Tag Archives: Taiwan


Recipe for Illness – October 1, 2005

Take one part oppressive heat and humidity
one part sleeping with the windows open to the damp, polluted night air
one part stressful day with the kids (and mommy away at a wedding banquet)
mix with not eating much food and you’ve got a recipe for an illness

I did squat today except get sick.

Super Typhoon still due in tomorrow. It’s calmed a bit at 138 MPH sustained winds with 166 MPH gusts, but that still makes it a category 4 storm. Taipei was never likely to be hit by the eye, but now it has shifted a bit further south, almost dead center. That makes the storm just about cover the entire island. Taipei is still due to be hit by the storm at about 9:00 AM tomorrow morning, or about 10.5 hours from now.

I did get out briefly after dark tonight and walk around. The weather is strange – I’d guess this is the definition of the “calm before the storm.” It isn’t exactly still, but there is a stillness to it. Suspect we’re going to be stuck indoors all day tomorrow too.

Alishan railway, which is directly in the typhoon path has closed for 2 days, and may be closed longer. As we were planning to go there in 3 days time, it looks like we may have to change our plans.

All Settled In – September 30, 2005

Eating was the highlight of the day, and I didn’t eat much.

We took Michelle to the park and let her play on the cement slides, but then she had a hissy fit over kleenix and the whole thing devolved into 30 minutes of her crying uncontrollably. Luckily, Taipei is so noisey, I had no problem dragging her among the crowds while she continued to cry.

The incredibly convenient 7-11 right by the house that first appeared on our last trip is gone, replaced by one of the seeming millions of English language schools for small children. For the city with the highest density of convenience stores in the world, there aren’t any convenient ones for us anymore.

The English schools are incredible popular. In fact, there are two in the same building where the 7-11 was. Irene and I went out and collected some phone numbers. Even though they teach in English, it would be nice if we could put Michelle somewhere with Chinese-speaking kids even part-time while we’re here.

She certainly understands far more Chinese that Irene gave her credit for, but she won’t speak nearly as much. She often leaves grandma confused.

We picked up SIM cards for out phones, which is when I snuck in a MOS Burger – and that was the highlight of the day – so now we’ve got Taiwanese phone numbers and can stay in touch with each other without paying international rates.

In the evening, we went out for some drugstore items and passed by Gold-In Tex Fried Chicken – or I should say the shoe store that now occupies that space. Is there nothing the same?! Now all that’s left is KFC and McDonald’s for fried chicken.

Longwang is still on the way, but the track shows the winds dimishing somewhat. Jet lag is still a problem and I’m writing this on Saturday morning. Today Michelle and I woke up at 4:30 instead of 3:30. I’m not exactly looking forward to today. Irene is going to a wedding banquet, leaving both kids with me. Michelle hasn’t been eating at all. Anything her grandparents put down on the table she immediately says, “I don’t like it!” Yesterday she had 2 bowls of rice and a couple yoghurt drinks.

It’s time to take her to MacDonald’s so she’ll see familiar food and hopefully eat.

September 30th, 2005 – What I Ate Today


Breakfast, the usual: Cong You Bing, no surprises.

After breakfast, I had a snack I couldn’t resist, Fried Chicken Flavor Cheetos. This actually consists of completely cheeseless-flavored cheetos, (in fact, almost completely flavorless cheetos) which you sprinkle a packet of flavoring over. That packet is, I’m convinced, the exact same stuff you mix in chicken-flavored instant noodle.

At lunchtime, I managed to sneak into a MOS Burger and have a small, but tastey, cheeseburger. MOS’ burgers are a bit messy, and weird, but, I like ’em. Their fries are decent, too… if only they’d put some salt on them… or even have salt somewhere in the restaurant.

Good thing I did sneak into MOS because the family planned lunch for me, which was take-out Peking Duck and celery.

Jet lag did me in for dinner too. I had an opportunity to eat at TKK Fried Chicken, my least favorite fried chicken chain, but I wasn’t very hungry at the time, it was early and I thought I’d have other windows of opportunity to eat, but I fell asleep and when I awoke the family had prepared dinner, along with special food just for me.

“Special” food isn’t always bad, and in this case it was pork ribs. Two pork ribs cooked like pork chops. Not bad tasting, but, since I don’t clean the bones like army ants, only about 8 bites of meat. I’m so hungry.

My Taiwan diet begins

Weight at end of day: 100 kilos

Super Typhoon Longwang


Originally uploaded by Gridman.

Looks who’s coming for breakfast on Sunday.

Super Typhoon Longwang (I’m not making that up) currently a strong category 4 storm packing 150 MPH winds (gusting to 185 MPH) is heading straight on for Taiwan.

