Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No question is inappropriate!



As Jay birthday was today and mine is Sunday...we have no real plans but running the hash and waiting for our vacation to the south next week. One thing we have both learned while living in Taiwan is that no question that people ask is an inappropriate question. A lot of things people ask here would really looked stragely upon if you asked them back home...Such as how old are you? Perfectly normal to ask someone when you first meet them...other questions that go along with a first meeting are..... How much did you pay for that? Or How much do you get paid? If someone asked that back home it would be considered rude....I don't think they are trying to be rude they are just trying to get to know you and that is how they do it. Also they ask Whats your zodiac sign? I know most of us might read our horoscope for the week of that day and maybe thing "Wow that sounds like me" But here it is not just something that is printed in the daily newspaper it is religiously thought about. They really go by that and sometimes when people meet you they might say " Oh your an aquarius aren't you...I can tell" Something about people's personalities gives away their zodiac sign. Another question you might hear is "Whats your blood type?" I haven;t figured out why it is important to know that ...besides if you are giving blood.... Again it probably labels your personality some how.
Jay's Birthday was nice... I gave him a nice Swatch watch...which I hope was a surprised,.....because getting it involved me having to drive my scooter into the night market..... which I can't even explain the caos that it involves. We went out for a nice lunch...I got my hair done for my birthday a little early and another part of Jay's present was him getting to go to the gym and work out without me hasseling him about the proper way to lift weights. going to the gym has become a daily ritual that I thoroughly enjoy. I have never been this strong in my life and Jay doesn;t look half bad himself.... After teaching the little kiddies we went to the local bakery and bought Jay the piece of cake of his choice and did the birthday thing. It was a little pitiful and I have added pictures for your enjoyment.
So Chinese New Years is coming up...The most important holiday that is celebrated here on this side of the world. ...... Everyone is traveling to see their families.... and everything is closed except of course the 7-11..... Giving red envelopes filled with money is the traditional gift for Chinese New Years. Jay and I are going down to Kenting to the beach to enjoy the wild side and camp for a few days. Can't wait to get out in the sun and relax.......The Hash is tomorrow so expect another blog at the end of this exciting birthday bash weekend.....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Adventures in the big city...





This weekend Jay and I made a trip up to Taipei to see Daniel Ray (Jay's brother in laws brother) We had a long week of teaching and since there was no Hash this weekend we thought we would get out of the city and take advantage of some of our connections on other parts of the island. Daniel Ray is leaving in a week to go to Boracay, Phillippines, Thailand, and Cambodia....so needless to say we were extremely jealous to hear about all of his plans....but Jay and I will have our time soon enough. We went up there Saturday after work.... WE took a 2 hour bus ride into the city. These buses were not messing around. I was in the comforts of basically the largest lazy boy in the world for the ride up. Massaging chairs, my own TV and even service on the bus. After we meet up with Daniel....the night before us consisted of going out for one of Daniel's friends birthdays. We went to a nice jazz bar called Brown Sugar...and enjoyed one very expensive cocktail. Then we headed off to a club called Room 18.... something Jay and I don't do very often but we got in a danced the night away. We had a nice time and meet a lot of cool people. Jay and I decided to leave earlier than Daniel.... but Daniel trustingly gave us his apt key and ID so that we could have the address to get to his very far away apartment. Luckily we got there with no problem but upon trying to open the door, Jay had somehow lost the key....Luckily his roomate was still awake. THe next day consisted of laziness but also a tour of some things I have been really wanting to see in Taiwan. We went to the largest, and most famous temple in all of Taiwan called Longshan Temple (I believe) It was quite crowded since videoChinese New Years is coming up. We walked around and took in the insence and calmness that surrounded the whole temple. THen it was off to snake alley. Something very disturbing in the whole thing. There are no pictures allowed at snake alley because of animal rights and what not. Of course me being an animal lover I was very perterbed by the scene in this market and of course I was able to take pictures. The point of snake alley is mainly to drink blood, venom, and other juices of the snake for certain reasons...I think mainly for sexual stamina and drive and good health. But you can also see turtles, aligators, and of course lots of snakes. I will have to take my dad here when he comes because he is petrified of snakes....and actaully after encountering this alley I am not very fond of snakes as well. I have attatched a video of the experience, the video is cut short because I noticed the sign NO PICTURES and I saw some people coming towards me... but if you have a weak stomach you might not want to hit play on it.
We have one more full week of teaching until Chinese New Years can't wait to go down south and enjoy some beaches. We will write more later.


video

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The thing that keeps you going... FOOD

The one thing that is really good maybe with just a little little complaint is the food. Taiwan has all different types of food, and Taichung being a large city has everything you can want. We will start with the usual and move toward the bizzar.

