Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane or Vacation Location or "Oh, you're American, aren't you?"

After much debate on my Vacation Location, I have finally decided. Tomorrow, I'll be hopping on a plane to Thailand. The riots have subsided, and so as long as I don't bring a bright yellow t-shirt or let my red boxers show a bit too much, I should be fine. I'll be spending some time at the beach, too, while I'm there. Looking forward to the opportunity to stretch my legs off the island for a bit. Updates, stories, pictures, and possibly video upon my return to Taiwan.

PS: To those (Americans) wondering, no Taiwan and Thailand are not the same thing.
And people wonder why we ex-pats need to write blog entries like this one. Let's just say I've shared some of Reannon's discomfort in being overly simplified and patronized as a poor dumb American. Working on fixing that.

*Picture: California Coastline on my flight to Taiwan 09/08

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chinese Proverb of the Day

What Taiwanese Mothers Teach their Children

"To show thanks to the farmers, eat all your rice.
If you don't, you'll marry an ugly husband."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Adventures in the Back of the Bus

This is where I share the [mis]adventures of traveling in the Taichung City Public Transit System.

This is no ordinary edition of Adventures in the Back of the Bus; nay, this is famed column and my first vlog. Yes, this Adventure was so grand, it deserved a vlog.

Adventures in the Back of the Bus from Chase on Vimeo.

I apologize for the constant close-ups of my chin. The thought was the closer I kept my mouth to the built in mic, the more likely you would be able to hear my play-by-play narration above the noise. Don't worry, I know I'm no Colin Cabalka (just like I'm no Jered Scott Photographer) (shameless plugs for my friends). This was my first attempt at this nifty little toy.

I shot some footage of driving through the city. If I have time to clean it up (and if it proves worth anything), I'll post it in the next few days. It'll likely include a couple minute conversation in mandarin with the bus driver?

Thanks for riding along.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter in Taiwan, or Translation Please?

I trust everyone had a great Easter! What are some of the traditions you all carry on (where ever you are)? You don't realize the little rituals you'll miss until you're away.

My Easter was pleasantly Bunny free, but I did manage to eat a full-fledged Easter brunch.

A week prior, my pastor and his wife invited me over after Easter-Sunday church. I don't think I've written about my church here before, but I've been attending there since the first month I was in Taiwan. The building (and their home) is almost directly outside of my house. It takes me a whole of 30 seconds to get there by foot.

My pastor and his family are mid-western Americans. Though they've lived in Taiwan for many years, and their kids have never lived in the States, they still cling to American Traditions. Humorously so. Their 10 year old calls me David Cook (surprisingly, my "nick name" back home...).

But they've been a (dareisay) Godsend at a few points during my trip, and have always heartily opened their doors to me.

There's also a group of 20Somethings (no, not that one) that meets on Tuesday Nights. A lively bunch I've certainly grown to love. We had a get-together last Tuesday and they invited some more friends than the typical weekly crew.

They asked me if I would speak. I thought it funny considering my language of choice wasn't theirs, but they didn't seem fazed. They wanted to know my story: what it was like growing up in the church in America, and what made me come to Taiwan. (Church talk, we call this a "testimony") So I obliged.

It took some coaxing, but my friend Ring (an adorable Taiwanese girl who loves art and music, teaches, and does Amway part time) agreed to translate. Even though I tried to phrase things in a way that would be easy to interpret, I didn't realize how funny we Americans talk. Let's just say it took more than one draft.
Ring (that's her English name) did a fantastic job, and was even quick enough to impromptu when I strayed from the script. She let me know, though. A glance at the sheet, a glare at me, and a swat at my arm was enough to tell me I needed to get back on track. I threw "No Man is an Island" at her. Oh boy, that was a doozey. Luckily, some listening were familiar with the phrase. But she was a champ. And it was a fun night. I'm glad they talked me into it :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adventures Abroad

It hit me recently that I haven't written about Hong Kong.

