Thursday, October 30, 2003

They just do things differently here.

There are lots of small clothing shops in one particular part of town. Last night, I noticed that one of the shops was called...
...brace yourselves...
I have no idea where to begin with that one. I feel bad even typing it.
And they're just regular clothes, too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Taiwanese food may be a little nasty, but they're very good with their drinks. At convenience stores, in addition to the things you might expect (coke, pepsi, orange juice, milk, etc..), you can also buy:
perhaps 12 varieties of tea, asparagus juice (!), starfruit juice, milk soda, peach water, apple milk, ice coffee, papaya milk, guava juice, blueberry calcium drink (?), and some others I can't think of right now.

And, there are shops that only sell drinks. The one I go to regularly, called "DoDo," has over 200 different drinks. Most of them are just variations on a theme (i.e. lemon black tea, lemon green tea, lemonade, etc...), but it does make quenching one's thirst an interesting dilemma.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

There was a "documentary" on TV last night, about The Carpenters.
Starved for TV as we are, we watched it. Of course, I recognize almost all their songs, and even though it's not my thing, at least it was in English.
What I didn't know was that Karen Carpenter didn't just sing. She was also the drummer.
I mean, forgive me if you already knew this (and fuck you if you're too young to know who they are), but seeing footage of them performing for Nixon at the White House-- where she comes out in a long white dress and then sits down behind the drum kit-- was a bit of a surprise.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

There's a widely available herbal medicine called Whisbih. It's got lots of vitamins and minerals. It's available at just about any small shop in the country. It smells like bubble gum. It's advertised on TV at all hours of the day. The ads usually show hard-working construction crews, truck drivers, and other sorts of laborers. They are wearing their work clothes and are obviously at work. They all get together and hoist up their glasses.

Did I mention this drink is 10% alcohol?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Government in action (inaction?), part 2.

In Kaohsiung, the city council speaker was indicted, tried, and convicted of buying votes. He paid other council members so he would be elected to head of the council. In turn, he would recoup his losses by taking kickbacks from construction contractors for re-zoning the appropriate land.

Last Friday, he failed to show up to begin his 3-year prison sentence. He's no where to be found. Speculation is that he has fled to Mainland China, where he will probably stay. He probably won't miss his wife and kids, because he likely has another wife in China. Anything that pisses off the Taiwanese government is good press for China. Of course, if he gets in trouble there, he won't get imprisoned. He'll probably be executed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

My school lies to the government.

In Taiwan, of course, lying to the government is a way of life. It's true all over the world, I suppose, but I must say that the Taiwanese are good at it.

They under-report my salary. They say, on paper, I work at another school. They helped my get a scooter, even though I have no license. But by far, the best lie was told on Monday.

The government inspectors came in, so they spent the previous week getting ready. Because they licensed to have only so many classes, they combined 8 classes (15-20 students each) into 4. Because they are primarily considered a day-care, they had to hide all the teaching materials and students' classwork. And most importantly, because they are not allowed to teach English, I got the day off.

Friday, October 17, 2003

This has been a very hectic week.

My first observation: No one in their right mind would own a car in Taiwan.
My second observation: Rain can follow you when you're sightseeing.
My third observation: I've spent almost every waking hour within earshot of my own dear mother for the last week.
My fourth observation: The local food is, when you actually consider it, pretty bad.
My fifth observation: There is almost nothing for tourists to buy in Taiwan. Even the ones who would like to.

That should do for now.

Monday, October 13, 2003

All is well. Mom is a little high-maintenance, but she's been a really good sport about the whole thing. I got her on my scooter (!) and we went to my kindergarten so she could see the rugrats. She even got to hang out in the middle of the city while we waited for an air-raid drill to finish.

She's having a little trouble with the food, but we've been making up for it with grilled cheese sandwiches back at the apartment. When we go on our little mountain trip tomorrow, I think I'll be taking peanut butter, just in case...

Friday, October 10, 2003

I love my mom dearly. But I'm about to go off on a six-hour journey to fetch her from the airport.

I certainly don't mind this, as she's been traveling for probably over 24 hours now. I just want forgiveness from everyone for the two beers I just pounded.

Talk to you later.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

My Mom is coming to Taiwan to visit me. She'll be here on Friday. I know it's probably going to scare the hell out of her, but she's doing it. After living overseas for 6 years, she's finally visiting. I'm actually quite pleased. I know Dad would never make the trip. He hasn't even been to Australia to visit his first grandchild.

Tim and I have been cleaning the house, since that's what gay men do isn't it? I think as far as tourism goes, we'll start off small, with a walk around the neighborhood, and gradually work up to the scooter. I think she may be willing to ride one after she sees the 80 year old men on motorcycles and the family of 4 on a scooter.

Wish us all luck. Especially Mom, who's flying China Airlines.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Another Quick Taiwan Moment:

There are at least four 24-hour Taiwanese news stations. Plus the other stations that also have news. So the media are pretty aggressive. The follow people into hospitals and police stations with their cameras.

This is allowed, apparently. So, suspects in the police station always have their heads down, shirts pulled over their heads, cameras rolling. But they can't stay like that forever. They have to move eventually.

What used to happen was that they would wear motorcycle helmets to obscure their faces. But the police have thoughtfully designed a black plastic bag with eyeholes that suspected criminals can wear instead. Very sexy.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Last week, a politician was in trouble for receiving improper massages.

They weren't improper because they were "special" massages. They were improper because the masseuse had eyesight.

Apparently, in Taiwan, only blind people are allowed to give massages. And only handicapped and aboriginal people are allowed to sell lottery tickets. So, since blind people are handicapped, they can give you a massage, and then sell you a lottery ticket. And no one else can. Now that's service.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

I've had bad days, but I can't imagine they have been worse than the guy I saw today. He was riding home on a busted-ass bicycle, smoking a cigarette hands-free, And holding an open can of beer in one hand.

And he had a big bandage on one leg.

And an eyepatch.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Who would win a fistfight between George W. Bush and Kofi Annan?