Friday, April 27, 2007

You know you've lived in Taiwan too long when...

Here's a little relief from all the old videos of boring stuff.

I usually don't read lists of things that people send me via email, especially if they are of the "You know you... when..." sort. I don't know whose idea it was to start making long lists of jokes. I mean, if something isn't funny to start with, then repeating it a hundred times doesn't make it any funnier. The humor in the few funny items in those lists is usually diluted by the dozens of un-funny items.

The worst thing is when you get one of those lists that doesn't apply to you. For example, if you are in your thirties and someone sends you a list entitled, "You know you grew up in the 1920's if..."

Another example is something like, "You know you've been a seismologist for too long when..." and you're not a seismologist.

So, a couple of words of advice to people who like to send such lists:

1) Unless it is really funny through and through, don't send it.

2) Even if it is funny through and through, you probably shouldn't send it.

3) Okay. You're going to send it. Maybe it is funny, maybe not. At least make sure it is appropriate to the person to whom you are sending it.

4) Before you click "send," please reconsider sending it.

5) Don't send it.

Now that I have all of that off my chest, I will proceed to include one such list right here on my very own blog. It is for non-Taiwanese people who live in Taiwan, so if that doesn't apply to you, you probably won't get it (but you might think one or two are kind of funny anyway):

You know you've lived in Taiwan too long when...

1. You can order the entire McDonald's menu in Chinese.

2. You decide it makes more sense to drive a motorcycle instead of a car.

3. More than one garment has been ruined by betel-nut spit.

4. Someone doesn't stare at you and you wonder why.

5. You look both ways before crossing the sidewalk.

6. Xiaoxing Wine tastes good.

7. You turn left from the right lane.

8. 70 degrees Fahrenheit feels cold.

9. You see three people on a motorcycle and figure there's room for two more.

10. "Squid" sounds better than "steak".

11. You don't notice the smell.

12. There are more things strapped to your motorcycle than you ever put in a car.

13. Looking at a dog makes you hungry.

14. You stop conjugating verbs.

15. You drive on the shoulder to pass traffic.

16. The main reason you stop at a 7-11 is to buy tea eggs.

17. You expect a Chinese New Year's bonus.

18. Firecrackers don't wake you up.

19. You spend two hours and US$75 to go get potato skins and buffalo wings.

20. You can distinguish Taiwanese from Hakka.

21. Your family stops asking you when you'll be coming back.

22. Taxi drivers are considered "good drivers".

23. You withdraw your money from the bank during Chinese missile tests.

24. Beer really isn't so expensive.

25. You stop and look both ways before driving through a red light.

26. "A", "an" and "the" aren't necessary parts of speech.

27. You know when the next "big bai-bai" is.

28. Smoking is one of the dinner courses.

29. You don't mind when your date picks her/his nose in public.

30. You wear out your horn before your brakes.

31. The police call you to get information about other foreigners.

32. You know which place has the best noodles & duck meat at 3:00 a.m.

33. a) You (male) wear white socks with suits and black socks with tennis shorts.
b) You (female) wear socks with pantyhose in summer.

