Tuesday, September 25, 2012

my chinese so good!

Well my adventure in Taiwan is almost over so I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about my handle of Chinese and if I've mastered it in the short time I've been here. Prior to coming to Taiwan I had tried to learn Chinese on my own using Rosetta Stone or just random language websites. You know because China is becoming a superpower so knowing Chinese can only help me succeed. Of course I only spent a significant amount of time on it when there wasn't any television shows to watch or I was just super bored and wanted to feel like I was being productive. The thing with learning Chinese on my own is that it is entirely dependent on my own motivation which wanes when I have distractions like TV and internet. My mom and dad were adamant that I learn Chinese while I was in Taiwan. Every time I video chatted with them they were asking me if I had enrolled in classes and such yet. I procrastinated because my work schedule only allowed me to take classes either super early in the morning or on the weekends. My parents were all for me going to class on the weekend but that was gonna happen over my dead body. Seriously weekends are for exploring the country not to go to class. Blah so after my parents incessant nagging I finally found a private Chinese teacher.
There were three other students (all English teachers) in my class, all from America. I already had the advantage with my Cantonese skills. Mwhahaa! I can't even comprehend trying to understand Chinese without any foundation or basis in it. If the teacher said something, it was easy for me to just draw on my Cantonese vocabulary to understand what was going on. No clue how the others did it. The only other student who was getting it studied a lot. Anyways the other two soon fell behind and then just dropped out because they either moved or couldn't comprehend it at all. That is when things got craptastic. Chinese vocabulary was getting harder and started to deviate from Cantonese more and more and since I don't study the other student was kicking my ass in class. I couldn't even pretend I was studying because every weekend I was going out and only opened my Chinese book for class. I especially hate translate this English sentence to Chinese. BOOO....

I don't know why but now when I need to say something in Chinese my brain doesn't try to think of it in Cantonese first. Ugh this is where my informal learning of Cantonese really hinders my Chinese learning. Since I learned colloquial Cantonese and not in a formal institute, I missed out on all the grammar and such, that when I speak Chinese I usually just speak in slang or in shortened sentences. My communication skills are great...with kids. I can have entire conversations with them! It is also because of my bilingualism that people say I speak Chinese with a Cantonese accent instead of an American one. I can totally pass off like I'm from Hong Kong.Whoop Whoop!

So did my Chinese get better because I took classes? My local friends tell me my Chinese has definitely improved and when I opened Rosetta Stone again I was hitting the tones more so that's good enough for me. It helps that I live in a country that only speaks Chinese but everyone I know speaks English so I never really get a chance to speak it. My speaking skills are atrocious. I can understand what people are saying but I wouldn't be able to respond to them. If the other person even questions what I'm saying I automatically go into failure shame mode and just revert back to English to prevent embarrassing myself more. :( Most times when I hear Chinese my mind just blanks out and I don't even pay attention I just utter "I don't understand." I'll prob have to enroll in classes or something when I get back into the states just so I don't lose what little Chinese skills I got. I think everyone I know speaks Cantonese but anyone who does speak Chinese want to practice?

Now don't think I'm such a lazy student that I barely did any work, I'm still Asian enough to put SOME effort into my Chinese. Since my classes don't cover writing and reading I've taken to doing that on my own. Looking at the dictionary/index at the back of my Chinese book and just writing it repeatedly over and over - so monotonous. Then I use my students to tell me how to write the correct stroke order and to test me. Haha great use of their English class time :P 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

a new favorite!!!

I'm obsessed with boba drinks or as they are called here pearl milk teas. I remember back in college I would spend $20+ a month buying them from the local boba store. Any occasion was a boba drinking occasion. Need a break from studying? Lets grab boba! Meeting up a friend? Let's get boba! Bored and nothing to do?? Let's walk, talk and get some boba! So coming to the country that invented this awesome drink was a chance for me to drink pearl milk tea every day. You think that for a $1 USD a cup and drink stands everywhere that I would be guzzling these nonstop throughout the day. I guess it being so accessible has made the boba drink lose its hold on me. Also because they really only have one flavor pearl milk tea. Any changes in flavor comes from changing teas like oolong and green. They don't have my beloved almond milk tea (guess that's an American invention) so its more motivation for me not to guzzle down those high caloric drinks everyday. However after a particularly hot day at work, and our office was ordering boba drinks to be DELIVERED to us, I discovered the awesomeness of ice cream black tea. Interesting fact: in Chinese black tea is actually called red tea because the name is based on the color of the tea after its been brewed while black tea is named after the color of the tea leaves after oxidation. I love the delivery service here where anything McDonald's to pearl milk tea stores can bring it right to your doorstep - if you order over a certain amount and all without paying an additional fee! People are warning me about reverse culture shock when I get back home and I can already imagine the horrors of having to tip people for lackluster service and having to walk down super dark streets with my keys in my hands - gotta be ready to stab muggers in the eyes with it.
I've had the chance to try the ice cream black tea from two popular drink store chains 50 Lan and Ching Shin Fu Chuan. I definately prefer the 50 Lan version more and lately it has been my drink of choice. I haven't had a regular old pearl milk tea for a long time now. The Ching Shin version had a sesame taste that wasn't bad but made me pause and think hmm odd flavor every now and then. At both these chains the ice cream black tea cost $45 NT for a large cup. You still get asked about the amount of ice and sugar syrup you want in each cup. There are different flavors of ice cream tea in that you can ask for different teas to be used - 50 Lan also does an ice cream milk tea that costs $50 NT. 50 Lan also offers mango ice cream while at Ching Shin the ice cream black tea wasn't an option on their menu but can still be made. To me this reminds me of an Asian version of the ice cream float and I hope I'll be able to find it in the States when I get back. That or make my own...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ktv till our voices die out!!

Today we went to a KTV for four hours - how Taiwanese! Haha. I'm feeling more and more like a local doing things locals do. The KTV we went to was awesome and was actually similar to the KTV places I see in Asian dramas rather than the dingy dirty places I've gone to before. This one was high tech with a large flat screen tv embedded into the wall. An unlimited food buffet was also included in the price! Eating and singing karaoke goes hand in hand. Loved it!

