2011年11月1日 星期二

Blog Archive 16 很久很久以前的文章

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

1. "New Life Square" 信義商圈 (Taiwan Style, November 2011)

I'll be in Taipei 台北 this Saturday, on my way to Washington D.C.  I won't have much time to spend there, because on the following morning (early) I'll be getting on a plane.  Still, I think an afternoon is enough for Taipei.  I'm sure I'll be back there around Chinese New Year, so there's no reason to think about all the places I don't have time for.

One of my favorite places in Taipei is the "New Life Square" shopping district.  This is between the Taipei City Government 台北市政府 MRT stop and the Taipei 101 building.  If I am in Taipei for a short time, I usually make a beeline for this place, primarily because it contains the two best bookstores in Taiwan.

Instead of disembarking the MRT at the Taipei City Government stop, I get off at the Sun Yat-Sen Monument 國父紀念堂.  I find that the walk from Sun Yat-Sen is about the same as that from the Taipei City Government, and the walk from Sun Yat-Sen is infinitely more pleasant.  I always stop and take pictures of the gardens and the people around the monument, and then partake of a leisurely stroll in the direction of the 101 building.  It's impossible to get lost - just walk towards that tall, pagodalike building in the distance.

Following the big road on the other side of Sun Yat-Sen, a walk in the direction of the 101 will take you to the Taipei City Government building.  This place is worth a visit.  The back atrium is very interesting, they have a nice gift shop on the first floor, and the Taipei City Museum 台北市歷史館 (?) is also found here.  The Taipei City Museum has a lot of cool exhibits on the history of Taipei, and there is a rotating theater inside, where you can view a film on local history.  Better yet, the theater and the museum are free.

On the other side of the Taipei City Government building is the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi 新光三越 department store.  This department store (or maybe I should say this complex of department stores), has got to be the biggest in Taiwan.  You can buy most anything here, save for perhaps a really good meal.  I've eaten in several of the restaurants in this area, and the food was never very good.

Next to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, and also next to the Taipei City Government station, is the Eslite 誠品 bookstore.  This is the biggest Eslite in Taiwan, and it has the biggest selection of English books of any Eslite.  Their prices are reasonable, and I tend to buy most of my books here.  They don't have much in the way of teaching materials, but their selection of novels is impressive.

On the other side of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi there is a movie theater.  This movie theater is in the remains of the "New York New York" shopping mall, which has fallen on hard times.  There used to be a Toys R' Us in there, and also a Mister Donut, but many of these businesses are long gone.  The movie theater is one of the better theaters in Taipei, but it's not cheap.

Across from this theater there is the Taipei 101.  If you haven't been to the top of the 101 yet, I highly recommend it.  The view on a clear day is amazing.  There is also a food court in the basement, and many shockingly expensive stores occupying the first five floors.  Page One Books, an English-language bookstore chain from Hong Kong, can be found on the fifth floor.  Their selection of fiction can't be beat.

Around this area there are also the Taipei City Exhibition Halls, where they house exhibitions throughout the year.  I went to a comic book show there once, and it was CRAZY.

That's about all there is to the "New Life Square," though I'm sure that in a few months they'll build an even more enormous department store, somewhere in that area.  For those new to Taiwan this is a must-see destination, and for those who've been in Taiwan a while... well, you've probably been here already.

2. Teaching English 7: The MPiLGEF (Taiwan Style, November 2011)

The Washington Monument

Here's another thing that teaching English in Taiwan can get you: free vacations.  I just got back from an expense-paid vacation in Washington D.C., as part of a team attending Microsoft's Partners in Learning Global Education Forum (or MPiLGEF, for "short").

Yes, teaching English in Taiwan is about more than sexy teaching assistants and arguments over textbooks.  It's also about getting paid to go overseas.

A few months ago, one of my coworkers asked me to help him translate something into English.  Being free that day, I said yes.  By the time I was done, I had translated his entire project for the Microsoft Partners in Leaning summit in Taiwan from Chinese into English, and I was cursing myself for not having asked for money.

In front of the White House

He and another teacher [above] went on to "win" that particular summit, and he was picked to attend the MPiLGEF this November, in Washington D.C.  Needless to say, he was a bit freaked out about visiting an English-speaking country, so that was how I got invited along.

I think this was also his way of paying me back for all those hours spent translating.  If this is so, I consider us more than even.  Had I known that all that translating would lead to a free vacation in Washington D.C., I would have worked even harder on it.

So last week we took the plane from Taitung to Taipei, spending the night in Taipei before the long haul to America.  It's about 20 hours from here to D.C., including a three hour layover in Japan.  The Taitung County Government had already agreed to fund my travel expenses, and Microsoft was picking up the tab for our accommodation and food.

"A funny thing happened on the way to the Microsoft Global Education Forum..."

We spent the next five or so days walking around D.C., and attending the Forum at odd intervals.  A lot of the Forum was relatively "optional," and we took every opportunity to visit the nearest museum or national monument.  I had a great time there, and I would look forward to doing something like that again.

My two coworkers were a bit disappointed when we didn't win any of the award categories during the closing ceremony, but in my opinion the odds were stacked heavily against us.  After the fifth or sixth AMERICAN school was recognized for their "contributions to global education," it was easy enough to laugh the whole thing off.

If any other Foreign English Teachers are reading this, you might pay close attention the next time one of your Taiwanese coworkers asks for your help.  You never know - it might lead to something surprising!

The DC Subway: the most run-down subway I have ever seen.

3. The 2011 Taitung County Surfing Challenge 2011 台東衝浪國際邀請賽及公開賽系列活動 (Taiwan Style, November 2011)

Jin Dzuen Beach 金樽

Surfing is fairly popular in Taiwan.  Of course it's not like Hawaii, Southern California, or anywhere like that, but for an country in East Asia, surfing is relatively popular.

This popularity extends primarily to the east coast of the island.  There are a lot of people on the west coast who love surfing, but there are very few places on the west coast to surf.  Most of the west coast was fortified, long ago, in response to Cross-Strait tensions, and the few places that weren't fortified are either unsuitable for surfing or given over to aquaculture.  Little surprise, then, that many people in Taiwan can't really swim.

There are a handful of places in Taipei County (Now called "Shin Bei City" 新北市 ) where you can surf in the presence of nuclear reactors, though these beaches aren't exactly paradise.  I've never seen anyone surfing around Kenting 墾丁, though I suppose it could be done.

For real surfing in Taiwan, it's the east coast or nothing.  I don't know about Yilan 宜蘭, but there are many spots in Hualien 花蓮 and Taitung County 台東縣 that are extremely popular with surfers island-wide.  Chief among these is Jin Dzuen 金樽 Beach, in Taitung County.  It's about a half hour by car from where I live, or about an hour by bike at a brisk pace.

Last year, Jin Dzuen saw the first of the "Surfing Challenges."  This was a very small, very local affair, put on by a guy named John who owns Who's Pub on Jung Hua Road 中華路.  There was also a Japanese expat involved, but as I don't know this Japanese expat, I can't comment on how much he contributed to the event.  I am acquainted with John, and he is credited as the driving force behind this year's Surfing Challenge, so I assume that he also had a lot to do with last year's event.

That event, by the way, will probably be a far cry from this year's Surfing Challenge.  Last year's Challenge was little more than a couple of tents set up on the beach, with John and his buddies surfing around for their own amusement.  This year's Challenge has all the weight of Quicksilver behind it, as well as the Taitung County Government and a host of other sponsors.  With a top prize of 63,000, this year's competition is likely to be a different beast altogether.

Which isn't to say that every local surfer is rushing to sign up.  I have spoken to a few local expats who wouldn't be caught dead there.  Surfing, they say, is not something that ought to be stacked alongside other sports.  They invariably point to the "lifestyle" aspects of surfing, and for the need to keep it disorganized, and uncompetitive.  Some also point to the number of tourists that this Challenge is likely to attract, and the opening of Taiwan's "best kept secret" to both companies like Quicksilver, and to those unacquainted with the local surfing culture.

I, for one, doubt that this Challenge is going to spell doomsday for the local surfing scene.  Taitung is just too far away for that.  Sure, it might attract a few more surfers here every year, but I think any changes wrought by this Challenge will be almost entirely short term.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out for John, Quicksilver, and their friends in the Taitung County Government.  Maybe they really are starting something here, and maybe that something will be good.  I can't say I disagree with those who worry over this thing, but I am trying to keep an open mind.

4. Li Yu (Carp) Mountain 鯉魚山 (Taitung Style, November 2011)

Li Yu (Carp) Mountain is right in the middle of Taitung City.  The main entrance is just off Bo Ai Road, on the other side of the Eslite Bookstore.  There is a statue of a "carp" (actually it looks more like a whale) near here, and behind this statue there is a temple entrance up the hill.  This is the way into Li Yu Mountain.  鯉魚山正好位在台東市區.  它的主入口處在博愛路上, 誠品書店的一邊.  你會看到一座鯉魚的雕像(實際上它看起來像鯨魚).  雕像後面的廟門就是你要找的入口了.

There is a big temple on Li Yu Mountain, but it's kind of dirty and inhabited by feral dogs.  A lot of senior citizens like to go there for the sake of KTV and Chinese chess, but most people under 50 or 60 have little to do with the place.  Just ask the average person in Taitung City about the last time they walked up Li Yu Mountain.  The answer will probably be years, if not decades. 鯉魚山上有一所廟, 可是那裏有點髒.  附近的野狗也很多. 很多爺爺奶奶喜歡在那邊唱卡拉OK和下棋, 年輕一點的族群較少上鯉魚山.  多數的市民可能都不記得上次是什麼時候去鯉魚山的, 通常他們的回答都是幾年前或是幾十年前.

Just inside of the temple entrance, there is a trail that leads up to the top of Li Yu Mountain.  This trail can also be accessed from the other side, near Chang Sha Street.  There are some great views from this trail on a clear day, and from the top you can enjoy a panorama of Taitung City in its entirety.  The view is particularly striking after a good rain.  廟的入口處 有一條步道上鯉魚山頂.  這跟鯉魚山後的長沙街附近的入口是同一條步道.  天氣晴朗時, 你可以在山頂上俯瞰整個台東市景. 最棒的景色是剛下完大雨的時候.

