2013年12月31日 星期二

Shuang Liou Forest Recreation Area 雙流森林遊樂區

Shuang Liou is in Pingtung 屏東 County, along the Southern Highway 南迴公路.  I have driven by it many times on my way to the other side of Taiwan, but I hadn't been inside there until two weeks ago, when these pictures were taken.

These are, I'm sure, not the best pictures of Shuang Liou.  It was cloudy, cold, and windy that day, and I'm sure that in the sunshine it would look twice as good.  We enjoyed our visit there, but we kept thinking that it would be more scenic in the spring.

Shuang Liou is very close to the county line dividing Taitung from Pingtung.  Between Da Ren Township 達仁鄉 and Shr Dze Township 獅子鄉, the Southern Highway rises to a peak where one can turn off onto Highway 199, and just west of that peak is Shuang Liou.  It is a very remote area.

It costs 100 NT to enter Shuang Liou, though it is cheaper for Pingtung residents.  A small road leads to the entrance, and it is there that you pay your fee and receive a map.  Further inside there is a large parking area, and from there a few trails lead off into the surrounding mountains.

We took the trail up Hat Mountain 帽子山, though we didn't make it all the way to the top.  We hiked about an hour in, and then my daughters decided they were tired and we had to turn back.  From the halfway point on that trail there are some excellent views of the river valley, and I think the view from the top would be better still.  Hat Mountain sits just above the west coast, and on a clear day it probably offers views all the way down into Kenting 墾丁.

Another trail leads to a waterfall, but we didn't take that one.  I would like to go back there and walk it sometime soon.  A third trail leads to a visitor center, and behind the visitor center this trail winds up into the mountains.  This third trail was under repair during our visit.

As forest recreation areas go, Shuang Liou is QUIET.  Our car was the only car in the parking lot, and during our multi-hour visit I only saw three other people there.  Compared to the Jer Ben 知本forest recreation area, Shuang Liou is all but unknown.

Just the same, it's a nice place to walk around.  If you are traveling on the Southern Highway and the weather's good, I would suggest visiting Shuang Liou.  I plan on going back there after spring has arrived.

Related Entries:

Water Running Up 水往上流
Hualien County, Fu Li Township 花蓮縣富里鄉 (中)
Taitung's New Movie Theater
Another Weekend in Kaohsiung 高雄

2013年12月29日 星期日

American Football with Non-Americans 美式足球 (中)

The Seattle Seahawks are playing GREAT this season, and it looks like they might just go all the way to the Superbowl.  If they make it that far, this would be the first time that Seattle has ever gone to the Superbowl.  The Seahawks are presently the best team in the entire NFL, with a record of 12 wins to just 3 losses.西雅圖的海鷹隊在這一季有很棒的表現, 看起來很有希望進入美式足球超級盃, 如果他們能打進超級盃, 那將是西雅圖第一次打進超級盃, 海鷹隊是目前美國美式足球聯盟最好的球隊, 目前成績是贏了十二場, 輸了三場.

With the Seahawks in mind, I've been playing American football with my classes at the elementary school.  The kids always get excited when I bring out the football, even if they're not exactly sure what it is.  American football is NOT popular in Taiwan.  At all.因為海鷹隊的關係, 我在國小裡帶我的班玩美式足球, 孩子們雖然不確定那是什麼球, 因為美式足球在台灣並不熱門,但看到我拿出橄欖球都很興奮 .

I have to simplify the rules quite a bit for the kids, but by the end of my short introduction we are almost playing something that looks like American football.  I start by drawing a field on the board with two players.  Then I draw one player throwing the ball to the other player.  After that I act out the other player running to the opposite end of the field.為了孩子能盡快地了解玩法, 我必須將比賽規則簡單化,在我簡短的介紹後, 我們幾乎玩得有模有樣了, 剛開始我畫了兩個球員和一座球場在黑板上, 然後畫一個球員丟球給另一個, 接著我演那個接到球的人跑向球場的另一端.

Then I'll try a couple "demo games" in the class with two of the students.  I throw one of the students the ball, and they try to walk past me to the other side of the room.  I TRY to show the class that a two-hand tag means that the other side must stop, and that we are tagging the other player, not SMASHING THEM INTO THE GROUND.  If I have time, I show the other student how to "block."然後我會請兩個學生在課堂上和我一起表演怎麼玩, 我將球丟給其中一個學生, 他們試著經過我走到教室的另一頭, 我試著讓他們了解 two-hand tag發生時另一隊要停止動作, 並且觸碰另一隊的隊員不表示猛烈撞倒他, 如果我有時間的話, 我也教其他的學生如何攔截球.

