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Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

Franklin came all the way across the world to visit. Granted he found a NYU program in Hong Kong to legitimize the trip, but whatever he came! He came! France and now Taiwan, we’ve almost circled the globe. Meet me in Iceland? Morocco? Where next?

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We slammed straight into activities, with him getting here late Tuesday and then Wednesday being New Years eve. He couldn’t sleep so at 7am we trudged down the street to eat at LaGuardia. I usually sleep past their opening times since they’re a breakfast place. Wandered around, but most things hadn’t really opened or got in gear yet. I feel as is Taipei doesn’t really wake up till about 10, even at 9 most people are still shuffling with their breakfast food somewhere, groggily. It is not as bustling a city as you think.

We went to the Fine Arts Museum, enjoyed some art. We giggled at videos of kids wah-wahing, and talked about most everything else. A lunch at Sogo of rice and eggs, we were a bit tired after waking up so early. A pre-New Years nap and dinner at one of the Seafood/Beer joints down the street. Cheers of Taiwan beer started off the evening. We headed to Carrefour where everyone was stocking up on food and beer. The streets were already being closed off and more people walking around than before. We hung out, ran to the roof and cheered with all the people in the building. Fireworks everywhere and Moet, Frank had bought in Duty Free.  We had those confetti poppers but we didn’t use all of them. What we did use them for was to scare the bejesus out of each other for the rest of the week.

The day after New Years? We slept. The entire day. Not in one go, but every time we tried to get up, we ended up sleeping again.

We discovered the next day why.

We both had Tonsillitis. Yay.

Or rather….we wanted to die from hurty throats. I went to the doctor in the morning, and then I wound up taking Franklin again that evening. I want to applaud Taiwan’s healthcare system. Going to the doctor involved walking down the street, sitting for 5 minutes after paying 150 NT (4$) answering 3-4 questions, getting my ears and throat checked and promptly receiving antibiotics. Franklin despite not having healthcare, like I did, also only had to put his name, my phone number and pay 500$ (15$). Painless and a relief. I can only imagine the nightmare of getting sick while on vacation in America.

Backing up, the night that we slept all day we did leave the house once. And it was kind of an event. Jim’s parents took us to the Indian Beer house. Why is it called the Indian Beer house I have no idea. Me and Tina asked about it because we ride by it on the bus occasionally and its a building with GIANT dinosaur bones hanging off of it. The entire decor is prehistorically themed with random Indian stuff thrown in too. The only reason for all this stuff me and Tina could deduce was that someone had their historical time line way way way off, and thought Indians lived with dinosaurs.

Regardless, Indian Beer house was awesome. All you can eat and drink. And eat and drink we did. We showed Franklin and Jud a true Taiwanese dinner (the kind I witnessed so often my first few weeks here where I ate so much food I wanted to die every night). Dish after dish, at least 15. Exotic things as well. I wasn’t feeling too hot ( I was the first to realize I was sick) but Franklin ate fried frogs, and snails, and squid, and everything, even some pretty stinky tofu. I have to say I’m proud of him, it was definitely the non-fried fairly stinky variety. Me? Beef, and chicken, and pork, and all sorts of things. Jim’s parents were amused that I’d pick all the pineapple off all the seafood dishes as my allergic consolation prize, from then on I had a steady stream of pineapple headed my way.

On top of this, pitcher after pitcher of beer. Toast to Taiwan, toast to America, toast to the new year -Xin Nian Kuai Le!, toast to the teachers (tina and I tutor them), toast to the adults, to the girls, to the boys….toast, toast, toast…which means….you guessed it…Gambei (bottom’s up). Good thing we had all the food to weigh us down.  There was also live music, a girl singing. She wanted recommendations but then told us all our songs were too old, then that they were all boy songs, finally she sang us “Doncha” by the Pussycat Dolls. Oh man America…you sure are exporting some classy culture there.We sang happy birthday to an old man, we laughed at little kids dancing around and taking photos, me and tina laughed at the giant dinosaur heads in the bathroom sink, and me and Franklin wandered around the empty part of the building looking all at the giant scary fake decorations. It was pretty fun.

Since we had wasted the previous day we dragged our sick selves around Taipei all day seeing the sights. Sun Yat Sen –wooo, Tapei 101 wooo, Eslite wooo, Warner Villages wooo, etc etc etc. (Those were all monotone, sick woo’s mind you). Franklin did buy me gorgeous Amber earrings at Taipei 101 during all the forced tourism. We had been talking earlier in the day about interesting gemstones and how diamonds while scientifically useful, I think are over hyped (thanks DeBeers). As my mom and family have discovered I am much more a pearl/onyx/jasper girl. Give me something simple and classic. To quote my Pawpaw, “why did you ask for a woodern ring for Christmas….might as well get you napkin rings for your fingers”. Mind you these were exotic wooden rings of layers colors and materials…really nice and handcrafted. Anyways, lo and behold we’re made to walk through a whole coral/jade/amber sale/exhibit when exiting the viewing rooms at Taipei 101.

