Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hamburger delivery

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Places usually deliver by scooter here, unsurprisingly - it's a whole lot faster and cheaper than by car. Even McDonalds delivers!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fuming Dental Clinic

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Okay, so technically this isn't the "Fuming" dental clinic, but the "Fu Ming" dental clinic, as it is located on Fu Ming road, but I still thought the name was a rather unfortunate one. Combine that with the picture of a screw in your tooth, and suddenly the church right behind it seems awfully necessary . . .

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gas Man

Monday 29 December 2008

Need some gas for your food stall or personal use? This guy will deliver it! In a rusty can! On the back of his motorcycle! I can't think of any reason why this might not be a good idea . . .

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Men by the harbor

Sunday 28 December 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Be a Cleopatra's nose

Saturday 27 December 2008

There are some really strange beauty products here, but this one made even me turn my head. You see, Asian people think that Western people have lovely pointy noses. I actually often get complimented on my nose, even though in the states it is considered way too long and pointy to be conventionally beautiful.

This takes the cake, though. It is a nose-pincher, to make your nose beautiful and pointy. I love how the little cartoon on the back doesn't actually show it working, but rather just the girl dreaming out it working. It must hurt like this dickens, though.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mall souvenirs

Friday 26 December 2008

Today was our kindergarten Christmas show, and as much as I would have loved to post a picture of my adorable kids performing, I was faaaaar too busy helping them into costumes, fixing make-up, keeping them quiet, practicing, reading stories, keeping them occupied, then standing in front doing the actions along with them and giving them cues.

We held the show in an auditorium in the newest, biggest, fancy mall in Kaohsiung - the Dream Mall. It is so fancy, I saw a tour group being led around the mall. (Well, at the moment the guy was telling them that they have an hour of free time to walk around the mall. Really, who pays a tour guide to tell you to walk around the mall?) And it's so fancy that there are souvenir stands full of t-shirts and caps and keychains that all say "Dream Mall" on them. How weird.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa's going cruising

Thursday 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas everyone! We picked up Ryan's scooter today (it was in the shop having some repairs made - today is a normal day here, after all) and I got a shot of this cute Santa blow-up. It's a very Taiwanese Santa, I have to say.

But I especially wanted to post it because the file number for this photo was 1225. How strange, huh? I seem to have a lot of these little file number coincidences.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cookie tray

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Here it is, folks - my very first cookie tray!!! This year Ryan and I baked (clockwise from the bottom) sugar cookies, Italian meatball cookies, coffee toffee bars, shortbread, gingerbread, scuffles, and almond snowflake cookie. I gave out 15 plates of these cookies to our friends and neighbors . . . I've been baking a lot.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our tree

Tuesday 23 December 2008

When Ryan's parents were here we decorated the apartment a bit for Christmas. Here is our Christmas tree - it really makes our home feel cozy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Makeshift Santa

Monday 22 December 2008

How to prepare your store for Christmas: take the life-size cut-out you use every day to advertise sales, glue one bag of cotton balls onto the appropriate places, place a Santa hat on its head, and wrap its sale plaque with wrapping paper. Ta-da! You're ready for Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sugar cookies!

Sunday 21 December 2008

I've been missing my family's Christmas traditions, so this year decided to transplant one of them over to Taiwan. I baked a bunch of sugar cookies, then had some friends over to help decorate them! They really wowed me with their creativity, and we had some gorgeous cookies to show for it!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookie preparations

Saturday 20 December 2008

Ah, it's starting to feel like Christmas! The smell of baking has filled the house for about a week now. Here are Ryan's scuffles and my sugar cookies, getting ready for our big cookie party tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

December palms

Friday 19 December 2008

Yeah, it feels cold to me; yes, my blood has thinned in the past 5 years; yes, I am a big wimp. Still, I am fine being a wimp when I can look around in December and see palm trees.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa's guards?

