Monday, December 30, 2002

So today we drove home from Tainan to Hsinchu. We saw an old Dutch fort and a beautiful temple in Tainan, the temples are the most beautiful there! Then we had a tortuous trip home. Vincie had pretty much had it for this car trip. He fussed and fussed on the way home, we finally had to turn the car seat to rear facing and I had to entertain him all the way from Taichung home. As soon as he got home, he delighted in hanging out the Ms. Liu, Mr. Hong. He hadn't eaten any solids for days but as soon as Ms. Liu gave him a huge wafer cracker, he promptly ate it with a huge grin on his face and asked for another. Ha!

Sunday, December 29, 2002

My Uncle Mike and his family

On Thursday, we left Hsinchu and visited Tai Chung and as the Natural History Museum's orchid garden. They also had very large fish in their aquarium. Then we drove to Jay-yi where Bob gave a talk about his career in philosophy and music. We checked into their guest house and had dinner at the campus steak house. Jeremy spoke to a gentleman who went to school in Iowa and served in the Taiwan military for 25 years and is a specialist on things which do not exist. The next day we drove to Kenting, on the way we stopped at Kaoshioung. It was raining so we didn't stop for long, but we did eat at Uncle Bob's. In Kenting, we checked into the Youth Activity Center and it was really, really cool. All these swallow tail buildings in the traditional chinese buildings. On Saturday we ate breakfast in the canteen and saw my uncle! Mom's brother and wife and their youngest child. It was really nice. We toured the aquarium together and saw the fire pits (where they sold roasted eggs) and one of the gates around the town. That evening was really long, Vincent had been having a low fever and the effort to get him to sleep was titanic. Today we drove to Tainan. We saw a parade, young girls, free tea and walked around to the Confucius Temple. The weather was beautiful.
With Uncle Mike's family.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Went to Taipei to pick up the Bonser's van. Although it seats 7, it has no space for luggage. It's actually quite tiny. It has a DVD player and a rear view camera so you can watch your butt as you go in reverse.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

A Taiwan Christmas

Christmas! Woke up late and went to RT-Mart to get some treats, mainly ice cream. Then we went with the realtors and Helen to an all-you-can-eat restaurant where they had this towering, steaming hot pot contraption. Then we came home and invited them all plus Droopy and Olivia over for gifts and stockings. We got a bowling set for Vincie and played bowling. Then naps all around. Then we got buns for dinner and played Trivial Pursuit. Merry Christmas to all!
Christmas in Hsinchu.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Today we went to the Nan-liao and the Science Park to see UMC. We had lunch with Jeremy's Chinese teacher, Annie, at her favorite restaurant. They serve this delicious won-ton-like dish. I'm eating so much with the family here, snacking my way through all the sights. After lunch we went climbing on 18-point mountain. The weather was really nice and comfortable. I also saw a loose-rock acupuncture path that has inspired a garden design for our future house. After the climb, we went home for naps and a visit to the realtors. Ordered out from the Chinese restaurant next door and started decorating our walls with the Christmas tree lights. Happy Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 23, 2002

Katherine, Bob and Ben showed up today at 8 am. We spent the day puttering around Hsinchu. Ran some errands, first to the bank, then the post office. I introduced my whole family to my yoga class. Then we went to the temple for lunch and kept eating and eating. Afternoon was shopping and napping and then we went out to dinner.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Today we went to get Jeremy's new glasses. They are black-rimmed and got a negative response from Ms. Liu when she saw them. We also bought some Xmas decoration supplies. I'm sewing stocking together.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Our house is SOLD! Sheila did so much work for us, we are eternally thankful. We are officially homeless.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

So Vince is living a different life at the nanny's. He's able to hold a bottle of formula himself and down about 8 ounces. Crazy.. He's *never* had more than half an ounce at home. Jeremy came home early. We got Vince's vaccination, some pillows, got some eyeglasses for Jeremy and got my eyes checked. No glasses for me!

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

I had lunch at the realtor's today. My appetite is not so good these days and with nursing, I'm steadily still losing weight, I can't believe how much Helen and Ms. Liu eat and still weigh 45 kilos. Crazy. This evening we went to the bun place and had a good time. They taught us how to wrap our own buns (ha ha). It's so hard to make them pretty, they invited us to wrap dumplings with them any day at about 3 pm. Jeremy is so sweet and funny, his Chinese is really improving.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Nothing interesting happening today. I'm researching stuff on the web. Ballet, karate, marriage, baking, Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Yesterday we went to the new mall in town, Warner Village. It was pretty snazzy. I thought we'd be there early to get a parking space, but it turned out we had to climb to the top of an 8-story garage before we found space. We melted a pipe in our apartment because I had the water temperature turned up too high. They are going to fix it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Sulfur vents

Mr. and Mrs. Lin arranged a bus for us to take up to Taipei today. We went to Tamsui and took a boat across the river. For lunch we had some nice fish balls with meat inside and stuffed tofu. Then we took the bus to Yangminsan and saw the sulfur vents. Then we went to the Shilin night market.
In Taipei with Manfai. We are at some stinky sulfur vents.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Today Jeremy came home from work a bit early and we had a fun night out on the town with our friends. We all went to a Japanese Seafood restaurant in Nan Liao. It is bery close to the harbor, where the fishing boats land, and facing he street are big tanks and trays of ice, from which you pick your dinner. The party included Liu Shao Jie, her husband Lin Shen Sen, their daughter Leah, their business partner Ju Shen Sen, Our mutual friend Helen, Jeremy's colleague Man Fai, and the three of us. We had deep fried squid and deep fried oysters, stir fried clams, a big fish that was made into sashimi and soup (one half each), shrimp, shark skin, asparagus, and noodles. All of the food was really delicious, and the company was a lot of fun. It was a taxing week, and it was really wonderful to unwind with our friends, and to not think about events at the office at all. One major source of entertainment was Vince's eating. He ate a huge quantity of fried noodles. He has figured out how to suck them up, so we can just grab a few noodles with the chop sticks, put one end in his mouth, and he just sucks them right up. He must have had three small bowls full.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Carrie bowling!

So today I went to lunch with AMD. All the wives showed up in Hsinchu and we all met with the big head honchos. Then we all went bowling in Hsinchu. Jeremy was a bit tired, so I rolled for him. I'm not a very good bowler, but Carrie is. It has been an exhausting week
Carrie bowling at an AMD party.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

So I'm starting to get back to my routine. Went to Chinese class today with Mr. Hong and then went to yoga with my Japanese friends. I really didn't want to go since Vince is still not over his jet lag and we got up at 3 am. I was really anxious about today's announcement at AMD, so part of my routine was to distract me from waiting. At yoga, a student I never saw before came in all disheveled and distracted. I didn't think anything of it, but in the middle of class, she broke down in tears and pretty soon, the whole class was listening to her tale of sorrow. The teacher explained that she was suffering from depression for many, many years and that each day was filled with tears and anguish. Vince and I spent the rest of the day trying not to sleep to nip the last of the let lag.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Still jet lagged. Bleh. Did nothing today except mail a bunch of thank-you cards to the US. Vince had a tough time going down for a nap today. So many things are happening now, tomorrow is the *big* meeting with the AMD high ups, presumably by this time tomorrow, we'll know where we'll be going soon.

Sunday, December 8, 2002

Back in Taiwan, struggling with jet lag. A relief to be home.

Thursday, December 5, 2002

walked ruby moved out lunch at the children's museam gordana dinner at jessica moved out

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

jasmine tower green mesquite

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

had dinner with steve and pat and james and katie dutchess humped vince Ha ha

Monday, December 2, 2002

Flew to Austin on Saturday, the roughest flight so far, Vince was awake and active the whole time making it a struggle to keep in his seat. But I'm surprised that everyone is so nice and understanding. I was afraid of the horror travel stories, but nothing like that happened. Sat, we came and saw the Strickers and Emy late at night and went back to our house to sleep. On Sunday, we had brunch with Christine and Josh who talked about Boston and how they might have to move to Pasadena. We picked up Ruby from Veroniques, the horses are amazing and Ruby is so fit. She's been sleeping a lot at home, I think enjoying the warm suburban house and calmer pace. Last night we had dinner with Emy, her friend Chris, and two friends of Jeremy's parents who just moved from NYC. Two cellists with a 6 month old baby Bailey.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Thanksgiving was fun and lively. Jeremy cooked two 20 pound turkeys and a ham. We had 35 people over. I spent most of my time with the children. It was especially nice to see Jane and George. Marty made a very long and amusing toast. We had so much food leftover, we could have fed another 35 with our leftovers. It's too bad because all of us are leaving this house very soon. Maybe Donald can eat some of it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Yesterday we took the train to DC. Donald picked us up from the train station and we talked for the 1.5 hours it took for us to get home through the horrendous DC rush hour traffic. Had a nice homemade meal and slept early and well. For breakfast we went to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts and now we are planning dinner!

