2012年5月2日 星期三

Beautiful Women 5

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

Beautiful Women 4

2012年5月1日 星期二

Blog Archive 20 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. Beautiful Women 3 (Taiwan Style, May 五月 2012)

2. Privately Speaking 感想 (Taitung Style, August 八月 2012)

 I received a lot of emails this summer.  A fair number of them were from people who want to teach in Taitung.  While I am no expert on the subject of working in Taitung, I do have some thoughts to offer:我今年暑假收到很多人的email.  有一些昰想到台東當老師.  雖然我對台東的就業市場不很了解, 但是也還有些心得:

1. Teaching English in Taitung

If you have a teaching certificate from the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada you should look into working for the Taitung County Government as a Foreign English Teacher.

If you have a M.A. or above, you should contact Taitung University.  Good luck with that.  They offer a handful of positions, and there is a lot of competition.

If you lack an (approved) teaching certificate and Taitung U is indifferent to your advances, you should go through the private English schools.  All of these schools are relatively small and tend to offer part-time work.  The bigger schools in the area are Global Village, Joy, Kid Castle, Hess, Giraffe, High Scope Kindergarten, and the Columbia Review.  There are others besides, so be sure to refine your search.

If you haven't had any luck with any of the private English schools, you could try private teaching.  I warn you, however, that it is extremely difficult to make a living doing this in Taitung.  Even in Taitung City, there just aren't enough potential students for this to be feasible.

2. Teaching Chinese in Taitung 在台東教中文

I also received emails from Taiwanese people who wanted to teach Chinese (to foreigners) in Taitung.  也有一些昰從想在台東教華語的臺灣朋友.

The ONLY place I know of offering this kind of work is the Language Center in Taitung University.  And even they have only a handful of students.  我知道的唯一教授華語課程的地方昰東大的語言中心.  而且他們的學生不多.

And privately teaching foreign residents of Taitung?  Next to impossible, in my opinion.  For one thing, there just aren't that many foreign residents.  For another thing, most of these foreign residents aren't that interested in learning Chinese.  You'd be lucky if you found just ONE foreign resident to teach, forget about several!  那教外國人中文的家教呢?  幾乎是不可能的事情.  台東的外國人沒那麼多.  而且在台東的外國人也沒那麼多想學中文的.  能找到一個學生已經很了不起了.

In conclusion, I'd appreciate any thoughts those of you in cyberland have on this subject.  As said above, I am no expert, and it may be that I have overlooked something here.  Yes, Taitung is developing, and yes, new opportunities are presenting themselves every day, but Taitung is still a relatively rural place, with all the challenges and benefits that rural places tend to offer!  最後, 這只是我個人的觀察結果 ,  可能其他人有不同的經驗.  當然台東目前也正積極發展. 每天都有新的機會出現.  只昰台東還是屬於比較鄉下的地方. 也伴隨著鄉下就業的問題跟恬淡生活的好處.

3. Thailand/Cambodia (Taiwan Style, August 八月 2012)

So on the first day we get up really, really early and then we gather up all our stuff which we had packed the night before and we go downstairs to the parking garage and then we go over to the breakfast restaurant near our house and we have breakfast but we don't really enjoy it because it is so damn early and then after breakfast we drive our car to the train station and from there we take the train to Taipei and in Taipei we walk around for a bit and wander around the Breeze department store and also Sogo and then we have dinner with my wife's aunt and her cousin and it is Cantonese food and it is surprisingly good and I say surprisingly good because it was cheap for Taipei and then we take a nap in this hotel room that my wife's aunt reserved for us upstairs in the same building as her apartment/tailoring business and then we talk about going to see The Amazing Spider-man but we don't and later we talk a while and then we go to sleep.  Then, on the second day we get up even earlier because we have to catch a plane and we don't want to spend the money on a taxi and we are sitting on Jong Shiao Road in Taipei and it is painfully obvious how early it is because even though it is the most famous shopping district in Taipei there isn't a single other person on the road and then after what seems like an eternity of waiting the bus finally shows up and we get on the bus and we take the bus to the Taoyuan airport and then we check-in at the Hong Kong Airlines counter and get our boarding passes and then pass through immigration and then we have a lot of time to kill so we wander around the boring stores they have inside the Taoyuan Airport and then our plane shows up and it is time to board so we get on the plane and the plane takes us to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong there is a three hour wait to catch the flight to Bangkok so we wander around that airport and I have this Japanese food which is really good and we change some of our NT into Hong Kong dollars and then my wife and my daughters buy some food and we debate buying other things there but don't and then it is time to find the gate for the flight to Bangkok and we do and the flight keeps getting delayed and it seems like forever and we finally get on the plane and after two hours of safety demonstrations, in-flight services, and some Woody Harrelson movie we finally touch down in Bangkok and I notice that the airport there is different than I remember it and I'm still not sure if they just remodeled the old airport or if it's an entirely new airport and then we go down all the moving walkways to the confusing immigration area which is confusing because there are actually three separate places to line up instead of one like other airports but then a nice lady comes out and directs us to a shorter line for people with children and the immigration guy takes our pictures and we pass through the luggage area and take still other moving walkways down to where you catch the Airport Express train into the city and all the time we're very excited to be in Thailand again and I am still thinking that the airport looks much better and more inviting now and we buy tokens for the train in the basement and then we take the train to the

