2014年6月25日 星期三

See You in September! 祝你有個美好的暑假

Summer vacation starts next week, and I'll be away from the blog for a while.  祝你有個美好的暑假, 開學見囉!

2014年6月23日 星期一

Mixed Message*

Taoyuan ji chang

Sometimes you take the fae ji to the Taoyuan ji chang and then you get there and it should be sunny but it's raining and it's OK while you're in the ji chang but you know that once you get out of the ji cheng che or the gong che it's going to be a wen ti.

So maybe later you take the gong che to Taipei and then you get out in front of your lu guan and the shia yu is very big and you have to drag your shing li into the lu guan and everything gets wet but it's OK too because you're happy to be back in Taiwan.

And at that time you are hun lei so you shui jhao for the wan shang and then you chi chuang in the dzao shang and you leave the lu guan and spend a tian in Taipei which should be more hao wan than it is but after the shia yu it's very rhe and you find yourself gravitating towards places with lung chi.

Which leads you into the nearest Tai Ping Yang where you wander around looking at yi fu, dian dong wan ju, and shu, and after this you start to get e, and you ask a fu wu ren yuan about tsan tings in the di chu.

"你想吃什麼?" says the fu wu ren yuan.

"Japanese, Chinese, 還是 Western 都可以," you say.

After which point the fu wu ren yuan directs you to a rh ben tsan ting outside the Tai Ping Yang, which the fu wu ren yuan really shouldn't do but he's a nice guy and he knows that the rh ben tsan ting inside the bai huo aren't that great.

So you have sou shr and later you go to a Shin Ba Ke for ka fei and later still you ride the jie yun from jong shiao fu shing to the Taipei Che Jhan where your lu guan is waiting and then you enjoy a few pi jiou in your fang jian and watch some dian shr and then shui jiao for the second time in Taiwan.

Shiao Wu Lai

Leading me (and you) to your third tian in Taiwan, in which you begin to lu shing around the dao.  You go to Shiao Wu Lai in 桃園, Nan Liao in 新竹, a few famous places in 苗栗, and Shr Dze Shan on the way to Shuei Ba Guo Jia Gong Yuan.  It's a really fun lu shing.

台中, 嘉義, and 台南.  Drinking more pi jiou and wandering through the Mei Shu Guan.  高雄, 屏東, and 台東.  Lost around yu gangs and finding clear kong chi on the other side.  花蓮, 宜蘭, 基隆, and then back to 台北, but not to 南投 because of the inconvenience of getting there and back.

"你回來了!" says the yuan gong at your lu guan, remembering your lian.

"沒錯" you say, smiling.  "我明天要回國.  這個禮拜過得好快!"

So you pack your shing li the wan shang before and get a good shiou shi in your lu guan, waking up early the next tian so that you can take a ji cheng che back to the ji chang and catch your fae ji back home.

And while you are waiting in the ji chang a mo sheng de ren sitting next to you strikes up a dui hua.

"請問," says the mo sheng de ren very politely, "你在台灣很久了嗎?"

"I'm sorry," you answer, "I don't speak Jhong Wen.  Could you say that again in English?"

Jhong Wen

Related Entries:

Meta-analysis 2
Fruits and Vegetables 水果跟蔬菜 (中 / 英)
Tea Vs. Coffee
Do You Remember? 

*I have never studied pinyin, so the English spellings of Chinese words are largely my own inventions.

2014年6月16日 星期一

Meta-analysis 2

Whether other blogs are insightful or ignorant, I am always trying to learn from them.  My goal has always been a blog that is informative, well-written, and not crushingly serious.  Reading other blogs has brought me a lot closer to this goal, though I admit I still have some work to do.

I entered the words "blog" and "Taiwan" into Google, but came up with a lot of crap, so I added the word "foreigner" to the search.  These were the first five results of that search.


1. 老外愛台灣 Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner

What I Liked: Nothing really.  This whole thing is just lame (see below).

What I Didn't Like: This "blog" is not really a blog at all, but rather a publicity website for a book about Taiwan.  Everything is written in the third person, and one is forced to the conclusion that this Nick Kembel is less an individual than the creation of a publishing company.

Something Strange:The guy has a blue mohawk.  Why?  And why is it "Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner" and not through the eyes of a foreigner?