While I’m not too worried here on the east side of the island, we’re supposed to go into the mountains Tuesday, which, if we get a direct hit, could still be reeling. The mountains in Taiwan are prone to mudslides and the roads become impassable.

You can check the latest info here.

First Day – September 29, 2005

Just a backstreet somewhere

Originally uploaded by Gridman.

We arrived before 6:00 AM and everything at immigrations went smoothly. It was interesting to see that they were screening all disembarking passengers with a thermal scanner to detect people with illness – a holdover from the SARS epidemic.

Cramming 2 cars seats into the back of Mr. Huang’s station wagon was no easy task, and Irene barely had any room at all. That may be a problem as the trip progresses, we dont have any other means of auto transportation.

There’s a typhoon coming and the weather is clear, hot and muggy. No matter where we went as we drove through Taipei, we can see Taipei 101, the world largest building. If the weather holds, we might visit tomorrow when we can see.

Not much sight-seeing or adventure today: unpacking and letting the kids unwind is a full-time job. We did go out for a walk for some food and to obtain phone SIM cards. Success on food, none on the SIM cards, but planned to try again later in the day.

In the afternoon, I managed to take a nap, but apparently started to toss, turn and mutter in the evening. Irene thought I was awake and insisted I get ready to go get the SIM card before they closed. I wasn’t awake, but it was lunchtime back home, which may account for my tossing. I felt like I’d been clubbed unconscious and just couldn’t wake up properly. I finally dragged myself up and we went after the SIMs, but the store was closed.

Here it is at 3:30 AM and Michelle is wide awake, she ran into her grandparents’ room, turned on their light and dragged grandma up.

All the commotion woke me up and then I was wide awake too. Poor grandma was trying to entertain Michelle, but she was obviosuly asleep, so I finally put some Bugs Bunny and Finding Nemo on the computer for Michelle to watch and that got her distracted long enough for grandma to go back to bed and for me to start writing.

It’s 5:45 now and the sun is coming up. Michelle will be wanting to go to the park soon.

September 29th, 2005 – What I Ate Today

Din Tai Fung


Time differences were really pronounced today, after a long flight, we arrived just before 6:00AM, ready to start a whole new day of eating.

The food on the flight was as good as could be expected, but not an overwhelming amount for a 14 hours jaunt, so I was hungry.

Our first excursion for food was to Mr. Cong You Bing – that’s not his name, of course, just what I refer to him as. His Cong You Bing is very different from all the others, being deep fried. I didn’t see Mr. Cong You Bing at the stand, and was surprised that the cooks were wearing facemasks. Sanitary conditions is Taiwan?! Is it possible? They were good, but a little smaller than I remember.

Although I wasn’t hungry, the family felt the need for taking us to lunch, as I’m the picky eater, it was decided we’d go to Din Tai Fung for dumplings.

They were excellent, but, fatigue, heat, lack of hunger and Michelle acting up certainly didn’t improve the experience. Still, I correctly estimated that I would eat about 8, but with extras being ordered at the lat minute, I ended eating about 12.

For dinner, I was completely unconscious, that didn’t stop them from feeding me though. While everyone else had scrambled eggs, chicken (I think) and some vegetables, Johnny was sent out to get me spaghetti to go.

With a certain amount of surprise, the spaghetti was tasty, although, I’m pretty sure it didn’t taste like any spaghetti I’d ever eatenm the flavor was Italian, and completly familiar to me… but in my groggy state, I just couldn’t place where it was familiar from. It had lots of cheese in it, and so may have tasted more like a lasagna. I guess I’ll have to try it again and see if I can identify it.

Welcome To Taiwan!

We’ve arrived.

There’s really nothing that can make that flight enjoyable, but there are lots of things that can go wrong. Many of those things you can see coming a mile away… like for example, the kids being utterly bored and bothersome (or worse) during the flight.

In this case, things couldn’t have been more different, Michelle and James were exemplary on the plane – much to our relief and probably the relief of many other passengers.

One disappointment, despite what might be written on Singapore Air’s website, wireless internet and powerjacks have not yet been installed on all their planes, and ours didn’t have it. I didn’t even bother to pull the computer out of the overhead bin.

This was my first flight on a 777 and it’s a great plane, almost enough room even in economy class. As always, Singapore Air’s staff and amenities excel over any other airline I’ve ever flown.

At the airport we were greated by this disturbing-looking new mascot for Taiwan. He’s so disturbing, it actually took us a while to get Michelle to go pose with him for a photo.

What were they thinking? My guess is that they came up with this idea after watching Japanese kids shows for a few hours.

The weather is good today, but it is muggy. 6:00 AM in the morning and we’re sweating like pigs already.