Traffic near Siam Square.

Ramkahaeng stop and get out and our hotel is right in front of the stop and it's really big and crowded and busy and we check in for two nights and then get our key and we put our stuff in our room and then we go back downstairs because we know our daughters are beyond excited at this point and we take the train again to the center of the city and we walk around and if finally really, really feels like Thailand and there's terrifying traffic everywhere and pollution and food sold on street corners that smells wonderful and we walk to the BMK department store and buy nothing and my wife gets mad because she has to pay to use the bathroom and we're wondering what to have for dinner and we don't want to have any of the boring Western food that BMK is offering so we leave and go back up the street towards the Priya Thai MRT station and buy some Phad Thai on the road and my younger daughter and my wife finally stop complaining about all the walking we've been doing and the food is excellent and we think YES we are really here and this is really happening and everyone starts to cheer up after the long haul to Bangkok and my wife buys some fruit on the road and we buy some water at the 7-11 and then we get back on the train and go back to our hotel and go to sleep.  On the third day we wake up and it's raining and raining and raining so we go downstairs and have an expensive breakfast in the hotel lobby and this breakfast consists of Western things like toast and jelly and Thai favorites cooked badly and we are sitting there in the restaurant hoping and hoping that it will stop raining because it's our first full day in Bangkok and we really want to go explore and then just before lunchtime it finally does stop raining so we take the train into the city again and wind up at the BMK a second time and then we wander around inside there and also investigate some of the stores south of there along Sukhumvit and we go back to BMK and I have an iced coffee and my wife has some kind of tea drink and my daughters have ice cream because the four of us are very tired from walking at this point but for some strange reason we decide to walk all the way from BMK to Khao San Road on the other side of the city which ends up being a two hour walk one way and by the time we get there all we have the energy to do is ask a few guest houses how much a room would cost and we eat at this little corner restaurant but it's real Thai food and it's delicious and I have my first Leo beer and it tastes like sunshine and I'm happy again and thinking about all the places we passed on the way to Khao San like the Golden Mountain and the Grand Palace and after we eat and rest a bit we walk the rest of the way down Khao San Road and there are so many goddamn white people around it reminds me of college and everyone is selling crappy tailor-made suits or tattoos or meaningless T-shirts or silver bracelets or unfresh food and we make it to the Burger King (also depressing) at the other end of the road and we take a tuk-tuk from there back to the Priya Thai Station and the guys drives like he's on meth but my daughters are having a great time so I don't complain even though whoa we almost died at that last intersection and we get back on the train and go back to our hotel and sleep the sleep of the just.  On the

River in Ko Chang.