Monday, November 25, 2002

On Sunday, we got up early, early and had a nice family get together at 4 am. We had brunch with a bunch of people affiliated with IBM and IEEE and went on a tour of the new performing arts center designed by Gehery. Today Jeremy went to Princeton, we went to Toys R Us and bought a boat and tonight had dinner with Satia who works at IBM.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

We made it to New York! Vince slept the whole way. It was interesting to switch from Chinese back to English. It is nice to be in the Martin household again.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Jeremy came home early to pack for tomorrow. I'm very moody these, I think going home is causing some reverse culture shock. I am excited. We moved Luther the fish downstairs to the realtor's office for the next two weeks. Spent the afternoon watching Legally Blonde. I'm starting to like the DVD issues of movies. I like listening to the director's comments and the extra scenes and stuff like that. It's really just my addiction to celebrity gossip. Jeremy still has a bit of his stomach bug and Vince has had a bloodshot eye for the past few days that I'm hoping will clear up soon. If not, we'll see a doc in the US.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Today is my mother's birthday! Happy birthday Mom :) I'm glad I will be seeing you soon! I found someone else in Taiwan who has breastfed their babies. Woo hoo! This woman in my yoga class has breastfed her children both for 1 year each. The class is still facinated by my breastfeeding. Everyone here gets the shot to stop their milk production right away after giving birth. They are afraid of their breasts shrinking and sagging. I figure if ever I get tired of the way my boobs are, I'll pay a plastic surgeon to lift them for me. Today I met a man from Kashmir in yoga class who said that all Americans were snotty, unpleasant and arrogant. He's been in Taiwan selling all these beautiful scarves, I saw one that the yoga teacher bought which was one of the less expensive ones. But some he was selling for $6000 NT ($180 US) were absolutely beautiful, hand stiched and knotted.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Eating leftovers to try and leave the fridge empty for our 2 week vacation. I rented Harry Potter and I'm listening to it in Chinese with English subtitles. I'm hoping to pick up some key words this way... I tried to listen to it in just Chinese with Chinese subtitles, but it was too hard.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Well, it looks like we might sell the house. Got a resonable offer today so hopefully it will stick. We'll just have to wait and see. I'm not really holding my breath because so many things might happen between now and closing. What am I talking about? We haven't even entered the option phase. Whatever. I got all nostalgic about our time in Austin, very homesick today.

Monday, November 18, 2002

I made coq au vin with the 2/3 bottle of red wine left over from yesterday's dinner. First time for me, eating purple chicken. Ha ha. The wind really picked up today, actually kind of chilly. The yoga teacher today told me that I shouldn't run anymore or drink cold sodas. Sigh.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

We had a lasagne dinner tonight and we played to a full house! Leah, Ms. Liu, Mr. Lin, Helen, her nephew, Droopy and Man-Fai all came over and we had a great time. Dinner was over quickly, but it was really nice to have everyone over. We had salad, bread, butter, cheese, wine. We had a Dunkin Hines cake with frosting out of a can which actually was pretty terrible, so sweet. We made it because we were feeling sentimental, but really we should have made a cake from scratch. We are really limited by our oven space. Our ovens are getting crumbier and crummier.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Everybody felt better today. We thought we were going to take it easy today and rest, but it turns out we were on the go all day. In the morning, we went to the doctor to have a follow up check up on Vince. We got three more days of medication and assurances that the croup would pass quickly. Then I had breakfast at a little stand about 3 doors down from the doctor. I had the sweet hot soy milk and three pot stickers that were so hot they burned my tongue. We had lunch at a tea house where I ordered my first slushy (coffee flavored). We saw Ms. Liu who said that Leah had gone to the new Warner Village that opened in town to see Harry Potter. I mentioned that I was surprised because Harry Potter opened in the US this weekend also. But she said that they were showing an one hour edited version of the movie so they can have more showings and make more money (the ticket prices aren't edited). The regular version comes out later. We went to the Orange Mart to buy cake mix and wine. Spent the evening watching Phantom Menace and baking a cake for the dinner party tomorrow.

Friday, November 15, 2002

So everybody except me, Doris is sick today. Jeremy has the stomach flu and Vincie has the croup. Didn't do much today except watch the boys. We cancelled the lasagne dinner for tomorrow night

Thursday, November 14, 2002

So today Vincie is sick. We went to the doctor and he's received a diagnosis of croup. A bit of a dry cough, low fever, sneezing, and general grumpyness. We got some medication that they mix together into a powder concoction. When we are ready to give it to him, we mix the powder with a yellow liquid and give it to him. He seems cheerful for a sick baby. Mr. Hung helped me hold Vince down while I gave him the dropperful of medicine. We had salmon and mashed potatoes for dinner which were especially yummy. Salmon I finally got from the RT Mart and potatoes we got from Costco in Taipei.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Went to yoga, where the teacher commented again about the size of my boobs. I explained, that yes, I was still nursing an 8 month old and no, my enlarged boobs don't hurt. I met Delia, a South African who is teaching English in Hsinchu and plans to be here until next June at least. She has found a Chinese boyfriend and is quite happy. We went out to dinner with Yuru, one of Jeremy's coworkers who is very sweet. We went to a seafood restaurant and she ordered and excellent set of dishes! Yum.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Went to Miako's house today for tea and lunch! She was very, very sweet. Cute little treats from Mitsukoshi, breads and teas. Then lunch was curry and salmon. Wendy and Lucia were there also. Laura is being cared for at the Holland Village day care center and today was her first 3 hour day! Vince apparently was remarkable in the sense that he didn't fuss too much. Hmmm...

Monday, November 11, 2002

We went to see Droopy and ate the rest of the hot pot leftovers. It was pretty good. Man-fai came and joined us because we had gotten him Cheerios at Costo and he wanted to pick them up...

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Saturday, we drove to Taipei and camped out with the Smiths. Asuka and Carrie were pretty busy taking care of their ailing cat, feeding it and soothing it. Eppie is getting (or got) surgery on Sunday to have a feeding tube placed in his neck so that the food can be directly placed in his stomach. We went with the Smiths to their parent/teacher conference and played on the playground with Mattie and Dakota. Then we went to Subway for lunch. The remarkable thing this time with visiting Taipei was how remarkably like America it was. The TAS was completely English (of course) and the Subway, the Babalooo ice cream store was all English friendly. Even the want ads posted on the street had English. We hadn't seen so many white people in ages! I said that we didn't have to go to America anymore, we just had to hang out in Tien Mu in Taipei. We drove up to Yangming San and walked a while, climbed quite a bit and had a nice view of the mountains of Taipei. Then we went back to the Smiths and had a dinner of pizza and they went out and we put the kids to bed and watched the Father of the Bride. Sunday we shopped at Costo, and some American markets. We are planning on making lasagna for Ms. Liu and Helen this weekend.

Friday, November 8, 2002

We had a delicious hot pot with Ms. Liu and Helen. Turns out that Helen changed her Chinese name last November. I couldn't believe that she changed her name. Apparently, an astrologer told her that the old name was no good and that the new name will insure prosperity in business and in love! Crazy. Also went to Zephyn's 2nd birthday party in the lobby downstairs. Gave some M and Ms in a Japanese box.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

So my Chinese lessons are taking a more serious twist. I'm tackling the grammer sections of my textbook, not only just reading the passages at the front of each chapter. Mr. Hung is a very good teacher, he makes me practice even when I don't want to which is quite often these days. Jeremy went to Tainan today on a bus with a bunch of his coworkers to see the UMC fab down there. Also today, there was a kid who got hit by one of the nursery school buses in Holland Village. It was a bit scary hearing the ambulance and such. Inside the apartment complex, there aren't too many cars compared with the regular street, so people just let their kids run around, but there are still some buses and cars. I think the kid was on his bike and both he and the driver weren't looking out for each other. I hope he is OK.

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

OK, so things are weird here. AMD management is going wacky. I don't want to put too much in my web log because Jeremy says it's a BIG SECRET. Whatever. Let's just say that our future plans are uncertain. I tried to buy pork from the wet market pork vendor but I wasn't brave enough. They have slabs of pork on the table and I'm not sure which one I want and do I have to buy the whole slab? It's all very strange.

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Worked out for 15 minutes, cancelled my Chinese class, saw a dog be tormented by a guy on a scooter, had a woman talk about me in Chinese in front of me to her friend who was having a conversation with me in Chinese. But everything ended on a good note! Ms. Liu says that next week Droopy's parents are going to America and we might get to take care of Droopy at night next week! And Vince went to sleep at 9 pm tonight!

Monday, November 4, 2002

I went to yoga class with some Japanese women I met a little while ago. The yoga class was *nothing* like the ones I've been to in the US. First of all, there is chatting throughout the class, who has the best hairdresser, how Japanese ladies have the palest skin and the nicest language. Also, the teacher has a militaristic, drill seargent-like voice, none of this "relax into the pose, breath deeply, slowly" etc. from the teacher. Also gone was my natural advantage of being more flexible than the average American. The class did pose after pose of very complicated spine twisting poses! There was a 70 year old lady doing all this stuff beautifully right next to me. There was foot massages by walking over them, etc. Yeow! Also, I'm learning English from my Chinese/English children's program. Did you know that DDR is Dance Dance Revolution?

Sunday, November 3, 2002

Spent the morning going to McDonalds to breakfast, on the way there, we saw a parade complete with drums, tall gods, and firecrackers. Couldn't really figure out what they were celebrating, but we had a fun time watching. There was also a fire engine, rescue truck, safety thing going on in the RT Mart parking lot, we couldn't figure out that one either. After breakfast, we spoke with our families, then went out to lunch near Sogo did some shopping. Then in the evening, we went out to dinner with some of Jeremy's coworkers, Scott and Christine. They are Scottish and have been living in Paris for the past two years. They are really enjoying their adventure and are looking forward to spending time in Singapore.

Saturday, November 2, 2002

We had a nice day today. Got up a little late and ate a leisurly breakfast. Then went to the flower shop and bought some flowers to take over to Linda's house. We were quite impressed with the flower shop girl who spent so much time wrapping the flowers all up so beautifully. Then we drove into the "country" near the port of Hsin chu to find Linda. We saw her daughter again, and met her husband. They have a really nice house. It's been occupied by her husband's family for at least 4 generations. They have a nice, large kitchen and beautiful marble floors (not like in the US, all fancy and polished, more functional and old-hotel like). They cooked and cooked for us a wonderful, wonderful lunch. I can't even explain all the dishes she made in about an hour. And they were so nice and fun. Jeremy took so many pictures. Jeremy is slowly learning how to cook and what to put in everything. Then we had a quiet evening, had some buns and also watched a pretty funny movie, "Kissing Jessica Stein".

