Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving in Taiwan

Since last I wrote, Megan has gone, Ashley has settled into her apartment and I been coming to terms with Taiwan.

First: Megan's departure. We spent her last evening with our first Taiwan friends Adam and Wei Wei on Adam's rooftop. I was happy. Megan seemed to love Taiwan and I think this surprised her. She discovered scallian pancakes. She managed to circumnavigate the island, be adopted by a family of tea farmers, hitch hike along Taroko Gorge and stand atop the tallest building in the world in the world in just two short months. She has gone back to the US with inspiration and ideas for her future which build on this experience.
I wish her luck. I will always be thankful that she was here in the first months. She helped me through a lot at trying times. I am grateful for the fun we had and fun is sacred to me.

Second: Ashley is living in an apartment in Taipei near ShiDa (the Univerisity). She lives with two Korean women. One speaks no english so ashley can only communicate with her in Chinese. This will either excellerate Ashley's learning chinese or it will lead to her hiding from her roommate. I don't know how this has played out. Her apartment is quite nice. She shares a kitchen, livingroom and dining room. She has quite a big bedroom and a private bathroom. Ashley actually lives only a couple of blocks from Adam. There are many foreigners living in her section of Taipei. One in every 4 people walking down Roosevelt Blvd (that guy got around) is a foreigner. One night when Ashley was looking for dinner she stumbled on an English Pub "JB"s. She took me there for dinner. I ordered a hamburger. There was real Stilton cheese on it. I was blown away by the taste. Twas as if it were the first time I'd tasted it. The owner, JB, explained to me that it was indeed real stilton. "But the burger is so reasonably priced!" said I. "I smuggle it in myself once a year. It is far too expensive to pay importers."
Ashley is still working for Ingrid. The children are mean. The books she has to work with are poorly written and she has a difficult time communicating with her coworkers but one student gave her an orange so maybe they are coming around. Ashley has Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday free. She has gone into Yangmingshan national park to hike. Yangmingshan is the name of the dormant volcaons that surround Taipei. The landscape changes from silver grass to jungles and waterfalls all in the same hike and all of this is only a short busride from her door.

Me: Megan left on the 11th of November. I escorted her to the bus in Taipei where we met Ashley and we all had coffee. We put her on the bus then I went back to SanXia to work. I worked the 12,13,14 and then I had to pack a bag and go into Taipei. The company I work for has a mandatory training seminar. It is 9 days long. It is conducted at the main headquarters in Taipei. They offer the trainees a hotel room and supply breakfast and lunch.
I got to the hotel. I was unpleasantly surprised that I'd be sharing a room with one of the new recruits.
People talk about culture shock. Let me tell you. What is most shocking is when you encounter people from your own culture who you have nothing at all in common with. There were 36 people at the training. Two South Africans (white), Two New Zealanders, Two Englishmen, and everyone else was either from the US or Canada.
The training was frustrating. I was surrounded by people who spoke my language but it was impossible to communicate with them. Not only that but I was also out 9 days of pay.
Derek was there though. He is one of the Canadians I met while staying at the hostel. He and I had both already started working so we spent all our coffee breaks together lamenting our plight.
Money is tight and will be tight until January 7. I have bills to pay and Taiwan tax is 20percent.
I did learn a thing or two from my fellow trainees though: 1)Americans really are very bad at geography, 2)actually the Education system in the west is lacking across the board.
I don't know how they tied their shoes in the morning. Sure not everyone was so bad. There were some nice people but i'm still in shock from the Stupid bomb that went off at the hotel.
I'll talk about my company's very interesting human resource model in another blog, especially as it relates to handicap people.
So. I am Thankful that is over!

Ashley came to SanXia yesterday and we were going to hike in the mountains. We walked 3 or 4 miles along the road and highways up to the mountain and finally found the trail head. We were so tired by this time that we never did the hike. We flagged down a bus and went back down the mountain. We walked over to old street. We were given a menu (not a picture menu, all chinese) and we started checking boxes like crazy. Yes we were hungry but also I was so excited that i could read most of the menu. The clarity and understanding of the menu was exhilarating. "Oh! i know what this says! WoW I can READ!!!!" it felt great to order food and know i was getting what i wanted. a big plate of sauteed greens, lightly fermented tofu, fried pork, noodles in soup, noodles without soup, iced tea, fried wontons! and they threw in some pickled cucumbers (breadandbutter flavor) free. It was a feast for 6dollars US. I was full like Thanksgiving.

Well, I'm thankful for my friends and family. love.


  1. I would have had a nervous breakdown enduring 9 days of rigidly straight - in every way - frat kids in my ROOM. You didn't even have that oppression in the South! Maybe Taiwan will help them develop a desire to expand their provincial essence. Here's a dreaming!

  2. AWESOME! Pictures???? Where are the pictures?