Sunday, October 31, 2010

day 45_Happy Halloween!

Sunday has been nice. The weather here today is gorgeous. Not chilly enough to need a scarf, and the sunshine is too pretty to be accurately captured in a photograph ~ lovely. It's the kind of day when you don't just open the blinds, you open the windows. :)

I went grocery shopping today and bought food for breakfast(s). If you haven't noticed, I eat out a lot here... but so does everyone else. I think it is part of the city's culture. Nonetheless, I was thinking breakfast would be the easiest meal for me to eat at home on a budget (no pots/pans/cooking utensils required), so I stocked up on lowfat milk, cereals, and juice this afternoon. Question of the day - If I were a granola bar in a Chinese grocery store... where would I be?! [or would I even be there at all???] I had no success in answering the question, but I did find a store that is probably the local equivalent to Wal-Mart... which fills a void that I have been missing! Until now, the shops I've found have always been expensive department stores, or extremely cheap stores - if you buy a pan for $2 are you really expecting it to hold up? You usually get what you paid for... Anyways, it was nice to find a middle ground and somewhere that I can go to when I actually need something specific!

Aside from shopping, I walked some more - I am totally a pro - and hunted for hints of Halloween in Taipei. Let's face it, Halloween is definitely an American holiday, but I did find a few small tastes of Halloween here and there...

Halloween candy display at a grocery store
Here is the Halloween candy display at a nearby grocery store. What's that? Don't see anything you recognize? Are you surprised? [They do have a much larger candy aisle with just everyday candy elsewhere.]

Window decorations at an international language school
Storefront of English pub "The Tavern," decorated for Halloween
Aside from the few glimpses of orange and black here and there, I get the impression that Halloween is mostly celebrated by Western bars (like the one in the pic above), mostly to attract pretty girls with skimpy costumes... right... so being that I wasn't really feeling up for that sort of party [I could hardly hold myself back - yeah right!], I passed on the opportunity for 'free admission, no cover, discount drinks' for all women in costume Saturday night. Actually, I can't believe how little I have had to drink here! Sake once, a mojito once, and one beer... I think that is all I've had in 45 days! Let's just say, drinking is practically a widespread hobby in Dallas among the young folks. I have cut back significantly, and the only part I really miss is a nice cool margarita on a hot day :) I think Halloween next year could be really fabulous. I could show some people a really good time and I think it would be a blast. Costume contest, scary movies, bobbing for apples, a pinata w/candy (why not, it's sort of a Texan twist!), food that looks like brains and eyeballs... the Works. So, here's hoping that by then I can plan a big bash and show some Taiwanese friends what a great Halloween party really looks like! :D

day 44_to the bank and back

Another Saturday, another day of much wandering. I find that it is best if I have a destination - keeps me moving - but I also enjoy the exploration each time to and from the point of interest. This Saturday's goal was the bank. Now that I have a bank account here, I needed to locate the nearest branch location relative to my apartment and get out some cash for the week [Because so many places accept cash only, I doubt I will be using my new debit card very often...] Also, they were able to set up my landlords account under 'my account' list so that paying rent each month is a simple account-to-account transfer... this eliminates the need to contact my landlord who speaks little to no English. Very convenient for me! Unfortunately, the banks here are not open on Saturday, but the ATM is always open and you can make account transfers at the ATM so that works for me. I also have something called a "pass book" here. It reminds me of a check register ~ used to balance your checkbook. I have never had a pass book before, but my mother and father-in-law tell me they used to exist for savings accounts in the US long before my time...

I set out and walked to the bank, the walk was at least a mile, maybe more. Along the way, I stumbled upon a Breast Cancer Rally at the nearby historical Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. It took me a moment to realize what exactly was going on, but the more I looked around, the more pink ribbons and roses I saw ~ and ultimately I found signage to confirm my suspicions. The memorial hall is near my home - the next stop on the MRT blue line - and I visited in 2006, but have yet to go again during this trip. This building is so magnificent from far away, or close up :) It's on my list of places to visit again.

Breast Cancer Rally at Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall landscaping

Tourists photographing children blowing bubbles
I'm not actually sure if these people knew the children blowing the bubbles or not, but they attracted quite the crowd. A picture perfect young boy wearing light blue, and young girl wearing light pink, just blowing bubbles at each other... on and on. I stopped, admired for a moment, and took a photo myself! But my pic is mostly of the tourists' fascination ;) The landscaping here is lovely too. The grounds are quite large, and there is a walking perimeter around the edge. If I had a dog in the city, we would come walking here. Even without the dog, I have added it to my mental list of nice places nearby to go for a stroll.

A local fruit stand

Fruit stands like this one are abundant
Fruit and juice are actually quite popular here in Taipei. I would say juice is the second most popular beverage only to tea. This fruit stand is one of many, and there are also fruit trucks. They always look delicious. It is a wonder that I am so fascinated when I paid such little attention to the fruit back in Texas. Then again, this is a tropical island - the fruit supply seems to be abundant, and the fruits are larger and fresher than the supply at my local grocery store in Dallas seemed to be - straight "off the vine" so to speak.

Just a quiet little street with shops & restaurants
I love walking down the little side streets here. It seems no matter which direction you choose, there are colorful signs with Chinese characters, good food, little shops, people. I typically venture into a few shops, enjoy the people watching, imagine what the people near me are discussing in Chinese. People watching and listening is one of my favorite activities. Even when I can't read or speak in any given moment, it is always interesting, always so much life around me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

day 43_change of season

Today was chilly, and it is not the first day. It is as if someone flipped the switch earlier this week and we have leapt from summer to fall in an instant. When I check the weather (and then convert from Celsius back to Fahrenheit... because I still don't mentally register what it means when I hear the temperature in C degrees) it seems as if it should be colder. I don't remember 66 degrees F being noticeably cool, but here it is justification for sweaters, parkas, hoodies, leggings, winter boots and scarves!

Being the local-foreigner ~ I find it quite cold myself! I must have adapted to the warm weather pretty well before the change, because I fit right in - digging out my scarves and long sleeves, layering up in the mornings when I get ready for work now. I'm not entirely sure that they have 4 seasons; my guess is that they are on the tropical calendar: dry season, wet season. If so, that would mean that I arrived at the end of the dry season [Funny, considering these are the days that you never feel dry because the humidity leaves you "sticky" 24/7], and now we are entering the wet season [should be many rainy days and increased winds]. One of the differences is the lack of heaters. In Texas, once it cools off, you just turn on the heat to warm yourself back up... but here, you'd better buy some gloves and hot chocolate because there aren't many heaters around! At my office - which I may refer to from now on as the 'ice box' - they seem to still be running the a/c... strange... which doesn't exactly make sense to me with the cooler weather! And at home I bundle up tight in my blanket when I go to sleep :) So, that's part of the chilliness, simply not having the control to change it.