There was hot and cold food and then a whole another area that included just desserts.
only one plate of many: curry, pepper chicken and a dose of veggies!
mint ice cream and chocolate covered marshmallows
Recently, a bunch of the Asian staff have left the Erchong campus which has been super sad and so we've been doing a lot of hangouts together to say goodbye and just to keep in touch. I can't believe I have a little over a month left before my contract is over. It's so weird but I've gotten sooo close to my coworkers just recently and so now that I've found my niche it sucks that I have to leave. Wish I hadn't wasted my time earlier on in the year and that these coworker friends of mine had started working earlier so that I could have met them sooner! Of course it helps that most of my friends will have stopped working at my school so at least I choose a good time to go :P
gonna miss these guys so much!!
Usually at these KTV parties I'm pretty much just there to be an audience member since I don't sing Chinese songs and don't want to sing English songs by myself. This time however I did sing some songs - super badly. Haha Sam and I drove people out of the room several times. Hilarious. I think our friends know now not to let the foreigners sing. I suck at most songs since I only know the chorus and the rest I'm just like ehhh but we paid tribute to the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. :D While we were at the KTV a fight actually broke out in the hallway between two groups of guests. The KTV employees just stood nearby and didn't do anything to stop them. I guess it wasn't a fight but more of a shouting match. All the participants looked like they were in high school. Haha. After all the shouting they just went back to their respective rooms - what a let down. At first when I heard that we were going to singing KTV for four hours I was thinking that was way too long but with all the eating and fist pumping and singing backup, the time passed really fast. Four hours of karaoke, unlimited buffet access and specially ordered foods delivered to our room only cost $360 NT per person. God what a steal! I'm gonna miss such cheap entertainment when I go back to America. :(

Saturday, August 18, 2012

a butler cafe and fan-girling like crrrrrrrrazy

If you would like to know what happen today and skip the rant please skip down to the second paragraph.

So today there was gonna be a fireworks show happening in the Tamsui area which Cody invited Sam and I to. Another friend of hers who I had met previously wanted to go along which I was fine with since we had gotten along the first time we met. We had to meet at 9 am today so that Cody's friend, could go to some temple to pray for her relationship. Even though I hated waking up so early I was ok with meeting so freaking early especially since I had stayed up until 3 am chatting with my mom and auntie about their upcoming trip to Taiwan and then our subsequent trips to Hong Kong and Thailand! So excited about Thailand, it'll be my first time there and I can't wait!! Anyways back today... so just as I get to the meeting point Cody tells me her friend is going to be late. I immediately got annoyed because one of my biggest pet peeves are people who are always late to stuff and on top of this it was her idea to meet so freaking early. Ugh I hate people who are running late without a good excuse, hers wasn't one. So even though I'm annoyed I still greet her nicely and don't pile any shit on top of her cause she's Cody's friend and I'm not gonna treat a friend of a friend rudely. So later in Taipei we end up walking for blocks in the treacherously hot sun to find this mysterious temple which turns out to be located in some apartment building and I guess is privately run. It was all really bizarre. Why was it necessary for us to go with her? I would have been fine meeting them up later or whatever... On top of it the whole time she was on her phone, not even acknowledging or talking to us, she said her English is bad but not even any hint that we are alive or that you know us is pretty freaking awful. What is the point of coming to hang out if you're just going to be on your phone the whole time?!?! Second pet peeve people who "hang" out with people by standing near you with their phones. Then she randomly calls people to meet us up to go to this cafe that she had made reservations at for lunch. Alright so we ended up waiting for her some more... At this point I was ready to snap her head off. Honestly it's one thing to act super rude when you're hanging out with a friend but when you are hanging out with friends of friends you think to not put your mutual friend in an awkward position you would act on your best behavior. UGH at this point I was more than happy to just walk away from this whole mess and entertain myself. Then one of her friends finally arrives and we learned that she invited another friend along and instead of making us all wait for the second friend the first friend would lead us to the cafe without any of us knowing. Alright that's not weird at all but at least he didn't dawdle on the sides getting lost cause he wasn't paying attention due to their phone.

So for lunch the only thing I knew about the place was that Cody's friend wanted to go because there was cute guys and I thought that that meant the cafe was frequented by a lot of cute customers. I WAS SO FKING WRONG. The first thing that sent warning bells ringing in my head was that this guy in the elevator was wearing an anime-type butler costume. Since I don't speak or even bothered to pay attention to what he was saying I didn't realize he was in the elevator for us. Cody's friend's friend leaves us there and we arrive at the cafe, Wisteria, where we were greeted by a whole bunch of boys who were wearing the exact same butler costumes. None of us had any idea what was happening or what kind of cafe this was exactly. Cody was the only one who spoke any Chinese and none of the butler waiters could speak English. That moment at the door when I saw those butler dudes I immediately thought it was a boy version of those maid cafes in Japan, where the girls wear cute maid costumes. I just stood there in shock thinking seriously we are going to a boy maid costume place really?!?! All we saw were girls inside and I was thinking OMG I'm in some girl version of a maid cafe and none of the male waiters were hot. I was ready to leave right then and there cause honestly I know those maid cafes are expensive and if I wasn't gonna get served by cute male waiters then I didn't want to pay the expensive ass prices. Costumers have a choice of the snack set or the lunch set, costing $260 NT and $360 NT, respectively. Sets included a dish of your choice from the snack or lunch menu, a drink and a fruit of the day which turned out to be an apple, more like 5 apple cubes... I chose the snack menu and got a hot toast pizza with ham (they also included corn on here - Taiwanese people love to put corn on everything so disgusting) and an iced milk tea.
Anyways at this point I was super annoyed having to pay for some expensive ass meal and then being brought to a boy maid cafe where the waiters couldn't even speak in English. But things actually started to become fun when the butlers approached our table and used Cody as a translator. Thankfully I can understand way more Chinese than I can speak so I was able to crack jokes and such. All the butlers had such weird English names and one of them said we were bullying Sam and that the male butlers were going to protect him from us. All of them were gathered around us because we were such a blast. Then Leander the one who wanted to protect Sam was saying how Sam could call him and such and implying a relationship between the two. It was really cool to see a Taiwanese guy joking about being with a guy. Pretty cool. As Sam says these guys are good because they managed to make me, who was really hating this place, actually enjoy it and have a fun time. Good job butler dudes but honestly I don't think I would have had as much fun if I came with all girls and didn't have Sam to push onto the butler dudes and tease about possible gay tensions running between him and everyone. Also the fact that most of the restaurant was listening to our conversations and laughing as I teased the butlers and cracked jokes in Chinese was a huge ego stroke. Dude those butlers were giving Sam compliments left and right calling him handsome and the girls got nothing. The only ego stroker was when Leander thought that I was 20 and that 22 year old Cody was 26! When I told him I was 24 his eyes literally popped out of his head and I was laughing so hardcore. Haha I'm youthful bitches! It was interesting asking the butlers about their jobs and ppls know I have no censure so I pretty much ask them anything that popped into my head like their ages and what was the point of the restaurant. So I was right and this was a boy version of a maid cafe where they treat customers as if they at home rather than as cafe customers. The waiter butlers would cater to our whims and would actually help customers cut their food and swirl their drinks (I actually saw this happen). They didn't cut my food or swirl my drink or call me mistress - just saying didn't really feel like a mistress of the mansion. There was five tables and all of them were filled and I believe you must make reservations beforehand. All the customers were laughing at one point or another so you know these waiter butlers know how to do their jobs. I asked and they aren't hired based on looks. Lol.
You're not allowed to take pictures of the waiters to protect their privacy so I had to sneakily do so and so of course got none of their faces. This waiter is called Mir and he actually chatted with us for quite a bit. Some of the waiters had these fox tails clipped to the back of their uniforms and so I asked how come only some of them had it. Mir says that costumers actually give him the tails (I guess because they love him so much) and I guess the fox tails are a symbol of his foxiness. Haha. I actually had a really fun time here so I should give thanks to Cody's friend for bringing us here cause I would never have done this or have found out about this place on my own. The shittiest thing was when Cody's friend and her fellow friends finally arrived, they sat at a different table because there wasn't any tables that held more than four seats, she didn't even come over to say hi or to introduce her friends. Both groups sat at different tables and acted like we didn't know each other at all. I didn't care one way or the other and had a better time sitting with just the three of us but I thought it must have been super weird for Cody to not even get greeted by her friend...