Thursday, October 31, 2002

I drove the nanny to the hairdresser's place after Vince's time there, she says she only goes to the market every 10 days! Can you believe it? Today I went out to lunch with a bunch of English, Japanese and American ladies. It was stressful because Vince would not stay still. He is getting to be terribly, terribly active and hard to manage and eat at the same time. The meal was quite good and it was fun to meet and hear Chinese with a british accent, Japanese accent, etc. I bumped into Sherri at the spa during lunch, who is the mom of two boys, Lars and Marcel, who were the ones getting in the argument the other day. She is quite nice and has her hands full with two active boys. We had a simple dinner at home as I have had it with going out today.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Today was an emotional day for me...

The dry cleaning lady was in tears this morning. I have no idea why, but she was crying while she handed me my clothes. I bought her some flowers this afternoon, I got to go into the little flower shop on the corner next to the RT Mart. Next, in the afternoon.... There are two white kids playing in the ball room and a whole bunch of kids got into a fight and the white kid's mom wasn't around to mind her children. It ended up that the Chinese mom shoved the white kids out of the ball room. The white kids ended up crying to their mom and fighting among the moms insued and I ended up being the translator. It was pretty stressful. I didn't want to get involved. Sigh. Then we had a wonderful dinner with Ms. Liu and her family. Jeremy learned how to cook all these different dishes and it was fun. We even got them ice cream, which was a treat, because they didn't want to spend the money on it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I can't believe it is almost the end the October. I've been in a good mood because I just finished reading this peppy book "bel canto" and I've been in a sentimental mood for a few days while reading it. But now I'm done with the book, the glow has passed. Also, I've also been slacking on my workouts, I skipped the last two days, that could also be contributing to my sulleness. I also remembered how I loved to listen to Terry Gross in the US and her show is online, so I listened to a few episodes today and it made me all nostalgic for home. Vince had his first meat bits, the pork inside pork buns. Work for Jeremy is going well, he's, as he says, on an upswing.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Tonight we had dinner with Roger, our neighbor, who I once helped out with jumping his car. We had a simple spaghetti dinner. He is a lot of fun, very nice guy from W. Virginia. We talked about the military, about cans (which he helps inspects) about driving and about medical care. A lot of fun for all of us!

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Today we had a slow day, recovering after our active day yesterday. We slept in, and puttered around the house. Then in the late morning we went to Neihu, the nearby harbor. We ate some seafood for lunch and flew our kite for a bit. After that, we went out in search of a park we had seen from the highway that was near our house in the floodplain of the river between Shinchu and Jubei. We had quite a tricky time figuring out how to drive there, but finally figured it out after snaking through a lot of very small streets past farms and old traditional Chinese houses. There are still quite a few farms and old houses inside of Shinchu, which surprises me. We have not been off the main roads too much, and are still surprised by what we find there. After we returned we all took a nap and did some shopping. I (Jeremy) cooked a couple simple Chinese dishes (or as close as I can manage) for dinner and then we worked on helping Doris type in Chinese so she can send email to non-English speakers.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

So today was a really nice day :) We started out by heading east, not knowing exactly where we were going. We ended up driving up and up into the mountains to this place called Five Finger Mountain. At this mountain was a playground for kids which was pretty cool. They had a balancing obstacle where Jeremy walked "across a river" on these two long poles with footholds which were suspended from two logs by metal rods. It's kind of hard to explain, but he had an audience of appreciative Taiwanese to applaude for him when he was done. There was also a pully cart where kids could sit on a cart on train tracks and pull on a rope and haul themselves across a distance. There was also a seat which was suspended about 20 feet in the air with pulleys so that you could slide across for about 40 feet. But you needed a friend to help pull you back. Also the weather was perfect, it really matched my mood today. It was overcast, so when you looked up at the peaks, they were shrouded in fog. We had a lunch of noodles, chicken and green veggies at a small eatery near the mountain. I gave some of the chicken to a mangey puppy and his mommy who were hanging out at the outdoor cafe. Then we went to the Ambassador hotel and saw all of Vince's friends. It's been a long time since we've seen them, you could tell that Vince couldn't really remember it that well anymore. Anyways we ran into Linda, the housekeeper and next week we are going to her house to learn how to cook some food! That'll be great! We went shopping for an outfit for Vince, more than 75% off, then we headed back home. Took a break and went out for buns... then played in the ball room a bit. Rented some movies which turned out not to have English subtitles (Shaolin Soccer...) Oh well. Had a great day!

Friday, October 25, 2002

Tonight, Johannas, Man-Fai and King-sang and us went to dinner in ChuBei. We went into a pretty popular place with a cute duck on the name plate. We figured they must serve some delicious duck. Turns out they serve some weird concoction with herbal medicine in it which made the duck tough and really ditasteful. Ugh! We also had white asparagus with weird lime green sauce on it. This place has over 200 branches in Taiwan and we will *never* go there again. Blechy!

Thursday, October 24, 2002

So today I wore my new low riding jeans. Pretty cool. They almost show my butt crack when I need to take out the trash :) We went out to eat at a nice restaurant around the corner. Had the fried shrimp/mayo/pineapple dish. Yummier than it sounds.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Today Vincie and I spent some time in the plastic ball room of our apartment complex. Vince kept putting one ball after another in his mouth. It was all I could do to keep up with wiping them off. There were about 5 other boys in the jungle gym area all running and screaming their heads off. They all made rules about the different color balls, one was a bomb, the other needed to be thrown, etc. Vince loved it! We also saw Helen and Ms. Liu. This evening, we tried out a place across the street which is pretty much cook your own kebabs, it was OK, not terribly exciting. Then we went to Hang Ten and bought me some low rider jeans. All my old pants are too big now, but I'm still a size L in Taiwan! Hee hee

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I'm slowing giving up on the notion that I have to introduce one food a day to Vince. Today he had, cheddar cheese, seaweed, buttered bread and apples. All in very small amounts. Ms. Liu fed him the dried seaweed. I was impressed, bit by bit he ate the whole 5-piece package all up!

Monday, October 21, 2002

So it turns out that they want me to teach English from 3-4 pm on Mondays. That's when their shift changes and when most of the people can stay late or come early. It's a bit of a time hassle for me and also I think the 10 people will be hard to teach because they are all at different levels. Jeremy is still encouraging me to do it, but I'm hesitating. Also, I drove to downtown today. Quite an adventure for me. I also drove to the port to get some salmon-type fish for dinner tonight. I wanted to make salmon and salsa, but the avacado I got was terrible.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Under a baynan tree in Tainan.
Vince enjoying the car trip.
In Tainan in front of a fancy mall.
We went to Tainan this weekend. It was quite a nice city. We drove down on Saturday in the late morning. We kept Vince awake until we got on the road, so he slept for the first 90 minutes or so. Of course, when he woke up, he wanted out of his car seat pretty badly. We stopped at the next exit and found a McDonalds. Officially he is not allowed in the playscape, but I pretend I can not read the signs, and no one bothers explaining the rules to a dumb wai guo ren. I can't be expected to understand. He has a lot of fun watching the other kids and crawling around. Once he is antsy, nothing but crawling will make him feel better, and so far McDonalds is the most reliable source of rooms full of kids with padded floors and walls.
After lunch we got back on the road and persuaded him to go back to sleep for most of the trip. The last half hour required repeatedly playing and singing Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce to keep him from screaming non stop. This is a tip I got from my Uncle Andy, and it definitely comes in handy.
When we got to Tainan, we explored the down town area. We checked out the caves book store, which is bigger than the one I have been to in Taipei, and has a whole floor of English books, which is far and away the biggest collection I have seen in Taiwan. It also has Starbucks, several huge department stores, and lots of attractive Chinese and western restaurants, including one with the name FOZO that had a fancy glass mural with the inscription "No cream No sugar / I drink my coffee black / Surrendering to its authority, I let the coffee pervade all my senses / I swallow the coffee and the coffee swallows me." We checked into the Tainan Hotel, in the center of downtown in front of the train station, and after letting Vince crawl a bit more in the hotel room, we hit the streets again. We visited a couple parks, and then looked for a restaurant that had an intriguing description in our Lonely Planet guide book. After walking a few blocks down a street of pachinko parlors and arcades, we found the "DongMen Art Gallery," which is in an old restored traditional Chinese house, with the front rooms used as an art gallery of attractive modern art, and the courtyard and side rooms housing a restaurant and cafe. We had a very nice meal there, before heading back to our hotel.
We should have called it a night at that point, but since it was not late, we headed off to one of the night markets of Tainan. However, our enthusiasm was flagging and since we were neither hungry, nor in need of a new mobile phone case or cover, there was not much for us to do. One amusing moment when I was wondering what to do with the 12 inch high soft serve ice cream I had ordered but no longer wanted. I couldn't find a trash can, and asked Doris if she would help me keep up with the drips before I was covered. She had the idea that by holding it upside down, all the drips would fall to the ground, which they did, along with all the ice cream. The cone was a much smaller mess without the ice cream, so the mission was accomplished. We walked away from the pile of ice cream, as actually the ground seemed to be the trashcan of choice for pretty much all of the assembled masses.
In the morning, we walked through the National Chengwung University and through some other parks and neighborhoods. The university campus had a very pleasant atmosphere, especially on a large open field of Banyan trees, where we saw groups of children practicing martial arts with swords decorated with colored ribbons. We looked in on the Zhongshan park, and then drove around some other neighborhoods before heading for home. The trip back was uneventful, with remarkably little traffic, and very little noise from Vince who slept most of the way, without once hearing Jim Croce. All in all a very nice weekend.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Hooray for the weekend! I might have a job! The people at the Carlton Spa want me to teach English for one hour each week. I asked Ms. Liu how much I should charge and they said $1200-$1500. Cool huh! We went to the Pig and Whistle for dinner. I liked it much much more than I thought I would.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

So Mr. Hung and my dad both are OK with respect to their kidneys. Hooray! :) It's a turbulent time these days, my mind is filled with weird moving and stuff. Ugh!

