Monday, August 31, 2009

tiny little stories and a more pics than you actually want (or need)

um... what is it and how much do i owe you? and thanks for overcharging me.

-taxi cab confessional-
on friday we got rearended in a taxi. sitting at the light, showing allison something on her iphone (yes, i use it anytime i can get my paws on it) and then we were both moving in slow-mo towards the front of the cab, both not knowing what was happening. then we slammed back into our seats. for a split second i thought it was one of the biggest earthquakes ever (like, dinosaur killer earthquake), but it just ended up being an 18 year old kids with three of his friends. he was extremely apologetic, and kept grabbing my arm saying "my fault, my fault." our cab driver did the cab driver type thing and hopped out of the car, grabbing his neck. if he were playing charades, we would have been yelling, "fake neck injury! i got it, fake neck injury!!!" they exchanged information (and money, i think), and then we left. i wanted to say, "um... what if my back is broken tomorrow, who do i get money from?" but i knew it was pointless. just to make myself feel better, i took a picture of the cab driver's license plate. oh, and he charged us $120 NT instead of the $140 NT he should have. he was so kind to us.

-ikea with two ladies-
getting on the HSR (and representing nossa familia. if you're in portland, support a local business and try their coffee. it is great. it ages well too, right jason?)

allison and i headed up to ikea with one of our (swanky) friends from school on the HSR. that thing is fast. the only problem is, that you're going so fast, you go under a tunnel every three seconds, so it disrupts anything you're trying to upload or send. we left at 10:00am and got back at 6pm, but it felt like we spent three days there. i think we ended up walking through it twice because we didn't know where we were, but we did end up getting a few things and we're having it delivered for $90 US. when we had lunch there, it took us five minutes to find a table, but we ended up getting a huuuge table with a few extra seats. we played a little game called, "scare as many taiwanese people as we can" by asking if they wanted to sit at our table with us. most of them would shake their heads no, and continue to keep looking. eventually we ended up finding a desperate family of three. we made inappropriate jokes (not about them) until we realized the kids probably spoke english and were translating exactly what we were saying to their mommy. oh yeah, also, we were waiting for the elevator and some lil old granny is hanging out waiting and just let a huge burp rip, wiped her mouth, and boarded the elevator. we died.

one of allison's new shirts

-fun at fengjia-
we hit up fengjia night market on friday (supposedly the biggest one on the island), and had a great time. we bought three shirts, all really cheap. it was kind of weird (and gross) seeing every part of any animal ever. the innards of some of the fowls are pretty gross and whole squid on a stick make the stomach turn. we don't even know if we were in the main part of the night market, but it was still really crowded and you had someone touching you from all sides, so it felt like we experienced a night market (and a whole lot more!). we're hoping to go to the one near us this saturday if all goes as planned.

doesn't quite do it justice, but there were lot of people there

potato-ish scalliony cakes


heading home

  • hoping to play ultimate frisbee tuesdays and fridays (yes, i'm using bullets)
  • started running more than 2 miles every other day
  • allison joined a gym (california fitness!)
  • i hate hdmi (sound just stopped working)
  • went and watched a friend run the duathlon (which, up until now, i thought was spelled dual-ath-a-lon for some reason). and by watch, i mean, hang out with allison and his wife and wish we'd eaten breakfast and that they'd give us one of those damn ice concoctions and then watch him entertain us with jumps, waves, and ballet moves during transitions and at the finish line.
  • waking up at 4:00am to watch the beavs play psu (fortunately, not the nittany lions this year) this sunday (my time) and will be rooting for the broncos on the blue turf this thursday as they take on the ucks
  • took part in an online draft during lunch break. good times.
-random pictures-

taichung at night

street at night

underground sidewalk (formerly called a tunnel)

for all you dog lovers out there

alright. back to watching allison play mario kart wiiiiiiii.

ps i'll be watching you

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Friend or Foe?

Sometimes I walk into my office and there are some critters who have decided maybe they need some counseling. So far, none have been too terrible (though the big black beetle that was stuck upside down did creep me out a little and I had Jeremiah deal with it for me. The cleaning lady who walked in on this process I'm sure now thinks I am a wimp). Here are some pictures I've taken with my phone the last couple days:

I've been feeling pretty lucky not seeing any super gross bugs, and believe me, I check before I walk into a room. I'm still feeling good, though a little more cautious after this experience: When we went to the movies the other day and I bought that cute shirt I brought it home in this bag. I took the shirt out when I got home but left all the receipts sitting in there.
Jeremiah went to pull the receipts out a couple days later and this is what he found:
And a close up just so you know what we're dealing with here:
Super gross uh? I'm hoping he hitched a ride from the mall and didn't actually come from our apartment. You'll know if I run into a live one and most definitely if I accidently come in direct contact with one; you will hear me scream from where ever you read this blog!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

all over the place (like my cab driver)

whew, don't go see orphan if you're looking for a relaxing movie. i spent half of it with one eye closed and the other eye covered up. every time i looked over, allison was covering her face and wrapping her blanket up over her head. i went in thinking the movie was A) rated PG and B) going to be terrible, so i was pleasantly surprised at the end.

