Sunday, October 18, 2009

Livin, Lovin Taipei

(Post by Alisha)
This past weekend, though nothing particularly outstanding happened, was one of those great weekends where we really felt happy here in Taipei. Saturday we met up with some friends at an outdoor flea market, which is rare for image-conscious, trendy Taipei. It was crowded- but what event, store, or sidewalk in Taipei isn't?- and while it might have been overwhelming for the average claustrophobic individual, it was otherwise a really fun afternoon spent wandering through stalls of friends and families hawking their old items. I found a cool postcard from the 70's showing an old map Taiwan that I'm probably going to reframe at some point. Afterwards, Bacon and I stopped for a few beers at Ireland Potato to chill and enjoy the absolutely perfect 75 and sunny weather that we've been loving these past few weeks. October and November are probably the most beautiful and temperately ideal months in Taiwan.
On a friend's suggestion, next we hopped on the MRT and made our way over to Shida Night Market, one famous market we had yet to visit. Shida is a student area and has a really funky, cool vibe. The night market is definitely a favorite place to hang out with friends on the weekends, try lots of different foods (goose head, anyone?), and shop at a place that's basically an inexpensive open-air mall. The night market slightly resembles a maze, with many forking streets and alleys that veer off in all different directions. Robert actually came up with a system (why wouldn't he?) of going left, right, and then straight at each intersected point so we wouldn't get stuck holding our breath and walking past the same stinky tofu vendor four times like we did at our first night market. We eventually wound up at an unassuming, but extremely popular little dumpling cart. In fact, we actually had to take a number and wait about 1/2 hour to get our piping hot, fresh box of dumplings. It was totally worth the wait- for 72NT (less than $2 U.S.) we got a box of 12, and they were gooey, fresh, and loaded with flavor. For another dollar, we each got a fresh-squeezed raspberry lime juice drink and took our treats over to the adjacent park to sit down and enjoy.
Sunday we had brunch with another couple at our school at an awesome little diner that just opened up in our area. It has a little wooden outdoor deck and fresh-squeezed orange juice comes with each meal. Later in the day we scooted up to the mountains for a break from the city and some fresh air. So far, fall has been superb- the only thing that would make it complete would be football :)
Hope you're all still enjoying reading about our adventures here in Taiwan as much as we are living them! We miss you all~

Bacon Gets a Scooter

(Post by Bacon)
Yeah that's right post by Bacon. I can do more than just edit and upload videos. I can poorly construct a written story.
As you can tell by the title of this post, I got a scooter. When we first arrived in Taiwan and I saw traffic I said there was no way I would ever ride a scooter. Well, after a few months here I got used to the horrible driving and thought I would give it a try. What it really came down to was convenience. Alisha and I don't mind using the MRT system, but we hate waiting for the bus. We also don't mind going for little walks to get food or go shopping, but we hated walking to go do a chore like grocery shopping.
(I like to drive around kicking small Taiwanese people.)
So after a few weeks of debating, we decided that it would be a good idea to get one. Buying the scooter wasn't difficult at all thanks to our Chinese tutor Twinsen. He drove me to a place to test out a few models and did all the translating with the sales lady. After a couple of hours I had a scooter and was driving home in Taipei traffic.
So far we've had the scooter for a week and it's been great. We love having the freedom to go wherever we want whenever we want. I even found an easy route to the Far Eastern Hospital MRT stop that should really cut down on our travel time. I already feel accustomed to the horrible driving habits of the people here and always do my best to be a defensive driver. The only thing I'm missing is a lame "Eat My Dust" shirt. Wish us luck!
Saturday, October 10, 2009

Swimming with the fishies

(Post by Alisha)
As I mentioned in the Penghu post, a highlight of our trip was going snorkeling. We showed up bright and early at the snorkel place and geared up (just barely squeezing into their largest wetsuit sizes) with a group of about 8 other snorkelers and three instructors. When we arrived at the part of the ocean where we'd be snorkeling, one of the instructors began to give a ten minute speech- all in Chinese of course. The one instructor who spoke a little English turned to us and said- "safety speech." He then proceeded to give us the one-minute basic version- basically just "not good go out too far." I mean, who needs a safety lesson when they're about to swim about in deep ocean waters surrounded by odd fish?

As soon as we put on our masks and looked down, it was like being in the Little Mermaid movie. Neon-colored rainbow fish darted inches from my face, long, pointed nose skimmer fish zipped on the surfaces of the water, and mini starfish crawled about. Brightly colored sea anemones lined the bottom of the seabed along with coral and weird eel-looking fish. One of the instructors actually caught a puffer fish and we all got a chance to hold him with his spikes poking out. They also gave us mushy bread to feed the sea creatures, and electric blue fish and some creepy gray ones literally swarmed us to feast on the snacks. After snorkeling for a while, our whole group took turns doing jumps, dives, and flips off one of the out-cropping rocks into the water.

Some of the instructors even asked Bacon to help them hoist the girls way above their heads and launch them off flailing into the water- that's when I knew that all pretenses of safety protocol were mere formalities haha. By the end of the day, we all agreed that it was one of the coolest experiences of our trip. Next time I'd like to get my scuba diving certification and give that a try- maybe on a future trip.
Sunday, October 4, 2009

Video from our "Swimming Spot"

A couple posts ago Alisha describes a "Beautiful Oasis". Here is a quick video of the swimming hole described in that post.

The Next Video Should Be?

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