After lunch as we split up away from horrible friend and company were heading back to the Ximen MRT stop when what did we spot but a whole bunch of camera crews and a pack of fan girls outside of a clothing store. I had to see what was up and all the girls were carrying this plastic thing with the pictures of two males on it. I actually recognized one of them as Calvin Chen from the boyband Fahrenheit. I was ecstatic to finally get a chance to see a celebrity I recognized in Taiwan after being here for more than a year (officially one year of being in Taiwan last week!!). Anyways there was a whole bunch of people surrounding him as he spoke for the tv crews and he wasn't staring at my direction at all. Finally after he turned to the side I was at I screamed "Thank you Calvin!" and he goes "Your welcome!" Dude so fucking excited cause he spoke and addressed that just to me. One really weird thing was that I was expecting all the fans to be super loud and screaming but everyone was super quiet just taking photos. I was still being super loud and cheering though and more so because I was doing my best and going over the top fan-girling out. It was awesome. I love the freedom of not giving a shit about what people think and being super dramatic for the sake of it. Haha then it turns out they were doing a signing of those plastic board things so Cody and I had to wait in line for it. We totally ignored Sam and he had to occupy himself while we waited in line. Then when I met Calvin we had a conversation where he told me his uncle actually lives in San Francisco. Haha so awesome. I got it all captured on camera so even more spectacular!!!
Calvin stares directly into my camera!! Haha thank you English ability that allows me to stand out from the myriad of Chinese speaking fans!! Wooot! The other guy who is with him is supposedly a celebrity too but no one we talked to knew who he was. So sad cause when I went to get my autograph I totally ignored him and just talked to Calvin. Haha. We saw that happen a lot. Sorry dude. In the end we didn't end up going to the fireworks show because as we were heading there on the MRT there was a hugeeeee crowd and we didn't wanna deal with it and none of us were that excited for the fireworks show anyways so we just went to Shilin Night Market to do some shopping and eating.
Lovely trio!
When we got back to Hsinchu it was raining massively and there was a lightening storm occurring. It seems like every time it rains here there is also an accompanying lightening storm. I find is so normal now when back in the States I could count on one hand the number of times I've seen lightening.

The Details
4th Floor No. 92-2, Kūnmíng St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
tel: 02-2375-8601

Thursday, August 2, 2012

convenience store finds: fruit milk!

So today I didn't have to go to work because of Typhoon Saola releasing massive rain and storms upon Taiwan. This is the third typhoon day I've witnessed since I've been here and for my area this is probably the worst. My first one happened last year and we still had to go to work, only the schools were closed. During that one nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The second one, work was only closed in Hsinchu during the afternoon, people who worked mornings still had to go in. This most recent typhoon day was declared yesterday night. Every time a storm brews the fellow teachers and I always wish for a typhoon day so that we could get paid for not working. In Hsinchu, we don't suffer much from typhoons and usually nothing big happens except a lot of rain and wind. I forget that huge storms like this can cause death and disaster for the rest of the country with landslides and floods. So I should stop wishing for typhoon days because that's basically wishing to ruin some people's livelihoods... It's such an eye-opener to live in a country where storms can shut down the entire country and weather conditions can actually affect businesses especially compared to California where weather is relatively stable and I've never been excused from work or school cause of inclement weather.

I've been trying to drink soy milk lately because occasionally I remember that I need more calcium in me and that if I don't drink as much as I can before I turn 28 I'll stop absorbing it. So on my frequent trips to the various convenience stores I always notice the fruit flavored milk that are next to the soy milks. I don't go to supermarkets much back in the states but is fruit milk a popular item or even sold back at home? I was wondering if they would taste disgusting since in my head milk and fruit don't really mix - totally forgetting such a thing as smoothies. Duh! Anyways I went around trying all the different flavors that I could see and this post is the accumulation of that.
Watermelon milk is really delicious and actually one I would buy again not just because I'm trying to be adventurous. It tastes like watermelon and soy milk and is a good combo of sweet watermelon and smooth milk.
Melon milk but from the picture it might be specifically cantaloupe. This one was also pretty good. Not sure if anyone knows about Melona the honeydew flavored creamsicle but I use to eat one of those creamsicles everyday after school back in middle school. Thanks local Korean Market for introducing me to the awesomeness of those popsicles. Anyways this milk basically tastes like the melted version of a Melona in a carton.
Strawberry milk tastes like strawberries that have been blended together with milk. Pretty good and has a slight milk color to then milk. I wonder if these flavored milk also have calcium in them and the same nutrients??
Banana milk has a strong taste of banana. The initial sip was interesting because of the strength of the banana. The taste is so strong that I immediately thought this must be using artificial banana flavoring because the flavor is so similar to those fruit shaped candies that you get from candy machines at the mall. If you just drink it in a continuous slurp the strong flavoring disappears and then its just milk with the taste of banana in it. Nice tasting but when I stopped and took a sip again the taste was again disorienting.
Apple milk was weird. I did not like it. It reminded me of the time back when I was younger and I ordered a Green Apple Milk Tea because I use to love Green Apple boba drinks and I also loved milk tea so why not try them combined. That turned out to be a disaster of sour apple mixed with sweet milk. Blegh. This apple milk wasn't as bad as all that but I didn't like the sweetish sour taste it left in my mouth.
Ugh this juice milk was the worst! I couldn't even finish it and I was so glad it came in a small carton so I didn't feel bad for wasting it. The juice in this milk comes from bananas, strawberries and oranges if I'm to believe the pictures on the carton. The milk had a slight green tinge to it and I think what made this undrinkable was the orange. Acidity and milk do not mix well even though in the beginning I could actually taste fruit mixed with milk. I couldn't discern the individual fruits but continual drinking left a gross taste in my mouth. There are still two milks I haven't tried yet a papaya and taro flavored one. Since I've had papaya milk at that famous Kaohsiung night market I don't foresee any problems with it but the taro one seems iffy. I'll update this when I get my hands on those two.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