Li Yu Mountain is designated a "scenic area" by the Taitung County Government, though I'm not exactly sure what this means.  Yes, Li Yu Mountain is scenic, but no one seems to be taking care of it.  People still dump their garbage around there, people still farm plots of land around its base, and the houses on Bo Ai Road still dump large amounts of waste water into the canal at the foot of the mountain.  I realize that the situation with these "military" houses is a tricky one, but someone should really do something about it.  It looks bad.  鯉魚山是台東縣政府名定的一個風景區, 可是我不太了解這是什麼意思.  雖然那邊的風景不錯, 可是感覺不到人們對那個地方的照顧.  很多人在那裏亂丟垃圾, 也有很多人在山腳下掘地種菜, 還有很多舊房子的汙水直接排到鯉魚山下的排水溝. 我知道改善鯉魚山下的居民環境是縣市政府的一大問題, 但還是應該有人來整頓一下.

By the way, if you go to the top of Li Yu Mountain, there are several plaques set out there that offer interesting bits of information about the mountain, its history, and its role in local culture.  One of these plaques explains the origin of its name, as well as its relation to "Cat Mountain," on the other side of the city.  Just be careful up there.  Much of this area has faced serious erosion problems in the wake of torrential rains.  在鯉魚山上還有一些介紹鯉魚山歷史和文化的告示牌.  其中一個介紹"鯉魚山"這個名字的由來, 和介紹鯉魚山跟貓山之間的關係.  只是看簡介的時候要小心.  最近的大雨, 讓那條步道變得較危險.

If you are in Taitung City for a few hours, and lack the time to go anywhere further afield, I encourage you to visit Li Yu Mountain.  It's not a world-class tourist destination by any means, but it's a nice place for a quiet walk.  如果你是路過台東而缺乏時間去較遠的地方, 你可以去鯉魚山走走.  它雖然不是什麼世界級的景點, 但是個適合安安靜靜散步的好地方.

5. Reason to Learn Chinese #1: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (Taiwan Style, November 2011)

One of the best things about being able to read Chinese is comic books.  They are hugely popular in Taiwan, and you can find them everywhere.  This, and there is a comic book for every level of student.  From really minimal things like Doraemon (小叮噹), and "Old Master," (老夫子) to more challenging comics about Chinese history or Science, Taiwan has a comic book for everyone.

Most of the comic books in Taiwan are translated from Japanese.  There are few comic books actually produced in Taiwan, but they are not as popular.  All of the biggest comics originate in Japan, and this is but one of the many ways that Japan continues to influence Taiwanese culture.

When I first started studying Chinese, comic books were a welcome relief from my textbooks.  I usually supplemented an hour's study with a copy of Dragon Ball (七龍珠) or One Piece (航海王/海賊王), and after sweating my way through the first few issues of any series, I found that I learned a lot from whatever comic I was reading.

It wasn't until I came across "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure" (Jojo冒險野郎) that I really found a comic I could embrace.  If you are not familiar with this comic book, it's probably because it isn't popular in Western countries.  They translated the third Jojo series into English, but due to copyright and censorship issues, that version of Jojo really wasn't the same thing - AT ALL.

And here is where being able to read Chinese (or Japanese) comes in truly handy, because it enables you to read the rest of the Jojo series.  So far, the first seven parts of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure are available in Mandarin, with only the eighth (JoJolion, just now appearing in Japan) unavailable in Taiwan.

I have had a lot of Taiwanese friends ask me why I am so into Jojo.  Not only is it super-strange, but it's also extremely violent and somewhat gay.  For me, these are all selling points.  I love the fact that sometimes this comic just doesn't make any sense.  I love the anatomically incorrect poses.  I love the fact that the President of the U.S., in part 7, is named "Funny Valentine."  Jojo is so wonderfully, irredeemably weird that I can't stop reading it, and I wouldn't want to.

If you're into your second semester of Mandarin, or even if you are a native speaker, Jojo is worth checking out.  Those, like me, with a taste for the odd will find a lot enjoyment in this truly original comic book.  Here's looking forward to the eighth installment, due to appear... soon?

6. Fun Facts About English  英文的有趣的真相 (Taitung Style, December 2011)

All of the below is taken from the article about the English language on Wikipedia.  Those who want to read further are directed there.  What follows are my favorite bits of trivia from that article.  There is also an article about the English language in Chinese.以下內容取自維基百科, 昰那篇文章中我覺得有趣的部分, 你可以從以上兩個連結進入文章的中,英文內容.

  • English is a West Germanic language.  This means that English grammar is more like German than the "romance languages" such as French and Spanish, which are based on Latin.英語屬於西日耳曼語.這意味著英語文法比較接近德語,而不是像法語和西班牙語昰由拉丁文演變而來的浪漫語言.
  • English is the most widely spoken language in the world, but it is NOT the most natively spoken.  Both Chinese and Spanish boast more native speakers.英語昰全世界使用最廣泛的語言,但昰以中文和西班牙文為母語者卻比以英語為母語者多.
  • English grammar is closer to German, but many English words were taken from Latin and French.  Many of the Latin words are the legacy of the Catholic Church, which was very influential throughout the Middle Ages.  The French words are the result of the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century.英文文法比較貼近德文, 但是很多英文字昰由拉丁文和法文而來. 大多的拉丁文字被中世紀的天主教廣泛運用, 而法文字的使用則昰由十一世紀諾曼人征服英格蘭開始.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 words in English, and many of these words are borrowed from languages as diverse as Hindi and Swahili.牛津英語辭典收了 250,000個英文單字, 其中很多都是從不同的語言借來的,例如: 印地語和斯瓦希里語.
  • The epic poem Beowulf is one of the oldest things written in the English language, dated between the 8th and 11th centuries.  This poem was written in Old English, and is difficult for even native English speakers to understand.史詩"貝奧武夫"昰以古英文在第八到十一世紀之間寫成,昰最早的英文文學作品之一. 就算是現今以英文為母語者都認為它困難難懂.
  • The United States has more native English speakers than any other country in the world, but...在美國以英語為母語者多於世界上任何一個國家, 但......
  • India may have more people that speak and understand English than any other country.印度可能比任何國家有更多會說英文的人口.
  • It is said that written English is about 80% phonetic, meaning that about 20% of the words in the English CANNOT be decoded using phonetic rules.這說明 80%的英文字符合拼音規則,而另外的20%則不適用拼音規則.
  •  The spelling of English words has varied over time, and there are many regional differences with regard to the spelling of English words.  The chart below outlines the history of the phrase, "Our father, who is in heaven," from the Bible.英文字的拼法隨著時間的演變而不同, 也有許多區域性的差異,下面的表格標示出聖經中"Our father, who is in heaven,"的拼法演變.
Year 年
Phrase 句子
“Faeder ure bu be eart on heofonum si bin nama,”
“Ovre fadir pat art in heavens halwid bi pi name;”
“Ovr father, who art in heaven,”
“Our father, who is in heaven,”

Hope you are having fun... in whatever language.  To study is good, but as the Bible also says, "In much study lies a weariness of flesh."  祝你學任何一種語言都很愉快! 學習昰一件很好的事, 但聖經上也說: 身體上的疲累源於過量的學習.

7. Is the East Coast Really Better? (Taiwan Style, December 2011)

I have met a lot of guys (and girls) on the west coast of the island who fantasize about moving to the East Coast.  To hear them tell it, everything between Keelung 基隆 and the eastern edge of Ping Tung County 屏東縣 is a paradise, untouched by earthly troubles.

Such a point of view, however, is usually arrived at through guidebooks and hearsay.  Many of those espousing the general "goodness" of the East Coast haven't been here for very long, and most of them haven't lived here.  In reality, the East Coast is far from a postcard-perfect paradise, though many will certainly find much to like over here.

During the entire five years I spent living on the West Coast, I visited the East Coast exactly twice.  Once, dying for natural splendor, my wife and I spent three days in Taitung City 台東市 and Green Island 綠島, and we were deeply impressed by what we saw.  Later, we visited Yilan County 宜蘭縣, and although it didn't strike us the same way that Taitung did (too rainy), we appreciated the fresh air and ease of driving.

Back in 2006, we decided - come hell or high water - to move to the East Coast.  Our experience in Taitung was a big reason for this, and Taitung was the first place I seriously looked for work on the East Coast.  Thanks to my freshly minted M.A. and teaching certificate, I found a job here fairly quickly.  I did look at a few schools in Hualien 花蓮, but from the beginning my sights were set on Taitung.

We have lived in Taitung since that time.  The only other place I considered living was the States, and we made in ill-advised attempt to move back "home" in 2008.  It wasn't long before we realized that our hearts were in Taitung, and trying to fit back into that American way of doing things was just plain foolishness.  I went through the motions of being a substitute teacher in Seattle, and within 6 months I was bitter, depressed, and generally not fun to be around.

As of right now, I really can't see living anywhere other than Taitung.  Most of my friends are here, I have a great job, and Taitung just feels right to me.  Even after four years, I still see the mountains near Lu Ye 鹿野 and think, "I live here!  Cool!"

But this is not to say that the East Coast is for everyone.  I have known plenty of foreigners who have been miserable over here.  They miss the excitement of the big city.  They miss the bars (and quite often the bar girls).  They miss the lives they painstakingly built up in places like Taipei 台北, Taichung 台中, and Kaohsiung 高雄.  Or maybe they really want to build up a career on the East Coast, and find that this is easier said than done.

Yes, making money on the East Coast - that takes some doing.  There is a reason only 10% of Taiwan's population lives on this side of the island, and that reason is employment - or the lack thereof.  For a foreigner, finding even part-time work on the East Coast can be a challenge, and full-time work can be an elusive prey indeed.

To have a career on the East Coast involves playing a waiting game, and this is not a game that most people are really prepared to play.  I have had countless foreigners ask me where they can find work in Taitung, and all I can do is give them a few names, a few addresses, and wish them luck.

It's also not paradise over here.  Yes, we do have a lot more scenery than the other side of the island, but there is pollution, traffic, racism, stupidity, and crime to be found on the East Coast, too.  It just so happens that there is less of that here, because there are less people to create it.

If you think the East Coast is for you, I encourage you to give it a try.  Just be aware that living over here requires patience, and you're not likely to get rich doing it.  Those who enjoy the East Coast enjoy it for the scenery, the culture, and the way of life.  They're not often about big ambitions, or after glittering careers.

Things move slower over here, and I, for one, appreciate that.

8. Getting Drunk (Taiwan Style, December 2011)

My mom is a recovering alcoholic, and due to liver complications, she has been in and out of the hospital more than once this year.  Her struggles with alcoholism got me thinking about my own consumption, and I began to wonder if drinking was really something I should do.

I don't think that anyone would refer to my drinking as "immoderate" - two to three beers on Friday, two to three beers on Saturday - but with all the heartbreak my mom's condition has caused my family, well, I just wasn't enjoying those beers like I used to.