It is also necessary to explain that the ball can only be passed one time between players on the same team.  A lot of classes have trouble with this part, and they will just pass and pass and pass. When they do this, what you end up with is a kind of handball. 對他們解釋同隊的隊友之間只能傳一次球, 很多班級沒辦法了解這一項, 他們只顧著在彼此之間傳球, 在這種情況下, 遊戲就成為某種手球賽了.

Of course the easiest way to avoid confusion is just to type out a series of directions in English and Chinese, but since I am the conversational English teacher, I don't really like doing this.  As an educational exercise, I think it's better if I talk them through the rules as much as possible.  當然最簡單的教法是用中文跟英文寫一張介紹美式足球的規章, 可是我覺得英文會話老師不應該這麼做.  從教學的角度看, 我覺得討論美式足球的規則是比較好的教法.

Later on, we go outside and try to play football.  I have to watch the boys VERY carefully when we do this, because many of them will want to shove the other players to the ground.  A lot of boys are really fixated on the violent aspects of this and other sports, and I have had to tell a few boys that they can't play if they are going to hurt people.  介紹規則之後, 我們會到外面玩美式足球.  這時候我要很小心注意學生, 因為很多男孩想把他們同學推到地上.  很多男生認為這種運動最好玩的部分就是推擠別人.  所以我們每次玩的時候我都要跟這樣的男同學說他不能再玩了.

I often think about how much more interested they would be in football if there was a Taiwanese player in the NFL.  Having a player you can identify with is a big part of any sport, and American football is no exception.  Taiwanese people LOVED baseball after Chien-Ming Wang got into the MLB, just as they LOVED basketball after Jeremy Lin started playing in the NBA.  I'm sure that many Taiwanese people would also become huge curling fans if it looked like some Taiwanese curler had a shot at the next Winter Olympics.如ˇ果有一個有名的台灣球員在美式足球隊的話, 那大家對美式足球就會更有興趣了. 在任何的球類比賽中, 有一個有名的球員是一件重要的事, 這在美式足球中也不能免俗, 台灣人民瘋棒球是因為王建明加入美國職棒大聯盟, 林書豪打 NBA也是一個很好的例子, 我相信如果台灣出一個冰上滾石遊戲的球員參加下一屆的冬季奧林匹克的話, 那台灣人民也會開始瘋那項運動了. 

I think American football is a great game, and it is a game I enjoy both watching and playing.  I feel the same way about soccer, which people in Europe call football, much to everyone's confusion.  I really wish I could see the Seahawks games live, but thanks to the time difference they always end up occurring in the middle of the night over here.  我覺得美式足球是一個很棒的遊戲,  歐式足球比賽也同樣好玩又好看.  歐洲人叫他們的足球football, 可是我們美國人叫它soccer.  在美國football就是美式足球.  我很想看最近海鷹隊美式足球隊的比賽, 可是兩地的時差差太多了, 他們總是在台灣的三更半夜進行比賽.

Even if the Seahawks don't make it to the Superbowl, I've had a lot of fun playing the game with my students.  Most of them enjoy it, and I've had a lot of fun trying to teach them how to play the game.就算海鷹隊沒進入超級盃的比賽, 我已經和我的學生玩得很開心了, 大部分的學生都很喜歡, 我也從教他們的過程中得到許多樂趣. 

Related Entries 相關的文章:

Intro 6
Merry Christmas (Sort of)
My Grandma, Kathleen Johnson 我的外租母 (中)
Taiwan by the Numbers: People 

*Many thanks to my wife, 林靜怡, for help translating this one.  Writing about American football in Chinese is not easy!

2013年12月18日 星期三

Intro 6

Yesterday I asked an adult class to respond to a series of questions in writing.  I have added my own responses to the questions.  Keep in mind that they only had 7 minutes to answer these questions, and they were responding in a second language.  I have corrected spelling and grammar where necessary.

1. What is important to you?

A: Family is most important to me.
B: Health and family are important to me.
C: Money is important to me.
D: The most important thing is to teach well every day.
E: To always improve myself is important to me.
G: My family
H: My family is important to me.
I: All of the above.  I would only add "fun" to this list.

