Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A measure of society . . .

Wednesday 30 September 2009

. . . or you know, just stuff I need to measure for Midsummer.

But I thought you might be interested to see a Taiwanese tape measure. Across the top is the traditional Chinese unit of measurement, the ping, which is still used exclusively to measure real estate, as well as many other things.

I don't really know what all the writing down the middle is for, and the bottom is centimeters.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stopping in the Shade

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Look carefully at where everyone has stopped for this red light. Do you see anyone stopped in the sun? Nope.

Here is another Taiwanese custom - stopping for the red wherever there is shade, whether it is a good place to stop or not.

I'll admit that in the tropical heat it makes sense, and I will do it myself if the shade is handy. The problem, however, is that people will go to extremes. In the heat of summer, you have to approach reds cautiously, in case there will be people stopping suddenly a half a block away from the intersection in order not to wait in the sun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tea eggs

Monday 28 September 2009

I had another cooking lesson today, in which I learned how to make another of my Taiwan favorites - tea eggs! (Hard-boiled eggs cooked in tea with spices.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why me?

Sunday 27 September 2009

I love this ad.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Funeral Home

Saturday 26 September 2009

I am dog-sitting for my friends Bekah and Rick this weekend, which includes walking their dogs around the neighborhood. And Bekah and Rick just happen to live behind a funeral home and crematorium. Along the outside funeral home wall there is a long long set of lovely paintings depicting traditional Chinese values. Most of them are easy to figure out (you should take care of children, sick, and old people, give money to beggars, honor your elders, etc.) but a few are more difficult for my western eyes to understand. It always makes for an interesting walk!

Friday, September 25, 2009


Friday 25 September 2009

So, because of the imminent and terrifying threat of H1N1, all my my children are now required to wear masks. I have tried explaining to the management that these masks are only effective against large dust particles, not tiny germs, and that they are even less effective when the children take them off to eat twice a day and drink their required liter of water three or four times a day. Not to mention the fact that they are three years old, and so are constantly taking them off.

So, now I muddle through classes trying to figure out what my students are mumbling in their terrible, brand-new baby English, while they learn bad pronunciation habits because I cannot hear to correct them!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Black Sesame Pudding

Thursday 24 September 2009

I sat down to have myself a special treat today, when it suddenly struck me how disgusting most of my home-bound fellow countrymen would find this little snack. It looks like gelatinous gray gruel, I know, but it is black sesame pudding, which is one of my favorite Asian flavors. Nutty and sweet and delicious - you should all give it a try if ever you can!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A hot river of light

Wednesday 23 September 2009

ReHe Street at dusk, with the mountain waiting at the end of the road.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aboriginal Woman

Tuesday 22 September 2009

(Okay, just one more.)

At one point we had to stop and wait for this aboriginal woman to finish the rite she was performing before we could drive past this section of the road. We didn't understand very well exactly what it was for, but she was chanting and sprinkling water about, so it looked to me like a blessing of some sort.

The funniest part, though, was that when she was nearly done she seemed to lose steam, so she handed the duties over to some other woman to finish up, and without further ado she hopped onto the back of one of the waiting scooters and drove off!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sun Moon Temple

Monday 21 September 2009

(Another lovely photo from the weekend.)

The area around Sun-Moon Lake is so beautiful, we wished we had more time to sight-see while we were there. Here are prayers from the most famous temple in the area.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Swim

Sunday 20 September 2009

Here we are at the Sun-Moon Lake Swim, the largest group swim in the world! This year broke records, yet again, with somewhere around 25,888 people swimming. (I say somewhere around because, what with 8 being such a lucky number here, I somehow doubt that there were exactly 25,888.) It is three kilometers from one side to the other, and those three clicks are very crowded. Luckily the water is just the right temperature and the Taiwanese are much friendlier swimmers than they are drivers! (I was considerably slowed by people noticing a foreign face in the water and wanting to chat.)

Ryan and I separated at the beginning, but an hour and a half later, climbed out at the exact same time - and I never noticed swimming near him!

It was a really fun day, and a fantastic experience, even if we both had an embarrassing week-long swim cap tan line across our foreheads afterwards!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bamboo forest

Saturday 19 September 2009

Ryan and I went up to Sun-Moon Lake today, for a big event tomorrow. (Oooh, mystery!) We went up a day early, though, to do a little hiking in the area. Here is a beautiful bamboo forest we passed through.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The traditional market

Friday 18 September 2009

This week we shook up our routine a bit, and decided to go get dinner a la carte at a local traditional market we recently learned about.