Taiwan has all the fast food resturants from dunkin donuts to KFC. Plus their Seven Eleven has a lot of food just like we are used to (hot dog and slurpies) but they also make spagetti and baby backribs (I have not tried the ribs there is just something about 711 and ribs). So for the people with weak stomaches you can still servive. There are also Chilie's and Friday's that you could go to for a little higher up American food.

There are some food that Taiwan is famous for. They have really good beef noodles, which I know my dad would love. They of course are hand made noodles that are amazing, with beef broth and some vegetables (mostly chives and peppers), but the beef is just like a tender roast beef that mom would make in her crock pot. It really just melts in your mouth. Allie and I know a great place that we get two big bowls for just 60nt or $1.75 US dollars. Another dish is called the hot pot. For this dish you will never find in the States because of law suits. Basical it comes with a hot plate and water. You crank up the hot plate so that the water starts to boil, then you start putting in your plate of vegetables ( cabage, all different types of mushrooms, pumpkin, peppers, and anything else you can want). You can order meat also and this is where the law suits will come in to play. You have to cook the meat as long or as short as you want. When you are done cooking your vegetables and meat you are left with a great soup that was made not by a cook but by you so if it is not good you can't send it back. This can be a cheap meal or really expensive it just matters what you want to put into the hot pot and where you go. There is a similar dish that they call japanese BBQ They also give you vegetables and any type of raw meat to cook but beside a pot of boiling water they bring you a small grill with live red hot coals in a grill. They put it on you table and a cup of water so if the fire gets to hot (i don't know what they think a small cup of what will do but oh well). If you didn't know Taiwan people are not lazy, they like to go out to eat and still do all the work.

Some of the more.... hum..... what can I call this section.... interesting, adventurous, in other words I have not tried this food yet and if anyone knows me... I will try anything at least once expecially food. Most of this food you will find one the side of the road (in a stand, laying on the groud) or at a night market. The first one is stinky tofu, and yes it really stinkes!! It smells like hot feet after a long day of running or playing baseball (for all my baseball buddies when we shares a hotel room there is something that smells worse than your baseball socks and you know who I am talking about). You can get this fried, baked, or boiled. I don't know what it taste like but once I try it, which I will sometime, I will tell you. They also have different types of eggs, they are still chicken eggs just different ways of cooking them. Ones that are good are called tea eggs. They are just hard boiled eggs that are soaked in tea (still with the shell on them) that give the egg flavor. The eggs that I have not tried is called "the hundred year old egg". No it is not really a hundred years old egg, but it sounds worse. I don't know how most peolpe make them but the old traditional way, which is still practiced by many people, goes a little something like this. Take some chicken eggs and bury them into the ground. Once they are in the ground you take horse pee (yes I said horse pee) and water the gound just like you do a plant. You continue that process for about a month to three months, hell if you want to do it for six I don't think you will ruin it any more. Then you uncover them clean them with horse piss and eat them up. I don't think I will try that one so don't worry I wont bring this receipe home for Christmas dinner. The one question about the hundred year old eggs is who and how did some one think of it.


There are still hundreds and thousands of foods that I didn't talk about it would just take to long. There are resturants that make traditional food form many Eastern Asian countries. The one thing I know is I really ruined all the Chinese resturants back in the States.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Crash and more.......

We are so glad that you all still enjoy reading abour our adventures. I don't think Allie was trying to be mean even though it might of come across as a little hostel. It has been almost a week since the last post and of course new and exciting things have happened.
I had my first scooter accident Friday night while picking up Allie at her branch. Don't worry I am fine, it was more like a bicycle accident when you were little. I was turning into her branch and taking a left, while a women came from behind and just t-boned me. I helped her up and before I knew it she was gone. It was her fault and I guess she was just trying to get out of there before the cops came, only if she knew I couldn't speak any chinese. It was just a little embarrising since all of the kids parents, and the chinese teachers were outside talking about me.
We went to The Hash, this past Saturday. It was a nice run about 30 minutes out of the city, of course in the mountains. It was a hot day and the run started in the mountains which gave us some cover from the sun, but most of the run ended up being on pavement with no cover. The run was around seven miles and was all up hill or down hill. There were some really great views like all of the runs in the past. After the run and the party we went out to eat with most of the expereinced hashers. It was a simple noodle meal (which was better than anything I have ever had in the states) but what struck me was that the guys kept on drinking. Allie and I had a few more drinks but when they dropped us off at our scooter we were ready for bed and they were going to a resturant/ bar to keep going. We got to know the people which all of them are amazing and really friendly. For example Allie forgot her wallet in the persons car that we got a ride with, and the next day he had called our boss's boss's boss at hess who had our number that then called us just to let us know he had it and not to worry. He also left a note at our apartment. This was all done before noon. The people are just great people to know here in Taiwan.
Sunday consisted of a huge Hess end of the year banquet (Chinese new years is in Febuary so it is still 96). It lasted from 10:30 to 3:30 so it was a little long. But we had free food which was like a 10 course meal not 5, and some free wine. They raffled off prizes but Allie and I have not worked long enough to even have our name in the drawing but they did give every one lottery ticket, so wish me luck:) I might come home early and retire:)
Alright for the next blog it is looking like people want us to talk about teaching in Taiwan, but higher up authority (Allie's dad) has bidded for us to write about Taiwanese food and since he helped with the purchase of this computer we are writing on I think we will go with that first and then Teaching in Taiwan. So be looking for that in the next couple of days we have to do some research.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting in the Groove