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Rumor has it, we're not moving to Singapore next September. More later.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The big news for today is that I went swimming in the pool close to the nanny's house. It's always a bit awkward in the changing room because I'm just not used to the procedures and customs. It's also weird because I can see all these signs that say, PLEASE DON'T something or other and I don't know what it says. I had a nice 10 lap swim. I'm thinking of extending Vince's time at the nanny's for 3 hours a day.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Spoke today to Diane, a lady at the Carlton Spa and found out she is here for 3 years. She's trying to get together a bunch of expat wives to do activities. Also spent an emotional lesson with Mr. Hung, he's not feeling so well these days. Also talked to Olivia's mother, who is struggling with taking care of Olivia who is refusing to go to school. Also went to the post office, everytime I go, there is a new procedure or a different price (last time the postcarts were 11 dollars, this time 13 dollars). I'm not sure what the deal is. Oh well, whatever. Big news is brewing at AMD. We will find out tomorrow. Leah has midterms tomorrow, we gave her a PEZ dispenser to cheer her on...

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Today, I spent a long time talking to my family and then we had a *long* expedition. We went to Carrefour in ChuBei, then we tooled around HsinChu and went to the port. There were these beautiful, beautiful kite stands that were being blown by the gusting wind, there were many, many kites set up and I picked one that had a long, colorful dragon tail. We flew kites for a little while and then went downtown to look for eyeglasses for me. No luck. Then a nap and finally dinner at a little restaurant that Jeremy's Chinese teacher recommended. Finally, we say a movie that's a spoof on these old Chinese movies. Had moves from Pulp Fiction, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. So many jokes that I didn't get...

Saturday, October 12, 2002

At the entrance to an underground ship dock.
At a military post on the island.
At the drunken party in Kingman.
At the Smith's house in Taipei.
This was the big 10-10 weekend in Taiwan, so we decided to go to the island of Kingman with Jeremy's coworkers on a tour. We left Hsinchu Wed. night and got to the Smith's house at 10 pm. Jillian, Mattie and Dakota were all up waiting for us. We had fun romping around their apartment for a little bit until we all fell asleep around 11:30 or so. The next morning (after a breakfast of pancakes and eggs), we went to the Taipei airport to catch an 11:30ish flight.
We got into Kingman and had a nice lunch, after lunch we went to: knife factory (where they make knives out of shell casings), peanut candy factory, birds and their underwater friends, beach where we looked across the water to China. That night, we had dinner at the hotel where we were hosted by Jim's wife's mother and father. It was Jim's mother in law's birthday. She turned 30 again. This was the big drinking night of the expedition. They have this very famous liquor called GaoLiang. Jeremy and Jonathan were "toasted" numerous times, (Jonathan especially well "toasted" with many three-cup toasts.) It was pretty funny. The kids were bored. And Jonathan and Jeremy regretted it the next morning when we had to climb a mountain.
Next morning, we climbed a mountain. The guys were a bit hungover, the kids were unimpressed and uninspired, we trudged up most of the way. After lunch, we went to a war memorial and played on a big playscape that happened to be there. The playscape was impressive, three stories tall, a bit rickety in places, but the kids had a great time and were not seriously injured. Then the Smiths went back to the hotel for a nap, and we went on... Saw a fake lighthouse, a huge tunnel carved in granite for boats to dock in safe from enemy fire, and a noodle shop. For dinner, we had an all beef extravaganza. All parts of the cow were represented.
On Sat, we took a boat to Small Kingman, we saw another boat tunnel and more shops selling peanut candy. Small Kingman is a 10 minute boat ride from big Kingman. First we went to a beach and peered out onto a small island where they kept all their lepers (there are none there now...) We saw a lot of China today. We were within 2 kilometer of the mainland. Then back to Kingman for lunch. We also saw a beautiful old village built by a family with a lot of money they made in Japan. Then we came home :).! Had pizza at the Smiths, let Vincie crawl around for a while and then drove back to Hsinchu!
Our impression of the island is one of concrete bunkers, camoflage, howizters, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, military men and peanut candy and drinking. There were also a lot of cows. Also, the air was so deliciously clean, it was nice to breath easy for a while. It was fun, but a lot of it was lost in translation.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Today I decided I am going to learn how to play the recorder. Spent the morning surfing the web for recorder-related items. I think I'm going to buy a 50 dollar Yahama plastic alto recorder and some method books. I learned how to play Silent Night on a cheapo recorder from the RT Mart. Ms. Liu and Ms. Ong came over this afternoon to play with Vince. Ms. Ong had bought a ton of clothes for the V-man. Every mom who sees me says I'm not dressing Vince warmly enough. Now I know why my parents made me wear a down jacket in 55F degree weather. Jeremy also told me that I am kicked out of the carpool. If I continue to use George, it'll cost us about $450 a month. Crap-ola. We also went out tonight and got Vince some nice shoes and some nice clothes. They were pretty pricey, but we had some fun...

Monday, October 7, 2002

Saw my first scooter accident today. Bam! Two scooters ran into each other. One driver got up, the other lay under his scooter which had flipped over. I didn't stop to help, there were people already there and goodness knows I can't even really speak the language. So I left the scene of an accident today. Bleh!

Sunday, October 6, 2002

Vincie's first tooth! Woo hoo! Bottom right one is barely poking through. He's growing up, sniff, sniff. Went to Taipei today, saw Carrie and Asuka and had a nice time eating Peking Duck in their hotel. Yum, yum. It was quite different than what we are used to. The pieces of duck had more meat on them and the pancakes were very large, almost like whole wheat tortillas and the onion was not finely chopped, just a huge stalk of it in the center. They also had thin, thin scallion pancakes which were wrapped around green beans. That was yummy, but Jeremy thought they were too mealy. Then we went to Costo, and stood outside the door because we were too stubborn to pay the membership fee. They wouldn't even let us look around to see if we'd like it... Sigh. Asuka urged me to be more aggressive, but he didn't know that I'd already done my agressive thing by just asking if we could look around. I think Navier, one of my goldfish, is already slated to have a short time on earth... He's swimming kind of sideways.

Saturday, October 5, 2002

Today we went out to lunch with Ms. Liu, her husband, Leah and Droopy's parents. It was *great*. Finally, Jeremy had someone to talk to in English. Turns out that Droopy's dad works in the same field as Jeremy and speaks English very well. It was such a relief for Jeremy, I think, to be able to shoot the breeze with someone. Then we went to Ms. Liu's house, which is an old, old house in which his family has lived in for more than 50 years. It was cool to see their stove which has huge gas burners. We picked up our 3 fish that they gave us (I've named them Luther Deux, Navier and Stokes) and put them next to our TV. Vincie is a bit unhappy today, he made a pretty big puke after dinner tonight.

Friday, October 4, 2002

So today we got a fish! Ms. Liu went to the petstore and got a small aquarium to put their beta fish in. Apparently their beta fish is not too well loved at their house. I'm trying to figure out where to put it so that Vince can't gets his paws on it. His name is Luther Deux.

Thursday, October 3, 2002

So I'm trying to be a bit more proactive, hahaha! I dropped Vince off at the nanny's and I went and walked 3 kilometers at the gym. Bumped into Olivia's (a cute-as-a-button 4 year-old) mother on the way there, she promptly told me the gym I joined was going to go under, their business isn't too good. I *love* that it is within walking distance of my house. Anyways, after the gym, I bought dinner and was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I called Kay Dee to vent, which was nice. I got Vince from the nanny's and I tried to squeeze through a tiny, tiny space between two cars with my car. I've seen George do it a million times, I hit both side mirrors. Luckily they are on hinges so I only have to bend them back. Then I went to the realtors and talked about the spa some more. They seemed to think it was very expensive. Oh well, at least I'm using it... Anyways, they invited me to lunch again, and discovered that they put yellow mustard in their soy sauce and eat raw garlic. Will gastronomic wonders never cease. Then I got George to drive me to Bei-Pu where there is a lot of ethnic food. The place was pretty quiet on the weekday. We also went to buy the famous Hsinchu peanut butter and strolled around the newly-opened pet store. They sell crocodiles (tiny ones...), hedgehogs, albino snakes, scorpions.... Crazy.. Otherwise, it looks just like the PetSmart.

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

So I'm feeling like I'm the queen of the lame-Os these days. I'm doing nothing except sitting on my hiney, not exploring the whole wide world which is Taiwan. Sigh. Jeremy has been under the weather, he's caught Vince's cold, so he came home early to rest. I've been really focused on watching a lot of Chinese TV. They have the cool subtitles on all the programs, so if they say a word often enough, and Vince gives me a few minutes, I can look up a word. I walked about 20 minutes to a major intersection where Helen and Ms. Liu told me there was a wet market, but I couldn't find it. I wound my way back home. I have to say, walking for an hour in Hsinchu is like smoking a pack of cigarettes. Ugh, I do not like pollution. I like governmental regulations on pollution. People in the US do not know how bad it can get with a zillion two-stroke scooters zooming around. And I also like ADA regulations. Nothing like a good sidewalk with ramps, that would really cheer me up! I think Jeremy's office has packed enough cubicles in their space so that the hallways between the cubicals are too small for two people to pass side by side. They are as wide as an airplane aisleway. Talk about a fire hazard. I also accidentally set on of our kitchen towels on fire today. (Can you tell... I'm a bit weary of being an immigrant today)

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Got up and ran about 3 kilometers today. I'm as slow as a hippo through molassas. Ugh. Got Vince from the babysitters and went over to the realtor's to say hello. I ended up eating lunch there! Yummy. They had this delicious beef noodle soup, yummy. I also tried seaweed, chicken's neck, stomach and pigs ear. Voila. We got into a long conversation about how Americans and Taiwanese people eat their lobster and crab differently. I've always thrown away all that weird goopy stuff in the head and body of the crustaceans, but they *love* eating the yellow parts. Apparently next month is the best month for crabs because the yellow goop is at its ultimate peak.