fourth day we get up early but not too early and then check out of our hotel because it's just too nice and too expensive anyway and we take the MRT or maybe it's the BTS down to the Ekkamai station and from there we go to the bus station and board a bus for Ko Chang and the people at the bus station tell us it's four hours to Ko Chang and we decide to believe them because they work for the bus company and why would they lie to us so after a bit of waiting and the arrival of a few other passengers the bus finally gets going and pulls out of the station and we head east past the airport and then start going south past Pattaya and Rayong and halfway to Trat the bus stops and the bus driver tells us we have twenty or so minutes for lunch and we get out and stare uncertainly at all the dry goods there and I end up having some curry with rice after an argument with my wife over whether we really want to eat there or not and it's the best curry I've ever had and the lady who sold it to us speaks Chinese and she tells us that she lived in Taiwan before and this happens many times while we're in Thailand in that we'll meet some Thailand person who speaks excellent Mandarin and once worked in some Taiwanese factory somewhere and this person decides they like us and the association and the feeling of friendliness it engenders end up saving us money and later we get on the bus and my daughters have bought these really excellent tasting cookies that sort of taste like raisins and I am so glad we're not just giving up and going to Pattaya for the thousandth time and after another hour we're in Trat and the highway has turned into this dangerous looking one lane road through rubber tree plantations and jungle and we are finally pulling up to the dock where the ferries leave from and I give a lady a hundred or so baht for the ferry tickets and we get on this big rusting ferry along with several others from the bus and then it's about 40 minutes to Ko Chang and by the time we get to the other side it's pouring down rain and you can't see a thing and I'm starting to wonder if Ko Chang is all that great because all I can see from the taxi is garbage and construction sites along the road and they keep asking us where we want to go but I'm not sure how to answer because I have no conception of Ko Chang's geography so I keep saying "Lonely Beach" because someone told me that was the cheapest place to stay and some of the other, European people on the taxi are smirking at us for not having made reservations at some overpriced resort but in the end I have cause to laugh at them because we end up saving a lot of money by going to Lonely Beach and finally the taxi pulls of the road and we're the only people still on it and some guy asks me if I'd like a room and it's 300 baht for air-conditioned and 200 baht for a room with a fan and I'm thinking "Fuck yeah, we could stay here forever at this price," and we put all our stuff in one of the rooms and go out to find a restaurant and we eat at this really cool place pieced together from driftwood and the food is surprisingly good and the sun finally comes out and I realize how pretty this island really is and after several plates of food and some beer we go back to our room and sleep.  On the fifth day I locate the trail to the beach, and yes, it's just as beautiful and just as much like

Ko Chang's Lonely Beach.

tropical Thailand as we could have imagined, and it is at this point that the fifth day, the sixth day, and the seventh day all blur together in an ecstasy of swimming in clear blue water on white sands, eating excellent food, riding scooters back and forth, and yes, drinking more Singha, Chang, and Leo, and at night there are the stars and my daughters playing with sand and barbecues and even a few sad lonely people populating lonely facebook planets who fail to understand the value of social interaction or just staring at the blue, blue sea and instead flee into disquieting internet worlds when reality grows too intense.  And this leads me to the eighth day when I unwillingly leave Ko Chang because my daughters have decided they want to move on even though I don't really understand what there is to move on to and so without a more clearly thought-out option we take a bus from Ko Chang to the Thai-Cambodian border and the bus passes through some truly strange areas and everywhere there are these military checkpoints and then this guy with an assault rifle opens up the door and asks us where we're going and we meekly answer "Cambodia," and he seems unconvinced that my daughters are really my own and he starts speaking to them in Thai as if they're somehow pretending to be Taiwanese Americans and eventually he is satisfied that yes, they are my children, and the bus carries on to the Cambodian border and we stop in this horrible restaurant in Aranya Prathet and then this guy offers to help us with our visas and I later realize that we have unwillingly bribed our way into Cambodia and we pass through Thai immigration which isn't so bad and then we pass through Cambodian immigration which is so bad and everywhere you turn in that place someone has their hand out for money and wants to be bribed for something real or not and after a long time spent waiting in line we are finally ushered through to the bus station and it is at this point that I realize that the buses in Cambodia are amazingly slow and the guys that are pressuring us to take a taxi are actually doing us a favor even though all the other tourists are making like these guys are out to rip them off but really when you think about it taking a two-hour ride to Siem Reap beats the hell out of taking a four-and-a-half hour ride on the bus so we end up taking the taxi and we are very glad to get out of Poipet because it's an exceedingly dangerous-looking city and we drive across northern Cambodia and it's beautiful and looks somewhat like Montana except for the temples and the houses on stilts and then we're in Siem Reap and I cannot believe how different that city looks compared to the surrounding countryside where people are still farming rice without the aid of machinery and in Siem Reap there is all this Western backpacker bullshit that Lonely Planet gushes over but which depresses me to no end and we finally find a place to stay and even though I think it's too expensive my wife likes the room and we settle in for the night.  On the ninth day the minute we get up there are weird-looking dudes downstairs pressuring us for "Angkor Wat tours" which they inconveniently price at 20 US dollars but I do my best to brush them off and we head down the street to see if there really is something more

Angkor Wat.

