Saturday, December 27, 2008
The reason I'm bringing this up is I saw an accident this morning. Several times, I've wandered past a destroyed scooter, shattered plastic and glass, in the middle of the road, but today I saw one... right in front of me. It wasn't bad, not at all, but the conditions made it funny.
I was waiting to cross the street. In Taiwan, you never jaywalk... mainly because people run red lights left and right. There was a cop directing traffic. There wasn't any issue with the traffic light, it is just that no one pays any attentions to things as inconvenient as traffic laws here and the cops are meant to reenforcement the concept of "legal driving." Well, it doesn't really work... even with the cops.
Anyway, this dude on a scooter ran a red light right in front of the cops. The police woman did what the Taiwan police do best, ignore any law breaking. Well, a SUV, legally crossing the road, slammed into this tiny scooter... I must give scooter man props, he did a pretty awesome ninja like bob and weave to keep his scooter upright, then with criminal like speed, fled the scene.
It was chuckling because the police chicky didn't even turn her head.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Also, in one of the nearby restaurants, there is a "men's" and "women's" bathroom. In truth, they are the same room. The urinal is separated by a thin, torn, and quite small sheet. This is the men's room. The women's room is a squatter toilet, separated by the same type of sheet, although it is slightly larger and in slightly better shape.
Yesterday, a homeless woman dropped trow and did her deed on the sidewalk of a busy intersection... the same sidewalk I was on... in fact, right in front of me.
So, thank you, Taiwanese government for dropping twice as much money to have gender-based mobile toilets in order to protect my delicate sensibilities. Seriously, I don't know if I could use a plastic bathroom that someone of the opposite sex has used recently.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
My first day I got in about 1PM and hopped the 'express' train to downtown Osaka. By the way, Osaka's train system is beyond confusing. The subway is easy, but the trains... yea, rough. I went to the hostel I planned at staying at (I got there about 3PM-ish), only to find that they didn't have any beds. Alright, that is one of the bits to not reserving a hostel bed ahead of time. I go to another hostel I knew about. Oops, booked up to. By now it is 5PM. Ugh... I manage to convince the hostel owner at the second hostel to give me the names of other hostels around. He really didn't want to, saying he didn't have time to do that. I kept nagging him until he agreed. He reached under the counter and pulled out a sheet with 10 of them on it... cool, a lot of hard work that was.
Anyway, I go to a public phone and start calling around. The last one on the list, SUMO backpackers had one bed left. Friggin' sweet, last hostel bed in the city and it is all mine. When I got there I tried to book Saturday night as well, but they didn't have any spot open. Crap, I called around all the hostels again, no beds. Oh well, I got tonight figured out, I'll deal with tomorrow tomorrow. Anyway SUMO was pretty nice.
Long and drawn out story short, I met some people who were hosting backpackers at their house on Saturday night and they invited me to crash there. It was pretty sweet. I'll get pics up soon.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Anyway, it's been raining for 3 days here and it is supposed to keep going for another 3. Not pouring like a typhoon, but drizzling. It really has been nice since the rain has kept it pretty cool. It is about 18C here which is about 65F. People are running around in jackets, it's pretty funny.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
I spent Halloween night at a huge party. The city closed down quite a few city blocks to traffic and had a shindig. It was awesome. I snagged some pictures, although they arn't very good. I'll get 'em up soon.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I originally wanted to go to the Philippines this weekend, but the price of the HK trip was too good to pass up (about $200 US roundtrip). However, for next month I found a trip to Iloilo for about $1,500 NT. That is about $50US. I need to scrape the money together stat so I can get it before the prices jump up.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Check out this report:
The biggest issue remains the extended period of rainfall due to the storm's very slow speed. The storm is now forecast to not be past Taiwan until early Tuesday 9/16.
The eye of the storm did finally make landfall - three times: 1:50am Ilan, 10am at Keelung & 6pm at Danshuei / Sanshzi. This means that the eye of storm came to the main island and then left and then returned in a looping pattern. Not unusual for a single loop - but three is quite unprecedented. Meteorologists couldn't recall it happening before.
Urban areas with the highest rainfall as of Sunday 9/14 10pm:
Ilan - 509mm
Taipei - 332mm
Kellung - 325mm
I live in Danshuei. It has been crazy here. The rain is ridiculous. If you open the balcony door, you are instantly soaking wet.