That's mostly because there isn't too much to say. I needed to stretch my legs a bit, so I took an overnight trip off the island. Hong Kong is a beautiful metropolitan city, and a thriving young professional's paradise. (you can see them strut the streets in their Louis Vuitton Prada and Gucci.

I spent most my day through the halls of the malls, and strolling the street markets and pausing along the boardwalk that lines the harbor. It was a great trip, almost two months ago now.

That said, I hope to visit a few more countries while stationed in this corner of the world. I consider my fellow drifters (yep, any of you reading this) to be a well traveled, diverse group. So I'm looking for your input.

Any thoughts on what countries I should visit? Unfortunately Europe, Russia, and the States are probably out of the question. . .(sorry guys) but how about East Asia?

Let me know what you think!

Picture and Updates

A few of you have commented on the new layout of the blog, and yes, I did take the picture and make the banner. I created the banner with a program called Gimp, which is fantastically free. Photoshop for poor people (read: me). A great blog, I Can't Save Money, directed me there a couple months ago (for other poor people: check out the blog, it's a great find). Gimp is perfect for those who enjoy touching up pictures, but have no business pursuing photography/design professionally (read: me, again).

The photo is from the local temple. I've written of another temple before, but this one is beautiful, and rich with history. A great place to visit if you're in the city.

One last thing. On the subject of bookstores, I found a shop that sells works in English! It's amazing. Now, I honestly believe I have more books here in Taiwan than they do a selection (despite their 4 floors of shelf room), but I'll take what I'm given. (Heaven on Earth? Maybe.) I picked up a book. No, it wasn't The Dark Knight paperback- though that was an option. Instead, I opted for Tuesdays with Morrie, a book that's been on my list to read for years. I've never met someone who had read that book that I didn't like. Plus it was small and light. Lighter than a t-shirt light.

Everything I do from this point on, I've got to keep airport baggage in mind.
Home Stretch.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stand by Me.

Some posts don't need lengthy explanations. I'll let the song speak for itself. If you know my blog, you know what I'd say.

This is beautiful.
I have a lot of you on my mind tonight.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Adventures in the Back of the Bus

Since my Withdrawal from Mandarin Class, I am in the back of the bus much less frequently.

Today, however, I decided to make my way to the Department Store (12 stories high, mind you) for the Japanese food display. There's never a complaint about sampling squid or abalone!

When I found my way to the stop, I made eye contact with a Taiwanese girl near my age. The bus slowed and stopped, and we both moved for the entrance. As she gripped the handle, about to step on board she asked, "Where are you come from?" "Uhh-merica," was my slightly taken-aback reply.

We moved to the back of the bus (my resident location) and sat near each other; her, one seat in front of me. She turned back and made small talk. We exchanged names, and purposes for being on the bus. Where we've traveled, what we do. She asked what State I'm from: "California."

"I know California because 'White'."
"Californiaa.. white?"
"Whi-... It's purple."
"California Purple White?"
"No, no.. uh, Nappa..."
"Oh, Wine. Yeah." I wondered if she wanted to hint at something.
"I don't drink wine."
"Oh, well.. that's good." Guess not.

The bus neared my stop and I hit the button to alert the driver. "Well, it was nice to meet you."

"Well, that was harmless," I thought, "A perfectly normal single-serving friend."

Oh the Joys of Travel.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bookstores and Packages


I have a love-hate relationship with them here in Taiwan. Actually, walking into a bookstore here is what I would imagine Purgatory feels like.

When I walk through the door, I'm greeted by the familiar faces of Obama, Trump, and Joel Osteen. I nod their way. Turning to the high-stacked shelves, I let my fingers run over the crisp spines with a little too much excitement. A staircase leads to a second, AND a Third FLOOR!

This is Heaven.

But then I reach for a book. Dismay, shock, horror! Flipping it open, I see nothing but various scratch marks lined up in a row. This isn't right! I can't read a thing!