taiwan dinner boxes

Taiwan is known for it's food and their famous night markets so its no surprise that people assume I'm gorging myself on amazing and delicious food every day. The sad truth is that because work doesn't usually end until 9:20 pm that the majority of us have dinner delivered to us. Our school is located in a small town and isn't close to any restaurants which limits what we can eat. Most often the meals ordered are dinner boxes or bowl of noodles that are mass produced and affordable to the students. When I say mass produced I mean there are "restaurants" that specialize in making dinner/lunch boxes and they always have long lines. So here are some examples of the food I've eaten in the months I've been here.
All these dinners cost around $2-3 USD and these are generous sized portions for the price. I can't imagine ordering a full meal for anything less than $5 USD in America. In the beginning they were pretty yummy then imagine ordering the same boxes day after day and it grew tiring fast. Sometimes I would eat the same dinner box two or more times a week and that itself is nauseating. (I know real first world problems here) Nowadays if I can I'll try to find alternatives besides ordering take out. The children would get the same size portions as the adults and they always finish it. I don't know how they manage to stay so skinny if they are eating meals meant for adults. I usually don't finish mine and I get crap from people for wasting food. I try to give it to students to finish or something but these meals aren't something that I would save for the next day. What do you think? Does it look delicious and appealing?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

microwavable meals

During my last year in San Diego I was constantly eating those one dollar microwavable meals. After avoiding those meals for years cause the pictures on the box didn't even look remotely appealing, I succumbed. I initially bought them because I was working as an intern at a medical office that didn't really have anywhere close by to eat and I wasn't down to spend so much money everyday for a meal. Then because I also had two other jobs and was basically working 60 hour weeks I didn't have time to make a meal or the energy to go out and eat so I just bought those one dollar meals in huge quantities and ate them whenever I was hungry. The meals were surprisingly OK tasting except for the huge quantities of salt they used (no complaints here since I love salt) but everyone was saying that it was so unhealthy for me. No matter how delicious those meals were, they have nothing on the microwavable meals that can be found in the convenience stores in Taiwan. The microwavable meals here are more like packaged meals that you just happened to need a microwave to heat up and not actually flash frozen and meant to last a year in the freezer.

So before I gained the confidence to go out and actually eat at restaurants by myself and before I actually learned enough Chinese to order some food I resorted to eating these microwavable meals. The meals here are pretty delicious and sell for just $2 USD! Some of my friends think that I've been eating amazing meals everyday but the harsh reality is that with work, my lack of Chinese skills and general laziness, I don't really get the chance to eat as much good things as I could.
chicken potatoes rice curry!
cheese, rice, chicken and peppers!
rice, tofu and pork covered in sauce
pasta with bacon - alfredo sauce?
noodles with mushroom and chicken
These are just some of the meals I've had over the past year but they were all pretty delicious and I've eaten most of them more than once. They tend to just go for alfredo sauce for all the noodles but that is better than constantly eating lunch boxes at school. I'll do a separate post about what I eat for dinner another time. I usually ate the above meals during the weekends if I was staying at home and was too lazy to actually get dressed up to go to a restaurant. I love how convenient convenience stores are! There are two a couple minutes walk from my house and all convenience stores are open 24 hours! I really wish America had more of these. The only 7-11's I know back home are so far away from each other and they look super shady and dirty. No clue if they are opened 24 hours but they definitely cannot compare to the ones that can be found in Taiwan.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

in which I overshare about my oral hygiene

So it's been half a year already since I last went to the dentist and I was getting desperate. My teeth were getting into a really bad state, probably from all those milk teas I drink. I think I'm too spoiled by the water in the states. I never gave a thought about how nice it was to have fluoride in our water that helped keep my teeth clean. I mean how big of a difference could it be if it's not enough to kill you? Well after being in a country that doesn't do that, I can state that the fluoride was a blessing!! Can't wait to go back to SF and swirl my mouth with fluoride-laced water.

Not even a couple months after my first visit I already wanted to go back for another teeth cleaning. However I learned that Taiwan has the same two teeth cleanings a year just like in America so I had to wait till now to go back and see the dentist. Either wait or pay $1000+ for a teeth cleaning! Ouch.

Since I had some experience I asked the dentist, a different one, if she could work harder on my teeth. I told her I didn't mind if it was painful as long as it actually cleaned my teeth. Well this was when the dentist, who actually grew up in Canada, told me about the differences between teeth cleanings in North America and Taiwan. In America a teeth cleaning is the whole shebang: drills, picks, fluoride, water hose and I don't know the technical names or methods but we get it all until your teeth is sparkling or as sparkling as its gonna get. Here in Taiwan a teeth cleaning involves just that drill thing that vibrates and cleans the plaque buildup on your teeth. THAT IS ALL! No wonder it didn't hurt.

So a little background on my teeth, an appealing story for all to hear, I have pretty shit-astic teeth. It stains pretty easily hence why I haven't drank any carbonated drinks since I've been in middle school. I can imagine the blackness that would cover my teeth if I added sodas to the equation. I hate all the people who drink soda and coffee every day two or three times a day and their freaking teeth stay shiny and white. disgusting. Anyways the dentist told me that health insurance only covers teeth cleaning which just getting rid of plaque/calcium buildup. Anything beyond that is considered aesthetics and needs to be paid out of pocket. Ugh wtf. I consider staining something that could potentially lead to cavities so shouldn't that be prevented for in my dental insurance?!? Of course this totally makes sense now why ppls teeth in Taiwan aren't very pretty because looking nice isn't covered under insurance. To be honest though most adults have perfectly fine white teeth, it's just the children whose teeth make me shudder. Children who probably hate brushing their teeth and here dentists can't even make them look nicer w/o charging an arm and a leg!