They say we are supposed to have work tomorrow, but the typhoon is still right over us. Seriously, the eye of the storm was above us four hours ago and it is only moving at 5km an hour. Worse, it is just looping over us. The whole place is flooded. There is a concrete patio in front of our apartment. It is currently a pond.
Friday, September 12, 2008
So, we have another typhoon, as pictured here to the left.
This one has a phunny story along with it. You see, I ran to the roof to snap a photo of the large ominous heaving wet storm before it actually fully blew in and I am forced to retreat to my apartment for a day or two (as I have done now). I ran out to one of the terraces on the roof and snapped a picture. As I did, I heard the door behind me slam shut. I America, this would not be a problem, but over here, they don't quite have the same fire codes and you can't open the door once closed... ooooooops. So here I am, stuck on the roof of my apartment with a typhoon inbound. It started to drizzle a little after the door shut, so I called my roommate, Alliya... no answer. Blast! I knew she was at work, but I don't have the number for my other roomate Phil. So I sat and sulked in my wet misery for a little while. After perhaps two minutes, the wind picked up a bit and the rain pelted just a little bit harder, so I called Alliya again. No answer. The wind started to howl by the time I put my phone in my pocket. Shortly after, the wind blew so hard, it neraly knocked me off my feet. I managed to grab onto a pipe before that happened. Since I was 24 floors up and without a parachute or so much as a pillow on the ground below me, I opened up a cool little emergency call bax, which I was avoiding using. As soon as I opened it, it let loose a horrible wail. Loud and ear piercing. Through the shriek, I heard, "Wei?" I means hello. I shouted, "I'm on the roof," in English, lacking the Chinese skills for an exactly pronounced, “I'm on the roof and don't wanna die.” "Wei?" as though he hadn't heard me. Ugh... the wail must be messing with it. I tried to call Alliya again, no answer. I wedged myself in between a wall and tile partition that held some of the piping. Wet and being tugged by the wind, I figured this was typical of my luck... or idiocy... you choose which. N-E-way, I resorted to tapping on the door constantly, in the pure chance that someone going home to the one occupied apartment on this floor would hear it. Tap-tap-tap.... tap-tap-tap. It was fun. I picked up the phone and called Alliya again. She answers. "Help! I'm an idiot and I locked myself on the roof as idiots do. I need Phil's number." "I need to hang up to get it," I made out. "Okay." A minute later, she called me back. She is saying something. I can't hear it over the wind, but I heard 'okay?' Then, she hung up... maybe Phil is going to come up? I dunno. I continue my tapping. A minute later I heard a tapping on the other. I bang on the door. Sweet... bloody sweet. The door opens. It is two maintenance guys... the wailing box must have sent them up. They chuckle at me for awhile and point at the sign, which I am now guessing means, "Don't go outside or you may die from a typhoon. Or, If Darwin doesn't like you, come through this door." They laughed at me for a bit. I shrugged. What-evs... I'm not being pummeled by a freaking storm anymore, I'm happy. I take the elevator down to my apartment. Phil isn't there. I suppose he went to the roof to look for me. I walk out into the hall. The elevator doors open. Phil and the maintainence guys are in it... chuckles, I am going to call them. Anyway. I am still wet from it, but it is a pretty funny story. By the way, here is the picture I got. This is before the rains and such.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
You got slapped with a $1000US fine if you were seen outside. It was like a citywide game of hide and seek.
We were stuck for an hour. So we just sat around and hung out. Just got back to the office... great way to spend an afternoon.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Anyway, I'll post some images later. I've got some pretty cool ones, including cool foods. I ate an egg that was soaked in horse piss to cure it. It tasted like an egg soaked in horse piss. Other crazy stuff includes a whole fish (head and all) that you eat in one bit. It is full of eggs, so it pops when you bit into it. More shrimps... whole shrimps. One of my Taiwanese buddies eats the whole tail, skin and all, then sucks the guts out and then chews on the head. I had scallop juice. Juice from scallops, the seafood.
Found a pretty cool pub near our place. It is Irish, so should I ever feel home sick, I think I'll just grab some lamb stew and Guinness. I've been walking around a whole lot. Just getting my bearings up here in Danshui.
Alright, well back to code monkeying.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
So, my second and third week over here(I think anyway... time kinda loses meaning) passed pretty well. My roommate and I check out this bar last Wednesday... or maybe it was the one before that? Anyway, we were supposed to get there at 9:00, but didn't make it until 10:30. The line was soooo long we didn't make it in until 10:55, which was amazing timing because they stop giving out these really nifty tickets for free drinks at 11:00. I got four of them and since they don't charge a cover charge, I drank free that night. Most of the bars here play older rock songs, but once in a while they play a newer one, at which point every Taiwanese in the joint starts convulsing like Elaine on Sienfield in their attempts to dance... I fit right in.
