Coconut Juice?

Lonely and trying to figure out a new city, I decided to pay tribute to Dionysus.  So I went out and paid a lot of tribute got drunk.  It was about 11am.

Note, at this time Taiwanese don’t drink.  So I’m breaking every rule I have of trying to fit in and not being an asshole foreigner who walks around hammered in the day time.

I walked for God knows how long…Kenny was playing on repeat on my ipod, so I figured I knew when to hold em, fold em and all that.  Kept my head down and walked from 7-11 to 7-11.  Obviously buying beers, drinking them inside and looking forward to the next one. Continue reading ‘Coconut Juice?’

Finding an apartment in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

For a foreigner without adequate knowledge of the local language, moving can be a nightmare.  Thankfully, I had a lot of help from Taiwanese people and my move was relatively painless.  So here are a few details to help anyone doing the same. Continue reading ‘Finding an apartment in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’

Shane school, Toufen

I don’t usually write about teaching English or my job simply because there is a lot of information out there on the subject, and I doubt I will say anything that hasn’t been said before.  That being said, since I am leaving my current job, I feel that I should leave a review of the school for anyone considering coming to work here in the future.

Note: Franchise schools are run VERY differently, depending on the owner.  Toufen and Zhunan are in close proximity, and each have a Shane school.  This is about the Shane in TOUFEN.  I’ve never worked at the Zhunan Shane, so cannot comment on it. Continue reading ‘Shane school, Toufen’

Giant red god temple, Toufen, Taiwan

For the casual observer, once you’ve seen a few temples in Taiwan they all start looking similar.  Intricate carvings, wall and ceiling paintings, statues of ferocious warriors and gentle deities – I started getting used to them.  Obviously, once one starts studying Taiwanese worship and religion, different temples take on different meanings and one can appreciate them more, but I’m not there yet.  So, now I generally drive by them without marvelling at these conspicuous looking structures in the otherwise drab small town landscape.

That is until I drove by this fierce looking specimen:

Big red god in toufen Continue reading ‘Giant red god temple, Toufen, Taiwan’

Happy Birthday, islandside chronicles!!!

Wow!  It’s been a year – Aug. 4, 2012 saw the debut of islandside chronicles.  Time has flown by – I still remember wondering how long this project would last, never expecting it to go on for this long.

I started out just wanting to keep track of my life in Taiwan, as well as let people back home know what’s up here but things have evolved.  Blogging started getting more and more addictive and I found myself viewing everything through the eyes of islandside chronicles.  Now I don’t just want to record it, but want to be able to give people reading a sense of taste and smell and experience of Taiwan.

Besides watching the stats bean counter going up (and crying when it went down), one of the most rewarding/interesting things about having islandside chronicles has been the interaction that I’ve had with other blogs.  It’s great (and sometimes irritating/frustrating) to see how different people view the world.  We can all look at one thing and have a million different reactions to it.  Being introduced to this variety has only been possible because I started blogging, and I’m grateful for it.

Something that was totally unexpected was being asked for advice.  I’ve been contacted by people who have asked me all sorts of things about Taiwan, and although I’m no expert, by far, it’s gratifying to be able to help in whatever way I can.  I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate Taiwan immensely, and I hope that I can help others come here and experience it as well.

Up to now, islandside chronicles has been written with a focus on small town life in Taiwan.  This is all about to change because I will be moving to Kaohsiung (Taiwan’s second largest city) in a month.  I hope to broaden my horizons, and have more stories about city life in Taiwan.

Finally, a HUGE thank you (with hugs and kisses) to you guys and gals.  Your responses, comments and interactions with islandside chronicles has made it a pleasure for me to ignore other pressing things (girlfriend, work, money, life etc.) and keep sharing my stories.  The biggest reason islandside chronicles has lasted this long is because of your support and readership.  My ego thanks every one of you!

