Friday, June 30, 2006

A Quick Update (before a long one)

Hey everyone,

Sorry about the delay in writing, but we've been busy. Started working, and put in some long hours to get upto speed. Days off are Friday and Saturday, so we work Sunday (a quiet day). We work in one of the tallest buildings in Taiwan, on the very top floor (42nd). Job is good and pretty easy, so we like it.

Hopefully we've found an apartment (we see it on the 6th). But since we won't see our first full pay until Aug 10, we've really got to count our beans so we can afford to move in. It's in the area we want, and it's very nice, and it's cheap, so we don't want to pass it up.

It's funny. It's very hot here, and so I'm really drained at the end of the day. Our 15 minute walk to work leaves us totally drenched in sweat, so we leave for work an extra half-hour early, and change at work. Umbrellas help a lot in keeping you cool, so many people here use umbrellas in the sun, as well as the rain. I just never thought I'd see the day when I'm setting the A/C to 27 or 28 C to keep cool and refreshed!

We spent a day taking photos of various things, and they should be posted this weekend, so keep your eyes open....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Too Much Sugar!!!

Well, so much for my 'special diet'. Everything here is loaded with sugar. The other day, I had a drink from the vending machine which had the consistency and taste of liquid pudding. They seem to like their pudding here (it tastes very much like my grandma's English custard... mmmm!). Bubble teas are also infused with a load of sucrose/fructose (you can see them pour it in -- it is syropy and clear). You have to request that they don't add sugar by saying, "Wu boo laow tang," which means, 'I don't want sugar', or "Boo tang," which means, 'no sugar'. James has commented that even the spaghetti sauce is sweet here (and gingery).
On a more positive note, we don't have to do our own laundry anymore! :) We just picked up our laundry from downstairs, where a lady did it for us for 210 NT (about seven bucks Canadian -- the same as we would have spent in the laundry room in our apartment building in Ottawa, where we had to do our own laundry). We see no reason why we should do our own laundry in Taiwan -- if we have a local do it for us, we are giving them business, and, of course, it reduces our own work load for a very low price.
Apartment hunting is proving to be quite challenging. Many of the apartments we see are either too small or too large (and therefore more expensive than what we're looking for). Others do not have furnishings or air conditioning -- things that we don't want to buy ourselves, as we will have to try to sell them and take a loss later when it comes time to get rid of everything too large to bring back to Canada. Some apartments are dirty or need fixing up. Yesterday, we saw a perfectly-sized apartment with just the right amount of character. Unfortunately, within about five minutes of being in the apartment, we also saw three large roaches (which promptly scattered and hid behind garbage that had been left by the previous tenants). It seems that the neighbours to this apartment were also taking over the halls... and by the looks of the amount of shoes on the shoe racks outside of the door, we would have had about 20 neighbours!
Well, this is Danielle signing off. Have to get our advance from work and get motivated to buy some work clothes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

One Stuffed Duck


Just got back from the market near Will's place, and D and I are both stuffed. We had roasted duck, which was amazing, with greens and fresh baking, mango and watermellon for dessert. For around $8.00. Stuffed full. The heat is really affecting my appetite (but not my thirst...I must drink 4 L of water a day) so I'm especially full.

We walked down from San Min road, which is the happeningist road in the universe. Imagine Young St or St. Catherine's, and you've got the idea. TONS of people. However, there's a catch. You walk off one of the little side streets, and you're thrown back to an old movie set in Hong Kong. Little shops, and street vendors, and no room for cars whatsoever. And the stuff is cheap, cheap, cheap. Danielle found a skirt she really liked for $190, which can be bartered down to $120 (that translates to about $4 CDN), and the shoes! If you like shoes, this is the place to be....

Finally, there are lots of stores for men too. Lots of variety in men's clothes, and in my (ever shrinking) size! Many very light, cool fabrics, suitable for the heat.

Yes, I think we're going to like it here....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Nuclear Armageddon?

