Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category


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…


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.


3 Random Anecdotes

July 19, 2007

I owe you all an update about Malaysia and Hong Kong, I know. Patience, it will come. Basically, I’ve been procrastinating on that so long that I haven’t written anything else. But I thought I should type a little something just to say “Hey! I haven’t died!”

Unfortunately, other than those trips in May my life has been rather mundane lately. I wake up and sit in front of my air conditioner until it’s time to go to work. I go to work and play stickyball games with a bunch of screaming little kids. I come home and sit in front of the air conditioner until it’s time to go to bed. Sometimes, to liven things up a bit, I watch bad movies on cable.

Anyway, here are three things that happened to me in the past two days. A slice of life for me here in Taiwan:

I saw a dog fall off a scooter. I always wondered if that happened. I see dogs riding on scooters all the time and it would seem that every dog in Taiwan is perfectly trained to do so. This poor little thing was not so lucky though. It had a leash on so when it fell off it sort of bounced along the road a couple times until the woman driving stopped. She just sat there and waited while the dog ran around a bit and eventually decided to get back on. Actually, she never even glanced at the dog after it happened. She was way too busy staring at the foreigner across the street.

One of my 1st grade students asked me if I was pregnant. She hardly speaks any English but she pointed to her tummy and said “Teacher! You… baby here?” Um, no Victoria, teacher just needs to lay off the dumplings.

I have frequently had taxis stop for me without me hailing them. They see me wandering around Luzhou and assume I just must be a lost tourist, I guess. I just had the worst unsolicited taxi experience yet, as I was coming home from the gym today. I had just parked in front of my building and was getting off my scooter when the guy stopped to call out and ask if I needed to go somewhere. I had barely taken off my helmet! Maybe that means I’m capable of transporting myself?

So that’s the “news” from here. I live a highly adventurous life here in the exotic far east.


I always do things backwards.

March 24, 2007

I did two things today that I’d never done before:  I got my scooter repaired, and I crashed it.  Yes, in that order.

I didn’t even go home in between leaving the mechanic and smashing into the back of another scooter.  It wasn’t exactly my first incident since I started driving it; an SUV sort of scraped against me a bit in February, but this was the first actual impact.  I felt pretty bad about it, although if I were in the United States I would definitely say it was the other person’s fault for stopping so suddenly in front of me.  Traffic works a bit differently here, though, and if I were a more experienced scooter driver I think I might have managed to avoid the whole thing.

In any case, I was fine.  The guy I hit seemed pretty angry, and I have the feeling he would have given me hell if he thought I’d understand.  His license plate was crunched, but there was no other damage, so he just let it go.  I lost a bit of paint off the front of my scooter (and spilled beef noodle soup all over it) but fortunately, I didn’t have to head right back to the mechanic.  It actually took a few tries to start it after I picked it up off the ground though, so I hope there isn’t some other problem that got started.

In unrelated news, I actually managed to fit a few hours of scenic carpentry and painting into my schedule last weekend.  Another teacher I know is in a bilingual production of the Vagina Monologues in Taipei, and the (American) director was looking for volunteers to help with sets.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work with my schedule to put very much time in, but it was nice to have the chance to get a little involved with theatre again.

Actually, theatre is the one dark cloud still hanging over my new-found happiness with life in Taiwan.  I don’t know how important it still is to me, for one thing.  I thought that being away from that world for a little while would give me some clarity on how much it mattered to me, but instead I’ve left it so far behind that it’s hard to even remember that it used to basically be my entire life.  I am afraid that each month I choose to stay here makes it a little more impossible that I will ever find my way back to that career path, but maybe that isn’t really the way it works, I don’t know.  Oh well, lots to think about as always.


American girls strong, eat steak.

February 21, 2007

Often while riding in a taxi, the cab driver will attempt to strike up a conversation.  Sometimes he speaks good English or I manage a full discussion in Chinese, but most of the time it is a mix of both.  A while ago I had a quite memorable cab ride.  I’ll write the conversation in English but really it was a rather garbled and confusing mix of languages, including a few random sentences of German at one point.

The driver started out typically, asking me where I was from and whether I liked the food in Taiwan.  I told him that I was American and he started in on a long speech about the war in Iraq.  I honestly had no clue what he was saying so I just nodded.  Somehow he got the mistaken impression that I was from Chicago and I didn’t bother to correct him so we talked about Chicago.