Long time since our last blog...I think people have lost interest or I am wondering if people had any interest in the first place in reading the adventures of Jay and Allie so instead of just giving you the run down of what Jay and I have done.....from now on I think we will give a brief overview of our undertakings unless otherwise needed and then give you some interesting facts about Taiwan or this side of the world in general. We will let you tell us what you would be interested in reading about....so from now on the blog is in your hands....it is up to you to make it worth reading or worth forgetting and deleting from Your favorites list.
Well the past few weeks have been filled with the usual teaching days and a few performances for the parents where our children sing songs, read stories and do some dialogue with some prizes at the end. These are always a hit.
Then of course the highlight of our week for the past two weeks has been experiencing the Hash House Harriers. I know some of you had a hard time understanding the concept and rules of a hash house harrier and because of that I am going to give you the website of our Hash so you can see a better understanding of what goes on it is :
http://www.taichunghash.com/

Well this week we went about an hour outside the city again but a different direction than the last one. It was one of the hottest days we have had yet in Taiwan and of course the distance that was planned for today was approximately a 15k=9.3 miles. It was about 80-85 degrees. Distance is never exact because if you saw the terrain we run across you would never understand how they found it or even why the person marking the trail though it was a good idea to run through that area or sometimes how is it even possible to run through an area. Yet again we climbed robes, ran across fallen bamboo, down a creek bed, up and down cliffs, on a major highway...but the interesting thing about this one was that we actaully ran through an old. almost seemingly abandoned temple. It consisted of caves. Before the run the Hares told us to take our own flashlight, very much needed in the pitch black caves. Its amazing that in Taiwan it seems like a very typical thing to build the most beautiful things in the most remote areas so no one can experience them except of course crazy drunk runners. NOt only did we run through that but we also ran through a definate abandoned amusement park. The trail led us through an old haunted house which had a broken down cart that we hopped in and had people push us through the house....THat was sooooo fun!!! Who would have thought an amusemetn park could be more fun when there is nothing working!
The run was over and this time I came in first women which gives me the name for the time being of "Front Running Bitch" not too bad because all that really happens is I get to drink more...oh and I think next time i have to wear the beaver skin underwear over my running shorts, if someone else beats me then I can pass the beaver skin to them and they are dubbed" Front Running Bitch" and have to wear the fashionable underwear while they run!!!
The rest of the weekend was quite. Unfortunately I do not have pictures to show you our experiences because I thought someone stole my camera and fortunately the nice Taiwanese people found it so all is well. I will make up for the lack of pictures soon!!
Don't forget to vote on the poll because that will determine what you read next. I hope people still read this thing but if not I guess we will find out soon.

The only picture I have is one of a very interesting combination of things: A 7-11, a KTV (karokee bar) and what looks like a Christian church (This is a Buddhist country)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Hash