2. Life as a Foreigner in Taiwan

What I Liked: The picture under the heading.  That was about it.

What I Didn't Like: This guy is really in love with himself.  The subtitle of this blog is "Everything you need to know to start a life in Taiwan," and in the "About" section he goes on to state that the purpose of his blog is "to help the next generation of foreigners in Taiwan."  I'm assuming that he means Westerners, and not people from Vietnam, the Philippines, and all the other countries he has failed to recognize.

Something Strange: In his "Another 10 Foods You Ought to Try in Taiwan" entry, he refers to many common foods by their Chinese names.  Why call them "digua qiu" (地瓜球) when you could just call them sweet potato balls?  Why call it "kao digua" (烤地瓜) when you could just call it roasted sweet potato?

Still pondering the phrase "Over the past few months I have moved back to Texas."  Did he move to Texas several months ago?  Or has the move taken several months?  I hope this guy wasn't teaching English here, though odds are he was.

3. My New Life in Asia

What I Liked: The banner is cool.  It is well laid out and easy to use.

What I Didn't Like: Weird English.  I'm assuming that this guy is not a native English speaker.  He (I'm assuming it's a he) also tends to ramble.

Something Strange: Nothing aside from the odd phrases and sentence structures.  It's a relatively balanced picture of what life in Taiwan is like.

4. The Study Chinese in Taiwan Blog

What I Liked: It is professionally written, and quite informative.  The author is a Canadian studying Chinese in Taipei, and resident foreigners studying Chinese in Taiwan (especially in Taipei), will find this blog very helpful.

What I Didn't Like: It's not finished.  The "Reviews" section is blank.

Something Strange: Couldn't find anything strange, and this might be a mark against it.  Often strange = interesting.

5. The Happier Abroaders

What I Liked: A lot of the entries here are more interesting than what I usually come across.  I enjoyed the "10 Reasons Why Taiwan Sucks for Social Life, Fun, Happiness, and Romance" entry, even if I didn't agree with most of it.  It is, moreover, an entry which belies their blog title.  Are they happier abroad?

What I Didn't Like: The racist and judgmental character of almost everything written on this blog.  It also seems to be a front for prostitution, the finding of foreign wives, or both.

Something Strange:This thing is written like a tabloid.  Probably the strangest part is the heading, which proclaims an agenda that involves "Exposing the Toxicity of American Culture," "Freethought," and "Non-Censorship of Truth."

Related Entries:

Fruits and Vegetables 水果跟蔬菜 (中 / 英)
Tea Vs. Coffee
Do You Remember?
10 Reasons To Be Happy You Live in Taiwan 十個喜愛台灣的原因 (中)

2014年6月8日 星期日

Fruits and Vegetables 水果跟蔬菜 (中 / 英)


ME: OK class, we'll be talking about fruits and vegetables today.  Do you know what fruits and vegetables are?

CLASS: Yes, teacher.

ME: Great!  Now I want to remind everyone to speak English in class!  Speaking English will help you to learn more English!

CLASS: Yes, teacher.

ME: Repeat after me: "Apple."

CLASS: "Apple."

ME: "Orange."

Class: "Orange."

ME: "Pineapple."

Class: "Pineapple."

A student raises his hand.

ME: Yes?

STUDENT 1: Teacher, how to say 釋迦 in English?

ME: That is "Buddha-head fruit," or "sugar apple," or "custard apple."  It has more than one English name.

STUDENT 1: OK teacher.  Thanks.

ME: "Banana."

CLASS: "Banana."

Another student raises her hand.

ME: Yes?  You have a question?

STUDENT 2: 老師, 火龍果英文怎麼說?

ME: I'm sorry, can you ask that question in English?

STUDENT 2: Yes, teacher.  Sorry.  How to say 火龍果 in English?

ME: That one is "dragonfruit" or "pitaya."  It also has more than one English name.

STUDENT 2: Thanks, teacher.

ME: "Dragon eyes."

CLASS: "Dragon eyes."

STUDENT 3: 老師, dragon eyes 是什麼?

ME: Who knows how to say "dragon eyes" in Chinese?

STUDENT 1: It's 龍眼.

STUDENT 3: Oh, OK.  真是奇怪 . 

