Friday, September 26, 2008


So I haven't posted in a few days, and I'm feeling less than inspired to write anything.

So I thought I'd post a few pictures.


disclaimer... don't think of me as egocentric. I did not take those pictures of myself...


Around Town:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sundae Sunday.... Sundae?

Since my night here is rapidly ending, and my day begins early tomorrow, I thought I'd just drop a quick picture.

David decided to take me to the "Countryside," and Laura fought him so that she and Mama could come along as well.

The Countryside is likely where they would get the pictures for the "shopping" portion of an "Experience Taiwan" brochure. It was the historic preserve district of Lukang city.

Lukang means Port Road. I didn't see the ocean, but David said we were near. I think I could smell it though. And the little shops and carts and tables full of trinkets reminded me of the street fair in Solona Beach, San Diego.

After about 10 minutes of walking around, we sat inside one of the rustic houses along the historic port road. It's preserved, so the owners are not allowed to do any refurbishing. The wood beams are blatantly brittle, but without Government support, they cannot replace the bearing walls or supports.
David said, "If there's an earthquake, we run out of here... fast!"

It turns out the little shop was an ice and cream store.
I don't know if that's what it was actually called, but let me explain the picture above.
The small bowl, further back in the picture was brought out first and filled to the brim with milk.
Then came the next bowl. I was told it was an "Ice Dessert."

"Oh, like an Ice Cream Sundae!"

"Well, yeah, sort of..." As he finished his words, I took my first spoonful, and realized... it was just ice! Ice and toppings. Gram Cracker powder, fruit, jello, sprinkles, little green things, and a cherry on top coated the fine-yet-crunchy flavorless ice.

It made sense now, the cream was served on the side...

I think that's all I'll post tonight. I have plenty more I'd love to go into later.

If you care to comment:
What's the strangest dessert-food you've ever had?

Thanks for drifting my way,

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Stinky Drifter

"He promised us photos of the city, but instead sends pictures of his laundry!"

To my mother's relief, I have been showering (near) daily.

Laundry is another problem. There's a small french washing machine on my balcony, and I decided to go toe-to-toe with the beast today.

(Yea, I don't speak french, or Chinese... so it wasn't easy).

I promised you pictures, and was going to go exploring today, but when I realized there were no more of essential white v-neck undershirts for the coming work week, i thought my afternoon off was best spent with my french-made launderer.

Tonight, I went to a piano recital. I saw, by far, the best rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that's ever been played. (I'm not joking. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.)

After that, my boss, her assistant and I went to a Nightmarket (Note: See #11-13 of this Entry for more information on nightmarkets).

There, I tried the infamous "Stinky Tofu."
Stinky Tofu is a famous Taiwanese dish that is made up of fermented tofu that, while its cooking, you can smell half way down the block.
Served, the odor lessens as the moist, gray, sponge-like substance is covered in a crisp tempura shell.

The taste isn't bad... really. Sure, its a little weird when you bite down and it squirts, but if you can get past that, you might be able to finish a plate.

So I did it. I conquered the Stinky Tofu. I also drank prawn juice, and a sweet Taiwanese meatball (that was actually pretty good once you put it in your mouth and forgot that the meat was still a bit pink), and fishball soup (think meatball made of fish).

I'm quite the expert now. Doubt I even reek of Westerner anymore...

Til Tomorrow,

PS Did I mention that I don't have a dryer? Anyone know the most efficient way to dry socks without a dryer?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blogspot Made Me Do It.

I don't know if I'm allowed to post more than one blog a day, but if I get in trouble with a blogger more "in-the-know" than I, I... I'll blame it on blogspot.

You see, they had this article, so I read it.

And it said that it's good to add the "Follow-this-Blog" application, so I did.

And it said to put that application on the top of the Right-hand side of the page.


Then it said to write a blog to tell everyone that it's there.

This, my friends, was where I felt unsure. I just posted a blog. Can I post another in the same day? Is that allowed? Will I get in trouble?

I feel so new to this.

Either way, it's there, and this blog is getting posted.

If you direct your attention to the top right-hand corner of my page, you can Drift with me by clicking "Follow this Blog"

I'd like that.

Thank you.


How many posts are you allowed to half-write before you actually post?

So I'm really bad at updating this thing.

Really Bad.

Oh well.... Learning new habits, right?

I have lots to share with you. About the people, the city, the food (basically, think noodles for breakfast, and rice for air. With a side of tofu...)

And I promise, I'll be better with pictures. Promise.