Furiously, frantically, I search for a legible book. Through the shelves, up the stair case, around the third floor, nothing. Desperate, I race back to the familiar photos. Joel Osteen, I grimace. Instead I reach for Obama. More doodles.

This isn't Heaven.

I'm not there yet.

So needless to say, I have to find other ways to quench my literary thirst. When I was packing, seven months ago, I had a feeling this would be the case, so I brought a fair share of books. This helps, yes, but I've torn my way through most of them, and occassionally look for another. I have to slow down though, I have not a clue how I will carry all this weight home.

Regardless, a couple weeks ago I discovered a new book, and caved.

I found said book by finding the Author, John Roger Schofield. I found said Author by the band he plays in, The Myriad.

Having been a frequent-listener of said band, I was familiar with John's writing style and his love for literature, but I had no idea he was published. I wrote him, and through a string of emails, he offered to send me out a copy personally rather than have me wade through international shipping with Amazon or the like. Thanks to PayPal, he quickly and efficiently received my payment, and a week later I received a package. Inside: Push My Life into a Duffle Bag.

A week (and change) later, I completed the novel, much to my delight.

The first chunky chunk of the book I would consider a caricature of growing up in the U.S. Push My Life is the story of a boy brought up in a small hick-town in Northern California. Though my town was nothing like his, and my family much less fragmented, I found myself relating to the character, seeing the events of his upbringing transpose into my life. If you grew up in the States, it's hard not to relate to this young boy in some ways. Through trial and travail, masochism and monotony, the story follows the boy's journey into manhood. It's looking back to see where we've been that shows us who we are.

However, Push My Life is not for the faint of heart. Schofield wields a myriad vocabulary. I say "myriad" for two reasons: 1) it's the name of his band, and 2) within the 261 pages, it popped up at least a dozen times. Do I believe it was some sub-conscious plug for his bands new cd? Not at all. There's nothing about the book, bio, or author photo, that says "I'm that one guy from that one band." If anything, I would imagine it's like an inside joke with "the guys" whenever they can weave "Myriad" into their sentences. I know a few band-guys: inside jokes like that are gold. Besides... it's a great word.

Band-humor aside, the vocabulary truly is extensive. One that proves a love for the English language, and simultaneously knows life's adversities demand the weight of choice words. Pain is real in life, and candid in both this boy's journey, and our own.

But journeys are lived forward - through muck and mire. And this one ends in a tale of beautiful hope and forgiveness - essential mysteries in this life.

If you, as I do, recognize life is a journey and have learned to celebrate its triumphs and mourn its trials, you'll find common ground with the young Protagonist. Push My Life into a Duffle Bag is nothing more than a story of the journey of life. It's humanity in all its depravity and mystery. It's something we all know a bit about - and I for one am pushing to learn more every day. Books like this only assist in finding new perspective.

John Roger was a saint for saving me from the vast halls of purgatory. His novel is well crafted, and I hunger in anticipation for his next work. (forsooth!) Though, next time, we'll likely skip the international shipping...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Update from "The Air"

If you haven't heard quite yet, there's a bit further explanation concerning my previous post here.

I appreciate all of your concern during this time. And hope you have a beginning to your month of April, wherever you may be.

Don't worry, I'll continue blogging.

(Nothing wrong with having a little fun on this Journey...)

Further Updates:

Comments from Irreconcilable Differences that weren't immediately posted:

Floreta (though half-comment gullible) figured it out:
whoa! i had no idea. but i'm sure your journey is far from over.


ps: shoot, it's april 1st isn't it? am i gullible??

And Yazz figured it out, but it took her two comments. The second, here:
Also, you do realize this is kind of unbelievable since it is April Fools Day in Taiwan....

I hope no one minded if I indulged myself in a little Western-Culture Trickery. I asked around, and there's only a vague notion that today is considered "Lying Day" to Foreigners. I guess that's what today was: I lied.

I do look forward to seeing you all. Soon, or September.

It's just that I couldn't resist taking advantage of my being in the future.