Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sidewalk greenery

Saturday 31 January 2009

One thing I love about Kaohsiung is just how green the city is. There are parks everywhere, big trees and palms growing in all of the medians, and the sidewalks are covered with shopowners' personal gardens. Absolutely everyone has a few plants in pots here and there, and they all add up to a jungly-looking city. This is a pretty major street here.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Friday 30 January 2009

We went out for a friend's girlfriend's birthday tonight, for a classic Taiwanese pastime: KTV. KTV is karaoke, but taken beyond the embarrassing North American version, and turned into something wonderful. It's a little more expensive, but a KTV is almost like a hotel, with a whole bunch of little rooms. You and a group of friends rent out a room, and get to line up all the songs you want to sing, and then you sing them, uninterrupted, the whole night. By yourselves. No one else watches you, no one else sings - it's fantastic! Plus, there's a great big, all-you-can-eat buffet on the fifth floor!

Here's Ryan and Becka, rocking away.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Thursday 29 January 2009

This is the hyacinth I bought at that flower show a while back. It's finally blooming, and smells exactly like spring in Michigan. I cannot believe sometimes how much a smell can take me directly to a different time and place. This is one of those smells.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another door

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Another door today. A pretty one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Welcome, Spring!

Tuesday 27 January 2009

I've shown a couple of the stands where you can buy these new years greetings, so I figured I'd put up a picture of the goodies themselves. This is our door, with a lovely welcoming red greeting!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lion Dance

Monday 26 January 2009

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy New Year!

Ryan and I went down to the cultural center today to see really cool, professional, jump-up-on-tall-poles lion dances. I took a video, so I didn't have much chance to get photos. But here's a really cool one of them jumping up on each other's shoulders while jumping around on 10-foot-tall poles while wearing a joint costume. Pretty impressive, eh?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Year feast

Sunday 25 January 2009

We went to my co-worker Ariana's house for New Year's dinner tonight, and what a treat it was! Her mother-in-law cooked this amazing spread. Going clockwise, there was: clams, fish, some kind of mushroom stuff, shrimp, cabbage with pork, crab legs, spicy green beans, various fish roe things, and crab meat veggies. Two different soups in the middle. It was SO GOOD.

The one weird thing, and I've seen this at Taiwanese people's houses before, is that Ariana's mother-in-law was in the kitchen pretty much the whole time. She came out to deliver dishes and to tell us to eat more, but she herself didn't sit down to eat until everyone else was done and everything was cold. I'm sorry, but not waiting until the cook is finished and comes to sit down to start eating? Maybe it's cultural, but I've learned that "it's the culture" doesn't excuse everything.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Year gifts

Saturday 24 January 2009

It is traditional to give gifts for Chinese New Year. Often, people give red envelopes full of money, but it is also common to give actual gifts as well, usually food, especially to people such as teachers.

I got a pretty good haul this year, as you can see, of pretty typical gifts. Cherries, big Asian pears, a box of Taiwanese snacks, whisky, a nice card, and cans of spicy tuna fish. Well, to be honest the tuna fish, which was from my boss, is not typical at all. (And I'm really hoping that that wasn't our new year's bonus!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

San Feng Market

Friday 23 January 2009

The market was CRAZY tonight, what with everyone buying last minute snacks and candy and decorations and all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Concert crowd

Thursday 22 January 2009

A friend of mine had an extra ticket to a neat concert, so she invited me to join her tonight. The composer of the music for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was here, conducting for that and some other music he has written to accompany neat videos of traditional music in Hunan province, in China (where he is from). It was Kaohsiung City's first ever outdoor, no assigned seats concert, a fact of which they were really proud.

They had colored lights shining on the crowd, making us all look rainbowed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

85 at dusk

Wednesday 21 January 2009

It's kinda nice getting out of work early enough to catch some of the nice light.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Years greetings

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Okay, I know it's a little blurry, but this is outside a temple down the street, where we bought our new year's door greeting thingies this year. They are all hand-painted.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Flower show

Monday 19 January 2009

Ryan and I noticed a flower/nursery show going on at a park near school during lunch today. We stopped in to take a few pictures and buy a hyacinth bulb to spring up our apartment. The city is pretty cold and gray right now, so it was nice to walk around. Here is a neat green orchid I saw.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year is coming!

Sunday 18 January 2009

Chinese New Year is coming, and the decorations are starting to go up. We're starting to get that holiday, something-special's-going-on, everybody's-excited feeling in the air about now.

This is a stand selling new year's decorations and greetings. They have popped up on every corner - everyone's house must be all red by now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Steamed Buns

Saturday 17 January 2009

This place is right next to our favorite teppenyaki place, and tonight when heading in for dinner I noticed them preparing tomorrow's steamed buns. I asked if I could take a picture, and they were very happy to comply. As I was thanking them and leaving, they gave both Ryan and I free red bean buns, which were delicious. I love Taiwanese people!

Friday, January 16, 2009


Friday 16 January 2009

Ryan and I drove past this funeral tonight, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get a picture of something that is normally taboo, as there was no one here mourning.