I'll just have to wait and see what sort of a "winter" awaits me, but it looks like I may have the hubby send me a care package of sweaters and jackets in the not-to-distant future! ;)

Friday, October 29, 2010

day 42_a better day

Good morning Friday! [This is actually my Thursday post... sometimes I write the day of, sometimes I don't get to it until the following day... like today...]

Yesterday was better than the previous, as hoped, and very much appreciated! When I woke, I felt more rested. When I headed out to work, the security guard at my apt building's front desk had bought me breakfast. [Yes, I know, scandalous!... the husband is already aware, and the security guard knows I have a husband ;) but really, I think the guy is like 50, and just dreaming...] Anyways, the security guards, there are probably 6 in the rotation, are so nice to me and always make conversation or ask me how my day was, etc. I get a kick out of the. Different ages and personalities, they are funny too - they make me laugh, and frequently speak to me in Chinese which I don't follow... but it is so great to have people openly talking to me everyday, Chinese or not, without being shy/timid/intimidated by the color of my skin.

Breakfast was... great! I have been avoiding the traditional Taiwanese breakfasts all this time - partially due to the challenge of ordering at street vendors - becuase the local idea of 'breakfast' is so different from my own. In the US, when I actually took the time to eat breakfast, it was usually a Chai latte from Starbucks, bowl of oatmeal, cereal, or a nutri-grain bar... pretty light (max one of those items, rarely much of a meal). Here, they eat noodles, porridge, dumplings, and steamed buns, and drink warm soy milk, sometimes with rice in it. My breakfast gift was 2 steamed buns and a cup of warm soy milk.

The soy milk was good! Thank goodness. Soft, sweet, subtle. [What a relief. On previous trip to Taipei, I tried the warm soy milk once, and vowed to never order it again...but that must have been a different version?] And so were the steamed buns! They are wrapped in a soft, chewy but fluffy dough, and filled with pork, cabbage, or similar. I could only eat one of the two before I was completely stuffed! So I stuck the other in the fridge to heat up later. I probably won't eat that every morning - because it is heavier than the breakfasts I'm used to - but it was great, and I'm sure I'll have it again. I am glad that I am still trying new things here. That could go on for awhile, but I get the impression that not everyone would just take a bite into the unknown - literally and metaphorically speaking :)

The rest of the day also went better. I accomplished my personal goals at work for the day, with a little time to spare, and went to bed at a decent hour (hence, no blog post last night before bed).

Now for Friday ~ always a welcome day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

day 41_an official alien

Today was "one of those days" or "just not my day" as we might say in English. Well, you know - they can't all be amazing, right? At least the day is ending better than it started.

AND!!! I now have my ARC <alien resident certificate> which is basically my pass to act like a local... rent a car, check out a library book, open a bank account, sign up for internet and cable service (sort of jumped the gun on that one...), etc! Yay. I did open my bank account today, and I have all of the (ahem) necessary wire information... So, that is a relief :)

Otherwise, it was the kind of day where you're in a hurry and nothing seems to go right... the MRT was running late, and the line was backed up all the way to the station entrance for some reason that people around me must've understood... but I was clueless because the explanation was in Chinese! Not to mention - I am so curious and nosey, I was dying to know what was up! Of course, this meant that I arrived at work late (when I had a deadline and planned to get there early), and for some reason my printer more or less uninstalled itself. Great. So I scrambled through the morning... then headed to the bank to open an account and the woman tried to explain to me that she needed all of the money in my wallet to establish the minimum balance, but she didn't speak English, so when she reached out and took every dollar I had and I couldn't talk to her, I almost had a melt down... Yikes! Thank goodness I brought my company accountant who interrupted that conversation when she saw my face and translated for me. We get paid once a month here - it is a little different than the US.

I wore my most fabulous shoes today (wore, past tense), which weren't quite as fabulous in the rain so I switched to - yes, my flip flops - I know you're one step ahead of me - that were in my...yes... shopping bag (I'm so local now you know), and thought "I should design a line of shoes called 'I wore'," as in... I wore these fabulous shoes and took them off! Women would still buy them. There is something about pretty shoes that just does us in (well, some of us... like my mother & I, for sure!)

Later on in the day, things started looking brighter, and by the time I sat down to my beef noodles at the little chinese shop near my house (that I now frequent), I was feeling pretty much back up to Lizzie standard. A nice warm bowl of tasty beef noodles... with really good beef, a dance workout at my apartment while watching the UK equivalent of 'So You Think You Can Dance', and a new post on my blog have pretty much done the trick. Here's to tomorrow, and hoping that it goes smoother than today. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

day 40_too much blogging...

Tonight I've been a bit sidetracked, playing with the photos, design, and extras on my blog... so... time is up! Will have to write a better post tomorrow! :) Goodnight world.

Monday, October 25, 2010

day 39_weighing in

It should come as no surprise to you that my lifestyle in America promoted obesity much more than my newly adopted lifestyle here, and even though the boys get tired of hearing the girls whine about their weight - there is some truth ringing clear in our girlish worries! Staying fit is definitely a life long battle! So, of course, with my new and improved habits, I have been anxiously anticipating the moment of truth..... the Weigh In. I discovered a store near Ikea this weekend (their competitor) with a super cheap scale, so I finally broke down and bought one.

Sadly, the misleading numbers revealing that I weighed less than half my previous weight (Awesome!) were in Kilograms - remember? Every other country in the modern world uses metric.

That being said I am still pleased to report that I have lost weight, even if it is an unknown number! Since I didn't exactly weigh myself the day I boarded the plane (exact previous weight unknown)... and every meal before my journey was treated like my "last meal"... I am thinking I'm down about 10 lbs. Woohoo!

All joking aside, I am totally pumped about getting into better shape. So far, my favorite side affect? I am not completely out of breath anymore when I reach the top of the stairway! :) Yay for me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

day 38_all-American Girl

This morning, I had a particular hankering for a nice big American breakfast... and you may recall I had just enjoyed one a week ago today! It must somehow related to Sundays ;) Last Sunday, I had a late breakfast/brunch at a place called the Diner, but I eliminated this as an option, because - being my usual self - I always like trying new places. I got up and around, caught up with a few people on Skype, and eventually left the house for the day. [Because getting around town is all via public transportation, typically once I leave the house and hop on the MRT, I won't be home for awhile. I don't tend do a lot of back & forth on the rail, usually just one ride to get out of the house/to get wherever I'm going, lots of walking in between and one ride back once I'm done].

