Monday, December 29, 2008


I just got back from snowboarding in Japan yesterday and I am exhausted! I loved Japan, their cities are super clean and they have just the right amount of mix between old and modern architectural styles. The people there are really cute and they are way too curteous for their own good. Besides getting a small cold and getting held up in immigration on my way back, this was such a great trip!

I went to Osaka, snowboarded in Hiroshima, and toured a little bit in Kyoto. I went to go see my friend Thomas, and he was so great to show me around the country! We ran around and pretty much owned whatever town we were in. It was refreshing to get to speak fluent and coherent English pretty much the whole time I was there.

Snowboarding is ridiculously hard but I sort of figured it out on the second day. I managed to beat myself up learning so I've got several big bruises on my legs. Thank goodness our hotel had great hot springs so we could unwind every day afterwards.

Food-wise, I had great okonomiyaki in both Osaka and Hiroshima but I do have to say that I preferred Hiroshima style better. I also had amazing sukiyaki in Kyoto and I finally got to eat conveyer sushi! Now to plan my next trip... Korea anyone??

Pictures to come soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008


This weekend, a bunch of my coworkers and I went on a biking trip to Hualien. It was great to go to a new place in Taiwan since I feel like I've been to Taiwan every other summer for my entire life but really have never been outside of three cities! We biked around a ton and basically just enjoyed the scenery, sadly, it was probably the most exercise I've gotten in the past three years.

I met some Americans there, since this place is a favorite spot for tourists, and I realized how rusty my English has gotten! I kept second guessing myself when I spoke, which is weird since my job requires me to read and write English all day, but I guess without speaking it every day, you can loose that fluency really quickly. Obviously, I can still speak English fine and without a crazy accent or anything like that, but I think that sometimes I couldn't talk as quickly and as fluently as I usually do at home.

Anyway, now I am trying to figure out how to get myself to the airport early Thursday morning so I can go spend Christmas in Japan! It can be difficult to be without a car. I never realized that I liked driving so much until now. I can't wait to go skiing, it'll be perfect to see snow for Christmas.

Well, I will leave you with some pictures from the trip for now. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas!!

P.S. I just noticed that my Chinese Word of the Day application hasn't posted a new Chinese word since I've put it up. Sort of defeats its own purpose ... I will have to look into it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cow

This picture was just too great to pass up sharing. I'll definitely miss being in America for this Christmas holiday. Being away from it all makes you really miss the hyper-commercialized yet hyper-traditional and uniquely American holiday. On what other holiday can we enjoy not only great food, great family, great friends, AND great gifts? Possibly a wedding but that's only fun for two people. Now, I've already shared what I'll be doing for Christmas, so now I'd like to know that YOU're doing for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Got a Catfish

Before, I think I had been having a hard time transitioning to life in Taiwan. After all, as an editor, my best asset is my command of the English language which is difficult to take advantage of in a social situation here in Taiwan. But as of now, I have found friends at work and many other things for which to be thankful for, which makes life in Taiwan much easier, although I still get homesick now and then. And I still can't be happier that I'll be moving back to the states around May.

Things for which I am thankful for.. currently:

1) I got a small catfish for my tank. Its super cute and works as a miniature janitor in my tank. I'm considering letting him work in my coworkers' tanks too... although he's a pretty pricy fellow ;).

2) This weekend I'm going to Hualien with my coworkers. Hualien is a beautiful part of the country where people go out to hike and bike around. It'll pretty much be an outdoorsy sort of merriment.

3) Christmas will be spent in Japan with other Americans. I'm thankful for this opportunity to not only visit Japan for my very first time but also to spend Christmas with friends. I think that Christmas would be disappointing at the office and in a country where people only celebrate Christmas because its trendy.

I, of course, have many other things to be thankful currently. But I mostly am glad that I have found my bearings here. I know that four months seems like a long time to finally get used to a place, but thats where I am right now!

P.S. This experience has not only made me appreciate how other people live around the world but I really think that it has allowed me to appreciate how much one can become fond of their "home."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Biking Around Taipei

Yesterday, I totally had a "Now and Then" moment. For those that don't know, "Now and Then" was a great childhood movie for me. It's a 1995 film about four women who get together and reminisce about their days as childhood friends growing up in suburbia in the 1970s. For me, its particularly iconic moments are when the four (as preteens) bike around their suburban town in search of adventure. So yesterday when I experienced such a vivid "Now and Then" moment that I thought I would share it.

In Taipei, it is difficult to get around with a car even if you have one, due to the lack of parking spaces. So yesterday when a couple of friends and I decided to go shopping around town, we decided to bike. Obviously biking around a large city is very different from biking around a 1970s suburban movie set but while biking I felt the wonderful euphoria that comes with the joy of feeling wind rush past your face and the vivid impression that I, myself, was placed inside my favorite childhood film.