34. People who knew you when you first arrived don't recognize you.

35. You speak Chinese to your foreign friends.

36. You own a karaoke machine.

37. None of your shoes have laces.

38. Chinese stop you on the street to ask for directions.

39. You leave the plastic on new furniture.

40. Forks feel strange.

41. You can spot the differences between the China News and the China Post.

42. The shortest distance between two points involves going through an alley.

43. You wear blue rubber flip-flops at work.

44. People don't see you for montx, and when they do, they don't ask you where you've been.

45. Your deodorant stick has cobwebs on it.

46. You check that the karaoke machine is working before boarding a wild chicken bus.

47. Chinese remakes of Western songs sound better than the originals.

48. You stare at other foreigners.

49. Over half of your clothes were bought at night markets.

50. You become an expert on bug zappers: the best brands & where to get them.

51. The majority of foreigners who have been in Taiwan longer than you are buried here.

52. You find yourself saying, "Oh geez, not ANOTHER Year of the Rat."

53. You know which turn signal should be on when driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

54. You get homesick for Chinese food while away from Taiwan.

55. Praying at a temple for a winning lottery number becomes a regular thing to do.

56. It becomes a tradition that at least a part of Christmas dinner is stir-fried.

57. Other foreigners give you a funny look when you tell them how long you've been here.

58. You can't think of any good reason to leave.

59. The Statute of Limitations has expired and you still don't go home.

60. You understand that smiling and nodding is Chinese body language for "Stop speaking bad Mandarin and leave me alone."

61. Passing a construction site, you realize metal scaffolding is much more dangerous than bamboo.

62. You've spent more time on the island since 1990 than any of the Taiwanese you know.

63. The last few vacations you've had have been around Taiwan on company outings.

64. You've used up more than one phone card on local calls.

65. Locals are surprised to find out you can't vote in the upcoming election.

66. Your pets are bilingual.

67. Pizza just doesn't taste right unless there's corn on it.

68. Your preferred parking spot is on a sidewalk (and you get upset when someone else parks there).

69. Most meaningful conversations take place in doorways or on slow-moving motorcycles.

70. You can de-bone a piece of chicken in your mouth within seconds.

71. Your job title has more than three words.

72. You think the service in the restaurants isn't THAT bad.

73. You serve Shaoshing wine at home.

74. You're constantly the first on the elevator to hit the "door close" button.

75. You start cutting off the gravel trucks.

76.You prefer squat toilets.

77.You think having a scooter would be fun.

78.You eat squid on a stick.

79.You no longer find those strange and humorous articles in the paper to send home.

80.Your most commonly used Mandarin phrase is no longer "wo ting bu dong".

81.Your answer to an "either/or" question is "yes".

82.When the fashions in the stores look really hip.

83.You're into Sumo on NHK.

84.When chou tofu is no longer stinky.

85.You go to a nice restaurant and look for the rice bowl to put your food in.

86.You wish they had Lazy Susans in the middle of the tables at TGI Fridays.

87.You spend more time driving ON the lines instead of in between them.

88.You read books from back to front.

89.You start to like Kaoliang brandy more than XO.

90.You think packs of dogs are cute.

91.You are on home leave and you say "xie xie" instead of thank you.

92.You call it home.

93.You're ready to name the betel nut as a nutritional supplement.

94.You think that $3,000,000NT for a golf club membership is a steal.

95.You drive like this all the time.

96.You think the Taipei-Tamsui ferry is world class cruising.

97.You think that Taiwan is really trying to protect endangered species.

98.Your pinkie nail is over one inch long.

99.You stop using spell check on your word processor.

100.You buy round trip air tickets from Taipei.

101.You are worried when you DON'T see the soldiers on a bridge.

102.You think that ICRT is quality radio.

103.You tell the taxi drivers to hurry up.

104.You think your nose IS kind of big.

105.You hum along to the tunes in the taxi.

106.You've left umbrellas in more than 3 restaurants.

107.You understand ICRT traffic reports.

108.You keep stuffed animals in your car.

109.You think walking up Yangmingshan looks like fun.

110.When US $4.00 is just about right for a cup of coffee.

111.You can tell the difference between Spring rain, the Plum rain, and the rainy season.

112.The last time you visited your mother you presented her with your business card.

113.The latest you can stay out is 11:30 pm, even on a weekend.

114.You can tell, just by looking, which moon cake has the egg in it.

115.You're getting allergic to fresh air.

116.You get used to being waken up by the "dump-truck tune" instead of a clock.

117.Cable TV reminds you of boring commercials and stock market advisories.

118.Everything you own is pirated.

119.You start to treat your scooter like a spouse.

120.You get used to the habit of not paying any tips while traveling.

121.Your first reaction in buying things is to ask for discounts.

122.Your first reaction in hearing the national anthem is to think of the Chinese elementary school.