I decided to derail at a new MRT stop that I hadn't yet explored, Zhongxiao Dunhua, which is just down the road from my office. Great choice! I'm not as familiar with the area, but was immediately curious. Cute little shops, street vendors, fresh fruit, colorful signs, people meandering along on a bright and shiny Sunday afternoon - I will definitely want to check out this neighborhood again! Unfortunately, despite the many places I passed, I just couldn't bring myself to buy rice or noodles for lunch today... I couldn't kick that initial craving for a nice big American breakfast... so I kept on wandering. Eventually, I ended up near my office (and by this point I was pretty much starving... how many days a week do you walk 2 miles before you've had your breakfast??? Be honest.) So... I settled for a place that I know of, but had not yet dined at: "Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill, Taipei". How predictable am I? Not only did I settle on the American joint, but I was wearing my jeans, a fitted white tee, and tennis shoes. Yep!

Apparently the brunch there is quite popular (it was packed), so I accepted the only open seat - at the bar - and ordered a nice big omelette with mushrooms and cheese, which also came with wheat toast, butter, jelly, and home made hash browns. Yum!!!

I couldn't help but notice the young Chinese gentleman nearby (the only other patron at the bar at that moment... probably my age) who was vigorously shaking the glass ketchup bottle up and down with no luck. Since today seemed like a running theme already: 'How all-American can Lizzie be?' - I figured I'd give him a hand. I quickly motioned 'May I help?' and showed him how to tap the side of the bottle on the 'Heinz' label to get the thick sauce to come out a little more willingly. Wow, I was such a pro - he was impressed. Then (thankfully the ketchup was being extra cooperative) I worked the same magic to put a little puddle of ketchup on my own plate and started up a polite conversation with the boy. The breakfast was good, and it was nice to make some small talk with a stranger.

Ha! Silly moments like this amuse me the most. I now have an even better appreciation for whoever taught me how to work a ketchup bottle! Bet they didn't teach you that in school ;)

day 37_the hunt for Tea

As opposed to the soda and coffee dominated culture in the US, I would have to say that Tea is the most abundant beverage in this part of the world - followed by juice -, and I have been (for 37 days now) scouting for my favorite kinds since my arrival! Specifically, I am referring to the chilled beverages available in vending machines, convenience stores, and grocery markets.

Now this may sound like a simple task, but let me break it down for you:
Average 7-11, Family Mart, or Hi-Life convenience store...
(my guess...) +/- 65 beverages in the refrigerators with labels containing the Chinese character for Tea (<--- which I recognize!)... maybe more?
+/- 10 out of the 65 also have English writing on the labels...
+/- 3 out of the 10 English labels are flavors I know I like...
That leaves me still with at least 55 unkowns... or more?
And usually standing in front of the cooler doors completely dumbfoundeded as the locals scurry around me to grab one of thier favorite bottles...

My mom was laughing this morning as I was explaining to her how surprised I am sometimes when I take a swig of a new drink! [For example, I really wish that the 'milk' here tasted like milk to me... but that is a different story!] There are black, white, and green teas. Herbal teas. Oolong tea. Flower teas. Fruit teas. Teas that are supposed to make you skinny... but the one I bought (accidentally), I didn't care for. Milk teas. Trust me the list goes on! Then there are sweetened vs. unsweeted (those are some Chinese characters I wish I knew how to recognize... I actually prefer the unsweetened tea most of the time, since the sweetened is typically a bit overkill...)

Luckily most of these cost between 50 cents to $1 US, so in times of desperation I toss a bottle and move on to the next - but, I hate wasting perfectly fine drinks and money! So, here's hoping that I continue to find more flavors/types of tea that are to my liking...

Cheers :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

day 36_Tea Time

Another Friday. Another week come and gone! It will only be a few more days until I get my ARC (alien resident certification) and be an official 'local'.

As opposed to the tradition at my previous office of providing sugary donuts (with sprinkles on top - my favorite!) and sausage rolls on Friday mornings, I now enjoy a Friday treat with an Asian twist each week - "Tea time" on Friday afternoons. At first mention, tea time immediately takes my train of thought to Britain, but then just as quickly my mind lingers back to Asia, pondering green tea, Japanese tea, etc... tea actually started in Asia well before it was imported and became popular elsewhere - but I am still quite fascinated that it is something of a routine here for many people.

I think the significance is to provide a snack to tide you through between lunch & dinner, and to have a short time of rest during the day. At my office, tea time is curious because I have yet to see any tea provided... but instead, it is typically a snack... or even a small meal in my opinion...

This Friday was unique because our tea time was compliments of a local fire marshal inspector who has worked on some of our projects. That is wild to me, considering that in the USofA we would probably be the ones gifting the marshal (and hoping for a passing inspection!), not the other way around :) What did the gentleman send? Well - unknown. But if you can read the Chinese label, good for you!

Somewhere on this wrapper, it says beef... but I didn't see the usual characters that I watch for to indicate beef...

You can see my own tea purchased from the 7-11 in the background...
Snack was about the size of a small hamburger, and steaming hot!

A warm sticky bun, filled with beef, veggies and something sweet... maybe cinnamon? It was an unusual flavor!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

day 35_Press Conference

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the press conference live and in person today - but as the meeting took place, I sat, grinding away, working hard at my desk to make such glorious announcements possible! Up to this point, I have had a few people asking me how I like my work here, and what am I working on? I've only responded thus far with vague and generic comments until I knew that my current work was openly public knowledge... and since the press conference was officially held today (which I attended in spirit of course), I feel that it is now acceptable to give a few more details about my project! [And by the by - I will always take precautions in regards to what I post on this blog, but you can always email me when you want more juicy details of any story... getting emails makes my day... :) ]

So... *drumroll here*
I am currently working on the LEED certification for Taipei 101. If you are unfamiliar with the building (featured on the photo at the top of my blog...) it was previously the world's tallest building until it was surpassed by a new building in Dubai just this year. The building owners are of the mentality that "We may no longer have the highest building in the world, but we can still hold ourselves to the highest building standards in the world". With that in mind, they are currently documenting and making modifications to the existing building in an effort to attain a LEED platinum certification. This is the highest building rating based on the LEED rating system, which sets a standard for environmental/energy efficient building design - governed by the U.S. Green Building Council - and Taipei 101 will be the only existing high rise building (as far as I know) to have achieved the Platinum. Which might also clue you in to the fact that I am on the front lines! A leader in the wave of "green" that has become so trendy... just trying to save the planet one project at a time :)

You can read about the building here:

You can read about their quest to be greener here:

This is what I have been working on, and will continue to work on for quite some time - but more importantly, it really does make my chest swell a little to know that I am working on projects that I am excited about. Interested in. Committed to. In regards to this project in particular, it makes me glad to see that someone is spending the money, taking the time, and setting the example. The Taipei 101 certification is a HUGE undertaking (we're talking 101 floors plus basementssss people...) but we are putting in the time to provide the proof that even an existing building can meet higher standards and run more efficiently. I know everyone may have their own opinion of building rating systems or claiming to be green, etc. but this is a project that is taking the right steps and making a positive impact. The platinum certification isn't handed out everyday... this is a client who understands and will follow through with efficient practices not only now, but for years to come! :) 

Long story short? Glad I am here to be a part of it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

day 34_Fan Mail

台北市110 忠孝東路五段71巷12弄10號樓 4樓公寓
ZhongXiao East Road, Section 5
Lane 71, Alley 12, Building 10, Apt 4F
Taipei 110, Taiwan

Good evening adoring fans - just in case you need to let me know in writing how much you adore reading my blog, this is my new mailing address (confirmed). For those who can see the Chinese text, I would advise adressing all mail in both Chinese & English - just for good measure...

So far, I haven't even checked my own mailbox since moving in! But I would love to hear from any and all of you. It makes my day :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

day 33_My New Toys

Last night I spent an hour or so with a very kind cable/internet installer -who spoke not a lick of English- and my associate from the office (mentioned previously on my blog), Emmy.

I have not necessarily been missing cable TV (maybe just one or two shows in particular...) but I have been using the internet on a regular basis (clearly) and had finally scheduled to have both installed at my apartment. If you want high speed internet, it is provided by the cable company, so they are a packaged deal. Up to this point, I have been using free wireless internet when available - and going without when it is unavailable : /

So, for +/- $36 US per month, I am now connected to the fastest cable internet service that Taipei has to offer... yay! [I'm sure all of my loyal followers are relieved to hear this ;) ] My speed has changed from a range of 0Mbps to 48Mbps at it's best moments previously... to now 100Mbps running steady. I also now have somewhere shy of 100 cable television channels including +/- 10 channels that air consistently in English, including HBO - I think the cable package sets me back about $17 US per month. I knew that the cost of living would be lower here before I came, but sometimes I am still shocked and awed by the affordability of everyday conveniences like this! The price definitely beats what hubby has to pay for the same services in Texas...

That being said, there is one additional bonus to having cable television in my apartment - and no, it is not catching up on Grey's Anatomy, or whatever other shows are all the rage back in Texas this season! (they don't air here) - the bonus is that now I can watch Chinese TV. Even though, it does seem a bit daunting to me, one of my coworkers mentioned that he originally began learning English by watching English cartoons in the morning... he suggested that I might do the same with Chinese cartoons to start listening to and being able to recognize some basic language. I agree! *Here's hoping that I learn something!*

Monday, October 18, 2010

day 32_I love a Rainy Night!

Do you all know that country song? "I love a rainy night"... I officially have it stuck in my head for the evening, but anyways...

Right now it is almost 11pm; it is raining. It didn't rain all day today, just a light sprinkle in the afternoon, and it has picked up into a steady drizzle this evening. After having lived in Oklahoma and Texas for my entire life, it is easy for me to embrace the rain! Sometimes I wonder if this is what people in Seattle experience... but I think it is different, even from that rainy city. Being that Taiwan is a somewhat tropical island, rain is quite normal here - and for me it is such a welcome change from the dry dusty air that I am so accustomed to.

Now, please do not foolishly mistake my appreciation for the rain, to be some sort of harmonious existance. I think it was apparent the first night I walked home without an umbrella that we were going to have to come to some sort of peaceful terms. It was after work, and I hadn't been paid yet (still in that initial new job phase between paychecks), and I was too stubborn to spend my pennies on an umbrella - thinking 'It's just water, no harm done.'... but by the time I got home, I looked like: (a) someone who had jumped into a swimming pool with their clothes on and (b) a crazy lady. Plain and simple. In addition to that, I learned -quickly- that if water gets in your sandals, they sometimes slip right off your feet... especially if you are walking in a hurry!

... Needless to say, I bought an umbrella first thing the next morning on my way to the office :)

Back to the appreciation part though:
I am just crawling into my big comfy bed - that somehow still feels like I must be on vacation every time I get into it, and I still have an impossible time getting out of each morning - and the rainy drizzle in the background has more or less muffled out the sounds of the city for the evening as well. It is going to be easy to fall asleep tonight... :)

day 31_A Walk in the Park

Well, Sunday (yesterday) was day 31 folks. It is official, I have come full circle and survived my first month in Taipei. Sunday morning I was feeling particularly in need of entertainment (I'd had my nose in a new book most of the weekend), so I decided to checkout a few landmarks for an ultimate rest & rejuvenate kind of a day... starting out with... food, of course!

In my opinion, I have actually refrained quite a bit from writing about food on my blog thus far, but that is one of the big curiosities that I hear from people - "What do you eat?" This Sunday, I was feeling particularly all-American. Craving that stereotypical stack of pancakes, with bacon, eggs, etc. There is a restaurant in Taipei called 'the Diner' with 2 locations in city. They've gotten some very good reviews and offer great western food at non-Western prices (usually you pay a premium for Western style food), so I decided this was definitely destination #1 for the day. I took the MRT and wandered awhile before I finally found it on a small side alley, but once I saw the sign, it was easy to spot the big retro 50's style logo with the words "the Diner" in English :)

As to be expected, there were many other foreigners there. They were mostly sitting with Taiwanese friends, so I didn't really start up a conversation with anyone - but in this atmosphere, I did not stand out like a sore thumb. Breakfast was.... great!
Breakfast/Brunch from the Diner
After I had eaten waaaay too much (I am no longer as accustomed to large portions and heavy food like many American restaurants serve...), I paid the tab - $6 I think - and headed on to destination #2, Da'An Park. I had specifically chosen this Diner location due to it's proximity to the park which I had also been wanting to check out.

I walked to the park, and wandered a bit, just exploring. For those of you who are familiar with Central Park in NYC, I would say Da'An Park is probably Taipei's equivalent. It is a large, public park, in the middle of the city, with a wide variety of activities and interests for all ages.

I walked around quite a while before I decided I had eaten too much and then walked too soon... so I found a nice bench and spent some time people watching - and this was a great place for that. Teenagers playing ball, old men practicing some sort of traditional Chinese martial art/stretching exercise, women kissing babies, couples strolling, friends jogging. There was plenty to see and admire. Despite the masses of people, I did manage to take a few photos of the vegetation that I liked - the plant life was much different from Central Park.