Thursday 18 December 2008

Ah, Christmas, Chinese-style.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Red building

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taiwanese cake

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Today was my student Wonderful's birthday. (Yes, her name is Wonderful. And yes, her parents (who also happen to be the owners of the school) think an awful lot of her.) She brought in a cake for all the students. It was a pretty typical Taiwanese cake, which is why I decided to take a picture. You see, a Taiwanese cake always has lot of fruit, which is just about the only good part; the cake part is light, dry, and completely tasteless; the frosting is thick, super-sugary, and devoid of richness; and it is always absolutely beautiful, tricking you time and again into having a slice. You know how much I love sweets, but I actually rather dislike Taiwanese cake.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lion Dance

Monday 15 December 2008

I saw this lion dance on the side of the road today, so I stopped to watch. Some new store was opening - people sometimes hire lion dancers for a grand opening, it being good luck and all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lotus Lake pagodas

Sunday 14 December 2008

Okay, this is an old photo - I apologize. Ryan's parents left yesterday, so we spent today getting stuff in order, running errands, and getting ready to start school again tomorrow. (Ryan has had two weeks off, lucky boy.) So, here is a lovely shot of the most famous pagodas in Kaohsiung. You walk into the dragon's mouth, and out the tiger's. The water is really low this year, unfortunately.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Street wedding

Saturday 13 December 2008

Today was a good day for weddings! Wedding dinners often take place on the street here, under a big long tent. There was one on our street today, and as they were taking down the tent covering, it provided a good look at what goes on. You put up a tent, fill it with tables. People come, eat a HUGE 10-course meal, take a few pictures maybe with the new couple (you can see the bride there in the red dress - in Chinese culture, white is for funerals and red is for weddings, although nowadays lots of brides wear white in the western tradition), and go home. I have to say, I'm glad that Ryan and my reception will be indoors!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Balcony sunset

Friday 12 December 2008

The sunset as seen from our living room balcony. Unfortunately, it is also the sun setting over Mr. and Mrs. Bird's visit to Taiwan. We'll miss them!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Row of scooters

Thursday 11 December 2008

Yep, it's a great long row of scooters parked along the street. On DaChang Road, where there are tons of food and tea stands.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Wednesday 10 December 2008

I have ten students in my class. You will notice this picture has 7 kinds of medicine in it. Actually, another student who arrived late also had medicine, but it was too crazy to stop and take another picture. So, eight out of ten students on medicine. No, they are not all sickly (although there are a few who would use a few days resting at home, something almost unheard of here), Taiwanese people simply love medicine. Chinese, western, you name it, they'll take it. You go to the doctor with a cold and you'll walk out with 4 medications. I sometimes joke and call my co-teacher "Nurse Ariana."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mah Jhong

Tuesday 9 December 2008

We took the Birds to the Yucheng night market tonight for some shopping and eating. (Yes, Mrs. Bird tried squid-on-a-stick, and liked it!) We didn't play any mah jhong, though.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Department store glitter

Monday 8 December 2008

One of the major department stores in town, all glitzed up for Christmas. I still don't understand this phenomenon. Taiwanese people love decorating for Christmas, playing Christmas songs, and putting Christmas lights all over the place. But they don't actually celebrate the holiday. They aren't Christians, they don't give gifts, take the day off work, nothing. It's weird. All this glitter, and then nothing happens on Christmas day.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

85 Story

Sunday 7 December 2008

Okay, so I took this photo yesterday while we were visiting the 85-story building.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Above the city

Saturday 6 December 2008

We took Ryan's parents to the viewing platform of the 85-story building today. It wasn't the clearest day, but it was neat nonetheless. I really like this picture because Mr. Bird is actually smiling in it - he usually looks so somber in photos.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Cultural Center lion

Friday 5 December 2008

We took Mr. and Mrs. Bird to the Cultural Center today.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gray windows

Thursday 4 December 2008

Some days I feel like everything I see is rectangular.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You cold, Hank?