I don't know a whole lot about Taiwanese funerals, but I know that they set up these big white tents for one or two days (or sometimes weeks) so people can come and pay their respects while they wait for a good day to bury or cremate the person. White is the color of funerals (red is for weddings), so the tents, chairs, and flowers will always be white. This one is especially elaborate, I have to say - there is always a photo, but usually just a normal portrait (not so big, no heavenly clouds) in the middle of a special flower wreath.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009 Kaohsiung

Thursday 15 January 2009

Sure, January 1st is as good of an excuse to set off fireworks as anything else, but everyone here knows it isn't the real new year. The new year really starts on January 26 this year: Chinese New Year. The decorations are starting to go up, the city is starting to turn red!

Also, happy birthday, Mom! And today is also four years for Ryan and I - I love you, babe!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We fry anything!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

This is what I call a "We Fry Anything" stand. They have a bunch of meat and tofu and veggies displayed out front, so you come and take a basket, fill it with the stuff you want to eat, they deep-fry it, and you eat it. Yum! Deep-fried green beans are actually really good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dome of Light

Tuesday 13 January 2009

This is the "Dome of Light," the center of the Kaohsiung subway system, right above where the two lines intersect. It's very pretty, although personally I think calling it the "Dome of Light" might be a little pretentious.

Our field trip this week was to take the MRT (the subway) to a great big park, and then take it back. We learned subway vocabulary and manners, and it would actually have been a great trip, except . . . . (why is there always an "except" with this school?) We got to the park, walked around a bit, saw a stream, learned a couple of new words, and were steps away from entering the playground and having a good time, when our boss informs me that we have to get back onto the subway to go see this "Dome of Light" (not in the original plans) and we have to do it right now. No playing. So, what was going to be a good trip became a long day of standing in line and not talking. *sigh* Again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shoe Rack

Monday 12 January 2009

Our shoe rack at school. Here in Taiwan, like in most Asian countries, you must remove your shoes before entering anyone's home or certain businesses, like private schools. You usually then put on a pair of indoor slippers. It keeps things cleaner, especially here in Kaohsiung where the city is awfully dirty.

Personally, though, I am often frustrated by it because I like wearing tightly-laced up sneakers or shoes that fit well, and it can be nuisance to be always taking them off and putting them on again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No more dou hua

Sunday 11 January 2009

This was our favorite dou hua (or tofu pudding-like dessert) place. In fact, my frequent customer card was in the picture of all my cards a week or so ago. But I drove by the other day to see that it is now very much closed. It isn't crazy like it is in the states, but yes, the recession is being felt here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dashun bridge

Saturday 10 January 2009

Rush hour traffic on the Dashun bridge. Wait a minute, you say, but today is Saturday! Sure, people work, but there isn't really a rush hour on Saturday.

Unless you live in Taiwan and the government makes stupid policies about holidays. You see, January 1 is a holiday here, so it's off. It was a Thursday this year, so the government decided that we should all have Friday off, too. How generous, right? WRONG! It wasn't a day off, it was a day transferred. Everybody had to work today. It was a normal school day, a normal work day, just like this week had two Fridays. Ugh.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Reflecting in itself

Friday 9 January 2009

A curvy building reflecting in itself.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Happy Bowling

Thursday 8 January 2009

A bowling sign - the characters mean "happy." Happy bowling, only 50 meters away!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Green Street

Wednesday 7 January 2009

There are actually a lot of very green streets in Kaohsiung, with great big trees growing all down wide, lush medians; or lined with tall, majestic palms. But our particular route to work is pretty gray, so whenever I get to drive down this street it's like a little treat. It's all green and quiet and shaded, a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dog Strollers

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Our field trip this week was surprisingly appropriate - the pet store. We saw puppies, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and lots of fish. Lesson of the day: don't hit the glass.

And Teacher Christine was rather amused to see this section of the store. I know that Taiwanese people spoil their dogs, dressing them up and dying their fur and whatnot. There are probably more dog spas here than in California. But this really just took the cake - dog strollers. And such a wide variety of the silly things, too! As we were coming in, we saw a woman pushing one out with her dog inside, so I guess people use them.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Window pattern

Monday 5 January 2009

Little window grates.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Sunday 4 January 2009

A garage entrance, in a neat little corner.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Modern Toilet

Saturday 3 January 2009

Modern Toilet is the name of a rather gimmicky restaurant that is uniquely Taiwanese. Yes, it is a toilet restaurant. You sit on and eat out of toilets (either the sit- or squat-model, depending on what you order), and Ryan's drink even came in a urinal bottle. (In the lower left corner.) Most other nationalities would find this whole thing disgusting, and the Taiwanese may be alone in thinking so, but here poop is considered cute. You see little toys and keychains shaped like little poop squirts, kids draw them and give them little speech bubbles, it's quite odd.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Card glue

Friday 2 January 2008

I've been meaning to take this picture for a while now - it is the proof that we live here, the we are legal and permanent and have a home. We were living only semi-legally in Argentina, and then were traveling for a whole year, and were getting tired of always carrying our passports with us. So here is my life in Taiwan:

My residence certificate, driver's license, scooter insurance and registration, national health card (thank the good Lord), bank card, Poya (local drug store) discount card, discount card for the stationary store near work, Costco card, and 9x9 (another stationary store) discount card. Even my tofu dessert place point stamp card feels like a link to this place.

It feels so good to have these cards, to feel like I live in this city.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Thursday 1 January 2009

Well, it's not real New Year yet (that comes at the end of January this year) but here is a banner that says "Happy New Year!" in Chinese.