The park and the Diner were both great. Will revisit again sometime :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

day 30_Never leave home without _____ (foreigner!)

Just in case Friday's list didn't seem like enough to cover any anticipated surprises on a daily outing, here are some additional items (in my opinion) that a foreigner should never leave home without! Since I'm sort of an inbetween, I try to keep stock of the items handy for both foreigners and locals :)

For the Foreigner
1. Your nerve
     Absolutely, hands down, the number one necessity. This is the time to pull out all of that cocky American confidence that you have been raised on, and put it to use. Chinese? No problem. Ordering food and not always knowing what you"re eating? Bah. Standing out like a parrot in a flock of pigeons? No biggie. The get up and go to put yourself out there and conquer whatever your adventures may bring. If you are not the adventurous type, or would describe yourself as shy and timid, conquering the big city could be quite a hardship for you...
2. Chinese / English map
     The Chinese/English map is crucial. Mine personally is from previous visit and has worn holes in the corner as well as hand written notes pointing to places I've found and liked. If your map is in English only, you might not be able to ask someone for directions as well if you get lost. The bilingual map has been key for me!
3. Easy Card
     The Easy Card is a swipe card used for all forms of transportation in the city. You can buy them at various locations (including MRT stations, or 7-11's) and use them to ride the MRT, city buses, or even some select taxi cabs. If you're not a local - then you are likely to not own a scooter or a car - this is your ticket to all transportation.
4. Small bills
     When I mentioned cash on Friday's list, I failed to point out that coins and small bills are widely used here. It's not that people won't accept that $1000 you put in their hands, but I just feel down right guilty every time I pay a street vendor for a $20 breakfast with a $1000 bill and wipe out their whole change drawer...
5. Camera
     Ok, ok, so I have been completely failing on this one - using my camera phone in lieu of a true camera - but it is exceptionally handy to be able to photograph all of these wild new adventures... and I vow to start carrying my real camera more often... promise! :) The advantage of the camera phone though, is that I can also take pictures of people when they may not realize it... that could come in handy for a future blog entry on fashion...

Happy weekend!

Friday, October 15, 2010

day 29_Don't Leave Home Without _____!

Now that I have been around for almost a month (not to mention this being my second visit in Taipei), I am starting to get the hang of it. One of the biggest adjustments is being a local - Living the working class life in a big city, falling into a regular routine - Just like every other person that I pass each day out of my 2 million+ neighbors (that's only counting the people in 'Taipei City' proper..... then there is the rest of the metro area to consider.....).

If you want to be a local, you have got to get with the program. So, just for fun, here is a taste of the things I have discovered so far to never leave home without:

The True Taiwanese
1. Umbrella.
     This is probably the one thing every single person has with them. If all else fails, you must be able to protect yourself from the elements! And for those of you who think that the umbrella use is limited to rainy days - think again! Fair skin is all the rage; you'd better have that thing handy to shield you from the sun as well.
2.  Comfortable Walking Shoes.
     There is no hop in your car hop out at your building system! Unless you have chosen to take a taxi, or have someone actually dropping you off at desired location, you will be walking! For those who do choose to drive, they still frequently walk from the parking garage to the destination, and the rest of us... well, we walk everywhere!
3.  Cash.
     You'd better believe it! The abundance of street vendors and sidewalk stands in Taipei is impressive, and if you're going to experience it all, they do not take Visa!
4.  Shopping bag
     Oh, the ever popular shopping bag. Since it is a given that you will be walking (see above), and you will also be carrying cash (as mentioned previously)... perhaps you have already reached the conclusion that you will be carrying something home with you! Actually, for whatever reason, the locals are quite fond of carrying shopping bags for their everyday needs [which only seems odd to me because I always think... isn't that what your purse is for?], and probably 95% percent of the people you see will be carrying a bag - preferably one that says Gucci or Armani on the side ;)
     The bag can hold whatever you like - lunch, your pair of painfully pretty high heeled shoes (ie - to put on once you're done walking), a book, newspaper, umbrella, etc...
5.  Scarf/Sweater/Jacket
     Despite the heat and humidity outside, each day is a constant struggle between dressing for your walk to work, versus dressing for the freezer, aka your office. That being said, it is typical to bring an additional article of clothing that could be worn/put away at any given time as needed. [This may also end up in your shopping bag...]

Basically, if you get my gist, by the time you leave your house each day, it is pretty much like going into battle - no one wants to be caught unprepared!

And on that note - I think I'll follow up tomorrow with what a tourist should never leave home without ;)
Since I am pretty much a combo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

day 28_the Life of a City Girl

Today I find myself surprisingly overflowing with blog ideas (foreign encounters, fashion faux pas, 10 things you should never leave home without... the list goes on...). Nevertheless - I have settled for a simple photo journal of my evening walk. I will save some of the other topics for 'a rainy day'[Even though it is technically raining now... :)] I try to be in the habit of wandering each day after work, walking around and seeing new things, but -shamefully- I have yet to start taking my camera with me, so for now all blog photos have been of the camera phone quality! [Will work on that]
Taipei 101

This is the road when you first leave my apartment - I don't live off of the main road, but on a nearby lane, not far from the major cross street. I live very near Taipei 101, which you can see in the background. For those who are not familiar with the building, it dwarfs all surrounding structures, it is located a few blocks back in this photo. The canopy on the right leads underground to the MRT station.
Street performer. Spinning metal hoop acrobat/gymnast (?)

There are a circus of performers who entertain amidst the busiest shopping areas in the evenings. This guy was absolutely amazing! Spinning, and dancing and performing tricks with his oversized hula hoop. He even hung on at one point as the hoop spun with no hands! I have seen some repeat performers, and I am hoping that I will get to see his show again! :)
Flower stand on the first floor of the bookstore

 Tonight I hit the bookstore, again, and lingered at the first floor flower display, again. This particular stand is so gorgeous, and all of the Halloween bouquets are really fun too, with bright orange pumpkins and golden flowers for fall. One of these days I am going to have a breakdown and empty my wallet at this place!

new bakery nearby, "Crown"

 There is a newly opened bakery on the corner, and they must be doing something right, because every time I walk by, I tell myself that I need to stop in there and check it out - so tonight I did! Beautiful breads, rolls, sandwiches... but best of all is the cake display.


The cakes look amazing! I more or less had to drag myself away to keep from buying a whole cake for myself ;) Don't worry - I didn't. Not today anyways...