2. What do you like?

A: I like to create activities and curriculum for children.
B: I like to read and cook.
C: I like my children.
D: When I have free time, I like to watch TV.
E: I like to study English, cook, and work out.
F: I like studying English.
G: I like eating food.
H: I like watching TV.
I: I like running, eating good food, swimming, reading good books, and exploring new places.

3. What do you NOT like?

C: I don't like my work.
D: I don't like to take care of my children every day.
E: I don't like to feel bored, and to deal with jealous people.
G: I don't like watching TV.
H: I don't like running.
I: I don't like excessive amounts of rain and mosquitoes in my room when I'm trying to sleep.

4. Where do you live?

C: I live in Taitung 台東.
D: I live on Jung Hua 中華 Road, section 3.
F: I live in Taitung.
G: Taitung
H: I live in Taitung.
I: In Taitung, of course.

5. Do you like where you live?

A: I like the city where I live.
C: I would like to live in Japan.
D: I like where I live.
E: I like where I live.
G: Yes, I do.
H: I like to live in Taitung.
I: Yes, I do.

6. Who is in your family?

D: There are six people in my family.
E: My brother-in-law, his family, my husband, and me.
G: My husband, myself, and our two daughters.
H: My father, my mother, my wife, and my two sons.
I: Me, my wife, and my two daughters in Taitung.  We have other family all over the world.

7. What is your favorite animal?

A: My favorite animal is the owl.
C: My favorite animals are dogs.
D: Rabbits are my favorite animals.
E: My favorite animal is the dog.
G: I like horses.
H: I don't like any animals.
I: I like otters, because they always seem to have a good time.

8. What is your favorite color?

A: I like white.
C: My favorite color is green.
E: My favorite color is purple.
F: My favorite color is red.
G: Purple.
H: My favorite color is blue.
I: I like green.

9. What do you want to be doing in five years?

B: I want to be living in a big house.
E: I want to be a very rich woman.
F: I plan to retire and travel the world.
G: I want to join more running and bicycling events.
H: I want to travel around the world in five years.
I: I would like to be living on a piece of land somewhere in Taitung County.

10. What is a memory from your childhood?

E: My childhood memories are very happy.
G: I cried every day.
H: I don't remember anything from my childhood.
I: I remember being near the ocean with my mother and my grandmother.  I was holding these comic books, but the wind blew them away.  The comic books fell into the ocean, or else disappeared altogether.  I remember being very sad about this.

11. Do you enjoy your work?

A: I enjoy my job very much.
B: I like my job because it's interesting.
C: Sometimes I enjoy my work, sometimes I don't.
E: I enjoy my work.
F: I enjoy my work every day.
G: Yes, I do.
H: Yes, I enjoy my work.
I: Yes, most of the time.  Sometimes people make me mad, but I think that's normal.

12. Do you have any plans for Chinese New Year?

B: I will be cleaning my house during Chinese New Year.
C: I will travel to many places with my family during Chinese New Year.
F: I will be with my family during New Year.
G: I will go to Taipei and Taichung.  I will eat, sleep, and play well.
H: I will go to Taipei on Chinese New Year.
I: I will most likely be in Ji Loong 基隆 again, and from there I'm sure we'll venture into Taipei.

Related Entries:

Merry Christmas (Sort of)
Goodbye to San Shang 三商再見 (中)
Water Running Up 水往上流
My Grandma, Kathleen Johnson 我的外租母 (中)

2013年12月16日 星期一

Merry Christmas (Sort of)


Christmas is next week, December 25, and I'll be taking the day off work.  I make a point of doing this every year, because working on Christmas makes me sad.

Not that I'll be doing much that day.  This year Christmas falls on a Wednesday, and my wife has to work for half the day.  I'm letting both of my daughters stay home from school, but at most we'll go for a bike ride together, or go see a movie at the movie theater.

As those who know me are probably aware, I am not a particularly religious person, so I won't be spending Christmas thinking about how Jesus died for my sins, or how the three wise men followed a star to find him in a manger, or how I should go to church more often.  My family has never celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday.

I also won't be sipping eggnog, or opening a lot of presents.  I hate eggnog, and my wife and I have decided to forego presents this year.  Instead, we are taking our daughters to Kaohsiung on the weekend just before the holiday, and once there we will be selecting our own presents from whatever Dream Mall has to offer.  My mom and dad did send some presents over, and we'll be opening these on Christmas Day, but these presents will be opened in the absence of any Christmas trees, any snow, and any Christmas carols.

