Taiwan 2010 – Part VII – In Which I Do Totally Ordinary Stuff

It’s Father’s Day, and I’ve been given a rare opportunity to catch up on “stuff.”

Irene has taken the kids to meet a friend and dubiously “…let them play in a playground, which [I’d] no doubt be bored doing.” Of course, that’s totally true, but at the same time, it’s rather an obvious excuse to get away from me so that the kids can arrange something for Father’s Day. They’ve been on about it for a week, then suddenly yesterday, they didn’t mention it again. Not even this morning, which hurts a little bit.

My choice is to go out, be hot and miserable at the worst time of day, or stay “at home” in the one room with air conditioning and catch up on my blogging. Later today it’s off to Cosi O Cosi for Italian food for lunch where I’l meet up with the family and, presumably, they’ll remember Father’s Day.

I’ve been doing a very poor job of documenting my visit this time, I suppose familiarity has finally drummed in to the point where I mostly just don’t care. Everyone gets up late in the morning, where it’s a daily fight for me to get everyone out for breakfast. In their later years, my in-laws have a adopted a “no flavor” diet. Nothing they cook has flavor. Even when they make something special just for me on the side, it’s totally devoid of seasoning, and, if it’s meat, cooked until it has lost every last molecule that gave it flavor burned away into the grease traps over the cooktop. It is therefore imperative that no meals be taken here unless catered or prepared by my wife.

Meals out are dicey, too, because my mother-in-law has a tendency to complain long and out loud in front of wait staff about how bad the food is (presumably because it has flavor). She does this while the meal is still being served, and worrying us greatly that the wait staff with thoughtfully oblige us with “extra ingredients” to show their appreciation to her – and us in the bargain. She doesn’t seem to do this at Din Tai Fung and I feel reasonably safe there – not to mention, I love the food.

Here's my hamburger at Hello Kitty Sweets.

Michelle’s eighth birthday was this past week and we took her to Hello Kitty Sweet restaurant as a surprise. She thought it was terribly cute, and liked it a lot, so that’s what matters. The atmosphere alone could have induced diabetic shock in someone, but I endured it for my little princess. I had a hamburger (or Kitty Burger, I believe they called it) and it was shaped like Hello Kitty. I enjoyed biting that burger, and it was really rather good. Even the crazy Hello Kitty shaped bun was good.

After that, grandma took us to Din Tai Fung, where Michelle and I polished off 16 dumplings each, we would have eaten more, but we only bought 60. I didn’t have the balls to ask grandma to buy another 10 – and I knew neither one of us needed any more, even if we wanted them.

It’s been rainy, which has curtailed our outdoor excursions, and the kids’ uncle has gotten them addicted to computer games, particularly Plants Vs Zombies. He did it so that they’d leave him and his girlfriend alone. They adore them and won’t give them a minute to themselves when they’re home. I suppose that’s punishment for them being unlikely to ever actually get married and have their own kids when they’re so comfortable living with my in-laws and not paying rent as it is. Why disturb the status quo?


The last 3 days or so haven’t been rainy, but then it became hot and miserable. Friday we were going to take the kids to the water park, but instead we went to some former gold rush town up near the coast somewhere. I’m not sure I ever got the name of the place, but it was picturesque and made a pleasant diversion for the day.

I’m beginning to feel the sands of time running out here in Taiwan and soon I’ll heading heading back to the States on my own. There’s so much that I usually do on these trips that I haven’t this time. Today was the first day I’ve gotten out and walked around on my own, swinging by the Dead Dictator Hall for the first time, too.

I’m slowing (painfully slowly) getting my pictures from the trip uploaded to flickr, where I try to archive everything, good, bad and indifferent. It’s that age old problem of getting them loaded so that I can use them, or going through them first, photoshopping them and then uploading them. The later is preferable, but the former is expedient. The reality falls somewhere in between.

My nemesis: defeated!

I’ve been specifically requested not to recount my epic battle with a squat toilet there other day. I make it a point of pride to avoid using squat toilets whenever possible. Well, excluding urination as that doesn’t matter. That’s just like peeing in a hole in the ground, which is just fun. (Which, it seems Taiwanese men cannot hit, either) It’s the “other” use of a squat toilet that I try to avoid and usually can, in fact, it’s been at least 5 years and three trips since I last got caught, but not the other day in the gold mining town. I can tell you, if Asians were all 6’3″ and long-legged, they would not have invented the squat toilet. Ever.

All I will say is it was a darned good thing this particular bathroom had a coat hook and a nearby door handle or it would have been a catastrophe!