That night we went to Ximen Ding, I made Franklin eat the famous Ay-chung wheat noodles there, accidentally telling him the chewy parts were intestines, which then meant I got to eat all the rest of the chewy parts..but hey the boy ate frogs, I thought he’d be gung ho. We shopped, Franklin got more tshirts including one of this bear playing the guitar wearing glasses that looks uncannily like Franklin, himself.

We wandered over to Gonguan to Duke, which is closing soon. I guess if only your friends come to drink every night its kind of hard to make money. I really don’t understand how any business makes money since there are 5000 options for any one thing. I think its luck. Just Miller and Neal and some people we got dragged into 3 beer bets on Blowcow (the ever present drinking dice game). We kept up our side and ended up at home surprisingly. Beer and tonsillitis not being a great combo

On Saturday, feeling much better, me and Franklin went and got Mexican food. It had finally stopped raining and was looking more like regular ol’Taipei – so sunny your brain hurts. Instead of going to Danshui like planned we went to the National Palace Museum.

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This museum holds most of China’s national treasures since they were moved here for safekeeping during war time in the 50s. It was huge and gorgeous, but honestly room upon room upon room of shards of pottery and pressing Asians wasn’t super exciting, and we did a quick tour. Outside was a nice garden though with koi and cranes and all sorts of pavilions. There were even peacocks and dragon fountains. Very calming and nice.

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From the museum we went to Shilin Night Market. The biggest and hugest in Taipei. And on Saturday night I don’t know what we were thinking, needless to say it was crowded. We shuffled along, we got sausages. Jud and Franklin played almost every dart/shooting game in the whole area I think. Everytime we saw a new one they’d look at us excitedly saying, “please, please! But this ones different! You can shoot shotguns…etc..” As a result we are now the owners of 2 picture frames, one clock, 2 blowup hammers, and some crappy candy.

That night, Duke again. They were having a surprise going away party, and Miller lured us there way to early. 3 hours of Blowcow is a little much. We also played some crappy version of Jenga we had won at the dart games as well. Franklin beat Miller though over and over again at Blowcow. I was very impressed. They played 20 rounds before Miller could concede defeat. Me? I guess statistics aren’t my strong point, I always give away what I have too early.

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Sunday. Dansui. Rain. It always rains in Dansui. Lame. We wandered around. I gobbled quail eggs as fast as we could find vendors. We played claw games, but we were mostly soggy and over the whole market/food vendor thing. I dropped a corn dog on the muddy ground, no good at all. The train back home, we slept/listened to music and finally slowed down to a general Frank and Jenn pace.

Monday I worked all day then taxied home. I went and got my hairwashed, we went to Raohe which was deserted due to rain. Beef Noodle Soup and watching movies.

Tuesday I made Franklin come to school with me, since I was only teaching Baby Pre-K. They were pretty good. Wayne of course was pretty terrible, and also fell while playing redlight/greenlight and cried and cried. His mom, being my boss doesn’t help, it only makes Wayne even more mischevious. I know my parents always worked at my schools when I was little, but if anything it made me behave better because I was afraid they’d find out. Mrs. Burnet would hold things above my head threatening to tell my Dad all the time (most evil 3rd grade teacher ever). Wayne? Well first he’s too littleto be in our class, but also, he just runs to his mom anytime he decides he doesn’t want to be in the classroom. Not very helpful at all.

Anyways Franklin, hung out chatted with Elisa and Ivy and then there was a mouse. I’ve never seen a mouse or even a bug at school so I was pretty surprised, but all of us being screaming ladies he did his job and caught it and then took it outside. It brought a little excitement to a morning that was mostly me singing and reading and blowing noses and acting like a cheery kid lover which Franklin knows I’m definitely not.

We went to the airport that afternoon and he got on his flight to Hong Kong and that concludes my long and probably over descriptive rendition of Franklin’s visit. Whew.

I think I need another coffee now.

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I did something lame. I got out of the MRT station at City Hall with my heavy ass bag of books/camera/dinner/etc, after a long day of immigration office, sightseeing, work field trips, teaching second graders and an additional hour talking about how the hell Im supposed to teach kindergartners to read words that aren’t tangible objects…..

it was raining.

Standing there in the pounding Friday night crowds its almost 8pm, and I have no umbrella, and the umbrella vendor is across the 6 lane street.

So I look around….

taxi! yessss, taxi. Well well worth the 95$.

In other news today I finally put in my ARC form at the Immigration Bureau, I also took pictures of Longshan Temple which is in the neighborhood (which taking pictures in a place of worship may/may not be offensive but I figure if Steven is going to draw Jesus pictures and say “oh god” all the time, then hey I’m allowed to quietly take pictures from the corner of an open air temple that is gorgeous).