Although I am completely out of shape and nowhere near athletic, I feel like biking can be a great way to explore a city, its a bit faster than walking and its definitely more convenient than driving. Its unfortunate that most suburban towns like the one I grew up in can be very inconvenient for sightseeing by bike -- maybe only for biking as a means of excercise. This I find disappointing since in the movie the girls all seemed to have a ton of fun biking around their neighborhoods. Maybe I'm too old to remember what childhood is like, but I don't remember biking around Allen, Texas with my best friends to raise money for a tree house!

Perhaps this newfound inspiration to bike around will take hold and the next time I travel will be by bicycle... we shall see. Until then, here is a picture that I thought best describes how I felt. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Business Etiquette

Today I had an awful meeting with my boss and I've learned through these wonderful bi-monthly meetings with her, some helpful lessons of Taiwanese business etiquette that I must abide by, although they make me angry.

Business etiquette #1: Although I'm not an intern or assistant, I or another one of my coworkers must pour tea for our boss.

Perhaps I have been blessed with jobs and internships in the past that did not require me to be a coffee girl but I find this ritual to be an unecessarily degrading aspect of the job. It's not that bosses in general are incapable of pouring tea or getting coffee for themselves or that they are so incredibly busy that they can't take that one minute out of their time to do it for themselves but perhaps this is a general perk that they get for having made it to the top. In any case, I find it incredibly unnecesary and I also feel that this was not part of my original job description.

Business etiquette #2: We must all report directly to our topmost boss.

There is a business word for this and it's called micromanaging. Not only is it a waste of our time, it's a waste of our boss's time. The fact that I have to list even the smallest articles that I have edited these past two weeks to my boss's boss seems unnecessary. Because she is so far removed from my work it is difficult for her to assess how hard I work and what exactly it is I do or even if I am good at what I do. Therefore, it is difficult for me to plead my case twice a month to someone that I don't even see on a weekly basis.

Business etiquette #3: Courtesy is upheld most, even above the truth.

In my boss's interest in micromanagement, she often likes to ask us what we think of the work we're doing or whether we enjoying doing certain projects. There was one assignment to which I was tasked with for which I disdained with great fervor. So during one of our bi-monthly meetings I thought that I would enumerate my distaste for the task due to several valid reasons I had for its inappropriateness, but I was quickly shut down by my coworkers who thought it would be unwise and discourteous to confront the boss. But if everyone remains tight lipped on issues then how does a work place function smoothly?

You may say that perhaps these are not particular to Taiwan but only particular to my boss but I suppose I think otherwise due to the fact that I am the only one that seems to be shocked by these proceedings when discussing these issues with my fellow coworkers.

After a nice in depth discussion with one particular coworker, she came up with the conclusion that perhaps Taiwan is not as far along in worker rights as the U.S. so here, boss's have much bigger scope in power to do what they please. When I return to the U.S. I will gladly welcome my rights as a worker and as an individual and my hope is that Taiwanese citizens will begin to receive the same.

The Purple Gang

So here is my office all dressed up for our purple party!

Wow, I know this is an odd thing to say but looking at this picture makes it all the more acutely obvious that I now live in an area where I am surround by Asians. Because I grew up in Texas and went to school in Oklahoma, it was rare to find myself surrounded with people that looked similar to me. And even though I'm constantly surrounded by Asians now, its not really something that I think about everyday. It is sort of refreshing but at the same time, I'm used to what I grew up with... which is to say that I am used to being "unique" or as "unique" as an Asian American is living in the U.S. Does that mean my friends who are Caucasians living in America feel somehow not unique at all? It's a curious thought that I'm not confronted with really until I'm here in Taiwan where I'm not "unique" at all.

This is the crazy hair style that my girl coworkers fixed me up with. Lovely isn't it?

Well, that is all for now friends. Until we meet next time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Purple Thursday

So my entire office thought it would be fun if everyone could pick one color and see who could wear the most purple. The loser gets to buy the winner a drink from Starbucks. I know.. I'm in Taiwan and here we are drinking Starbucks.. whooo globalization.

So, I came prepared, my ensemble consists of:
1) purple dress
2) purple nails
3) purple eyeliner/eyeshadow

Anyway, that doesn't sound like a lot, because it isn't. One of my coworkers came in a purple dress, with purple shoes, hair pin, scarf, gloves, nail polish, and eyeshadow. She is definitely going to win today. Consolation is that I probably won't lose either. Although its been decided that the loser gets to pick the next color for the competition so that they can pick a color that better suits their wardrobe. I'm hoping its red so we can all look Christmas-y.

Oh right, cultural "shock" moment: my coworkers thought it would be fun to play with my hair and style it for me. They have now proceeded to tie my hair in a large knot above my right eyebrow and then put several small braids throughout my hair. When I saw myself in the mirror, I thought I looked like a Japanese anime character but they thought it was the cutest look ever. This is a look that would get stares on the streets of America but I guess this is exactly indicative of the aesthetic differences between different cultures. My hope is that I can remove the braids and knot before my hair gets stuck with a wave-like pattern, however this will have to wait till the end of the competition during lunch. Somebody save me!!