So I decided to take a break from alcohol until Chinese New Year.  During Chinese New Year, I probably won't have any choice in the matter, since I'll be surrounded by drunken male in-laws, with little to do except drink.

Provided my mom stays out of the hospital, I'll probably be able to enjoy that drink - without thinking of emergency rooms, and half-sane phone calls with my mom, and antipsychotics.  At least I hope so.  It's hard to say right now.

I do miss the taste of beer or whiskey on a weekend, but I haven't found that foregoing alcohol has been remarkably hard.  I just drink a lot of milk tea and coke on the weekends, and I suppose my body is (slightly) better off for it.

I can't regard alcohol as an evil thing, no matter how family members might abuse it.  To my mind, any substance can be a drug, and I have met many people who abuse coffee just as readily as my mom has abused alcohol.  No, people don't usually die from coffee addiction, but the potential for abuse is there, just the same.

And as I think about this, I am also asking myself if I have ever abused alcohol.  The answer?  Yes, of course.  There were times when I had one more drink than I should have had, there were times when I used alcohol to deal with an emotional crisis, but almost all of these episodes were restricted to college, back when that was something my friends and I just did.  Control is an issue in everyone's life, and we just have to ask ourselves what a certain behavior is costing us, and whether or not that cost is too high.

I have been drunk many times in my life, and that experience was almost always good.  There were a few times that weren't so good, either because I didn't stop when I should have, or because I was drinking as a means of avoiding thinking about something.

The overdrinking was a question of knowing my limit, and I can tell you the last time I overdrank was on a boat with my brother and his friend, back in the year 2000.  And yes, Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum is a mighty foe indeed.

As for avoiding thinking about something, I can only remember one time.  Really, truly, in all sincerity - one time.  This was before I graduated from the University of Washington, and I found out that a girl was cheating on me.  Instead of going to her with the problem, or instead of simply realizing that she was not worth the heartache, I chose to drink my weight in Pabst.  The subsequent binge nearly landed me in the ER myself, back in 1998.

A lot of people regard alcohol as an absolute evil.  They will go on to list tobacco, pornography, and even sex itself as inherently harmful things.  I, for one, can't subscribe to that view.  To me, alcohol is just a thing, and the abuse of that thing resides within the individual, not within the thing itself.  My mom, I hope, realizes that alcohol is not something that she can cope with.  Doctors have told her the same.  In the absence of the ability to cope, one has to avoid something - not because it's "bad" - but just because we lack the equipment to deal with it.  It is no different from avoiding sharks, Mormons, or anything else that poses a danger that we cannot avert through other means.

As for me, I'm kind of enjoying this dry period in my semester.  I cannot say that I'll never drink a beer again, but it's good to pause from some things, if for no other reason than to know you aren't dependent upon them.

9. Beautiful Women 2 (Taiwan Style, December 2011)

10. Beef Noodles in Taitung 台東的牛肉麵 (Taitung Style, December 2011)

Every single time I write about food/restaurants in Taitung I get hate mail.  Invariably, every time I write about food someone reads it, thinks that I am attacking their or their friend's restaurant, and I have to answer angry comments about how I'm "not being fair," or how I'm "misinformed."  我每次討論食物或餐廳都有人罵我.  很多人看過文章以後, 覺得我在說他們的或他們朋友的餐廳的壞話.  之後, 我更要回應很多"抗議"的或是認為我"不公正"的留言.

With this in mind, I will attempt to discuss the beef noodle offerings within Taitung.  I do not claim to have eaten at every single beef noodle place in Taitung, but I have eaten at A LOT.  I eat beef noodles several times a month, and I have a thorough knowledge of local restaurants serving this popular dish.  有了這些經驗, 我將試著介紹台東當地的牛肉麵餐廳.  我當然不是每一家在台東的牛肉麵都吃過, 但是我吃過的牛肉麵餐廳也不少.  我每個月總會在餐廳裡吃幾次牛肉麵, 所以累積下來的經驗也讓我對這道受人歡迎的餐點有一定的認識.

Listed below are my most-visited beef noodle restaurants, or else beef noodle restaurants that are well-known in the area.  Please feel free to suggest anyplace I have forgotten to mention, or anyplace you think I should try.  在下面介紹的是我常常去的牛肉麵餐廳, 也是台東縣,市民喜愛的.  如果以下的介紹漏了您最喜歡的餐廳, 請跟我說一聲.  我會很高興有機會嘗試不同口味的牛肉麵!!

1. He Nan Wei 河南味

This place is in Shin Sheng Road, across from Shin Sheng Junior High.  I eat here frequently.  Their beef noodles are inexpensive, and probably the most consistent beef noodles in Taitung.  Other places will be good one day, and bad the next, but He Nan Wei is good every time.  They're not the best, but I appreciate their consistency.這家餐廳在新生路上, 位於新生國中對面.  他們牛肉麵不貴,而且品質很固定. 不像有的餐廳一天好吃,一天不好吃. 雖然他們不是最好吃的, 可是去那裏不用靠運氣.

2. San Jie Mei 三姐妹

This is the most famous beef noodle restaurant in Taitung.  They are located in Tai Ma Li township, about 30 minutes south of Taitung City.  What I said about He Nan Wei's consistency does not apply to this restaurant.  Some days they are EXCELLENT, and other days they are just OK.  For the price, they don't give you very much beef noodles.  這是台東縣最有名的牛肉麵.  他們在太麻里鄉, 從台東市往南, 開車差不多要30分鐘.  他們有時味道很棒, 有時卻也普通.  而且他們的牛肉麵比較貴, 量也不是很多.

3. Shan Dong Delicacies 山東小吃

This place is behind the Christian Hospital, off Kai Feng Road.  Their beef noodles are the spiciest, and very inconsistent.  I've eaten here a couple times and been amazed at how good the beef noodles were.  Other times I've eaten here and wondered what I was so enthused about.這家餐廳靠近開封街, 在基督教醫院後面.  他們的牛肉麵是最辣的, 但是品質不定.  有一兩次我覺得他們的牛肉麵是最棒的, 但有幾次我懷疑為什麼自己一定要來吃口味還好的牛肉麵.

4. Sezchuan Beef Noodles 四川牛肉麵

I've only eaten here a couple of times.  It's near Tung Hai Junior High, off Shin Sheng Road as it nears the ocean.  I thought their beef noodles were GREAT, but my wife was put off by the run-down look of the place.  I'll admit, it doesn't look that clean, but I would like to go back there sometime.  我只在這裡吃過兩次牛肉麵.  他們靠近東海國中, 位於新生路往海邊的那一段.  我覺得他們的牛肉麵超好吃的, 可是我太太不喜歡在那麼破爛的餐廳吃飯.  而且那邊看起來不是很乾淨, 但是我還昰想再回去一次.

5. Shiang Chi 湘綺

This restaurant is in Jer Ben, near where the road to the hot spring leads to Highway 11, up on the hill.  The beef used in their beef noodles is the best - bar none, but this place is so popular that eating there involves a wait.  It's also not the cleanest or most comfortable restaurant in the world, but definitely worth a visit.  湘綺在知本的外環道上.  他們的牛肉是最好吃的.  但是在那邊吃麵要等很久, 而且也不是很乾淨舒服, 但是它一定昰個值得嘗試的餐廳.

11. March 7, 2014 (Taiwan Style, December 2011... sort of)

The heading of this entry will not match the date assigned to it.  This is because I've gone back and deleted some of my older posts, the ones wherein I announced the start of my vacations.  This also means that even though what I write here is (relatively) new, it will be buried in the midst of older entries.  In this case, what I write on March 7, 2014 will be found among the entries from December 2011.

So what is going on in my world today?  Well to start it's Friday, and I have only two classes - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I have already prepared for both of these classes, and the papers and CD needed for these classes are sitting in a plastic bin on my desk.  Aside from the two 40 minute sessions I will spend in class later, I have nothing else to do until 4 o'clock.

After 4 I will take my daughters out for dinner.  My wife is working until 6: 30, so she will not be able to accompany us.  My younger daughter and I will bicycle home, we'll wait for my older daughter to arrive home from her junior high school, and then we'll go to a beef noodle restaurant near my house.

My daughters aren't fond of beef noodles, but it's my turn to pick.  Yesterday my younger daughter got to pick, and we ended up eating McDonald's for the thousandth time.  I'm not a big fan of McDonald's, though I find that it helps to eat a big hamburger before I go on a run.  Iron and protein, I think.  Fuel for the muscles.

After our dinner we'll return home.  They'll probably play with the computer until their bed time, and I'll be reading Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene," a book about how genetic factors determine animal behavior.  It's a good book, but it can lead you to some depressing conclusions.  The author is one of the better known atheists, and he has a way of making human relationships seem self-interested and unemotional.  There is no place for God in his universe.  Neither is there much room for love.

After my daughters go to bed I might have a few beers with my friend R, but that is all up in the air right now.  If R is busy, I'll probably just sit in my living room and watch a movie with my wife.  This second option is completely acceptable to me.  I enjoy going out and having beers with friends, but I think that I previously did this at the expense of my family.  Not a good thing to do.

So much for my day.  Nothing special, but at least not anything traumatic.  What about your day?  What are/were you doing? 

12. Are American Schools Better?  美國的學校比較好嗎? (Taitung Style, January 2012)

People in Taitung often ask me if American schools are better.  My answer is always no.  Of course, there are good and bad schools everywhere, and the worst school in America might be better than the worst school in Taitung, but really, on average, I would say that Taiwanese schools have a lot going for them.  台東的朋友常常問我, "美國的學校比較好嗎?"  我的回答是 "不."  到處都有好學校跟壞學校, 美國的學校不一定比較好.  美國最差的學校可能比台灣最差的學校好一點, 但是我覺得台灣的學校很有自己的特色.

For me, one of the major differences between American and Taiwanese schools is the emphasis put on either facts or opinions.  In America, teachers tend to reward students with strong opinions about things, even if those students' mastery of underlying facts is a bit shaky.  我認為美國跟台灣的學校的最大差別在於重視書本知識或個人意見.  在美國, 老師傾向於鼓勵學生對事物有自己的想法, 有時可能學生對事實並沒有很深的瞭解, 只是有意見就好.

In Taiwan, students are rewarded more for their mastery of facts, and less for their opinions about these facts.  Obviously it would be the best thing to have well-informed opinions, based on a thorough knowledge of a given subject, but schools in both countries tend to emphasize one half of the equation over the other.  在台灣, 大部分的老師比較重視書本知識.  個人意見顯得沒有那麼重要.  當然正確的知識觀念跟正確的個人意見都很重要, 可是這兩國家都還沒在這兩項重點上取得平衡.

