Monday, January 18, 2010

Taiwanjason posts new songs around the web...

I've posted some new songs, and I'm trying the widget and link things. We'll see how she goes.

sell music online

Yeah, well it sticks over the edge a little bit. So what.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009


So, whenever I go to a store, it's good to imagine what are the two most incongruous items you can buy at once. My new record: hinges and kidney beans.

Taiwan-Okinawa Visa Run

For Taiwan-living expatriates in a sudden need to leave the country.

Note: This post is here to save it from Geocities impending death. It seemed to be useful to the occasional Taiwan expatriate, so I thought I would try to keep it. I have not lived in Taiwan since 2005. I made these notes about an Okinawa "visa run" in 2004 when I had to do it, and decided I didn't want to go to Hong Kong, whose Taiwan "consulate" had a bad reputation as being overcrowded, surly, and not very helpful. I actually did the Hong Kong run once, and decided never again. I have checked the address for the Okinawan Taiwan "consulate" and it's still correct as of 2009. I don't know if the fees or airfares have changed since I no longer live there. But once or twice a year, someone seems to find this site useful, so if you want to make a visa run that is much more pleasant than HK, I still recommend spending a day in Okinawa. I enjoyed it completely, despite my surprise at having to make the run at all.

The Taipei-Okinawa flight takes about 1.25 hours. China airlines offers two daily flights to and from Naha International Airport, morning and evening. The fare is about 8,800 NT dollars. It's only a little more expensive than the Hong Kong flight, although Japan itself is a bit more expensive overall.
Change your NT dollars to Yen before you leave Taiwan!!!
The Japanese don't seem to know what to do with the stuff.

There is a monorail linking the airport to the downtown. The airport monorail station is located at the domestic terminal. When you leave the international terminal building, you can see the much bigger domestic terminal to your right. Walk over there (there are sidewalks, it's less than 100m), and go in the terminal to the 2nd floor, and follow the signs.

The monorail station closest to the Taiwan visa office is called "Kencho-mae." The station is right next to a gigantic department store called Palette Kumoji Department store. The fare from the airport is maybe 230 or 260 yen. The station signs indicate the fare. It takes about 15 minutes. The machine takes yen coins or 1000 yen notes. You could also take a bus, but I can't help you there.

The Taiwanese visa office is called the:
Sino-Ryukyuan Cultural & Economic Association
6F, Alte Building, 3-15-9 Kumoji, Naha City, Okinawa
tel: (81-98) 862-7008 fax: (81-98) 861-6536
The list of all the (non-official) consulates is located on this government website.

When you leave the monorail station, walk along under the tracks along the canal in the same way you were headed. After about 3 blocks, to the right, you'll see a Family Mart up the street. Go up there, and turn left. The visa office is in a gray concrete-and-glass building on another corner about 2 blocks up. It's on the 6th floor. There's a small sign out front, with all the offices in the building listed on it. You'll see the name I mentioned above.

Here is the
link to the Google Map of the area. I haven't tagged the office, but the Family Mart I mentioned is clearly marked here..It's in the block numbered "15" in the "Kumoji" district. In the satellite image, it's the layer-cake looking building.

The office is open M-F 9-12 and 1-3 if you're putting in an application.
And you can pick it up the following day M-F 9:30-12 and 1-5.

You can get same-day service if you're willing to pay double.

U.S. Citizens take note!!! Since the U.S. government began charging Taiwanese $100 US for a visa to enter the U.S., Taiwan has responded in kind. The visa fee is 12,200 yen for any kind of visa---single, multiple, whatever (and of course, double that for same-day service). Other countries' citizens will likely find it a little bit cheaper. Single-entry tourist visas are 3600 yen, I think. Americans, write your congressman! Other people, laugh smugly! I don't know if this is still true as of 2009.

About Okinawa, very, very briefly.

The capital of Okinawa is Naha City. Okinawa was heavily bombed by the U.S. in WWII. There are still thousands of American GIs stationed there, and the military owns about 20% of the island. It's heavily developed, with cities, beaches, and tourist resorts; over a million Japanese tourists go there every year.