Sounds kind of sad, right?  Such is Christmas in Taiwan.  After a while it tends to lose its meaning, especially if you're surrounded by a predominantly Buddhist population which doesn't place much importance on the holiday.  Chinese New Year in Taiwan can be a blast, but Christmas?  Kind of a non-event.

And I might try harder with regard to Christmas, except my daughters don't care much about it either.  They are almost as Taiwanese as other kids, and their attention is focused elsewhere.  They have fond memories of the few Christmases spent in Seattle, when it REALLY meant something, but by now they're largely oblivious to it.  Of course they're happy to get presents, and they're happy to take a day off school, but for them Christmas is nothing compared to other, louder, more Chinese holidays.

Just the same, I try to keep Christmas alive in my family.  It's important to me.  I consider Christmas my time to rest, and my time to remember the importance of family and friends.  I also want to celebrate Christmas because it represents the culture I come from.  Christmas is Home, no matter how far away Home might be.

Here's wishing you a merry Christmas.  It might not be Chinese New Year, but it is worth remembering. 

Related Entries:

My Grandma, Kathleen Johnson 我的外租母 (中)
Music and Memory 2 音樂與回憶2 (中)
My New Car
Double Ten Day 雙十節 2 (中)

2013年12月12日 星期四

Goodbye to San Shang 三商再見 (中)

As most people in Taitung City are aware, the San Shang Department Store on Shin Sheng Road is closing.  They are in the midst of selling everything in the store, right down to the clothes hangers, the racks on which these hangers were hung, and whatever else can be carried or carted away.  大部分的台東市民應該都知道新生路上的三商百貨要封館了.  他們現在正封館清倉,包括衣架跟吊衣架和任何可以搬走的東西都一件不留.

This closure is company-wide.  San Shang Deparment Stores, which could once be found all over the island, are now confined to Taiwan's east coast, counties in central and southern Taiwan, and offshore islands.  In all, there are only 9 stores left.  台東分店封館是他們公司全省僅剩的九家百貨封館的一部分.  之前台灣到處都有三商百貨, 可是現在僅能在台灣南部及東部看到他們的身影. 

The reasons for San Shang's falling profits should be obvious to anyone living in Taiwan.  In urban areas, San Shang just can't compete with larger stores like Shin Kong Mitsukoshi or Geant, and even in rural areas there are other, more attractive options.  San Shang occupies an unfortunate "middle position" in the department store market.  It's not big enough, new enough, or shiny enough for those with money to burn, and not cheap enough for those looking to save money.  三商利潤下滑的原因大家應該都知道.  在大城市裡, 三商無法跟新光三越或愛買這種大賣場比, 連在比較鄉下的地方,人們購物也有比較好的選擇.  處於百貨公司和大賣場之間的尷尬位子,  有錢的顧客喜歡比較大, 比較新, 比較高級的百貨公司.  想省錢的顧客還是會去比較便宜的賣場.

All of which is very depressing for San Shang, but not so depressing for me.  My family visited San Shang more often when we first moved to Taitung, but back then their only competition was RT Mart, far outside of town.  Things have changed quite a bit since then.  這對三商百貨來說是個不好的消息, 可是對我來說沒什麼影響.我們剛搬來台東時比較常去三商  , 因為當時台東的三商百貨的競爭者只有市區外的大潤發, 只是現在有比較多的選擇了.

I did find one neat thing at San Shang Department Store.  Because of their imminent closure, I was able to purchase a Sega Mega Drive for only 600 NT.  This was marked down from the original price, which was more than 1000 NT.  可是我最近在三商找到一個好東西.  我在那邊買了一個600塊的Sega Mega Drive.  這個Mega Drive原來的價錢不只1000塊呢!

And what is a Sega Mega Drive, you ask?  It's a little blue thing that plugs into your TV, and with it you can play many of the Sega Genesis games that I loved as a kid.  My version (there are different versions) has Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Shadow Dancer, FOUR different Sonic the Hedgehog games, and several other less famous, unquestionably less interesting other games.  很多人應該沒聽過Sega Mega Drive這個東西.  它是一個小小藍色的電動玩具.  裡面裝了我小時候最愛的Sega Genesis遊戲.  我的這種Mega Drive (有很多種) 裝了Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Shadow Dancer, 四種Sonic the Hedgehog遊戲, 還有其他沒那麼有名的遊戲.

