Jul 25, 2011

How to Use Blogsy

A very important thing to know about Blogsy is that there are two sides - 'Rich Side' and 'Write Side'.

You are on the 'Rich Side' now. To get to the 'Write Side' just swipe left or right.

In this table you can see some of the things you can do on each side.

Here's a quick overview pointing out where to go to do all the things you want to do.

How-To Videos and How-To Guide

Tap the settings icon to find the how-to videos and the how-to guide.

Test 2

Ok, test this one.


Feb 18, 2010

What did you say?

It's easy enough to assume that for any native-English-speaker living in a country whose first language is NOT English, things could get a little... well... interesting. Looking back through some of the pictures we've taken since coming to Taiwan made me realize how many pictures we have taken of these mis-communications and mis-translations. Thought I would share some of my favorites:

When Chris and I first came to Taipei Adventist Preparatory Academy, they made us name tags... I was offended that they thought Chris was single.

I thought that 50Nt ($1.50 USD) was a fair price for a ride on this camel, I just didn't have time to travel to Kenya to buy the tickets.

Nothing like my favorite name brand clothes: Abcruioedie & Ficsf.

Just so you know, when you come visit us in Taiwan- DON'T DRESS SLOVENLY!

And leave those hot pants at home.

Guess what thees buildings looked like! j/k

Of course the food is different, but sometimes the appeal is lost in translation as well.

(We saw a cat kill their cousin! ha ha)

You know that mental picture you just got? Yeah, the real 'boiled pig large intestine head' looks worse than that...

I can HONESTLY say... I have NO idea what they are talking about. Peaceful like harsh steamed beef soup plank? Peaceful-like fries the chicken river? Sounds like a Johnny Depp movie.

And last, but not least.... What it all boils down to is: Everyone keeps their treasure somewhere.

Hope you enjoyed the misadventures of the English language!! We'll keep collecting and post more later!

Feb 15, 2010

2010, How Did You Get Here?

Some where along this life's journey the years ticked by and we landed in the year 2010. I am not sure how it happened or how I got tele-ported around the world and dumped in the lap of Taiwan to experience the first moments of 2010 in the fashion in which I did. I guess asking "How?" and "Why?" are probably not the questions that will get answered until years from now when Chris and I are looking back at this time in our lives. For now I will just stick with attempting to answer the question, "WHAT IN THE MESS WERE WE THINKING?" I'll start at the beginning.

When planning an eventful New Years Eve, one doesn't typically consider sitting at home in your pajamas for as long as Chris and I did. After much deliberation, we decided we would save that festivity for New Years DAY instead of New Years Eve. So we easily chose the "next best" activity in Taiwan on December 31, 2009: Celebrating the New Year at the Taipei 101 during it's last year of reign as the "tallest" building in the world.

We headed out of the house around 3:00 p.m. to grab a bite to eat before heading into the epicenter of all activity on the island of Taiwan. Chris had his heart set on finding an elusive Canadian restaurant named Bongos which was supposedly set in the Shida (pronounces She-DA) District of Taipei City. We had unsuccessfully hunted for this restaurant two other times, both of which Chris SWORE he "knew exactly where it was". In spite of walking every street and every alley, the restaurant must have avoided us finding it both of those other times. But on December 31, Chris was more determined than ever. After 45 minutes of searching and dragging me along ever-so-willingly-and-without-complaint behind him, we finally found this "hand-held drum" so Chris could eat his deep fried gravy smothered potato fries, loving referred to by Canadians as "putine". :)

Around 5:00 p.m. with full bellies, we decided to head downtown to get settled before too many of Taiwanese masses joined us. Even at that time the streets were full. Only after we got there, did we do the math and realize that we were stuck at the Taipei 101 and had seven hours to kill. After wandering around we found that there were TWO seats left for the 3-D showing of Avatar. Two takers right here! :) Only the movie theater was so full we couldn't even sit in the same row! Chris sat behind me and I sat in front of him. It was such a romantic date. Nerd glasses and all! :)

We got out around 10:00 p.m. to what could only be described as the most concentrated crowds I have ever seen. The mall around the 101 goes for blocks and blocks- and so did this crowd. The roads were sectioned off and people sat wherever they chose. Chris and I attempted to get into contact with friends, but cell phones just were not an option. The towers were blocked and there was no way to get a free signal unless you called repeatedly for 20-30 minutes. I felt as if we had been transported forward in time to the world of the Avatar yet without the convenience of being able to communicate with anyone who wasn't in front of you.

