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All Good Things

April 14, 2008

You have reached the end of the Taiwan blog.

I miss Taiwan. I’ve been back for a month now and have adjusted to cold weather, quiet nights, understanding what people say to me, and seeing real trees. I can drive a car and only occasionally wonder why I can’t make a left turn from the far right lane at a red light. But I do miss Taiwan.

I don’t think there will be another blog for a while. Clearly I’m not that talented at remembering to write in one anyway. For anyone interested in what life after Taiwan holds for me, I can tell you that I will be working at the Merry Go Round Playhouse in upstate New York for the summer. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

So that’s all, folks. Thanks for reading!

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Cambodia

April 14, 2008

OK, I give up on being a competent blogger. I’m going to pretend that it’s because I’m spending my time doing more productive things… right. Anyway, let’s all just pretend that Dad and I were in Cambodia last week instead of last month and I am now promptly telling you about it.

It was a great trip in a lot of ways, but unfortunately we spent most of it sick. No, we didn’t drink the water… Anyway, we managed to see a few sights despite that handicap. My camera also got sick in Cambodia (I don’t know if it drank the water) so my pictures aren’t the best. It quit altogether while we were at the Bayon, which was the most interesting temple in my opinion. So without further ado, here are a few pictures. The rest, of course, are here.

We started out in Phnom Penh…

then took a boat….

to Siem Reap. From there we traveled on foot or by tuk tuk…

to Angkor Wat…

Ta Prohm…

and the Bayon.

We also saw monkeys.

The End.

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Kenting Picture Post

March 28, 2008

As I mentioned earlier, about a month ago Gretchen and I went to Kenting for the weekend. Kenting is on the southern tip of the island. Since it was, after all, a month ago, I’m not going to go overboard with the details. Instead, here are a few pictures.

We took the High Speed Rail down to Kaohsiung….

and from there took a bus to Kenting. On the bus ride we got to watch wonderfully entertaining shows like “Jacky Go Go Go!”

We stayed in a hotel with a beach view…

and one small bed with a curtain, which may have been meant to keep the non-existent mosquitoes away, or may have been for romantic ambience, I’m not sure…

While in Kenting, we saw beatiful scenery…

big leaves…

pigs…

and some kind of mysterious pineapple-like fruit which I attempted to knock down with a stick.

After an intense wrestling match with the tree… success! We now had a bug-infested fruit.

Being good law-abiding folk, we did not do… whatever this is.

Of course, we also found some time to relax on the beach.

The end. More pictures can be found in my Taiwan 2008 album on flickr.

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I’m baaaaaaaaaack!

March 18, 2008

As of Thursday night, I’m back in Minnesota. Predictably, I am way behind with the blogging. So I will be putting an end to this Taiwan blog shortly, but I have two last things I want to write about as soon as I get my pictures uploaded: a short weekend trip to Kenting, and a longer trip to Cambodia with my dad.

It’s sort of nice to be back, but it’s so strange. So many tall white people who can understand everything I say. So few cars. It’s quiet here, and impossibly dark at night.

So stay tuned, I promise I’ll get around to those last few blog entries after I’m finished with my usual procrastination routine.

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The New Year and Luzhou’s Great Outdoors

February 7, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! I hope the Year of the Rat is good to you all.

On this special holiday when everyone else in the country is spending quality time at home with their families, I celebrated by running 4 miles in the cold rain. It was not as miserable as it sounds, I promise.

Actually, it was quite lovely. Growing up in the thriving jungle-like ecosystem of the Minneapolis suburbs, I took many things for granted, like seeing the occasional small animal. Or… tree. And being alone on a hiking trail or bike path. That is why this is my favorite little corner of Luzhou, and why I am grateful that the rain kept the sane people inside so I could enjoy the solitude today. It’s not Taroko Gorge and it’s not the North Shore, but Luzhou has its charms now and then.

Yeah… don’t ask me about the last one.

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Long Awaited China Blog

February 2, 2008

I suppose now that more than a month has passed I should say something about my trip to China with my mom.

Beijing was a disappointment to us. I will be perfectly content to skip that city altogether on my next trip.

First of all, it’s smoggy. Seriously smoggy. But don’t worry, they’re going to fix that before the olympics, no problem. The athletes have nothing to fear. Also, the whole area is such a tourist trap. There are people on practically every corner waiting to shove something in your face to buy. The Great Wall, for example. Fortunately, we went on a Christmas hike on a section of the “wild wall” which hasn’t been restored, so we got to see how amazing the wall could really be, but later we went on a bus tour that took us to Badaling. When I finally gasp my way to the highest tower on a section of the Great Wall, I don’t want my view obstructed by someone trying to sell me a “I climbed the Great Wall” T-shirt. (Okay, yeah, I bought a T-shirt.)

Beijing was also a very cold reminder that I will have some readjusting to do when I get back to Minnesota. Which will be soon. I will tell you the details of that in the near future. Which, given my blogging track record, probably means 7 or 8 months after I get back.

Anyway, I submit to you the following picture as a summary of Beijing. Unclear skies, the olympic dream, and the Great Wall swarming with tourists.

Beijing at a Glance

One final complaint about Beijing and China in general is the lack of 7/11s and other such convenience stores. For someone accustomed to Taiwan, this flaw makes the place seem virtually unfit for human habitation. Where, I ask you, is a girl supposed to satisfy a 3:00 AM Snickers bar craving?

The major purpose of the trip for me was returning to Hangzhou, where my family lived 20 years ago. A lady never reveals her age, so I’ll just say that 20 years ago I was older than 3 but younger than 5. So my memories are hazy at best, and of very random things. Still, it is a very significant part of my life since it sparked the interest in Asia that eventually led me here.

I didn’t have high hopes for Hangzhou after Beijing, but I ended up loving it. I even found myself entertaining fantasies of living there. I think I’m calling it quits in Asia for a while, but if I were looking for a new location on this side of the world, Hangzhou would be high on my list.

My mom brought a bunch of old pictures with her, and we wandered around trying to recreate them. Here is an example from a part of Hangzhou which hasn’t changed too much (I’m a little bit taller though).

Then:
Baochu Pagoda in 1987

Now:
Baochu Pagoda in 2007

That seems to be about the only unchanged part of the city. It is unbelieveable, even to me who only sort of remembers it, how much Hangzhou has modernized. Many of the places in the photos simply don’t exist anymore, others have changed radically. A good example is the Hangzhou Foreign Language School where my parents taught. Here is the building in which it was located 20 years ago:
Hangzhou Foreign Language School in 1987

Here is just one portion of the current campus.

Hangzhou Foreign Language School in 2007

I have to include some sheep pictures, just because this statue with the sheep is my clearest memory of Hangzhou. For some reason, while all my other memories are distant and fuzzy, those sheep made a serious impression.

1987:

Gushan in 1987

2007 (The sheep are sadly neglected by most these days, but my love for them will never fade) :

That is all the blogging I have in me for now. Many more pictures, as always, here. Peace out.

West Lake

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December 25, 2007

It seems that WordPress is blocked in China. Fortunately, I am crafty enough to overcome that barrier in ways that certainly no Chinese person has ever thought of.

All just to say, Merry Christmas! I hope all of my readers are having a wonderful holiday season!

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