finally found a little park to run at near our apartment, but the humidity followed me over there, so it is just as hot. someone at school told us it cools down quite a bit by november, so we'll be looking forward to that. we've been eating out quite a bit and have had some really good food lately. we just got back from "indian food street" over near sogo with a teacher friend.

driving has been lots of fun too. our car is small enough it feels like we're in a little go cart sometimes and we can weave in and out of traffic pretty well when things get dicey. also, u-turns are crazy here. you can just pull into the scooter lane, wait for some open space, and then flip one and no one cares. every once in a while i'll catch myself getting ready to make a triple right or turn left into a parking lot, but then i'll remember anything goes and we're going the opposite direction in no time. allison has been doing great driving and when i'm in the passanger seat, it is only just a little scarier than watching orphan.

speaking of driving, after the movie on saturday, i went out with a few people from school, and took part in the scariest cab ride ever. and yes, i know it probably is tame compared to some other cab rides, but it was insane. he was cutting off other cabs, going twice the speed limit, running reds, and half the time i felt like he was trying to clip the car he was cutting off. (mid post ps. allison is telling me about her multiple mosquito bites right now. also, she sneezed 8 times this morning and 6 this afternoon. she is going for a record. crazy.) we ended up getting there alright, but, seriously. it was like the car chase in the movie the rock.

last thing... got the time capsule (hard drive/wireless router) mom sent and allison loves her 3g. 3gs is supposed to come out in days (or weeks, who knows), so i'm excited. got paid today... heading to ikea on saturday and a night market friday so i can get some crazy chinese/english shirts. hope all is well wherever you are. if you have questions, just ask!

ps someone smuggle in some ddp or diet pepsi for allison. she is dying over here! i found rogue dead guy (12 oz bottles), so i got that going for me, which is nice.

oh, and our friend had her baby!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The day in photo

Jeremiah ran in a local park while I attempted to read my book - Eat, Pray, Love - only to decide it was much too hot to just sit and sweat. I decided instead to walk the loop and look at the locals.

Snack time - fried nori strips?

Horse drawn carriage - I don't think this is a normal sight anywhere except maybe Disneyland - on our way to see Orphan at Tiger City Gold City theater (a very swanky place with reclining seats and food delivered much like Cinetopia in Vancouver)

New shirt - my first fashion purchase in Taiwan (I'm thinking my mom is going to LOVE this)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

so wrong (but i ate it) and rambles

ever since i watched andrew zimmerman's crazy ass food show about taiwan, i have wanted to try stinky tofu. there are two different kinds (from what i've seen and heard about). one is the fried stuff, that isn't too bad, and the other stuff is wet, and from what i can tell, uncookedish and nastier than mr. nasty himself. i've told quite a few people back home that i intend to try and down it, and even promised d-mac i'd send him a video of it. well... we went out to the japanese restaurant (one of the two restaurants down the street from us) and decided we'd be brave and try and tell the nice kind of english speaking waiter/manager that we wanted to try some fried tofu. allison wasn't a huge fan of the soggy marinated tofu we had last time. i'll eat anything, so i was ready for something new. note to self: if someone ever describes food in a game of charades, and then put their fingertips in front of their upper lip, make an ugly face, and move their fingertips down and back up a few times, just pray to whatever god you believe in that allison IS NOT on your team. she goes, "i think he is trying to tell us that it is going to be spicy! we should get it, you like spicy." true story - i like spicy food. see: mad dog 357 (drew likes it too. on his burritos at lunch). soooo... we order the "spicy" tofu, some water spinach (we think... we're still not sure what it is actually called), two orders of noodles, and some water. we always order extra so we can take it home. all of that cost about $9 US.

