2010年11月1日 星期一

Blog Archive 8 很久很久以前的文章

Older entries from Taitung Style and Taiwan Style.  To minimize space, I've deleted the pictures.  Ready to time travel?  Let's go!


1. Can You Speak English? 你會說英文嗎? (Taitung Style, November 十一月 2010)

English is a very popular language. It is, in one sense at least, the most popular language, with about 1,800,000,000 speakers worldwide. Compare this to Chinese, of which there are 1,345,000,000 speakers worldwide. 英文是一門熱門的語言. 它是世界上最多人使用的語言. 目前說英文的人口有18億,比起說英文的人口,說中文的人數只有13億4500萬.

One thing that might surprise you, however, is the fact that Chinese has more native speakers than English does. 845,000,000 people speak Chinese as their first language, compared to 328,000,000 people speaking English as their first language. With regard to native speakers, even Spanish has about a million more native speakers than English does. 可是以中文為母語的人口比以英文為母語的人口多. 以中文為母語的有845,000,000人. 這個人數比328,000,00以英文為母語的人數大得多. 連以西班牙文為母語者還是比英文多100萬.

All of which means that English isn't necessarily the most "popular" language in the world, just the most studied. Certainly the combined economic might of Western countries is one reason for this. The giant shadow cast by Hollywood films and other forms of American media is another. 從這比較數字來看, 英文不是最"熱門"的語言. 卻是最多人學習的. 這與西方國家的經濟與科技發展有關. 也受美國電影跟音樂影響很大.

I just wonder if people sometimes miss the point of studying English. Yes, proficiency in English will open up a number of opportunities, but people seem to forget that the opportunities realized through English study are not the only ones out there. I've known Taiwanese people with a skill in music or dance, for example, who've not only traveled the world but also made a fair amount of money doing so. Scooter mechanics, to use another example, can be quite successful without any proficiency in English. 我想很多人搞不清楚為甚麼要學英文. 當然學好英文在工作上比較有發展機會, 可是不一定什麼機會都需要靠英文. 有的人很會跳舞或唱歌, 有的人很會畫畫還是修理機器. 有這種能力的人也能生活得很好, 不管他們的英文程度如何.

All I'm saying is that it might be worthwhile to contemplate the relevance of English to your daily life and goals. Some people use English to get into a good college, some people use English to get a job, and some people just use English to make friends or see the world in a different way. What you use English for depends on your own attitudes, likes, and dislikes. You can use English for many purposes, you just need to be clear about what those purposes are. 我的意思是確認您的學習目標有助於您的學習成果,有的人學習英文是為了進入大家公認的好學校,有的人則是為了工作上的需要,也有很多人是為了交朋友和拓展視野,您的學習態度和喜好影響您學習英文的方向,您可以為了很多不同的原因學英文,但是首先必須知道你的學習目的是什麼.


2. Hamburgers in Taitung 臺東的漢堡 (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2010)

I want to emphasize, for the sake of my Taiwanese friends, that when Americans use the word "hamburger" we usually mean a beef hamburger. The word in Chinese, "han bao" might refer to any hamburger, be it beef, pork, chicken, or even ostrich, but for Americans "hamburger" implies beef. When a hamburger is not beef, then we modify the word accordingly: i.e. "chicken hamburger," or "pork hamburger," or even "ostrich hamburger."我要對臺灣的朋友解釋一下Hamburger這個字,對美國人來說,它代表的是牛肉漢堡.臺灣朋友把雞肉,牛肉,豬肉或是鴕鳥肉......等的同類食物都當成漢堡,但是對美國人來說卻是大大的不同.如果漢堡麵包中夾的不是牛肉,那你就會看到各種不一樣的名稱,例如:雞肉漢堡,豬肉漢堡或是鴕鳥漢堡.

Up until recently, the Italian restaurant on the way to the train station (near the intersection of Geng Sheng Road and Ss Hang Road), would have gotten my vote for the best hamburger in Taitung. Sadly, the couple that owned this restaurant decided to close it down this fall, and I can only wish them the best of luck in another location.目前為止,往臺東火車站路上的義大利餐廳是我認為有最好吃的漢堡的餐廳,但是他們已經不再營業了,祝他們在別的地方有更好的發展.

The Hokie Diner, one of the three remaining restaurants in Taitung that serve hamburgers, has moved from Shin Sheng Road to one of the small alleys behind Jung Hua Road, not far from Who's Pub. Their hamburgers are on the small side, but their prices are reasonable. I've heard that they are also selling food at the night market on Sundays, though last time I went I didn't see them there.The Hokie Diner是臺東三家提供漢堡餐點的餐廳的其中之一,他們從新生路搬到Who's Pub附近的小巷子裡,他們的漢堡比較小,但是價錢公道,我聽說他們也在夜市擺攤.

Besides the Hokie, there is also the Pirates Restaurant on Kai Feng Street, run by another American. The Pirates Restaurant seems to do a steady business, though their hours are very strange. Their food is on the pricey side, but their hamburgers are very good.另外在開封街還有一家美國人開的"海道",他們的生意很好,雖然他們的價位比較高,但是他們的漢堡真的很好吃.

Of course if Pirates is too expensive for you, then there is always McDonald's. I just wonder how much actual beef they put into a Big Mac, because I have never found eating one to be a satisfying experience. If I were you, I would avoid McDonald's anyway. Their food just isn't healthy.如果你認為"海道"有點貴,那還有麥當勞可供選擇.但是我懷疑麥當勞的大麥克漢堡到底有多少牛肉在裡面,因為他們的漢堡不能帶給我滿足感,如果我是你,我會避免麥當勞的餐點,因為他們的食物跟健康沾不上邊.


3. When, What, Who, Where, Why, and How (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)

1. When.

I came to Taiwan in 1999. This was two weeks before the now-famous 9-21 Earthquake, in memory of which there is now a museum in central Taiwan. This was also just two weeks after I graduated from the University of Washington, with a B.A. in International Studies.

2. What.

My first job in Taiwan was teaching for Jump Start English School in Taichung 臺中. I was one of their kindergarten teachers, teaching kids ages 4-5, for eight hours a day, five days a week.

3. Who.

I am an American, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I have two daughters, aged 5 and 10, and I am married to a Taiwanese national. I have been Taiwan about 8 years all together, though these 8 years are spaced out over the 11 years from my arrival in Taiwan to the present.

4. Where.

I live in Taitung 臺東, Taiwan, which is on the east coast of the island, down near the bottom. I have lived in Taitung for nearly four years. I have also lived in Taichung and Hsinchu 新竹, on the other side of the island. I like it better here. The air is fresher.

5. Why.

Why do I live in Taiwan? I suppose it just suits me better. I have already lived here so long that Taiwanese people just make more sense to me. I also prefer the weather and the food. People back home often strike me as "cold" or "distant," the weather almost invariably SUCKS, and I think the food in Taiwan is both more delicious and better for you.

6. How.

How do I do? I'm fine, thank you. And you?


4.Taipei 臺北 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)

Taipei is the biggest city in Taiwan. Taipei is also bigger than Seattle, my hometown.

Taiwan's central government is located in Taipei, as are most of the major embassies or "institutes" representing other countries. Taipei is also the most modern of Taiwanese cities, though this isn't always a good thing. Just about anything in Taipei is accompanied by breathtaking numbers of people, and if you don't like crowds I would suggest you avoid the place altogether.

Up until a year or so ago, my brother-in-law lived in Banchiao 板橋, which could be called a "suburb" of Taipei City. The term "suburb" can be misleading, however, since most people in Banchiao live in apartment buildings that dwarf anything you'd find in the States.

My father-in-law also lives in Shu-lin 樹林, which is still in Taipei County, and not far from the famous ceramics center in Yingge 應歌. Thanks to the the above-mentioned two people, I have come to know Taipei fairly well, though certainly not as well as someone who lives there. I go to Taipei approximately twice a year, and I am due to return there next weekend for the Fubon Marathon 富邦台北馬拉松.

I think that Taipei is a nice place to visit, though I'm not sure whether I would like to live there. The weather there is a lot rainier than in other parts of Taiwan, and the crowds can be a serious obstacle to enjoying certain things. I can recall visiting a comic book expo at the Taipei Exhibition Hall 臺北世貿 once, and because of the crowds the only thing I could see was the backs of other peoples' heads.

Even so, you can have a lot of fun in Taipei. I like the Miramar Department Store 美麗華, and I think it is far better than anything you'd find in eastern, central, or southern Taiwan. I also think the Shr Lin Night Market 士林夜市 is very fun if you avoid it during peak times. Danshui 淡水 is also a great place to unwind.

I have a lot of memories in Taipei - many of them good - so I can't say that the place is all bad. I enjoy riding the MRT around, and poking through the larger bookstores. There is also a much wider selection of international foods in Taipei. In Taipei I can eat real Indian food made by real Indians, or American food made by real Americans, or even real Indonesian food made by people just off the plane from Jakarta.

Taipei can be a challenge, but Taipei can be fun.