I've been playing the Mega Drive every weekend for a few weeks now.  My younger daughter and I have already spent hours playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic and Knuckles.  It is, as my younger daughter likes to say, better than doing homework.  我已經連續幾個周末玩我的Mega Drive.  我跟我的小女兒也花了好幾個小時玩Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 還有Sonic and Knuckles.  她說玩這些遊戲比寫功課有趣多了.

If you live near a San Shang Department Store, I would encourage you to head over there, and check out all the stuff they're trying to get rid of.  At this point, they are almost giving stuff away.  That Mega Drive I paid 600 NT for?  As of yesterday it was marked down further to 400 NT.  That's probably less than the store paid for it.  你如果住在任何一家三商百貨的附近的話, 你應該去看一下他們要清倉的商品.  他們最近的商品價錢超低的.  我以前花600元買的Mega Drive?  現在變成400元.  那個價錢應該比成本價還低.

Or perhaps, for reasons of nostalgia, you might just walk in there to say goodbye.  也許因為懷舊的原因, 你也可以進去說個再見.

Related Entries 相關的文章: 

Water Running Up 水往上流
Taiwan by the Numbers: People
Racism in Taiwan
Music and Memory 2 音樂與回憶2 (中) 


Article in ETtoday  定位不明確!三商百貨全台僅剩9間 年底吹熄燈號

2013年12月6日 星期五

Code Breaker! 2

According to the article on Wikipedia:

"The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a character-encoding scheme originally based on the English alphabet that encodes 128 specified characters - the numbers 0-9, the letters a-z and A-Z, some basic punctuation symbols, some control codes that originated with Teletype machines, and a blank space - into the 7-bit binary integers."

I have converted a series of letters into ASCII code.  Once you have converted the numbers back into letters, use the code provided in the "Code Breaker!" entry to convert the code into a message.

0110001   0111000
0110001   0110001
0110001   0110100

0110001   0110101
0110001   0111001

0110001   0111001

0110010   0110001
0110001   0110010
0110010   0110000

0110010   0110001
0110010   0110000

0110010   0110000
0110001   0110100


0110001   0110011
0110010   0110001
0110001   0111001
0110001   0110100

Related Entries:

Code Breaker!

2013年12月2日 星期一

Water Running Up 水往上流

"Water Running Up," better known as 水往上流 (Shuei Wang Shang Liou), is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Taitung County 臺東縣.  It is in Dong He Township 東河鄉, about a half hour north of Taitung City, and just south of Dulan 都蘭.

As tourist attractions go, it's quite pathetic.  It's only a field with canals cut into it, and these canals give the water the appearance of flowing upward.  Really.  That's all that it is.  And I would estimate that dozens, if not hundreds, of people visit that place every day.

Then again, I'm not sure if most of the visitors are really there of their own free will.  Most of them are hauled in there along with countless other tour groups, as part of a circuit that Mainland Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tourists complete every day.  They fly into Taipei 台北 or Kaohsiung 高雄, they get on a bus, they are taken to a succession of bad restaurants and gift shops, and then they go to "Water Running Up," where they are treated to the miracle of water defying the forces of nature.

I visited "Water Running Up" in 2006, when I first moved to Taitung.  I haven't been back since.  Back then it was devoid of Mainland Chinese tourists, but this lack of crowds did not make "Water Running Up" more enjoyable.  My wife, daughters, and I walked in, quickly realized how lame it was, and left, never to return.

One thing I can't figure out is why more people don't try to sell things in that place.  There are a few people near the parking lots selling fruit, but I can't help but think that other people could also make a lot of money there.  A coffee cart would make a fortune.  With so many tourists getting off and getting on buses in that spot - every single day - someone's going to make money.

"Water Running Up" is quite boring, but at least they don't charge money to go in there.  If you take this into account, it's actually better than Chu Lu Pasture 初鹿牧場.  Chu Lu Pasture might have a better view, but it's just a glorified gift shop, and they charge an entrance fee to boot.

Maybe there are some people out there who truly like "Water Running Up."  I can't grudge them their opinion.  Just the same, there are much better tourist attractions on Taiwan's East Coast, and one need not bother visiting "Water Running Up" if you're in the area.  Anywhere north of Dulan is prettier, less crowded, and more interesting.

Related Entries:

Taiwan by the Numbers: People
Hualien County, Fu Li Township 花蓮縣富里鄉 (中)
Sporting Events in Taitung County 臺東縣: Fall 2013
Taitung's New Movie Theater