Monday, February 27, 2006

Wherever You go, There You Are

I came here
Thinking I would "get away from it all"
But there's one little hitch
You see
No matter how hard I try
I can never seem to get away
From me.

Edit: Aplogies to Jackson Browne...I think I plagarized - unitentionally of course! He wrote: "no matter how fast I run, I can never seem to get away from me." I don't remember which song that's from though.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Living the Good Life

Yesterday Anjoli, my friend here in Taipei, Alice and I treated ourselves to a haircut in an upscale salon near us called Mods Hair. (I wondered if anyone of them have heard of the Who?). Most of the stylists were there were men. I have to say - men here in general (young ones) are quite into style and have very cool hair. (Much more so than the women!).
I had a new experience while getting my hair washed in a vibrating chair - I was tingling from head to toe! The shampoo guy gave me a hard core accupressure message - he was jamming his thumb on the top of my head and I felt this tingling in my right lower leg. Anyway, it woke me up! Then they served me jasmine tea while getting my haircut. I'm getting a taste for it - I never really cared for it at home...I'm glad Alice came (she's from Taiwan) - she translated perfectly for us and we ended up with really nice cuts. Anjoli's stylist asked her if she wanted her hair curly or straight (it's more curly here in Taipei). She opted for straight and wow - I wish I had taken a picture. I won't say anymore because moms shouldn't brag...but he spent nearly an hour on her, and it showed. The total price for both haircuts: a meager $50 (USD)!
We did a little shopping afterwards - there's an incredible store nearby - it's like a mini ultra modern Harrod's. I need to take pictures of their bakery. Beautiful pastries - too pretty to eat! I'm going to get Anjoli's birthday cake there (her bday is March 8th).
For dinner all of us (Sujoy, Anjoli, Alice and her husband Thomas and I) went up Yangmingshan or "Yummy" as the locals refer to it Mountain. We had dinner at an outdoor restaurant - it was breathtakingly beautiful. We arrived to a brief display of fireworks - real ones - not bottlerockets - right over our head - set to Enya's "Sail Away." It's weird, but after my harrowing ordeal a few days back, I was thinking how I could have used an IV dose of Enya...yeah I admit I do enjoy her music. There's a time and place for New Age!
Well, it was a rare treat. Dinner was fab - I sound like a broken record, but the food here is the best on the planet...but you need to have Taiwanese friends who do the ordering for you!
Anjoli starts school tomorrow! Let the panic attacks commence! No - she'll be fine. It will be a little rough on all of us the first day...
Sujoy and I joined a gym today! We're gonna have kickin' bods come August...just you see.
(Do I dare post before and after shots?? Never!)
Hope all of you are well.
Did anyone see my pics of Danshui or are they terribly boring? You need to click on them to enlarge them...but you probably know that already.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pictures of Danshui Part II

Pictures of Danshui Part I

Finally some fresh pictures! These were taken a few days back at Danshui. I loved this one arcade - it's the very pink one - it was full of those sticker/photo booths. I took a picture of a photo Valentine. If you look closely at the shot with Anjoli you can see a Christmas tree in the lower left corner - it was covered with Valentines. I like how they combined the two holidays! Why not? There are no rules here...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Culture Shock

You've got to continue to grow, or you're just like last night's cornbread--stale and dry.
-Loretta Lynn