The dentist was nice enough to give me a water abrasion which was basically just those jets of water that shoot at my teeth. She was making it out like it would hurt a lot and would be painful on my gums so I was bracing myself and then when it occurred I was like this is what happens during a regular check-up back home! A full mouth water abrasion costs around $3000 NT! Thankfully the dentist didn't charge my for it since it was my first time but after the water abrasion she didn't do the rest of the teeth cleaning. She said my teeth were fine and well maintained and there wasn't any plaque build-up. I just had those surface stains cause of the pits and grooves in my teeth which she cleaned so easily with that water blasting thing. I asked her how I could keep my teeth sparkly white when obviously my toothbrush is too big to reach the grooves in my teeth (miniscule mother-fers). She just shrugged and told me to come back for a teeth cleaning in a year or half a year if I wanted. Ehhh WTF?? I can't wait to go back to my dentist in America where they not only clean my teeth, they also polish it to get rid of those fking grooves so my teeth stay healthy.

Sorry for sharing such gross details about my teeth but now at least peoples who plan to stay in Taiwan for an extended time know what to do about their teeth while here. Unless of course you're one of those ppls who has healthy white teeth no matter what you eat or drink. Then I hate you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a rant and a rave

Today I had a freaking breakdown in my A6 class which is one of the higher levels in the Erchong campus and is comprised of 3 girls, 2 in middle school and one in elementary. It started well enough with me being all chirpy and crap. Then I wrote a journal prompt on the board for them to do. All three of them were bitching about not wanting to do it. This is the class where we do nothing but TALK! We don't read the grammar book or the novel or even have homework or any tests. Then on Monday they were lack luster and barely talked - it was just me talking for an hour and a half! Now they didn't even want to write one small little page of journaling. I started ranting about how they were pushing it and taking advantage of me. This went on and on and then my ranting got me super angry and frustrated, as I was talking I was realizing that what I was saying was actually the truth. I hate realizing or having to confront someone about them taking advantage of me. Unfortunately since I'm pretty easy-going most people tend to toe the line more and more until its super WTF status. I told my studies this in an metaphor of a fellow classmate eating some of their food and seeing no objections finally eats more and more until they've eaten the whole thing. Anyways they pretty much knew where I was coming from so we moved on and had a convo except for one of the girls who still didn't talk which just frustrated me to no end. UGH! Midway through my breakdown/ranting session I asked myself why am I getting so emotional about this, MUST be my time of the month. Haha. This also occurred when I almost cried over my shitty haircut a couple months back. Figures the PMS will only hit me when I'm in a foreign country.

Even though they can be super frustrating I really like this class because it gives me a break from teaching all these little small kids. Beforehand I thought teaching older kids would be a drag because they wouldn't listen to me (which is true) and they would have huge douchy attitude problems (remember how we were in middle school?) but I actually prefer older kids now because it's one of the ways I can learn more about the culture and lifestyle here in Taiwan. I only regret that they weren't older so I could discuss more worldly issues with them. One of the topics I've gained more insight into is how schooling in Taiwan works or more specifically how middle school (or junior high as it's called here) in Erchong/Hsinchu operates. I'm pretty sure its general knowledge that schools in Asian countries have a strong emphasis on memorization and test taking - Taiwan is no exception. Two or three times a year all grades starting from 3rd grade start taking these so called "big tests" and then they are ranked in their grade and in their school based on the scores. Not really sure what else the tests do besides letting everyone know whose the best. Students have to take a separate test to get into high school and university so either the school ranking goes on their application or the big tests are like our standardized testing, just for information sakes. Anyways I asked my three students to show me how their school schedules look like and this is what I got...
Their schedules are pretty crazy. They have school 8-10 hours a day depending on what day it is. Not only do they have long class times, students are also responsible for keeping the school clean which means students most go to school even earlier to perform their school cleaning duties. So completely different from schedule in America. If I recall correctly since it has been such a long time since I've attended middle school we had the same classes everyday (math, social studies, science, english, gym, and art/music). Not really sure how long each class was but I know we never stayed at school for 10 hours. Lunch is served in the classroom where students are allowed 30 minutes to eat and mingle with friends before having a 30 minute nap for the rest of break - such a necessary nap in order for them to get through the long day. I always wonder why schools were so quiet around the afternoon. No recess or playing ball in the yard for them. However they do get 10 minute breaks between classes as teachers are the ones who move between classes unlike that in America. What I wouldn't give to have my teachers running around instead of me when it was raining or when the classes were at the opposite end of the campus.

Not only do they attend different classes everyday, including Saturday, but they have a huge range of classes from the normal like science and math to things like home ec. and health ed. Because of the huge number of classes their schedule varies day to day with some classes like chinese and math taking precedence with classes almost everyday and others like gym twice a week. So weird how their schedule is like that of a college student except they don't get to pick their classes. Not sure if this applies to the whole of Taiwan but since there is no such thing as an honors program or the Gate program students are distinguished by testing into a certain area. Now my 2 junior high students attend Erchong Junior High which is known for their music program which one must test into by playing an instrument. Hence the need for all the students to take lessons outside of school to learn how to play the violin or piano because I believe music class in elementary just teaches you how to play the recorder. My elementary school student who is entering into junior high played the violin for her test and got accepted into the music program. The strange thing was upon acceptance into the music program she was assigned to play the trombone. Erchong's music program only plays wind instruments, my student says because its easier to learn, but the students aren't allowed to choose which instrument they can play! They are assigned according to the shape of their mouth and their physical attributes. It seems so unfathomable to me that the students have no choice in the manner but they have to play what they are assigned if they want to be in the music program. The importance of being in the music program is that those students get assigned the best teachers in the school. If students can't keep up their good grades they will be dropped from the program. So essentially the music program works like the honors/Gate program in my middle school. So I asked my students what happens if you're a smart student but sucked at music and therefore couldn't get into the music program? The answer is you find a junior high school that had their own special programs either in math, english, etc and test into them.