People also ask me if American schools are more "free."  They aren't often able to elaborate on what they mean by "free," but I assume they are asking if American schools are less bound by rules and tradition.  In this instance, there is a sharp distinction between American public and private schools.  American public schools are certainly more free, but often to a disorganized or even dangerous extent.  American private schools, on the other hand, are sometimes even more rule-bound than Taiwanese schools.  Many American Catholic schools, for example, attract a large number of students not on religious grounds, but on the fact that their discipline is much, much stricter.  還有人問我, "美國的學校比較自由嗎?"  他們通常都無法定義"自由"的意思.  我想他們要問的是學校的規矩是否比較少.  在這方面, 公立學校跟私立學校比較起來就差很多.  美國有的公立學校真的很自由, 自由到超亂的或是有點危險.  有的私立學校的規矩甚至比台灣的學校還嚴格.  特別是美國的天主教學校.  很多美國小孩在那種學校上學不是因為宗教的關係, 而是因為那種學校很嚴格.

Another big difference between American and Taiwanese public schools is money.  In Taiwan, public schools are pretty much the same everywhere, and are allotted funds out of the same general purse.  In America, many schools are dependent upon local education levies, federal and local government assistance, and money from other sources.  This means that schools in affluent areas tend to look (and often be) better.  Immigration also plays a role here, since schools in affluent areas tend to educate more native speakers, from more stable households.  Schools in poorer areas just can't compete.  另一個美國的學校跟台灣的學校的差別在於"錢".  在台灣, 每所學校的經費由縣市政府決定.  美國的狀況比較複雜, 因為部分的錢由中央政府提供, 部分的錢來自於地方的土地增值稅等...... 所以有錢的社區的學校通常比較好.  那些比較窮的學校通常有比較多的移民學生跟家庭有困難的學生,所以兩者的素質就有所差別.

During my time teaching in Seattle (about two years altogether), I taught at both kinds of American school.  One school I taught at was so poor that they couldn't even heat the building properly, and some of the interior walls were falling down.  Many of the students in that school came from very frightening home environments, where drugs and domestic violence were an everyday occurrence.  我在美國教書的兩年中, 在這兩種學校當過老師.  其中一所學校很老舊, 有的牆壁快倒了, 冬天的時候也沒辦法供應足夠的暖氣.  那裡的學生很多是家庭狀況不好, 他們居住的環境中常常碰到毒品或家庭暴力的問題.

I have also taught at very nice, new schools, in very rich neighborhoods.  These were like the schools you see in Hollywood movies, where all the kids are well-dressed and well-behaved.  The strange thing is, I tended to like the poorer schools more.  Many of the kids in those schools felt more "real" to me, even if some of them were a nightmare.  我也在有錢的社區的學校教過書.  那裡的學校很像美國電影裡的學校.  每個學生穿著流行的衣服,行為也很好.  奇怪的是我比較喜歡沒錢的學校, 因為那種學校的同學對我來說比較"真".

So are American schools better?  On average, I would have to say no.  Just different, I think, and burdened with their own problems.  There's good and bad everywhere, and America is no exception.  美國的學校比較好嗎?   我覺得不是,而是不同而已.  因為環境跟政策的關係, 每個學校都有他們自己的問題.  到處都有好跟壞的學校.  在美國沒有什麼不一樣.


If you want to see a funny movie about American schools, I highly recommend "Bad Teacher."  You can rent it at Blockbuster!  如果您想看部關於美國學校的喜劇片, 我建議你看"Bad Teacher"[罷凌女教師].  您可以在百視達租這片DVD.

13. Principal Wang and the Wedding 王校長的兒子的喜宴 (Taitung Style, January 2012)

Today (as I write this), it is January 1, 2012, the first day of a new year.  We woke up very late this morning, as the sound of fireworks kept us up well past midnight the night before.  我寫這文章的同時是2012年1月1日, 也就是新年的第一天.  我們今天比平時晚起床. 因為昨晚的鞭炮聲持續到午夜才稍停.

Many of those reading this may know my school's former principal, Wang Ying-Jhou.  He moved to San He Elementary from Tung Hai Elementary last year, though I still see him fairly often.  He lives in a house right across from my apartment building, so I see him every time I go down to take out the trash.  很多看這篇文章的人應該也認識我學校的前任校長---王校長.  他去年從東海國小調到三合國小, 現在我還是常常碰到他.  因為他住在我住的大樓對面, 我每次丟垃圾都會碰到他.

This evening my wife, my daughters, and I attended his son's wedding banquet at the Yi-Jia (One House) Restaurant on Geng Sheng Road.  His son is marrying the daughter of the veterinarian who looks after our four cats.  Taitung is a relatively small place, so while this is something of a coincidence, it is not remarkably so.  今晚我和家人一起去更生路的"一家餐廳"參加他兒子的喜宴.  他兒子跟我們家貓咪的醫生的女兒結婚.  台東是個小地方, 所以這樣的巧合並不是一件不可思議的事.

Many other teachers and staff from my school were on hand for the banquet.  But as you might expect, I was the only foreigner there.  Sitting at our table was Mrs. Tu, who is retiring this year, and her husband, and also Gen Wei, his wife, and their two children. 喜宴上有許多我們學校的老師和員工參加,   同時那裏只有我一個外國人. 我們這桌除了我們一家四口之外,還有塗老師跟她的先生, 和根維老師一家.

At the beginning of the banquet, there were the usual round of speeches by the host, locals trying to get elected to various offices, and some others.  By the time the food started arriving, the speeches had given way to karaoke, and several principals took the stage.  Many of these singers were quite accomplished.  喜宴一開始, 就有很多人上台祝賀致詞.  有別校的校長, 有選舉候選人, 也有其他重要人士.  開始上菜之後, 就有人開始唱歌.  有的校長很會唱歌.

All of the food was good, but by the time we had worked our way through the fish, the sashimi, the lamb, the pork, the chicken, the crab, and the shrimp we were all feeling too full for words.  In between the dishes I drank down a single bottle of Taiwan beer, and I felt very relaxed.  I reflected on the fact that I have now been at Tung Hai Elementary longer than any other school I have ever worked at, and this fact felt very right to me, very good.  每道菜都很好吃, 可是當我們從生魚片, 豬肉, 雞肉, 螃蟹, 一路到蝦子之後,飽撐的程度已經無法以言語形容了.  我也喝了一瓶台灣啤酒放鬆.  那時候我想到自己在東海國小已經三年了.  這是我待得最久的工作地方, 我很滿意,也覺得很高興.

On my way out I did my best to congratulate Principal Wang on his son's wedding.  He is a shy man, and I didn't want to say too much.  I hope he knows how happy I am, for him and his son.  I hope he knows that I appreciate his support during two years of teaching at Tung Hai Elementary.  我們離開的時候, 我跟王校長說一聲恭喜.  他很害羞, 所以我沒說很多.  希望他知道我內心充滿了對他及他兒子的祝福.  我也希望他知道我很感謝他那兩年的支持.

And if he didn't know then, perhaps he does now.  如果他當時不知道, 也許他現在知道了.

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2011年10月2日 星期日

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

1.  Thoughts 4 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Just got back from a few days on the west coast.  The longer I live in Taitung 台東, the more difficult it is to imagine life on the other side of Taiwan.  The traffic in Taichung 台中 was HORRIFYING.

It's hard to imagine living in a place with so many people, all wanting the same things and trying to squeeze into the same places.  It would be so difficult to save money in Taichung.  There would always be another cool restaurant to visit, or a new pub, or a department store.  You'd always hear people talking about the newest hot spot, and it would be hard not to care.  Before you knew it, you'd be fighting the crowd with the rest.

Saw a couple Taiwanese friends in Taichung on Sunday.  They seemed very happy, and were talking about getting married next year.  They took us to a pizza restaurant, and I had a great time.  I just wonder about how they see the world.  Always competing, always arguing, always fighting against the crowd.  It would be a hard way to live - at least in the beginning.  I used to thrive on that sense of competition.  Maybe I am getting old now.  Or maybe it's just Taitung.

But it's not that the west coast is all bad.  Yunlin 雲林 was the same as ever, and I was grateful to see that there are still pockets of tranquility in even the noisiest city.  I could see myself living somewhere like Douliou 斗六.  It's big enough to be convenient, but not so big that the more countrified elements have been displaced.

One thing about the big city - women there are very forward.  I was waiting to go to the bathroom in a pub, and this woman ran her hand over my stomach as she walked past.  When I looked up she was looking right back into my eyes, and it was very difficult to look away.  Being a good husband would be harder over there, I think.

I look forward to going back to the west coast, but I am always happy to come back east.  The west coast definitely has its good points, but I'll take visiting the west coast over living there.  I think this is one of the great advantages to living where I do: I can enjoy the best of both worlds.

2. Having Kids in Taiwan (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Both of my daughters were born in Taiwan.  My older daughter was born in Taichung 台中 in 2000, and my younger daughter was also born in Taichung, five years later.  They both have US and Taiwan passports, and they have both lived in both countries.

There is nothing like seeing your first child come into the world.  I know that movies wax sentimental over this kind of thing, but it's the truth.  After you see your first child you will never be the same.  It's not anything at all like getting married, or graduating from college, or other life-affirming events.  It changes you in ways that you don't fully realize until much later.  It is a devastating experience - but in a good way.

The birth of our first child happened quickly.  My wife and I were fond of walking around Taichung at that time, and all of her walking helped my wife towards a speedy delivery.  She was only in labor for a few hours, and then, thankfully, all the screaming and swearing came to an end.

I was in the delivery room when my older daughter came into the world.  To see this little person - your child - come into the waking world is amazing.  My older daughter didn't cry when she was born, and the doctor was very worried.  I think she was just happy to finally get out of that womb, and to get on with the business of living.

The doctor who assisted with the delivery was very professional.  I would assure anyone with qualms about medical care in Taiwan to rest easy.  Doctors in Taiwan do a good job, almost without exception.

My younger daughter didn't arrive so easily.  In this case the labor took much longer, and it was far more painful for my wife.  They ended up giving her drugs to speed things along, and my wife was a long time recovering afterward.

Unlike her big sister, my younger daughter came into the world pissed off.  During her first few months of life, we became famous throughout the neighborhood as "the parents of the baby who cried all the time."  Yes, my younger daughter was exhausting.