interesting in Siem Reap but quickly find that there really isn't much outside the backpacker ghetto so we go and eat some Khmer food and it turns out to be a lot like Thai food but not as spicy and then we wander around a bit more after and return to the hostel for a nap and then go out again for dinner and have Indian food that is really too spicy for my daughters and wander around the big night market they have in the center of town and buy inferior souvenirs for too high a price and then my daughters insist upon getting the "fish massage" which consists of putting your feet into a pool and letting the fish eat the dead skin off of your feet and then I begin to think that the four of us are the feet and Siem Reap is the pool and perhaps what these fish are really eating are all of the dead presidents out of my wallet and even though I have riel also nobody wants them and every time I turn around something costs a dollar and this is really the opposite of Ko Chang which we just left because there everything was cheap and people weren't so hungry for money but then again who can blame the locals in Siem Reap when most of them make less that 40 cents a day and the only real source of revenue in that place is tourists there to see Angkor so I wind up having a few beers and afterward I find it hard to care as much and we go back to the hostel.  On the tenth day we get up and the people downstairs are having a very heated argument with three foreign girls who have decided they don't need to pay for their stay in the hostel because they thought someone told them that if they weren't happy with the accommodation the room would be free which is really just stupid when you think about it but with all the arguing back and forth at least no one is pestering us about tours of Angkor Wat so we go down to the main road and find a nice guy who offers us a tuk-tuk ride to the ruins for half the price and then we head twenty minutes or so to Angkor which is ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING FUCKING THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN but it is also really hot and my wife and daughters are visibly wilting and everywhere you turn there are beggars coming out of the stonework and people trying to sell you crap that you wouldn't even accept for free and some people are even burning their garbage in a neat pile next to one of the archaeological wonders of the world and even though everything is made of stone and looks amazing you wonder at the lack of care displayed by the Cambodian government towards their most precious piece of real estate and all too soon we have taken all of our pictures and we are on the way back into town and we go to another Khmer restaurant and the curry I eat in that restaurant gives me diarrhea that lasts for almost a week afterward and then we wander around some more and decide to find another place to stay because getting hassled by touts and hearing arguments is super lame.  On the eleventh day we stay at this "gay friendly" resort called the Golden Banana and I swear I'm not making that name up and we haul all of our stuff over there and it's much better because they have a swimming pool and much cheaper because it's outside the center of town and my daughters spend an entire morning just jumping into the pool and the four of us feel better about Cambodia in

One of Cambodia's Many, Many Beers.

general but the thing is that our money is running out and Siem Reap has proved much more expensive than we figured and we are down to three traveler's checks which the banks later prove reluctant to cash because they are somehow convinced that the traveler's checks were signed incorrectly and while my wife engages in a nightmarish exchange with this bastard behind the bank window over the validity of our traveler's checks I am thinking about what the hell we are supposed to do if we are in the middle of Cambodia and we for some inexplicable reason run out of money even though we still have 650 US dollars in traveler's checks just because this prick fails to understand how traveler's checks work and refuses to call the number for Federal Express to verify what my wife is saying and then this dude rolls up and offers me women, boys, and drugs in that order and even though I have tried my best to politely refuse his offer he won't go away and my wife finally comes out of the bank with 150 US in cash which was really a triumph of patience on her part and by then it's dark and we walk back to the Golden Banana and reassess our options and decide to leave the day after because after all who really knows about Cambodia and I am wondering how safe it is there and maybe we should just get the hell out while the going's good and we decide to go back the next day.  On the twelfth day we take a taxi from Siem Reap back to the border and I begin to have the feeling that we have visited Cambodia without really visiting Cambodia and I also wonder if maybe that's a good thing because maybe the real Cambodia is not something we would like and we get out of the country OK but my wife has a nightmarish time in Thai immigration because her Thai visa was canceled when she entered Cambodia and we lack a photo and proper documentation to apply for a 15-day visa which is ridiculous because my daughters and I didn't need one and I have to go have a heated argument with the Thai immigration officials involving repeated use of the word "please" with reference to our two daughters who have already passed through immigration and are sweating and waiting for their mother who has been forced into yet another line where she is forced to wait for another half hour and after I finally talk the Thai officials out of their ridiculously stringent requirements my wife is finally allowed through and we take a bus from the border to Bangkok and I swear I am not exaggerating because it truly is the worst bus ride I have ever taken in my life but thank God we finally get to Bangkok after what seems like an eternity and we find a room in an alley off Khao San Road where I almost collapse because I am so dehydrated from a combination of not drinking anything and the diarrhea I have brought with me from Siem Reap yet somehow my wife manages to go out and get me dinner and also cash that traveler's check which the guy in Cambodia refused.  On the thirteenth day I am feeling much better and I am already reflecting on the fact that the eleventh and twelfth days described above will undoubtedly be the worst of our trip but then again it's all uphill from that so we begin to settle into Thailand again and start having a good time so on this day and the fourteenth day and on the fifteenth day we mostly just wander around Bangkok and take the occasional boat ride until we collectively