On top of all these crazy hours at school, most students also attend a onchiban, cram school, and buxiban, english cram school, like the one I teach at. Most of my second graders attend both and they are picked up from school and sent straight to the onchiban where some stay until 9:30pm at night. I just can't imagine learning for almost 12 hours straight makes sense that the kids are exhausted and sick of going to class. No wonder it feels like we are babysitting most of the time.

I wished I had older students because I would love to ask how high school works here since they don't have AP courses. From what little they know it doesn't look as if students can pick their own classes in high school either. Grade levels are done differently here too with elementary school comprised of grades 1-6, junior high 7-9, and senior high 10-12.

Asian Fail is evident here too: One of my students told me she did bad on one of her big tests and I was thinking oh probably an 80 or some such thing but she told me she got a 96. Yup Asian Fail.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

culture shock and classroom tangents

Was I expecting to experience some culture shock upon landing in Taiwan? Not really. Did I experience any? Nope. Of course I thought that might be due to the fact that I'm Chinese and am pretty Asiany so I couldn't really be impartial. I asked other foreigners, who are more foreign than I am to Asian culture, if they experienced any culture shock and they all said that Taiwan really isn't that different to them besides the food and the language barrier. So no culture shock - besides the food maybe? Even then the food isn't really weird for me or have I ever been in a situation where I went OMG WTF I JUST ATE WHAT?!?  I don't act any differently in Taiwan than I do in America. Unlike Japan where I felt I had to be super polite and courteous, bowing my head everywhere, in Taiwan I just go around swaggering and talking up a storm. Did I have misconceptions about Taiwan and have I learned a lot more of their culture since being here? Definitely. Biggest thing I learned is that Taiwanese people are not like Chinese people AT ALL. For one thing Taiwanese people are way nicer and don't make you feel like shit cause you're a foreigner. Yah I can say that cause I'm Chinese and I've met a whole bunch of these non-friendly Mainlanders. Does it apply to everyone? Of course not. Do they bug the shit out of me when they crowd up all the tourist places in Taiwan? Heck yah!

It's funny but now that I think about it, of all the countries I've visited I think Taiwan has the most positive view of America. I don't know about anyone else but while  traveling I've heard a lot of stories about people going "Oh Americans!" in this kind of a exasperated or negatively amused tone. I can't say I've experienced it myself since most people don't believe I'm an America and insist on finding out my ancestry and where my family originated from as a way to prove that they were right and that I'm not an America. Good for you people - you've discovered that a black hair, small eyed, Asian looking girl's family did originally come from China and not America like she is claiming to be a citizen of. This leads me to one of my classes insisting that I must be Taiwanese because of my black hair and brown eyes. It probably doesn't help that this is the class I review my Chinese with beforehand since its on the same day as my Chinese classes. I try to contradict the fact that I can't be Taiwanese by asking them if I speak Chinese well and expecting them to say no. In fact they said I spoke Chinese well (this might be due to the fact that I have trained them to kiss up to me :P) and how come I could understand them when they speak Chinese if I wasn't Taiwanese. Lol I tried to say its because I can speak Cantonese and that is similar to Chinese but they weren't having any of that. Then I was like I can't read or write Chinese, as a Taiwanese person that is ok that I can't do either? Which they replied with a yes because that totally makes sense that I wouldn't have taken any Chinese classes as a citizen of Taiwan and yet managed to excel in English. At my wit's end and because I was laughing so hard trying to prove them wrong I turned the tables on them. I pointed at a student and said that the student must be from China because she had black hair and black eyes and everyone from China has black hair and black eyes. I just started pointing to all of them and saying China China China which they were all adamantly against being. I had hoped that by showing them their "proof" wasn't really proof at all would convince them that I wasn't Taiwanese. I finally just pulled my T.A. into the class to tell them in Chinese that I wasn't Taiwanese. After saying how a lot of people in Asian countries have black hair and brown eyes and that doesn't make them Taiwanese, my students started asking questions like how come I'm in Taiwan, why am I teaching at the school and how come I'm not teaching at another school. My T.A. tells them that once I finish teaching at the school then I could work for another school and all my kids went NO! At this point I had no idea what they were saying but its nice to know that my class actually likes me and wouldn't want me to leave. Then the instigator of it all went I wanted a blue eyed foreigner for a teacher. In response I told her there were two other foreign teachers, that looked foreign, that she could have as teachers. To this she replied they didn't have class levels low enough for her which we said wasn't true. Then I go so do you want to go to the other teacher and she puts her head down and goes NO! Haha shes one of the students who hecka clings to me so I knew she wouldn't want to go anywhere. It's nice to hear students actually wanting to be in my class compared to others who always say how the other English teachers are better and want to be in their class. Of course they base this on the fact that the other teachers are so nice in the hallway. Right cause that's a good judge of character.

I've found myself being fascinated by the relationship between China and Taiwan. I know that back home in America, everyone is talking about elections and what candidates are doing what. Well I assume that is what everyone is talking about because we are all "adults" now but what's probably happening is that people are discussing the latest Grey's Anatomy episode or something - which left on some crazy cliffhanger! It's funny to explore a topic I never thought about to something that actually affect the lives of people I know and how that affects my life in Taiwan. If anyone has paid attention to their world history class.....zzzzzzzzzzz..... probably not then people should know that the Republic of China (ROC) led by the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan when the Communists in China were winning and established the People's Republic of China (PRC). There is a whole bunch of crazy history between Taiwan and China but I won't bore you with it. The nitty gritty is that China claims Taiwan as part of the PRC while Taiwan sees itself as independent. However because of China's power and its claim on Taiwan, Taiwan isn't officially recognized as a independent country. Hence why there is no official American Embassy in Taiwan because the PRC will not maintain diplomatic relations with any nation that recognizes the ROC. Despite all that America is still one of Taiwan's biggest allies and maybe that is why a positive reception. Any who what does this have to do with me? Well nothing really it's just interesting to me and I just like talking about random stuff. However cause of this strained relationship, mainland China visitors must visit Taiwan in tour groups. Now all those big annoying groups of Chinese tourists make sense, they got no other choice. It's only been a couple of years where Taiwan has allowed individual visitors from China to explore the country on their own, and these visitors have to come from sanctioned cities. Pretty crazy discovering what kind of restrictions people have visiting other countries. I've asked my older students about the whole China situation and they basically say they hate China because of what China did to the Taiwanese mentioned in this post here. I asked how they felt about being technically Chinese and hating their motherland and all of them replied that they were Taiwanese. So that solves that problem there isn't any identity crisis or split loyalties for them. I went on to describe how that experience for myself as an Asian American is so different where I can't just say I'm American and be taken at face value. There is such a big fuss in the country about what kind of American everyone is from Asian to African while in Taiwan there really isn't any word that says I'm a Chinese Taiwanese person. In Chinese trying to say I'm an Asian American isn't really done, there is no classification, you just are American or you're not. If only the systems in America didn't place such an emphasis on classifying what type of American I am.