5. Teaching English (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)

I have had many jobs in Taiwan, all of them to do with teaching. What, one might well ask, can Americans such as myself DO in Taiwan, apart from teaching English? Answer: not... very... much.

Sure, we can open restaurants or start short-lived English-language newspapers, we can open pubs or work as engineers, but the fact remains that about 99.99999% of us are teaching English in one form or another. This isn't a bad thing, just a reflection of economic and cultural realities.

English, after all, is big business in Taiwan.

So my job history, given where I live, is unsurprising. My first job in Taiwan was teaching English, and I have never left that profession. I actually like teaching English, even if my doing so doesn't exactly make me special.

1. My first job

My first job in Taiwan was teaching for Jump Start English School 柏克萊美語學校 in Taichung 臺中. I taught kindergarten there full-time. My classes were never more than 18 students, and I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing. I worked at this place for four years, and if they had pursued a better business strategy I would probably still be there today.

2. My second job

My second job was teaching part-time in the vocational school 專科學校 not far from Jump Start. This was an easy job, but they never paid me on time. My first class consisted of more than 100 students during a single two-hour class, and yes, that was extremely stressful. Fortunately the number of students dropped after they realized I wasn't Superman.

3. My third job

My third job was working at Canadian-American English School 加美美語學校 in Hsinchu 新竹. This was after I returned from two years of graduate school in Seattle, so by this time I had more than a few ideas about how and what I wanted to teach. This was without a doubt the most disastrous job I've ever had in Taiwan. The students were fast disappearing, the bosses were uncommunicative, and by the time I left the school was about to close - forever.

4. My fourth job

My fourth job was working for the Taitung County Government 臺東縣政府. My wife and I had always wanted to move to the east coast of the island, and working for the County also seemed like a step-up in my career. I was placed in Tung Hai Junior High School 東海國中 in Taitung City 臺東市, where I worked for two years. It was a good job, if a bit repetitive.

5. My fifth job

My fifth job involved teaching classes for both the English Department and the Language Center 語言中心 at Taitung University 臺東大學. There was a lot of preparation involved, but then again my classes were full of very sexy college girls. I was doing this at the same time I was working at the middle school.

6. My sixth and present job.

I still work for the Taitung County Government, though I am presently at Tung Hai Elementary School 東海國小. Financially speaking, it's the best job I've ever had. It's not quite as fun or meaningful as teaching kindergarten full-time, but as anyone who has done this in Taiwan knows, that job carries its own set of risks. I like it here, and I plan on staying as long as I can.


6. The 2010 Fubon Taipei Marathon 富邦台北馬拉松 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)

The Fubon Taipei Marathon 富邦台北馬拉松 is the first "city run" that I've ever participated in, and also the first 9K race I've yet run. Prior to my attendance at this event, I only participated in "fun runs," in more rural areas throughout Taiwan.

Wow, what a difference location makes.

First of all, if you are going to this thing you need to arrive very early. I made the mistake of arriving half an hour before the race, and it was SLAMMED. Really, the phrase in Chinese, "ren shan ren hai" 人山人海 (people from the mountains to the sea), doesn't even begin to describe the crowds at this event. There were so many people attending that it took me over ten minutes just to get from the staging area to the starting line, and this was well after the race had officially started. Even after I'd crossed the starting line, I found running at my pace impossible due to the number of people around me.

Secondly, if you go to this thing, make sure you know what to do with your luggage. The baggage check-in at this race was a joke, and NO ONE seemed to know that they had to pay 100 NT to have their baggage secured. This fee led to a great deal of confusion on everyone's part, with thousands of people frantically running back and forth trying to find the money to pay, trying to fit their stuff into the right bag, and trying to get the hell out of there so they could run. It was, in short, a colossal mess.

Thirdly, the only people who will do well in this race are those willing to arrive two hours early, and who are moreover willing to push their way through ten thousand or so other people. I have been to heavy metal concerts that were more subdued.

All of which is not to say that I didn't enjoy this event. I actually had a great time. It's fun to run right through the center of Taipei, and the enthusiasm of both the spectators and the participants more than makes up for the fact that this isn't the fairest athletic competition I've been to. Think of it as more of an exhibition, and you'll probably be more satisfied with your performance.

And if I could suggest anything to the people that put on this marathon, it is that you really, really ought to limit the number of people taking part in this thing. More people can sometimes make for more fun, but there is a definite limit to how many people can safely and profitably run a marathon.


7. Cram Schools 補習班 (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2010)

Are cram schools necessary? I really don't know. All I know is that we don't really have cram schools in Seattle, and that this doesn't seem to be a problem for anyone there. Maybe this is because the United States is much less "test-centric" than Taiwan, or maybe it's because of other cultural factors. Again, I'm not sure. 真的需要補習班嗎? 西雅圖那邊沒有什麼補習班. 在西雅圖,人們對補習班這種地方沒什麼概念. 可能是因為那邊不是那麼地重視考試成績. 這也許跟民俗習慣有關, 只是我在這方面沒有仔細研究過.

I just feel sorry for kids that attend cram schools until 8, 9, or 10 p.m. every night. Seeing them walk around with those heavy backpacks, and watching them trudge onwards to their next class, in their next school, just makes me sad. 我只是覺得晚上8點過後還在上課的學生很可憐. 看他們背那麼重的書包, 上那麼多的課, 和去那麼多不同的學校.

Life, after all, should be about more than going to school. Life is also about friends, and family, and having fun, and going places. But it seems like some people want to turn life into one huge cram school, where we are always preparing for the next test. 除了上課, 人生還有很多重要的事, 例如:朋友, 跟家人相處,休閒和旅行. 很多爸爸媽媽只重視孩子的課業表現,好像人生只有補習才是唯一的重心..

I realize that parents just want the best for their children. I realize that success in school is important. I realize, moreover, that tests are important in Taiwan. Still, I don't know why so many kids need to attend so many classes. Sometimes it seems like the only thing that people in Taiwan know how to do is take classes, or tests, or how to worry about both classes and tests. Their parents forced them to do it, and so they force their own kids to do it. 我了解每位家長都想讓自己的孩子得到最好的. 我知道學習的成就很重要. 我也知道在臺灣考試的成績更是重要.但是我不知道的是為什麼有的豥子要上那麼多課? 有時候我覺得臺灣朋友只知道上課跟考試這兩件事情. 因為他們自己的父母有這種想法, 所以他們也是這樣子教他們自己的孩子.

Sometimes people ask me about what English cram school they should go to. I am never able to tell them. I have never taught in a cram school, and if I can help it I will never put my daughters into one. 有時我的臺灣朋友問我哪一個英文補習班最好. 我沒辦法回答這個問題. 我沒有在補習班任教的經驗. 我也不是很想把我的孩子送到任何補習班.

I'm sure there are cram schools that help some students. I just hope they are thinking about their curriculum half as much as their business plans. There is a lot of money to be made in cram schools, and not always honestly. Besides that, I can think of a thousand other things kids would rather be doing than attending cram schools - things like playing video games, or going to the park, or playing with their friends, or spending time with their parents, or sleeping more, or reading comic books, or... 有的補習班當然幫孩子很多忙 ,也有的補習班只想賺錢, 他們很願意講你要聽的好話. 我只希望他們對學生的關心是跟賺錢的熱忱成正比. 孩子們除了上課之外, 還有很多應該做的事,例如:玩電動玩具, 去公園玩, 跟朋友玩, 跟爸爸媽媽聊天, 多一點的睡覺時間, 看漫畫書...


8. Chinese New Year 中國新年 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)

At this point in my life, Chinese New Year is probably my favorite holiday. I get a big vacation because of it, all the stores go crazy with sales, I see people I haven't seen in a while, and I generally have a good time.

I'm told that next year is the Year of the Rabbit. I think this is supposed to be bad for me, because I was born in the Year of the Rabbit and that means that I need to be "careful." Then again, I first arrived in Taiwan during the Year of the Rabbit, and in that sense it has proved to be a very fortunate time for me.

The Year of the Rabbit, after all, was the year in which I met the woman who was to later become my wife. She was also born in the Year of the Rabbit. We were married just a few months after the last Year of the Rabbit - in 2000 - and during the following Year of the Dragon we had our first child, now more than 11 years ago.

It's a funny thing about time. The harder we try to hold on to it, the faster it slips away. The last Year of the Rabbit still feels like yesterday to me, even though I was only 25 then and almost 36 now.

Chinese New Year always finds me in a reflective mood - thinking over all the years between my arrival in Taiwan and the present. I think back to drunken meals around a table in Yunlin 雲林, listening to my wife's uncle talk about his trips to China. I think about watching kids light fireworks in Shu-lin 樹林. I think about people I've lost touch with, on both sides of the Pacific.

The Year of the Rabbit is coming, and if we think about it, we have many reasons to be happy. Life is never perfect, there are always problems to be faced, but life is also good, and no problem is ever so big or so permanently so. I think of this as I remember all the Chinese New Years before today, when I saw so many problems fall by the wayside, when I reunited with so many old friends, and when I remembered - for another year - that this is a good world to live in.

Here's wishing you a Happy New Year. You rabbits keep your heads down. You be "careful," and I'll do the same.