He asked how old I was and I told him. 

“You are married,” he guessed. 

“No,” I said. 

“Your boyfriend,” asked the driver, “Taiwanese or American?” 

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” I told him.

“No?” he asked, quite surprised, “Because you are Christian, yes?” 

“No… I don’t think that’s why,” I said. He was silent for a moment, and I thought the conversation was finally over.  Then he spoke up with these words of wisdom:

“Taiwan girls very beautiful.  American girls strong, eat steak.”

So that explains it…

Yesterday I got some more deep insight into Taiwan from another cab driver.

“Taiwan is very very good country,” he said, “No terrorists.”

Sounds good to me.


With Three Months Comes Freedom

December 4, 2006

As of Friday I have been in Taiwan for three months.  That’s 1/4 of the time I’m committed to, can you believe it?

The biggest change for me recently is that I finally got up the nerve to drive my scooter out of Luzhou.  A whole new world has opened up to me!  I can zip over the river into Taipei, or head in the other direction to check out that park that was always just out of reach.  I have nothing bad to say about the public transportation I had been using up until now, but it’s great to be a little more independent.  Also, I’m not sure exactly how big my gas tank is, but it only takes about 4 bucks to fill it up!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here.  Well, maybe not Christmas in Minnesota since the weather here is still in the 60’s, but I drove into Taipei to do some Christmas shopping this weekend and bought a little tree and some decorations.  We’ve been decorating the kindergarten like crazy too, as well as preparing the kids for the annual Christmas program.

I’m really looking forward to Christmas, as nontraditional as it will be.  My dad and brother are coming over and we’ll be heading down to Hualien and Taroko Gorge for a few days.  We may not be making snow angels, but how’s this for a winter wonderland?


Hot New Ride

November 11, 2006

I bought a new toy, isn’t it pretty?


It’s also pretty terrifying at this point.  I had to drive it home from the dealer down some major roads, so my first taste of what it was like to drive a scooter was bursting out into busy traffic.  I was basically white knuckled the whole way home.  Tonight I took it out for a little joy ride around the city though, and while I’m still mildly terrified, I also really like it!  I wonder how long it will take me to crash it…


Taichung Trip and Reflections on a Month in Taiwan

October 1, 2006

I just got back from a weekend in Taichung.  Five people from my original training group live there so five of us from the Taipei area headed down for a visit.  Unfortunately I work until 6:00 on Saturdays so it was a very short weekend, but it was definitely worth the trip.

Saturday night we all went to KTV. For those of you not fortunate enough to have had a KTV experience, I’ll explain. KTV is karaoke Taiwan style.  A group can rent a private room with microphones and a big screen to play the music videos and all other things required for karaoke, like beer.  The videos were ridiculously random things like buildings in Switzerland, birds cleaning themselves, or girls roller skating.  After a few hours of that corniness we went to a club for a while.

Sunday we went to the Taichung Botanical Gardens and otherwise just hung out and immersed ourselves in our favorite pastime: complaining about work.  More on that in a minute.

I took a train to get there but on the way back we all took the Aloha bus.  What an experience.  Huge, comfortable, massage chairs, drinks and snacks, blankets, TV…  I could get used to traveling that way.

I really liked Taichung.  I felt like I could actually breathe there.  Many places in the city were attractive and there was even space to walk on the sidewalks most of the time.  None of those things are true in Luzhou. 

After a month in Taiwan (exactly; I arrived in Taipei on Sept. 1st),  I have very conflicted feelings about being here.  Going to Taichung and talking to my friends about their experiences isn’t what started me thinking about these things, but it certainly intensified it.

 I don’t know if I like it here.  I honestly don’t know, and that’s strange to me.  And if I don’t like it, I don’t know how severe the problem is.  I don’t know if what I don’t like is entirely related to my job or if it’s being here in general.  I don’t know if there’s any action I could take that would make things better. I don’t know if any of my concerns are worth worrying about or if I’m just going through mandatory one-month culture shock.

I spent the entire bus ride back going over all the possibilities in my mind and came to the only conclusion I could come to: that I just need to patiently wait and see what happens in the next few months.  Too bad I’m about as patient as my kindergarteners. In any case, I may not know a lot of things but I do know that fun plans with friends are the best use of my limited free time.  So mission accomplished this weekend.  Next up, Canadian Thanksgiving.