As I was leaving I saw a monk outside sitting with the newspaper and a giant stack of receipts checking his lotto numbers for August.

Hilarious. #1 that the monk has a giant stack of receipts he’s saved from places like 7-11. #2 That he’s taking a break from begging and sitting with the newspaper to check this #3 What does a monk do when he wins the lotto?

I wanted to take a picture but there was no way to not be conspicuous, I was majorly stared at in the Longshan district as it is, because its a mostly poor part of town, very old, very few white people. 2 stares today that were longer than 30 seconds. And 30 seconds is a long long time.

And also. I think I saw my first prostitute down one of the side streets I wandered into. Either that or she was a way overdressed loiterer…and I doubt that.

I went and got an ice at a place near the temple. Mango ice, mmmmm, a giant giant bowl of shaved ice, I was the second customer of the day. The old man before me looked surprised to see me eagerly standing next to him waiting for them to open. I got my bowl and he asked “Hao se?”….I replied “I like” with a big smile, and he clapped at my attempt to speak chinese and said “very good”. This more than anything, this old man and the smiling pie man make me want to learn more and more and more chinese.

Then off to school.

Today is the end of the school unit, So we went on a field trip across the street to NTU – Normal Taipei University – the teaching college. I took my students in a line, holding hands ( so so cute) to the library, the cafeteria, the gym, the dorms, the art rooms, and the piano room where Justin, Thomas, and Athena all majorly showed me up in the piano arena. Dang what happened to those 6 years of lessons? We then went to an open field area and played Bluebird, bluebird (which I taught them yesterday and they love love love its really just London Bridge, but an older rhyme scheme and then threw balls. 5 year olds throwing balls= dangerous. I got pegged in the face twice and Alex got a nose bleed. I took alot of pictures which I’ll post later.

After that sweaty, sweaty, sweaty adventure I had to head straight back and teach 2nd grade for 3 hours. I discovered Robban and George were in the middle of a giant fight. After quite a bit of yelling I deduced that George had bumped Robban and made him spill his water everywhere making a mess, and then had generally mocked him. Robban as the “brains” of the class was really sensitive about the laughing and has a horrible temper. It took about an hour before they quit pestering each other back and forth, while A.d.d. Steven sat in between them laughing maniacally.

But it’s all done. I’m home, half a glass of wine and a delicious bun thing I love from the bakery near school (bread and eggs and pickled cucumbers and spicy ham) and I feel suddenly alot less tired.

Let the weekend commence.

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Foods and family

Le tired.
I need a bit of veg time.
Today was the family day big time. We went to get dumplings for lunch. Heavenly, up till the point where I had to eat about 3 more dumplings past my limit then try the congealed pigs blood at the bottom of the hot and sour soup…that was a bit ick. Still yummy dumplings though.

After this we went and got fruit and eggs. And then drove a bit out of town to visit Tina’s grandfather’s sister in the town of Yingge. Apparently the town is famous for its ceramics so we went to this touristy part and wandered around, looking in all the shops and eating all sorts of things. I bought a cheap watch and an ocarina…impulse buy, oh well. While there we ate some candied tomatoes on a stick….amazingly amazing amazing, given my deep love for tomatoes.

I feel as if sometimes all I talk about is food, but we spend a large part of each day eating or in restaurants. Most of the time I’m trying to scheme how to not eat more since I always get stuffed long before the meal is under way. This whole “snack” then appetizer tiny dishes, then main dishes that keep refilling is nice and delicious but semi-stresses me out. I haven’t been hungry in 3 days because of perpetual food. We went to a grocery today and I discovered that they have almost anything I could want in the way of American food. Doritos, Haagen-Dazs, fruit loops they have  it all. But in the mean time, noodles, mystery “fungi” as Tina refers to it, and endless amounts of flavorless jellies…whats with the jelly Taiwan? Really?

Back to the house in Yingge
4 hours of sitting while Tina’s family chatted, family, extended family, all sorts of people. I let all the talking wash over me, picking small words out, trying to decide what certain phrases were that I hear over and over, and playing guessing games about what people are really talking about. Thinking that Tina and her aunt are talking about shopping or something only to have Tina ask me if the subways are clean in NY… lets me know how clueless I really am. But after 45 minutes of this I am a bit bored out of my skull, and itchy, and tired. I guess it all can’t be soaring highs.

Tomorrow:  Getting Tina’s Taiwan id, and searching for jobs. Her relatives find it impossible to believe that we will be making 60,000NT a month, despite all our claims and explanations. They just don’t think people would pay that much for tutoring. We can’t wait to get our jobs and prove them wrong. Personally, I can’t wait to settle into a routine and an apartment, even though this has been great thus far.

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