123.You get addicted to MSG.

124.You get dogdoophobia -- the fear of stepping on dog doo when walking around.

125.You say "Wei?" instead of "Hello?" when you pick up the phone.

126.The red light is merely suggestive to you.

127.You talk on your cellular phone, play Tetris, smoke, and chew betel nuts, all at the same time.

128.You always ask your best friend back home when he's going to get a motorcycle.

129.You greet people by inspecting whatever they're carrying or telling them how fat they've gotten.

130.You can no longer tell the difference between a burp and the hiccups, a cracker and a cookie, or toast and bread.

131.You're on a first name basis with the staff at the local KTV.

132. The perfect date ends at a KTV.

133. You eat steak and spaghetti in the same meal.

134. You always stares at the ground while walking.

135. You fart in public and don't say excuse me.

136. You spend 3 years telling your students to stop making a V sign in their photos...only to start doing it involuntarily when you see a camera...

137. You "star dropping your lass consonant"

138. You can't have an adult conversation anymore, and feel more comfortable talking with kids.

139. You don't use any "big words"

140. You consider buying a house here.

141. (this one is mine) You conduct entire conversations using only the sound, “Ehn” (嗯 in Chinese).

By the way, I didn't write this list (except the last one)--note the errors. I don't know who did, but I have to say that a lot of these apply to me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lovely Neighborhood 5

In this thrilling episode, I fail to catch a neighboring building making a lot of noise. It is common in Taiwan for industrial and residential and commercial and even agricultural to be all mixed up in the same small area. In this case, someone was obviously running a small factory or fabrication operation in a shed right outside my window. Every morning it would start at about the same time--always before I was up--and it would go on until after I left for work.

On this day, however, it didn't happen.

See the details in Lovely neighborhood 5.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lovely Neighborhood 4

In this episode, entitled Lovely neighborhood 4, I awake to the lilting strains of traditional Chinese music wafting in from the Temple next door.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lovely Neighborhood 3

In this exciting installment, we actually get to see the traffic in front of my building, then we take a journey through the lobby, into the elevator, up to the fifth floor, down the hall, and up to my apartment door. All that in a minute and a half. So fasten your seat belts and get ready for Lovely neighborhood 3!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lovely Neighborhood 2

Here's another exciting installment of My Lovely Neighborhood. I call this one Lovely neighborhood 2. In it we see the resolution of the crisis at the brothel next to my apartment, plus I throw in a few quick shots of other buildings nearby.

As boring as this seems to most human beings, I am posting it to allow myself and others to see what life was like when I lived in that place.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lovely Neighborhood 1

Now that I've posted a few videos of my old apartment, I'm going to treat you with some videos of the neighborhood in which that apartment was located. Here's the first in the series entitled My Lovely Neighborhood.

In this episode we get to witness (or at least hear) a ruckus going on at the brothel near my apartment. This kind of activity went on pretty much continuously in that neighborhood. Not understanding Chinese very well, I never knew what was going on other than it was noisy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Last Look at Old Apartment

This is the last look at my old apartment. It shows how much stuff I accumulated during the two years that I lived there (before I moved there I didn't have many possessions).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sweetheart Tour of My Old Apartment

This is a video tour I did of my old apartment for my girlfriend. I call it the sweetheart tour of my old apartment.

It is not substantially different from any of the previous tours, but my furniture is rearranged a little.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Second Tour of the KGB, Extended Version

Here's a more complete tour of my old apartment. This one includes "all the rooms" and the hallway. It also features narration.

Why am I posting this stuff?

I'm just trying to let friends and family at home get an idea of what my life is like in Taiwan.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

First Tour of the KGB

Here is the first video I shot of my old apartment. It was in the same building as a hip-hop dance school called Keep Going Breakers, or KGB for short. Not knowing the real name of the building, I just referred to it as the KGB.

