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I’ve been planning on entering something ANYTHING for several weeks! I’ve put together some great stuff in my head, you know how those early morning thoughts can be so creative! But as I rush into the day, I manage to forget what I was going to say and how I was going to say it.

The last time I had thoughts of posting, we had just walked across half this town from one new area we discovered to a new (to us) Italian place near Carrefour. We passed several spots that look so inviting, but not to those of us who had absolutely no way of figuring out what was in the menu. Sorry, creativity doesn’t work when dinner could have black squid ink, pig intestines or steamed tofu. I’m not feelin’ it! It is my own fault for not knowing the language, goodness knows the Taiwanese make every effort to speak English, we’re the ones who haven’t made the effort. It was kinda cute though, when we went in one restaurant and this 5’10” twenty-something guy was actually shy about speaking English to us! I do get it, I have tried to speak my broken Spanish to some of the Spanish speaking students at school and it gave me one of the most embarrassing feelings I’ve ever had!

So, we walked passed these great looking places and walked and walked and walked and walked ’til we came to this Italian place we’d seen before. I was doubtful because I’ve had enough of the pasta dishes that were prepared with the strangest of ingredients and aromas and I was too hungry to have someone messing with my food. I don’t think Kris has learned her lesson yet. She was excited for the possibility of something cheesy with noodles. Well, I’ll just say I had one of the most amazing spaghetti dishes I’ve ever had! I bet it put to shame any of the pasta Dadrian is feasting on!! I believe they had Mamma Mia herself in the kitchen! Homemade-tasting Italian wonderful food!
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Yeah, we spend a lot of time looking for good places to eat. And we spend even more time walking. We walk everywhere we want to go: bookstore, work, visiting, touring, dining, shopping. . . . you get the point! And it’s working! We found the scales in Carrefour and they indicate a nice weight loss! No, I’m not going to say how much, not going to get your hopes up too high, get you expecting me too much cuter than already!! LOL Honestly, the exercise feels good and the walking is one thing I will really miss when I return home.

Speaking of which, Kristen will be returning home soon. Yes, I’ll miss her! These days together have been wonderful and I could not have spent my time with a better person. But, Ms. Kris has some business to take care of, namely her education and her career! So please wish her god speed and safe travel!


Last year at this time, I was on the banks of the Red Sea having an Hijazi Thanksgiving. This year, it’s just another work day. Rose may come down and we’ll head over to the Beaver Dam to meet up with some expats. No turkey, just good company. Thus begins vicarious holiday season that I’ll experience through YOUR notes and emails. No snow here, no Christmas! no New Years! no carols! no eggnog! no stuffing on Thanksgiving and no holiday sales! So, instead of dwelling on what isn’t there for me or for you, lets give thanks for the gift of life and for all the blessings it contains. Thanks for your friendship! Peace

A while back, my friend Susan asked if I was liking the desserts here.  I though she was referring to the wonderful desserts we had in Saudi and just kinda asking if I was still eating them.  Well, after the third or fifth bean dessert, I got what she was asking!  There was the wondeful little shaved ice place we went to in Taipei that put 4 varieties of sweet beans on ice for dessert.  This was followed by a gelatenous rice dough cookie that was filled with bean paste.  We’ve had moon cookies with beans (that are quite good!) and other such treats.  Desserts here are not as sweet as at home, they’re not eating as often and they are often bean filled. 

 I can’t believe it’s only Sunday because we’ve been so busy!  Friday evening, we heading out on foot to find dinner.  We walked a little further than usual and found some very interested Taiwanese restaurants that at least had pictures of food.  We passed the night market which is where you will find the most.  .  .   interesting  .  .  . delicacies.  There were fruit stands with fresh pomelo, bananas, dragon eyes, HUGE grapes and apples.  We decided to walk to the corner, see what else we could see, then turn around and find a place to eat.  The blocks here are long!  We saw that we were near Carrefour and went we looked up, saw we were near McDonalds!  We ended up in Carrafour ( a huge discount grocery/department store from Europe) and spent hours looking at electronics, housewares, music, school supplies and food!  We ended up walking about 3 hours that night. 