9. Bad Foreigners 壞外國人 (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2010)

Are all foreigners in Taiwan nice? Are all foreigners polite, and punctual, and hard-working? Of course not. Applying generalities to large groups of people, be they Chinese, foreign, or from other planets, never works all the time. 在臺灣的外國人都很熱心嗎? 我們都很客氣, 很準時, 在工作上很用心嗎? 不盡然. 有的外國人很熱心, 有的很冷漠. 有的在工作上很盡責.我們看待事情就像任何臺灣人一樣.

So you might understand why I get so perturbed when I hear such generalities applied to us foreigners. No, we are not all nice. No, we are not all polite, or punctual, or hard-working. Not all of us speak English, and not all of us eat hamburgers every day. 所以你應該知道我不喜歡聽"外國人都很熱心"這種話. 每個外國人都不一樣. 不一定很熱心, 不一定很客氣,或很準時. 也不一定講英文或是每天吃漢堡. 外國人群中,什麼人都有.

Some of us, in fact, are BAD. 也有"壞的"外國人

I have met at least a few foreigners that I would classify as "bad," or at least "undesirable" for various reasons. I came across most of these foreigners on the other side of the island, but I have also met a few in Taitung. 我當然碰過一些壞外國人. 我叫他們"壞外國人"的原因很多. 大多在西部碰到這樣的人, 臺東當然也有這種人存在.

My list of "bad foreigners" includes: "壞外國人"的條件如下:

1. The foreigner who starts fights with Taiwanese drivers over minor traffic violations (i.e. "That Taiwanese guy cut me off!"). I met a guy like this at the Taitung Airport, and instead of sticking around to face the music, he just ran away and left his friend to discuss the matter with the police. 為了小車禍打架的外國人. 我去年在臺東機場碰過這種人. 他跟一位臺灣人打架, 最後他怕被抓就跑走了. 膽小的他把自己的朋友留在機場跟警察解釋整件事.

2. The foreigner who tries to steal Taiwanese guys' girlfriends, and then starts fights with their boyfriends when the girls aren't interested. This is just stupid, and has on one occasion gotten foreigners like this beaten very badly. 追臺灣人的女朋友的外國人. 當女人不接受他的時候, 又跟她的男朋友打架,而且差點被打死,這真是一件很沒有面子的事!

3. The foreigner who skips out on his/her contract and flees to Thailand. I know several foreigners who have done this. They just disappear and leave their school to pick up the pieces. I could understand if their school was treating them unfairly, but this is rarely the case. 還有一些人惡意違反工作合約,工作到一半就落跑到泰國,留下爛攤子給學校處理,如果是因為學校工作條件太差還能了解,但往往並不是這樣的原因.

4. The foreigner who molests children. I heard of a guy in Taichung who was doing this. He did it at every school he worked for. When he got caught he ran away, moved to another part of Taiwan, and started doing the same thing at another school. Anyone who runs into this guys is welcome to castrate him. Please do. 摸小朋友的外國人. 我住臺中的時候,聽說過這樣的事. 他每次被工作的學校發現時就搬家, 不停地在各個學校下手. 我希望他下次被發現的時候有人剪掉他的小鳥.

5. The foreigner who complains about everything in Taiwan that isn't like everything else in his/her home country. Of course, this kind of foreigner makes up about 70% of the foreigners in Taiwan, so I can't judge him/her TOO harshly. Still, get used to it. You're not in Canada, the States, or England anymore, and YOU signed yourself up for it. Calm down and enjoy where you are? 只會抱怨臺灣不像自己國家的外國人. 在臺灣很多這種外國人, 我要對他們說:你們這些外國人應該知道自己選的地方是臺灣, 不是你自己的國家! 不要一直想這兩國家的差別. 選擇你所愛,愛你所選擇,臺灣有它自己的好.

I could go on. But I think I'll stop my list here for now. Besides, I'd rather think about the foreigners that AREN'T on this list. You know - the ones that are nice, polite, and hard-working? 我不想再說, 所以我在第五點上停下來. 我要想想不在這名單的外國朋友. 你認識他們嗎? 那些熱心, 客氣, 跟有責任感的外國朋友.


10. Taitung County 臺東縣 (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2011) 

Taitung County 臺東縣 is where I live. It is on the southeast coast of Taiwan, between Hualien 花蓮 and Ping Tung 屏東 Counties. It is also one of the least developed parts of Taiwan, with a population far below other counties such as Taipei 臺北 or Kaohsiung 高雄.

The word "Taitung" 臺東 (which should probably be spelled "Taidong") refers to both the county and the city. Taitung City is roughly in the middle of Taitung County, and people often get the two confused. There are a little over 200,000 people living in Taitung City, which is by far the most densely populated place in the whole county.

I like living in Taitung. I have also lived in Taichung City 台中市 and Hsinchu City 新竹市, and I can tell you that the east coast of Taiwan is much better. Sure, I sometimes miss the nightlife on the west coast, but I wouldn't trade it for the fresh air, and the refreshing lack of traffic.

Which isn't to say that Taitung is perfect. There are still poor people here, and there is still pollution. There are still ignorant people, and there are still problems to be faced. By and large, however, I would gladly trade Taitung's problems for those of Taichung or Hsinchu.

There are many famous places in Taitung County, and if you have the time, and haven't been yet, you should come out and take a look. There is Guan Shan 關山鎮, with its "water park" 親水公園 and bike trails. There is the National Museum of Prehistory 史前博物館, with its exhibits on local aboriginal tribes. There are Green 綠島 and Orchid Islands 蘭嶼. There is the East Coast National Scenic Area, with its miles of beaches and mountains drenched in mist.

All in all, it's a good place to live. I can't, for that matter, imagine living anywhere else. I hope I never have to!


11. TTL (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2011)

The TTL Corporation produces and sells a wide variety of beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks throughout Taiwan. TTL stands for "Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor," a name which reflects the Corporation's former status as the producer of most alcoholic drinks and cigarettes in Taiwan. Up until Taiwan's joining the WTO, the TTL Corporation possessed a near-monopoly over the beer, liquor, and cigarette markets in Taiwan.

These days, TTL just doesn't have that kind of power. They still produce Taiwan Beer, which is by far the cheapest and most popular beer in Taiwan, but their dominance in other areas is slowly fading. It used to be that the lion's share of products in any supermarket's "beer and wine" sections was supplied by TTL, but recent years have seen a greater market for products from Mainland China in Taiwan. Tsingtao Beer 青島, for instance, is not only increasingly popular in Taiwan, but also produced domestically. Besides Tsingtao, there are also several other brands of beer that are produced - in Taiwan - by other companies.

TTL also makes a lot of rice-wine and rice-wine based liquors. I have tried most of them, and I have to say they're not for me. I like their Jhu Ye Ching wine 竹葉青酒, and also their leechee wine. Their new "Mollac" wine is alright, but I'm not fond of their other products. I'm more of a whiskey drinker anyway, so this should come as no surprise.

I've been to their brewery in Jhunan, Miao Li County 苗栗縣竹南鄉, and also to their rice wine distillery in Hualien 花蓮. I enjoyed the brewery in Jhunan a great deal, but then again I am a big fan of Taiwan Beer. I don't know if they do this all the time, but while I was there it was an "all you can drink for free" situation, and I made all haste to get myself really, really trashed.

There's not much to say about the rice wine distillery. It's worth visiting if you find yourself in north Hualien, but unless you drink a lot of Tunnel 88 you probably won't want to stay there for long. Their restaurant is very nice, and features Taiwan Beer on tap. This beer is quite different from that found in your local 7-11, and the staff at the distillery are happy to give you a tour, and tell you how Taiwan's most famous beer is made.

I just wish I could get back to that brewery in Jhunan. Unfortunately I live in Taitung 臺東, and Jhunan is about as far from my house as you can get and still be on the island.


12. Living Well in Taiwan (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2011)

I've been in Taiwan a long time, and during my time here I have often reflected on my situation as a foreign resident of this country. I'm not just talking about applying for my next visa, or having a job for the next year, but also about living well - about being happy - in Taiwan.

I don't think it's a given that someone from a Western country will be happy in Taiwan. In fact, I have known many people, from many Western countries, who are miserable here. In the end it comes down to your goals in life, your interests, and your ability to adjust to life in a different culture.

I could never grudge anyone for having life goals that are different from my own. This is to be expected. Still, there are many foreigners who could have done better than coming to Taiwan in the first place. They may have had reasons for coming here, but in the end these reasons were never clearly thought out. In the end their life goals conflicted with being in this place, and they would have done better to ask themselves whether or not Taiwan really fit in with their plans.

These are the sort of people who end up disappearing. They take a job here, they make (what they think) are sincere promises, and in the end they disappear. I suppose this is also to be expected. Some of them are very young, just out of college in fact, and they just don't know themselves well enough to be in it for the long haul. Still, they can cause others a lot of grief.