Nonetheless, with the crowd so large and the cell phone service so shady, we eventually gave up on connecting with fellow Americans after several ill-fated attempts. We eventually camped it next to the closest open area with a view of the Bamboo Tower- by a large trash pile. Sitting in an unstructured area with a large group of people who have no genetic capability of understanding personal space proved to be a bit frustrating well before the New Year arrived. Chris and I had plenty of time to examine our own personal weaknesses and come up with a New Years resolution for 2010: Don't go to the Taipei 101 on December 31, 2010. Ha ha.

Eventually, time ticked by and the countdown to the New Year was rewarded with all of the beautiful explosions that had been promised. The colorful explosions surrounded the 101 in a halo of glory and the building was illuminated with Taiwan's slogan for the coming year, "Taiwan Up!" However, I think Taiwan adopted a "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy for the meaning of this slogan.

After we watched One-Million Dollars burn bright and quickly across the night sky in five minutes, we started to think about our next, and most importannt, event of that evening: GETTING HOME. With the crowd moving as one back toward every avenue of public transportation, Chris and I decided to wait about an hour before we joined the stampede toward the MRT. Around 1:00 a.m. we walked the mile towards the MRT hopeful that the crowds would be long gone.

Our hopes were quickly dashed when our crowd stopped moving well before the MRT was even visible. We waited and waited, and moved some and then waited some more. A couple of our favorite students bumped into us and joined in our misery about 1:30 a.m. After moving only a couple of meters in 90 minutes, we decided to hoof it the mile to the next MRT stop. At 2:30 a.m. when we arrived, the next MRT was also packed to the brim with people whose hopes had been dashed an hour earlier. So we figured, why not try the next one. Finally around 3:00 a.m. we successfully made it an MRT that we could get onto, and forward progress towards our much-pined-for beds (and toilets! I can't tell you had badly I needed to pee!).

At 4:00 a.m. we had ensured that our crazy students had arrived home safely and we crashed into bed. Exhausted and overwhelmed, our New Year had officially begun kicking and screaming its way into our lives. We will forever share that memory with 10 million (literally) other people who chose to venture out into the 101 area that night. Worth it for the memories? Now? Most likely. But at the time I seriously wondered: What the mess were we thinking!?

Christmas in Thailand 2009

For our first Christmas together, Chris and I decided that since going home to our families wasn't an option, we weren't going to stay at home and feel sorry for ourselves! We were going to go TRAVEL! After very little contemplation, we decided that Thailand was the best option for a cheap/amazing Christmas break. Air Asia gave us just the perfect excuse to jet out of Taiwan at a cheap price.

We landed in Bangkok, Thailand late on Thursday, December 17, 2009- gladly leaving behind a cold, wet Taiwan. We had scheduled a day trip to Kanchanaburi (pronounced Kan-chana-buri) Town which is about 2 hours west of Bangkok EARLY the next morning. In order to fit in everything that we wanted to do there, we went through a tour company called Good Times Tours. We were met Friday morning by a very tiny and VERY spunky Thai tour guide named Dolores. If I wasn't tired before we left, I was tired after the three hour culture class she gave us on our way to Kanchanaburi.

Like most tours, we moved fast and took lots of pictures. Our first stop was at the 7-leveled natural waterfall called Erawan falls.

We got to watch wild monkeys play, jog uphill behind Dolores through 5 of 7 layers of the falls, and stop to play in a natural water-slide on level 4. Unfortunately for us when booking the tour, I think that Dolores was misinformed that our paid tour was actually a sponsored marathon.

After we sprinted through our what could have been a five hour hike in two hours, we trucked it from Erawan Falls to a small elephant camp were we were able to ride and feed the elephants! It felt a bit "canned," but you can't help but love those huge, slow-moving creatures.

After our adventure to Kanchanaburi, Chris and I spent a couple days touring in Bangkok. We went to the local weekend market where we saw and tasted just about everything that we could have imagined! The sights well outweighed the torture of shopping for Chris, and he tolerated well over five hours of crowds/shopping. Now that I know he CAN survive such intense shopping experiences, he has no excuse in the future... muaaahhhh ha ha ha *evil laugh*

The. Best. Coffee. Ever. Period.

Well said, Bangkok. Even you can't tell the difference.