Zhongxiao East Road on a rainy night

 This photo is headed back to my apartment again. The walking and window shopping in this big city are absolutely endless, and I love being a city girl, but for those of you who think "that's too many people, and too much noise for me"... keep in mind that this evening stroll ends at my fabulous, cozy little apartment...
With a good book.

Maybe I'll trade in my book money for flowers and cake another day ;)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

day 27_un-four-tunate

A notebook with my own personal attempt at learning a few words...
Trying to remind myself when to use which accent...

Today was Wednesday, another long day at the office, and I was ebbing along through the stack of work that I hope to accomplish eventually... I am currently working on documentation for a high rise building to certify that the building is 'green', and I have been moving through this particular building from ground to top floor. When I finally finished the 43rd floor documentation (whew! - talk about one step at a time) I noticed that I could find no information for the 44th floor. I dug around for awhile until I finally gave up and asked my superior - who informed me that there is no 44th floor to my building (well, clearly, there is a literal 44th floor, but in labeling, the number has been skipped all together). As soon as he said it, I knew I had heard about the unluckiness of the number 4 before, but couldn't remember exactly - so I asked him to explain.

As the case would have it, the number four, pronounced 'si' in Chinese sounds almost identical to the word 'death'. Therefore, for this reason, many buildings are missing the 4th, 44th or various other 4-related floors. My first reaction was of course to think that "Wow, the Chinese are so superstitious," but not a second later he asked me - "Isn't that like the 13th floor in the US?" and I realized we have an identical hang-up... that I don't even know the significance of... At least, the Chinese do have a finite reason for avoiding the number.

Aside from being slightly intrigued, what did I take from this you might ask?

1. I should probably refrain from attempting to speak the word 'four' in Chinese... poor language skills and all
2. No wonder I was able to find my fabulous apartment unsnatched! At least it is not on the 13th floor?
3. I ought to look into why it is that Americans percieve 13 as being 'unlucky' instead of being clueless about my own culture's superstitions!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

day 26_Around Work

Today I had every intention of grabbing something for lunch and heading back to my desk, but by the time I walked all the way to get my lunch, the weather had convinced me to stay outside. It is such a gorgeous day! It's a little different here, because I never get into a car, so by the time I arrived where I was headed, I had been enjoying the sunshine too much to abandon it so quickly! I munched my lunch at a picnic table across the street from our office, and took a few pics for your viewing pleasure.

[View at the front of my office building, across the street, looking back]
You can just see the building there through the trees. Our office is on the 8th floor.
I know it is difficult to see my office through the trees in the photo above, but I think that is sort of the point in this picture :) I was standing across the street from the office - the street is actually composed of 3 lanes with landscaped medians between each. The central lane is sort of like the express lane. The side lanes are for people who intend to turn in the near future.

[View from our small conference room]
Many times when I make a phonecall to one of you and I need some privacy, I call from the small conference room. This is the view. Trees along the street down below at the front of our building (those are the tops of the same row of trees from the first photo). City scape. Mountains, clouds, and a beautiful blue sky beyond. Today was just a great day for a picture.

day 25_the daily HUG

Just another Monday, not too much excitement in the land of humidity.

As the case would have it. I love riding the MRT. Honestly, this should come as little surprise to those of you who know me well. At 13 when someone offered to let me drive their car in a parking lot "for fun"- no interest. At 16 when I was finally old enough to get a driver's license - I still drug my feet. And with my first pickup truck, learning to drive a standard in a parking lot, it still brought me to tears because I thought I had broken the truck when I killed the engine. Like I thought it was never going to drive again...

So, anyways! During my first two weeks here, during my time at a nearby hotel, I rarely rode the public transit and hopped around mostly by foot or taxi, but I finally decided that I couldn't actually justify spending any more cash on cabs. Now that I have really settled in, and have an apartment a few miles from the office, I have started taking the MRT to and from work on a daily basis. Taipei has an excellent public transportation system and the rail is not my only option, but it is my preference. The rail is fast, accessible, you can sleep as you ride, you can practice your fabulous balancing skills - look! no hands! - you can read a book that you haven't been able to put down, no traffic tickets, no parallel parking, no car payment/bills/insurance, and at the end of the day when you squeeze yourself onto that packed rush hour train car, sucking in so that the doors will still close without pinching your stomach.....  maybe you just think of it as a very BIG HUG. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

day 24_Double 10 Day

Double 10 Day, or in this case... Triple 10 Day as it were (10/10/10)

Each year, there is a holiday celebration in Taiwan on 10/10. I have gotten mixed anwers as to what this day is... Taiwan National Day, Taiwan Independence Day, Double 10 Day... regardless, I believe it is the celebration of the Republic of China (Taiwan, R.O.C.) seperating from mainland China (P.R.C. - People's Republic of China). Although Taiwan is still not considered an independent country, there is a definitive seperation between the ROC and PRC and this holiday is in commemoration of that distinguishment. This is a tricky thing to define, so I will not try to explain any further on the issue in my blog, but you can check it out on wikipedia: [I read most of this, pretty interesting stuff]
It is very cool to be able to observe first hand the Taiwanese culture, and although I have not spent any time in China, I can tell that the Taiwanese have thier own very unique personality - full of life, energy, happiness, and freedom/independence. Unfortunately, I tried to check out the fireworks display this evening from my rooftop, but the sky is cloudy and the display must be elsewhere, because there was nothing...

So on that note, I decided to celebrate in my own way by visiting a local bakery! I have been shocked and amazed by the new wave of bakery/pastry/bread shops since my previous visit to Taiwan. It is actually all the rage right now and that works for me! I have been avoiding certain food weaknesses of my own (bread, cheese, chocolate) since my arrival here... think that it is probably for my own good... but tonight I caved and purchased a few items for the week :)

[From left to right] Coconut rum pastry, Swiss sausage danish, Mini Pizza
Total cost $2.50 US
Needless to say, I think my breakfasts will be good this week! Hope you all have a great week ahead - I'm planning on it myself.

day 23_Nada... Internet was on the fritz!

Friday, October 8, 2010

day 22_Chopsticks

Although it may not have occured to some of my readers, I have been practicing my chopstick skills for the past few weeks... and learned today that I have a long ways to go!

Throughout Taipei, regardless of the fare, it is customary to eat your meal with Chopsticks. [Some Western food restaurants serve with actual silverware, but even those restaurants would offer you chopsticks if you preferred :)] So far, I have been munching and maneuvering my way through my meals here, but I recieved better instruction today from a coworker. As opposed to the American attempt at using chopsticks by scissoring both sticks with the assistance of all fingers, it is in fact proper to hold one stick fixed by your thumb at all times, while swinging only the second chopstick as needed - and keeping you ring & pinky fingers out the way. (I can just picture each of you as you read this, holding your hand up, trying to determine if you've been holding your chopsticks correctly or incorrectly)...

