Monday, July 24, 2006

Typhoon Update

Hey everyone...

I didn't mean to get you worried. There's nothing to be afraid of for me. I may just be house-ridden for a day or two. The storm track has diverted south, so we might only miss one day of work. High winds and lots of rain, that's a typhoon. Can cause mud slides in the mountains, but nothing to worry about here. Some places have flooding, but again, not much to worry about here. I live in a concrete building on the 4th floor, so we're fine.

We'll probably go out for a bit to a typhoon party somewhere in our complex. Or maybe we'll just lay low. Big thing is to have plenty of water and food in case you can't go our or nothing is open. Have candles in case the power goes out....you know, the usual.

No worries. I'm anxious. Typically there are 4 storms a month until about October. It's a way of life here..
Hey everyone,

I've been busy with work and such, so I haven't blogged...sorry. However, I'm blogging this, because it's pretty much a certainty. We're going to get hit pretty hard by Typhoon Kaemi.


Click on the map above to track the storm. It's going to hit us hard. We've got to get ready. This is the real deal apparently. It's much stronger than Bilis (which killed about 200 people in the Philippines and China) and produce prices are going to shoot through the roof afterwards.

In other news (literally and figuratively) we got our TV finally. We have 4 channels. The news here is very different. I saw a report about a bad car accident, and the news shows everything. And when I say everything, I mean it. Blood, guts, bodies, you name it. No censorship here! VERY graphic. As I type, I'm watching a report where someone drowned, and the cameras are directly over the person trying to resuscitate this drowned boy. VERY graphic.

Well, I'm going to run, because we need to be up early to get supplies for the storm.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

This Just In!!

Check this out! A University professor teaching that 9-11 was an inside job! There's been lots of fringe talk about this, but on CNN?!?!

**NEW**

I can't link to the video. It's javascript! Goto cnn.com and search for "University of Wisconsin" and check the videos section.

Typhoon!

Well, typhoon season has arrived earlier than anyone expected. We're on a watch cause Typhoon Bilis is about to make landfall. Apparently we're going to get hit pretty hard, so we've bought extra food and water in case we can't go out tomorrow. But maybe we'll miss work!

You can follow the storm track at the Central Weather Burreau in Taipei.

We'll keep you posted....meanwhile we're battening down the hatches!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pollution

Heads up folks!! Multiple posts here. Scroll further down for the apartment.

But right now, I want to talk about the single worst problem here. The pollution is aful. I mean, it's really bad. You can taste it. You can see it. People need to wear pollution masks when going outside. I'm glad there's decent air filtration in buildings and air conditioners, or else we'd all be goners.

Typhoon season is coming, so lots of mixing of air masses, which means lots of wind. Very brisk this morning. Kept things moving along nicely. The picture below is a nice one of the southern mountain range. Not often that we can see it, since it's usually obscured by smog.


Below is a picture to the south of Will's apartment. It's the scene we see every day, except today (Saturday morning) it was clear.

Here is the same photo a few hours later, when things picked up in Taichung (people woke up). This is typical of many days here. The smog you see is not fog, but pollution. Yes, it's THAT bad....

Here's a photo to the southeast of Taichung. Just to the right of the white building in the photo above. Notice the clouds of pollution being blow eastward where they become trapped by the mountains. This is how it is in Taichung. Fortunately, most of the pollution blows past us since we're central. But I'd rather be west....


So if our time in Taiwan is shortned, this will be the only reason. We're going to have to learn to deal with it....

We're In!

Yes, we moved in today. Photos shown are of the empty (what's considered furnished) apartment. It's semi-furnished. I wish they would have given us a fridge, and the A/C would have been in on time, but we've got our own place!

First, some photos from Will's, which everyone agress, is the best apartment held by an expat in the city, as well as the best deal anywhere.



Can you believe this? I love the elevated rooms. We sleep up high, and live below. The celing is about 7 feet high, so like a basement apartment. This room is the result of high celings.


Another view to show you what's going on. This is the spare room, which Sass uses to do laundry.


The bar in Will's apartment. LOVE the 12' celings!!



Now, without further ado, our new apartmen in Taichung City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

What we wanted most: a smaller place with lots of wood and high celings. We both
agree that we like the look of the darker Oak better than the lighter maple.



A view of the living room and enterance from the elevated floor (less useful than in Will's apartment). I think we'll use the floor to meditate.


Another view, from the stairs. The master bedroom is the door to the right, and the second bedroom is the door on the left. So the second bedroom has the low celing, and the master bedroom has the high celing. Directly behind me is the bathroom, and to the left of the master bedroom is the kitchen.