ME: "Pear."

CLASS: "Pear."

STUDENT 3: 那如果"dragon eyes"就是龍眼, 荔枝怎麼叫leechee呢?

ME: Can you ask me that question again?  In English?

STUDENT 3: 我不會. 

ME: What you want to say is: "If the English name for 龍眼 is 'dragon eyes,' why is the English name for 荔枝 leechee?"

STUDENT 3: 你看!  老師也會講中文!

ME: Yes, but this is English class.  Can you ask me the question again in English?

STUDENT 3: Huh?  你說什麼?  我聽不懂!

ME: I said: can you ask me one more time?  In English?

STUDENT 1: 老師叫你用英文問問題.

STUDENT 3: 什麼問題?  他不是已經回答我的問題嗎?

STUDENT 2: 還沒.  他只是叫你上課的時候要講英文.

STUDENT 3: 好.  可是我忘記我問過什麼問題.

ME: Ahhhhh.  Forget it.  Repeat after me.  IN ENGLISH.  "Strawberry."

STUDENT 2: 老師, "strawberry" 是什麼? 是草莓嗎?

ME: 是.  I mean yes!  I mean: can you ask that question in English?

STUDENT 2: 老師為甚麼要再問一次?  你不是已經回答了嗎?

ME: 氣死我了!

Related Entries 相關的文章:

Tea Vs. Coffee
10 Reasons To Be Happy You Live in Taiwan 十個喜愛台灣的原因 (中)
Thoughts 9
A Scriptural Exegesis of Longman 8*

2014年6月4日 星期三

Tea Vs. Coffee


I moved to Taiwan just before the first Starbucks opened in Taichung 台中.  I remember this because all of the other teachers in my school talked about it constantly.  They'd drive all the way from our school to the Starbucks near the Taichung Science Museum - a 45 minute drive - and by the time they got back their iced coffees were no longer iced... or even cold.

Back then there weren't so many places to get coffee.  Not even in 1999.  In most of outlying Taichung, it was either instant coffee or tea.  There was a McDonald's near my school that sold coffee, but back then McDonald's coffee was terrible, and besides the McDonald's there was only a Dante coffee shop, which seemed to be the only coffee shop in north Taichung.

At that time tea shops were much more popular, and most Taiwanese people I knew drank tea.  This was increasingly the case the further one got from an urban area.  When I would visit my wife's family in Yunlin 雲林, there was no coffee to be had in that village.  Not even the canned kind.  Everyone in that place drank tea all day, and even cola was somewhat exotic in those parts.


In the fifteen years since that time, a lot has changed.  Now you can get coffee in every 7-11 and Family Mart.  Now there are coffee shops everywhere.  In 1999 coffee was a distinctly foreign beverage, and now it's so commonplace that most people don't even notice it.  Many of my friends from those early days are now addicted to coffee, and there are even people in my wife's hometown who own and operate coffee shops.

It's funny to remember those early days in Taiwan, and how earnestly I sought out good coffee.  I couldn't even buy coffee beans back then, and I usually resorted to the bags of 3-in-1 they sold in Hyper, Carrefour, or RT Mart.  In Seattle they had just experienced a coffee renaissance, with Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Tully's sprouting up on every street corner.  But in Taichung I was still in the third world, where coffee was often viewed as "disgusting" or "unhealthy" or just "odd."

How quickly things change.  Almost before I knew it, that first Taichung Starbucks had spawned others, and coffee shops were appearing around the city.  McDonald's upgraded its coffee, and suddenly I could buy both coffee beans and coffee makers.  A few years later the big convenience store chains followed the trend, much to everyone's satisfaction.  Coffee is now big business in Taiwan, and I know many Taiwanese people who drink it to the exclusion of almost everything else.

Now if only I could start a craze for Mountain Dew and microbrews.  Then I would truly feel at home, and then I wouldn't have to go searching for them in other cities.  It might be sad to see the old way of life pass out of fashion, but modernization - or some might say Westernization - can be a good thing.  It offers us the choices we didn't have before.


Related Entries:

Do You Remember?
10 Reasons To Be Happy You Live in Taiwan 十個喜愛台灣的原因 (中)
A Scriptural Exegesis of Longman 8*
The Near Future in the Present Tense