After crowded and bustling Bangkok, we headed down to the southern peninsula and ended up on a small island named Koh (island) Tao (turtle). Koh Toa is a scuba diving certification FACTORY. It's cheap, fast, and high quality; Everything you could want in an Open Water Scuba Cert and more. We stayed with a cute little Dive Resort called Buddha View. It was off the beaten path, but it was cozy and friendly. We spent the week there learning to dive and living the island lifestyle. We learned to drive scooters and managed to survive that experience! Here's the highlight real from cute little Koh Tao!
We managed to stumble upon the cutest Thai restaurant about a mile from our resort. By far the best part of our Koh Tao experience. Better than dreams.
Mangroves Bay where we practiced diving.
The beautifully unique sideways growing palm trees.
The view out to the water off of our little resort.
Look what we can do! (Said "Stewart" on Mad TV)

After successfully completing our diving course, we spent Christmas day on a bus traveling to the other side of the Thai peninsula to another diving town called Ko Lak (one of the cities that got destroyed by the tsunami in 2005). We were scheduled to take some dive trips out to world class dive sites at the Similian Islands. After a long, frustrating day of bus travel we landed in Ko Lak around 9:00 p.m. to find that our dive shop had miscommunications with our reservations and we were not indeed booked to scuba the next day. Disappointed, we headed back to our deceptively beautiful hotel Tony Lodge.
We placed some much needed phone calls to our family to touch base for some holiday love, and as Chris talked on the phone to his parents I began to drift off to sleep. At some point I rolled over and opened my eyes just enough to see what was at least a 2-inch long cockroach run from under my pillow to under what was going to be Chris's pillow (had he been laying down). After an intense jolt back into the conscious world, I soon learned from the front desk worker that NO they didn't have any other rooms available, and that 11:00 p.m. at night no one else would either. Tired and only half-sane, we sucked it up and burned the insect "incense" they offered to us.

The next day we headed back into town to see what we could do to get ourselves out on a boat and diving into the deep blue. After some intense discussions with our disorganized dive shop, they offered us a dive to a different location which we gladly accepted. We headed out on a small rickety dive boat (not much larger than a canoe with structured seating) which we rolled off the side into the water when we were ready for our ship wreck dive. Once in the water, we were not disappointed with the wildlife that we saw.

(Later I found out that the bow of the boat was considered to be sacred, and no one was supposed to sit out there.... Wooops.)

After an amazing day of diving we had one more night to stay in Ko Lak and ended up finding a dive shop that could take us out to the Similian Island the following day. We jumped on the opportunity in spite of having to stay at the Roach Hotel for one more night. Although the dive boat was crowded because the dive site was so popular, we had our own guide which helped us find some cool stuff. Other than just another generally cool day diving, the most memorable part of the day was the sea turtle that swam up next to our boat to eat some of the bananas that the ship crew threw over to him.
After spending almost six consecutive days in the water learning to dive or diving, we were waterlogged, exhausted, and headed home (whether we liked it or not). We went to Phuket Island for one night and then headed back to Bangkok before our flight back to Taiwan. We squeezed as much Thai food as we could into the last few minutes of our vacations before giving our stomachs a much needed break from Thai Sweet Chili sauce. All in all, it was successful trip. We had very few mishaps and only one situations where we believed we were ripped off (maybe $20 USD). We did have one "fake out" in which we spent looking for my wallet for about 2 hours, believing it to be stolen, only to return to the room to find it in my backpack (ask Chris how he felt about THAT situation).

Fortunately for us, we came home to Taiwan with heavy, souvenir-laden suitcases, full-bellies, PADI open water dive certs, sunburn-turned tans, and some pretty darn good memories. For that I want to say: I love you, Chris!! (and sorry I made you look for that wallet for so long!)

Jan 4, 2010

Bringing Taiwan Back

It rarely feels like we are living on an island these days. The city life is bustling and full of opportunities for exploration and other cultural experiences.

Teaching school keeps us busy and our students rarely give us time to be bored. Most are inquisitive and somewhat comical. Chris has done well researching and planning projects for his students. He definitely enjoys keeping them on their toes and giving them a hard time. I have been thoroughly inducted into the school of education from the "other side" of the classroom. We've had some good opportunities for bonding with the kids both in the classroom and out. Chris and I are the Senior Class Sponsors, and I am a Basketball Coach for the TAPA girls team.

Chris and I live about one mile from the school where we teach as well as the closest hub for public transportation (MRT and buses). We walk to and from school every day as well as to/from transportation if we decide to do any extra exploring. We also live across the street from the largest night market in Taipei, Shihlin Night Market. If you were to visit Taipei, this place would be on you list of places to visit. It is one of the most intense bonding experiences you will ever have with thousands of strangers. We are lucky enough to experience this every night on the way home from work (sarcasm noted?? ha ha). Shihlin Night Market also provides a plethora of "interesting" smells, the queen of which is endearingly named "Sticky Tofu." Stinky Tofu is literally tofu that has been fermented in its own juice for several days/weeks and has obtained a smell that cannot be ignored. This can only be described as a combination of milk that is about 3 months past its expiration combined with death itself. I am told that you either love it or hate it. I can't pull my nose out of the latter category to see if my taste buds are genetically capable of fitting into the first category. :)

At first, we struggled to find food that we really liked. We weren't starving or anything, but everything is obviously packaged differently here... like with Chinese writing instead of English. :) It just takes a while to get into a niche of meals and restaurants that are "safe". We are finally getting there! We are fortunate enough to have a "neighborhood" Costco and a huge French grocery store called "Carrefour." Between the two we can usually find most things that we want, although they don't always carry our favorite American items or brands. I never have missed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese this much in my life! (The funniest thing is I never even ate it that much when I was in states!!)