Monday, September 30, 2002

Slow day. Vincie had a little cold, so we spent the day in bed nursing and napping. I think he'll feel better tomorrow.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Us at the night market, Vince was touched by a million people tonight.
Carrie and Asuka at night.
This weekend we went with our friends Asuka and Carrie to Taizhong to see the Kong Zi (Confucius) temple. Saturday was his birthday. He should be about 2553 years old now. The temple was quite grand, and very peaceful. We understand that there was a big ceremony there at 6AM, but we could not make it quite so early. Next year I (Jeremy) am determined. It is on Sunday, 9/28/2003 at 5:30AM and anyone else who is interested in very invited to join me. In addition to our visit with Kong Zi we went to the night market at the big university there. It was very lively and crowded, and quite a lot of fun. Vincent was strapped to my chest, and there must have been at least 100 people who said hello to him as we walked by. He loved it, and we all had a great time and tried many different good foods. We also visited Carrie's cats, who are in quarantine in Taizhong. That was a bittersweet event for us, and reminded us how much we miss Yeager, but it was nice to see them reunited. We may cat sit for a week or two once the quarantine is over until their apartment is ready. This morning we toured around Taizhong a bit more, and visited the big Japanese department store Sogo. The store reminded Asuka of his childhood visits in Japan.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Today I went to Taipei to see Carrie. I took the van up with Kay Dee and Fran and got dropped off at the Formosa. We went to the zoo. Pretty cool zoo, with the regular zoo inhabitants. Hippos, elephants, camels, rhinos, ducks, zebras. We went through a whole nocturnal exhibit, but I think it freaked Vince out a bit, he was in the stroller in a dark place and I think he couldn't sense where I was or where he was going, so he shrieked a lot. Vince did pretty well, but I should just ditch the stroller. He doesn't like it, and I end up hauling it all around with me hitting people in the face with it. We spent some time in Carrie's hotel room where Vince crawled and crawled around on the floor. He's getting harder to travel with now, if he doesn't get enough crawling time, he starts to get really fussy. I ended up taking a bus home and Vince fell asleep. Then we had a dinner of buns at home with Man fai. I finally got the books that Mom and Dad shipped, thank goodness. I really needed the reading material, it turns out that the address was practically invisible. So I'm glad that it made it here

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Rained a lot this afternoon, Vince slept for about 4.5 hours this afternoon! We went out to dinner at our local Chinese place down the street. Watched the beginning of MI:2 on HBO and played a short game of Trivial Pursuit.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Spent time in the afternoon with Helen and Ms. Liu in the realtor's office. They are working on moving Droopy's parents into their apartment. It's been quite a bother, they've had to send furniture back 4 times already. Helen got her hair permed, it looks really good. Vincie crawled on the office floor for about an hour; he goes after all the shoes and electrical wire he can find.

Monday, September 23, 2002

We drove into town after dinner to the special baby shop and got Vince some crackers and some more chew toys (just like a doggie these days...). He did something I've never seen him do before; as we were walking into the store, he started bawling like something really frightened him. I've never heard him cry with such anguish, big tears rolled down his cheeks. By the time we left, he was OK, but it was really weird.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Today was a quiet day. We spent the morning at home, talking with family and friends. Then we went out shopping for food. Jeremy doesn't get to go to the market as much as he did in Austin, and was really missing being able to choose food from a grocery store. So we went and got lots of spaghetti sauce, jam, cheese and cookies (all kind of specialty items here in Taiwan). After lunch, we took a nap and had a simple dinner. We are a little bit homesick this weekend, so we found VCDs of Season 3 of "Friends" and have been watching old episodes. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, mmmmmmm, all our familiar old TV pals, they say such funny things. There is apparently a big party going on downtown for the Mid-Autumn Moon festival, but Taiwan stays up later than we do, so we are passing on the big festivities (at least tonight).

Saturday, September 21, 2002

At the flower market in Taipei.
Happy Mid-Autumn festival! We went to Taipei today to see Asuka and Carrie, who just moved here last week. They found a lovely place in Taipei and are waiting for all the details to be worked out. Turns out the Browns were also staying in Taipei, we bumped into them and into Kin-Sang in the lobby. We all chatted, then we went to Din-Tai-Fung to eat a delicious meal at about 10:45. Then we went to the Jade and Flower markets. Then we went to Da-An park and walked around, we had a foot massage via the accupressure stones in the ground. Then we went back to the hotel for a snack, then to Cave's bookstore. Then back to the hotel for some Vince crawling time. The neighborhood near the hotel is super posh with Louis Vuitton, Escada, etc... Drove back and saw Ms. Liu, she gave us some moon cakes, she's working very hard this holiday weekend.

Friday, September 20, 2002

My Chinese lessons with Mr. Hung, the security guard downstairs are going great. He helps me everyday with my lessons and I get to alleviate some of his boredom during the day. I met Jasmine today, a lady with two kids who are half Asian and half Caucasian. Her husband is a techy guy who also happens to be a Morman, so he is fluent in Chinese because he did his mission in Taiwan. I also helped Roger, a white guy working for Pressco, a tool maker for food and beverage packaging companies, jump his car. He lives on the 17th floor of our building and he's here maybe 100 days out of the year, the rest of the time, he's traveling all around Asia. He owned a beat up old Peugeot. This afternoon I drove (!) to the Lakeshore hotel and attended the Mid-Autumn festival of the International School.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Ms. Liu was very busy today, no time to talk with me. She's managing three house moves this weekend. Lot's of phone calls to make and lots of things to arrange. Dad got on Yahoo! Messenger today, that's pretty funny. Watched a lot of Chinese children's television. Also met Droopy's mother, Sue.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Today is Tu-Di-Ma's birthday, so there is a big party going on in the temple behind our apartment complex. Today I saw a puppet show, but I didn't understand it at all because it was all in Taiwanese. We went out to dinner with Johannes tonight at the Japanese BBQ place. Vincie was a squirm-meister tonight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Ran into Kay Dee at the rt mart today, we had lunch at mcdonalds and chatted about how things were going for both of us. I saw the mayor of Hsin-Chu. He was outside our apartment where a new highway has opened. It has only been open for two days, and there has already been an accident. He was discussing what should be done about it with a TV camera crew. I watched the local news, but I didn't see myself.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Vince got his 6 month shots today. What a big boy! It was my first medical experience in Taiwan. I thought I was going to be able to avoid seeing Vince getting his shots, but I ended up holding his leg in place. Jeremy did the biggest job by holding him in his lap and his arms. The doc was very nice. No more shots until 9 months!

Sunday, September 15, 2002

We had lunch with a couple, Erdam and Eloina, who work at Infinion, the third company associated with AMD and UMC. The have a cute 10 month old, Victoria. They are an interesting family, Elonia is Brazilian and Erdam is Turkish and German. So Victoria will have to learn: English, Turkish, German, Porteguese and now Chinese. We ate at a Japanese retaurant in the Science Park as they are staying at the Lakeshore Hotel. Lunch we really good and the kids had fun playing around each other. Vince hit his head against a wood railing and got his first real "goose egg" on his head. Then we drove around and found the Orange Mart and bought some baking powder and baking soda. They are impossible to find around here. I made some banana bread from some over-ripe bananas I had. Jeremy installed speakers from the computer in the dining room, so we listened to Car Talk while we ate dinner.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Jeremy and Vince resting.
We celebrated my 30th birthday by driving into Taipei and going to the National Palace Museum. Man Fai came with us. We planned to leave at 8:30 am and got to the gate of the museum by 10:30 am. We had a snack at their tea house and went through the 2nd and 3rd floors. The creepiest thing I saw was in the Buddhist exhibit where they had taken monk's skulls and cut off the top part where the brain is housed and turned it upside down, lined it with gold and precious stones and turned it into a bowl. Bleech! Jeremy and I were running out of steam quickly and Man Fai wanted to see the rest of the museum, so after lunch, Jeremy and I took a tour of a nearby park while Man Fai toured the bronze section. We fed fish and took a nap. Then we decided to head to the paper museum downtown, but traffic was so bad we abandoned that idea and headed home. We came back to Hsinchu and Jeremy did his first set of illegal parking/driving moves to buy me a birthday cake and some buns for dinner.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Saw the kids from the day care attend a rollerblade class outside in the apartment complex courtyard.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Went exercising today at the spa, ran about 2.5 kilometers, not a bad start. I spent the afternoon with Yvonne, the expat coordinator for AMD, and George, our driver, and pretended not to know Chinese when we were filling out our visa extension applications. A bit frustrating when they are talking about you and they think you don't understand but you really do and they are saying mildly preturbing things about you. Then I spent the bulk of the afternoon making scallion pancakes from scratch! I even got the two kinds of flour they recommended, cake and all purpose. They came out with just the right texture, but needed a bit more salt. They were perfect with the stir fried beef that we made, the juice from the beef and the crunchiness of the scallion pancakes were good together. I prepped all the ingredients and Jeremy came home and did all the actually stove work.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