Personal interests also play a role in being happy here. If you have no interests that can be pursued in Taiwan, then obviously you won't be happy here. I have met some foreigners who only like sports that can be played in much colder climates, or who only eat foods that can be found in Western countries, or who can only relate to people with Western interests identical to their own. Obviously such people are going to be unhappy here - unless they go about making some changes.

The ability to adjust to another culture is probably the deciding factor in whether someone is happy here or not. I have met some foreigners who are either unwilling or unable to do this. The truly amazing thing to me is that some of them live here for years - even decades - without ever really participating in Taiwan. They eat food at places like McDonald's or else eat at home, they only talk to other foreigners, and they almost never, ever go out. I can only feel sorry for such people, because nine times out of ten it is fear that is driving them, and fear that is keeping them where they are.

Of course, beyond the general points raised above, there are a multitude of finer points relative to living well in this country. There are things like learning the language, or getting used to the food, or even learning to give people red envelopes at their wedding. No one said living here was easy, but learning to make your life easier can be a joyful process.


13. Elementary School Vs. Junior High 國小Vs.國中 (Taitung Style, February 二月 2011)

I spent two years teaching at Tung Hai Junior High School, and I also taught (VERY briefly) at a junior high in Seattle. These days I am teaching elementary, but this is not because I think junior high kids are horrible! 我在臺東市的東海國中任教兩年. 也在美國西雅圖短時間當過國中老師. 我目前在國小教美語, 可是這並不是因為我不喜歡教國中生.

Most junior high kids have short attention spans. You might think they would be able to concentrate more than younger kids, but I have never found this to be the case. Hormones are often blamed for this, and surely the long, embarrassing process of becoming an "adult" plays a part. 大部分的國中生沒辦法專心上課. 也許你認為他們的專心度應該比國小生好很多. 也許這情況跟他們年紀有關係. 隨著賀爾蒙的變化,他們的身體和想法在改變, 也影響他們沒法專心上課.

In my elementary school, I would never pursue any activity for longer than fifteen minutes. In junior high, I wouldn't do anything longer than ten minutes. When junior high kids get bored, things can get really, really ugly. 在我任教的國小, 我不會讓任何課程活動超過十五分鐘. 在國中, 則是不超過十分鐘. 因為當國中生覺得無聊的時候,那就是真的很恐怖的時候.

One great thing about teaching in an elementary school is not having to break up fights as often. In my one and a half years at Tung Hai Elementary, I have broken up exactly one fight. In two years at Tung Hai Junior High, I broke up MANY fights, often involving students who were much larger than I was. 教國小的好處就是學生不那麼容易打架. 我已經在國小一年半, 我只看過一次學生打架. 而在國中那兩年則發生很多打架事件, 而且很多學生比我還高.

The biggest difference between elementary and junior high is, of course, the "sex issue." Sometimes girls and boys in my elementary will tell me they "love me," but they just mean in the way that they love many other adults. Girls in junior high have told me they "loved me," but that was in a strange, psuedo-adult way that made me VERY uncomfortable. 國中生跟國小生最明顯的不同是對性別的敏感度. 在國小,很多學生會跟我說"我愛你", 他們這麼說只是因為喜歡我. 而國中女生跟我說"我愛你"時, 卻不只是對老師的單純喜歡. 在這種狀況下,我覺得非常得不舒服與困擾.

Boys in junior high are fascinated by sex, and they will always try to use English class to find out about sex words they learned in movies. During my first year, it took me about a month to eliminate the word "fuck" from my presence, and even still I was pestered with questions related to words like "fag," "penis," and (strangest of all) "motel." 國中男生最喜歡使用他們在電影裡學的髒話. 我剛開始教國中時, 一直聽到"fuck"這個字. 花了我將近一個月的時間請他們不要說這個字. 除了它, 他們也很喜歡用"fag," "penis,"還有"motel"這樣的生字.

All of this said, teaching junior high kids really isn't all that different from teaching elementary kids. They have their own, weird sense of humor, and once you learn how to "speak their language" it's not so bad. They also have their own way of looking at the world, and there is a lot to be learned from it. 大致上教國小和教國中很像. 國中生有自己的看法, 自己的溝通語言和自己的幽默感. 只要你學會他們的語言,他們並不是人們想的那麼恐怖. 而且大人也可以從他們獨特的世界觀中獲得收或.


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2010年9月1日 星期三

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Older entries from Taitung Style.  To minimize space, I've deleted the pictures.  Ready to time travel?  Let's go!


1. Taiwan, Eleven Years In (September 九月 2010)

When I think about it, after THIS year I will have been in Taiwan TWELVE years, and since I will be 36 next year that means I will have spent a full third of my life either living in, moving to, moving away from, or in some other way concerned with this island. 我快三十六歲了,也已經在臺灣十一年, 所以我生活的三分之一都跟臺灣有關係.

But for now I'm only up to the number 11. That's not so long, right? Never mind the fact that yesterday a coworker told me that when I first came to Taiwan she WAS STILL IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. I cannot tell you how inexpressibly old this made me feel, to think that soon-to-be college graduates were still watching "Yoyo TV" when I was first getting off the plane from Seattle. 雖然十一年不是很長,但是昨天有一位同事說我到臺灣的第一年,她仍是國小的學生,你無法想像我聽到時的感受,那些即將從大學畢業的學生居然在當時還是看幼幼臺的小朋友.

Oh well. I try not to dwell on these things. You're as young as you feel, right? If that's true then I am very young indeed, since all my training for the triathlon has probably put me in the best shape I've ever been in. I just wish, like probably everyone else alive, that I could live for a few hundred more years, never growing older or weaker or more confused.算了,我試著不要在這些事上放太多心思,在心理層面上,我仍然覺得自己還很年輕,我為了參加鐵人三賽所練習的運動項目,將身體鍛鍊到有始以來自己最滿意的狀態,跟大多數人的希望一樣,如果可以活個幾百年,不用擔心變老時的身體狀況和腦袋遲鈍的問題就好了.

Life is so short, you know. If you don't feel that way, you probably aren't over 30, you probably don't have children, and you probably never think how just yesterday you were asking your parents for comic book money, or falling in love for the first time, or opening your first bank account. I am continually appalled by the fact that my older daughter will be attending middle school in a couple of years. I can almost hear the clock going "tick, tick, tick..."生命很短暫.如果你沒有這樣的認知,那表示你大概未過三十歲?可能也還沒有孩子?更或許才剛脫離跟父母要零用錢的階段?談第一次的戀愛?第一次到銀行開戶?我可是一直都被我大女兒快上國中的這個事實提醒著,耳邊幾乎可以聽到時間運行的滴答聲.

Of course I know what my mom would say. "What, you're worried about being 35? How old do you think I am?" She would say this, and she would be right. I am still very young by many people's standards, and my age shouldn't bother me.我可以想像我媽在這個時候會說的話:"什麼!你煩惱自己已經三十五歲了?那你認為我幾歲?"她應該是對的,對很多比我年長的人來說,我是沒什麼理由煩惱自己的年紀的.

Never mind the fact that I can remember a time before CDs, a time before the internet, and even a time before Taipei had the MRT. Our lives are full of such milestones, and I suppose the best we can do is just reconcile ourselves to this fact. Sometimes it's not easy to grow older, but we are certainly fortunate to have the chance to do so.我記得那個只有卡帶錄音機的時代,還沒有網際網路的年代和臺北還沒有捷運的景象,我們的生命中充滿了許多像這樣具有里程碑特性的時刻,最好的態度就是接受,有時很難釋懷年歲的增長,但是有這樣的成長機會不也是一件幸福的事?

It's a good life, and it's a good world to live in. So here's to another year in Taiwan!這是一個美麗的世界,對我更是邁向在臺灣的下一年度的時刻.


2. Foreign Teachers, Public Schools 公立學校的外籍教師 (October 十月 2010)

I work for Tung Hai Elementary School as a Foreign English Teacher. In this capacity I am employed by the Taitung County Government. I have been working for the Taitung County Government for three years. 我是台東市東海國小的外籍老師. 我已經在臺東教書三年了.

Tung Hai Elementary is the second public school I have worked at in Taitung. I was previously the Foreign English Teacher at Tung Hai Middle School, where I worked for two years before deciding that smaller children were decidedly more pleasant to teach. Besides the middle and elementary schools, I have also taught off and on at Taitung University, working for both the English Department and the Language Center. 在臺東, 東海國小是我任教的第二個學校. 我以前在東海國中上班二年, 之後,我覺得教國小學生應該比較輕鬆一點. 除了在國中小上課以外, 我以前也在臺東大學教過美語會話跟TOEFL的課.

At present, besides myself, there are 6 other foreign teachers working in Taitung County. There is one at Guan Shan Elementary, one at Lu Ye Elementary, one working at both Bao Sang Middle School and Feng Li Elementary, one at Bao Sang Elementary, one at Ren Ai Elementary, and one at Tung Hai Middle School, where I used to work. 除了我之外, 臺東縣還有六個外籍老師. 一位在關山, 一位在鹿野, 一位在寶桑國中跟豐里國小, 一位在仁愛國小, 還有一位在東海國中.

