Archive for September, 2012

Taiwan national lottery

Just as I was getting used to all the perks offered by life in Taiwan, I was hit with another nugget of awesomeness.

I was at 7-11 and had just paid for some black fungus drink (which is as gross as it sounds but I was going through my “randomly-pick-something-new-and-try-it” phase).  As I walked out, looking at my purchace and wondering if this was a good idea, the cashier ran out after me.  He started blathering in at me in Mandarin and shoving the receipt in my face.  I motioned that I didn’t want it, but he was insistent, so I took it and added it to the junk in my Costanza wallet.  Paying it no more mind, I went about my day. Continue reading ‘Taiwan national lottery’

For today’s English lesson : Article about a giant penis

I was screwing around on the Taipei times website (1 of the 2 English newspapers in Taiwan) when I ran across this headline:

US man with huge penis stopped at airport” 

 Definitely looks like an illuminating and thought provoking article…right?  So, of course, I had to read it. Continue reading ‘For today’s English lesson : Article about a giant penis’

Rituals at a temple

I recently went to a temple to get rid of my bad chi.

Chi (or qi) is a person’s life force or life energy.  Maybe think of it as spirit, although the Taiwanese believe it is much more corporeal.  My girlfriend (who is the daughter of a practising Taiwanese fortune teller / priest) told me that I have bad chi.  She says that her body is very sensitive to a person’s chi, and mine’s reeking of mouldy socks. Continue reading ‘Rituals at a temple’

Chocolate teacher

I walked into class the other day, and was greeted with “Hello Chocolate Teacher!!!”

Say Whaaaaat???  Seriously??  I was taken aback with this blatantly racist comment, and had to take a breath to get over my initial shock.The kids were smiling at me innocently, all proud with their new accomplishment and waiting for my response.

“Ohhh…very clever!!! Who made up the name?”

“Meeee!!!” one of the cute little innocent racists raises her hand “Chocolate teacher…hee hee.”

It happened to be one of the brightest kids in the class, and her little face was beaming with {insert racist organization here} pride. Continue reading ‘Chocolate teacher’


It’s 12 am.  Imagine a place that’s crawling with people.  It’s loud, alive and exciting!  People are darting here and there.  There is a frenzy of activity.  You can see bright, flashing lights.  You can hear a plethora of fast paced music from many corners.  Where are you? Continue reading ‘Nightmarkets’

Gaffes with Mandarin

I went to order breakfast and, armed with my new knowledge of Mandarin, I decided that I would order in the local language today.  Oh how impressed everyone was going to be!  I was supremely confident, and after rehearsing in my head, I walked up and said, “Wǒ xiǎng wěi yú dàn pián.”

She looked at me confused.  I repeated a bit louder, “Wǒ xiǎng wěi yú dàn pián.” Continue reading ‘Gaffes with Mandarin’

When not knowing Mandarin pays off

I was driving back home from school.  It was a gorgeous day.  The roads were fairly empty, and my mind was wandering over the lessons covered in class.  Normally I am a fairly cautious driver because the traffic conditions here are subject to abrupt change.  I always follow all the rules of the road (a LOT of drivers don’t), and I’ve even managed to quash my instinct to turn right on red lights Continue reading ‘When not knowing Mandarin pays off’

It’s a dog’s life

They are everywhere.  Fat, skinny, bald, furry, friendly, hostile –  all sorts of dogs call this island home.  They run around the roads, in restaurants and stores, in schools….just about all over the place.  It’s really weird seeing a dog walking around the tables when I’m eating lunch, but no one else blinks an eye.  Everyone is used to seeing them because the dog population is Taiwan is huge.

Just like people, the dogs have established their own class system. Continue reading ‘It’s a dog’s life’

Mandarin Basic 1 at Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan

I just completed a 6 week, intensive Mandarin course at Tsing Hua university in Hsinchu, Taiwan.  It ran every day (Mon-Fri) from 9am – 12pm.  On Tues and Thurs, there was an extra component from 1:30pm – 3:30pm ( I was unable to attend these sessions due to work comittments).  The cost of the course was 7500 NT + books.

So here is a rundown of the course and what it’s all about for anyone considering taking it. Continue reading ‘Mandarin Basic 1 at Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan’

Initial stages of learning Mandarin

After having lived in Taiwan for a year (and planning many more) I decided that it’s high time I made a serious attempt to learn Mandarin.  It’s impossible to integrate into society or REALLY have an understanding and appreciation for the culture without being able to speak the language. 

This is a step I was not really looking forward to because it was going to involve work.  A lot of work, and I don’t like work.  I was hoping that by now, someone would have invented a Matrix type learning apparatus, but no go on that, so with a heavy heart I (reluctantly) handed over my enrollment form and (even more reluctantly) my fee.

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in Taiwan.   Continue reading ‘Initial stages of learning Mandarin’

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