Posts Tagged ‘news’

Sending flowers

A bouquet (courtesy of the Taipei Flora Expo) for my mother on Mother’s Day.

Simple flowers to start.

Add in some peppers for surprise and spice.

Throw in some lily-lookin' things!

Top it all off with a charming bush, with the pinkest wax apples I've ever seen.

One more amaryllis or what-have-you for good measure...


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Earthquaking again!

Earthquake 050 of the year was respectable, and one of the first I’ve seen close to New Taipei City.  Usually they’re down in the south or east, but we just had a 5.7 up here.  It was pretty strong!  Everything’s okay, although I was quite surprised.  I bet it would have been madness on the 10th floor.

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The signs said pumpkin, but I lean toward squash.

Taipei is by no means a concrete jungle devoid of green, but what it does lack is open spaces.  The Flora Expo satisfies that need and adds in vast beds of flowers and shady groves of trees.  One of my favorite parts was the bower of ornamental pumpkins, squashes, and tomatoes, partly for their shade value, and partly because they have such a clean smell: not sweet like flowers or cold like pines, but rather a green and summery smell that is very refreshing.  Whenever athelas is mentioned in Lord of the Rings, I think of this smell.  Well, that or rosemary.

Speaking of rosemary, let’s address one of the problems of learning Chinese: you can’t just look at it and sound it out.  When you try (as I often do), you often mix sounds together.  Rosemary is a perfect example.  When I saw the sign nestled in the stalks, I thought “I can read that!  That’s mí​moxiāng​!  What an amusing and adorable name.”

Well, a little research once I got home revealed that 迷迭香 is actually pronounced mí​dié​xiāng​, and I was confused because I fused two characters into one sound sometime back in my memory.

This was a soccer stadium, but I'm not sure if these are the stands or just part of a courtyard.

Other highlights of the Expo were the temple fighters and the culture pavilion in general, as well as the country pavilions from Japan, the US, Taiwan, and others.  I’ll come back to these in future posts.

Most of my enjoyment of the Expo came from basking in the masses of flowers and the smells of so much greenery.  I’ll leave you with a double rainbow that I saw in spite of the muggy and rainless weather.

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Technological difficulties

I went to the Flora Expo today (by free bus; my favorite kind!) and took many wonderful pictures and videos.  However, my Bluetooth connection is acting up, so I can’t get the pictures onto my computer.  Please patiently bear with me and check out this bizarre and random “Florapedia” page on the Expo’s website.

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That’s why

Recently, I switched jobs and I’ve been asked “Why Taiwan?” a lot.  Up until this morning, my answer begins with learning a language and ends with friends in Taiwan, since people invariably follow up with “Why not China?”  Rarely do I have to pull out my $140 reason to not go to China, which is a nice jokey way of avoiding political discussions.

But while the $140 tourist visa is really only a short-term deterrent, the Great Firewall is not only long-term, but also apparently ever-growing.  I read a few blogs out of China, and this morning’s Sinosplice about the crackdown on VPNs only increased my confidence that Taiwan was the right choice.  Taiwan absolutely has its faults, but none so great as China’s.

ETA: At some point in my past I was woefully misinformed about the cost of a tourist visa.  I have just now discovered it’s $30.  囧

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It’s now 2011 and I had a good time ringing it in.  I don’t think I did anything remarkable for 2010, but I know that from my freshman year of college to my senior year, I had decidedly limited New Year’s Eves due to the Rose Parade.  Since 2011 marks the 100th year of the Republic of China, I set my mind to seeing a spectacle, and in spite of all the warnings, I went into the city with my roommates.

They had an idea to take the bus to a key MRT intersection and find a club or bar, but I was going to see the fireworks at 101, no question about it.  They decided that it wasn’t a bad idea, and we rode the bus, going slower and slower as we approached the road closures around Taipei 101 and the city hall.

While on the bus, we noticed the masses of people streaming past us, often faster than the traffic, so we knew that it would be as crowded as people said, but once off the bus, the feeling of an oppressive and too-dense crowd never really kicked in.  Not until the fireworks were over was it even crowded in a bad way, and even then it was still pretty orderly.

Favorite moments:

  • seeing the night sky as starry dark blue with sparse clouds instead of as an orange haze as it’s recently seemed in Xinzhuang
  • using a squat porta-john (most pleasantly fragrant portable toilet I’ve ever encountered)
  • walking right down the middle of Zhongxiao E. Road, a main thoroughfare
  • cramped and undoubtedly freezing belly dancers on the smallest stage in the world
  • crowd control in a 7-11 and my resulting grapey-vodka drink (I forgot how much I liked grape juice!)
  • waiting around and seeing the various ways people were occupying themselves
  • counting down the New Year in Chinese, which was disappointingly difficult and made me sympathize with the kindergarten kids I have made do this in the past
  • the excellent fireworks all around the 101 area and up and down the building itself
  • guarding my alley-peeing roommates and almost slipping off the curb playing with a sparkle-stick I had found on the way to said alley
  • witnessing an engagement or even extremely casual wedding go down on the median
  • walking 5 MRT stops but getting good seats and then taking an affordable and comfortable taxi home,  frequently recognizing what I thought would be an unfamiliar area

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Everybody, everybody: I am not dead

It’s okay. The earthquake woke me up (gently, I might add!) but did nothing more. It was actually pretty cool, since I never felt an earthquake back home.  Now I know what they’re like (from 7 stories up, at least).

Also, so far there are no reports of big death or damage, so that’s even better!

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