Overall, Taipei is similar to a pretty typical American city- well, except I don't see any white OR black people for weeks at a time. OH! And when we go to Starbucks, I order my Tall Toffee Nut Latte by pointing like a 5 year-old.

Nov 3, 2009

The Grand Reopening!

From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars, "I am man!", our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our mortality. But tonight, we shall hurl the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself. Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders, and penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself... My grandfather's work was doo-doo!

Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lisa who completely distracted her husband from writing in the blog that she encouraged him to write about their impending adventures around the world.

Yada yada yada, we totally failed.

However, today is a new day. Consider it a resurrection, nay, a reanimation of a previously dead web site. From what was previously an unmoving mass of dead tissue non-updated bloggage, now stands a man, a monster, a horrible thing.


*Again. Many apologies for the delays. We'll be back-posting repeatedly in the next few days (hopefully). If not, even more apologies.

Jul 29, 2009

Phoenix was when it happened.

Preparing to go to Taiwan was a long process, from packing to repacking, to buying needed items to the more extensive emotional preparing for the separation from friends and family. Many times it felt like we were spinning our wheels, and anxious to go, but the time ticked by so slowly that we thought it would never come. The day of our long trek arrived on Monday, July 27, 2009. It was wonderful because we had an almost complete day to finish our goodbyes, run errands, weigh our suitcases “one more time,” and get on the plane by 6:15 p.m.

That day felt almost strangely anti-climactic even with all of the “last American meals” and the “last-last American meals” that we had eaten earlier that day and week. It was bizarre to watch my sister Holly drive away with my beloved Dalia in tow, wondering if Dalia would even miss me, wondering if she would ever be the same dog without me, and how I had become so attached to an animal that had been such an ornery pup and had caused me so much grief during the first year or so of her existence.

It still didn’t feel real, like “we-are-really-going-to-Taiwan” real, even when Chris and I were sitting at the airport with my parents and the unspoken “goodbye” elephant in the bustling airport lobby. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I know it still hadn’t sunk in at that point. After teary goodbye hugs, Chris and I walked down the corridor and through the hyper vigilant airport security into our unknown future. It felt like any other flight, on any other day, but in our hearts we knew this would be a defining moment for our futures and what lay beyond the next 24-hour series of flights would change us forever.

We landed in Phoenix, Arizona a short three hours later, and were met with heat that could only be compared to the blast of air that hits your face when you open an oven door. The pilot said it was “a mere 111 degrees,” which I believe was an attempt to make us feel fortunate that it wasn’t hotter. It didn’t work.

In our melancholy states we exited into the corridor to look for our flight to Las Angeles airport. We quickly became frustrated with the utter lack of organization in the Phoenix airport. We chalked it up to the heat frying any resident’s ability to think clearly and logically when planning this unnecessarily massive airport system. After wandering for what seemed like ages, asking for directions approximately four times we were finally directed to leave airport security. We dragged our extensive carryon baggage to the corner and waited for the ghetto airport bus shuttle to drive us the twentyminutes to the correct corridor where we were to be subjected to another hyper-vigilant airport security system.

Although there were no Mandarin characters, and everyone spoke something similar to English, Chris and I finally felt like we were heading out of the country. The first trying traveling experience was the last drop in the “is this really happening” bucket. It was too late to turn back. This was it. The sacrifice was real. We were and would continue to be far from home. We called our parents for the last time from the convenience of our Sprint cell phones, and taxied down the runway. We made it through Phoenix, and together we could make it through anywhere. Funny how it hit so soon, but it still took so long. I can’t explain why it was Phoenix, but that moment will continue to be a reminder. We are sacrificing for this experience, and we resolve to do everything in our power to make this worth it. We will live these two years to the fullest potential.

Jul 24, 2009

The Wonderful World of Taiwan's Eggs

If this article (on another Taiwan Expat's blog I often frequent) doesn't make you salivate, you, sir, are not human:

Last, but certainly not least are the Thousand Year Eggs (皮蛋). Mmmm. These eggs are a traditional Chinese snack that are (traditionally by burying them in clay). They're cured for so long that the cured for about three monthsegg white becomes a clear, brown jelly-like substance and the yellow becomes green and creamy (or slimy, depending on who you ask). It's a bit like the egg family's version of blue-cheese.

Mmmmm, sign me up.

The Razzel Berry: The Wonderful World of Taiwan's Eggs