The Tourist Information counter at the Naha airport was very helpful. They have excellent maps, and a list of all the hotels in the city, their prices, and addresses. The maps also showed the tourist attractions around the island, and the buses to take to get there. She also spoke English; she was the one who showed me where to go for the Taiwan visa office.

If you're uncertain about your surviving in Japanese skills, this person can also book a hotel room for you, so you can choose your price range and your location.

In Naha City, hotels range in price from about 4000 Yen to 20000 Yen a night. For a pretty close Yen/NT Dollar approximation, divide by 3. (4500 Yen = 1500 NT). The map also shows loads of things to do and see around the island. The beaches are nice, but FAR from town. I've heard that the pretty places are the offshore islands, which can be reached by ferry from Naha and elsewhere. (there are 2 ports in Naha, and others around the island--study your maps carefully). The buses are also reasonably easy to understand, if you're the sort of person who knows how to figure things out. Go to the bus terminal and look around.

I have to offer a brief plug for the Yagi Hotel, which was one block from the bus terminal, and which was cheap, clean included free breakfast, and the desk clerk was absolutely wonderful, even though she didn't speak any English

More Visa Matters...

The visa officer I met spoke English, Japanese, and Chinese, so you shouldn't have a problem. He seemed sympathetic to my plight, though in all fairness, I didn't tell him the exact truth. Take note, though, that you should bring along all your documentation and anything else that might even be remotely useful. Here are some things to consider:

1. Three (3) passport photos.
2. photocopy of your passport (front page, with personal info.)
3. plane ticket out of Taiwan to another country, and a photocopy of that ticket.
note: some travel agencies will issue you a one-way ticket for another country and then refund it when you return, minus a fee (500-600NT).
4. Anything else you can think of. For instance, the application asks for a reference in Taiwan. It can be another foreigner, but they must have an ARC card. Take a copy of that, too.
5. Know the name of your employer and their phone number. Maybe you shouldn't write that on the form, but if they are helping you out, or even if they're not helping you out, maybe you can spread the governmental misery around a little by mentioning their name.

It used to be that the Okinawan "visa" office did not issue your visa there in the office. They prepared a completed, approved form which you had to take back to Taiwan with you and get the actual visa passport sticker at the Bureau of Consular Affairs office (between the immigration queues at CKS airport.) According to a reader of this page in 2008, the Okinawan office will now issue you the visa sticker in their office, so you're ready to go once you stop back the next morning to pick up your documents. I cannot remember if they had to keep your passport overnight.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to offer this small tribute to one of the men whose history became my summer job, Thomas Chandler Haliburton. He was a complex man--a judge, a lawyer, a man who served in both the Nova Scotian provincial legislature as well as the British House of Commons, a wannabe aristocrat, a political writer, a historian, a drinker of fine port and a smoker of fine cigars, an amateur farmer, a racist, an elitist, and a lover of all kinds of stories.

His fame rests primarily on one character he went on to include in nearly half a dozen books: Sam Slick. A traveling Yankee who craftily sold clocks to rustic locals and mouthed off on every social and political issue of the day, Slick was a swaggering ladies man who said things that Haliburton couldn't admit to himself. In his day, he was as popular as Charles Dickens or Mark Twain, and he milked it for all it was worth.

Anyway, I worked in his house all summer. Some days we had dozens of visitors, some days we had only a few visitors, some days we had none at all. This is a song I wrote sitting in his grand dining room, and the images are taken from the internet and images I had access to while I worked there. If you're ever in Windor, Nova Scotia in the summer or early fall, stop in the Haliburton House Museum and I'll show you around.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Are we...poor?

Long gone are the days when I can make the big money teaching English. I have lived in Canada for two years now, and I'm waiting on my third year to roll by, so I can apply for Canadian citizenship. I certainly didn't settle in the right place to become an overnight sensation, much less a millionaire. But we are homeowners, and that's more than I expected...I'm hoping that my story will be sufficiently interesting that I can turn it into a CBC radio special. Since the over-50 crowd would be the ones I'd be attracting on the CBC. Well, not really, but that's about the best I can hope for.

I think that the nation's pride would be bolstered by an American who couldn't cut it in his own country, so he left it, switched teams, and ended up not only gay, but Canadian. And I have to confess, since Tim isn't likely to read this post, that I'm only in it for the free health care. Plus, I love paying taxes.

