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.
|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.
“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,”
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.
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.
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)
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)
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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