Getting my daughters their US passports was no problem.  It was far easier than getting my wife's green card later on.  We got the Taiwanese birth certificate, applied for the US Certificate of Birth Abroad, and after that the passport was a snap.  Getting their Taiwan passports was even easier.

After my daughters were born, people often asked me if I saw the world differently.  I suppose I did, but this difference isn't something I could put into words.  It was more a feeling at first.  It took time for it to develop.

People also asked me if I planned to take our daughters back to America, in order to enjoy all things American.  I am, at best, ambivalent about things American, so this has never been much of an issue for me.  I am happy to be in Taiwan, and my daughters have enjoyed growing up here.

Come to think of it, I have too.

3. Green World 綠世界 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Green World is in Hsinchu County 新竹縣, not far from Jhu Dong 竹東.  I've been there three times, but the last time was a couple years ago.  It may be different now.

It's a bit of a cross between an amusement park and a zoo.  There aren't any rides there, but there are performances involving birds and other animals.  Green World goes to great lengths to put on a show.  They are not far from the more famous Leo-Foo Village 六福村, so I suppose this makes sense.

The scenery around there is not bad, though far from spectacular.  There are also many other attractions in the area, and the price of admission isn't shockingly high.

What I like most about Green World is that they have a lot of animals native to Taiwan, and actually seeing and interacting with these animals is much easier than it would be in the Taipei Zoo.  They have several kinds of deer, and many native birds, but sadly no Formosan Black Bear.  I can't remember if they had monkeys or not.

Anyway, if you are in Hsinchu it's worth a visit.  Just follow the signs, and you'll be there before you know it.

4. Teaching English 6: Side by Side (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

I don't know if Side by Side is as widely used as it once was.  Back when I was teaching in Taichung 台中, Side by Side was everywhere.

A lot of people complain about Side by Side.  They say it's boring.  I would not argue this point.  It is boring, but only if you study it all the time.

I've found that for students I only see once a week, this book works pretty well.  The sentence patterns are used with enough frequency for students to get a firm grasp on the grammar used, and new vocabulary is introduced very slowly.

Of course, Side by Side is not perfect.  The stories at the end of each chapter tend to be a little complicated, and some of the words included in these stories can be a bit strange.  I've found that I usually need to simplify the stories by typing them again, and by inserting these typed stories into whatever pages I have co**ed from the book.

Not that I would ever copy pages from a textbook.  That would be copyright infringement.  And that would be wrong.

At the end of each chapter there are more complicated articles, relating to the subject of each chapter.  These articles are usually WAY beyond the English level of whatever student I am teaching, so I tend to skip them.

I would recommend Side by Side if you have younger students that can read well.  Kids that are very intimidated by a lot of text will be put off by this book.  I've used it for years, and I have found that after completing the first Side by Side book, students can easily jump up to something like English Firsthand, which is much more interesting.

Side by Side might be boring, but I have found it very useful.

5. Comforting Food (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

As I write this I am sitting in the office, and they are bringing in the lunch cart.  I don't even need to look in that cart to know that the food is going to be BAD.  It's Wednesday, after all, so it's going to be vegetarian.

I have nothing against vegetarian food, but the company that does vegetarian food for our school doesn't do it well.  I am sure it will be weird, limp dumplings yet again, or else equally bizarre sandwiches that don't taste like anything.  Whatever it is, it's not going to be good.

Just a moment ago, I was talking to a coworker about our trip to Washington D.C. next month.  Our school is part of some global technology forum, hosted by Microsoft, and I am tagging along as an erstwhile translator.  My coworkers are very nervous about this event.  Since I have no real responsibility for the outcome of this forum, I'm not.

What this conversation did get me thinking about was the food back home, in the States.  I've never been to Washington D.C., and I started to wonder what kind of restaurants I might visit while I'm there.

I'm hoping to at least eat one good burger while I'm Stateside.  A good burger is crucial.  There are no more good hamburger restaurants in Taitung 台東, where I live, and I am starving for a good hamburger.  All we have in Taitung is McDonald's, and another, unspeakably bad restaurant called "Gary Bee '69."  High school kids and college students love the new Gary Bee, but I don't.

I am also hoping to find some good fish and chips.  I freaking love fish and chips.  There are some restaurants in Taitung that make good fried fish, but as anyone who loves fish and chips knows, it's just not the same thing.  Salmon and chips, I tell you.  Salmon.  And.  Chips.

There's also pizza of course.  But I can get pretty good pizza where I live.  There's a good pizza restaurant on Shin Sheng Road 新生路 in town, and I also had a lot of awesome pizza in Taichung 台中 last weekend.  I think I've had enough pizza for a while.

Indian food is another one.  I've never had good Indian food in Taiwan.  I'll be on the lookout for a good Indian restaurant.

However this forum thing goes, I'm sure I'll find at least one good meal somewhere.  I'm sure D.C. has a few good brewpubs, and a beer and a burger sound mighty good to me.  Anything is better that the food that the lunch lady just brought in.  Oh Lord, looks like dumplings...

6. Halloween in Taitung 台東 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Before too long it will be Halloween, one of my favorite Western holidays.

Halloween in Taitung is a non-event.  In fact, it's even more of a non-event that in other parts of Taiwan.  This would make it less of an event, but more of a non-event, eventually speaking.  Or perhaps I should say non-eventually speaking, since I am describing a non-event (or not describing a non-event, since there is no event to describe), rather than describing an event or eventuality.

But I digress.

The only place to buy Halloween stuff in Taitung is San Shang Department Store 三商百貨(which isn't really a department store), Carrefour 家樂福, and RT Mart 大潤發.  San Shang has the best costumes, Carrefour has the most costumes, and RT Mart has a lot of crap.

But even though there are three places to buy costumes, there is really only one place to go trick-or-treating.  Not far from the airport is the Yang Ming Mountain Village 陽明山莊, which is a gated community housing most of Taitung's illuminati.  Most of Taitung's professors live there, teachers and educational administrators from throughout the county call it home, and you can even find a few government officials at that address.

Every year they host a "Halloween party," wherein those with invitations can come and trick-or-treat on the premises.  Those without invites to Yang Ming are probably out of luck.  They'll be at home, watching scary movies, or else ensconced in the hellish Halloween shows that a few of the local English schools will undoubtedly put on.

Fortunately a lot of my coworkers live in Yang Ming, so I'll have no trouble getting inside.  I just wish someone would sponsor another kind of Halloween activity, somewhere without gates.  Halloween should be a day accessible to everyone.

7. The National Taiwan Aquarium 國立海洋生物博物館 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

The National Taiwan Aquarium is in Pingtung County 屏東縣.  It is located in the middle of Kenting National Park 墾丁國家公園, which is, in my opinion, one of the least interesting national parks in Taiwan.  It is an easy place to miss, so make sure you check your map or bring your GPS along.  I've been there many times already, and I still get lost.

It's a great place for kids or adults.  Many of the exhibits are fascinating, and the "underwater journey" (i.e. the glass tube through the main part of the aquarium) is worth the price of admission.

Just inside the entrance there is a large pool with statues of whales.  Kids love this place.  On a hot day the water there feels wonderful, and if you are visiting in the summer, I would encourage you to bring a change of clothes along.  Lying down in that pool only adds to the fun.

After the pool there is a large lobby, with various hallways leading off to different sections of the aquarium.  Most people make a beeline for the "underwater journey," though there is another, rotating exhibit on the second floor, and also a section dedicated to Taiwan's marine life.

The gift shop in the aquarium is also worth a look.  I've bought many gifts for people Stateside in this place, and my biggest "hits" in the gift-giving department have all originated in this gift shop.

My only complaint about the National Taiwan Aquarium is that it's hard to get to.  Whether driving there from Taitung 台東 or somewhere on the west coast, it's never a convenient drive.  Even driving there from Kaohsiung 高雄 is not fun, since it involves fighting your way through the continual traffic jam that makes Kenting's more famous spots so, um, delightful.

If you haven't been here already, you will find that it's money well-spent.  It is definitely a world-class aquarium, and compares favorably to other aquariums in the US and Canada.

8. Bicycling Around 2 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Am I an "avid cyclist?"  I don't know.  I go riding once a week - 40 KM or so - but if I ride more often than that, my wife starts to get jealous of my bicycle.  I have also been in a few triathlons and bike races, and I seem to do OK.

Presently I am riding a Cannondale CAAD 10 for my Saturday excursions.  This is a road bike that sells in Taiwan for NT 120,000, though I bought it in Seattle for half that price.  It is comparable to a non-carbon Giant Advanced, which sells for about NT 60,000.  I also own a Giant Sierra, which I ride to work in the morning.

The funny thing about my Cannondale is that it was made in the same factory as my Giant.  Even though Cannondale is technically an American bike, all of the higher-end bikes in the world are made in the same factory in Chang Hua 彰化, Taiwan.  From Fujis to Cervelo, all the world's best bikes are made - at least in part - in this same superfactory in central Taiwan.

If I was Taiwanese, I'd feel very proud of this fact.  From being a producer of second-tier mountain bikes, Taiwan - in a few decades - has gone on to produce the best bikes in the world.  I'm sure hardcore cyclists are going to point out those elusive Euro brands, and someone from the States might even point out a few brands still produced there, but the market for these brands is exceedingly small.  The world's elite cyclists probably aren't riding them, and buying those brands (outside of the countries where they are made) would pose an extreme challenge.

I'm guessing here, but about 90% of the people in Taiwan ride either a Giant or a Merida.  Merida, like Giant, is a Taiwanese company, but most of Merida's bikes are manufactured in Mainland China.  They have a group of German bike designers working for them, but the bikes are primarily Chinese.  Even the Shimano gear systems, once made in Japan, are largely produced in China now.

One thing that bicycles always bring home to me is how small the world is getting.  No matter where you are, no matter what kind of bicycle you are riding, you are linked into the same supply chain.  All of these bikes are produced in the same set of factories, all of them are put on the same boats, and they are all sold in the same stores.  I am reminded of what a salesperson said to me last time I was in Seattle.  "It doesn't matter what brand of bike you pick.  They're all made in the same factory, and they're all made in China!"

He might have forgotten about Taiwan, but he had a point.  As I go riding this Saturday, I'm sure I'll see the usual assortment of other riders, on other bikes, all made in the same places.  Riding a bike 40 KM might make the world seem slightly smaller - at least this is the feeling I get from it - but the bikes we ride, and the choices we make, are making it smaller still.

9. First and Last (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

My second daughter's birthday, and her great-grandmother's death, occurred within a few days of one another.