If you want to read more about Taiwan from other perspectives, here are some bloggers that I like to follow.  Check them out and come join the party:

My Kafkaesque Life

This guy is from Eastern Europe.  He met a Taiwanese woman and moved to Taiwan to be with her.  His blog covers many topics, and is a fountain of information about Taiwanese culture, life and places.  Great reads.


Unlike some foreigners who come to Taiwan for a short term but end up staying, this Aussie moved here with the intention of making Taiwan a permanent home.  An avid cyclist, he brings you a lot of blogs from very local places.  A unique, critical view of Taiwan.

The Betelnut Equation

A long time resident of Taiwan, this UK blogger gives a sense of life in Taiwan (for a foreigner) through his stories about interactions with other foreigners and Taiwanese.  Hilarious and insightful.

Once again, thanks for jumping on board, and here’s to another year!

Ghost Month in Taiwan

Religion and belief in Taiwan are a mish mash of Buddhism, Taoism and traditional Chinese folklore.  From what I’ve learned so far, some of the things that play a big role in traditional Taiwanese beliefs are ancestral worship, luck and ghosts.  Like everywhere else, the younger generations are slowly letting go of a lot of the older beliefs, but Taiwan still has a lot of people who hold on to the traditions that they’ve grown up with.  One such thing is Ghost month. Continue reading ‘Ghost Month in Taiwan’

Racing babies at RT-Mart

I was in the mood for some microwave pizza (yeah, I don’t know why either, but sometimes you get weird cravings), so I went down to the one and only local department store, which in my town happens to be RT mart (大潤發).  As I entered the foyer of the building, I heard a commotion around the corner.  Walking over, I saw a crowd gathered, standing shoulder to shoulder.  Excited chatterings washed over me.  It was reminiscent of an illegal cock or dog fighting scene, except that this was in a well lit department store, not a dimly lit, smoky basement somewhere.  Oh yeah, and no one was looking all gangster-ish and waving around wads of money. Continue reading ‘Racing babies at RT-Mart’

Cameras, cameras, cameras

They are everywhere.  All along the roads, inside and outside shops, along apartment buildings, rec centres and parks.  More numerous than Chuck Norris memes, cameras dominate the urban as well as parts of the rural landscape in Taiwan.  You just can’t escape them.  Big Brother is always watching.  And as if that isn’t enough, the Taiwanese public are super cellphone cam jockeys – like a navy seal wielding a Colt M4A1 carbine to neutralize a target, the average Taiwanese can whip out an HTC One, iphone 5 or Samsung Galaxy and film you from any angle, anytime, anywhere. Continue reading ‘Cameras, cameras, cameras’

Lei-cha (擂茶), Beipu, Hsinchu County

Lei cha (擂茶) is a traditional Hakka drink that draws a lot of tourists to the small town of Beipu in Hsinchu county.  Literally translated it means “ground” or “pounded” tea, but the name is misleading.  When I think of drinking tea, I envision a relaxing, quiet time sipping away at a light beverage, but this isn’t the case with Lei cha. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Lei cha is a thick, heavily flavoured brew that will probably leave you more thirsty after you drink it. Continue reading ‘Lei-cha (擂茶), Beipu, Hsinchu County’

Shoe football in a rocky creek

I couldn’t believe this was happening.

I guess the title mostly gives it away, but let me explain the surroundings before I get into the story and show the video.  We were out with a few friends for a BBQ at Beipu Cold Springs.  I was a bit late arriving, so the others had already set up a spot and were waiting.  As we drove into the picnic area, I looked over and the spring water creek wasn’t as full as I’d imagined – wading in it would probably bring the water a little over my ankles.  The bottom was visible and it looked filled with rocks.

We unloaded the van (food, bbq etc) and then, being pretty hot, I wanted to walk around and splash a bit of water on myself.  A friend and I jumped into the creek, but we had to be careful because it was pretty rocky – something like this: Continue reading ‘Shoe football in a rocky creek’

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