Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chinese New Year - Part 1

As always, click on the photos to enlarge.

New Year's Eve

Chyo, his dad, mom, and brotherOK, enough posing, let's eat!Yum!
The Chinese words for 'fish' (魚) and 'surplus' (餘) sound exactly the same (yú); therefore, the fish on the table is not eaten completely, in order to ensure abundance in the coming new year.

I received my very first hong bao (red envelope with cash!)After dinner we played a dice gambling gameHere I am losing my hong bao

New Year's Day

We visited many temples that day. The first was the local temple (土地公 tŭ dì gōng) that every neighborhood has.

It was a cold, rainy day (can you tell?) so we stopped for some coffee and pastries before heading to the next temple.

There are other activities at the temple besides praying...

The Taiwanese love their puppet shows2009—Year of the oxCan you see why this pig symbolizes fertility?

The temple grounds...

...and some details

I think we all enjoyed ourselves...

During the course of the day we visited several more temples. After a while they all started to blur together for me, so the following photos are in no particular order:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tour of my apartment

I was looking through this blog, and I can't find that I ever posted this. So, if anyone is interested, here's a tour of my apartment, taken September, 2008.

Apartment Tour Taoyuan Taiwan 公寓 桃園 台灣

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ɐılɐɹʇsnɐ uı ǝʞıl sʞool ƃolq ʎɯ ʇɐɥʍ

¡ʇǝuɹǝʇuı ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ sʞuɐɥʇ ˙ɯǝlqoɹd ou ɥʇıʍ ƃolq ʎɯ pɐǝɹ ʍou uɐɔ ǝɹǝɥdsıɯǝɥ uɹǝɥʇnos ǝɥʇ uı sɹǝpɐǝɹ 'ʎƃolouɥɔǝʇ ɟo slǝʌɹɐɯ ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ sʞuɐɥʇ

Wanna use the upside-down font too? Click here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My first scooter attempt

Another first for the new year: After almost nine months in Taiwan, I drove a scooter for the first time.

We started on a little-used road, the road in the video. My only problem was turning once; my legs are long and one time my hand became wedged between the handlebars and my leg and I turned. For a few seconds I was stuck and almost laid the scooter down. Now I know to keep my knees out of the way.

After my brief lesson, I drove us to the beach. Fortunately, the path we took had nice, wide streets and little traffic. It was really fun, and now I'm looking forward to buying a scooter, perhaps in time for summer.

Driving a scooter for the first time in Taiwan 機車 第一次

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Fun

New Year's Eve started cold and rainy, so, after I got off work at 9:00pm, I fully expected to simply go home, eat, and go to bed. Some of the teachers and students were talking about a free concert and fireworks show at the nearby park, but the thought of braving the cold rain wasn't too appealing.

My friend Chyo called and asked if I wanted to go to a 吃到飽 (all-you-can-eat) steak house. Sitting inside a warm restaurant, eating myself silly, sounded much better than standing out in the cold rain. Turned out that you got only one portion of steak, but everything else was unlimited. I put my stomach capacity to the ultimate test that night. The restaurant was across the street from the park, so after eating we waddled over to the park at 11:50pm, just in time to catch the countdown and fireworks. Plus, it had stopped raining.

New Year's Day, 2009, was a blast! Click the photos below to enlarge.

Started with brunch at this traditional food stand near my apartmentLook who's ready to eat

The temple at 白雞山 Báijī shān 'White chicken mountain' Praying for more hairLoved this tree

Steps ascending Baiji-shan, behind the temple.On dutyTemple detail

Next stop, Old Street in San Xia (三峽老街), comprised of traditional food and craft shopsOf course, my favorite was the calligraphy shopZu Shi Temple (三峽祖師廟) at the entrance to Old Street

This video proves we were there, lol.
Old Street San Xia Taiwan top performers 三峽 老街 陀螺

After San Xia we headed to Beitou (北投) Yangmingshan (陽明山), where I took a dip in my first hot spring. There are many hot springs in Taiwan, and unfortunately I don't remember the name of this particular one. What I do remember, though, is that it was one of those gender segregated, birthday suit kind of places, which made the experience even more novel for me. So I got naked and joined the others. I was a bit uneasy at first, but then a saying about nudity, from my wife's grandma, came to mind which emboldened me: "If you see somethin' you ain't seen before--shoot it!"

The bad part was that the water was very sulfuric, so my skin smelled like rotten eggs for the next two days, despite showering. I know what you're thinking and, yes, I have a photo of me at the hot springs, and no, I'm not going to post it ;-).

After the hot springs we were, of course, hungry again, so we headed to the Miàokǒu Night Market in Jilong (基隆廟口夜市). I'm told this is one of the most popular tourist night markets in Taiwan. It was pretty popular that night. Night markets are not as novel to me as they were a few months ago, but that isn't to say I don't enjoy them any less (now there's a negative sentence construction for ya). On the contrary, now that I'm more familiar with the different foods, I look forward to visiting them even more. This one even had many conveniently placed trash recepticles, which seem to be lacking at the others.

All in all it was a fun, relaxing way to begin 2009.