Alright I'm finished rambling. If anyone has had the honor to look through my scrapbooks and  actually take the time to read through them, which I strongly discourage cause of all the secrets and embarrassing stories contained within, most of my journaling is like the above blog post full of random stories and deviations that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. But as most of my friends say that by reading my blog it's like listening to me talk - super fast and totally random. Hope you enjoyed it :P

Monday, April 30, 2012

it's official!

It's official I'll be back in the states in October! My contract ends at the end of September but I plan to stay a little longer to travel. As some of you might know the owner asked me to extend my contract for another year. I put off replying her for as long as I possibly could because the decision to stay or to leave was pretty difficult for me to make. I started to worry about getting future employment and if said employment would turn out to be bad or super hard in comparison. A lot of teachers complain about how shitty my school is and how hard it is to work for them but I think our jobs are pretty cushy, especially at the campus I work at. Not to say there aren't times where I just wanna cuss up a storm or bang my head against a wall but all in all it's pretty decent. Also I was feeling pretty guilty because while I was leaning on going home I was getting told by my head teacher that both he and my manager really wanted me to stay.

After thinking about it for a long looooooong time I realized that I probably have nothing to fear. Worst comes to worst I end up leeching off my parents until I can leech off the government. Haha! I kid... I've been in some crappy situations before and I'm sure I can adapt to whatever is thrown my way I just needa make sure I get another job first. So Korea? Japan? Hong Kong? Where to next?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

transportation update!

I NO LONGER HAVE TO KNOW CHINESE TO USE THE BUS! I remember the last time I posted about buses here in Taiwan was this post. Now I know better. Buses do have numbers! Haha. I can't believe I said the bus lines didn't have any numbers on them... Anyways back to why I no longer need Chinese to ride the bus... that is because of the EasyCard! Yes the same EasyCard that you buy to use the MRT line in Taipei, instead of buying a fare token each time. According to my students the EasyCard could be used on the Hsinchu buses starting from February 2012. All you do is tap the card to the machine when you get on and tap it when you get off. No longer will I need to tell the bus driver in Chinese what stop I'm getting off at. It's amazing because sometimes I slip into Cantonese when I say the stop name and the bus driver either doesn't get me or give me shit for it when I say it "properly" in Mandarin. You can reload your EasyCard at any of the convenience markets: 7-11, Hi-Mart, Family Mart, etc. You would think you can reload the card at the Hsinchu Bus Station but you can't. The Hsinchu Bus website doesn't even state that you can use the EasyCard on their buses so this information is first hand stuff - how local of me! Did I mention that the basic fare for the Hsinchu bus rose from $23 NT to $26?!? Ugh those three extra dollars were really crimping my style. Good thing the EasyCard gives me a 10% discount on rides so my basic fare drops back down to $23 again! Haha.

Now moving on to trains. Unlike Japan, different speed trains cost different prices in Taiwan. At first when I was in Japan I thought it odd that a faster train wouldn't be more expensive since it's taking less time to get from destination to destination. However it makes sense because how do you regulate who takes what train. Those turnstiles aren't gonna be like "hey you've arrived here too early for your slow train ticket so please stay inside the station." That is exactly why train lines in Japan charge fares based on distance since you can actually regulate that. I asked my TA in Taiwan how they regulate people using local trains compared to express trains and she had no clue. I ask this because we bought a semi-express train ticket and then rode a local train and nothing stopped us. Apparently some officers patrol the train but I haven't seen any of them check the ticket. Also if you're a foreigner can't you just play the "I'm a foreigner and I don't know Chinese card?" I found out that Express trains sell tickets with seat numbers so people can't just sneak on with a local ticket and expect a seat. However they still sell tickets for standing room to passengers so I could still purchase a local train ticket and hop onto an express train.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

b-b-b-bucket list

Ugh while I was looking up places I needed to see in Taiwan I realized I wasted all those holidays. Those would have been perfect time to go check out the outlying islands of Taiwan. Now there aren't any holidays until October. So I either have to do a rushed trip on the weekend or wait until my contract ends before I check them out. Doubt I'm gonna take more unpaid vacation days off to check out these places.

1. The National Palace Museum
2. Taipei 101
3. Sun Moon Lake
4. Yushan (The Jade Mountain)
5. Alishan
6. Love River in Kaohsiung
7. Kenting
8. The Liushidan Mountain
9. Taroko National Park
10. Jiufen
11. Penghu Islands
12. Hotsprings in Wulai or Yangmingshan
13. Tainan
14. Lukang
15. Sansia for the Pigs of God Contest (bummer I missed this it happened on Jan. 28th)
16. Lantern Festival in Pingxi
17. Green Island
18. Orchid Island
19. Fire and Water in Guanzihling

It seems like I hardly made a dent into my list. Doesn't help that every time I cross something off I add two or more places.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

matsu's birthday

One of the major historical sites in Lukang is the Tianhou Temple on Zhongshan Road. I like how all the attractions in Lukang are situated in close proximity to each other so if the temple is your last stop you can pretty much hit up all the other major attractions on your way. The area around the temple contains a market which is something I find so characteristic of major temples in Taiwan. I guess locals know that the temples attract a lot of visitors so where better to set up your food stall? Its nice because I don't have to go out of my way to eat local delicacies but is also really annoying when the market place is so close to the temple that it blocks the architecture or makes accessing the doors like walking through a maze...

First food sample at the market was deep-fried mud shrimp. I believe the Chinese name translates to shrimp monkey. Don't get the reference to monkeys. It didn't taste like shrimp but more like a crustacean especially since the shell was still on them. Can get it in several different flavors. I chose garlic and original - both were tasty and got pretty addicting after consuming several.
It cost $120 NT for a small bag which is pretty pricey for street food. But I guess that is what happens when you gotta go catch those shrimps by hand or something. Honestly I spend way more money buying food at day and night markets then if I went to an actual restaurant where I can buy one meal and be full compared to having to buy several sticks and bags of food to fill me up.