On the Chao Phraya River with My Daughter, Penny.

decide that Bangkok is just too loud and we take a bus from the inconveniently located Northern Bus Terminal near Mo Chit to Ayutthaya, which is a city north of Bangkok and was once the capital of Thailand before the Burmese invaded and burned it down hundreds of years ago and aside from the challenge of finding the bus terminal in the heat the bus ride is quickly and easily managed and before we know it we are pulling into Ayutthaya and a tuk-tuk driver has suggested a hotel outside the city and if by some quirk of fate that tuk-tuk driver ever reads this I would like to thank him because that definitely was the quietest hotel in the city and after we get settled in we walk around Ayutthaya for a bit but it is really too late to view any ruins so we just investigate the only department store in that city and then eat dinner at an excellent local restaurant whose specialty was snakehead fish and even though I still don't know what snakehead fish is I can tell you that it is a yummy fish and then we walk back to our quiet hotel and it is beer time.  On the sixteenth day we wake up and visit a museum whose name presently escapes me and learn about the history of Ayutthaya and this history turns out to be surprisingly interesting and then we mount the bicycles we rented the day before (sorry I forgot to mention that) and we go investigate a few of the archaeological sites around town and the main temple complex turns out to be very cool and the people working to restore the wat let us go down into the center of the temple and we see paintings that were done in the Middle Ages and even though these ruins aren't as impressive as Angkor we are glad to see them and they paint rather a nice picture of how the Khmer culture spread southwest into Thailand and then we waste a lot of money eating lunch at this place called The Pizza Company but in fairness the pizza was really good and this was only the second time we ate Western food in Thailand, the first being at a KFC on Khao San Road and then we go investigate some more ruins and end up having dinner at some restaurant along a dusty road where the Thai owner keeps quizzing me on US geography and I consistently fail to answer his questions because I could really give a fuck how many US states start with the letter "A" but my panang curry finally arrives and it was worth the wait so after we finish we say goodbye to the man with the ponytail and head back to our hotel.  On the seventeenth day we take the bus back to Bangkok and since we are sick of Khao San Road we head over to Sukhumvit which although more expensive has less of a tourist vibe about it and we find a room on the ninth floor of this old, wood-paneled building and from there we have a free hand to explore the department stores like Central World and Siam Square and the inevitable BMK and somewhere in-between we walk from the Nana station all the way to the Red Cross Snake Farm because I am obsessed with snakes but this particular tourist attraction turns out to be really, really uninteresting and we end up buying a breathtakingly expensive dinner at Central World and also putting our credit card to good use at this awesome bookstore they have there and by this time we're not so worried about money because the next day we're flying back to Taiwan.  So, on the eighteenth day, we

Main Temple Complex in Ayutthaya.

get up at 5 AM and walk to the BTS stop near our hotel and from the BTS we transfer to the Airport Express Rail Link and we take that train all the way to the airport and from there we walk to the Hong Kong Airlines counter and it turns out to be our lucky day because instead of having to transfer back through Hong Kong they switch us to a direct flight back to Taipei meaning that we'll get there around 1 PM and this dude from some Eastern European country in line behind me is also getting transferred and for some reason he tells the woman behind the computer that he's going to Tainan even though Tainan doesn't have an international airport and when I inform him of this fact he gets all sulky and pissed off like I called him a fag or something but who cares anyway because we are about to get on the plane and then we're on the plane and I'm watching another Woody Harrelson movie and I know that even though parts of this vacation were lame and stressful for my wife and I at least out daughters had a great time and then we're in Taipei and from Taipei we take a bus into Taoyuan City so my wife can visit her friend and my older daughter and I go see The Dark Knight Rises in this exceedingly run-down theater near the Taoyuan Train Station and after the movie is over we take the train to Shu Lin in Taipei where we spend the night at my wife's father's house.  On the nineteenth day we fly back to Taitung and I begin typing this, and I also put up photos of our trip on Facebook and if you have read all of this entry I applaud your persistence.