out comes of the food! well, not all at once. in taiwan, they don't you make you wait around for one dish, they just bring it out as it is done. first we got our noodles (udon, i think), and then our veggies, which are amazing, and we're eating along, and we're enjoying our dinner, and allison still thinks she is going to like the tofu, and i'm excited for spicy tofu. slowly, the waiter makes his way towards our table and i know, without a doubt, that HE knows he wasn't making the "this is hot face," because now that i think about it, i know he wasn't making the "this is hot face," the - stick your tongue out and pretend like you're sweating look. plates goes down, chopsticks from both sides of the table reach out to partake in the wonderful japanese spicy tofu we're about to enjoy. unfortunately for allison, i decided to set my piece down for a second so i could get a drink. i'm about two seconds behind her on the "whoa, this isn't spicy, this is sewage" train, but it hit me just as quick. in allison's defense, some of the peppers in the dish were incredibly spicy, but we all know now the hand motion for super stinky tofu. allison did finish her one bite and i ended up eating half of it that night and the other half the next day in the faculty lunch room (and once that stuff is reheated, it smells as bad as it tastes). however, here is the weird thing about it. 80% of the time you're chewing it up, it tastes amazing, it's just the other 20% of the time it is in your mouth, you feel like you're gnawing on gelled sewage that has been lightly fried with a hint of seasoning. overall, the meal was pretty good. i'd order it again, but wouldn't expect a kiss from allison for the following three hours.

the not so spicy stinkiest of the stank tofu
(and this isn't even the bad stuff!)

other ramblings:
- we bought our car! it is a 1998 nissan verita but everyone thinks it is a 1958 and it is pretty swanky (thanks to our teacher friends who spent a long time on a saturday driving us around. and we ended up getting the first one we looked at)
- allison drove home for the first time the other day and did an amazing job
- the actual driving part isn't bad, it is when you have to stop at a light or turn. that is when the scooters decide to close in
- i've ran more red lights in the last three days than i have in the last 27 years
- the lines on the roads here don't mean anything (at all)
- we have our furniture all set up. wireless internet all set up. allison has her iphone up and running. skype is perfect. the wii is in place. and i have a multi-regonal dvd player going.
- the no-see-'em mosquitoes love allison. a lot. i'd say the ratio of bites for allison compared to jeremiah is easily 23:0
- i finally finished the ishmael triology. going to teach a few of the concepts this year i think. starting back up on the neverending story. finish any good books lately? let me/us know!
- when you fill your tank at a gas station, you get a free bottle of water and/or towels to wipe your hands off with (all self service)
- it is amazing how many older people, like 75 year olds, are hopping on scooters and riding their bikes around compared to in the US. it just amazes me.
- i did receive my ARC card, which means i now have a bank account, a chop, a chinese name (jerry), and a stamped international drivers license. however, allison's ARC card was missing her last name and the first letter of her first name, so her card should be here soon!
- goodbye megan. taiwan already misses you!
- and that's all i can think of. if you have any questions, comment away. hope to hear from you soon. later!

ps here is what the good stuff looks like from our local thai yum (or thai yun?) don't remember

(currently listening to the doves album - kingdom of rust. great.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Couch, a Car, and I Feel Better!

This weekend, after a debacle with the internet and tv hookup in which the installer tried to tell us our bill was going to be much higher than the quoted price, we set out to find both a couch and a car. Up until this point we have been uncomfortably watching Seinfeld on the hard ground with a few pillows and getting a ride to and from work from another teacher with an occasional taxi ride for other outings. None of it too terrible, but having just these two things I knew would make me feel much more at home. So, our friends came and picked us up on Saturday, and out we went. We quickly found a simple and modern looking couch, loveseat and chair set (that was super cheap). To this we will later add some funkier stuff, but for now it’s good to have a place to sit and write this post.

For the car, we drove around awhile on the lookout for a Nissan March, stopping at each decent one to ask about price and whatnot. I actually stayed in the car for almost all of this mission – Not knowing much about cars or Chinese and the fact that I don’t like to haggle over prices meant I was better fit to stay in the car and entertain the 6 year old we had with us. After looking at a number of cars we went back to the first one we saw, which was actually a Nissan Verita. The 6 year old and I hung out and tried to get Franklin to play in her car’s dvd player while everyone else went inside. Jeremiah may have more details about the goings on in the room, but eventually we had agreed to buy the car and can get it Monday afternoon. I am so excited (and a little nervous) to drive it!

PS I’m not sure if we posted this yet or not but we won’t be talking about school on this blog for a number of reasons, but if you’d like to know more about it shoot us an email and we’ll fill you in. I will say this though, I have been eaten alive by little mosquitoes up there so will have to up the ante on the bug repellent.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

oops, been a few days

first off... we went running today and made it about 2 miles before we thought we were going to die. i think i figured out the conversion. take however many miles you ran, multiply it by 10 to account for the humidity, add two miles because of all the stares you're getting for being the only two white people on the track, and you have your total. so yeah, we basically ran 22 miles today (at least it felt like it).

we were going to try and post every other day, but looks like school has gotten in the way. not that we've been to busy, but just so much to do. so yeah, i guess we've been busy. the typhoon came and went and the weather has cooled down quite a bit (compared to the 100F or so it was when we got here). we looked at couches last weekend for a bit. to get a feel for how it felt, imagine walking into an abandoned warehouse on the side of the road and having dozens of different sets of couches, loves seats, and chairs... mixed in with various types of wooden furniture. all this in a two story warehouse that shakes when you walk upstairs and leaks in some places. i don't even think anyone was at the third place we went to. also, we stopped and looked at a few cars last weekend and we're planning on getting one (maybe? not sure how it works) this saturday and hopefully get a couch as well.

