Archive for July, 2013

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’

Beipu Cold Springs (北埔冷泉), Hsinchu county

Summer in Taiwan can be atrociously hot.  Escaping into the mountains provides some comfort, but finding natural cold springs, well that’s where the money is.  I was surfing the net looking for river tracing routes in Taiwan when I came across Beipu Cold Springs.  2 and a half looks at the online pics and I was sold.  Googled the location and set up a trip for the weekend.

Beipu cold springs are located in Hsinchu county.  From my town, they are about about a 50 min drive.  It’s mostly highway 3 (east) until you hit Beipu township, then south.  There are numerous signs in English as well as Chinese, so you will easily be able to figure it out.  Once you hit Daping Road (大坪路), it’s just a straight drive to the cold springs area. Continue reading ‘Beipu Cold Springs (北埔冷泉), Hsinchu county’

Surviving small town Taiwan

It’s been almost 2 years since I got on a plane and landed in Taiwan.  Unlike most foreigners, I’ve been living and working in a small town this whole time with very little exposure to city life.  I’ve been to Taipei and Kaohsiung maybe 3 or 4  times and Taichung once.

Life in small town Taiwan is different (for a westerner) than life in one of the major cities.  Besides being slower paced and more laid back, there are other rammifications one should consider if thinking about setting up shop in a small town.  Here are a few things that I’ve been through over the last couple of years that may be of help for a newcomer Continue reading ‘Surviving small town Taiwan’

Tainan Confucian Temple – Taiwan’s first school

Tainan is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan.  It used to be the capital, before Taipei swiped that honour.  Being as such, it makes sense that Taiwan’s first organized school was started there.  So today’s poor, overworked Taiwanese students, that lug 50 lb bags to school everyday, can look to this edifice of higher learning and thank the minds behind it for their current academic woes.

The Tainan Confucian Temple was built in 1665 by Koxinga’s son, Cheng Jing.  The actual drive behind the temple was Cheng Jing’s military advisor Cheng Yonghwa.  Imagine that.  A military man pushing for a centre of higher learning.  They used to make them different back then I guess.  Cheng Yonghwa’s reasoning for this was simple – the long term survival and prosperity of the kingdom depended on having wise and learned officials.  Commendable for a military man – he put stock in civil leadership before military might – definitely not a jarhead! Continue reading ‘Tainan Confucian Temple – Taiwan’s first school’

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