Tag Archives: Taiwan

Taiwan

Dr. Milker


This was just too priceless not to take a picture of.

Incidentally, despite the awful name, Dr. Milker is the most normal tasting milk I found in Taiwan.

I’m not an expert on pasteurization, but I couldn’t help noticing that the description of the process on Taiwanese milk usually involved phrases like, “Ultra high temperature flash pasteurization.”

Consistent with that, most of the milk tasted scalded. We couldn’t get Michelle to drink the milk in Taiwan, it tasted so bad.


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Leftovers


We’ve been awfully busy/sick lately and just haven’t had much time to post… besides, when you’re sick/busy, there’s nothing much really to tell.

I offloaded my cellphone photos tonight and discovered I had a few leftovers from Taiwan.

This was one of my favorites. As we were waiting in the airport terminal, in the food court, getting ready to leave, I chanced to go to the urinal.

In some of the toilets in the airport, they have airplane identification guides pasted over the urinals so you can learn about some of the fascinating jets that ply the skies of Taiwan. (I have to wonder if providing reading material doesn’t increase the puddle on the floor, though.)

However, in the food court restroom, they have signs like these.

Certainly, while visiting the restrooms in the food court, while taking a leak, in the airport terminal after you’ve already entered the country and passed though immigrations and customs, is just the right time to remind you not to bring scorpions and cockroaches into the country, right?


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November Flickr Cram

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It’s the end of the month and that means my flickr upload allotment will roll over on the first of December, so I’m cramming as many of the 300+ remaining photos from my Taiwan trip onto Flickr as I can tonight.

With the new camera I’m generally getting about 5 photos per 1% allotment of space, so in December I’ll finish uploading all the remaining pictures, which will take about 69% of December’s allotment.

Considering how few pictures I’m taking now that I’m back home and nothing is inspiring me to take photos of it, I shouldn’t have any need to do a New Year’s Eve cram.

Incidentally, I’m not just posting my good pictures to flickr, I’m posting every photo I haven’t deleted outright. It’s my off-site backup, so to speak, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at the awful ones.

My flickr photos page

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Jet Lag

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I really don’t understand jet lag.

Oh, I understand the principle behind it, just not “logic” of how it works.

For example, since our return, I wake up at 3 to 4 in the morning, that’s 6 -7 PM in Taipei. Not me usual “wake-up’ time.
Come around 1PM, I’m suddenly falling asleep again (that’s 4 AM Taipei time, and significantly later than then I would be going to bed)
After a few hours, I’m wide awake again (OK, that coincides roughly with morning in Taipei)
But then i crash again at 9:00PM (noon, Taipei)

Rather than just being ‘off’ 15 hours, I seem to be cycling through short periods of wakefulness and sleep. Hopefully it will get straightened out soon.

I had lots of paper to go through, so it wasn’t a problem that I was in the office before 5:00AM this morning, but I don’t want to do it everyday.

Luckily, Friday is a holiday, making this a two-day week for me, then I’ve got 3 more days to “recover”

The kids are all messed up, too. That doesn’t help.

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Blogging in the Air

Our departure from Taipei was not without incident. My father-in-law’s car is not particularly large, and most cars struggle with two carseats, not to mention five large pieces of luggage and 6 people.

When we arrived, we’d managed to cram it all in the car, but Irene’s mother didn’t meet us at the airport. For our departure, she had to come see us off and so we needed another car. Once again Mr. Huang 2 came to the rescue, and we split the luggage, the kids and the in-laws over two cars. Michelle and grandma travelled with Mr. Huang 2, while Irene, James, I and most of the luggage drove with grandpa.

We arrived at the airport before them and lined up our luggage in the check-in line that wasn’t open yet. There were already 8 to 10 luggage carts in front of us and the lines tend to get very long, so we parked and waited. Irene, carrying all our documentation, went back to her father to pick up James. Meanwhile, I noticed that the line was scheduled to open in under 5 minutes. Knowing (and respecting) Singapore Air, I suspected they’d open exactly at the scheduled time.

Irene came back, but Mr. Huang 2 hadn’t shown up yet with Michelle or the rest of our luggage. She called them and they were lost. Just then the line opened. Six windows opened simultaneously and suddenly there were only 4 carts in front of us, and the line was moving quickly.

