Archive for the 'Personal ramblings' Category

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?’

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!

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’


I couldn’t sleep, so I took a walk to 7-11.  Sat down and started eating what I bought.  Saw a truck pull up.  A young-ish looking guy jumped out.  He unloaded the whole truck in a matter of minutes.  By my count 4:41 – 5:02.

I’ve unloaded a truck carrying similar cargo before (M&M meats).   This guy was unbelievably efficient.

Whatever is said about Taiwan, when they have to move, the Taiwanese can.  Chalk one up for work ethic.

One of the few reasons I love Taiwan.

Taiwanese behaving badly

A lot of media (news, blogs, forums) in Taiwan report/discuss stories of foreigners acting badly.  Some of this comes from people witnessing incidents, writing about it online and throwing it out there for the inevitable feeding frenzy.  The online life in Taiwan is HUGE – basically, the grapevine.

Nobody will tweet volatile instances involving Taiwanese, because it’s a non issue.  It’s normal – they won’t get many “hits” on the blog or “likes” on FB.

Well, I witnessed such an incident and I’d like to throw it out there for a non-feeding frenzy. Continue reading ‘Taiwanese behaving badly’

Furor with a foreigner on the MRT

While this story is hardly newsworthy, it does serve to highlight one of the implications of being a foreigner in Taiwan.

On June 5th 2013, a woman (Shen) was on the MRT (subway) when she saw a foreigner get on and take up 2 seats – one for herself and one for her bags.  A few stops down, an elderly couple got on, and as good manners dictates, Shen got up and offered her seat to the woman.  At this point, Shen also asked the foreign woman to give up her seat so that both members of the couple could sit down.  And then shit hit the fan. Continue reading ‘Furor with a foreigner on the MRT’

Face off with a Chinese horde

This incident occured a while back, but re-surfaced in memory while having a conversation with some of my more advanced students.  We were talking about countries they wanted to visit.  Most of the students wanted to go to America, England, Canada, Australia etc. – the fascination with everything western is obvious.

When asked where they DON’T want to go, invariably the answer was China.  Obviously being Taiwanese, this is a knee jerk reaction – China is the accepted Public Enemy #1.  But I wanted them to try and examine their reasons for this and come up with coherent arguments to support their stand.  So I asked why?

On a side note, asking “why?” in a Taiwanese classroom sometimes leads to uncomfortable students and blank gazes.  They don’t like to question what they are told is true.  It is how it is – there is no “why?”.

Anyway, my students, now being used to my frequent “why?” questions furrowed their little brows in thought.  One of the brighter ones spouted, “Because they are not polite.”

“Really?  What do you mean?”

“They talk strong…never stand to wait…not polite.” she struggled.  It was obvious she was pursuing a line of argument, but didn’t know how to express it in English.  Wantng to encourage her thinking I said, “Ok, Chinese.”

She fired off a few sentences to the class, and one of the students who was better at English translated, “They don’t wait in line, they talk loudly and never act polite.”

And that’s when  I remembered the horde incident.  Here’s what happened. Continue reading ‘Face off with a Chinese horde’

Funny things kids write in class

I haven’t written much about teaching English in Taiwan, because there is tonnes of information out there about it.  Recently though, I was going through some of my pictures and couldn’t help laughing, so I thought I’d share some of the funny moments I’ve had during marking some of the exercises.

If you have experience teaching ESL, then you will be aware that for most language learners, bad words are the first ones learned.  In the case of little tykes in Taiwan, poo poo rules as king.  Everything can be related to poo poo.  One even went so far as to write: Continue reading ‘Funny things kids write in class’

When it pays to know English

Sometimes people get nabbed for the funniest things.  A man named Wu was wanted on drug related charges.  He had been eluding the police for a while, but was finally arrested in Huwei Township, Yunlin county.  Want to know why?  His T shirt gave him away!

A local, on-duty cop, who had an elementary understanding of English, noticed a man walking around with a T-shirt that said “WANTED”.  Curious about this, the cop questioned Wu and performed an identity check which led to the arrest.  Poor Wu, all bewildered, said that the T-shirt was a gift from his son, and he had no idea what “WANTED” meant. Continue reading ‘When it pays to know English’

When is Hello Kitty going to say goodbye?

For those of you who don’t know about it, Hello Kitty is an infectious disease that rots the body and soul a Japanese phenomenon that has swept through not only Asia, but also internationally, conquering hearts and minds (both male and female).  Introduced by Sanrio, it’s based around a stupidly cute white cat and her family.  She was originally intended to be a character for young girls.  Cute cat + little girl = hours of fun time.  Fine, this I can understand.  It’s when “grown-ups” started to buy Hello Kitty junk that I began to feel a little afraid for the human race. Continue reading ‘When is Hello Kitty going to say goodbye?’

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