So today all the wives went to Taipei to get a physical so we can get our resident alien cards. Woo hoo! We got a chest X-ray (ugh!), blood tests, stool samples and urine samples. They had all the bodily fluids covered. The bummer thing that I found out is that I need eyeglasses! That'll be a change for me. I guess I'll get them sometime this week. I've known for some time that my perfect vision was starting to fail me, but this confirms it. We all then went out for lunch at TGI Fridays and then the two Taipei wives (Lora and Christine) went to pick up their kids from school and the two Hsinchu wives (Fran and me) went shopping! We went to caves book store, I bought Jeremy a chinese cookbook with his favorite shrimp wrapped in rice noodles recipe. Also splurged on an English book for him. At Costo, I'm not finding too many things I need there, I'm getting a big kick from shopping at the local traditional market everyday. The fruit guy and the chicken ladies are starting to know me. The vegetable ladies don't know me yet, but they will. It's pretty hard to miss Vince and me, I'm carrying him in our backpack. In the picture is Fran, Christine and her son Dakota and me.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Got up early this morning, Jeremy's daily taxi driver gave him about 20 buns this morning, still piping hot from the steamer. Man Fai also got 20 buns, hee hee! So much to eat, I ate one and dispersed the rest. One to our security guard, Mr. Hong and the rest to the Elephant Daycare, where I hope all the little kids will eat them. Jeremy took Helen's cakes that she got from Tai-chung and shared them with his coworkers. Apparently they are very famous. I had one and it was really, really good. We hung out at the Daycare for about 30 minutes. It's funny to see how some kids react to being dropped off, some are wailing and crying, others are all calm and collected. They are getting used to me hanging out there, I'm helping out in the tiniest ways, making a bottle, conforting some tykes. It's nice. Then I dropped Vince off at the nannys and I went and joined the Carlton Spa. I am a Spa lady :) Woo hoo. I'm going to start running this week, thank goodness. It'll be good for my mental health. Then I spent some time studying Chinese in the front lobby of our building with Mr. Hong. Then I picked up Vince. We spent the day crawling all over each other, took a late nap. We were going to go to the pediatrician tonight (they are open until 9 pm! No appointment necessary.), but Jeremy had a tough day today and I am planning on going to Taipei tomorrow, so perhaps it was OK not to get vaccinations today. I had my dictionaries all ready in case of translation issues.

Monday, September 9, 2002

So today was the first day that Vince went to the nanny. For two hours in the morning, he was away from me. I used the time to exercise and study Chinese. OK I thought about exercising, I didn't really exercise. Then we took a nice nap and spent the afternoon waiting for the water bottles to come and talking to Ms. Liu and Droopy. She was burning paper money like she does every first day of the lunar month (although this time she was a few days late.) I'm contemplating hosting and English speaking potluck for Holland Village.

Sunday, September 8, 2002

Got up *late* today. Got the car jumped by the realtors and had to turn down an offer to go playing with them because they were going to get back after dinner and we had plans with Helen for dinner. We went driving and bought some gas. Also went and parked near the university and had lunch and bought some coffee for Jeremy. Then we bought some dessert for Jeremy's birthday and headed home. Spent some stressful hours working on our expense report and then Helen called and said she had just come home from Tai-Chung and wanted to rest before coming over, so we went shopping just the three of us. We headed back home without finding black bean paste, but our security guard, Mr. Hong found other tenents in the building who had some for us! Then Helen came over and we played for hours. It was fun. She seemed surprised that Jeremy was 34. She thought he was 40 at least. Hee hee, she didn't realize that Jeremy was only 2 years older than her. Vince *loves* Helen. Stayed up late and smiled and smiled at her. She's teaching Jeremy how to cook lots and lots of dishes.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

Today we waited and waited for typhoon Sinlaku to come. She never made it here, actually, it barely rained. We spent most of the morning indoors. In the afternoon, we went to the RT mart to buy some food and supplies. We also hung out in the realtors office and saw their hamsters. Jeremy tried out his new Chinese vocabulary. "Too fat!" They are moving into the office for 3 nights because Droopy's owner is going on a business trip and won't be back until Wed. They are so sweet :). They also helped us order Chinese food for dinner. Man Fai came over and we watched "You've Got Mail" on HBO. Vince is very loud these days. We are both tired and it's only 8:30.

Friday, September 6, 2002

Waiting around for the typhoon. Jeremy got off work at 11:30am. It's 10:30pm now and no rain yet.

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Today I went to the fish market with Kay Dee. Also went to RT mart, Home Box and Orange. I had a nice time, although Vincie was tired. Also had a ride home with Fran and we talked a bit, which was also nice. Trying to learn Taiwanese from George, the driver. Vince and I took a long nap. Jeremy had dinner out tonight.

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Today I spent the morning going to the post office, bookstore and the Orange Mart. The post office is weird, they have 6 counters and you are suppose to take a number, but then when you get to the front of the line and say you want to mail packages, they point you to another counter which doesn't require any numbers. Also, they seemed shocked that I wanted to mail 5 letters to the US. Go figure. Spent the afternoon with Ms. Liu and Ms. Ong. Also met Olivia's mom, who had funny stories about Olivia waking up in the middle of the night, not for milk, but to sing songs

Monday, September 2, 2002

Today we got a car! Tonight, Man Fai, Jeremy, Vince and I took an inaugural trip to the Science Park and tried to park near a night market. No luck. Also had a tuna casserole as a memorial to the Yeagermeister. I had to go to SOGO to get the tuna. Ha!

Sunday, September 1, 2002

When we got there, we reveled in the air conditioning and found out it was Charlene's last day in Hsinchu, so she came over and played with Vince. That's Charlene and Selina in the blurry photo. We had a good time there and had a bit to eat in the food court downstairs. Then we went home and I tried to participate in the Holland Village water olympics but I didn't have a cap on, so I got kicked out of the pool. Who knew you had to wear a cap.
The we walked through a crap fair, I think it was still early, so not a lot of stands were set up, but there were some turtles for sale. Then we kept walking towards the Ambassador.
Today we went and climbed the local mountain here in Hsinchu. The name starts off "18-something mountain". I'm not sure what it means. We had a nice time walking up steps and seeing everybody out with their kids. We saw a bunch of people playing the chinese flute. Then we decided to wander down the mountain towards the Ambassador hotel. It was only 10:30, but I was dying of hunger, so we stopped at a 7-11 and I bought this seaweed-wrapped rice triangle that I've seen advertised on TV. The packaging is very clever, they wrap it in a way so that there is plastice between the rice and the seaweed, so the seaweed stays crispy.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

So today was a sad day. We found out from Emy that Yeager passed away early this morning. Emy sent email a few days ago saying that Yeager was doing OK and was still purring. It's nice to think that Yeager was feeling OK enough to keep purring. I hope he wasn't in too much pain in the end, I'm super glad that he wasn't traveling or in quarintine as his health declined. So on that sad note, we started the day.. Jeremy came home earlier than expected. He flew on EVA which is the airline that all the UMC guys take and it was fun for him to talk to all of his Chinese collegues. He bought all this cool stuff for everybody and for me he got pajama bottoms, a timer an a cool, cheap digital camera, which I used today. I have a picture of Mr. Hong, our building's security guard, and of the noodle shop where we had lunch today. We went to town today and went into the movie theatre where we got the whole grand tour. Turns out it was built in 1933 by the Japanese and in 1945 after WW2, a bomb landed in the center of the theater and destroyed the roof and seating. Just 2 years ago, the theatre was refubished with nice modern seats. Luckily, none of the stage area was damaged by the bomb so all that is circa the Japanese era. (I had just wanted to ask how to buy the tickets and we get a whole tour!) The two gentlemen also recommended a noodle place a few blocks away and we had some yummy lunch. Then we bought some dried shrimp and dried mushrooms from an alley vendor. This afternoon, I went to the wet market for the first time and saw beautiful produce, I'm definately going to shop there for food over the RT mart. Everything is so much fresher. Then we came home and had a quiet dinner of buns. Jeremy was teaching the bun maker some English. Bun is not the same as bum. We also gave Leah an Abercrombie shirt, Droopy was so excited to see Jeremy and now V-man and J-man are out like a light.

Mr. Hung in Holland Village

Friday, August 30, 2002

I'm all excited, I'm about to go to bed and when I get up, Jeremy'll be home! Woopee!!! Today was a quiet day. 2 trips to the RT mart, pretty much to entertain the V-man. I've watched 3 movies since Jeremy's been gone, America's Sweethearts, In and Out and Bounce. They were all inconsequential. Quiet dinner, Vince didn't eat a whole jar of food tonight. All of a sudden, he seems huge to me, who knows why. Droopy is feeling much better today and I saw Leah again this afternoon...