Irene stresses about the packing, the flight, the farewells, the kids… I stress about reaching the window and saying, “Uh, we’re not actually ready to check in, we’re missing a daughter and two pieces of check-in luggage.”

We reached the counter quickly and explained the situation. It didn’t phase them and we were going through our paperwork when Mr. Huang 2 and the calvary arrived, just in the nick of time.

We passed some time in the airport “snack bar” which has previously always been closed, and I ordered my last meal in Chinese on this trip. A “French Bacon Sandwich” at Starbucks. It was appalling!

Farewells were more painless than usual and we were through immigrations.

Inside the terminal, there was actually a children’s playground where Michelle started happily playing. She was alone at first, but then another half white/half Chinese child about here age, perhaps older came to play. Michelle immediately started asking her to play with her, in Chinese, but the little girl never responded.

At first I thought the girl might not be Chinese at all and didn’t understand Michelle. Then her mother came over, who was obviously Chinese, but when she called her to leave, she called in broken English. Apparently the girl couldn’t understand Chinese. What a shame. It’s so much easier to learn languages at that age, and if they don’t they’ll just end up struggling forever like I am.

I’m writing this now on the flight. There’s still no Internet, but the flight is over 50% empty and there’re plenty of room. I’ve moved into a row of my own and have space to open the computer and work.

Even with the room, two kids makes a bit of a hassle, especially for Irene.

The flight is not about 9 hours in, I’ve finished watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Fantastic Four, War of the Worlds and Batman Begins. I suppose as a quadruple-billing, that’s not too bad. It’s also about the time I’d be waking up in Taipei, but it is 5:30PM back home.

I haven’t had much sleep, but the kids have slept nearly the whole flight. When we get home, I suspect they’re not going to want to go to bed.

This the third time I’m trying to write this and every-time I break out the computer, we hit turbulence. Sure enough, as I type this the signs have come on.

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Good Morning Starshine

As a recap, my day of travel went like this:

Action Taipei Time Phoenix Time
Get Up Monday 7:00 AM Sunday 4:00PM
Catch Flight Monday 10:55 PM Monday 7:55 AM
Arrive Phoenix Tuesday 1:41 PM Monday 10:41 PM
Arrive at Home Tuesday 4:10 PM Tuesday 1:10 AM

That’s over 30 hours without benefit of more than 40 minutes sleep.

When the shuttle had dropped us and our luggage on the sidewalk outside the house, Michelle, who was in a light dress began complaining it was cold. I got the family inside and I began hauling the luggage in.

One of our bags weighed in at 31.1 Kilos, just .9 Kilos short of the weight limit on a bag, and the others weren’t light, so it took a while for me to haul them inside, mostly on auto-pilot.

As I was outside though, I was still struck at how amazing the stars were. The sky was so big and there were hundreds of stars looking back at me. It’s such a pretty sight and it’s the feeling I always get when camping, when you’re out away from city light pollution and the sky has billions of stars looking back at you. I was also struck by the fact that normally when I’m out at night in Phoenix, I always think how small and starless the night sky is, but not today.

Taipei has no stars and the sky is as small as you can see from one building to the next

On a second note, Michelle was right. We left the house thermostat to keep the house cooled but at a high temperature, since no one was home. When we got inside last night it was very comfortable, but I’m awake now not because I’m trying to get back on schedule, but because I woke up freezing at 5:00AM and all the blankets and such are packed in baby James’ room and I don’t want to disturb him in his sleep.

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Farting Pandas and Burping Raccoons

The daylight hours are wearing thin, my Easycard is almost out of credit, there’s nowhere left to go except wait for the time to go to the airport.

We had a couple errands to run earlier and we went by bus. I think I’ve completely failed to the latest edition to the buses and train stations. Each bus and every train platform now has TVs located on them. They’re showing a “channel” called Bee TV, with no sound, of course. This channel features ads for upcoming movies (I can’t tell you how sick I am of the commercials for “Lord of War”, “Doom” and “Nana”. Those commercials have been playing since we got here. Meanwhile, the commercial for Legend of Zorro only showed for about a week. Other commercials feature ads for Taipei tourism, anti-pregnancy ads and Pili Puppet series available on DVD and VCD.

In between the commercials they show cartoons, mostly Japanese and Korean. A significant portion of them feature farting furry animals.

There’s the panda who likes to drink soda, then farts, which teaching important lessons like, “brush your teeth”.

