Posts Tagged ‘food’

Comedy of errors

Sundays are usually straightforward, but yesterday was the most complicated day I’ve had in a long while.  It started off well: I met my private 1-on-1 student on time and had a very informative conversation about civil law systems and common law systems, then went home to hang out for a bit.

Everything started to go wrong when I began to study my planned route to the hash in Sanxia.  My co-worker was resolved to go, and since he intends to buy my scooter and I wanted practice before I make my way to Jiufen by scooter, I thought we’d scooter there together, especially since I feel much more settled and comfortable on a scooter when I have someone on the back.  It seemed the national freeways didn’t allow scooters, but I wasn’t quite sure, so after consulting with him, we set off on the scooter.  We made it to Banqiao without problem, but then I asked a person beside us at a stoplight if we could go on the 3.  It was good I did, because my suspicions from earlier were true!

Sorry I have no pictures from this fiasco, but please enjoy this adorable bread from October.

After getting some ridiculously complicated–or just in Chinese too advanced for me–directions at a 7-11, I decided we should just go to Banqiao Station and take the train like the run’s organizers suggested.  At this point, we would have been only a little bit late, and my hopes were still high, but once we got off the train in Yingge, we couldn’t find a single taxi.  We walked down toward the center of the town, and when we finally found a taxi and hopped in, he kicked us out because he didn’t go where we were heading.  A gas station attendant recommended a bus, which we caught pretty quickly, but it was after 3pm by this point.  We quickly got a taxi, but we were supposed to follow flour from the freeway exit, and I couldn’t make that clear to the driver.  After trying to call a few people, we just had him take us back to Yingge, where we walked the pottery street and took a much needed break at a restaurant.

A bus brought us back to the MRT, and we parted ways as I went to pick up the scooter.  I thought I was safe, but no.  It had started raining while we were on the bus chatting about politics and such, so I got on my scooter a soggy mess.  I set off and had a strange problem with the engine just sputtering out.  Throttling up seemed to help, and so I proceeded until I mistakenly believed myself to be at the Sanchong bridge which would have taken me home the easy way.  I had missed the turn, so I started a long loop through some side streets and alleys where my scooter died for real.  An old man in front of a grocery store couldn’t really help, so he directed me to a scooter repair shop, which, it being Sunday, was closed.  I left it in a parking spot and trudged off to a bus stop.

The bright side?  The bus home went by Longshan Temple and I got a lead on a Christmas gift for one of my brothers.  Also, I saw a little bit of a traditional puppet show that was just puppets fighting each other to the clamor of cymbals and possibly live music.  It was part of a festival, and I’m totally going back before it ends.

And that was Sunday.

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An evening of geek

Tonight as I walked home from work, I had such a confluence of geekiness I couldn’t quite believe it myself.  I was listening to a college classmate’s band (which rocks like System of a Down, A Perfect Circle, and little bit of Coheed and Cambria) and thinking how well it would complement a science fiction show a high school/college classmate is involved in.  As I did this, I walked was walking past the goose-in-a-pot store (they have a LOT of goose–a lot of ALL the goose parts everywhere) and I saw a middle-aged man wearing black pants and a long-sleeved plain red shirt.  On a normal day, this is enough for a private Star Trek smile, but he took in one better: he was wearing a small bag slung across one shoulder that could have easily been a tricorder.  Seriously, the resemblance was close enough that I almost did a double-take.

Guys, this is why I don’t have a boyfriend.

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Just before Halloween, someone gave my head teacher a pitchfork for her desk.  It struck me as so appropriate, especially since it’s such a small and silly thing, suitable for a bureaucrat who can’t manage.






Here you can see my scooter flirtatiously glancing at another scooter.  I’ve decided she’s a girl, but I haven’t settled on a name.










Some elevators are very advanced here; so much so that it’s possible to strike against the Rebellion from inside of one.

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French Wal-Mart

Today I went to a going-away party where I had my first experience with the South African barbecue tradition (braai).  It was delicious and I’m a big fan.  I also had fun getting to know the new teachers, but this post is more about my subsequent trip to Carrefour to stock my new refrigerator.

I saw some interesting things and probably missed great deals because I still can’t understand even enough characters to read a newspaper (something I’m reminded of nearly every morning as I wait for my 蛋餅 at the breakfast shop), but some things need no words.

However, since I only have a cellphone camera, let me help clarify that picture a little: that’s nearly a million kinds of mushrooms.  A mountain of mushrooms.  More mushrooms than you can shake a stick at.  It had no price on it, though, and I had already bought some unfamiliar vegetables (edible rape, anyone?  I really did buy it; how could I not?), so I refrained and decided to try it another day.  I did wind up buying some of those abalone mushrooms, though!  I’m excited to try cooking them all up tomorrow.

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Today was a good day, if I consider the start of the day to be 11:40!  I finished up a two week subbing stretch which means BANK!, plus the kids were great.  I’ll soon be finished with my own little …bunch, which I’m not too bothered about, though I think I’ll miss the original few or perhaps more accurately, the ones I consider the core class.

In other news, I saw the Hello Kitty car again today, wedged up into a parking spot I didn’t know existed in front of the PX Mart.

