Sunday, May 30, 2010

Taiwan Flora and Fauna, Part 1

I kinda like flowers. So here are pictures of some of the flowers I've seen around Taiwan so far. I'll let them speak for themselves.





















(One little comment, since this isn't a flower. It's an aloe vera plant. I was thrilled to find it growing "in the wild". I've only ever seen them in pots before. It's easy to thrill me!)


















Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cuisine

Once while in training for a new job, a group of us had to do an exercise regarding "cuisine". It involved McDonald's and french food and other things that I don't remember. We were supposed to rate the various types of food from best to worst. I think the term "fine cuisine" was in there somewhere. I remember engaging in a playfully heated argument during the rating process. We had to present a rating agreed upon by the group and members of my group were putting McDonald's at or near the top of the list. I cannot stand McDonald's food so was very against their rank. Who knows how it came out, it doesn't matter. The point is this. I am again struggling with my Taiwan experience, and part of the struggle is with food. I was thinking about how McDonald's has moved high up on my list in recent weeks. When I think of french food I think of snails. (Truly!) And as you've seen in an earlier post, one of the things available to eat around here is snails. So...

Snails....McDonald's....Snails....McDonald's...

MCDONALD'S WINS!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jews for Jesus, and my Mom

I just read that Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus died. I feel privileged to have seen him in person many years ago. I am always so amazed by people that are saved out of religions that are so entrenched against Jesus. Mr. Rosen was brilliant and funny and had a passion for Jesus - obviously! My Mom and Dad have been long-time supporters of Jews for Jesus, so it strikes me as wonderful that Mr. Rosen will be in heaven when my Mom gets there. I hope they will meet and talk; I suppose they will.

When I was first in Boise last month, Mom was still in the hospital and we thought death would be imminent. I talked with Mom about heaven and what I thought it might be like. I asked who she was most looking forward to meeting (besides Jesus, of course) and she replied "Mary". I thought "Mary who?" as the faces of different Mary's she has known whizzed through my brain. Another "DUH" moment for me. MARY - The mother of Jesus!

We talked more about heaven, and I really don't remember the context of this part, but it is a memory I won't likely forget. You see, my Mom has always been very industrious - hard working. Not in the maniacal way that some women are (which drives me crazy!) but she has just never been lazy for a moment. As I talked about my imaginings of watching history play out on a sort of giant movie screen, Mom said "There will be so much work to be done." I laughed out loud at her! I mean, here I am thinking of sitting back watching the action and Mom is BUSY - working in the kingdom!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

July 4th

I was just reading the blog of another person who lives in the area of Washington D.C., and it reminded me of July 4th. For the past 2 summers we have been in Virginia for July 4th, but we never attended the fireworks in D.C. Darn it! This year I won't get the chance! I guess there is a lesson here: do something when you get the chance, because you can never be sure the chance will come around again!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Correction

In April I wrote about our tour of Taipei sites here and I identified one place as the Confucious temple. Finally I found the correct name. It is the National Martyr's Shrine. There IS a Confucious Temple, but it is as plain as the shrine is ornate.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today was the best day I've had so far in Taiwan. We went to a town called Jiufen. I liked it even better than Yingge, and I didn't think that was possible!

Jiufen was once a gold mining town but is now a huge tourist spot. They have a museum but guess what? We didn't go to it!

Jiufen is set on a hill



with switchback roads.

Parking is an experience unto itself. Sadly, I didn't think to take pictures of that. Maybe another time. People stand along the street and beckon you in to their little "garages". They are about the width of a narrow double car garage in the states, but deeper. They direct you in until you are almost bumper to bumper with the car in front of you. You leave your car key with them, so when someone needs their car they can move all of the cars out until they get to the one that is being called for! It's a fairly expensive arrangement too, at least compared to how cheap many things are around here. It costs NT$100 per hour, which is a little over US$3.


So we left our car and walked a short distance to the tourist area. Are you ready for another surprise? It was raining! I am not actually complaining about that anymore. I have learned that when the sun comes out it gets so hot that you feel like you are melting, so the rain is not so bad.

This is close to the beginning of the tourist area. This is actually still outside, but the street is so narrow that the awnings above act as a roof. At one point as we were walking a scooter drove past us, which surprised me. Eric has been here before and he said sometimes trucks actually drive down these streets! I don't know how they would fit!





I cannot help taking pictures of flowers. I have loads and loads of them. (And loads! Some day soon I will post all of my flower pictures. Then I'll probably have to post more later because I will undoubtedly find more flowers!) There are a lot of beautiful flowers in Taiwan. I took this photo from the street looking up. Above the businesses are residences, and this particular one had tons of flowers on their balcony - so many that you could barely see that there was a balcony.


Even the street signs looked pretty to me, surrounded by Chinese lanterns.