This makes five out of seven teachers working in Taitung City, where most of the schools and most of the students are. I believe six of us are Americans, with one Australian. Three of us are men, and four are women. 這群外籍老師當中, 六個是從美國來的. 另外一個是從澳洲來的. 三位是男生, 四位是女生.

When I first came to Taitung, there were only four other Foreign English Teachers. One of them was a girl from Canada, another was a guy from Texas, and another two were an older couple from South Africa. A couple of them had a lot of difficulty getting along with their coworkers, but I think this difficulty was more due to their individual personalities than any other factor. 我第一年到臺東時, 全縣只有五個外籍老師. 一位是從加拿大來的小姐, 一位是從美國德州來的男老師, 還有一對南非來的夫妻. 其中有兩個不太適合這裡的工作環境, 這應該是因為他們自己的個性問題.

A couple of the Foreign English Teachers were so bad that those schools will not accept Foreign English Teachers anymore. This is a sad thing. Most of the teachers, however, have done a good job and it would be good to have more like them. The problem facing most of the county governments throughout Taiwan is simply recruiting enough teachers to meet the demand. There are plenty of foreigners living in Taiwan who would kill to work for the Government, but they don't meet the requirements. If I could, I would certainly hire some of them, but of course I'm not the one making all the rules. 有兩個外籍老師的表現讓他們的學校以後不再接受任何的外籍老師. 這是件很可惜的事情. 除了他們以外, 其他的外籍老師的工作表現都很好. 臺東縣的問題不是外籍老師不好, 而是常常找不到符合資格的外籍老師. 臺灣當然有很多外國人, 只是教育部要求的資格條件有很多限制.

Foreign English Teachers working in Taitung public schools can find themselves here in one of two ways. The first way is to get hired by the Ministry of Education (M.O.E.) in Taipei. After they hire them, they can request (or be sent) to work in Taitung. The second way is to apply directly to the Taitung County Government. In either case their pay comes from the M.O.E. 臺東縣徵聘外籍老師的辦法有兩種. 第一個是由教育部分發, 第二個是縣政府自己徵聘. 不管他們是由哪一單位徵聘, 他們的薪水都是從中央政府撥款來的.

It is my hope that the Government can keep this program going. There are certainly problems to be faced, but I believe that given the efforts of both Taiwanese and Foreign educators we can continue to do a lot of good for a lot of young people. In a larger sense, it's not just about teaching and learning English. It's also about bringing people and cultures together. 我很希望臺灣的教育部會繼續推廣這個教學計畫. 我們當然還有一些問題要改善, 可是我覺得外師跟中師一起合作可以為英文學習加分. 從長遠的目標來看, "外師"的功能不只是教學方面而已, 也是培養世界觀跟了解其他文化的媒介.


3. Facebook 臉書 (October 十月 2010)

Does everybody love Facebook? Sometimes it seems like it. 全世界都愛臉書嗎? 有時候好像是這樣.

Facebook is very popular all over the world right now. People in America love it. People in Taitung love it. I'm sure there are even people in Kazakhstan and Sierra Leone who spend hours playing "Happy Farm" and obsessing over how many "friends" they have. 在全世界,"臉書"受到熱烈的歡迎. 美國人愛它. 臺東人也超愛它. 我想連哈薩克共和國和獅子山共和國的人都玩開心農場和利用"臉書"交友.

My only problem with Facebook is that it's not real. Not in the way many people think. In a way it seems real - you have pictures of your friends there, you seem to be interacting with them - but these interactions don't really amount to much. 可是在"臉書"上的世界是虛擬的. 臉書會給你 "有朋友" 的感覺,你可以看到他們的照片,似乎和他們有許多交集, 可是那樣的互動卻不是很有意思.

People don't ever say anything important on Facebook. This is because Facebook isn't a very good way to communicate. Part of the problem is the number of "friends" you have, another part of the problem is that some people use Facebook more than others, and another part of the problem is the very public nature of any information posted on Facebook. Even if you are careful about your "privacy settings" on Facebook, a lot of your information is available to a lot of other people. 在"臉書"上沒人會說什麼重要的事. 這是因為"臉書"不是什麼溝通的好系統. 部分原因是朋友群的多寡,或是有的人使用它的機會比其他人多,再來是個人資料的保護,因為你放在上面的任何文字都是容易就被他人取得的.

I suppose Facebook wouldn't be as frustrating if people didn't place so much importance on it. In America, people also obsess over MySpace, Twitter, and God knows what else. The trouble only comes when people view these sites as a valid alternative to social interaction. What you have in this case is a lot of people who are really spending hours and hours alone, somehow convinced that they have been spending those hours in congress with other human beings.如果人們不那麼重視"臉書"就好了,在美國, 很多人也用 MySpace, Twitter和許多其他網站,問題是他們將這些工具當成和人群溝通的主要管道,最後得到的只是整天在電腦前打字罷了.

Please don't think I'm judging you for using Facebook. I use it too. I just think we need to take it - or leave it - based on its relative worth. Facebook can't replace a good talk with a good friend. It can't replace hours spent with our children. It can't serve as a substitute for the people we love and care for. It might serve to accentuate these connections, but it will never come close to replacing them.我並不是說使用"臉書"是一件不好的事,因為我自己也在用,我只是認為應該回歸到最原始的使用它的目的,"臉書"沒辦法取代和好朋友談話的樂趣,也沒辦法取代和孩子相處的樂趣,它也沒辦法取代我們所關心的人,它可以幫我們維持親朋好友間的聯繫,卻永遠不能取代他們.

We always have the power to choose what manner of future (or present!) we live in. We could be like those poor souls in the Matrix, plugging ourselves (or being plugged) into computers, thinking things like Facebook have a relevance beyond temporary amusement. Or we could work towards making this world a warmer, more human sort of place. One step towards this warmer, more human future might be limiting the amount of time you spend on Facebook, and instead finding something else to do.我們都有改變我們現在的生活與未來的能力,我們可以像電影"駭客任務"將自己想成是電腦的一部分,差上插頭進入"臉書"的世界,或是將我們的世界營造成有人性的溫暖地方,我想在現實世界努力是比在虛擬世界有趣多了.


4. Bicycling, Swimming, and Running  騎單車, 游泳和跑步 (October 十月 2010)

1. Bicycling 騎單車

Bicycling in Taitung is great. Within a few minutes, you can find yourself in some very beautiful, and very remote areas. 10K from anywhere in Taitung City will bring you to Jia Lu Lan, Jer Ben, or the the slightly-less-scenic parts of Bei Nan. 20K will bring you to Du Lan, Tai Ma Li, or Lu Ye. 30K will bring you to Jin Dzuen, Jin Feng, or just past the Gao Tai "Terrace". After 40 or 50K you start to come to the county borders, with Hualien, Ping Dong, or even Tainan awaiting the hardier cyclist. 臺東真是一個適合騎腳踏車的地方. 從臺東市出發,你可以在一個小時內到達許多漂亮的景點和小村鎮. 10K 以內的路程景點包含加路蘭, 知本和部分的卑南地區. 20K 以內可以到達都蘭, 太麻里, 或是鹿野. 30K 以內可以到金樽, 金峰, 或是鹿野高台. 超過 40K 後就適合比較厲害的有經驗者,因為那就大概要跨縣了.

Bicycling is also a great way to commute. There isn't much traffic in Taitung City, and there is almost NO traffic in the rest of the county. Of course people still love their cars, but commuting by bike can be a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative. 臺東的交通很順暢,所以騎腳踏車上下班是一件值得推動的事情. 當然很多人在市區還是喜歡開車, 只是騎腳踏車能讓身體更健康也是保護環境的最佳選擇,當然是需要大家多多推廣 .

There are plenty of bike races in Taitung. Just a couple of weeks ago the county hosted the "Taitung Cup," which stretched from Jer Ben to Yu Li in Hualien County. This race featured 100 and 200K divisions. It was too far for me, so I didn't go! 臺東也常舉辦腳踏車比賽. 兩個禮拜前,臺灣杯單車比賽路程更是從臺東縣知本到花蓮縣玉里. 它分為 100K 跟 200K 兩部分. 我覺得太遠所以沒有參加.

2. Swimming 遊泳

Swimming in Taitung gets more complicated. Much of this, I think, is due to certain superstitions about water. Many local swimming spots are described as "dangerous" or "dirty" by local people - for reasons that are often frivolous. 在臺東,游泳活動比較複雜一點. 可能是因為中國人對水的禁忌. 這裡有很多地方可以游泳, 只是很多臺東人都覺得"不乾淨".

One great outside swimming spot is the "Flowing Water" Lake in the Forest Park. Yes, there are signs that tell you not to swim, but everyone does it anyway. Several unwary visitors have drowned in this lake, so the superstitious avoid it like the plague. I don't believe in ghosts, so it's not a problem for me. 在臺東市, 很多市民會利用森林公園的活水湖游泳. 大家都不管那些"禁止游泳"的牌子. 當然也有些人不敢在那個地方玩水, 因為湖很深而且還發生過多起溺水意外. 我不相信這類的事, 所以我在那邊游泳沒有問題.