Another famous specialty is the thin noodle soup. Mine came with pork but the pork was nasty since it tasted like char siu (the red Chinese BBQ meat) but immersed in a thick soup base. Ughh I am not a big fan of thick soups and the sweet meat covered in a semi-salty soup was a gross contrast. At least it only cost $25 NT for a bowl.
Cow tongue cakes are a well known local food item and not because they are made of cow tongues but because they are shaped like one. Shops were selling them everywhere and I see them being sold in supermarkets and such in my area. But I guess if you want the authentic ones you have to come to Lukang. They aren't anything special just egg and flour with some sugar flavoring? It was so unmemorable I can't even recall how it tasted like!
Tianhou Temple is dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, and many temples in Taiwan are dedicated to her.
Due to the smoke from the incense the statue's face has turned black so Mazu is also called the black-face Goddess.
A special practice in Taiwan is the inspection trips made by the Goddess Mazu. Statues of the Goddess Mazu from various temples are carried around to visit other temples, leading followers along the way. This inspection trip allows for Mazu to exchange greetings and blessings with each other and to allow her to learn and relieve the suffering of her followers. A major inspection trip occurs around Mazu's birthday which happened to be yesterday and so I got to see as a visiting Mazu statue from Taipei came to visit the Tianhou Temple.
this worshiper was wailing and sobbing as she prostrated on the floor
these two kept hitting themselves with lit incense!
the visiting mazu goddess
They had a string of firecrackers meters long that almost blew my ears off. I was standing right in the front so the firecracker pieces were hitting the air all around me. So scared I was gonna get hit with the burning pieces, had to turn around to protect my face. Must be super scary for the men carrying the palanquin to have the firecrackers so close to their feet. 

I've been craving tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) recently so I was jumping at the chance to eat at Ludingji Three-color Rice Balls Shop.
small size for $25 NT
Was hoping to find tangyuan so was disappointed to find that these rice balls were just the sweet potato and taro balls I've had in Jiufen. It tasted good but wasn't the tangyuan I so desperately crave!
tofu pudding, rice balls in purple rice milk for $35 NT
This one didn't taste that awesome. Was glad I didn't try to be adventurous and order the purple rice milk just because it sounded unique. This shop had a lot of English information and maps. Bonus!

The Details
Ludigji Three-color Rice Balls
No. 187, Minquan Rd., Lukang Township
tel: 04-7756268
hours: 10:00 am - 10:30pm

Saturday, April 14, 2012

old street, random sights and english fail

I think of all the old streets I've been to in Taiwan, the ones that make up Lugang's Historical Preservation Area are one of my favorites. Not only do the houses look old as in architectural wise, not just broken down old cement blocks, there is also a lot of English signage and information posted around. Unfortunately there was a lot of people so they took up most of the street and blocked me from taking pictures of the cute buildings and a lot of the buildings have been renovated to host shops and restaurants so that also kind of ruin the old street ambiance. On one hand it makes sense that locals are using the old street to earn money but I would really like to explore an old area that still felt old and authentic.
One of the highlights of the old street is this half-side well.
It's actually not a half well but a full one. The other side extends beyond the wall into the private residence of the Wang family. Not every family could afford to build a well so the Wang family had the well built so that their less fortunate neighbors could also get access to the water. There is also a shop that sells flour mush tea which isn't a tea at all but more of a paste. They were handing out free samples which was a good thing because it saved me from having to pay to try this traditional delicacy.
It's been so long so I don't really recall how this flour mush tea tasted like but my mind is telling me something like sesame and I wasn't a really big fan of it. Besides it was super hot that day so "eating" this tea wasn't that appealing. Apparently this place,Yi Gu Zhai Tea House, is known for turning the flour mush tea into a shaved snow version that is supposedly very delicious. Right after the historical preservation area saw another temple which isn't a surprise since Lugang has over 200 temples. The thing that stood out for me about Sinzu Temple was the beams that were wonderfully painted - by far the prettiest beams of any temple I've seen.
Wondered off the main street to check out the Guihua Lane Art Village which wasn't very impressive. Most of the buildings were closed off and there wasn't anyone there but I loved how quaint all the white buildings looked together - so peaceful after the crowds of the old streets.
Nearby was a park that paid homage to Lugang's namesake and its importance as a harbor back in the day.
No real deer to take pictures with but bigger than life size statues of them work just as well especially with boats that are floating on grass surrounded by deer. Lol so random I love it! Now onto the story where I failed my role as an English teacher or rather where the American education system failed me. Lugang besides having a lot of temples is also known for its arts and crafts. Six of the 36 National Artistic Heritage Award winners are from Lugang and are known for making their specialized crafts in the traditional manner. One of these artists is Mr. Wu Dun-hou who is about 90 years old now and specializes in making lanterns.
That is actually Mr. Wu Dun-hou standing at the doorway even though I didn't know it at the time. He had driven away by the time I had crossed the street and entered the shop. Pictures aren't allowed inside the store but I didn't know until Mr. Wu Dun-hou's son told Eamon who translated for me. There was a whole conversation about me being a foreigner but looking like a local which gave me a chance to look around the shop and I even managed to get some stamps for my souvenir stamp book. It was funny cause he thought I meant postage stamps which apparently the shop also sold. They do have them you just need to ask. They also had some information about the shop in English. So here is where the embarrassing part comes in. After talking for awhile Mr. Wu asked me to help him write a sign in English - No Bargaining. Well instead of bargaining I wrote "bargining". Honestly, I have no excuses I even wrote it on my hand and tried to decide which was more accurate but I suck at spelling and I was under pressure to not look like a fool. But you guys have to agree the word "bargaining" is hard to spell right? Right?? I'm only reassured that Mr. Wu would not know that I spelled it wrong. So here are some excuses and reasons behind me "deliberately" spelling it wrong.

1. I wanted it to look like a local spelled it - you know engrish. :P
2. Now if he ever shows the sign to people and anyone mentions it I know it would be my sign he's showing to peoples because I'm pretty sure no one else would give him a incorrectly spelled sign. How awesome if he kept my crappy sign around for a looonng time. ahaha.
3. It's ironic cause I "teach" English
So awesome I got to take a picture with him. I love how awesomely nice everyone is to foreigners. Eamon states that people are nicer to foreigners than they are to locals and I don't know about that but I do know that I've always gotten treated pretty awesomely. Maybe because I can pull out the cute admiring foreigner card who can't speak Chinese but is Chinese card. Mwhaha.

The Details
Mr. Wu's Lantern Shop
312 Zhōngshān Road, Lukang, Taiwan