Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finally! an antique mall.

I had heard rumors of this place: first from my skeezy hairdresser who had amazing vintage pieces in his salon, and then from my Chinese teacher's mom. Finally my pal Molly took me to check it out: Treasure Hunt, apparently Taipei's biggest antique mall. I was in heaven. Here's some of the fun stuff I found:

Yes, this is a real horse head. ick.

The ultimate find. Only $2,000!

Friday, April 17, 2009

1 year on.

So Devin and I got here a year ago today.
Sure I've had some ups and some downs, but now I'm quite content. Life is pretty good...
At first it was a struggle to adjust to the Business English teacher's life here (odd hours, like this month I literally have one day off but only work an average of 3 hours per day; major fluctuations in salary; traveling all over the damn city; relearning English grammar well enough to describe it to someone else, etc.), and it was tough to find a group of people we could relate to. To be honest, a lot of foreigners here HATE their lives and I really don't understand why they're here if all they do is complain about how terrible they think Taiwan is. But eventually we started to find more positive minded people and have some pretty cool people around us right now.
We just got a swanky (in the old, 1970s kind of way) new place in the middle of the city, which makes our lives MUCH easier. For one, our average commute just got cut down by at least 30 minutes and a lot less transfers and motion sickness from the creaky old buses that I swear have square, concrete tires. Oh, have I mentioned that our apartment has an electric organ?! That's pretty cool too...

I've come to terms with my ridiculous boss and have decided that I can take it for one more year, as long as I can minimize my interaction with him. Now that they're desperate for teachers, I got bumped up in status a bit. Plus I'm actually kinda good at this teaching thing now.
I do miss my old job a lot and hope to get back to trade and logistics one of these days, but for now with such a volatile market I think I should just stay put and appreciate the stability that I have, at least until those credit cards are paid off...
Future plans? who knows. Both Devin and I have a few options so we'll figure it out when we know that it's time to move on from here. For now, Taipei can have me for at least one more year, especially if people keep pumping out those hilarious t-shirts.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things I love about Taiwan

Not a complete list, but lately I've been thinking of the things I love about this place:
  • Damn it’s beautiful here.
  • The abundance of fresh tropical fruit, fruits I have never seen or heard of before, which leads to a lot of fresh, made-to-order fruit juice for very cheap.
  • The tomato is in its rightful place as a fruit.
  • In many public toilets, there is toilet seat sanitizer for your convenience. Beats the hell out of a paper seat cover.
  • The bus and trains are unbelievably convenient and affordable. And they usually don't smell!
  • Japanese and Korean food anywhere, anytime (Taiwanese food ain't bad either).
  • Jungle air every time I come home.
  • People don't stare all that much, at least in Taipei.
  • People love cycling. Oh god do they love cycling here.
  • The pork butcher down the street who has half a pig lying on his truck bed every morning.
  • The open air karaoke that the neighborhood drunks frequent.
  • The abandoned buildings behind tall brick walls that I want to break into.
  • Hot Lix. The bbq skewers in my little night market.
  • Tong Hua Night market.
  • Fireworks in my 'hood 24/7/365 (actually I hate that but I'm sure I'll laugh about it someday)
  • The bird outside my window with the craziest song I have ever heard who likes to get started at about 2 am. (another thing I'll laugh about someday)
  • Being able to drink beer when you're walking down the street.
  • All of the hilarious things I see here every day, usually in the form of terrible English on a t-shirt.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Devin and I just got back from a week in lovely Tokyo. The place is amazing. I've never seen a better train system in my life, or as many damn people. It's a huge, crowded city with something for everyone. We had a great time visiting old friends and colleagues and just taking in what the city has to offer. Oh and the food is unbelievable.
Here are a few of my favorite shots:

I took tons of photos, so check out my photo page for more...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A sensory trip like no other

So before we begin, I should tell you that I'll be talking about pee a lot in this post. It's not pleasant but it's damn funny...
Also you should know that the buses here DON'T SMELL. Usually.

I got out of my class tonight and had to make the difficult decision of getting on the 'slow' bus back home or perhaps waiting indefinitely for the fast one. At 9:45 pm you have to take what you can get, so I boarded said slow bus which turned out to be a huge mistake.
The whole bus smelled as if were doused in urine (think most Trimet buses). And there was no epicenter that I was able to detect. It smelled like someone had dumped a bucket of pee on every single seat.
Now, I got on this bus at the beginning of the route, and got off near the end, so I was able to witness several different coping methods.
In the beginning, it was just the odd cracked window, including mine. Didn't help much.
We got short-term relief from someone who brought some fast food onto the bus, but they got off after a few stops, leaving us once again to suffer. (can you believe that the fast food actually smelled good to me?!)
Then someone busted out the air freshener, which worked for a few minutes, but the pee would not let up.
The award for best effort, however, goes to the person who finally gave up and lit a stick of incense, which I'm sure is against all kinds of rules.
I know, I know, I got all weak and spoiled after being away from the Portland metro buses for this long, but man it was bad. It brings me back...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Taipei Freemason's Temple

The Mason's Temple is tucked away in central Taipei, right off of one of the train lines. I kept catching glimpses of it from the train, and one day I finally tracked it down, only to find that it was as glorious as I had imagined. My guess on the construction date is late 60s, early 70s. Pretty run down. I'm sure years of acid rain and pollution didn't help much, but the result is a mysterious and groovy building, shrouded in mystery. At least for me.
More photos here.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I'm trying my best to document this unique(?) and rather wasteful practice that I've been made aware of in Taipei's real estate industry: Once someone is ready to build an apartment building on their land they naturally want to sell some of the units first. So before they build it, they construct an extremely modern-looking, but extremely cheap temporary structure in which they try to impress potential buyers.
The first one Devin and I became aware of was called Opus 1. For months we thought that it was some swank club where rich people went. That is, until Devin walked by and the place was completely torn down. Then, as I was passing a really ugly one with a friend one day, she told me that they stay up for about a year, then are torn down to make way for the real structure. And the final confirmation came to me a couple of months ago, when one started to go up down the street from my home. It has been interesting to see the process, and to see the fact that it is almost entirely made of plywood. There is no foundation (which may be a bad idea, since this particular one is on a steep, muddy hillside).
Here are a couple of examples of the buildings.

This one looked really nice at night, but a closer look during the day showed some shoddy workmanship. Note the ripples in what I assume is tin in the second photo:

This one is down the street from us. It looks super nice from the front, but the back reveals a tin roof and lotsa plywood.

This one is in a line of about 3 in the rapidly growing neighborhood of Nangang in east Taipei. Looks super nice, but is connected to some crappy little shack on the back end.

This will be an ongoing hunt. For more, check my photo page.