let's see... i've been playing wicked games of charades and if there were actual points being handed out, i'd easily be in the top five point getters in taichung (maybe top ten in taipei). i've started to notice the kids will look at you and i found out that most of them speak english, but they're too scared to say anything because all they see is a tall white curly haired ogre staring at them. with that said, i have gotten a few of them to talk to me and today at dinner, i waved at one from across the room and next thing i know, three girls (aged 4-7 years old) were saying/yelling "hello!" pretty loud to me and waving every ten seconds until their moms got mad at them and allison blamed me for getting them in trouble. another thing is the taiwanese adults will stare (and call allison beautiful and cute), which is to be expected and i've started to wave back. haven't gotten to many people to wave at me though, but maybe that is because they're going 45 mph in a scooter with no one following the traffic rules.

alright... allison gets her iphone 3g tomorrow or friday and i'm waiting for the 3gs to come out. they said it was going to come out agust 1st, but pushed it back to august 28thish, but it could still be pushed back even more. we'll get our own internet in the next week or so, hopefully right about the time that my 1tb time capsule shows up (thanks mom!). i know i will never, ever, ever, in my entire life use up all the space, but i couldn't force myself to buy the 500gb one over here, when i could get twice the memory for the same price in the US. also, looking into buying a bike by giant so i can go riding with the pe teacher and also two scooters. wow, we're buying a lot. fortunately, most of it we can resell and it is all stuff that is worth it (so no comments from you stephanie!). ok, more comments to specific people since i never email anyone: drew - i hope your first day back at school is terrible. stephanie - i hope your first day back is amazing. tk - 2.5! see you in december? mom - thanks again for the time capsule. dad - do you read this? want to sub for me? robyn - hope your car is alright (tell jake hi!) megan - don't leave taiwan! engles - allison is doing AMAZING (and i never use caps) virgil and d - will send pics soon! zach - a lot of people go to school for seven years. yeah, they're called doctors (not lawyers). court and mig - get ready to lose. this is fun. it feels like i'm giving an acceptance speech at the oscars. um... i'm sure i'm forgetting people (they always say that) d-mac - drink a liter of beer in germany for me! marie - sorry for not letting you know we were alright sooner! brett - thanks for all the taiwan advice so far. heahter and arron - party at your place soon! ok, this is getting weird. i'm tired and done. bye!

ps don't forget to check out the blonde in taiwan as she winds down her final days in formosa

Monday, August 10, 2009

No cold water yet

Food continues to be an arena for hilarity, charades, practicing Chinese, patience and sometimes even a shower. One thing that has compounded the food issue is our lack of a refrigerator. We purchased one on Wednesday (after a lot of pointing, saying “yes yes” and “no no” along with over exaggerated nodding and shaking of our heads to ensure that when the woman was saying yes, she did actually mean yes) and were told it would be here Friday. We anxiously awaited its arrival. Then on Thursday the typhoon started to roll in. Typhoons mean wind, rain, businesses don’t open and that deliveries are delayed. No worries, a phone call by a staff member that speaks Chinese and we learned the fridge would come Sunday instead, plenty of time for the typhoon to run its course. So today we made sure we stayed home to greet the delivery people. Two o’clock came and left and after 3 long hours of feeling trapped in our apartment we decided it wasn’t coming. Now it’s hard enough to call and track down a delivery when you speak the language, think about trying to do this when your primary means of communication is by acting things out. Our trusty staff member made a call for us and reported back that they couldn’t find our order. Great. We just want cold water. We waited for someone from the store to call us, with all sorts of worse case scenarios running through my mind (granted, it wasn’t a rational mind) and when they finally did a long 10 minutes later they told us it will be here Monday at 3. Whew. I’m not holding my breath, but at least they found it!

Not having a fridge means we have to go out for every meal, eat dry goods, or buy small portions of refrigerated items from the store and eat them all. Not that this is a bad thing, just something to be considered before you get to the “I’m-so-starving-I’m-getting-cranky-and-have-to-eat-right-now” stage. I can get to this stage quickly (just ask Jeremiah who often will ask me at the slightest hint of cranky behavior if I would like a snack). I think Jeremiah loves not having a fridge because it forces us to go out, eat and interact with people – 3 things he loves and 3 things I don’t often jump up and down about. I admit though, I have loved the places we have gone and look forward to going back to. I also love that Jeremiah will go out and get me things when I don’t feel like leaving. He did learn though that rain can come quickly in Taiwan and can come down hard.