Starting at the juice and going clockwise, we had: mango juice with no sugar (for me), and mango milk with a little sugar (for Ryan); cold noodles with chicken, veggies, peanuts, and a sesame sauce; steamed goodies; fried rice; beef rolls; and kimchi veggies of some sort in the center. It was all delicious!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sit, please

Thursday 17 September 2009

I've always wanted to capture one of these signs, and was finally in the bathroom with my camera!

You see, in Asia most toilets are squat toilets. People here prefer to squat over a hole that is level with the ground - they say it is a more natural position for the bowels. (Although to clarify, squat toilets here are still porcelain toilets with a flush, just made in a different shape so they are set into the floor of the bathroom.) So, when you do get a public bathroom with sit toilets, you often come in to find footprints all over the seat, because people just climb up and squat over it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Market Entrance

Wednesday 16 September 2009

The entrance to a casual day-market on SanDuo Road.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy B.M.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

I would like to take a moment to wish all of my readers a happy and healthy B.M., every single day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Family Dinner

Monday 14 September 2009

I went back for more cooking lessons with Shelley today, and then ate dinner with the family. I thought this might be an interesting post - this spread here, plus rice, is a typical Taiwanese family dinner.

Starting at the bottom and going clockwise, we had: shrimp marinated in ginger and rice wine; asparagus and mussels steamed with ginger; tomato eggs; tofu and bitter greens stir-fried with garlic; a sweet cold soup made with tiny, crunchy seeds. It was all delicious.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Table for two, please

Saturday 13 September 2009

Banquet tables stacked on the side of the road.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Moon Cakes!

Saturday 12 September 2009

Here is my student, Ruby, and the moon cakes her mother taught me to make today! Mmmmm, red bean and taro moon cakes! They're time-consuming, no doubt, but worth the trouble once a year. Talk to me next fall and you might get yourself some . . .

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pink flowers

Friday 11 September 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tut tut, it looks like sun . . .

Thursday 10 September 2009

A woman all geared up for the sun - long dress, umbrella, and gloves. (As well as a mask for the pollution.) Only very pale women are considered beautiful here - to the point that it is difficult to find skin products that do not whiten your skin. Precautions such as this woman's are very common here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chess in the park

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Divine tarts

Tuesday 8 September 2009

The more worldly side of Portuguese colonization is the absolutely delicious food they left behind. It is very common in Macau to find both authentic Portuguese food, and a unique fusion of Portuguese and Southern Chinese foods - mmmmm, wonderful!

Here is a photo of Ryan enjoying heaven in a pastry shell - an egg tart (one of Macau's most famous delicacies) from the best place in town. (Believe us, we did some hands-on research!)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Chinese cemetary, Christian-style

Monday 7 September 2009

Okay, I had too many good photos of Macau - you'll have to sit through two extras, even if Ryan and I are back in Kaohsiung now.

Macau was previously a Portuguese colony, meaning that Christianity is extremely common. It was rather odd to see a Latino-style cemetery similar to the ones we saw in South America, only covered in Chinese characters. Pretty few places in the world you can see this!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Room of the dead

Sunday 6 September 2009

One of the back rooms of a temple, where deceased members photos and names are displayed. Many people were there leaving offerings for their ancestors, but there were also quite a few, like this woman, walking around with notebooks, clearly doing family research.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

International Fireworks Display Contest

Saturday 5 September 2009

I love just happening to be in town for something fantastic, and we happened upon a doozy in Macau - the 21st Annual International Fireworks Display Contest!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Macau temple

Friday 4 September 2009

Ryan and I took an afternoon flight over to Macau today. (Macau is a small island city off the coast of China that enjoys a political state similar to that of Hong Kong - "one country, two systems.")

Here are a few statues in a temple.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ghost money ships

Thursday 3 September 2009

Boats made entirely out of ghost money. I doubt it counts for more if you burn it in boat form, but it must get you brownie points in the afterworld or something!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bai Bai

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Today was a very important day of ghost month, it would seem, as everyone in the city was making offerings to their ancestors. Here are three offering tables in a row. There were actually so many more down the street, but I couldn't fit them all into the frame nicely.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Old Building

Tuesday 1 September 2009