Today I saw one in which a rabbit was fishing. The fish comes up, pulls the hook up only to see a carrot. He comes up to the rabbit, slaps him with the carrot, tells him he needs to use a worm, then slaps him with the carrot again. The fish goes back into the water. The rabbit looks thoughtful, stands up, sticks his butt into the water, farts, then walks away.

The fish surfaces and gasps for breath.

Sure, it’s funny, but what does it mean?

In another a raccoon comes and burps on the rabbit.

And then there’s Mr. Boomba. In the latest one I saw, he spies a fly in the urinal and so targets the fly and drowns him. The fly, not actually dead, flies up and goes straight into Mr. Boomba’s mouth as meditated revenge.

Is this really wholesome family entertainment for the masses on busses?

On another miscellaneous note: There’s a new flavor of Doritos in town. In the last couple weeks Doritos and Lays have been promoting their “Fusion” line of International Flavors, many of them involving seafood or other totally inappropriate flavors. Today I spied “Tomato Smoked Chicken” Doritos. I can’t even comment on the mentality that came up with that idea.

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If I’d Known, I’d Have Worn Socks

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Last night, as part of the parade of dinners that precedes our departure, Johnny and his girlfriend Batrina (whose name will ever be “Britanica” to my mind) took us out to dinner.

They took us to a Yakiniku place, complete with pit-style Japanese tables and, of course, taking your shoes off for dinner.

Pit-style tables are essentially benches surrounding a table. Or you could consider it to be a table sunken in a hole in the floor, depending on if you want to think you are sitting on a bench or the floor. They don’t allow photos to be taken, but I snuck this shot of Michelle as we entered. The picture turned out awful, but I decided to keep it just to illustrate this entry.

Now, if I understand this arrangement correctly, this style of seating is quite popular in older Japanese homes in colder climates (actually, all of Japan is a colder climate than Taiwan, with Okinawa perhaps coming close to the same climate) because under the table is some form of heating pit. Sitting at the table kept your feet warm and body warm.

No such heating was in place at the Yakiniku restaurant and the cold cement floor and even colder metal poles holding up the table really began to freeze my feet.

Because you cook your own food at the table, on grills and a boiling pot, dinner tends to be a drawn out affair. In fact, you’re given a 2 hour time limit with all the food you can cook. At least, that’s the way Irene explained it to me. Looking at the menu made me think it wasn’t all you could eat, but as we didn’t pay, I never figured it out.

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The food was good. I could cook some meat on the grill and give it to other people. It gave me something to do for two hours when normally the Chinese conversation would bore me senseless and it helped my diet. It takes minutes to cook each thin slice of meat (that’s not to mention the lamb chops or chunks of chicken or sirloin, which took longer) and only seconds to eat each single, bite-sized piece. Combine the cooking time, the 12″ round grill and the fact that politeness dictated that I give up 75% of all food I cooked to other people, I got about 28 bites of food.

They were good bites, though.

Also, since you sit there for the whole time (and, in fact, we overran the 2 hours by quite a bit) my feet positively froze solid, right through.

At one point, I got up to use the restroom, partially from necessity but mostly as an excuse to put my shoes on for a couple minutes.

While I was there, I was considering the bathroom fixtures. A mirror had been placed all around the bathroom, presumably so you could watch your own face while you peed, but the simple fact that I’m a giant in this country meant that I was only able to look at my own chest. My eye-line is fully 6 inches higher than the mirror.

Positioned above the mirror are all the little accouterments that go in a modern restroom, deodorizers and such. One of them was the kind that has a timer and every so often depresses the top of an aerosol spray can of deodorizer. it wasn’t directly over the urinal, but was about 8 inches to the side, towards the sink. It was exactly eye level for me.

In a piece of comic timing to brilliant for words, as I turned away and moved towards the sink it blasted me full in the face. Let me refine that: comic, if it happens to someone else. Painful if it happens to you. Luckily I wear glasses and didn’t take the blast full into my eyes.

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Afterwards, the family went to the Taipei Milk King next door. This interesting place sells various forms of milk, tainted with other substances, such as Tomato Milk, germinated Rice & Job’ Tears Milk or Japanese Yam Milk. They also have other specialty drinks, such as Houseleak Drink, which I presume is what comes through the roof after a strong rain shower.

When we go home, we packed until 2:00 in the morning, but we still aren’t done. We should be close enough to finish easily before departure.

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