There isn't any good place in Taitung City to swim in the ocean. This is due to pollution. Many of the older houses in the center of the city have drains and even toilets that empty directly into local rivers, and these rivers of course empty into the sea. For cleaner ocean water, you have to venture north to Beinan, Dong He, and Cheng Gong townships. There are several places to swim in Dulan, and this area is also very popular with the surfing crowd. 臺東市的髒汙都被卑南溪跟太平溪沖到海邊去了,所以要到卑南, 東河, 和成功才有比較乾淨的海邊. 特別乾淨的是都蘭附近. 衝浪的人最愛都蘭.

There are some swimming pools in Taitung City and Jer Ben, but these tend to be of a seasonal nature. I would recommend the pool in front of the Vocational High School, on the way to the airport. It's open year round, not expensive, and it is fairly clean. 臺東市跟知本都有游泳池, 可是冬天開放的不多. 我覺得"農工"的游泳池是最好的. 它冬天開放, 而且交便方便和地方乾淨.

There aren't any swimming competitions that I know of - not in this county. The closest thing is the triathlons that several athletic associations host throughout the year. The Taitung County Urban and Rural Athletic Association, the "T-Man" Group, and the Taitung Super Triathlon Association all host triathlons in the area. These range from the shorter "Olympic" distance (1K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), to soul-crushing, 220 KM-long affairs that send competitors to local emergency rooms. 臺東縣好像沒有什麼游泳比賽, 可是每三, 四個月就有鐵人三項比賽. 城鄉運動協會, T-man 團, 還有超級鐵人都在臺東舉辦過鐵人比賽. 有的是1K游泳,40K騎腳踏車和跑步10K的,更有的是跑到累死人的加倍賽程.

3. Running 跑步

Running here can be a problem if you don't like tracks. A lot of people keep dogs to guard their property, and this makes running through rural areas a bit dangerous. I've found that the best place for road running is probably the "Ma Heng Heng" road that circles the city. There are fewer dogs here, and there is also a bicycle path that scooters (mostly) avoid. 在臺東的路上跑步真是危險. 很多農夫喜歡養看地的狗, 所以在鄉下路跑的人要特別小心. 馬亨亨那條外環道比較沒有狗. 那條馬路的車也不是很多, 所以在那裏跑比較安全.

I would discourage anyone from running along the highways. It is extremely dangerous, and people get killed that way. If a track is more to your liking, there is the popular track next to Taitung University's "old" campus. There is also the usual slew of tracks at local public schools. 我覺得在臺9線或是臺11跑步很危險. 如果你比較重視跑場的安全性的話, 東大有個很熱門的操場. 除此之外,也有很多公立學校的操場.

For runners there are the triathlons mentioned above, and there also several running events such as the Taitung Marathon, scheduled for this month. Those interested in running events in east Taiwan are hereby directed to Race Events in Taiwan, which posts events from all over the island. 喜歡路跑的人可以參加鐵人比賽. 這個月有臺東馬拉松. 想要參加東部路跑比賽的人應該先看跑著廣場的網站. 全島的路跑比賽資訊都在那裏.

Whatever you decide to do out there, please be careful. There are a lot of crazy people driving cars in Taiwan, and it is best to exercise caution! Reflective bands are a good idea if you exercise at night, and it is probably best to avoid major thoroughfares if possible. Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but only if it can be done safely.無論你喜歡什麼運動都要小心! 路跑跟騎單車的人要注意交通狀況. 夜裡的時候, 帶著反光帶是一個很好的方法. 最好也不要在常常飆車的地方運動. 運動雖然對身體很棒, 但是我們一定要關心自身的安全!!


5. Going Home 回家 (November 十一月 2010)

Since I first moved to Taiwan, I have been home six times. During my first year here, I went back to Seattle twice - once during Chinese New Year and once during the following summer. That was back when I was still getting homesick for the States all the time, and I needed those trips to reinforce the fact that, yes, Seattle was still there.我第一年來臺灣到現在,我總共回去西雅圖六次,第一年更回去了二次,一次是農曆新年,另一次是暑假.那時候我常常想家,回去的主要目的只是為了確定我熟悉的西雅圖仍舊在那裡.

As the years have worn on, of course, I have been home less and less. After my second trip home it was a full year before I went back, and after my third trip it was two years. I now consider the trip home a once-every-two-years event - that is IF I have the money to go.隨著在臺灣的時間愈久,我第三次回去跟第二次回去的時間舊間隔了一年,第四次跟第三次又間隔了二年,現在我只希望每兩年能有錢回去一次就好了.

Part of my trouble is that I am traveling for four now. In the beginning, it was just me and my then-girlfriend, later to be my wife. After our second trip to Seattle we had our first daughter, and then the airlines began adding several thousand to our ticket price. Later on, my older daughter needed her own seat on the plane, and this meant three tickets instead of two. The arrival of my younger daughter - loved as she is - only compounded the problem.剛開始只需要付二個人的錢[我和我當時的女朋友(現在的太太)],之後加上寶寶的幾千元,等孩子大一點就是三個人的錢,因為她需要買自己的位置,再加上後來的小女兒,所以我們現在出門就是四個人的機票錢啦!

If I want to take my family back to Seattle this summer, that means buying four tickets. That also means A LOT of money. In fact, it means so much money that my bank account will get emptied, and this after saving for more than a year already. It's hard to see all of my money fly away like that, especially when one of my daughters is not so far away from junior high school, and I begin to think about money she might need for college.如果我想要在暑假帶我的家人回西雅圖,那就是一項足以讓我破產的龐大的費用.很難接受我們辛辛苦苦存的錢就這樣飛走,因為我大女兒快到上國中的年紀了,我已經開始想到她未來求學需要多少費用了.

As it is already November, and as I will certainly need to purchase tickets by May, I begin to worry about this situation. I would like to visit home very much, and I would also love for my daughters and their grandparents to have the time together, but I wonder if the expense is really worth it. Should we go, and say to hell with the money? Or should we stay, and wait another year to go back?現在已經11月了,如果要回去,我們五月份就要買好機票,我很想回去看看我的家鄉,也想讓我的孩子和她們的祖父母有機會相處,我只是不確定花這麼多錢在這上面是否值得?我們是要不惜代價地回去探親?還是明年再回去?

Naturally there is the pressure I feel from my parents. They miss their grandkids, and the time they spend with my daughters is precious to us all. At the same time, I ask myself if going back is really the responsible thing to do. No, money isn't everything, but there are times when money is a very good thing to have.當然我可以感受到我父母想念我們的心情,他們想念孫女,希望有時間和她們相處,這對我們大家是一件重要的事,但是同時我也反問自己:這是負責任的行為嗎?雖然錢不是一切,但是在很多時候,有錢是一件美好的事.

I'm sure there are many other foreigner residents in the same situation. They might not have kids, they might not be married, but nevertheless a plane trip back to North America, Europe, or wherever else is never cheap. For those just arrived in Taiwan, this will probably be less of a concern, yet as years pass it can become a serious burden. It's not easy to divide your life between two continents, especially not in the long term.我想很多在臺的外國居民都有這樣的問題,他們不一定有孩子也不一定結婚了,只是飛機票到北美,歐洲或其他地方都不便宜,對剛到臺灣的人來說,也許機票的價錢不會成為回家的考慮因素,但是時間久了,卻也是一項負擔.長期來說,將生活依國家切為二半是件很難的事.

Then again, I suppose my family is lucky to have this choice. I have many Taiwanese friends who can only dream of visiting America, and also many friends in the States who can only dream of escaping to Taiwan. It would be nice if we were all like those guys on Star Trek, who can just teleport wherever they want, but until that day we'll just have to count the days, count the money in our bank accounts, and count on our better judgment to steer us toward the right decision.我想我們家是很幸運擁有這樣的選擇權,我的一些臺灣朋友期待有一天能到美國玩,一些西雅圖的朋友只能對臺灣充滿想像.如果我們可以像電影中的情節一樣,利用轉換器將自己送到任何想去的地方就好了,但是直到那一天來臨前,我們仍需要算著天數與金錢,並且依據自己的判斷能力做出對的抉擇.

Oh, and here's wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Wherever you might be.無論您身在哪裡,祝您感恩節快樂!

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2010年7月1日 星期四

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Older entries from Taitung Style.  To minimize space, I've deleted the pictures.  Ready to time travel?  Let's go!


1. "Love 197" 戀戀197 (July 七月 2010)

On July 24 the TURAA (Taitung Urban and Rural Athletic Association) sponsored the "Love 197" bicycle race. There were three divisions in this race: the 100K, 60K, and a shorter "fun ride" around Taitung City. The 100K participants raced from the Seashore Park in Taitung City, sweated their way up to Cheng Gong Township, and then somehow made their way back to Bei Nan and up a small section of the 197 highway. 在7月24日, 台東城鄉運動協會舉辦了戀戀197的腳踏車比賽. 這個比賽分為三租. 其中最遠的是100公里比賽. 參加100公里的賽者從台東海濱公園出發到成功鎮, 再折返回去卑南的方向並包含部分的台線197.