I'm also just writing so my YouTube video gets pushed down the page a little. I didn't feel like staring at my ugly mug when I check this blog every month or so.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Taiwan - an introduction

I created a video in Taiwan a while ago, and I'm hoping to try this embedded video thing.

We shall see (Or perhaps we won't)...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No Answers in Sight

I don't believe this. I finally posted a video to YouTube, and it's a song that I wrote over 12 years ago. Not only that, but all the video footage is the same age. It's here. I bring you an original song, "Answers" as recored by me and my friends, posing as a band called Hydrogen. Damn, it was fun.

The great part, though, is that I've been wanting to make this music video since we shot the footage those many years ago. We shot a lot of footage with the intention of using it like this, we just didn't have the technical know-how to create it. So after lugging around the cassettes for years, I finally decided to give it a go. Thanks to Chris, J.R, Allan, Adam, Brooke, and everyone else who was present for those crazy times. Also a shout to the Heorot Pub in Muncie, Indiana, who let us play pretty much whenever we felt like it for about a year back then.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Taiwanjason's" Shameless Self Promotion

Hey kids!

I'm still here, posting for no good reason other than that to mention that I have decided to enter the American Idol Songwriting Competition. I couldn't resist, though I had a hard time figuring out which, if any, of my songs, would be worth it. The song I submitted is listed on my Taiwanjason website at the CBC. I'm not saying which one.

I like saying that. It almost sounds like I'm not anonymous. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) hosts Canadian bands who have the time and the interest to upload their songs, apparently as many as you'd like. I like to think that this is one of the few times I'm getting to take advantage of my new status as an impending Canadian.

Anyway, check out the site. And put links to it on your own sites, too!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Canadian Content

I'm entering the 21st century at last! If you click on the title above you will find a link to my songs on the CBC-3 Radio site. These are songs I've recorded at home, mostly while living in Taiwan. If I can improve the quality, I may also upload some old band recordings of my songs. Of course, nothing digital is ever easy... I'll just try and add some more stuff as I spend the hours in front of the computer required to do it.

Good thing I'm not an E-bay junkie, or I'd never get anything done.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Backyard Harem

There is a male ring-necked pheasant who lives just next door to our yard. He comes into the back yard in the morning to peck at the seeds that have fallen from the bird feeder.

Did I mention he brings his 5 (!) females with him?

I wish it were hunting season. Although I probably couldn't do it, I think they look delicious. You could hunt those things with a hammer.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Hantsport Report

New this week:

--New path being constructed through the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre!
--Sidewalk chalk contest draws a dozen competitors!
--New paint on no-parking zones on Main Street!
--Hantsport Shamrocks hit foul balls into angry neighbours car!
--School Street swamp gets filled in with truckloads of dirt!
--High school punks smoke dope in woods!
--Gay couple with beagle mow lawn every week!
--Lone blogger doesn't update links!

What's new where you live?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Low-Level Excitement

This is what passes for excitement around here.

This week, as Tim and I went out to walk the dog, the two police cars in town seemed to be doing laps, up and down our street and through the school parking lot. The neighbors in the area were out keeping an eye on the developments, and lots of the school kids were walking away from the area, cursing and complaining loudly. I thought maybe there was some kind of abduction (or the threat of one), because there was one in the news this week, elsewhere in the province.

When we got back to the house, there was still a bit of activity. There was an RCMP officer in the school parking lot, and a few kids still around. Our neighbor B was sitting on his front porch with his arms crossed watching. These days, I chat with the neighbors, having been deprived of this basic human right during my stay in Taiwan.

"What's going on B? You causing trouble?" I asked, just as a joking entrance to aid my nosiness.

But it turned out that the cops were there because of him. There were a bunch of high school punks hanging out on top of the baseball dugout, making a bunch of racket, and when he asked them to keep it down, one of them told him to fuck off. So he called the police.