My second daughter was born in Taichung 台中, in the Veteran's Hospital near Tung Hai University 東海大學.  I drove my wife to the hospital when her contractions began, had to leave her for a while and pick up my older daughter, and by the time I returned with my older daughter, things were well underway.

There was a lot of screaming after that, and I had to take my daughter outside to keep her calm.  I would have liked to remain with my wife for what was a very difficult labor, but every time I looked back at my daughter, her eyes were getting very big, and she seemed on the verge of crying.  Giving birth is a scary thing to witness, especially if you're five.

So I drifted in and out of the "waiting area," or whatever it is that hospitals call that room where women suffer collectively.  Eventually they gave my wife drugs to speed things along, and she went into the delivery room to deliver our second child.

Not less than fifteen minutes after our second daughter arrived, I got a call.  It was my wife's grandmother, and she was calling to see if everything was OK.  I told her it was, and that she was a great-grandparent yet again.

I never got to know my wife's grandmother that well, but I always knew that I liked her, and that she approved of me.  Language was always a barrier between us.  My wife's grandmother only spoke Taiwanese and Japanese, and could only speak very haltingly in Mandarin.  I saw her fairly often, but our conversations were brief.

Then, a few days after, she died.  She had been in some hospital in Taoyuan 桃園, and her passing wasn't exactly a surprise.  What surprised me was how two things - birth and death - could so nearly coincide.  No sooner had my new daughter come into the world than another person, her great-grandmother, passed out of it.  Life can be funny that way, but I suppose such coincidences are bound to happen.

I am sorry that my younger daughter never got the chance to meet her great-grandma.  I'm sure they would have liked each other a great deal.

10. Dong Shan River Park 冬山河親水公園 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Dong Shan River Park is in Yilan City 宜蘭市, not far from the ocean.  I visited the place for the first time last year.

It reminded me a lot of the (Deep) Forest Park 森林公園 in Taitung City 台東市, though it is a bit smaller, and also more heavily manicured.  Unlike Taitung's Forest Park, there is an admission fee.

The great thing about Dong Shan River Park is the fountains.  Just inside the entrance there is a huge area where you can play in the water, and this place is like heaven on a hot day.  We didn't do much sporting in the water when we were there.  It was January then, and too cold.

On the other side of the fountains there is a dock where you can board a ferry.  The ferry passes from the park to the adjoining river, and along this river the ferry makes several stops.  I don't know if people ever swim in this river, but it looked wonderful.  I hope I can go back there next summer, and give it a try.

We took the ferry to another local attraction, the Taiwan Center for Traditional Arts 國立傳統藝術中心.  This is an area dedicated to Taiwanese culture, with a lot of stores selling arts and crafts.  I thought this place was fun, but you might not enjoy it so much if you aren't bringing kids.  You can also see performances of Chinese Opera in this place, watch puppet shows, and eat a fairly good meal.

After visiting the Center for Traditional Arts, we took the boat back to Dong Shan River Park and began the long trek to our car.  I had a really good time there, and I am eager to go back someday.

11. Chinese Invasion! 大陸客在台東 (Taitung Style, October 十月 2011)

I've heard that from next month, tourists from Mainland China will be able to fly directly from Nanjing to Taitung.  This change marks yet another step in the government's program to open up Taiwan to Chinese tourism.  And while it remains to be seen how this move will change Taitung, the major reason behind it should be obvious.  Chinese tourists have a lot of money, and are eager to spend it in Taiwan.  我聽說下個月開始可以從中國大陸的南京直飛臺灣台東.  這個改變顯示台灣對中國大陸的旅遊市場更開放了.  大家都不知道這政策將會對台東造成什麼影響, 相信大家都知道推行這個政策的主要原因 : 大陸客很有錢.他們也很願意在台灣花錢.

I want to say, at the outset, that I only know one person from Mainland China.  This would be an acquaintance from Hsinchu, who married a Taiwanese man in China, and has already lived in Taiwan for many years.  She is a great person, and I think Taiwan is better for having her. 我認識的大陸人只有一個.  我們昰在新竹認識的.  她在大陸跟一個台灣人結婚. 目前為止也在台灣生活好多年,是個很好的人.  也為臺灣的經濟成長盡了很多力---努力工作.

I would also like to interview some Chinese tourists, and ask them what they think about Taitung, and Taiwan in general.  However, any such interview would take up a lot of space, and will be reserved for a later date.  I am extremely interested to know what Mainlanders think about the place where we live, but that is also an extremely complicated subject, and will not be discussed here.  我很想跟一些大陸客聊天, 問他們對台東或是對台灣的看法.  問題是這項討論的文章會太長, 所以改天再來討論這個部分.  我也想了解大陸人對台東的看法, 可是這主題太複雜了.  改天再說吧!

This said, I'm sure a lot of people are wondering how this increase in Chinese tourism is going to affect people in Taitung.  My suspicion?  Not so much.  Aside from a few local businesses that cater to these tourists, most people in Taitung aren't seeing much of that money anyway.  Most Chinese tourists visit the same restaurants, the same hotels, the same coral dealerships, and the same parks - all in the same set of buses.  Local businesses that serve Chinese tourists are guarding that trade jealously, for perfectly understandable reasons.  我相信很多台東人開始思考這項政策將對台東造成什麼影響.  我的意見?  應該不會改變很多.  除了一部分的商人之外, 大多數的台東居民大概賺不到大陸客什麼錢. 那些旅行團都是去一些固定的餐廳, 固定的旅館, 固定的珊瑚店, 固定的公園, 坐固定的遊覽車. 平常店家應該很難沾到邊.

Still, there are exceptions.  Occasionally people from China visit my school, as part of educational exchanges between Taiwan and Mainland China.  I haven't yet had the chance to talk with any of these visitors, since I am either busy with work or they are in a tremendous hurry.  I have also run into Mainlanders on the train to Taipei.  Sometimes I even see them at the Family Mart near my house.  They seem nice enough, though they have a tendency to speak VERY LOUDLY.  可是還有些例外.  有幾次大陸的教師來我學校交流參觀.  我沒有機會跟這些大陸教師講話, 因為他們來的時候我在上課,或是他們趕時間要離開.  我也在往台北的火車上碰到大陸客. 偶爾我家附近的全家便利商店也有他們的蹤影.  他們通常都看起來很熱心, 而且說話聲很大.

Time will tell if we see an increase in individual Chinese tourism in Taitung.  I kind of hope we do.  It is, after all, exchanges between individuals that are most rewarding.  Tour groups offer little besides money, and do little to advance one culture's understanding of another.  Taiwanese people might think about this themselves, since group tourism is such a popular way to see China.  You miss a lot when you travel with a group, and the travel experience tends to be a lot more artificial.  可能以後個人旅遊的大陸客會比較多.  這樣也好, 因為個人旅遊的交流比較有意思.旅行團主要的目的是金錢交流, 而不是增進兩國的文化了解.  很多台灣人應該也注意到了, 因為很多台灣人都是跟旅行團去大陸. 而跟團旅遊所得到的異國文化刺激是有限的.

There are also environmental questions to consider.  For example, will an increase in Chinese tourism also increase the demand for local coral?  Will more Chinese tourists accelerate the development in Shan Yuan and other areas?  And when does saying "no" to certain financial opportunities serve our future interest?  也有環保的問題需要關心.  比方說, 想買珊瑚的大陸客也更多嗎?  更多的大陸客真的會讓台東的發展更好嗎?  台東的居民什麼時候該為了永續的綠色家園跟經濟發展的機會說"不"?

One thing is certain.  The Chinese are going to be bringing a lot of money over here, and with that money will come changes.  I, for one, hope that the debate about Chinese tourism amounts to more than a discussion of how much money everyone can make.  There are bigger issues at stake, and many of them are very critical to our well-being.  只有一件事是確定的.  大陸客會帶他們的錢過來, 隨之而來的也將會有一些環境的改變.  我只希望大家想的不只是賺錢的機會而已.  還有很多更重要的事情需要我們共同深思.

12. Betel Nut: Good and Bad (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

I read a lot about betel nut when I was assembling the pictures for that "Betel Nut 檳榔 Girls 2" post.  Despite my best intentions, however, I found it difficult to seriously discuss this issue in the context of semi-nude women.

So instead, I might as well begin that discussion here.  Anyone looking for further information is welcome to consult Wikipedia's article on betel nut.  That article, and the references provided by it, were where I got most of my information.

Which is not to say I've plagiarized that entire article for my own aggrandizement.  I've lived in Taiwan for twelve years now, I know people that sell it, and I know people that chew it.  I also know people that regard it as an absolute evil, and an emblem of all that is backward and undeveloped about Taiwan.

What follows are some pros and cons with regard to betel nut.

1. Pros

  • Betel nut provides economic opportunities for many in rural areas.
  • For those who enjoy it, it tastes good and helps them relax.
  • Betel nut encourages young women to stand in glass booths, and to parade around in a variety of sexy outfits.
  • Betel nut allows many people in Taiwan a chance to reaffirm their cultural roots, and to strengthen social ties.  This is particularly true among members of aboriginal tribes, who have a long history of chewing betel nut.
  • Betel nut trees are cute.

2. Cons

  • Mouth cancer.
  • Many people find it disgusting, and for this reason chewers of betel nut may face some forms of discrimination.
  • It is an addictive behavior, and for some has narcotic properties.
  • Many people spit their chewed betel nut onto public roads, and this is a serious sanitation concern in some areas.
  • Betel nut trees have very shallow roots, and this can be a cause of erosion where they are cultivated.

That's all I could come up with for now.  I hope anyone with additional pros and/or cons will let me know, so I can add them to the above lists.  Betel nut is a very public concern for those living in Taiwan, and I only wish it was more widely understood.

13. A Misunderstanding (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

When I was teaching kindergarten in Taichung, all of the foreign teachers had a Chinese co-teacher.   Their job was to deal with "bathroom issues," other issues of general hygiene, and communications between the school and parents.  Most of my co-teachers in that kindergarten were great, with one exception.

This particular co-teacher, who I will call "Connie," did everything she could to sabotage me.  She invented reasons for what I did that had no parallel in reality.  She did her best to instill bad manners and bad study habits within my students.  No matter what the perceived offense, she went out of her way to make the parents think that it was all my fault.  By the end of the first semester, I was doing everything I could just to keep her out of my classroom.

One day Connie looked up at me, with her unintelligent, cow-like eyes, and told me that I would never understand Taiwan, or Taiwanese people.  I asked her, carefully keeping my temper, how I might remedy this situation.  All she could do was shake her head and say, "There's nothing you can do."