We did make a meal at home, ensuring we didn't get too much food that would go to waste. It turned out pretty great.(click to enlarge)

Tomorrow I start work with some meetings so we actually have to set the alarm clock. I'll leave you with a picture of where we write to you from:

we're ok, but morakot did wreak havoc on taiwan

this was in southern taiwan, in taitung. no one was hurt. crazy

Saturday, August 8, 2009

we watch seinfeld and eat

before we moved over here, i traded in a grip of cd's, and got enough enough store credit to purchase the entire seinfeld series. we've been watching a couple of episodes each day (in order of course) and i find myself making references that only allison gets, which is pretty fun. we just finished the first season and there were a couple we hadn't seen. we'll probably watch seinfeld and six feet under (again) for the next few months when we're bored.

after some heavy rain and wind two days ago, yesterday, the big bad typhoon got scared and turned into a tropical storm that consisted of a little bit of wind and some oregon rain. we were a little disappointed, but it was still fun to say we lived through a typhoon. our "buddies" from school (they are actually our designated buddies that are supposed to take us around, but seem to be treating us like friends) invited us over to hang out with them because they assumed we would be bored sitting in our apartment all day with the rain and wind shutting most shops down. they were right because at 8:30 am i turned to allison and said, "whoa, this is going to be a long day, isn't it?" when they picked us up, i thought i'd be all smart and wear my new little rain jacket. boy am i an idiot. i should have realized that taiwan humidity plus gortex gives you the feeling of walking in quicksand, so i took the sweatbox off pretty quicklike. they ended taking us to save and safe to buy a tv. picking the tv out was the easy part, but the credit card was a different story. after 23 minutes, four calls to the bank, and three different people helping us, we were able to walk out with our nice flat tv. we've hooked the computer up to the tv and we are now able to watch big seinfeld people instead of really tiny seinfeld people. oh... and we have the wii hooked up, so get ready to lose at woods golf and mariokart online! we also hung out with them today for a while and went to a bookstore at the mall. allison bought elmer, revolutionary road, and eat, pray, love and i bought life of pi and the book of lost things, which sounds like a lot like the neverending story, which i'm reading right now, but a little more serious (all in english, just in case you were wondering). we scouted out cars (we're going to get a nissan march, just in case you were wondering. four door for sure, but not sure what year yet) and couches. we're going to meet them for drinks after they have dinner tonight in the part of town called "little europe." annnnnd, last thing, they are incredibly nice and let us borrow one of their cell phones for the weekend in case we need something. ps - we're going to get the new iphones soon. we're both excited, so don't tell us if you hate them.

setting up the tv

someone on facebook (marie!) commented on one of my statuses and said something about me talking about food a lot. yes, i like food. i like to eat it, talk about it, dream about it, and think about it. anyways... we stopped at a little food cart a few seconds from our place yesterday afternoon and i decided it was time to be brave and order something. i pretended to look at what they had to offer while i thought about how i would act out and say what i wanted. the couple behind the cart waited patiently and were ready when i looked up from the food (which is all skewered up and ready to be reheated. most of it is prefried). as i looked up, i decided to bust out some chinese. that didn't take too long because i only know three or four words. i said tofu in chinese, and the guy acted out, "oh yes, we have tofu, here, you should sample this!" it took me 2.83 seconds to realize he was shoving a ball of deep fried chicken in my face. i did the chicken dance and then shook my head and finger. sidenote: sometimes i feel like when we interact with people here, we're all cavemen and we don't have a language to use. everything is done with our hands, grunts, and facial expressions. just give me a club and i'll be set. after that, i quickly handed them a piece of paper that has something to the effect of "can we please have two dishes with vegetables or tofu," that someone from school had written for us in chinese characters and i said "tofu" again in chinese (which is like saying "dofu" but with an italian accent). he smiled and pointed to the tofu that had just a little fried batter on it. we ordered two of those and a skewer of green bell peppers, which they heated in oven thing, slathered with dank sauce, and sprinkled with some spicy goodness. only cost 30 new taiwan dollars, which is roughly one dollar in the US. also, real quick, we had japenese food for dinner friday and it was amazing. it is really close to our apartment. the best part was when we walked in there were about eight taiwanese people in their mid-twenties that looked over and keep saying "hello!" and "welcome to taiwan!" to us. i didn't pass up the opportunity to head right over to their table and say, "hello! you speak english?" i think they were too shy to say yes because they kind of laughed and said no and raised theyir glasses to me. hopefully we'll see them again so i can make new best friends. we will post pics of our favorite restaurants later and take you to them when you come visit us. remember... we have extra bedrooms here! (that is an open invitation, just to let you know).

cart snack on allison's new plates

i'm in the process of making a layout of where we live and what is around us on google maps that i'll share once i get done. if you have any questions or want to know anything specific, feel free to leave a comment and one of us will get back to you. also, we do have our address now, so if you want it, let me know. feel free to send us yours if you want to get a postcard from taiwan! have a great day!

what we do

ps happy birthday robyn bird!!!!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Typhoon Day?