The police gave the kid a good talking to, and were bringing him over to apologize when I went back inside. Shortly after that, the hubbub died down. I'm totally on my neighbor's side on this one, but I don't want to be antagonizing the local punks. We live right across the street from the school, but--thankfully--too far from the road to easily hit with eggs.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nosy Neighbo(u)rs

Everyone in town knows us, but we don't know anyone back. It's kind of frustrating, because people we meet know where we live before we know anything about them. The only thing I can gather about the neighbours comes from checking their garbage and recycling when they throw it out. On one side lives an old English lady that no one ever sees. I call her Mrs. Teacozy.

I don't know what she knows about us, but we're making up our own gossip about her. The thing about her that seems suspicious is that she doesn't seem to generate any garbage. Every 2 weeks, all she has out at the curb is 14 days worth of newspapers, 3 or 4 milk cartons, and some empty cans.

What can she be eating? I don't even see any cat food containers, despite the fact that the neighborhood strays seem to be hanging out at her house a lot. The only positive thing that can come of all of this is that the cats will hopefully keep the skunks away. I saw one in our yard yesterday. I'm sure the neighbors already knew.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Get Off My Land

We live right across the street from a public school, grades 1-9. If it were only an elementary school, it wouldn't be a problem, because those kids are not big troublemakers. But by the time you're 14, you can be old enough to be a pain in the ass. And, unlike when I was at school, they're allowed to leave for lunch, and they all flock to the corner pizza place, leaving a trail of litter and cigarette butts that eventually blows into our yard. Actually, they're probably not cigarette butts, but roaches.

But to be fair, the kids were sent out this week to pick up some garbage around the town. I would have liked to tell them to come pick up their empty chip bags and styrofoam plates that blow into our drainage ditch, but I suppose that they did better work tidying up the town. I find it stunning that a little bit of trash on the ground gets people so incensed. There was a long editorial in the local monthly flyer about litter. If that's the worst of your concerns, you should probably go see what your kids are doing instead.

The dog's favorite walking route is up the street to the pizza joint, because he finds all kinds of pizza crusts and candy wrappers that make life interesting and tasty. In Taiwan, he was much more likely to find chicken or pork bones, so at least the pizza crusts don't have to be fished from his mouth once he gets them.

The kids mostly don't actually trespass on our property though. It's not a shortcut to get anywhere else. Except one kid who walks home right by the edge of our lot. You'd think a dog that used to see hundreds of people a day when he went for a walk would be more relaxed about it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hello again.

I thought I'd post a quick note since it's been about 9 months since I've done so, and because for some reason I still open my blog on the computers at work so it gets some traffic.
I am writing this from my house in Canada, where Tim and I, along with our energetic dog have settled in after a few months floundering around waiting to see what would come next. We made it here without too much trouble, immigration paperwork notwithstanding. After living with his folks for a while, we tricked the bank into giving us a tiny mortgage so we could buy a house in a small town. It's nice to still be able to walk to the store and the post office; I didn't think that was still possible in North America.

It's hard to live back in the West. We both took a huge pay cut--for some reason, people here aren't willing to pay big bucks to have white people sing "Shake My Sillies Out" with their 4 year olds all day long. And you have to have 2 cars, complete with all the hassles that entails. The insurance on one car for 6 months is more than we paid to buy both of our scooters in Taiwan. And the winter has been hard for us. It gets pretty cold here, even though all the locals said we got off easy this year. But after living in Taichung, Taiwan, where it was warm enough to go camping on motorcycles in February, we're still building fires and running the furnace here and it's almost May 1.

But on the bright side, I am a permanent resident of a country that's actually glad to have me, instead of a temporary resident of a country (yes, Taiwan is a country--sorry, China) that merely tolerated my presence. And we finally get to own our own land, which we'd be even more excited about if the yard weren't such a bog.

In fact, it's the bright side of things that has kept me from posting to this blog, in part. I have so much less to complain about, and a lot fewer crazy stories. For a job now, I work in a call center as a tech support rep for a major Canadian internet provider. What could be less exciting than that?

But here I am, and life is good, despite the reverse culture shock. To give you some idea of the place I live now: when we go to the town office, they don't ask for any ID, because they know who we are. We're the gay couple who live in the old Gertie Patterson place. How's that for a change?

I may continue to post again, since I'm in front of a computer all day lately, but blogging from work is likely to cause nothing but pain. We'll see.