Well, we just experienced our first air-raid drill. The sirens go, and everyone stops everything they're doing. The streets are void of traffic, with the exception of two oblivious 'whities', who walk along the barren streets with reckless abandon. Apparently, this is a big deal in case China invades. Most people here just drive down the back streets instead.

Anyways, looks as if Danielle and I are going to accept 'office' jobs, consulting for english learners (it's not teaching, but sort of tutoring) which require a strict dress code. It's easy work, and close by, so we're not going to stress trying to find 'good' is okay, so we're happy.

We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Danielle's Addendum

Danielle wants to add some stuff to the blog....

The Good

  • Garbage trucks play music here. Fur Elise, to be specific. You can hear them early in the morning playing electronic Bach. They remind us of Ice Cream trucks. We think it's to balance Chi....
  • We got complimentary socks on the plane. They smelled like mint.
  • Incredibly beautiful mountains over Anchorage.
  • Plenty of inexpensive clothes to fit both James and I. Clip-on earings and funky shoes.
  • The most disgusting looking, awesome tasting Gelatenous Pork and Tendon with gravy.
  • Hello Kitty scooters and automobiles (and any other consumer item imaginable).
  • The first thing we learned to say in Chinese translates as "I don't want. I'm full". There is SO much food here, much of it very cheap.
  • Cost of living: Will's 3-bedroom luxury apartment costs about $350CDN/month
  • The markets. This is the way everyone should shop.
The Bad

  • It's very dirty here. Black mold on lots of buildings, roads, etc. What few sidewalks exist can't be walked on because of the green slime that covers them. Nature is trying to reclaim the city at an incredible rate.
  • The bathrooms. No shower curtains, but a drain on the floor. You shower with abandon, getting water everywhere, and just mop it in to the drain when you're done. A bonafied petri dish for molds, spores, and fungus, not to mention tiny exotic ants with white butts.
  • Sharing the sidewalks with cars and scooters (both parked and in motion), street vendors and giant cockroaches. In fact, when walking, you take your life in your hands. There are no sidewalks, really, so you walk on the road with with an army of scooters whizzing past you at 40 km/h and a half-metre away.
  • Scooters. Nobody walks. Nobody bikes. There's no transit to speak of. Everyone uses these little scooters. They're very polluting, and every intersection looks like the start of a race. If you're rich and crazy enough, you get a car, then you can bully your way through the scooters. Pedestrians try not to get hit.
We're going to Columbia tomorrow to interview and observe for teaching jobs. Sounds pretty lucrative. Good pay for little work. Tutoring adults in english. We'll likely work evernings. Work, like food, is plentiful here.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Greetings from Taiwan

This is a shorter post, just to let everyone know that Danielle and I have made it to Taiwan safe and sound.

The flight over was amazing. Everyone warned us about problems with circulation, and how long the flight was going to be, but for me it went in a flash. I LOVE flying....There was a lot of turbulence over Japan, and really crazy flying Hong Kong to Taipei. My food floated in front of me, literally, and I had to keep my plate from flying away. The airline fed us like royalty.

Getting to Tai-Chung was a piece of cake. We've been so luck with helpful people and awesome friends. Many thanks go out to Will and Sandra for helping us get over, and giving us a place to stay. However, I'm glad we didn't bring our bikes, because trafic is insane, and it's constantly raining and will continue to do so for another couple of weeks, and then the heat hits. The food here is plentiful and cheap, but very few people speak english, and the signs are all in Chinese, so we better get up to speed, FAST!

I'll be posting photos and more details once we've settled a bit more (and get my computer connected). We already have beats on 3 potential jobs, just from being at the bar last night, listening to Will's band. (He has a guitar, and KNOWS how to play it)

Also, I have to thank my parents, for whom none of this would be possible, Thanks dad, for taking care of my apartments, and I promise, I'll make it up to you tenfold.

~J & D~