We learned tonight at dinner (Thai again by the way, excellent) that school is canceled tomorrow for the typhoon, which means I don’t need to go in to learn about, and help with, the admissions process for our school. We’ll see how bad it gets; I’m actually excited to see what happens. Also at dinner we met the returning teachers, two of which are our assigned “buddies” who are super helpful.

Jeremiah made a list the other day, and I think I will follow suite:

-My glasses fog up when I leave an air-conditioned building and go outside
-Sometimes, despite it being warm and muggy outside, I am cold inside because of the ac
-There are some awesome animal sounds I can hear from my office
-I love Jeremiah’s ability to (try to) talk to anyone here when I’m too afraid
-I really don’t mind living with no furniture. Our bed is our couch, table, chairs, etc.
-I like the idea of living with a gecko but still really like to know what room he is in and will search him out every time we come home.
-Everyone here, the Taiwanese people and the school staff, are unbelievably nice and helpful.
-The man who works the evening shift downstairs gave us a map of vegetarian places we could eat and wrote the characters for us to show that mean “no animal”. His name is Thomas (a name he gave himself on the spot because he knew we wouldn’t understand his Chinese name).

It’s raining pretty hard right now. I think I will read some, or maybe we’ll watch some Seinfeld, and then go to bed. Tomorrow we get to sleep in, though I’m sure 6am will roll around and we will be awake.

(PS We posted two times today. Jeremiah's is new below this post too.)

20 eyes, high fives, and two white people (and morakot?)

went out to dinner at a thai place about 2 minutes from us last night. (will post a map of where we are as soon as i figure out where we are). when we walked in, all four of the early 20s wait stuff stopped in their tracks and waited for us to do something. we froze too because we didn't know what to do, and then i smiled and held of two fingers (hoping i wasn't actually flipping them off). they seated us and we had a great meal - spicy green beans, sauteed vegetables, rice, taiwense beer (600 ml!), and some icy mango-y, coconut milky dessert stuff that was great. however, that wasn't all that happened... i definitely picked the wrong seat during the meal because allison was able to eat while making eye contact with all four people on the wait staff and the other six people eating about 73% of the time. i kept asking her if they were still looking and she said "yes" through her cute little smile. of course, i kept turning around to check, and was greeted with smiles. we both decided i definitely need to switch spots with allison next time. we were also able to have four different waiters/waitresses throughout the dinner. i'm guessing they all wanted a chance to say they waited on white people, so we had a different person seat us, take our order, serve our food, and then bring us the bill. it got better when i got up and asked where the bathroom was. after the girl told me where to go and i went in, allison saw her turn to someone with a big smile and say, "restroom!" and give them a big high five. wish i could have seen it! anyways, we ate, paid, i forgot and tried to tip, they didn't want it, and we left. loved it! hopefully they know we'll be going there at least 7 nights a week.

oh, one more thing... typhoooooooooooooon! mr. (or mrs? or ms? help me out megan) morakot is hopefully going to be visiting us tomorrow!!! we probably won't get the big stuff, but we will probably get quite a bit of rain. if we do get hit with it, allison and i will be sure to let you know how it goes. (and no, i won't make any wizard of oz jokes about not being in kansas anymore) if you don't know, we're about in the middle of taiwan on the west side - here is a satellite image of it:

ps i mentioned megan earlier in this blog post. she is THE blonde in taiwan (accept no imitations) and has been over here for almost a year. actually, i don't know how long she has been here exactly, but i'm too lazy to look right now. check her blog out!
pps allison tried to get us kicked out of a sega arcade/video gambling place today. will post video later, but she used our camera to take a video of me losing three dollars and was told to put her camera away. it was a crazy virtual black jack game. i probably would have won if i hadn't gotten flustered.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

See what we see

Just a few pictures we've taken so far. Today we are at school with a little time to work in our classrooms (or office in my case) so I took the opportunity to use a good internet connection to upload these photos. We're having a really wonderful time so far and have gotten a lot of help from the school to get set up. Thanks for all the comments and emails... I will be better at responding in the weeks to come when we get our ARC (alien resident cards) and can then get internet and phones. They told us the staff can skype from school, after the school day is over, so we will get that figured out too.

On our way to our apartment from the airport

Apartment from the outside

The courtyard we walk through to get to our part of the building

Our apartment!

Cleaning - most of the apartment was very clean, though there is a funky smell coming from down there.