I'm learning lots here, but I'm also trying to stay connected with all that's happening State-side. (i.e. the election)

Speaking of the election... I have something to share with you from a... blogging idol? of mine, if there could be such a thing. hah!

His name's Donald Miller, and wrote books such as famed, "Blue Like Jazz" and "Searching for God Knows What" He's an author in the Christian Spirituality section of Borders, but "Blue Like Jazz" received much accolade outside of that Shelf Corner.

His books are memoir-format essays and stories read much like a blog
...go figure.

Anyways, he gave the Benediction at the DNC (No, not Run.. that's DMC... Democratic National Convention).
In the months surrounding, he was able to correlate with Barak Obama through Email.
It's definitely worth a read.

*Note: Please take this in jest, and not as a knock on the Democratic Party.
I just happen to find it hilarious...

Like I said, I promise real updates to come.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sponge Bob Square Pants knows Chinese (and 20 other Cultural Surprises)

I know I haven't spoken much of the culture or area yet, that's soon to come. But here's a short list I've compiled from some immediate Culture-Shock:

1. It is impertinant to survival that there be a Tea house every 10 feet.
2. AC is not considered a luxury as much as it is a nuciance, and is largely ignored in private homes.
3. It is possibly more humid than Florida.
4. White people are not common, and its appropriate to greet them (or him...) by staring.
5. Otherwise ignore hime like a pink elephant in the room.
6. It's okay to tell your kid she's fat if its true.
7. It's okay to tell your kid she's fat if its almost true..
8. The city stinks, and everyone knows it. So they wear masks.
9. The rulse of the road are simple: "Don't hit anyone," "Don't hit anything," and [most importantly] "Don't get hit." After that, anything goes.
10. The rules for scooters are even more liberal.
11. It's common to see chicken feet served at markets.
12. Dragon Eyes are actually a seedy fruit, but they taste like they sound.
13. Night markets are a cheap hybrid of the OC Fair and the swapmeet, where Dragon Eyes and Chicken Feet are not the most bizzare foods being served.
14. 7-11s DON'T sell Green Tea Slurpies (...but they do sell slurpies.)
15. There are more car dealerships than gas stations.
16. There are more scooters than cars.
17. Bad Grammar, and "Engrish" really do exist.
Signs like: "Hi-Love Coffee Botique" and "For your good scene" and "Mr. Answer: Big Thirsty? Big Answer!"
18. The first song I heard on the radio was "Umbrella" by Rhianna. If that's not enough, it was introduced by Rick Dees. (The guy really does get around.)
19. Feist, One Republic, Led Zepplin, Everytime I die, and Miley Cirus are all under the same category at the music store: International Pop.
20. Families live together for multiple generations.
21. A surprising amount of people speak english... you just can't understand much.
22. Department Stores average to be 14-story high structures.
23. Coldstone employees sing the same songs when you tip them.
24. Goose-blood rice cakes are more of a delicacy than the pig-blood variety.
25. American movies (like "don't mess with the zohan") are still in english

Sponge Bob Square Pants Speaks Chinese.

Learning to Lose Control


It's 10:30am and I just walked from the school where I will work to the house where I live for the first time. It wasn't a bad walk -- 20 minutes or so -- and I know the route well already.

I think I attended my first staff meeting. It was in Chinese, naturally, so I did not have much to say.

They tell me "Sit," I sit. They tell me "Come in here," I do that too. They tell me I don't go, then tell me I will. Then "not yet," then they bring the car around, and say "let's go!"
I do not yet know my schedule of where I need to be, or my purpose once I get there.
I have no cell phone, no computer (yet). I rely on the family for these things that I've forgotten how to live without.

I feel helpless, but I need to be ok with that. Right now is a time of Detox. I'm struggling to acclimate to my new surroundings and fit in to this role as University English Teacher.
(shoot. that's one heck of a resume bump from a month ago)

I'm not in control, now. But that's ok. I'm sure I'll learn much more than I could possibly teach.

Forgetting the Little Things, or "And Here We Go"


The first day of my journey. My bags were packed, I'd made my lists (checked the twice). And I had everything I needed. Everything, but one little thing. A pen. It had crossed my mind in the car, but I didn't think of it again until I was in line for the security checkpoint. That's a great way to start this voyage overseas.

Actually, it's an awful way. Forgetting the Little Things.

Learning to tend to the "little things" in life is one discipline I hope to nourish while I'm on this trek. When you tend to those "little things" in life, the Big Problems don't seem so big. Or at least they might be more managable.