I have thought about that encounter often.  Sometimes I wonder if Connie, for all her surprising ignorance, was somehow right.  The cultural divide is not so easily crossed, and there might be something in what she said.

But I don't know, and in the absence of knowing all I can do is try.  I may not be from Taiwan, I may not have grown up here, but I have lived here a long time.  That means something, doesn't it?  That matters, right?

I certainly hope so.  All I know is that communication is worth striving for.  People are put into this world for the sake of other people, and in this context communication is essential.  It might be the most important thing there is.

So if I can't understand Taiwan, then that means that Taiwanese people can't understand me.  And if the Americans and Taiwanese can't understand one another, what about the Chinese and the Taiwanese?  Or the Canadians and the Americans?  Or the people from the eastern U.S. and the people from the western U.S.?  In the end we have to hope that communication is possible, and that we can surmount the barriers set up by our local or national identities.

Maybe foreigners like me will never understand Taiwanese people.  But we are going to try.

14. Intro 3 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

All questions taken from the Longman English textbook, Volume 8.

1. How's the weather today?

It is cloudy today, but it will probably clear up by afternoon.  I am hoping that it will be sunny this weekend.

2. What do you do on Sunday?

On Sunday morning I go swimming in the Flowing Lake 活水湖.  After this I go home and take a shower.  Then I usually have breakfast.  After breakfast we take our daughter to her choir practice, and my wife, my younger daughter, and myself will usually go out somewhere.  On Sunday we usually have lunch out.

3. What does your daughter do on Monday?

Which one?  They are both students in the elementary school where I work.  My younger daughter has class from 7:50 to 12:30 or so, and my older daughter has class from 7:50 to 4:00.  My older daughter has drawing class in the evening, and my younger daughter has ballet class at the same time.

4. What are you wearing today?

That is a very sexy question.  I am wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  I am also wearing a watch, a ring, and a pair of sandals.

5. Whose key is this?

I have no idea.  Can you stop pointing that thing at me?

6. On Chinese New Year, we get money in red envelopes and say, "Gong si, Gong si."

This is not a question, but thank you for the information.

15. McDonald's in Taiwan (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

McDonald's in Taiwan is pretty much the same as McDonald's in other countries.  There are regional variations, but the entire selling point behind McDonald's is that it's the same food, in the same restaurant, served in the same fashion.

The McDonald's in Taiwan offers milk tea, corn soup, and burgers on a rice bun.  Aside from these "local specialties," the rest of their menu is identical to what you'd find in the States.  The Big Mac, the supersize coke and fries, the happy meal, it's all there.  The toys in Taiwan are different, and less tied in with whatever Hollywood blockbuster is on offer that week.

There are McDonald's all over Taiwan.  Every city has one.  Taitung 台東, where I live, has two.

McDonald's is hugely popular over here, with adults as well as kids.  Kids love the happy meals and play areas, and adults seek the air-conditioned refuge that is McDonald's when they want to study or chat with friends.  McDonald's has an enormously successful marketing campaign, and their commercials can be seen on TV all the time.

I myself am not a big fan of McDonald's.  I never liked their food much, but I liked it even less after I read a book called "Food Inc.," which is also available as a film.  After I read that book, I lost much of my enthusiasm for processed food.

Not that I don't get dragged to the local McDonald's now and then.  I have two daughters in elementary school, and they are as susceptible to McDonald's charms as any other kids.  We visit the place every two months or so, and I try not to think about what I'm eating while I'm there.

16. Ba Gua Mountain 八卦山 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Ba Gua Mountain is in Chang Hua County 彰化縣, central Taiwan.  Depending on where you live in Taichung 台中, it's anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour away.

I wish I could ride my bicycle up Ba Gua Mountain, but unfortunately I live on the other side of Taiwan.  I think it would be very nice to ride up there in the early morning, especially after a nice, long rain, and admire the view.  It wouldn't be crowded then, and the only other people there would be the older folks doing their morning exercises.

The road from the main gate to the top of the "mountain" isn't steep.  I use "mountain" in quotation marks because it's really more of a hill.  Chang Hua doesn't have any mountains.  You could easily walk from the main gate to the top, and provided that it wasn't too hot you would probably enjoy doing so.

At the top of the hill there is a great big Buddha statue.  There are stairs inside the Buddha, and you can look out from his head at the view.  There is also a large temple complex around this Buddha, and the temple precincts are worth exploring.

Behind the temple there is a food market.  None of the food there is good, but I end up buying it anyway, every time I'm there.  I just wish people wouldn't throw their garbage everywhere after visiting the market.  Yes, others will come along and pick it up, but that's no excuse.

If you live outside of Chang Hua or Taichung counties, I wouldn't go visit Ba Gua Mountain on its own merits.  It's not impressive enough to be worth the drive.  If you are in the area, however, it is a nice place to spent a morning or late afternoon.

17. Code Breaker! (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

Using the secret code below, find the secret message!





Did you break the code?  Great job!

18. Sports In Taiwan (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

What kind of sports do people in Taiwan like?  The same sports as people in other places.  There's not a huge following for Cricket, Ice Hockey, or American Football here, but just about everything else is covered.

As far as team sports go, I think baseball has a bigger following than any other sport.  There are many professional teams on the west coast, and there are also youth leagues in other areas.  Baseball has a huge following in Taitung 台東, primarily because a team from Hong Ye 紅葉 once went all the way to the youth baseball world series.

Many kids here also love basketball, but this love of basketball tends to revolve around informal neighborhood games, and dreams of NBA glory.  People in Taiwan go crazy for the World Cup when it comes around, but there isn't much soccer playing done in Taiwan.  Pro-wrestling, if you consider that a sport, has a big audience among teenage boys.

As for sports that people actually play, aside from baseball there's table tennis and badminton.  Table tennis and badminton are as popular in Taiwan as in other Asian countries, and many Taiwanese people excel at these two sports.  Pool is also popular.

Hiking is very popular in Taiwan, and there are many mountain-climbing clubs all over the island.  Surfing is big for those with the time and money to get into it, and many of the "Johnny Walker" set on the west coast are into golf.  My wife's father-in-law used to sell both whiskey and golf equipment to many of the ranges around southern Taiwan, so I know more than I want to know about the Taiwanese golf scene.

A few years ago the bicycle market exploded in Taiwan, and there are a lot of clubs and activities for cyclists.  There is a "Tour de Taiwan" around the island, as well as many smaller events.  A lot of people come to the east coast just to ride a bike and enjoy the scenery.

Running is very popular in Taiwan, and there are marathons and smaller races all over the island.  Every county has something for runners.  Taipei 台北 and Kaohsiung 高雄 have the biggest marathons, and the most popular marathon on the east coast is probably the one through Taroko Gorge 太魯閣 in Hualien 花蓮.

As said elsewhere, triathlons are about as big here as they are in Western countries.  Most of the really famous triathlons are on the east coast.

Aside from the above, there are countless other physical activities you can engage in, ranging from endurance swims across Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 to "family fun rides" through major cities.  You would think that the hot weather would be an obstacle, but it doesn't seem to deter people from breaking a sweat!

19. Happy Halloween!! (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

This weekend is Halloween, and I hope you have a happy one.  Next week I'll be attending the 2011 Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Education Forum.  This event will be held in Washington D.C., and I'll be spending five days Stateside with two of my Taiwanese coworkers.

With all the transiting back and forth, this means that I'll be away from Taiwan for about a week.  I won't be there long enough to miss Taiwan, but I'm sure that it will be somewhere in my thoughts, most of the time.

Thanks to those who've read this blog.  My best wishes to you and yours.  "See" you in two weeks!

20. Intro 4 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2011)

All of the questions below were taken from the "Hello Darbie" Level 5 textbook, and should in no way, shape, or form be construed as anything other than incipient schizophrenia.

1. Are you done?

No, I've just started.  What's your problem, anyway?

2. Thank you.

You're welcome.  Have a great day.

3. What day is today?

Today is Monday.  This would be the day after Sunday, and also the day before Tuesday.  If Thursday is "Thor's Day," then what is Monday?  I could probably look up the answer on Wikipedia, but I don't feel like it right now.

4. Is today Saturday?

I have already answered that question.  I really wish I could pay attention to myself.

5. Who's talking?

Right now no one is talking.  My wife has taken our younger daughter to ballet class, and my older daughter has gone by herself to drawing class.  Thus I am left to my own devices.

6. What do you do in the afternoon?

If I have classes, I go and teach those classes.  If I have papers to correct, I go and correct those papers.  If I have nothing else to do, I devise uses for my devices.

7. What are these?

To quote Captain Beefheart, "You might think these are the finest pearls/but they're only cardboard balls/Seamed in glue."

21. The 2011 Taitung Lohas Marathon 台東樂活馬拉松 (Taitung Style, October 十月 2011)

On November 27, Taitung hosts the 2011 Lohas Marathon.  This event, like the Taitung Marathon, will be held in Taitung's Forest Park.  I am already signed up for the 10K race, and one of my coworkers (also a good friend) is signed up for the 5K.  台東將在十一月二十七日舉辦樂活馬拉松賽.  這次的比賽跟台東國際馬拉松一樣在台東的森林公園舉行.  我已經報名十公里的比賽.  其中一位同事也報名了五公里的比賽.

My only problem with this event is that there are too many other events in the same place.  The Flowing Lake Triathlon, The Beautiful Taitung Triathlon, the "Super Ironman" Triathlon, and this marathon are all held in almost exactly the same location.  This means that I always end up running down the same road, towards the same finish line, among many of the same people.  我對這個比賽的唯一意見是: 太多比賽都在同一個地方舉行了. 例如:  活水湖鐵人賽, 台東之美鐵人賽, 超級鐵人賽, 和這一次的馬拉松都在同一個地點舉辦.  參賽者很多都是同一群人從同一條路跑到同一個終點.

I really wish they would hold this marathon in another place.  There are, after all, many places in Taitung that would be equally suitable.  我真希望除了森林公園之外, 他們可以在別的地點舉辦馬拉松. 畢竟台東還有很多適合的地點!

If I was the head of a local athletic association, I'd probably be looking to hold an athletic event in Guanshan.  This would be an easier place to get to, and both the terrain and natural scenery recommend it as the site of a triathlon, bicycling, or running event.  Chr Shang would also be a good location.  Triathletes could swim across Da Po Lake, and then bicycle north into Hualien.  It would be a very beautiful setting.  如果我是運動協會會員的話, 我會在關山舉辦運動比賽.  那裡的交通方便, 風景跟地形也很適合鐵人, 自行車, 還有路跑比賽.  池上也會是個舉行比賽的好地方.  參加鐵人賽者可以在大坡池游泳, 再騎自行車到花蓮.  那會是個很漂亮的路線.

