasure of seeing a band I really like in concert last night! They're a Taiwanese worship band called Joshua that has translated a lot of Hillsongs and other English songs into Chinese. I have 3 or 4 of their cds. It's always been a blessing to have a familiar song in the middle of an unfamiliar church service/language, especially when I first came to Taiwan! They came to Yilan last night and I had an almost front row seat! I got to chat with lots of students both before and after, and just had a really sweet night of worship, which was as the Taiwanese would say "超HIGH!" (this expression doesn't have anything to do with drugs, but was somehow brought over from English and means "exciting" or an energized atmosphere, like a concert.)
One funny thing I noticed was that one of the lead singers was wearing a necklace with a marijuana leaf on it. I don't think he knew what it meant, but interestingly, he slipped it off shortly after I noticed it, so maybe some else in the band somehow let him know... or maybe God convicted him (just kidding).
I had a short chat with one of the singers afterward, and I want to go to their church sometime soon to check it out. They have Saturday evening worship services in Da-an, which isn't too far from where I stay in Taipei.
It really made me miss Youthquake and going to concerts. Sometimes we just need times of celebration and being energized! Anyways, I'll have to keep my ears open for more concerts in the area.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trash Talk

Amanda over at Following an Unknown Path is doing an awesome series of posts right now called "Simply Taiwan" and her post about garbage collection in Taiwan, which made me want to post about it too!

Here's one of the videos she posted, which is great because the garbage system must really be "experienced". I really miss/appreciate the nice little system of leaving your garbage out and it magically disappearing by the afternoon!

Getting garbage is kind of a pain for me in Yilan because I either have class or am not there for any garbage collection time except for Tuesday afternoon, so if I miss one week, I'll have two weeks of garbage stinking up my house. The old Taiwanese ladies in my neighborhood always comment on how much garbage I'm throwing away, and chat away to me in Taiwanese, which I can't understand at all. But sometimes I can guess what they're trying to say.
In Taipei where I live, they are building an MRT station in the area, so they do garbage pick up, but you need to put it in city bags that you buy. We're moving to a different apartment now, so we've been doing a lot of packing and cleaning both at our place and at the place we're going into. We hauled a lot of old stuff downstairs yesterday, and it was taken away today already.

My two awful garbage memories are constantly running after the truck in Yuli because we lived on the third floor, and by the time we heard the truck coming around it was almost passing by!
The other was not getting out of the way in time when the truck compressed the garbage bags and getting splattered by unknown waste.... you only make that mistake once. Now I kind of throw the bag in and run!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Free Rice

This is a great site! is a cool website that lets you help poverty and improve your vocabulary at the same time!! It's a game where you choose the synonym of a word and for every correct answer, you donate 20 grains of rice. The vocabulary levels go from beginner to professor! It's something ESL students can do, but also has very difficult words. According to the website people rarely get past level 50 (of 60). If you get a question wrong you go to an easier level, and if you get three right in a row, you go up a level. Give it a try!! You will do a little to help end world hunger, but the more people that do, the more rice gets donated! See the website's FAQ for more information! By the way, the highest level I've reached is 43! Can you do better?
Help end world hunger

Monday, May 05, 2008

Spring in Taiwan is crazy!

Yesterday I swam in the ocean. And ate my first delicious MANGO BING (shaved ice with fresh mango on top) of the year....

Today I'm wearing three layers and drinking hot tea.... who knows what tomorrow will hold

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Wierd English of the week and random facts!

Amanda did this meme: 7 random facts about me... well as she said.. I'm not sure what kind of random facts remain to be shared that most of my blog readers don't know! There are things about my life in Taiwan my Canadian friends don't really know, and things I like or have done before that my friends here don't know about! But here are some random things:

1. I sometimes try to make up conversations in French or Portuguese in my head just to see if I would be able to communicate at all if I met someone who spoke one of those languages....

2. Those conversations almost always turn into Chinese without me immediately realizing I've switched

3. I really like hardcore music, and I just put Blindside and old Skillet onto my MP3 player... (sorry Norah Jones, you had to go in order to make room)

4. I thought I lost my birth certificate last week and it took me forever to find it because I never throw anything away and had waay too much stuff to sift through! (Ok, many of you know about my pack rat tendencies already)

5. I was looking for my birth certificate because I need to renew my passport. I got my first passport in 2003, and that passport picture was taken in Camrose, AB, the summer I worked part time at Tim Horton's and stayed with my Uncle Andrew. I walked to Walmart to get the picture done and got sunburnt. (Seriously, who remembers these kinds of things!!)

6. I really don't FEEL 26 yet...

7. I LOVE necklaces and wear them almost every day. Currently cycling through a few including my Hebrew name necklace from Hope, the rice pearl (the pearls are shaped like grains of rice) necklace I bought in Penghu, a black one I just got from Zak (who bought it in Mexico), and a shell one I got in Korea. I often wear a necklace until it breaks.

If you're interested, here are the rules:
1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

You are tagged if you want to be!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy 26th, ME

I just celebrated my 4th birthday in Taiwan, with a lot of cake, and a lot of friends!
It all started on Sunday, a week before my birthday:

Sunday: went for cake and coffee with some friends from our evening house church. I asked the coffee shop if there was a birthday discount and he gave me a bag of toffees! haha

Monday: my English bible study class surprised me with a cake and serenaded me! They also gave me a giant card. They were acting suspiciously all evening so I kind of figured out what was going on.

Tuesday: My Chinese teacher's oldest daughter, Esther celebrated her birthday on the 23, so we had cake together with the family and some other kids

Wednesday: went to Taipei, and scoped out a good restaurant for a birthday dinner

Thursday: got treated for lunch AND dinner
Friday: showed up at work to a big suprise! Naomi and some other friends completely decorated my cubicle (which I'd recently moved to, and hadn't been overly thrilled about!) It's amazing! I was showered with gifts, and Rachel made a scrumptious cake that was like a giant Reeces Pieces!! (My favorite btw just for reference if anyone's sending a care package...haha)

Found out two other coworkers have birthdays close to me (one on the same day) and we were sung to twice and given a cake at our Friday night class!

Saturday: A day to celebrate with my friends in Taipei and the highlight of my birthday! We went to Muzha and had been planning to go up the Maokong gondola, but the line was too long (a 2 hour wait!) , so we decided to go to the zoo instead... but unfortunately, it was closed! So we did the photo scavenger hunt I had prepared in the surrounding area, still getting tons of great shots!

You can see all the pictures from the hunt here.
Later we went for a delicious dinner at The Onion!

Sunday: much more low key, but I went to an old street, and had a great buffet dinner/afternoon tea!