I know it looks pretty bad with all the trash and beer cans, but I usually kept it quite clean and tidy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Friend Riding a Bike

This is a video of Wes riding his bike. It is very exciting.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Patrick Showing me a Song

My friend, Patrick, and I used to play music together once in a while. Now that he is gone, I wish I'd made more of an effort to make time to play. I always enjoyed it, although it could be frustrating for me, since I'm not a very accomplished musician.

In this video, he is showing me the chords to a song. I was supposed to learn the song, but I don't think I ever quite got it down. I think I played it on the bass at an outdoor show we played once, but I'm not sure (my memory being.... uh.... what were we talking about?).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where I used to live

Here is a video of my old apartment.

I lived there for a couple years. It was only one room with a bathroom.

The Former CKS Memorial Hall

While wandering around Taipei, my friend and I accidentally stumbled upon the Chian Kai Sheck Memorial Hall. A week or so later, I found out it had been renamed the Taiwan Democracy Memorial, or something like that.

Follow this link to some photos of the former Chiang Kai Sheck (or however you spell it) Memorial Hall and surroundings.

Follow this link to a video.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mountain People

When my friend from the states came to visit me in Taiwan, one of the things we did was to visit my friend Laling in his home in the mountains near Zhu Dong (not far from Xin Zhu where I live). When we started out on the trip, the plan was to ride my scooter out to some hot springs, but as we got further into the countryside I realized that we were getting closer and closer to Laling's house, so I gave him a call and he invited us to come over.

I regret not having more photos of the actual ride up the mountain, the last leg of which was terrifying. The "road" was about five feet wide, was washed out or covered by rock slides in many parts (more parts than were not), full of hairpin turns, and was so steep in places that my scooter was barely moving. I'm just glad that my friend, who was riding on back, wasn't aware of how scared I was.

When we first got up to where Laling was, he and his family were still at work harvesting bamboo.

The scenery on the mountain, though shrouded in fog and mist most of the time, was beautiful. It was very rugged, but lush and green. It was also very quiet, which was a nice change from city life.

Laling's house is very simple. It has an indoor kitchen and sleeping area, but most of the time we spent outside in what serves as a living room. When we went to bed, the whole family slept in one room on a raised wooden platform. There were twelve of us: Laling, his two sons, his parents, his brother and sister, his sister's husband, his sister's son and daughter, and my friend and I.

Because they are aboriginal, Laling's family is allowed to hunt. They showed us how they make traps and snares, and Laling showed me their gun, which is a home-made muzzle loading contraption made of electrical conduit, a wooden stock, tape, and rubber bands. We didn't get the chance to shoot it because it was too rainy to go hunting.

All in all it was a really enjoyable and enlightening experience, and it reminded me of how diverse Taiwan is in terms of culture and technology. I should probably mention that the title of this post, "Mountain People," is not particularly politically correct. The aboriginal people of Taiwan are sometimes collectively referred to as mountain people, basically because they were driven into the mountains by successive waves of outsiders moving to the island. The Mandarin words for "mountain people" are considered derogatory, but because of the context of our experience--literally visiting people who live and work in the mountains--I chose this title. It is not intended to be descriptive of an ethnicity, but rather of the location of this particular family's home.

All the photos from our trip to the mountain can be seen at My Yahoo Photos.

I highly recommend watching the following videos. They give you a very good idea of what life is like for my friend's family up in the mountains, and they also show the natural beauty of the place. You can follow the links to YouTube, or watch the videos imbedded in this post.

Here is a video my friend made during the trip up the mountainside:

Here's the link to that video: In the mountains Southeast of Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Here's a video of us going back down the mountain: Riding a scooter down the mountains of Taiwan. It was shot on a fairly decent stretch of the road. It is very quiet because my scooter's motor kept dying, so we just coasted most of the way down.

This video, Misty Mountain Morning in Taiwan, is a view from Laling's home the morning after we spent the night there.

Another video of Morning at Lalings in Taiwan.

Here we are getting ready to have Dinner at Laling's.