Main road near our apartment

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


random thoughts and observations from the first few days

-when you wake up on an overnight flight to someone speaking to you in chinese, asking you what you want to drink, you feel like they’re messing with you… until you come to your senses and realize they’re not
-allison looks so cute standing in the middle of a hundred foreigners at sfo
-when it gets really humid, your sandals stick to your feet when you walk
-after walking out of customs at the airport in taipei, we (well, i) almost turned around and walked back on the plane when i didn’t see someone with our name on a poster. fortunately, allison slapped some sense into me and said we should just keep looking and not give up so soon. sunny showed up a minute later
-all the new teachers here have amazing stories about other countries they’ve taught at. we don’t, but we will
-i miss my mom and dad, but will see them in december!
-allison is doing amazing and seems to be adapting even better than i am
-chinese characters look nothing like english (duh), but it is fun pretending like some of them look similar at the grocery store, until you realize that you’re telling someone that the character for soy milk looks like the same character for motor oil. wrong.
-greeting someone with “ni hao” (hello) in chinese, isn’t always the best thing to do because they assume you know a little chinese, which we don’t. but that doesn’t stop me from doing it!
-having a $100 dollar taiwanese bill in your hands isn’t as fun when it only equals $3 in the US
-sweating non stop all day + not being able to read anything at the grocery store = weight loss
-one of the teachers here was an extra in chasing amy. oops, asked him about 75 too many questions about the movie once i found that out.
-we’re excited for our moms to send us comfort packages, but we’re not going to ask them to. (and yes, we know they read this blog)
-i could see allison’s “i’m a little overwhelmed” feeling go away after she bought some cheerios, cleaning supplies, and matching cute bowls, plates, and glass (it’ll go away even more once we get that fridge)
-we have two extra rooms and are hoping for visitors (anytime!)
-our school is actually in the jungle.
-taiwanese scooter drivers have balls of steel. no, titanium
-the fact they have a costco here wasn’t comforting. it was kind of sad.
-i need to learn to speak chinese, and how
-our doorbell sounds like a bird chirping
-i can’t wait to see peter again
-you can’t flush any paper down the toilet. see-ick.
-allison is quickly learning the importance of looking both ways
-allison just said “jermeiah is quickly learning that scooters go really fast and needs to tell her to run, not walk” when 20 of them are barreling down on us”
-starbucks and mcdonalds have internet, but it isn’t free. learned that the hard way after walking ten minutes to starbucks and another ten minutes to mcdonalds. was still fun though.
-it is fun having three people try to help you at mcdonalds just because you’re american
-not having a fridge isn’t half bad when you eat out a lot. and by eat out, i don’t mean fast food, i mean, rice, fresh veggies, and amazing tofu for every meal
-they have guinness and it is the dark export stuff
-charades is even more fun when it is cross cultural
-it was nice talking to my mom, dad, brother, and sister on the phone. actually, it was very nice
-is it college football season yet?
-we love it when people comment on our blog because it lets us know you’re out there
-i didn’t need to bring ten pairs of a pants
-i love having allison here with me, even if she is sitting next to me practicing her chinese lessons and confusing the hell out of me

bye. have a great day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

my new friend peter (and little brian too)

(pre-ps sorry, this is a long story. i don’t think they’ll all be this long.)

walked into our apartment today and we were greeted with two things. the first, we were expecting, which was a hot and humid room, close to 85 degrees (f, obviously). the second little treat for us was a gecko… at least we think it was a gecko. i don’t think i’ve ever seen a gecko in real life and the only one i’ve ever seen is in the geico commercials. we didn’t hear our little buddy talk with a british accent, so we’re not sure if he is a gecko or not, but we’re calling him one for now. i can’t blame him for hanging out in our main room though. it is a clean, empty, and has the perfect jungle climate,. when we turned on the light, he decided to play frozen. since i was the one who saw him first, i pointed him out to allison, and she decided to play frozen too. so there i was with a frozen gecko and a frozen wife. eventually, allison thawed out and made me get as close as i could to him with the camera so we could prove he was there. we both decided it would be best if i went downstairs and tattled on our gecko for being in our room. at the time, this sounded like a great idea, so i ran out the door with our camera, and headed down to talk to someone that spoke no english and sucked at charades.