Leading me to the twentieth day, on which I rest.

4. Thoughts (6) (Taiwan Style, August 八月 2012)

I like this layout much better. I think it looks cheerful.  What do you think?

Had a good time this summer.  I don't know why, but vacation this year seemed especially LONG.  Perhaps because I didn't spend it all in one place.

Got up to Taipei 台北 a couple of times, and also drove over to Yunlin 雲林 via Kaohsiung 高雄.  Didn't make it to any of those Taiwanese islands I was scheming on.  After Thailand, it was hard to justify spending several more thousand NT going to Penghu 澎湖 or Jinmen 金門.

Today is the first day of the semester.  I had three classes, so it wasn't that bad.  I'm just finding it really hard to be awake today.  My vacation was so relaxed, and now I have to get up early and deal with other people's children.  Fortunately this work week is only two days long.

The typhoon last week really screwed over my school.  There are trees down everywhere, and guys with chainsaws are sawing them apart.  I guess I can be glad I don't work on Orchid Island 蘭嶼.  That place is much worse off.

Sometimes when you are writing something like this you think back over your summer.  Sometimes you think back to all the years you've spent in a foreign country.  Life is strange, my friend.  Life is stranger and stranger.

5. Getting a Vasectomy in Taiwan (Taiwan Style, August 八月 2012)

WARNING: Don't read this if you are about to eat lunch.

About four years ago, my wife and I decided we didn't want to have any more babies.  Our second daughter was a little over two years old, and our first daughter was just finishing up with the first grade.  Three kids seemed like too much to handle, and at that time we were very worried about "accidents."

So we talked over our options.  Back then, my wife was using this birth control device that is implanted inside the uterus.  It messed with her hormones something awful, and she wanted to have it taken out.  Like any other guy, I have never been a big fan of condoms, so we sought out medical advice.

After a talk with one of the doctors at Mackay Hospital in Taitung, we found we had a choice to make.  Either my wife would get sterilized, or I would.  The doctor discussed the pros and cons of each procedure with us, and after he had answered all our questions we went home.

For women, sterilization is a very invasive procedure.  It involves the use of a general anesthetic, and the risk of complications is much higher.  I must say that my wife was a good sport about the whole thing, and she was willing to undergo the procedure.

For men, sterilization via vasectomy is much less invasive.  It involves only a local anesthetic, and the success rate is very high.  There are rare cases where vasectomies are unsuccessful, or where complications have arisen, but such cases are few and far between.

I was, however, terrified.  While sterilization for men is both much safer, and carries a much higher rate of success, the thought of any doctor doing that to me scared me out of my mind.  Yes, I had read a lot about vasectomies, and my more logical self was telling me that it was the most sensible option, but I had an immediate, negative physical reaction to the idea.

Still, I knew it was what I had to do, so we made an appointment for surgery, and I tried very hard not to think about it.  I had a little game that I played with myself.  I pretended that I was just going back to "talk things over" with the doctor, and that I had made no other commitment.  I pretended that it would be just like the time I had my wisdom teeth removed.  Nothing to worry about, right?

Yet pretend as I might, eventually the day of my surgery did creep up, and I found myself in Mackay Hospital once again.  I was OK until I had the hospital gown on.  I was OK until I was sitting outside the operating rooms, waiting my turn.  It was then that I broke into a cold sweat, and began to seriously consider the possibility of passing out.

"It's OK," my wife kept saying, "Don't worry.  Lots of guys do this.  There's nothing to worry about."

But of course all I could think about was doctors, and scalpels in the vicinity of my balls.  All I could think about was every scene from every horror movie featuring an evil doctor.  I grew very quiet, and nothing my wife could say calmed me down.

Eventually one of the nurses came out and wanted to lead me into the prep room.  I managed to make it through the automatic doors before my legs turned to water, and I fell down on the floor.  Several other nurses came over and helped me up.  They seemed unsurprised by my reaction.

They took me back to the waiting area and I sat between my wife and the nurse whose job it was to take me in.  They both tried to calm me down, but at that point my ears were turned off, and all I could think about was how terrified I was of hospitals, and doctors, and medical procedures.  My wife even offered to let me off the hook, and undergo the procedure herself.

As scared as I was, I knew I couldn't have that, so I did my incoherent best to tell her I was OK, and that I still wanted to go through with it... if I could just stand up.