Wednesday 3 December 2008

As soon as it dropped below 75 degrees F, my students started coming to school dressed like this. Now, I will freely admit that my blood has thinned, and that I need a sweater below 70. But really, this many quilted, down-filled layers when it is 72 degrees out? (He had on a T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket.) Even I find this excessive. But then, no one ever accused Taiwanese parents of not being concerned about their kids.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Money truck

Tuesday 2 December 2008

A great big truck full of ghost money. I wonder - if there were an accident, and the truck went up in flames, would the driver's ancestors be filthy rich? Or would it just go into the afterlife and float around for any old ghost to grab? Or does money burned accidentally not go to anyone, like a bank error in no one's favor?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Frog's Oviduct

Monday 1 December 2008

Anyone up for a great big glass of frog's oviduct? I tried it - slimy, but not bad. Kinda like tapioca pudding.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dome of Light

Sunday 30 November 2008

Kaohsiung has a new subway system, and this is the very center of it, where the two lines come together. They call it the "Dome of Light," which seems a bit dramatic to me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lotus Lake

Saturday 29 November 2008

Ryan's parents arrived last night, yeah! So today we took them over to Lotus Lake, a pretty little spot in town. It was crazy busy, being one of the last warm Saturdays in the year, but they enjoyed seeing the beautiful temples, people-watching, and trying out some new strange foods.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Water robot

Friday 28 November 2008

Tap water here is unlikely to contain parasites or bacteria, but it is very high in metals and is widely considered unsafe to drink. Well, I'm sure it wouldn't kill you, but no one here drinks it and that's probably a good idea. Instead, people either install filtration systems on their taps (which we are lucky enough to have for the first time!) or they have to go buy water from water stations. You take a great big 20-liter jug, fill it up from a pump that looks just like a gas pump, and haul it home. It used to be one of my least favorite chores, so I am so happy we don't have to do that this time around.

Here is a water pump that looks like a robot!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Allen's eye

Thursday 27 November 2008

I love Thursdays - it's art day!

This is Allen, my youngest student, peeking through his wreath. I know today is Thanksgiving, but we don't really do Thanksgiving at this kindergarten, so we're starting to get ready for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Wednesday 26 November 2008

I love watching the dancers at the art museum as I head to kong fu.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New helmet

Tuesday 25 November 2008

A reflection in my new helmet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Night gate

Monday 24 November 2008

A great big old temple on the edge of town.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Soapy face

Sunday 23 November 2008

I was washing dishes, lifted up a bowl, and saw this little happy face on the counter. It made me smile.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why not indeed?

Saturday 22 November 2008

A list that's been hanging up in our elevator for some time now. Unfortunately, my Chinese has gotten so bad that I have no idea what kind of list it is, but I am always amused by this particular bit of English stuck in.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Myself again

Friday 21 November 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yuppie Ladies

Thursday 20 November 2008

Well, I'm just not sure if I'm yuppie enough to shop there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kong fu class

Wednesday 19 November 2008

One of our classmates (Angela, the blond in the back row) is leaving Taiwan, so we took a group shot of our kong fu class. Here we are in our uniforms, looking tough!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday fireworks

Tuesday 18 November 2008

I love the random fireworks you get here. Any day of the week, any time of the day, there's a possibility that it's a lucky day for something, a store is opening up, it's some god's birthday, who knows.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to the city

Monday 17 November 2008

Ugh. I miss the forest already.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Foggy forest

Sunday 16 November 2008

I decided not to try and make the summit of BeiDaWu this morning - this hike has proved a little too difficult for me with this cough. But I really enjoyed having a foggy morning in the forest in a basically empty camp.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Saturday 15 November 2008

We went hiking this weekend! It's nice to get out of the city and get some fresh air, but unfortunately I seem to have a bit of a cough and all the cold humid air hasn't been too good for it.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Friday 14 November 2008

I stopped by a stack of old mattresses on my way home from work today.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nun at the 7-11

Thursday 13 November 2008

Buddhist monks and nuns are required to go out and beg for money or food. The begging bowl is an important symbol of the nonattachment to the trappings of daily life. We see monks and nuns out begging fairly often around town.