the old guy behind the counter (ogbc) was sitting there and didn’t look too excited to see me. when i pulled out the camera, he got a little more interested. i asked him if he spoke english, and he smiled, which i’ve come to realize, means “no.” i zoomed in on the little gecko and pointed at it, pointed straight up, and then said, “my room!” he smiled again. dammit, no help. i did the same thing again, he started to get it, and our game of charades began. i kind of tried to tell him that i thought i had three options. i shrugged my shoulders telling him i wasn’t exactly sure what i should do. first, i pretended to smash the gecko in my camera (my way of asking if i should kill it, which I really didn’t want to do at all), then i pretended to pick it up with my hands and hopped over to the door (my way of asking if I should catch and release it), and finally, i pretended to just look at it and then smiled and waved at it as i walked away (my way of ignoring it). turns out i suck at charades, not him. i’m sure that if someone was watching me, like the ten year old big boned boy on the other side of the lobby was, they would have thought I was crazy. the ogbc, was really confused and all of a sudden he started telling me that i owed him pent. next drew me a picture of a clock with two arrows going up and down, with the words “SEE” on it. whoa, back up. what? turns out he is terrible at pictionary, not charades. next thing I know, he is up on the chair, showing me how the minute hand of the clock can move counterclockwise. i’m lost, he’s on a chair, and the big boy in the corner is staring at us with his mouth on the floor. fortunately, this is where my knight in shining armor shows up and saves the day.

i felt a hand on my shoulder and a 60 year old man named peter from NE china is smiling at me with crooked teeth, and saying “hello,” (in english!) he proceeds to translate what the ogbc was trying to tell me. first, he was telling me that we owe him “pent,” which i soon found out means “rent.” when he was standing on the chair, spinning the clock, he was trying to tell me that our garage door stays open for “35 hours” when we press the button, which ended up actually being “35 seconds,” once peter realized he was getting his hours and seconds confused. i showed peter the picture of our little friend and he told me we couldn’t catch it, and it was my “little pet.” i told him i was going to name it brian, which made him laugh really hard, and he said brian was a good name and but he would go away soon. all problems solved now. i don’t owe pent, our pet brian is going to hang out and eat our bugs (so says mom) for a while, and our garage door stays open for 35 seconds if we press the button. but, best of all, I have a new friend! peter lived in LA for 13 years and has been back in taiwan for 2 years. he told me to call him from the front desk if we ever need anything translated and he would see me a lot, which made me excited all over. when I told him my wife would be excited to meet him too, he asked what part of taiwan she was from, and was pretty surprised to hear she wasn’t from taiwan. he walked me through the rain to my elevator door and held his umbrella up for me the whole time while shuffling along with a cane, we said goodbye (best buds already, right?), and i headed upstairs to tell Allison about my 15 minute adventure. whew. be back tomorrow with shorter stories and hopefully not as many spelling and grammatical errors.

thanks to allison for making this cool picture!

(drinking a guinness foreign extra and listening to blind pilot. check them out.)


Sunday, August 2, 2009

We're here!!!!

We made it! The flight went smoothly. When I walked off the plane I felt like we were walking into the Oregon Aquarium, the air felt heavy. Then it hit me – it’s the humidity. A staff member was waiting for us when we made it through customs and after the other new teachers arrived we went to our apartments to drop off our bags.

Our apartment is almost totally empty. There is a bed, a big wardrobe, and TV stand. We have nice air conditioners though. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen and a good sized living space. There is no refrigerator so that is our first priority when we go shopping. We have a parking spot in an underground parking lot. Security seems pretty tight in our building, we have a garage door opener, there is a doorman and we have to use a swipe key twice to get to our apartment.

The school took us out for lunch at a little restaurant that is two doors down from the entrance to our apartment were we can get veggies and rice for very cheap. It was so good and easy that Jeremiah went and got us take out for dinner too.

Once on our own we decided to take a walk to Carrefour (like Walmart) that we kind of remembered how to get to. We did eventually find it, though we were dripping sweat by the time we got there, not because of the distance but the heat and humidity. I’ve embraced it, but it is pretty overwhelming compared to home. The highlight for me during this trip was a short asian man looking up at Jeremiah’s hair and saying “whoa”. We’ve seen very few other caucasian people.

When I was on the plane I had a few moments of fear and anxiety, more than I have had leading up to actually leaving, but after being here only a day I can see us having a lot of fun here and really enjoying it.

Travel Day

We’re sitting at SFO right now waiting for our flight. Today has been long and we are tired. We started with a knock on our door at 4am so Jeremiah could take his parents to the airport. With some last minute errands and packing to do, we were busy right up until we left for the airport around 4pm.

We checked our bags with no problems in Portland, nothing was overweight! However, when we got to San Francisco we learned EVA airlines has different carry-on requirements so we ended up having to check 2 more bags, though it only ended up costing us another $60 - a small price to pay for all the weight we had in them

We had some hard good-byes today; I think I took them harder than Jeremiah. He keeps reminding me, and everyone else, we will be back in December. I am thankful we have access to the technology that we do so the distance won't seem quite so far and just like in the States, if I need to call my mom I can still do that (though I may wake her up in the middle of the night to do it... somehow I don't think she'll mind!)