After several minutes of silence I actually did manage to stand up, and to follow the nurse into the prep area.  I remember them giving me a local anesthetic, and shaving my groin.  The doctor kept prodding me down there, and asking me if I felt anything.  "Yes," I answered, "I can feel it."

This would be one of the reasons I am terrified of surgical procedures: the fact that I am almost immune to local anesthetic.  Really.  It almost doesn't work on me.  The doctor gave me three injections that day, and even after the third one I knew that I was going to feel the whole thing.

But what could I do, right?  I was sitting there in nothing but a hospital gown, and I knew there was nothing for it but to go full speed ahead, and get the thing done.  They took me to the operating room, where I lay down on a bed, and during the whole procedure the doctor kept asking me if I could feel it, and if it hurt.

And yes, it did hurt.  It was the most intense pain I have ever experienced.  To make it worse, I could see reflections of him operating in the glass of a nearby cabinet.  I watched him cut open my scrotum, pull out my seminal vesicles, and then tie these vesicles back together.  Then I watched him stitch me back up.  I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn't.  I wanted not to feel the whole thing, but it took every ounce of endurance not to scream.  Once he began cutting, I knew it would be so much worse to stop, so the best I could do was just lay there and take it.

I might have passed out on the table.  I can't remember.  They might have finally given up and given me something to put me to sleep.  All I know is I opened my eyes later, and I was in the recovery room.  The doctor was telling my wife that the procedure was a success, and when I looked down I saw that she was squeezing blood out of my balls.

That's when you know someone loves you - when they are squeezing blood out of your balls.

We went home and I fell into a deep sleep.  I woke up a day later, with a bandage around my genitals.  I am happy to say that there was no more pain after that, just soreness.  My wife helped me apply the ointment, and after a week or so I was pretty much back to normal.  And yes, it was a relief to find out that my penis still worked.

To this day, I am terrified of doctors and hospitals.  Even so, I'm glad I had my vasectomy.  It was horrible, but there was so much less worry after it was done.  Knowing what I know now, there is no fucking way I would walk into that operating room again, but now that it's done, I won't have to!

6. Taoyuan City 桃園市 (Taiwan Style, September 九月 2012)

I'm sitting here, racking my brains for things to say about Taoyuan City, and I can't come up with much.  It might be because I haven't been there in a while.  It might be because I don't visit Taoyuan very often.  Or it might be because there really isn't anything interesting there.  If you have lived there, perhaps you can tell me which it is.

Taoyuan City is in Taoyuan County, between Hsinchu 新竹 and Taipei 台北.  As Taiwanese megalopolises go, it's unremarkable.  Those with strong feelings for Taoyuan City have probably lived there at some point, and such people will know much more about it than I do.

My brother-in-law used to live in Ba-De 八德, which is just up the road from Taoyuan City.  We used to pass through Taoyuan City on the way to his house.  My wife's grandmother also had her funeral not far from there.  This funeral was one of the more unpleasant experiences in my life, and every time I pass through Taoyuan it is the first thing I think of.

We passed through there, about a month ago.  This was when we were coming back from Thailand, and my wife wanted to visit her friend.  We took a bus from the airport into the city, and ate at a KFC.  After that we wandered around the department stores near the train station, and I took one of my daughters to see The Dark Knight Rises.  I searched in vain for something more interesting.

I also have a friend who taught in one of the English villages up there.  I always get the impression that there are many English villages in and around Taoyuan City.  From what he had to say, teaching in the English villages was horrible, and teaching in the local Hess wasn't much better.  When I think about it, I've known a lot of teachers who've had similar experiences.  Why this is I cannot say.

But maybe someone out there has a different perspective.  If so, I would love to hear it.  I'm sure there's more to Taoyuan City than the usual department stores and chain restaurants.  I just don't know what it is!

7. Race Events in Taitung This Year 今年的台東賽事 (Taitung Style, September 九月 2012)

What follows is a partial list of race events in Taitung County this year.  I learned about most of them from the Runner's Market website, which is a reliable source of information on running-related activities.  下列的運動比賽是在台東縣舉班的.  大部分是在跑者廣場找到的.  這個網站是很可靠.