I passed by one shoe store but couldn't pass the 2nd. They had the most unique, beautiful wooden shoes. The first pair I tried on were high heels made of multiple colored wood. They were SO beautiful and unique! But the heel wasn't actually under your heel so walking on them was a little tricky. It made Eric nervous! I was about to buy them anyhow, when I spotted this:

When I was in Hawaii (about 30 years ago!!) I bought a pair of shoes with hand carved heels. I loved them. Not only are the heels on these shoes hand carved, but the flowers are PURPLE! I tried them on. My toes hung over the end. I asked if they came bigger. The girl had no English. She brought me another pair. Same size. I gestured - LONGER. No, she shook her head. She tightened the strap over my foot. No I said. BIGGER. I gestured some more. She gestured. She told me "it's okay". (She has a little English.) Well, as it turns out, at least as far as I can tell, the base only comes in one size. If your toes hang over the edge they make the top part smaller so that your toes can't go down so far. Now your heel hangs over the back. "It's okay" the girl said. She pointed to her own feet. Her heels were over the back. They custom fit them (sort of) right there. So how could I not buy carved, purple flowered, custom fit shoes? I bought them. Here is the girl attaching the strap for MY shoes:




But really shoes were not the most interesting part of the day. FOOD was the most interesting part of the day. All of that walking up and down hilly streets makes a person hungry! So there are lots of things to tempt you. For instance, you can have barbequed snails:


Okay I have to admit, this gives me the shivers. We have snails this size in the creek behind our house in Virginia. I just cannot imagine how hungry I would have to be to eat one of those slimy, nasty things. So, no thanks, I'll pass on the snails.
How about red-hot peppered, whole, tiny fish? You can't really get the full effect from the picture. This was part of a huge pile of little fish.


I'm not sure, but Eric says I ate some of these when we went on the realtor tour several weeks ago. I think he's wrong. I think what I ate was shrimp, but it did look a lot like this, so maybe. But I'll pass this time, thanks.
Tried that before, you say? Feeling adventurous? How about squid on a stick?

No? (NO, NO, a thousand times NO!!!!!!!!!)
Perhaps you prefer your squid dried.


I think I could go without eating for a long time, actually.
However, Eric and the kids are hungry for some "real" food. This, honestly, was the best part of the day. We were taking a break in a tacky little store when I noticed a sign for a cafe. I went to investigate and found the most breathtaking view. Check this out:

I had no idea we were anywhere near the ocean! Here is basically the same view, but I rotated the camera to show the outdoor seating. On a different, non rainy day, I think I could sit there for hours!



Since it was raining we sat inside. But this was not too shabby either!


I forgot. Chinese lunches always come with soup. Thankfully, this didn't seem to have anything weird in it. (Like squid!) It seemed to be some sort of vegetable chowder. Eric actually liked it. I tolerated it. I might have liked it except for what I call the "foreign freak-out factor". My body just says no whenever I think too much about what MIGHT be in foreign food. I ate a few bites. It was okay, but my body was threatening to revolt.


I did manage to eat my beef with scallions. WITH chopsticks. This was my first time using chopsticks. I missed the first time and the piece fell to the floor, but I got better. I'm pretty sure this was actually beef. Pretty sure...


And now, just a couple of random photos taken on the way out of town.


Always there are temples. Temples EVERYWHERE. If you have a keen eye, you can see one at the top of the first picture in this post. This temple, in the midst of a mountain, is the hugest one I have ever seen. This was taken from a long distance away.


We had a great day, a really great day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Portraits

A few portraits of US in Taiwan. With minimal comments. Just because. Mostly the kids. And probably mostly Anna, because she loves to have her picture taken but Ethan usually doesn't. And may I just say - I do realize that braces are in my kids' future!








Okay, perhaps NOT such minimal comments. See that dress Anna is wearing? It is from Amoretti. Cool company. Cool owner. That particular dress has appeared in magazine features all over the place. It is a very cool dress.









Many of the trees around Taipei 101 have some sort of twiggy basket wrapped around them, and orchids planted in the baskets, as above.


Waiting for the MRT. Many of the stations have glass walls in front of the platform. They must not like people to throw themselves in front of the trains!


At a beach on the north side of the island. I believe it was a sunny day. Of course I wasn't here for that day. I was in Boise where it was unseasonably cold! And rainy. And it SNOWED. Crazy.




On the (very ugly but very comfortable) couch in our apartment. Head to head DS combat I guess.


A foot washing station on the day I went to the beach. (It rained!)


I am not sure why, but I really love this picture of Eric. I took it.

Afterward, the kids wanted to try taking pics and, why not? It's digital so it doesn't cost anything! They did quite well. Here is Anna as taken by Ethan:


Ethan as taken by Anna:


Anna and I as taken by Ethan:



(Yikes!) Ethan took one of me that was even more frightening! I deleted it!