Archive for January, 2013

Mandarin Basic 2 at Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan

I just finished level 2 of basic Mandarin at Tsing Hua university in Hsinchu.  I wrote about Basic 1 a while ago.  Level 2 was taken at a much more relaxed pace.  This one ran every Wed. and Fri. from 10:10 – 12:10.  The cost was NT 7500 + a new book (around NT 600).  Here’s my take on the course. Continue reading ‘Mandarin Basic 2 at Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan’

Taichung’s cancer gambling dens

Usually, when someone is terminally ill, friends and families are deeply distressed and mentally prepare themselves to accept the inevitable outcome of the disease.  At  least that’s what I’d imagine,  never having (thankfully) been put in that situation.  Sure, preparations are being made to take care of the person’s financial affairs and such, but these are side issues to the grief and sorrow that accompanies someone’s illness.

Well not really so in some parts of Taichung, Taiwan.  It seems the Asian penchant for gambling has extended into the morbid.  Reports of gambling dens that allow people to bet on how long terminally ill patients will survive have surfaced, and are currently being investigated by the police. Continue reading ‘Taichung’s cancer gambling dens’

Taiwan and China

Before heading over to Asia, I had a very limited knowledge of the relationships between the countries here.  What I knew came from bits and pieces of stories from travellers.  In my uneducated world view, one went to South Korea to make money, Japan – to spend money, Thailand to party like a rockstar, China was red, Vietnam and Cambodia were super cheap and Taiwan was like a little cousin of China (…stupid…yeah, I know!  How wrong I was). Continue reading ‘Taiwan and China’

Playboy in Taiwan

One of the things that suprised me here was the acceptance of Playboy as a regular, run-of-the-mill brand name.

From what I remember, Playboy was a guilty pleasure when I was 13 or 14.  We would hide the mags in our rooms, hoping mom wouldn’t discover them, taking every opportunity to feast our eyes on the…ahem…articles and passing them around to close friends.

At 16 – 17 the mags became a semi regular read (obviously for the articles) whenever older friends developed the nerve to go buy one.

Finally upon discovering the internet, Playboy faded into oblivion (the internet had MUCH better articles).

No thought was ever given to walking around with something that had Playboy plastered across it – oh god the shame that would bring!!  But I guess time and location has changed all of that. Continue reading ‘Playboy in Taiwan’

Discrimination in Taiwan’s citizenship laws

I recently found out that Taiwan has a blatantly unfair law regarding the naturalization of foreigners.

If you are a foreign national wishing to get Taiwanese citizenship, you have to give up your former national allegiance – this in itself, I can understand (national pride and solidarity and all that), BUT “natural” Taiwanese (those born here) are allowed to hold dual citizenship.  Double standard anyone?

This is a brazenly prejudiced stance to take.  Why do foreign nationals have to give up their former citizenship, while Taiwanese nationals are allowed to hold dual citizenship?  You can’t apply the law differently to people, and still consider it a fair law!  So while “natural” Taiwanese are granted the democratic freedom to hold dual citizenship, foreigners are treated akin to the people of China, Iraq and North Korea –  not being allowed to hold 2 passports.  And what about those who have Taiwanese spouses and children?  Those who, for all practical purposes, are permanently based in Taiwan? Continue reading ‘Discrimination in Taiwan’s citizenship laws’

Living statue in Danshui

Danshui is a seaside tourist destination in the north of Taiwan.  It has many attractions including temples, a waterside walkway, restaurants, shops filled with junk  trinkets, souvenirs and other sights.  I was wandering around the old street, trying to see if I could decipher any of the Mandarin characters on the store signs when, out the corner of my eye, I saw a group of people crowding around something.  Seeing this flocking, I was naturally curious and went over to take a look.  I saw this guy: Continue reading ‘Living statue in Danshui’

Dinner at 狠蝦 (Ruthless Shrimp??) restaurant, Taipei

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Taiwan has a trillion restuarants to pick from.  With this overwhelming choice, a lot of people rely on blog posts written by others to pick out restaurants to try.  When looking for a spot for New Year’s eve dinner, my gf came across one such blog describing a restaurant in Taipei called 狠蝦 (Hen Xia) – literally translated, this means “Ruthless Shrimp”.

Food is generally cheap in Taiwan, but seafood is a little pricier, so when I was informed that this is an all you can eat shrimp buffet, lardbutt inside me started singing with pure joy.  Done deal.  We were going to 狠蝦 or “Ruthless Shrimp” for our dinner.

The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of a building on Roosevelt Rd in Taipei.  The sign outside has a big shrimp on it and simply says “Shrimp Buffet”: Continue reading ‘Dinner at 狠蝦 (Ruthless Shrimp??) restaurant, Taipei’

New Year’s Eve at Taipei 101

Quick lesson on Taipei 101 : Coming in at 508 m with a price tag of  US $ 1.8 billion, 101 is THE skyscraper in Taipei.  This icon of Taiwan was the world’s tallest building from 2004 – 2010 (finally beaten by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai).  Currently it holds the title of the largest green building in the world.

The 101 floors above ground (hence the name) house offices, bookstores, restaurants, and a plethora of fashion shops where you can find almost anything.  Numerous businesses also call this building home.  The highest floor (101) is home to a private club called Summit which is a secret hangout for either the Taiwan mafia or Taiwan’s kung fu ninjas. I haven’t found any information on yet – seems to be a secret. Continue reading ‘New Year’s Eve at Taipei 101′

Take-out drink bag in Taiwan

Even after a year and a half here, there are still some things that are so strange, one never gets used to seeing them.  Things that, while make sense in a certain way, violate my perception of what’s normal.  The other day, I was at a restaurant when one such thing happened. Continue reading ‘Take-out drink bag in Taiwan’

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