Saturday, Jay and I experienced a Hash House Harriers. For those of you who are not familiar with this group let me explain. It is a type of running group, not competitive, just out for a good adventure, good "run" and beer. It is a group you could probably find in every country in the world. There are about 3 in Taiwan and one group happens to be in our city which is great. We were very exctied to hear about it because this is right up our alley. We have been itching to run, and running in the streets is a little more than dangerous, I think it might actually be a hazard to your health instead of a benifit. We met up with the group right after we taught on Saturday. A lot of foreigners from all over, and some Taiwanese, which is great. This is definately going to expand our social network. Most of them were older than us and have been here for 7+ years. WE met in the city and we caught a ride from two experienced hashers and they drove us in their beat up van about an hour outside the city. It was gorgeous. We stopped at the end ofa very windey road and began our adventure into the Taiwanese wilderness. Before I go any further I need to explain to you the concept of Hashing:
This group can consist of as little as 10 people and as many as 40 people we have been told. They do it every Saturday, which is great. The concept of a Hash is that a person or a couple of people in the group go out in the week and set a trail, they are called the Hares. The set a trail using white flour, certain marks mean certain things. A Live trail means you are actually chasing one of the hares, they get a 15 minute head start and of course they already know the course. BUt this week we had a Dead run because the hare was hurt. Your purpose as a hasher is to find the course, they point in the the right direction to begin with but then you have to search for flour on the course to find the right way, some may lead you the wrong way or a dead trail. A Check is a circle with a dot in the middle, this means you now need to check a 360 degree area for about 100 feet to find the right direction. ONce you have found it you say "On On" So everyone else knows which way as well. You can carry your own chalk with you so that you can mark on the trail what is the right direction so people behind you can know. There are no limitations when marking a trail if you are the hare. You can put it through water, cliffs, etc.... your imagination can take you on a very exciting hash. And sometimes along the way instead of water checks they have beer checks, unfortunately this hash was only about an hour so no beer checks until the end.
This hash was very fun and trecherous, we ran through a very rocky river bed, slid down a cliff, climbed up and down ropes, crawled on our hands and knees in thick trees, and then ran up and down a extremely steep mountain. This is what Jay and I have been looking for, it was great!!!
Afterwards they had a BBQ because it was the first hash of the year. Great food and good beer. At the end they have a tradition of forming a circle and then dobbing people, which is basically calling people out on the stupid things they might of done during the day or anytime. If you are dobbed then you have to go into the center of the circle and drink a cup of beer. They all sing a song and when they sing DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN you have to drink. According to them there are no rules in the cirlce but there really are\ and if you break any of these rules you have to drink. You cannot point at anyone so you have to use your elbows, you cannot enter the circle with a hat on, you cannot stand in the circle with your hands in your pocket, you can't bring another beer in the circle if you do you have to finish that beer. And one of the funny ones you cannot wear new shoes to the hash, IF you do you will have to drink a beer out of your shoe. WE witnessed that and it was very funny.
They also have names that people get during their time as a hasher. Usually it comes with doing something stupid. And when you get your name there is a little bit of a ceremony involved, involving flour, beer and no shirt. Again very amusing. We had a great time. Can't wait to go back next week.
Yesterday we walked all over town because our shins were so sore from the hash, we found a great little Spainish restuarant that had the best mushroom soup I have ever had, then we walked more and found a Mediterranean place that had great House wine. WE walked to a traditional Chinese market called the Jade market, great for shopping and bringing home presents. This weekend was really great!!! We are really starting to get the hang of things. Oh yeah and we bought a scooter, IT is awesome. We really like is, 125 cc. and purrs like a kitten. I think we trust this one enough to take it around Taiwan.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bringing in the New Year



Well, Jay and I are bringing in the New Year in another country. This past year has been fairly eventful for the both of us and I guess you could say we didn't really take the easy path. We first lived in Charlotte, got married, moved to Peru, homeless and jobless for about 2 months, and here we are in Taiwan teaching English and we actaully have a place we can call our own and a job...... So we have come a long way in one year....hopefully for the rest of our years together we aren't thinking "WOw, that first year was the best I wish we could go back" I hope every year gets more exciting with everything that we have planned, I am sure it will.
Our New Years Eve was not very eventful. We had to teach till 9pm then get some dinner. That was pretty interesting. We have a hot pot restuarant near our house. Hot pots are the big thing in Taiwan. There is a burner at your table and they put a pot of water with vegetables in it, with whatever else you would like in it. Jay and I have been to some fairly good hot pots but this one is always a little interesting. Since there isn't an English menu, no matter what we have ordered there we always end up getting black chicken, not bad but just doesn't look very good. Anyways we have made friends with the owners which I believe to be some sort of Taiwanese mafia (no joke) Fortunately they love us, but they are a little intimidating. THey always want to talk and give us lots of beer. The main mafia man who has this mole on his face and hairs that come out of it that are about 2 inches long. He actaully kissed Jay on the check. Haha I was very amused. Well thats where we spent out New Years Eve dinner, we came back to our apt for the ball to drop and we watched it on TV. WE got a bottle of very good Italian champagne and popped the top at midnight. Taipei 101 has an amazing fireworks display. Then we went on our roof and watched all the other fireworks in Taichung. So anyways hope everyone had an amazing New Year.