In other news, my Taiwanese teacher/fried food vendor now has an older buddy who has the thickest accent in the world.  I had been starting to wonder about when my ability to detect accents in Chinese would emerge (beyond the most basic this is Beijing and this is Taiwan), but I’ve totally got it down with this guy.  Half of his words sounded like he was speaking Taiwanese!  He was very helpful, but food words don’t get you far with building useful grammatical sentences.  I really want to buy this Taiwanese book, but I haven’t had the money or the time to get into Taipei and find these people.  Maybe next weekend!

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Dragon Boat Festival

I'm assuming this man made these models...

Today was Dragon Boat Festival (or, more accurately, 端午, which has nothing to do with dragons or boats, but rather the lunar calendar).  It’s a holiday for everyone, which is nice in that I get a holiday, especially from my junior high class, but a bummer since I don’t get paid for today.  The holiday is celebrated with dragon boat races and eating tamales (no, really, an official website called them glutinous rice Chinese tamales), but since that all happened over the weekend, today was mild in terms of noise and commotion on the streets.  Since I subbed on Monday and Tuesday, I had absolutely no down time for two days, and I decided there was nothing wrong with a day of minor errands and hard-drive-TV time.

But let’s talk about the weekend.  All the weeks of practicing and waking up distressingly early on Sunday ran up to this, and it was not a disappointment.  It was gray all weekend, but still pleasant, even when the rain was coming down.  The races were held under the same bridge where we had practiced for the last 4 weeks, but instead of empty concrete and locked up huts, there were crowds of people and rows of vendors.  Along the river, teams lounged under awnings and waited for their turn in the races.

As the flagcatcher, I knelt up in the front, back to back with the drummer.

At our last practice the Sunday before, I had been chosen to be the flag catcher, a position unique to Taiwan’s dragon boat races.  Since I was nervous about it and there were 2 hours to kill before our race time, I watched a race to gauge how high the flags were and when I should jump up on the nose.  I relaxed once I saw that I wouldn’t be risking falling into the Keelung River, holding onto the boat with one toe and reaching desperately down at a dangerous angle.  There’s actually a video on facebook, and I’m tagged in it so it shouldn’t be too hard to find (I think it’s the only video I’m in!).

In our first race, we took second place with 2:32 (500 meters in that time, everybody!), which was good enough to qualify us for Saturday’s heats.  Saturday’s call time was similar to Friday’s, late enough that I could sleep in a bit, but early enough that everything would happen in daylight, and the weather was similarly gray but not bucketing down.

Two teams from earlier in the day make their way back to the dock.

On Friday after the race, I asked to paddle for the second race–after all, I had not practiced for 2 months to just lay on the dragon’s snout and grab a flag: I wanted to get involved like I’d practiced!  I got my wish, but it was a little bit of a letdown since we placed last even though our time was 6 seconds faster!  Our start was very weak, and that’s really where the race is decided.  Nonetheless, it was really fun, and after the race since we had three hours until the opening ceremonies, I wandered the mini-bazaar with some teammates.

Of course, there were 粽子, and since this is Taiwan, there was also stinky tofu and fried meats of all sorts, but I also found some new delicacies like fried huge white mushroom.  Okay, it has a name, but that’s really the best way to think of it.  In English, it’s called king trumpet mushroom, and in Chinese it’s almond abalone mushroom, or 杏鮑菇.  Whatever you call it, it’s amazing.

The opening ceremonies were underwhelming, mostly because I couldn’t see much, although there was a dragon dance that seemed cool from what I saw.  When I was starting to get really bored, someone tagged me to help them get our complimentary Cokes, zòngzi, and …cakes.  By that time, teams were slinking away, and our started to as well.  At that point, however, the Philippine National Team did a performance which culminated with dudes whipping off their shirts, and some of us felt compelled to stay a little longer.  The performance after that was a guy dancer with a strobe light style, who was then joined by some girls who did more standard hip-hop kind of dance, like you might see in a high school or college dance troupe.  We bailed after that, and took the MRT over to dinner, which was very enjoyable.

I’ll cover Saturday night and Sunday later, since this is getting long and your eyes and I both want to take a break!

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Next week

…had better be an improvement on this one.  Somehow, I got sick (I’m blaming the kindergarten monsters), and I’ve been really busy with the start of school, a new kindergarten class, and my normal workload.  At least I had payday at the beginning of the week!

And today… today, 2 out of 3 children got hurt in my kindergarten class, which is a frustrating and worrying occurrence.  I reassured myself that the injuries were way below minor and that the class is all boys, but I still wish they’d behave better.  On the bright side, the cook at Rong Fu is a wonderful woman who set aside a lunch box for me and will continue to do so until I don’t work there anymore.  See, on Thursdays I have two sessions of Chinese, and this means I miss my free lunch, and if you know me at all, you know I am all about free.  At least I got one thing at Rong Fu running smoothly.

Tomorrow is our first dragon boat race, and that at least will be very fun.  The forecast shows rain, but we’ll already be soaked in the filthy Keelung River, so the rain will actually be an improvement.  Unless I can wrangle my way out of being the flagcatcher in the first race, there’ll be a lot of pressure in that race, but if we make it to the next level, I’m absolutely pawning the task off onto one of the slackers who didn’t come to 2 or 3 practices.  Do they really want my eyes, depth perception, and hand-eye coordination to be the determining factor in our success?  Talk about building your house on a shaky foundation!

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