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.