Pictures to come shortly!

Veggie Tales

Haha.. I'm so clever with my titles.. ok just kidding. On a serious note, I recently read a very interesting article on my beloved New York Times regarding new solutions to curb global warming and climate change. As you can see (from my climate change badge on the right), climate change is an issue that is very dear to my heart.

Anyway, this article discusses the impact of an ever increasing worldwide penchant for eating meat. Apparently more meat=more pigs/cows=more released methane=more greenhouse gases. Now, I grew up in Texas, so I know that more than anything else, Texans love their meat. I, myself, am more of a chicken and turkey girl, although I do crave the occasional burger. However, recently on top of this article and on top of an awful PETA-like show of how chickens are slaughtered, I witnessed, here in Taiwan, on our lovely little street markets, a chicken slaughtered. It was the most awful thing I have ever heard. It's sort of similiar to a desperate cry for help that is only heard in a thriller movie, when some girl is about to get the axe.

Do animals feel pain? Sure. Do they cling to their own life? Of course, survival is key, is it not? So although this isn't an advertisement for PETA or for animal lovers and vegetarians everywhere, but this is my own personal resolve to cut back on meat. I'm not saying I want to go full vegetarian or even vegan, but for my love of the planet and my desperate wish to not be the cause of another chicken's screams... I hereby pledge myself to eat smart. Besides, studies show that Americans eat more meat than is even healthy! How about that? Here my mother was always telling me to eat more meat to be healthier. I suppose its a relic from those days when only the wealthy had meat and the poor had to subside on vegetables and grains. Perhaps many of us will revert back to a less meat-hearty meal if the economy continues down this current path. I will gladly take this challenge on. Will anyone join me?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fishy Business

So around my office, fish are all the rage. Almost everyone has a small little tank set up next to their computer with some fish. I, of course, had to get in on the trend, so when I came here one of the first things I did was buy a tank and some fish. Most people here raise guppies, most of them come from the same family. They breed so quickly that you can't give them away fast enough.

Well I wanted to break the trend a little, so I bought neon tetras and cardinal tetras. They're beautiful. But I also have two little boy guppies that a friend gave me. No females, I don't want a litter a baby guppies in two weeks. Also, I'm pretty sure these two guppies are in love with eachother, they won't leave eachother alone, it's precious.

Anyway, last week I thought that I should add some more fish so I bought an Endler guppy, which is so gorgeous, he is orange, black, and green. He looks sort of like an old 80s jazzercize ensemble. Anyway, little did I know, the cute little thing has started schooling with the tetras, which I'm pretty sure is out of its character but I love it anyway. I also want some of those fish that suck on the glass so it can clean some of my algae away. I've found them at a store but I've been too lazy to make my way to the store before work. That would require me to wake up at 6 a.m. which I'm still unwilling to do.

I'll have to post some pictures of my tank when I remember! For now, here is a picture of the tank when I first got it back in September, keep in mind it has changed a ton since then.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Life So Far

I suppose I should make a first post since I've been living in Taipei for over three months now.  Life is good, I like my work and my coworkers.  Taipei is a good city, everything is fairly convenient as long as you're not too opposed to walking for a little while or spending some money for a taxi ride.  

The subway system is wonderful here, although its odd that everyone seems to like to either sleep on the subway or conciously avoid eye contact by any means possible.  My general consensus is that people here are afraid of strangers and as a stranger to me, they'd like to keep the status quo of the relationship.  

I went to go see a play last week with some friends, it was in Chinese so I'm pretty proud of myself for understanding most of it.  My language skills have definitely improved here.  The play was called "Speaking in Tongues," a play originally from Australia, I think, but reproduced by the National Taiwan University theatre club.  It had a good plot line that was well written and well performed, which delved into the issues of marriage and extra-marital affairs.  

The end of this month should be a lot of fun.   A bunch of us from the office are taking a hiking trip in the storied Hualien area of Taiwan.  We'll be hiking and bike riding around the mountainous area that is a favorite nature area of Taiwan.  Hopefully I'm not too out of shape...

Then for Christamas I'll be heading to Japan to go skiing with a friend from back home who is living in Kyoto right now.  I've never been skiing before so that should be entertaining.  I've always wanted to go to Japan so this will be a fun way to get a taste of it.  Although I'll only be in Japan for five days, it should be enough for now.  

Then New Years will be spent with Rudy!  He's coming to visit for about two weeks so I can't be more excited.  I'll have to show him around Taiwan and its a trip that I'm really looking forward to.

Note: Picture is of a mountain area north of Taipei that my cousin took me to.