There are really too many events held in Taitung's Forest Park.  Yes, it's a convenient location, and yes, it's pretty, but I can't be the only one who's tired of running down the same road, or swimming across the same lake, or bicycling up the same stretch of Highway 11.  Many other parts of Taitung County are equally beautiful, and it's a shame people always pick the Forest Park just because it's the easiest place to get to.  在台東森林公園舉辦的運動比賽真的太多.  雖然那是一個方便的地點, 附近的風景也很漂亮, 可是我應該不是唯一不想在同一條路上跑步或是騎車, 或是在同一個湖游泳的人吧?  臺東縣還有很多漂亮的地點, 每一次都選森林公園真是有點可惜.

And here's a final complaint: I hate running down long, straight roads that don't seem to go anywhere.  I like a lot of turns in my races, because they are more interesting.  That long road next to the Forest Park makes for a boring and frustrating run, and after 5K it almost feels like you're not moving at all.  Running up or down Highway 11 would doubtless be more interesting, even though traffic control would present difficulties.  最後一點想說的是: 我最不喜歡在筆直的路上跑步.那讓我感到自己在原地踏步  在彎路上跑步就比較有意思.  森林公園旁的那條路就讓我討厭而且感到無聊,  跑五公里過後就不覺得自己在移動.  跑台11線應該比較有意思, 只是交通管制應該是個難點.

Anyway, here's wishing you luck if you are joining this race.  And here's hoping it doesn't rain that day!  總之,祝參賽者都有好的成績. 也希望那一天不會下雨!

22. The Flash and I (Taiwan Style, November 十一月 2011)

When I was little I idolized The Flash.  I lacked any other role models.  Compared to the Scarlet Speedster, the usual array of sports heroes and rock stars were just boring.

Back then I had all the action figures, I had a Flash T-shirt, and of course I worshiped the comics.  I knew who Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino were before I could name the reigning US President, and at 7 years old I probably regarded the Mirror Master as more worrisome than vague threats of communism and nuclear war.

I can remember spending a lot of time running around, battling unseen foes at super speeds, and keeping the city safe from crime.  Of course, as I grew older I realized that I wasn't the Flash, and that there was little that I could personally do about either the Mirror Master or the Soviets, but this was a gradual process, unfolding over several years.

This was at the end of The Flash's second run through the world of comic books, an era that many look upon with great nostalgia.  Barry Allen, the second man to call himself The Flash, strove against evil each month as part of the Justice League of America, and also individually within the pages of his own comic book.  He was easily the most powerful of the Flashes, and arguably the strongest superhero ever, able to run at faster-than-light speeds, and to vibrate his molecules through solid objects.  Given these abilities, and given also the fact that he had no real weaknesses, even my 5, 6, 7, and 8-year-old mind had trouble imagining that most of his foes would cause him that much trouble.

But then, out of the blue, came the moment when The Flash turned bad.  Or at least the other superheroes thought so.  In order to save his fiancee, The Flash actually killed his greatest nemesis, the Reverse-Flash, in a battle that raged across the globe.  This was the first time I had ever "witnessed" a DC superhero killing anybody, and the discovery threw my world into turmoil.  Before I knew it, The Flash was getting kicked out of the Justice League, and he was losing friends left and right.

What could this mean, I wondered?  Was The Flash really bad?  Were there times when doing the right thing could make you seem like a bad guy?  Were there times when doing the right thing meant forsaking others' approval?

You can imagine my consternation.  This was my introduction to the concept of moral ambiguity.  I took a lot away from that crisis in The Flash's life, and some of the lessons I learned I will never forget.  It might sound silly, but it's true.

Later on, DC killed off Barry Allen in the company-wide "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event.  I suppose his killing of the Reverse-Flash was their way of leading up to that.  In my heart, I could never quite forgive DC for killing off my idol, and it was only a year or two later that I stopped collecting comic books.  Maybe it was also because I was getting too old, but the loss of Barry Allen certainly accelerated my growing sense of disinterest.

A lot of people deride comic books, saying they have no educational value, and that kids would be better off studying accounting and other "useful" subjects.  I could not disagree with them more.  Comic books not only gave me an idol, but they also taught me a lot.  They didn't just teach me about truth, justice, and the American way, but also what it means to do the right thing, even if doing the right thing means looking like the bad guy.

23. Our Trip to Washington D.C. 我們的戶外教學 (Taitung Style, November 十一月 2011)

1. What Were We Doing in Washington D.C.?  我們為甚麼要去美國華聖頓D.C.?

Myself and two other teachers from my school attended the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Education Forum from November 7 to November 11, 2011.  One of these teachers wrote a lesson about plants, the other teacher added technological elements, and I translated the lesson from Chinese into English.  As a result of his efforts, the teacher who wrote this lesson was invited by Microsoft to attend the Forum.  One thing led to another, and all three of us ended up going.  我和兩位同事參加了從11月7日到11月11日由微軟公司所舉辦的全球教育論壇.  其中一位同事負責寫關於校園植物的教案, 另一位同事負責電腦技術, 而我的工作則是把課程翻譯成英文.  因為教案獲得肯定,所以那位同事受微軟公司邀請去參加論壇. 也讓我和另一位同事能跟著成行.

2. What is the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Education Forum?  微軟全球夥伴教育論壇是什麼?

The MPiLGEF is a big conference about education.  It takes place every year in a different country.  This year it was in Washington D.C.  Last year it was in South Africa.  Next year it will be in Greece.  這個MPiLGEF是一個關於教育的大型會議.  每年在不同國家舉辦.  今年的舉辦地點是美國華聖頓D.C.  去年在南非.  而明年將在希臘舉行.

Part of the Forum is the exhibition of each school's winning unit plan or project.  Another part is speeches.  A third part is educational workshops.  There are also opening and closing ceremonies.  All in all, it takes about four days. 會議包含各個參展學校的課程展覽會,演講和與教育有關的講習.  另外也有第一天的開幕和最後一天的晚會.  整個會議總共佔了四天的時間.

Teachers throughout the world compete to get selected for this Forum, and those who end up going to the Forum also compete against one another for recognition in one of several educational categories.  My school was one of three schools in Taiwan to be selected for the Forum, and only one of these schools (a school in Jia-Yi) was selected for recognition in Washington D.C.  全球的教師先在自己國家參加比賽取得參加論壇的機會, 而參加論壇的教師也在同一時間互相競爭, 角逐各項教育領域的冠軍.全台灣只有三所學校被選出,其中一所學校(在嘉義)獲得獎項.

3. How Long Were We There?  我們在那邊多久?

We left Taitung on November 6.  From here we flew to Taipei, where we spent the night.  On November 7 we flew to Washington D.C., and on November 12 we began the long, long journey back.  Including a three hour layover in Japan, the trip takes about 20 hours.  Accounting for time zones and flight times, we were gone for about six days. 我們11月6日從台東機場出發, 在台北過了一夜.  11月7日從桃園機場飛往美國華聖頓D.C., 最後在11月12日開始我們冗長的回家的路.  包括在日本轉機的時間, 差不多要20個小時.  將會議的時間和交通的時間一起算, 我們整個行程差不多花了6天.

4. The Best Parts of the Forum?  論壇中最棒的部分?

The exhibition of our project was fun.  I got to meet a lot of teachers from all over the world, and I learned a lot from them.  One of the lunches Microsoft provided was excellent, and the Closing Ceremony at the end was quite interesting.  I had never been to this kind of conference before, and I found it to be an eye-opening experience.  我覺得那展覽會很好玩.  我有機會跟許多不同國家的教師聊天.  微軟公司提供的午餐中的其中一次很棒, 最後一天的晚會也很有趣.  我以前沒參加過這種會議, 所以我覺得這個經驗讓我大開眼界.

5. The Worst Parts of the Forum?  缺點呢?

The speeches and teacher workshops were agonizingly boring.  To make things worse, they were geared almost entirely towards teachers in Western (English-speaking) countries, and those from outside the West probably didn't get much out of them.  Many people were also unhappy with the judging process as applied to our projects.  You might call this "sour grapes," but there was a definite bias in favor of Western teachers. 那些演講跟教育研習超無聊的.  我也覺得這些活動比較適合西方的老師(說英文者).  很多老師也覺得比賽不是很公平.  你可能覺得我有這種想法是因為我們沒有得到獎項, 但是我認為評審比較偏愛西方的老師..

6. Other Stuff We Did...  我們在華盛頓還做了......

We walked.  We walked A LOT.  I am now thoroughly acquainted with Washington D.C.  From Georgetown to Union Station, from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, we saw just about all of the famous stuff, and went to a few good restaurants besides.  我們逛街.  我們走了好久.  從Georgetown到Union Station, 從Capitol Building到Lincoln Memorial, 華聖頓有名的景點我們都去過了.  也吃了些好吃的美式料理.

7. Highlights of Washington D.C.  華聖頓最棒的部分.

The coolest looking thing in Washington D.C. (hands down) has got to be the Washington Monument.  The Lincoln Monument and the Jefferson Monument are also very cool.  My favorite of the Smithsonian Museums had to be the Museum of the American Indian.  The hamburgers at Five Guys are great, and there are more than a few great bars in the D.C. area.  Speaking as an American, the breadth of history on display in this city is truly amazing.
    華聖頓D.C.的Washington Monument是最有看頭的景點.  那邊的Lincoln Monument跟Jefferson Monument也很棒.  我想Smithsonian最好的博物館是它們的Museum of the American Indian.  Five Guys這家餐廳的漢堡滿好吃的.  D.C.也有一些不錯的酒吧.  對我這個美國人來說, 華聖頓D.C.是一個充滿歷史的城市.

8. Would We Go Again?  再去一次嗎?

To Washington D.C.?  Naw, probably not.  We've seen almost all of it.  去華聖頓D.C.嗎?應該不要.  我們大部分都去過了.

As for the Forum, scheduled to take place next year in Greece, we are still discussing it.  Having been through all this Microsoft business once already, we feel like we have a fighting chance to get picked a second time.  The only question is whether or not we want to deal with all the work and pressure required to get there.  Six days PAID vacation in Greece sounds like heaven to me, but there is a long road to travel between now and next year's Forum!  有了這次經驗以後, 對於明年在希臘舉辦的微軟教育論壇, 我們三個都認為很有機會再參加,為了去希臘可以再戰一次.  但是否要再一次承受準備和來回奔波的壓力?  在希臘放六天的假聽起來很不錯, 可是這之間還有很長一段路要走.

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