So.. How did I get all this on paper, you ask? Well, obviously in the security line, its too late to turn around and frisk your family for any such utensils. I was forced to wait it out and hope to find something in the terminal.
In the line, I witnessed someone be turned back and told to wait, and someone else, escorted to the screening room. As I put my belongings into those tupperware containers, I checked in the recesses of my mind to ensure I didn't forget that pocketknife in the inner zipper.

Luckily, it was smoothsailing through the checkpoint, so I slipped on my shoes and headed for the first -- and only -- convenience store in sight. (and it was.)
When I asked the expressionless cashier for the pens, she lifted a finger to a bucket on the otherside of the counter. After rumaging for a bit, and realizing there were no more than three varieties, I selected a green pen with gel around the finger grip and a button that lights up the gel in 4 flashing varieties. The Carabeiner Clip on the end, I thought, will help remind me to remember the little things.

And the "Beverly Hills" screenprint, and the $9 pricetag will help me remember forgetting isn't cheap! Ouch!

In all my preparations so far, I've kept my emotions very even-keeled. Honestly, this has prevented me from feeling much at all. I'm certainly not considering it a virtue -- more survival than anything.
But now I find myself 1000 miles from the California Coastline I know and love. Nothing but Blue stretched above and below me as I chase the sunset to my new Horrizon.

It's really starting to hit me, I think. I'm now half-way through this flight (I'm guessing; two movies, and the top score in Bejeweled... sounds about half way). And I'm realizing, as I look around and see no westerners, that being surrounded by Asians and a language I don't understand is a semi-permanant condition. It's not something I can easily walk away from..

There's a man in the scriptures who is only mentioned once. He is known, by most, only for his prayer. Among other things, he asks that the Lord "expand his horrizons." Though I don't agree with the financial-success-focused spin much of the American Church has linked with this passage (or the way the prayer was marketed as a self-help success formula to the profit of those with publishing rights), a piece of its message still resonates with me.
I pray that the Lord expands my horrizons this year in my capacity to Love. I want to see him enlarge my ability to see outside myself. To see and love others as they are. To be able to walk in their shoes.

And I know he'll do this. I say that because I know Love is always his vision. The Ancient Israelites hold a name for God that speaks volumes of his faithfulness. "Jehovah Jireh" -- meaning, "the Lord will Provide." Throughout my years on this journey-called-life this has been a name I've cleft. To me, it means God cares about the little things. And it teaches me that so should I.

As I finish this entry, the sun has almost won the race below the Horrizon. The blue sky is broken by an orange glow, and the glistening pacific is masked by a sea of light, scattered clouds. The cabin is dark now, and my new friend Michael is catching up on some sleep before he arrives home in Taipei.
I would not be able to finish my writing tonight if it were not for the soft green glow of my $9 pen. God has many lessons for me this year, and I am excited, anxious, scared, and determined to meet each in the fullest.

This is my journey, and I am honored that you're the least bit interested in joining me. I thank you, maybe in advance, for reading. My humblest hope is that it in some way may encourage you in your journey.

Here's to feeling life is more than a Destination

Here's to finding the most out of the Little.

Here's to knowing this journey is meant to be spent with Fellow Journeyers.

And Here We Go..

One Week and Still Breathing.

wow. i can't believe it's been one week already.
I feel fairly assimilated into the Taiwanese lifestyle. I'm used to seeing the same people I see everyday, and they're used to having a tall white guy around.

At least those i'm in immediate contact with day-in and day-out.

On the streets, people still turn their heads for a double-take.
sometimes they turn to say something to the people around them, and then they all look at me. Some giggle. Some children (and adults) wave, or say "hello. nice to meet you." (the used-car-sales-men are quite friendly. One day one shouted to me, from a small crowded table in the middle of the lot. "Hello Friend, where do you come from?!" I was curtious, but in my mind I thought "it's going to be a long time before i can buy a car on my budget... even at your prices, bud."

little kids that watch too many american movies will pop out from the street and say "hey, what's up?"

Others, trying not to stare, see me look at them, look away, and then watch from the corner of their eye.

It's interesting. Feeling perpetually on display. Right now, i'm as interested in them and their reaction as they are me and mine. But I have this inkling that its going to get old.

News: I just bought a laptop. Made in Taiwan (fitting?). It's an Acer, which is a big taiwanese brand. Its small (real small, like the size of a novel, small), and light, and doesn't have a cdplayer, but it cost me about half the price of even a refurbished mac... so i can't complain too much.

Now that I have a computer to call my own, I'll be writing much more. I have a few "backlogged" entries that I'm going to post. It will post under today's date, i'm sure... but I'll date them so you have a feel for when they were actually written. Catch my drift?

Hope you enjoy. Feel free to comment.