We returned home to find Mr Chay AND HIS ENTIRE FAMILY waiting for us!!  He had tried to call us on our cell phone, but couldn’t reach us.  He began to worry.  We feel so blessed to have a family here!  Mr Chay wanted to let us know that he had made our cab arrangements to get to and from the train station for our trip to Kaoishoung on Saturday.  Mrs. Chay had typed out a list of statements in English and Mandarin so that we could buy tickets, get to the station or catch a cap in Kaoishoung.  They also gave us a Moon Festival present to use when looking at the moon over the holiday weekend:  mooncakes and chocolates!  What a great evening!

Saturday, we took the train to Kaoishoung and met Rose, a teacher from Michigan. We spent the day at the Dream Mall.  This is a HUGE 9 story mall with something for everyone!  We closed the day by eating at TGIFridays and riding the train home. Rose is actually only two train stops away from us in a city I can’t name at this time and we were able to ride the same train home. 

Folks think living overseas takes a lot of bravery and indepence.  It is not for the faint of heart!  Life in other countries is so different from being at home, you really have to be able to adjust to things and realize they are different, not right or wrong.  The Taiwanese lifestyle isn’t backward, or in any way LESS than what ours is.  The first major lesson you learn is that you can’t do it by yourself.  I have found myself relying on other people, asking for help and reaching out more than I ever have before.  I rely on Kris for companionship, for assistance with so many details throughout the day and for insights into my classes that I miss.  We rely on my English speaking colleagues to let us know where to shop or to eat or how to buy a train ticket.  We couldn’t even survive in our own home without them!  They’ve had to tell us NOT to flush toilet paper; to meet the trash truck at 8 pm and the turn off the gas when it is not being used.  We won’t know if there is a typhoon or holiday unless they tell us!  It seems that I stay because I have so much to learn!

Kris is blogging as well.  Her blog is From Chicken Noodle to Rice and Egg Noodle. If you read hers, or read mine, take the time to make a comment!  It would be much easier than following up with an email and it might get a good discussion going!

We’ve been getting around the city on foot, slowing adding new blocks to our repetoire. Every evening, we go for a walk and look for dinner. Can you imagine going to a restaurant to order where the menu is in Chinese, there are no pictures, noone speaks English and you’re really hungry? That is often our dilemma. There is not too much food in our apartment right now, so dining out is about the only option. It is very inexpensive, just a bit tricky!

So, last night after some discussion we decided to ask a very kind teacher who lives nearby to order a pizza to be delivered to us. He couldn’t believe we only wanted cheese on it! Selections here vary from octopus japanese style to seafood with peas to vegetarian to hawaiian toppings on a pizza. He thought if we saw the selections we would find a good topping. So, he loaded up his entire family and took us across town for a pizza. We had great fun with his two young children who are learning english and his wife who speaks no english but I swear she understood everything we said. We saw many more shops, fruit stands and grocery stores that are very near us. We went to the pizza hut downtown where they also could not believe we only wanted cheese. They did however, manage to make a pizza that was much better than any Pizza Hut I’ve tasted in the states!

We had been told this was a small city. A village. You can imagine what we expected. There is only one person on Flickr who has photos of Pingtung and I believe they are the only ones on the ‘net. Only two or three folks on Myspace are here and fewer on Facebook. We didn’t expect much at all.

Do you know that the population of Indy is just over 600,000?

The population in this ‘burg is 800,00+. The downtown is HUGE!! There is a 6 story mall, a Carrefour and too much else to mention. Because it is seen as a small town, there is no movie theater with foreign movies and not much of a bus service (just like Indy!). The intersections are the widest I have ever seen, and I’ve seen intersections all over the world.

We were amazed at what we saw and began feeling somewhat better knowing what resources are so close to us. We just have to find a way to access them. The streets here are kinda dangerous because of all the scooters and because driving laws and signs are merely seen as a suggestion. Left turns are usually made on red lights. It is not uncommon for the person in the right line to drive in front of the person in the left lane to make a u-turn. Traffic lights are used just to indicate that you are approaching a large intersection.

Yeah, so we’re looking for a way to get downtown on a fairly frequent basis.

This weekend is Moon Festival. No school Monday and Tuesday, but we will have school on Saturday. Tomorrow we’re going to Kaoishoung (the second largest city and largest seaport. It’s on the southern tip of the island and 40 minutes away by train). We’ll meet a teacher from Michigan and spend the day at the Dream Mall.

Hope you have a great weekend!

In August, 2007 I will be leaving Indianapolis with my daughter, Kristen, to live and work in the Republic of China (Taiwan). This will be my fiftieth year on this planet and my first year living in another country. This blog will let you join us on the adventure!
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Taipei

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