The bar was about 30% white people, which is more than I've seen since I got here. Alliya and I found ourselves gawking at them and wanting to take pictures. Apparently that neighborhood has a lot of foreigners, whereas ours only has us.
Sunday, we went to the beach, which was freakin awesome. There was only one big problem- these little tiny red jellyfish all over the bloody place. I took a sting to my toes. It didn't really hurt, it was just quite uncomfortable.
Later that night, I met up with some of my Taiwanese buddies, Ray and Joyce. We mostly checked out the night markets. However, there was some excitement to be had. I drove my first scooter. Those things are hard as hell to control. Good news though, I didn't crash or hurt myself, barring my pride, of course.
Monday we went and snagged some sushi... the raw type.. fish, octopus, muscles, etc. It was pretty good, but my stomach felt like it wanted to explode the next day. I ate another weird thing a couple days ago, as well. It was a bunch of minnows, heads and all, in this brown sauce. No rice, no bread, just minnows. Oh, and last night I had fried crickets.
I also think the guy at the corner store thinks I am a huge lush. He seems to want to check to make sure I had eaten something before he lets me buy a beer. The other day I picked up two of them, one for me and one for my roommate and he looked very, very concerned.
We checked out apartments and settled on one today (Sunday). It is huge, by Taiwan standards, being 35 pings... I think it equates to 700 sq. ft. Although, that doesn't sound like a whole lot, most places we have been to are in the range of 18-22.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
If you click on a photo, it will take a while to load, as they are pretty high quality.
I got in at 6:00 AM on Wednesday. Rough, tired and in need of a shower. A limo driver in a very nice Camry picked me up from the airport. He spent the first 3 minutes of the drive pointing at terminal 2 and repeating “terminal 2, yes?” “Yes, that is terminal two.” “Terminal 2.” “Thanks for pointing that out to me, I’ll keep terminal 2 in mind.” “Terminal 2.” “Yes, I freakin’ get that is terminal 2!” So, terminal 2 guy dropped me off in front of a building in downtown Taipei after a blurry half-hour drive. Some guy, introducing himself as Gary met me downstairs. He tossed me some keys and pointed at a door. Okay… I guess that is my apartment.
I went upstairs into the surprising well furnished apartment to find one of my roommates. She introduced herself as Brie. I didn’t have any NT dollars and made mention of the fact, and neither did she (she arrived an hour before me and all the exchangers at the airport were closed). As it would turn out, I lacked a towel, soap and shampoo, so we decided to find a money exchanger and then find some shower equipment for me. After setting down my stuff, we depart forgetting it was only 6:00 AM in Taiwan (24 hours of traveling will do that to you).
We walked around and found out that no banks were open. After about half an hour we decided to return home and wait. As it would turn out, we had become completely lost. We wandered around for a good three hours. Later we discovered that we had walked by our apartment at least four times, but all the damn buildings look alike.
When we finally made it home, Alliya, one of our other roommates was awake. She offered to point us to a market after she took a call. We thought that sounded splendid. While waiting for her we went to an ATM and withdrew some cash, ignoring the wad of American dollars in our pocket, and bought some lunch. The lunch was an interested ordeal. We stopped at a little alcove that had a kitchen and four guys cooking crap up in a wok and a huuuuuge frying pan. The spoke about 4 words in English, hello, okay, cooooool, and bye bye. Not that I begrudge them for that, as I can barely stammer out bathroom in Chinese. Anyway, after we shrugged at their ramblings for a few minutes, they eventually just cooked us up some dumplings and gave us some sweetened soy milk. Good stuff.
The market was pretty interesting when we got there. Brie wanted a watch, so we asked a clerk. He apparently didn’t speak any English. Some lady walking by understood our gesturing, tapping our wrist and making a circle with one hand on it, like the face of the watch. She didn’t speak English but she chuckled and said beya, like be ya’ll without the l’s at the end. The guy pointed downstairs. So, we went downstairs. We found another clerk and said beya, she pointed upstairs. Okay, then upstairs we were directed by someone else downstairs. Then downstairs, upstairs again. Finally we just split up and scoured the store. As it turns out, they were next to the cash registers.