I have to remind myself that I must reach out eagerly and without fear for new and enriching experiences - to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt.
But it's hard.
Yesterday Anjoli and I went on a little adventure - we took a Mass Rapid Transit train to the end of the Red line to a place called Danshui. It's where Taipei's Danshui river meets the sea. (Pete Townshend's song "The Sea Refuses No River" kept looping through my head all day!). Getting to the MRT was a little tricky - we had to take a free shuttle outside of a nearby Macy's-like department store. There are a few different shuttles - and of course the signs were all in Mandarin script - so I had to use the old ask- someone-and-point-to- your- map techinque. A woman was kind enough to direct us to the right line - we got on the shuttle - then she tapped me on the shoulder when we reached the station. Good thing she did because not everyone got off, and who knows where we would have ended up!
We got to the ticket booth and were directed to the automated was a little confusing - but - again - another woman helped me out. People are SO sweet and caring here, I just can't get over it. Anyway we found the right train, and, even after getting off and changing trains after an announcement was made, we got off at Danshui (once AGAIN a couple helped us out when we had to change trains - although I was the one who told THEM that we had to get off and change).
As we exited the station we walked along a cobblestone boardwalk area - full of arcades, restaurants and colorful shops. I read about a ferry which can take you to Fisherman's Wharf - a tourist trap, but, well, that's what we are! So I found the ticket booth, and crossed my fingers that I was buying the right tickets (there were a few ferries) and luckily enough- I did! It was a 15 minute ride - it was cool riding through the waves of the sea - it was a windy day so it was pretty choppy.
Anjoli and I walked around looking for soup - we were so cold. We found a nice restaurant - had a hard time ordering though - but the manager helped us out. The food was incredibly yummy - I can still taste the salmon miso soup. I wish all of you could try it! I also ordered vegetable soup, but we got bok choy and mushrooms instead , as we later found out there was no vegetable soup. I think we were taken advantage of a bit, but oh well. The portions were so huge...we had stir fried beef as well! So much for my diet. It was an expensive lunch so we ate our leftover pizza from Pizza Hut for dinner.
We headed back to the station, did a little window shopping - I bought Anjoli a Voodoo doll keychain (!) it's cute! We got to the station and I was looking for the entrance, when I realized Anjoli was NOT with me! I SCREAMED her name - she didn't come running until the second time I yelled for her. I went ballistic! She was huddled in a group of people who were looking at toy caterpillars that looked real. My heart stopped, I swear.
We took the train back - it was rush hour. At one point an elderly Buddhist nun got on and I quickly jumped up to give her my seat, but she refused,smiling and pointing to Anjoli. Finally, a few stops later a man practically picked her up and sat her down shouting in English - "sit down!!"
We got to our stop, and I asked the man in the information booth for directions on where to catch the shuttle, but he couldn't understand me. We wandered around - bought some socks (30 cents a pop!) then hailed a taxi. I had a card for Anjoli's doctor- she's been sick - yes she's already been to a very nice, conventional English speaking doctor.
He charges $12 for an office visit - medications included! She wasn't improving so I went back to get antibiotics for a sinus infection. Poor thing -she's been sick for 2 weeks.
I asked for syrup - so the pharmacist gave me a sealed box of Augmentin and some acetaminophin that he ground up and put into individual packets (you add it to water).
Well, we get home, and I open the box and totally freak out - because it's filled with powder - he didn't mix it. AND the doctor told me to give her a dosage of 8 ccs, but the cup was in mL.
So I had to drag Anjoli back to the doctor (it's not too far of a walk, but still - she wasn't feeling well). I made her speed walk - which wasn't very nice, but I was SO upset.
I fly into the office and say "excuse me!" to the pharmacist and proceed to tell him that he made a mistake - he forgot to mix the medicine. Then he insists that I'M supposed to do it and then I broke down. I started to cry and told him in a panic stricken voice: "I'M FROM THE UNITED STATES!!! WE DON'T MIX OUR OWN MEDICINE!!!!!" So the nurse told me to wait a minute, the doctor would be right out to help me. I apologized, still crying, explaining that it's so hard - the language barrier - CULTURE SHOCK - my husband has been away (he's been gone for 4 days). She smiled and said, "you're a good mother." That helped so much - it really did. The staff bend over backwards for you - giving Anjoli little candies while we wait - finding her Snoopy stickers after the doctor saw her. I can't get over it.
(She also told me that I looked like a "fast train." Yeah - more like a train WRECK).
The doctor ended up showing me how to mix the antibiotic (I was confused by the directions, but when I read it today - it actually was pretty straightforward!). But I was also mad about the measuring cup.
I feel badly now for freaking out. I think that will be my final nervous breakdown for awhile...and the moral of the story is: before leaving the doctor's office next time, (hopefully not too soon), I will CHECK the meds and make sure everything is hunky dory!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Our Apartment in Tien Mu, Taipei

Ok I'm slow! Here are pics of the new pad and neighborhood - some of you have seen these already. I have to wait for my USB thingy for my camera to arrive before I can post new pics. So should be here in a few days. It's stuck in customs. Our apartment is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath. It's 1250 square feet - but that's because there's only one closet! The second picture is our bedroom - I love the pine tree - the needles look like fingers. Very pretty. I really love the area - it's so vibrant. There's so much to see - millions of little shops - vendors selling all sorts of food (the majority of which is still a mystery to me!). I'm afraid either myself or Anjoli will get run over by a scooter while checking everything out. ( They whizz by so fast and never stop for pedestrians). We have an amazing bakery right around the corner - the bread is to die for. Anjoli is a big fan of their croissants.
The funny thing is our little street (ok it's an ALLEY) is so quiet. I figured living in the city would be very loud - but that's not the case, thankfully! Only hitch is our neighbors upstairs are renovating so it's "hammer time" all day long, starting at 9 a.m. sharp. It's ok, I'm not complaining.
I have so much to share - funny language confusion stories...don't worry - they're coming! It's just overwhelming at this point...I don't know where to start.

Be back soon - hope all is well back in the states! I have to admit I'm already a little homesick...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Howdy from Taipei!

Hi everyone -
We made it! Arrived safe and sound Wednesday evening. Got our DSL hooked up yesterday.
I've been jotting down notes on our adventure since we arrived and will write a proper post later on...I won't be able to post pics for awhile - I have to wait for the rain to stop -It's been POURING bucketloads for the past 2 days... we better get used to it! I can't wait to take pics of the marketplace - the produce displays are so beautiful - lots of funky fruit and whatnot. :)
I do have pictures of the apartment that were sent to me awhile back so I'll try to share them (they were in a weird format-hopefully I'll figure it out). I promise to share them! Really truly.
I'm missing the Olympics! No coverage here that I can see...I have to pick up a paper and see if I can find a tv listing... The Taipei Times is in English.
Tomorrow we'll go visit Anjoli's school - it's halfway up Yangmingshan Mountain - it's supposed to be gorgeous at this time of year up there - cherry blossoms and other flowers are in bloom. I'm having panic attacks just thinking about the day I send her off to school on the schoolbus! Say a prayer for us! (I'm sure she'll be fine). She's not starting until March 1st - that will give us some time to explore the whole city (on the MRT- Mass Rapid Transit).
Time for "tea and oranges that come all the way from China" (to quote Leonard Cohen).
Be back soon!
(Just fyi it's Sunday, 9:00 a.m. - the date stamp will show PST.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

5 Things You Must Know About Me!

Ok Jack tagged me so I better post this...ok here goes:

1. I love ice cream (in fact I love most things that are bad for you, food or otherwise!).
2. I have a bad temper (but only at home and I am trying hard to control it).
3. I am generous.
4. I'm notoriously 5 minutes late (no more than 10).
5. I repress my artistic talents and this makes me very sad. : (