So now, even though I have been managing alright, I am making a more concentrated effort to use my utensils the correct way, as this should allow me to be most skillful over time. So far, the items that I still have quite a bit of difficulty with are...

1. Meat with bones - it is quite challenging to me to pick up a piece of meat and eat around the bone, all the while holding it in a pair of chopsticks
2. Fresh fruit or steamed veggies, some varieties - they are slippery little suckers, what can I say?!
3. Hard boiled eggs - similar to the comment above, you sort of stare at the egg and think to youself, "Do I stab it?" : / (Even as I typed #3 it made me laugh!)
4. Soup - this is a 2-handed technique, involving a spoon in one hand with chopsticks in the other...

So, long story short? I am just another grown up, learning not to play with my food...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

day 21_Little Bit of Fun

Day 21. I have officially survived my first 3 weeks in Taiwan. I knew from previous experience that the first month would likely be the hardest, and I am almost through that stretch. There are some things that just simply take time and cannot be rushed. For example, learning my new job, finding my way around, making new friends, and learning to communicate better, whether it be English, Mandarin, or a combination + hand gestures (I am a very expressive person, so I excel in the silent option...).

Tonight I attended a company dinner + happy hour hosted by one of the firm's teams. They have started this new tradition that each month, a design/construction team will plan a group outing for the entire firm, sponsored by the firm. It is a chance for everyone to get to know each other better and have some fun outside of the office. For me, it was a really great chance to get to talk to people! Not at thier desk. To actually have some meaningful conversation. I also took the opportunity to corner many Taiwanese coworkers and speak to them in English... :) as they tend to be very shy about thier English skills, but obviously thier English is better than my Chinese (somehow this fact escapes them) - so I try to make it clear to them how helpful it is for me to be able to be included in the conversation!

I finished the night - scandalously, I suppose, depening on who you ask - with about as much fun as a young married girl is allowed to have... I got a ride home with a boy from the office on the back of his scooter! This was my first scooter ride this trip (have ridden one multiple times during my previous visit to Taipei) and it's fun. What can I say? I was careful, wore my helmet, and I have not bought myself a scooter... but it was a blast riding across the city with the wind blowing in my hair.All in all, I think tonight was great - one more step towards getting to know my own team members better and making new friends at the office.

Goodnight all!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

day 20_What happened to Texas?

*****Happy Birthday Dad!!!*****

Being that the top of my blog says 'From Texas to Taipei,' here is a quick recap of what's going on in the other half of my life...

Poor hubby is currently left behind in Texas, working on tying up all of the loose ends that I left behind. Truck is for sale, no takers yet. House is for sale, no takers there either. Pooch has gone to a new home where he looks so happy you might think he was neglected during his time with us! (Unbelievable, I know). Family and friends seem to be moving on with thier daily grind just fine in my absence, and another garage sale is probably in the not too distant future for dear Jason :)

Apparently, our truck is just the right price that makes it a little harder to sell by owner - just enough that a person is not likely to walk up with enough cash in hand. Also the housing market is not exactly amazing right now, so even though we have had a few showings, we are just patiently awaiting for a buyer to come along! Nevertheless, Jase & I knew from the moment we made the decision to uproot to Taipei that these challenges would all be a part of the process. The hardest part is being without my sweet husband...

Anyways, my parents have finally gotten some offers on thier old house (yay! Happy birthday Dad!), so here's hoping that we do the same, and soon.

Always wanted a little more Lizzie in your life? Here's your chance to mimic that cute Texahoman with the pickup truck and the little house in Dallas ;) Check out my life for sale at:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

day 19_Just A Few Quick Notes

Not much to chat about today, just a few things I think to myself on a regular basis...

1. Just because I am an American, does not mean that I am a 'lazy' American
(keep this in mind as I pass you on the stairway, while you take the escalator)
2. I know that my skin is lighter and my hair color too, but I don't actually need a taxi at all times
(no sidewalk stalking required - please and thank you)
3. When you finish your explanation in Chinese and I answer in perfect Chinese accent "I don't know," this is my indication that I have no idea what you just said... Continuing to speak to me in Chinese will recieve an identical reply.
4. Contrary to popular belief, I can cook and would like to eat at home... I just can't afford to buy an entire new kitchen until I've at least recieved a full month's pay (It is commonly expected that Americans eat out for every meal)
5. Despite what you may have become accustomed to, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way... Don't think for a moment that scooter, taxi, grumpy old man in a wheelchair, Japanese tour bus will not squish you like a bug in thier path... [don't worry, I have been keeping this in mind :) ]
6. Yes - my eyelashes, my honey-brown eyes, my big doe-eyed gaze and my pale skin are all natural - thank you for noticing, but please stop staring :)

PS... shout-out/thank you to my followers :)
I enjoy knowing that I am not always just talking to myself...

Monday, October 4, 2010

day 18_Getting the 'hang of it'

Today (Monday) actually turned out to be a pretty good day!

After dragging myself out of bed... which seems to be impossible with my new little cocoon box - I have the hardest time waking up! That little nook and the big comfy down comforter don't help - I headed to work for the first time from my new place. I rode the MRT (this is the rail/metro here) and switched lines like I was supposed to. I took fresh fruit with me for breakfast, from my grocery shopping this weekend, and leftovers for my lunch. I was set!

Today after work on my way back to the MRT was the first time since my arrival that the weather has been cooler (yay!). I headed home, changed into some more comfortable clothes before heading out to find dinner... I finally reached the point in my time here that I felt confident enough to venture out on my own and order at an all-Chinese, no English restaurant! [Today must have been a good day] <<< Just as a side note, I have already gone through this whole ordering in Chinese thing before, but it was 4 years ago... and I am more than a little rusty!>>>

I chose the same restaurant where Emmy & I dined last week, thinking that at least if I failed at ordering, the woman might recognize me and have pity on me/help me out somehow... but it all worked out, don't worry! I ordered beef noodles (as opposed to beef noodle soup), I am sure of this since I just recently studied the Chinese menu with Emmy... but nonetheless the woman served me beef noodle soup. I thought about trying to explain it to her, but like every other meal where I don't know for certain what I've bought, I decided to just go with it. The soup was.... awesome! That was the best beef, big juicy pieces slow cooked in a rich broth, that I have had since I arrived here in Taiwan!

Now, as I type, I have my windows open with a nice breeze blowing through my apartment, and I am listening to the hum of my laundry spinning in the background... this time with both softener and detergent in the wash. ;)

All in all, I think it was a great day.

day 17_More Shopping!