Thursday, August 29, 2002

I woke up this morning without a plan, I slept in until almost 9am, when I heard the phone ring. It was Kay Dee calling to say that they didn't need George today and that if I didn't they would send him home. So I said that I could use him and so I called him and said, "Pick me up in an hour!" So I rushed around, got showered and ate breakfast. Then I rushed downstairs to ask Mr. Lin and Ms. Liu about where to go with George. They recommended "Lion Head Mountain" about an hour away from Hsinchu. So we got into the car, pickup a bite to eat and drove to the mountainside, asking directions along the way. We finally found the place and George and I walked up and up into the mountains. The air was clean, the view spectacular and we traded carrying Vince in the REI backpack. George is a very good sport, he took off his shirt and wore his undershirt and was sweating up a storm. The first bit of the walk was a bit tourist-y and it was brutally hot, I was a bit nervous about where we were headed, but George encouraged me to go on. The mountain is made out of rock and is a Buhddist retreat so there are places to stay overnight. The trail is amazing, all made by digging rock from the mountainside to create steps. We climbed a lot. Well I haven't been climbing a lot recently, so this was a lot of exercise for me. Then we went back into town to the department store where I bought a second set of sheets! Hooray. The saleslady was very, very nice. Jeremy called in the middle of my transaction and said that his day went very well and that he was eager to come home. Wished me happy anniversary as it was our anniversary in Taiwan, but not yet in California. Then I went home and went downstairs and saw Ms. Liu and Droopy. Droopy is a bit under the weather today, so he's on medication. I know yesterday we missed some largest-pig contest, which I decided not to go to because I felt bad for the poor force fed pigs, but George said that something happens only every 15 years and that Chen-Shui-Bien was here in town yesterday. Go figure, I tried to ask Ms. Liu, but I didn't get her explanation either. Tonight I had dumplings and Vince ate a whole jar of sweet potatoes. He is nursing up a storm these days, last night, I swear he was on my breast all night. I think he's hitting a growth spurt, ugh, my poor boobs.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

So today was amazing! I went over to the Browns at about 10 am, so I called George our driver and got him to come and pick me up. Then we headed to the Browns and I had a good time with Kay Dee. Turns out her ex-husband worked for Bechtel! Small world. Fran got her hair cut in town (very brave!) and then everybody (Fran, Kay Dee, Emily, Grace, me and Vince) had lunch at the Browns (dumplings, cheese, salami, bread, and goat cheese (yum!)). After lunch, Vince, Emily and I took naps and read People magazine. David came home early because last night he worked from 10-midnight on a teleconference and we went to the park a few blocks from their house. Then we went over to the Pellerins and had Pizza Hut pizza and really pink strawberry ice cream, it was a shocking shade of pink, but quite good. We talked about how to more effectively use George. I think we are all going to end up getting cars, using those on the weekends and George during the week

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Pretty quiet day today. I thought I was going over to the Brown's this afternoon, but David was still not feeling very well and we didn't want Vince to catch his cooties. Watched In&Out, a movie about a gay man about to be married. Vince had a whole chunk of bread at daycare today. He and I are having a good time together. We had another messy dinner of sweet potatoes and fully covered his body and clothes with orange, sticky goop. I saw Ms. Liu and Droopy, she actually called and wondered why I hadn't shown up during the afternoon. She also told the security guard that I'm home without Jeremy and he has taken it upon himself to provide a watchful eye over me. He is also going to start introducing me to other moms in the complex who can speak english :) woo hoo!

Monday, August 26, 2002

Went to the post office today, it costs 28 NT dollars to mail a letter to the US. I mailed some thank you notes and some address changes, nothing interesting. Also bumped into Fran and Kay Dee at the RT mart, helped them find a lighter for their oven. I do all my errands with the V-man on my back, I feel like a mule at times. A lot of other people end up staring at me and my contraption, but I feel quite mobile and agile. My thumb is killing me these days, I twisted it when Vince was 2-3 months old and it hasn't healed yet. It gets better, the more Jeremy is around, since he can carry Vince more, but when I'm by myself, I reinjure it all the time so today it was even painful opening up the mail. I hear from the Strickers that Emy is un-telephonable these days, I hope she is doing well.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Jeremy has left for the states. *sniff*. He'll be back in one week!

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Our chops

What a big day! Today Vincent ate his first real non-milk food! Well he has had some crackers and a good bit of paper, but never babyfood sweet potatoes. Backing up a moment, we went today to buy a baby seat for the dining table. He is starting to it up more reliably recently, and we have had some luck with baby seats in restaurants, so we decided now was the time. While we were downtown, we also got chops made for the three of us. When we got home we did a little shopping and settled on some sweet potatoes for Vincent's big meal (we had chicken, vegtables and rice).

Friday, August 23, 2002

I was really quite grumpy today. I think some days I do really well, other days I wonder why I'm here. So we finally got softer beds! Woo hoo! I can't belive it. We also got more dressers and another shelf unit. I found out later from Helen that Ms. Liu hasn't charged AMD for the extra furniture. Gotta fix that tomorrow. Droopy, Leah and Ms. Liu came over for the delivery and we played and played, Leah held the sleeping Vince in her arms while I rushed to fix the beds and such. For lunch, we went to the drivers license office and got Taiwan licenses. Then in the afternoon, we chased away the ghosts from the front of the house. Helen, Ms. Liu, Leah, Droopy and I all went to the front of our building and I put out a watermelon, kiwis, and mangos. I speared them with the sticks of incense and waited until they burned halfway down. Then we went over to the big flaming kettles and threw the incense in and followed it with paper money. Helen then took me to the fish market and the fish there looked so good. Yum! We went out to dinner with Sei-ping and Man fai and checked out the movie rental place nearby. Jeremy got his huge phone today, it's really quite funny.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Yeager - sad news

So we got bad news from Emily on Wed. The Yeager-meister has cancer. It sounds like he has bone cancer that has spread to his heart and lungs. So Jeremy and I have decided not to bring him to Taiwan. Without knowing exactly how he is feeling, I just can't bear the thought of him in quarintine for three weeks. Jeremy talked to Emy today and she is willing to be his nursing home. I was telling Jeremy that Emy is good at this kind of stuff, very clear-headed and calm, whereas I'd be a nervous wreck. I feel terrible for abandoning our furry feline in his time of need. That's what really sucks about being so far away. So we got the news in the morning and Jeremy spoke with Emy today and it seems like Yeager is fine and in not too much pain. Which is a relief. I spent the morning after hearing the bad news at the Elephant Day care with Vince. He had his first taste of having a toy that he is playing with be taken away by another kid. He was quite unhappy. We went home at 10 am for a long nap, and I snacked during the day. Wed afternoon, I went to see Ms. Liu down at the realtor's office, sat around for 1.5 hours shooting the breeze and playing with Droopy. It made me feel a little better. Everyone's advice is to get another cat, but I want the Yeager-meister. Wed night, Vince was a bit upset because of his teeth, so I gave him a dose of Tylenol and he immediatly fell asleep at 8 pm for the night, which is unusual. Today, Thursday, we had a date with Kay Dee, Emily, Fran, and Grace to go to Taipei. I was originally thinking that we'd go see the "sea world" which seemed like fun, but I think that the Browns/Pellerins needed to do some more power shopping. I'm not sure what I really thought when they said that they needed to buy meat, it didn't cross my mind as being unusual. But when we got there, I understood that this was no ordinary shopping trip. We loaded up van-fuls of stuff, salmon, steaks, chips ahoy, coloring books, cheerios, spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, etc! I really enjoyed hanging out with them, I'm really bummed that we don't live closer. We went to Hola, B and Q and Costco. Whew. I'm beat. We also got a nice letter from our frient Cindy, who reported that Ruby and Monty are enjoying themselves.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I finally got up with Jeremy at 6:30 am. Was tough, Vince didn't like it either. But I got all my morning chores done before 8 and so I walked over to the Elephant English school and spent a good part of the morning there. It's really a lot of fun. I met the other english teacher who teaches upstairs to the older kids and watched them stand in a circle and sing and dance. Vince hit his head a number of times, once on the floor of the place and once in a crib while I was trying to lay him down. Ugh, it hurt for sure :). Then we went home and had some lunch and went to sleep together for about 2 hours! yipes. Then in the afternoon, I went to the RT mart and bought dinner, a chicken casserole, not too impressive this time and some delicious veggies. Then I went to the dry cleaners and then to the realtor's office where I had a nice chat with Miss Liu. She's a sweetie and with the kid and the dog, there is lots to talk about. Man Fai came over for dinner again and then we went and saw his apartment. We are about to get driver's licenses and needed our pictures taken, so we went first to the RT mart, no luck. Then I remembered a photo place next to the dry cleaners and they take photos, we had fun, even took a family picture for the grandparents.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Today was our first working day at home. I'm trying to follow this website's advice to keep the house clean. We'll see how it goes. I saw Droopy (our substitute Ruby) today and she was doing well. I also found some friends at the elephant english school. Met lots of little toddlers and it turns out that Vince and I are welcome anytime. That's good. I went out and bought dinner and made meatloaf, which turned out pretty good. Man fai came over to eat, and we ended with a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

wow, a day to relax. Spent the morning calling a lot of people in the US; my parents, Bob, Jasmine and Donald. Jasime sounded really good, she's still teaching loads of AMDers. We just went shopping mostly. One trip to the RT Mart and one trip to the HomeBox. Both were quite successful. Jeremy and I are learning to call cabs; we've both had a few successful attempts, so I think we'll be able to find our way around. For dinner, we had some delicious buns with pork and veggies stuffed into them. I think that Jeremy and I are getting a bit stressed out, sometimes we are a bit short with each other. Our apartment is coming together, we have the big pool right outside our window, it's really nice to hear kids playing all day outside.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

On Friday, we moved into our apartment. We said goodbye to Katherine at the front of the hotel and went back upstairs to pack all of our stuff. saying goodbye to the staff at the hotel was a bit traumatic, I'm going to miss them quite a bit. Then we moved all the stuff into our apartment and went to McDonalds for lunch. After lunch, we went back to our apartment to wait for our sea shipment to arrive. 31 boxes came by with no problem and we started unpacking. We had invited a bunch of collegues of Jeremy's over for dinner tonight, so we called Helen, our realtor who has befriended us, to help us find a place to buy plates. she drove us to the middle of town, parked her car in front of a store with her double blinkers on and walked in with us in tow. We bought some night plates with blue-green fish painted on them. After that, we went to the RT mart to go shopping and buy some household goods. Today we went and met our nanny which was nice, we also had to prep a lot for dinner tonight. It was fun, Emily and Grace, the Browns & Pellerins 4 year old daughters ran around the house, we had a wonderful american spaghetti dinner with 3 bottles of wine polished off and a lot of discussion of who was doing what and marvelling at the fact that we were surviving in taiwan.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

So today was Chinese Valentines Day. We had a good time giving out little chocolates in baskets to all the hotel staff. They were called "little cuties" in the department store next door. Everyone is very busy, the hotel here in Hsinchu is selling out every night, our pal Helen, the housekeeper, can't stop for more than a few minutes to say hello. We also went swimming in the hotel pool today. Vince's diaper swelled up into a cantelope-sized package. Went out to dinner with ManFai to a vegetarian restaurant, they had stinky bean curd which made the whole place a bit smelly