Here is another shot of Dinner with Tayan People.

Laling's family makes their living by Harvesting Bamboo in Taiwan.

More Bamboo Harvesting.

One more of Bamboo Harvesting.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Penghu - April 2007

I just got back from a trip to Penghu with my girlfriend and her two friends. My girlfriend is from there, so we stayed with her family. Unfortunately, the weather was cold, windy, and rainy, so we didn't get the chance to do much in terms of beach activity. Still, we drove around and got to see a lot of the sites.

To see more pictures of the trip, go to My Yahoo Photos. [Sorry. Since I posted this Yahoo discontinued their photo service].

To see some pictures of my last trip to Penghu, go HERE. (These pictures are from my trip to Penghu last October during Moon Festival).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nan Liau Fish Market

I just posted a bunch of photos of the Nan Liau fish market and harbor area to my Yahoo Photos, so if you want to take a look, just follow the link: MY PHOTOS OF NAN LIAU.

I also have some newly posted videos of Nan Liau on You Tube:

* Live Crabs

* A View of the Harbor

* Me Filming Bernie Filming Fish Guy

* More Live Stuff at the Fish Market

* Me Throwing Baseballs at the Fish Market

My Most Popular Videos

Below you can watch the videos that I've posted on You Tube that have been viewed the most times.

The first one gets a lot of comments and has, at the time of this writing, been viewed 5,436 times. It is called "Big Fucking Spider."

The next one has actually been viewed more times, with a total at the time of this writing of 4,580 views. This one kind of freaks me out, because it is of my girlfriend wearing a disposable raincoat with the hood cinched up around her face. We were riding a scooter through a gargantuan thunderstorm, and it was the only way for her to protect her face from the driving rain. The people who seem to like it so much tend to be a bit kinky (which is fine with me) and as near as I can tell are interested in erotic asphyxiation, or something like that. The video has nothing to do with that, but I can see how people who like asphyxiation might get a kick out of it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pugilism, It Ain't All Gravy

pu·gi·lism, noun
The skill, practice, and sport of fighting with the fists; boxing.

I recently sent the following text to my friend in an email. I re-read it later, and I thought it was kind of funny, so I thought I'd post it here. To clarify a few things, I have been taking boxing lessons for the last month or so. My coach is an aboriginal guy named Laling. He lives in the mountains with his family, including his brother. When my friend from the states came to visit me in February, we went up and spent the night with them (which is something I will blog about in the future). Anyway, sometimes Laling's brother comes to boxing practice to help out with coaching. For some reason he decided to give me special attention one day. Read on...

Hey, Payday, What's up?

Check this out: remember Laling's brother from the
mountain? Well, he's been helping out coaching the
boxing class. Turns out he's a pretty good boxer.

Anyway, the other day he came into the gym and he just
walked up to me and said, "You fight me."

Next thing I know we are in the ring--no mouth guards
or head gear or anything--and I'm having to box this
crazy motherfucker. It couldn't have lasted more than
a minute or two, but he basically punched me in the
face about six times. I got one good shot in with a
left hook to the side of his head, but it was kind of
an accident as my arms were just flailing around as he
batted my head back and forth like a ping pong ball.

I know he was taking it easy on me, and he could have
killed me if he wanted to, but it still smarts to get
socked in the snout like that.

A week later I was back in the ring duking it out with
a guy who is a champ kickboxer. Again with the ping
pong ball head. Plus he kept kicking my legs out from
under me (which he's not supposed to do, but what am I
going to do, tell my mom?).

And I have to admit that one time this kid came to
practice and he beat the crap out of me, too. He's
thirteen, but he's about the size of a nine-year-old.

I think I joined the wrong club!

I don't know why I'm telling you all this. I guess I
don't have anyone to talk to.

You bastard.

So you can see that despite all of my efforts, I have yet to master the pugilistic arts. I'm not sure if by continuing to try I will get better, or get dead. Oh well, it is better than a kick in the ass... a little.