Sunday consisted of more shopping...
Of course Saturday when I got home with all of my bounty and started my first load of laundry, I discovered that I had in fact bought laundry softener as opposed to laundry detergent... It was actually in English on the label, I just didn't pay enough attention! So among other things, I headed back out to buy a few more items for the apartment.

One of the fun things about being here, on my own, is that I no longer have any "peer pressure" to sway my actions. No neighbors or friends (yet), no family here, no husband at my side, and not even the societal Dallas women to compete with and live up to thier standards. Instead, it is a free for all - what do I want, or what do I want to do?!

In addition to that, there is a widespread acceptance/interest here in cartoon type things. It is not considered childlike to have toys, or figurines on your desk... to wear hairpins with my little pony on them if you wanted... people are just a little more playful, and this is not seen in a negative light.

So... when I saw the hot pink "Drop Your Guns!" ice cube tray, don't ask me why I wanted it, but I did! It is sort of fun to just get to pick out things for my apartment, knowing that I doesn't have to be wife, homeowner, or even 'grown-up' :)

It's the little things in life, people :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

day 16_Shopping & a Movie

For my first full day in the apartment, it was absolutely crucial that I buy some things (toilet paper, bath towels, etc etc etc)... or else I would be drying off with a t-shirt for the forseeable future, among other things! Lucky for me, my new apartment is in a very busy area of Taipei called XinYi (ShinYi) and there are multiple shopping malls/department stores within walking distance. Even though, I might have been satisfied to purchase some of my items from a store equivalent to a Dollar General, I don't know where there is a store like that near my house yet - so I headed to the mall(s). There is a series of buildings nearby, connected by covered sky walkways from building to building, that create one big complex - the Mitsukoshi (not sure I spelled that right...) mall.

I wandered through (I think...) four of thier buildings, and was able to find most of the things I needed - selectively choosing as I went, what I was able to carry back to my apartment... but in the end I still bought too much! By the time I reached my apartment, both shoulders were very sore from the weight of my bags and I had learned my lesson about how much is actually comfortable to carry for a few blocks. Even still, I successfully bought bath towels, dish towel, dishes, snacks, drinks, detergent, toilet paper, and hangers from that trip! Even though my legs do fine for the walking, my feet never quite seem to keep up, so by then, I had a few blister battle scars from the trip.

Being that I have finished the 3 books I've bought since I left Dallas, and I have opted not to pay for cable television in my apartment (yet - we'll see if I stick with this decision), I thought it might be fun to treat myself to a nice dinner and see a movie. Something more relaxing; no more walking for the day... well sort of... so I walked to a nearby restaurant and enjoyed some very American food, and then of course walked to the movie theatre and bought a ticket to see EatPrayLove starring Julia Roberts.

Dinner at a nearby "Hawaiin" themed restaurant
+/- $15 US for meal, mojito, & service charge at a nice restaurant

Skybridge connecting the shopping malls and movie theatre complex

I had actually tried to read this book earlier this year, and just never quite finished the book. I think I made it through Eat Pray...? But the movie was just what I needed. [I won't tell you the plot, don't worry]. The basic concept is that the main character (a woman) is taking an adventure, a journey to foreign places, to find herself... and there were some specific points that I could especially relate to, or that really encouraged me about my own journey here in Taiwan. It was a happy, motivational movie - and I think it is just what I needed this weekend to make me thankful for every new day of my own adventure :) So, that being said, I am really enjoying my first weekend at the new place, the convenience of so many things to do around me, and the rest before another busy week at work!

Oh, and for those of you who are curious - the movie was in English with Chinese subtitles, which is pretty common here. So I actually have the upper hand in movie watching I suppose... Oh! And you can choose if you would prefer for your popcorn to be salty or sweet - the sweet is like Kettle Corn.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

day 15_First Night at the New Apartment

I have officially spent my first night in the apartment, and here are some pics of the new place! Busy, busy this weekend getting settled in... there are quite a few things I need... toilet paper, towels, dishes, bottled water, etc! Also need to memorize my address... it is sort of a handful:
ZhongXiao East Road, Section 5
Lane 71, Alley 12, Building 10, Apt 4F
(please confirm with me before trying to send mail... I am still learning it!)

Welcome to unit 4F... that's me!

Inside the entry... with built-in shoe storage.

(at entry interior) High ceilings and nice lighting + lots of windows = happy Lizzie

Kitchen/dining/built-in storage (TV is on wall at left there...)

Another view of the kitchen

Into the bathroom (to left of the kitchen)

Shower (had to lay down to get the whole thing in view...)


Bed & built-in closets... with reading lamps and shades closed

Bed with shades open! Notice right window is operable

Foot stool/storage/seat


Friday, October 1, 2010

day 14_And the Emmy Goes To...


In my limited time so far in Taipei, one of my associates - Emmy - has proven to be invaluable! When I first looked for her name on the phone list I could never find it, because all this time I thought her English name was supposed to be "Amy". Being that you may have never met anyone named Emmy, perhaps you understand my confusion?

Anyways, on Wednesday afternoon, Emmy accompanied me to my new apartment to sign the paperwork and recieve the keys. The whole thing turned out to be quite an ordeal with 7 (yes, SEVEN!) people in my tiny little studio apartment to handle the affair: Me, Emmy (my company accountant), Carmen (real estate agent), Landlady (apparently a bit of a celebrity), landlady's personal assistant, the head of building security, and the maintenance man. By the time it was all said and done, they had shown me every gadget in the place - there are a few high tech items that might take me a while to figure out, plus a few appliances in Chinese - and created a list for the maintenance man to repair prior to my moving in, arranged for a housekeeper to come and complete a thorough cleaning of the space, and the agent left with a list of appliance buttons to email me English translations of for my use. The whole thing actually took a few hours, and seemed much more complex than the occassions in the past when I have rented apartments in the US - but it seemed so much more thorough, and very well taken care of :)

Then, on day 14... Emmy offered to assist me with moving my luggage to the new apartment. How could I say no? I felt like I really should take her up on the offer, so I did, but I also promised to buy her dinner! So, in the pouring rain, on Thursday night, Emmy & I hopped in a cab with my luggage bags and headed to the new place, immediately followed by a small meal of dumplings at a restaurant around the corner. Something that I have been particularly struggling with is the ability to order food on my own (unless the menu is in English obviously), so as we dined, Emmy translated the Chinese characters for me, and I made a list for myself to study. She also wrote my new address for me in Chinese in case I ever need it to show a taxi driver... 

I could say more, but I think you get the point. Her kindness has been so appreciated!