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Trains in taiwan

So today we went to Keelung (which is really pronounced Gee-lung). "We" meaning Katherine, Vince and me. We took the really, really slow train up from Hsinchu, through Taipei and finally to Geelung. We left at 9:40 am and got there at 12:20 pm. There we met two nice women, one who won a fellowship to travel to the US and that's how Katherine met her and the other is a freelance arts manager who can speak excellent English and could do some translation for us. We quickly had lunch from a fast-food joint because we were running a bit behind schedule. I had a pita filled with cheese, broccoli and chicken and we listened to Katherine's friend give a lecture to 100 junior high school students at the Oceanic University located in the city. The students were pretty bored, she had to bribe them with little gifts to get them to answer questions about marine life around Taiwan. Then came the fun part! We all loaded onto buses to go to the dock (all 103 of us) and got into boats which took us to a beautiful island in the bay of Keelung. We walked around the island a little bit, the sun was so bright and beautiful, it was fabulous! The weather was so nice and the air and water so clean, Keelung has become my favorite Taiwan city. There was a little cave in the island that had been turned into a makeshift temple; full of figures, inscense, candles and offerings. Afterwards, we headed back to Keelung on the boats and on the way back, the wind was very strong, all the junior high school kids loved it! All along the handrails, the kids leaned into the wind and tried to get wet from the waves. Then we had a late afternoon snack with our hosts at a hotel overlooking the harbor and started on the long trip back to Hsinchu on a bus. Vince was great today, very happy. He even sat in a high chair for dinner. Here is a picture of him taking a bath!

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Katherine in Taiwan

Today Katherine, Vince and I took a bus into Taipei, very quick and easy. We got to Taipei at about 11 and took a cab to the Sunshine kitchen, where we met a grant recipient that Katherine had met in New York. We had a wonderful lunch of noodles. I was expecting a tour of their facilities and perhaps the people they were serving (the elderly, the unemployed, etc...), but instead we got a wonderful tour of Nei-hu, a suburb of Taipei in a rented bus with the whole staff of Sunshine Kitchen. It is quite calm compared to downtown Hsinchu, full of Home Depot-type stores and Costos. We saw a bunch of streams and walking trails that they are renovating. We also went to the hilltop villa of a writer who had written a rather large picture book on the history of Nei-hu. His house had a little tea shop on the top and we sat around and drank wonderful aromatic tea and had him autograph a copy of the book. The air and the scenery from his villa was wonderfully. Taiwan is really quite beautiful once you lift the layer of pollution which drapes many of the major cities. On the way home, we took the Flying Dog bus company, Vince was very unhappy about the whole situation. a little boy's mother saw how much we had been struggling with the V-man, that she handed back a McDonald's toy to try and calm him down. It didn't work too well.

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Holland Village - home

Well now a week has passed, and with it our housing plan has changed again. I hope this week is the first that does not bring another revision in our housing plan. The crazy landlord discussed above apparently got herself so worked up thinking about boorish folks like up mucking up her apartment that the deal fell apart completely. First she discussed adding a restriction that no pets be allowed. The realtor reminded her that bringing pets had always been part of the deal. Then she decided it was all right for us to have pets, provided that we took them out of the apartment whenever we left, suggesting we bring them down to the guard shack to keep an eye on them when we were not home. Of course, this is absurd, and when the realtor told us what was going on, we decided we had certainly had enough of this crazy lady, no matter how pretty her apartment is. So that arrangement was canceled, and we went back to house hunting the same afternoon. They found two more units in the same Holland Village complex. One of them was just fine, with 4 bedrooms, standard issue white tile floors, and our choice of furniture. We chose one of them ,picked some furniture out of a catalog, and will be able to move in about 10 days from then, between the 8th and 10th of August. This will leave us all a little cozy in our hotel when Mother shows up, but that will be fine. I just hope that this arrangement doesn’t fall through as well. Apparently the landlord of this unit said that pets were fine. In fact, they said that we could raise chickens or anything else we wanted, with the exception of elephants. So I think this is an promising starting point, and I hope our hunt is finally over

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Crazy landlord

Well now a week has passed, and with it our housing plan has changed again. I hope this week is the first that does not bring another revision in our housing plan. The crazy landlord discussed above apparently got herself so worked up thinking about boorish folks like up mucking up her apartment that the deal fell apart completely. First she discussed adding a restriction that no pets be allowed. The realtor reminded her that bringing pets had always been part of the deal. Then she decided it was all right for us to have pets, provided that we took them out of the apartment whenever we left, suggesting we bring them down to the guard shack to keep an eye on them when we were not home. Of course, this is absurd, and when the realtor told us what was going on, we decided we had certainly had enough of this crazy lady, no matter how pretty her apartment is. So that arrangement was canceled, and we went back to house hunting the same afternoon. They found two more units in the same Holland Village complex. One of them was just fine, with 4 bedrooms, standard issue white tile floors, and our choice of furniture. We chose one of them ,picked some furniture out of a catalog, and will be able to move in about 10 days from then, between the 8th and 10th of August. This will leave us all a little cozy in our hotel when Mother shows up, but that will be fine. I just hope that this arrangement doesn’t fall through as well. Apparently the landlord of this unit said that pets were fine. In fact, they said that we could raise chickens or anything else we wanted, with the exception of elephants. So I think this is an promising starting point, and I hope our hunt is finally over

Saturday, July 20, 2002

First impressions of Taiwan

Vincent really loves Taiwan. He is like a movie star here. Everywhere we go we hear people saying, “hao ke ai, yan jing hen da”, and reaching out to touch him. I had him in the infant carrier on my chest as we left a crowded train, and many people reached out to grab his hand or touch his face as he passed. He loves it, and has learned to look for tables of young ladies to try to get their attention. At restaurants, he looks around, and when he catches someone’s eye, especially a lady, he gives them a big toothless grin trying to get their attention. We have been making the most of Vincent’s movie star glow. We have had several meals where the waitresses handed him around for the whole meal, leaving us to eat in relaxed peace. The realtor and the relocation consultant carry him whenever we are with them, and when Doris asked the concierge at the hotel to arrange some daycare, they said it was not necessary, and took care of him themselves. So he spent a couple hours in the lobby with the whole hotel staff. Now they rush up to greet him whenever he appears, and they even showed us some polaroid pictures they took with him while they were watching him. He is always ready with a toothless grin, and hasn’t the slightest shred of shyness. Perhaps we have another Ben on our hands. This week we spent a lot of time and anxiety looking for an apartment. We thought we had settled on one last week, but the landlord violated his oral agreement with our realtor and gave the place to someone else after we had planned to move in. So on Friday we went out again and looked at some new places and our first choice of the apartments we had seen previously. One of the new places was very nice, and in some respects the best we had seen. It was within walking distance of the train station, but on a quiet one-way alley. It is also near a nice quiet park, which runs about four or five blocks along a little creek. It is within a couple blocks of our hotel, so we have had a chance to walk around the park and go to some restaurants n the area. The park usually has some old men taking walks, and is fairly pleasant and quiet. So it was sort of the ideal spot by our original criteria. But in the mean time, our ideas have changed a bit. The main change is that we have reconsidered our plan to have Ruby join us in Taiwan. It is hard to imagine a very good life for her here. There are several things we are worried about. The first is that because of the pollution the prospect of taking her on long walks is not very attractive. We are also worried that her Texas hospitality will not go over well here in Taiwan. We have seen some dogs around that are her size, but they do not approach people to say hello, and we are worried that Ruby will have some trouble getting used to the greater emotional distance between humans and dogs here. The other place we saw, that we have settled on is in a sprawling complex called Holland Village. It has about 10 buildings of 25 stories or so each. The complex has a very nice pool and recreation complex, but at the moment they are all closed pending some sort of dispute with the management company or something. It is not clear if and when they will reopen. Our apartment will be on the 20th floor of one of buildings. It has a very good view, and is 46 ping (roughly1500 square feet). It has a nice master bedroom with a large closet dressing room attached (we will put Vincent’s crib in there). It also has a study with two large built in desks, and off the living room is a japanese style room (common here) that can closed off with class screens. We will use the Japanese room as a play room for Vincent which will double as the guest room. We are going to get rubber floor tiles with the bo po mo fo characters to pad the floor, and perhaps a bunk bed that we can reconfigure as side by side twins when we have guests. The landlord of this apartment is very proud of her apartment. It seems as though everything from the configuration of the rooms, to the appliances, floors and furniture is the result of a long and expensive process she led. She told us several times that her black leather couch cost 300,000 NT ($10,000), and likewise for the dining table, beds, etc. The apartment is for rent furnished, but she wants to take a few of the items with her to their new place (they are moving to the suburbs so that she can get a dog). So we made arrangements to go to a furniture and pick out some replacements that suited us, with the understanding that she would buy them. We found a couch with a cloth covering roughly yeager’s color and also picked out a very inexpensive bunk bed. After we chose them, we got another call saying that she had reviewed our selections, and rejected them as of insufficient quality/price. We agreed to meet the next day at the furniture store so that we could make some selections that would be mutually agreeable. When we got there, she informed us that she had looked around the store, and that there was nothing in the store that was acceptable to her. She proposed instead that she would choose the replacements and let us review them, and for this she needed at least a week (she would have preferred a month). So that is the arrangement we have now. She is supposed to have everything completed by Tuesday the 6th of August, so it looks like Mother will be around to help us move in. I am sure her selections for the bed and couch will be fine. Somehow I doubt that we can agree upon a bunk bed, but as this only costs $US 70, I think we can just tell her to forget and go buy it ourselves.