Sounds impressive, right? I wish I could say I was there among them, battling my way across half the county. Unfortunately the farthest I have ever gone on a bike is 80K, and that was quite far enough for me. Lacking the requisite stamina, I chose to participate in the 60K race instead. 100公里滿遠的對不對? 我希望自己也能參加這樣的比賽. 可惜的是我從以前到現在最騎過80公里, 超過80公里我就受不了了, 所以我參加的是60公里組.
For the 60K we rode up to Jin Dzuen and back. Not astonishingly far, but not a short distance either. This was my first bicycle race ever, and I'd have to say that I did pretty well. I wasn't the first across the finish line, but I was definitely among the first to finish. 60 公里組是從海濱公園出發到金樽. 我覺得60公里這個距離很適合現在的我, 因為我不習慣騎那麼遠. 雖然我不是第一名, 但我起碼是十名內的.

I was very nervous the day before the race. I felt almost certain that everyone there would be in better shape than me, with better equipment, and with a more thorough knowledge of cycling in general. As it was, there were a couple of guys who did indeed look very professional, but there were also many other people who seemed to have no idea what they were doing. I was a bit self-conscious on my mountain bike, but as it turned out there were plenty of others riding much older and much more dilapidated bikes than mine. 比賽開始前我很緊張, 因為我想所有的比賽者都比我有體力和經驗. 比賽以後, 我覺得好多人其實沒我想像的那麼厲害. 我的腳踏車不是專業級的, 但是它還是比很多人的車新.
Riding in that kind of race is very interesting, and if you like bicycling I would highly recommend it. Until you do, you will never really know what kind of shape you are in. 參加這種比賽很有意思, 如果你沒參加過的話, 應該找機會試試看.

All in all it was a great learning experience, and I would be eager to join such a race again. I did the 60K in almost exactly 2 hours, which means my pace was about 30K an hour. Not lightning fast, mind you, but not bad for a guy who's only been riding for a few months. I'm hoping to add an additional 10K an hour to my pace by the end of next month, and if I succeed in doing so I should be in fair shape for the triathlon next spring! 比賽結束以後, 我增加很多單車比賽的知識. 60公里的比賽差不多花了我兩個小時, 表示我的速度是30K/1小時. 這個速度當然不是最快的, 可是對只練習幾個月的我來說是很不錯的. 如果我下個月可以達到40K/1小時, 那我就有信心參加明年的鐵人三項比賽了.


2. Notes From the Other Side 西部隨想 (August 八月 2010)

The longer I live in Taitung, the stranger the other side of the island seems to me. It's not exactly a foreign country - not when compared to the east coast - but I often feel that it might as well be.在臺東住得愈久愈覺得西部生疏,雖然是同在一個國家,卻是相差許多.

This week we spent five days driving between Ping Dong (also spelled "Pingtung") and Taoyuan, with a brief excursion into Taipei County. We saw some old friends, stayed with some of my wife's family, and visited some places that we haven't been to in years. Our original purpose was to renew our daughters' U.S. passports in Taipei, and I had also signed up for a 10K race in Taoyuan. Between exhaustion and lack of adequate preparation, we acheived neither of these goals.我們花了五天的時間開車經屏東到桃園,並且短暫地經過台北縣,見到了許多老朋友和親戚,重遊許多懷念的地方,我們的主要目的是到臺北更新兩個孩子的美國護照和參加桃園的5公里慢跑,只是最後這兩項都沒完成,因為我們太累了而且忘了帶齊需要的證件.

Mostly we just drove around, looking for sources of amusement. We went to Tai Mao Exhibition Center in Taoyuan, which I'm told will supplant Kaohsiung's Dream Mall as the largest shopping center in Taiwan. We went to the An Ping Fort in Tainan, which the Dutch built in the 1600s. We went to the Science Museum in Taichung, which boasts an impressive array of new exhibits.大多時間我們都是開車尋找有趣的景點,聽說我們去的"台茂商場"將打敗夢時代成為臺灣最大的購物商場,我們也去了16世紀荷蘭人在台南建造的安平古堡和台中科學博物館.

We went to a lot of places. What struck me most forcibly was the growth that Taichung City has experienced, and also many of the new roads they have built in Hsinchu. Parts of western Taiwan are indeed booming, with no forseeable end to productivity in the near future.台中市的發展令我驚訝,在新竹也開了許多的新路,這些地方無疑地是以令人無法預料的程度成長.

But of course that kind of productivity has its downside. The air pollution around certain industrial areas is obvious, and carries worrying implications for the coming years. I also wonder how the central, county, and municipal governments plan on handling traffic in the near future, since driving around parts of Taichung, Hsinchu, Taoyuan, and Taipei counties is truly frightening. I cannot imagine trying to commute through some of those areas every day, nor would I wish to do so.只是在發展的同時也伴隨著許多不好的影響,空氣汙染在這些地方的嚴重性不容忽視,交通更是這些地方政府的一大挑戰,在這些天的經驗中,我沒辦法想像每天這些城市的市民上下班時的心情,我也不想自己有機會經歷.

It seems to me that there is a lot of money hovering around the other side of the island, but in our rush to grab some of this money we often lose sight of more important things. The quality of our environment, for example, should be paramount. After all, if we can't breathe, if our children develop asthma or other conditions directly related to air pollution, what does the rest of it matter? We have to start thinking about our future, and our future is hinged upon our public health.人潮即是錢潮在臺灣的西部城市是一明顯的現象,只是在急著抓錢的同時是否也忽略了身邊重要的人事物?首當其衝的是我們對環境的影響,如果我們的孩子因為空氣品質不好而生病,那麼物質享受是否仍會是眾多人追求的重心?這正是我們都應該在思考未來時所要考慮的重點.

I'm not going to waste time describing the west coast of Taiwan as "hellish" or even just "unhealthy." There are still many reasons to like and to live on the other side of the island. I just hope that we can all take note of our surroundings, with an eye to making them better. There are still many beautiful and interesting places in west Taiwan. I only hope we are balancing the virtues of economic development against the quality of our lives.這裡的重點不在指出西部的環境汙染,因為那裏仍有許多值得喜愛和居住的地方,我只是希望大家多花點心力愛護自己的居住環境並且讓它更好,讓我們在發展經濟的同時也能注意維護我們的居住品質.


3. Apartments 公寓 (August 八月 2010)

We just bought an apartment on the outskirts of Taitung City, not far from Bao San Middle School. This apartment cost us 1.6 million NT, for which we received a loan from Yu Shan Bank. 我們最近在寶桑國中和"後山傳奇"附近買了公寓,玉山銀行就成為我們房貸的債主.

This is the second apartment we have occupied in Taitung, our last residence being the Chang Sha "Number 1" apartment complex just across from Tung Hai Elementary School. A couple of years before, when I worked at Tung Hai Middle School, we were renting a large house near the 3-C Electronics on Shin Sheng Road. 這件公寓是我們在臺東時的第三家. 我們以前在東海國小對面的長沙第一國宰. 我當東海國中的老師的時候我們也在洛陽街租了個房子.

Many people have asked me why we finally decided to buy an apartment. In the beginning we wanted to buy land, but banks don't loan much money for that purpose. After giving up on land, we went and looked at several houses, but all of the houses in our price range were older and very worn down. Some of them were kind of cute, but to fix them up would have been prohibitively expensive. 很多朋友問我們為甚麼不要買整棟的房子? 我們原來也想買房子或是土地, 只是我們看過的二手屋全都是舊舊爛爛的, 而新房子對我們來說又太貴了,我們真的不想因為房子負擔太多壓力.

In the end we decided an apartment was more to our liking. It didn't take us long to find one, and before we knew it we were signing papers for our loan, handing over large sums of money, and hauling our furniture across town to our new place. 所以我們最後決定買公寓. 我們在很短的時間內辦完一切手續並搬到我們新家.

Very exhausting, but I suppose I can finally say that I am in Taitung on a permanent basis. We have been given 20 years to pay back our loan, though I guess we could pay it back in half that time. However fast we do end up paying it off, we are effectively trapped in Taitung for the near future. 搬家是很累人的, 現在我終於可以說我們是臺東人了. 用二十年還是十年回款都沒有關係, 重要的是我們不用再搬家了.

I, for one, can't imagine a more pleasant place to be trapped. I like our apartment, I like our new neighborhood, and even though I'm somewhat far from work I have no problem with riding my bike to my school. I also have a great view of the city from the seventh floor, and our cats seem very happy with the supply of ants that fly in from our deck. 我很喜歡我們的新家和附近環境. 雖然住得離學校遠點, 但是騎腳踏車到我的學校不是甚麼問題. 我們七樓的風景不錯, 我們的貓咪超愛飛進我們陽台的昆蟲.

I just wish we had thought to buy a place sooner. If we had started paying when I first moved to Taitung, we would already be three or four years into that loan! 我只覺得很可惜, 如果早三四年買房子的話, 我離還完貸款的日子又更接近了.


4. Seattle 西雅圖 (September 九月 2010)

Why write about Seattle in a blog about Taitung, Taiwan? Mostly because I am from there, and people always ask me about the place I come from. 為什麼要說到西雅圖呢? 因為那是我的家鄉. 而且很多人也對那個地方感到好奇.

