Friday, January 29, 2010

The HOG!

I get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog!

This is my trusty scooter! I just bought it about a week ago. I got a really good deal on it, really a blessing. First I must explain the situation:

I usually have to teach at multiple different schools within my organization, the best and easiest (and most practical) way to travel is by scooter. The bus system is not always reliable, sometimes the bus comes...sometimes it doesn't, and it takes a long time to ride the's are too expensive to take everyday, so a scooter it the practical option.

I was going to buy a scooter from a mechanic for about $270. It was a 1990, 100cc scooter, kind of old. He ended up taking a while to get the proper paperwork for me, so I began looking around...Nolan knew of a Taiwanese teacher who was selling an old scooter that she didn't use anymore...I met with her and she told me that I could buy it for $100-150. It seemed like a pretty good deal because it is newer and more powerful (1994 and 125cc's). It needed some repairs so she took it to the shop and the repairs came out to be about $115 (including buying insurance), guess what? She just had me pay for the repairs and she gave it to, what a blessing. I tried to give her money, but she wouldn't accept it. Can you belive it? I got a scooter that has been checked out, fixed and with insurance for $115!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Daily Game

The Mosquito Challenge

Ever since I arrived in Taiwan I have been accustomed to playing (more like forced to play) this game “find the mosquito”.

Here is how it works:

I go into my room at night usually noticing a few obvious mosquitoes flying around, so I either smash them on the wall or in mid-air flight if I can.  The game begins, the object of the game is to find where the mosquitoes like to hide.

Just when I think that I have found all the possible places that I think a mosquito can hide, I find a new hiding place; it keeps me on my toes for sure.  I have come to a point where I know where their favorite places are, so I check them first.  But, it still boggles my mind when I see a mosquito fly into a “non-visible” area and I can’t find where it is hiding.

If I have not succeeded in smashing all the mosquitoes before I go to bed, they make sure I know it…anywhere from 1:00am to about 5:00am I hear buzzing in my ear…If I don’t wake up, turn the light on and kill it/them, I will be reminded for the remainder of the night with a sweet buzzing melody and a bunch of red spots all over my face and hands the next day.

I’m still a little confused by how they always seem to find my room, how they get in and why they choose my room as a dwelling place…can’t they see and smell all of their friends on the walls?

Things to know about mosquitoes in Asia:

 -Mosquitoes are bold and strong, they can bite you through your clothes, wow!
-I am convinced that they like foreign blood more than local blood, is it sweeter?
-The bites last for two weeks instead of a few days.
-After they have eaten (full of blood) they are much slower and easier to kill than when they are hungry.  When they are hungry, they are probably a little irritated and they are super fast, sometimes it’s hard to get them.
-They are smart…they wait until the lights are out to come out of their hiding places…but they don’t just wait for 10 seconds, they wait for 5 to 10 minutes, until they think you are sleeping.
-If you don’t kill them when you hear them at night, they will sit on the wall right next to your head.  You are the unsuspecting victim, they dive bomb attempting to bite when they think it is safe and they will do this all night long.

Am I bitter?  Yes, maybe a little.  I have bite marks all over my hands, arms and some on my face! 

You might ask, “Why have you not done anything about this yet,” good question!  I don’t know why.  I have thought about using the plug-ins that repel mosquitoes, but I don’t want to be breathing that in all winter, I could use a mosquito net…I have been thinking about getting an electronic plug-in that makes a sound to repel them.

Side note:  I did hear that when the weather gets warmer, the mosquitoes disappear, this gives me a lot of hope and something to look forward...I'm getting tired of this game.


Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hot springs

So Jon, Julia and I went to this hot spring place. We assumed that they would have communal hotspring pools...well, we weren't exactly wrong, they did have communal pools (about 5 of them). For some reason, they were all drained and looked like they had been out of use for quite some time. Anyway, backing up, prior to seeing the pools, the staff (which spoke not one word of English) would not let us look at the hot spring area until we paid.