This list is not comprehensive.  There are many events which are announced at the last minute, and also some that are so "local" only a few people ever learn of their existence.  If I hear about any such events, I will add them to this entry, but it is far from certain that I will hear about all of them.  There are many local athletic associations, and some of them are very disorganized.  應該還有一些運動比賽不在這裡.  有的運動比賽是等最後才公布, 有的只有那個地區的人知道.  如果我聽說這種運動活動的話, 我一定要放在這裡, 可是不一定我所有的運動活動都聽說.  台東的運動協會很多.  有的運動協會也很亂.

This is particularly true of bicycle events.  I often learn of these right before they're supposed to happen, and sometimes I hear about them after the fact.  The bicycle races aren't listed on Runner's Market, and there doesn't seem to be one single website that lists all of them.  特別這樣是自行車比賽.  常常是當天才知道要舉班比賽, 還是比賽結是之後才知道.  自行車比賽不在跑者廣場, 好像也沒有全國自行車比賽這種網站.

On September 23 we have the Green Island Marathon.   This was formerly put on by the Taitung Urban and Rural Athletic Association, but it is now in the hands of the Green Island Township Office.  I attended this race several years ago, and enjoyed it immensely, but it remains to be seen if this event will be as well-organized as it once was.  The registration date has passed.  九月二十三日有綠島馬拉松.  這個運動比賽以前是台東城鄉協會舉班的, 可是它今年變成綠島公所的活動.  我兩年前有參加這個活動.  我覺得自前的綠島馬拉松是滿好玩的.  我只是不知道今年的比賽會不會跟字前整理得一樣好.  已截止.

The Beauty of Taitung triathlon will be in Taitung City's Deep Forest Park on October 6.  This is an olympic-distance event.  There is also a "super ironman" triathlon on October 13, and another olympic distance tri on October 14.  I'm assuming the Beauty of Taitung will be the biggest draw of the three.  The registration dates for all three events have passed.  十月六日有台東之美的鐵人三項.  這個比賽在台東市的森林公園.  十月十三日有一個超級鐵人三項在同一個地方.  十月十四日還有一個奧林匹克鐵人三項在森林公園.  對這三個比賽來說, 台東之美應該是最有名的.  這三個都已截止.

There are no race events scheduled for November that I am aware of.  十一月好像沒有什麼運動比賽.

There is a marathon in Chr Shang Township December 1.  I plan on attending this one.  This event includes half-marathon, 10K, and 5K divisions.  The registration deadline for this event is October 31.  十二月一日有池上馬拉松.  我要參加這個路跑比賽.  比賽包含馬拉松, 半馬拉松, 10公里, 跟5公里競賽.  報名截止日昰十月三十一日.

After December, the calendar is uncertain.  I'm sure there will be a Flowing Lake Triathlon in May, and also a "Love 197" bike race in August.  There should also be another "beach run" in Tai Ma Li Township on January 1, and there are already advertisements for the "Taitung County Surfing Challenge" in front of the County Government offices.  I'm also assuming that the Tour de Taiwan will pass through the county in the fall of 2013.  Aside from these, your guess is as good as mine.  十二月之後的比賽日期就不確定了.  五月應該有活水湖鐵人三項.  八月應該有戀戀197的自行車比賽.  我聽說一月將有太麻里的沙灘路跑.  縣政府前面已經有明年的台東衝浪國際邀請賽及公開賽系列活動廣告. 2013年秋天應該也有Tour de Taiwan全國自行車比賽.  除了這些之外就不知道了.

Last year, the Taitung County Government also co-sponsored a bicycle race from Jer Ben to Yu Li in Hualien County.  Their website does not mention this event, and I cannot remember if it was in the spring, winter, or fall.  Given the number of people that took part in this event last year, it seems likely that it will take place again.  I wish I could offer more information, but right now the name of this event escapes me. 去年, 台東縣政府合作舉辦一項自行車賽.  比賽從台東縣知本到花蓮縣玉里.  只是台東縣政府的網站上沒有提到它.  我也忘記是什麼時候舉辦的了, 上次很多人參加,  今年應該也可能舉辦  . 可惜我忘了活動名稱, 沒辦法提供您更多資訊!

Whatever you end up doing, take care of yourself.  A lot of people hurt themselves training for these things, and many more hurt themselves during the competition.  It's a great thing to go out and give it your all, but lifetime injuries are not a price worth paying!  不管你參加什麼比賽, 都要注意安全.  很多人在練習時受傷,  還有很多人在比賽中受傷.  出門運動是件好事, 但是為了運動忍受疼痛傷害昰不值得的.

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