I was born in Seattle, which is in the state of Washington, located in the U.S.A. I spent most of my pre-Taiwan life living there. Sure, it has changed over time, and every time I go back I find a handful of new restaurants, bars, and shopping malls, but Seattle never changes THAT much. 我在西雅圖出生. 那是一個位在美國華盛頓州的城市. 我二十五歲以前的人生都在那裏度過. 我二十五歲時的西雅圖跟我三十五歲時的西雅圖並沒有差很多. 我每一, 兩年回去的時候看到些新的餐廳, 新的酒吧, 跟新的商場, 可是大致來說都沒變.

Seattle is very close to the "ocean," but when I say ocean I am referring to Puget Sound, which is a large "inland sea" that stretches across most of Washington State. The Puget Sound is connected to the Pacific Ocean by a strait, so even though it's all salt water I can't exactly say that Seattle is on the ocean. 西雅圖靠海, 可是我說"海"並不是指太平洋而是指普吉特海灣,它位於西雅圖西邊. 雖然也屬於太平洋海域的一部分, 但是正確來說,西雅圖並不靠英文所說的海.

Compared to other cities on the west coast of the United States, Seattle is fairly large. It's not, however, even close to as big or as populous as cities such as Taichung, Taipei, and Kaohsiung. The city of Seattle covers a larger area, but it's much more spread out than most cities in Taiwan. 對美國西部來說, 西雅圖是一個很大的都市. 它的大小應該跟臺北或高雄差不多, 可是那裏的人口比較少.

Seattle can be fun to visit, but it's a very expensive place to live. To make things worse, America's recent economic collapse has had an adverse effect on that part of the country. It's a good place to live if you like camping - as I do - but in terms of "urban culture" there aren't as many interesting bars, restaurants, and music venues there as tourists might think. 西雅圖是個適合旅遊的都市, 雖然並不如你想像中的有趣,而且那邊的生活費很高. 再加上最近美國的經濟很不好,這對西雅圖的影響特別大,因為旅遊人口明顯地減少. 另外,西雅圖的東邊是山區, 有很多露營的機會.

People in Seattle generally read a lot. They also drink massive amounts of coffee, mostly as an antidote against the depressing weather. The weather in Seattle is very dark and cloudy for most of the year, and in the winter the days are very short. Seattle is stunning in the summer - but the summer in Seattle is really, really short. 西雅圖的人很喜歡看書. 他們也很喜歡喝咖啡. 在西雅圖的天氣常常下雨, 所以人們大部分每天喝咖啡提神. 西雅圖的夏天很美, 但是夏天卻很短暫.

I grew up in North Seattle, in an area called Greenwood. The house where my parents still live is very small by Taiwan standards, but then again they have a very large yard around their house. There are lots of trees in Seattle, and people like to spend time in their gardens. 我父母的家在西雅圖北部的Greenwood(綠木)社區. 他們的房子以臺灣人的標準來說不大, 可是他們有一個大院子. 在那個社區的路旁都是樹跟草, 每個人都很關心他們的院子.

So do I miss Seattle? Yes, of course, sometimes. It really depends. In the winter I am happy to be in Taitung, because I know that in Seattle I would only just be keeping myself awake with coffee, and I would be wondering if the sun was ever going to come out. In the summer I sometimes miss the places where my family and I used to go camping, and I look forward to seeing those places again. I miss Seattle, but not as often as I used to. 再來的問題是: "我很想念西雅圖嗎?" 這個問題很難回答. 冬天時, 我滿心想著台東的好天氣. 夏天時, 我當然會想到以前在西雅圖的戶外樂趣. 有時候我想念西雅圖, 只是我想念的部分永遠在那裏等著我, 我期待跟那邊的親戚朋友見面, 只是我對"回去"這件事並不像以前一樣表現的那麼急躁了.


5. Things to Like About Taitung 我喜歡臺東的原因 (September 九月 2010)

I work with a lot of teachers from places like Jia Yi, Kaohsiung, or Taipei. They came here years and years ago, having moved to Taitung solely for the sake of work.我的同事中很多是從嘉義,高雄或台北來的,因為工作的關係在多年前搬到臺東.

Some of them really don't like Taitung very much. If they could, I suppose many (not all) of them would move back to the big cities they came from. Many of them (not all), already drive back to Jia Yi, Kaohsiung, or Taipei whenever they have the chance.有些人並不是很喜歡臺東,我想只要有機會,他們會很樂意回到他們原來的城市,因為有些人只要一有機會就往那些大都市跑.

When I talk to some of these people about places I visit, it always surprises me how little they know about this county. You would think that I, the foreigner, having only lived here for a little over four years, would know so much LESS about Taitung than they do. Some of them have lived here for over ten years, and they still don't seem to have gone ANYWHERE.與一些老師談到台東好玩的地方時,我很驚訝自己知道的比他們還多,你會認為我這個住在臺東四年的外國人應該比這些住了將近十年的人不懂這個地方,但是事實上,他們反而像是整天窩在家中的"宅人".

I guess, as we say, "the grass is always greener on the other side." People that grew up in places like Jia Yi, Kaohsiung, and Taipei only want to revisit those places, perhaps just as many people who grew up in Taitung dream of vacations on the other side of the island. Very few people seem to live in the place they like the most. People in Kaohsiung would love to live in Taitung, people in Taitung would love to live in Kaohsiung, and almost no one lives in the place they want to.也許就是那不滿足的心作祟,在西部長大的人想回到西部,而台東人想到西部體驗城市生活,很少有人滿足於他們擁有的生活,因為高雄人想搬到臺東而台東人想搬到高雄.

I, for one, think that there are a lot of reasons to like Taitung more than other places in Taiwan. None of these are ironclad arguments, but they are things that people easily forget about.我自己則有許多理由喜愛臺東勝過臺灣的任何地方,它們都是生活上容易被忽視的小事.

1. Clean air清新的空氣

Sure, you could say the same about most of the East Coast, but what of it? The air in Taitung is very clean and fresh, even when people try to make it otherwise by driving their cars too much. There are no big factories in Taitung, no freeways, and none of the massive, air-conditioned buildings seen in places like Taoyuan and Taipei. All of this adds up to cleaner air.當然,臺灣東部不乏空氣好的地方,但是臺東的空氣卻是有名的好, 雖然這裡也有許多車輛,但是卻沒有大工廠,沒有高速公路也沒有高大的空調大樓,所以這就是空氣好於其他城市的理由.

2. Natural scenery自然風光

There are some truly beautiful places in Taitung, and many of them are relatively easy to get to. I think this is the first thing that people forget after they've lived here a long time. They get busy with work, with family matters, and they forget how amazingly beautiful it is here. Next time you feel bored, I suggest taking a walk, a ride, or a drive into the mountains.臺東有很多美不勝收的地方,而且它們都很容易到達,這應該也是住在這裡的人容易忘記的事,每天忙於工作與家庭,很多人忘記他們住在一個美麗的城市,下次當你無聊時, 請記得到戶外散散步或是到山裡走走.

3. Opportunities for outdoor recreation戶外休閒

This of course goes hand-in-hand with #2 on this list. Taitung is such a great place to go bicycling, swimming, hangliding, hiking, surfing, or camping. Sure, some of these activities might be more difficult for some people to enjoy (given the heat), but it's never too late to try!這當然跟自然風光有著密切關係,臺東適合騎腳踏車,游泳,玩拖曳傘,衝浪和露營,雖然有些活動並不適合所有的人,但是勇敢地試試也無訪.

4. A smaller town, a slower pace.小城鎮,慢步調

While there are some who miss the excitement of cities like Taipei, I find the more relaxed atmosphere in Taitung to be a real advantage. Every time I go to the West Coast I notice how "hurried" everyone is, always trying to smash their way through a crowd. Taitung is still a place where nothing is so far away, and where no one is such a stranger. I like that.相較於那些令人緊張的大城市,臺東的輕鬆氣氛是一項重要特色.每次到西部的都市時,都會發現那裏的人們慌張地在人群中擠來擠去,而臺東市小而美,到每個地方的距離都很短,而且走到哪裡都會遇見認識的人,我喜歡這種溫馨的感覺.

5. Lack of traffic.沒有交通問題

When I first moved here, this was the thing that I liked most about Taitung. Before I lived here, I lived in central Taichung, and I really don't miss fighting my way down Tai Chung Gang Road to get to work every morning. I live on the other side of the city from my school, and it still only takes me ten minutes to get there by bike!我剛到台東時,最喜歡的一件事就是這裡的交通.之前我們住在臺東市,每天上班要走的台中港路就是一場噩夢,現在我到學校上班只要騎十分鐘的腳踏車就行了.

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2010年5月2日 星期日

Beautiful Women 2

In which the author of this blog, knowing that posting photos of sexy women with tags like "Taiwanese," "women," "hot," "sexy," and "models," is a sure-fire way to increase traffic, does so.  Yes, you are being manipulated, but so are we all.












Beautiful Women 1