I automatically had a bad feeling about this because we have had a few run ins where we got something totally different than what we expected after we had paid. Anyway, after using hand motions and speaking broken Chinese we eventually realized that they were not going to let us see the hot springs, but we could use the hot springs for $300 NT each (equals roughly about $9 US). We were sort of cold and hot springs sounded amazing, so we just went for it.

To our surprise, what we found was a small room with this bathtub in it. We all got some really good laughs, then didn't waste any time. We turned on the hot spring tap and were completely disapointed by how slow the water came out. It took 45 minutes to fill the tub (with some cold water pouring in as well), after about 5 minutes, we decided to get in and just wait for the water to rise around us...good thing we did that or we would have been waiting for a while. I was a little dissapointed because I just spent $300 NT and had to share a bathtub with two other people...but you know, it's a memory I will have for the rest of my life and something I will be sure to look back on and laugh, in fact, I am laughing now.

This was a beautiful area just outside of the hot spring resort. We were looking to see if we could find any fish in the river. We are thinking about coming back when they open the hot spring pools, staying the night and fishing if the fish are big enough.

Posted by Picasa

The Waterfall

Posted by Picasa

Hot spring and Waterfall trip

Jon (another teacher) and I

Jon and Julia (also a teacher)
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tongxiao | Dumplings and Chow Mein

We had some amazing dumpling/pot stickers here, I forgot to get a picture when we had all the dumplings, I guess they were just so good that I couldn't stop to take a picture.  We had some steamed dumplings and some fried.  They cost about 4-5 NT each (which is about 15 cents with the exchange rate at 32NT to $1).  We also got hot and sour soup (for either NT35 or NT50, I can't remember) and chow mein (the chow mein was from a street vendor and was NT50)

It was great!  Thanks Troy and Jessica for showing us this place.

Posted by Picasa

Tongxiao | Old military structure

This was (a park built) on top of an old military structure (not sure if it was USA or Japanese), we could see pretty far as it was on top of a hill. Good place to setup a long range cannon back in the day I guess.

Looking out to the ocean.

Nolan and I.

Posted by Picasa

Tongxiao | Temple/Park 1

Why do I get the feeling that everywhere I went a hand wanted to touch my butt...well, this is a hand chair, they had many of these(maybe even as many as 100). They were in front of just about every statue or peice of art in the complex.

This concave structue is designed in such a way that if you stand in the middle you can hear your own echo, it was pretty neat. Depending on where others stand within the area, they can also hear the echo. It was pretty neat.

This is a look at the celing of the concave structure.

Posted by Picasa

Tongxiao | Temple/Park 2

All of the stuff in this temple/park complex is symbolic to some extent...but I had no idea what most of the stuff was for or the significance of it.

This is some kind of huge turtle

The pig in the middle was a little crazy looking.

A huge red bull with a figure under it's head...maybe a buddha, I can't remember.

Posted by Picasa

Tongxiao | The Jetty

This is the light house...I guess. That is what Troy called it at least.

These concrete blocks are crazy...they don't just use huge rocks like in the US, they actually form hundreds of these "Jacks"

Us...on the "Jacks"

Posted by Picasa

Tongxiao | Apartment and Hot springs

Troy and Jessica's apartment.

Funny monkey sculpture/bridge cave.

Posted by Picasa

Tongxiao | Hot springs and dorm room

We visited Troy and Jessica on New Years weekend, so we went to the hot springs.

Funny story, on the way back from the hot springs, the weather decided to change.  It began to pour down rain on us for the entire 30-40 minute scooter ride, we were all completely soaked.  I hit a puddle and water splashed over my scooter and all over me, it was like someone poured a 5-gallon bucket of water on me.  When we got home, we could practically wring out our was pretty crazy.

Note to self:  Always bring good rain gear when you think it might rain.

Troy and Jessica

We took a detour before we found the hot springs and saw this...not sure what exactly it is supposed to symbolize.

This was my original dorm, I could hardly turn around and no window. Since then I changed rooms into one that is slightly larger (my new room is probably an 8x8, still not huge) and has a window.

Posted by Picasa