See? Here's the kitchen. The fridge is supposed to go to the left of the counter. Nice touch is that almost all stoves (nobody really has ovens here) are gas. Schwing!


My office. Small but functional. Notice again that there's no shower curtain, and a drain on the floor. Every bathroom here has a hand-held shower head (like downstairs Morin) so water gets everywhere....


The master bedroom. This is our furnished apartment. Actually, a lot of people sleep on the floor like this. But not everone. We'll splurge for a bed sometime. What's cool is the matress, which is reversible. The top is wicker to keep you cool in summer, and the other side is regular, to keep you warm in winter.


Here's the wardrobe that's in both bedrooms. Nice, functional, and intigrated. No complaints.

Well, that's the new apartment. We'll post more pictures as it develops, and we can afford some basic furniture (in a few months).

Gotta love Taiwan...

Yep. Sore throat today. We walked to 3C to buy a printer and the pollution was so bad today (literally coughing on exhaust) that my throat is sore now.

But in better news, we signed for our apartment. I signed the contract, and then dipped my thumb in red ink and 'marked' my signature with my thumbprint. Here, everyone has what you could think of as a seal, which they use to sign contracts, cheques, etc.

So we can move in tomorrow. Watch for pictures....

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Pictures Galore

Well, here they are. The long-awaited Taiwan photos (or at least some). We'll be posting more, based on subject (funny, spelling, etc). Be sure to click on the photo to get the full-size version. And without further ado...


The Northern lights, and the horizon. It stayed like this for hours, as we tried to outrun the rising sun.


This is the same photo taken many hours later, once the sun had finally caught us.
Notice the clouds about 25,000' below us, and the ocean another 10,000' down.


The view from Will's apartment facing the south of the city and the mountains,
which are totally obscured by the pollution and humidity.


The court inside Will's (and soon to be our) apartment complex.
Note the tropical vegetation and suprisingly clean apartment structures.
Few apartments in Taichung are this clean on the outside.


Moden Chinese skeleton key and magnetic pass. We need both of
these to get into the apartment (or activate the elevator).


The parking outside of our building complex. Yes. NONE of these vechiles are running or have drivers inside them. This is typical of Taiwanese drivers--Anything goes.


The view of our complex from across the road. There are many small complexes within the larger. It's nice because we can walk between the buildings for almost a block without any traffic, and often in the shade. Shade is our friend. The ground floor of the buildings are all various types of businesses, from restaurants, laundrymats, real estate agencies, cell phone store, music teaching studio, clothing store, to a scooter repair shop. Underground was a department store, abandoned after the big quake of '98.


The Family Mart across the street. Our first landmark when we arrived, which we called "Happy Star". There are Family Marts, 7-11s, Hi-Lifes, 12-24s and various other c-stores on almost every corner. There are more 7-11s on the island of Taiwan than in the entire U.S. Bakeries, scooter shops, and English Buxibans (cram schools) are just as common.


The walkway between blocks of our apartment complex.


Our favorite Tea House, we've decided to call Luke's. We don't know the real name, but that's okay. It's like Friends, or Cheers, where we go almost every day. Good food, decent price, and they have an English menu (that's a BIG plus for us). Very frendly, and right below our apartment. Actually, there are many places to eat within a block of our apartment.


The owner of Luke's. Should we call him Luke? He is very friendly and helpful, and helps us learn how to order in Chinese: "Lew Cha" is our favorite (Green Tea). Hopefully, we'll be able to learn his, his wife, and his daughter's names, who all serve us good food and cold drinks. They are, after all, very patient with us. Note the hand-written (by their daughter) English menu.


The view of our complex from the north, walking west.


The 'Twin Towers' of Taichung. Among the tallest buildings in Taiwan (but dwarfed by the largest building in Taiwan, and the world, the shopping mecca, Taipei 101). We work in the left building, on the top, and luckiest floor, 42. We'll post pictures of the city from there (stunning) in a future post.


A funky building dowtown, where the real action is. We live
in the southern section, which is more residental.


See what I mean? A woman yelling what sounds like Communist Propaganda at us through a huge megaphone. Of course there are no Communists here, so she's probably selling something. In case you fail to notice her, she's followed by a caravan of yellow taxis with flags.


A street vendor selling food. About a thousand differnt types of meat, almost all of them pork.


A side street in the market district. Very crowded and loud.
Plenty to buy, and lots of bardering going on.


Another c-store. Notice the scooter parking. They're a
pestilance pretty much everywhere you go.


A typical example of Taiwanese traffic. Try crossing the street here.

However, there are a few places to get away from the noise and comotion
(if not the pollution) of the traffic. Taichung city park.