Later that night, Brie went to bed early, so Alliya and I took off to find a bar or something. We initially hit up this bar called the Brass Monkey. It was probably the biggest ex-pat bar ever. A drink cost about 200 NT, which is about 6 US bucks. It was more than back home… screw that. So Alliya and I grabbed our stuff and high tailed it, much to the anger of the waiters… no we hadn’t ordered anything yet.
We spent perhaps an hour walking around until we found a local market. There were plenty of places to eat, but nowhere to grab a drink. Finally, we happened upon this bar looking place. Its entire front wall consisted of a clear plastic sheet… awesome. They had a special on a pitcher of Tsing Tao for 200 NT. A pitcher for the same price as a beer at the other place, hells yea… hells yea. We got a pitcher and ordered what we thought was beef, mutton, and pork skewers. For once, we were correct. It was fine food.
We stumbled back to the apartment and picked up a few beers at the local market. Every time we go in there, by the by, we ask him how to say the price in Chinese and he asks us how to say it in English. He is a pretty cool guy.
The next day, Brie and I had to go to the head office to fill out paperwork… at 10. Well, thanks to jet lag, both Brie and I woke up at 4:30… woo woo. We hung out for a bit, then went out and snagged some breakfast. We got some Dawn Bing, which is a pancake type thing wrapped around a fried egg and a slice of meat.
After filling out paperwork until noon, we tried to change some money. You would figure that at a Citibank someone would speak English. Nope, that’s just silly. So, we learned that changing money is an hour long ordeal. The money changing dude kept looking at one of my bills, then staring at another. After twenty minutes of this (I really am not exaggerating) he got someone else and they looked at it for another ten minutes. He came back pointing at the dates on the bills. I think they don’t take anything pre 1998. So, I have a hundred useless dollars in my pocket, sitting right next to some euros.
We hit up the hospital after that for our health check. It was probably the worst physical I have ever been to. They check our sight and made sure we could hear by making a sound and asking us which ear we heard it in. Then they pinched our skin and shooed us away. We kinda figured we needed blood drawn, because I think someone mentioned something about that at some point, so we went to the blood lab… meaning we walked around aimlessly for ten minutes until we saw needles and a tourniquet. Yea, they drew blood without gloves.
Anyway, that night Brie and I waited for Alliya, but by eight she hadn’t shown up so we took off to find some dinner. On a side note, we have another roommate, who I am pretty sure is a ninja and sneaking out the window, because I have seen him once so far, although we do hear him from time to time. Back on topic, we walked around for maybe thirty minutes and only found expensive restaurants. Finally, we found an alley dumpling place near our apartment, so we ate there.
We woke up at 5:30 again the next morning. Still haven’t seen Scott since the first day here and Alliya was still asleep, so Brie and I took off to check out the temples. The nearest MRT (subway) station is about a twenty minute walk. We hadn’t been there yet so we tried to find our way on the shitty maps they gave us. Finally, we stopped and asked a police officer and he pointed back towards our apartment. We walked twenty minutes back and rechecked the map. After some guestimation we figured the cop had to be wrong. As it turned out, the MRT station was only one block past where we asked the cop. Thanks dude.
The train stations are pretty pimp. It is easy to find your way once you figure it out. We took the subway a few stops to a run-down looking area of town and made our way to a couple temples. They were pretty sweet. Check out the pictures.
At 2:00 I went to my first day at my school. More paperwork and the suchlike. I observed a few classes, but that is about it. I came home at 9:00 not too happy, mainly because my school was so very clickish. No one really talked to me and the Chinese and foreign teachers sat at separate tables. I talked with the one nice guy there and Christian told me it had always been like that… great. At home, Alliya and Brei told me their schools weren’t like that at all, so it seems like I got the short end of the stick. Oh, well.
The next few days were pretty much like the first... a lot of walking to find some place to eat and observing classes. Sunday, we took off for the mountains. We climbed up Mount Cicing, which is about 2 miles straight up. It was pretty crazy. By the time we had reached the top, the rain had come in and we couldn’t see anything, but it was a fun hike, none-the-less. Sunday also happened to be my birth day. As a special treat, I actually got about 20 second of hot water during my shower. Woo woo!
P.S. Although the pork intestine soup smells exactly what you would think pork intestine soup would smell like (they make it everywhere… the scent is thick and oppressing, and quite often, such as in the night markets, enough to make you sick), it is extremely good.