Saturday, November 21, 2009


(Post By Bacon)
One bad thing about living in a warm climate has to be the giant bugs. Many of the insects here are large enough to drive cars. I have been lucky enough so far to not find any large creatures in the apartment, but some of the other teachers have not been so lucky. A few of our friends have found cockroaches larger than a deck of playing cards in their apartments. It gets talked about a lot and I knew it was just a matter of time before I would have to battle one of these beasts.

Well my day came on Friday at school. One of the Chinese teachers came into my classroom in the middle of one of my lessons and said she needed my help. I left my classroom and went to her classroom to discover the largest spider I've ever seen. This thing was about as big as my hand, had thick brown legs, and could probably beat me in hand to hand combat. I didn't have a camera with me so I couldn't take a picture, but thanks to a quick google search I was able to find it. (it's actually a screen shot from this youtube video).

After a futile attempt to reason with it I decided it was time to fight. I took off my sandal and attempted to smash it, but this thing was way too fast for my ogre-like reflexes. I took several more swipes at it and missed every time. The spider ended up running away (it must have been a French spider) under a desk and we couldn't find it for a good 5 minutes. During this whole ordeal the students started flipping out and we had to move all of them to the opposite side of the room. We eventually found it under the teacher's desk (probably trying to learn English so we could reconcile our differences) and I was able to slow it down with some whiteboard cleaner. After using about half the bottle of cleaner it still wouldn't die so I was forced to river dance on its face. Once the spider was dead the whole class cheered and I went back to my class to finish teaching Language Arts.
This event has scarred me for life.
Monday, November 16, 2009

Yehliu Geological Rock Park Video

Friday, November 6, 2009

Peace Memorial Park, National Palace Museum, and Taiwan Beer Bar Montage

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shilin Night Market Video

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eating Taiwan

(Post by Alisha)

Pig's blood soup (pictured above), tofu squares, tubes of fish paste,
oyster egg pancakes: ah, just some of the delightful delicacies we've experienced, in sight, smell, or taste, since we've been here. Now I know that most of you are wearing a a genuinely perplexed look right now (hey, you mean authentic Chinese food doesn't come from a Li Yang's-esque establishment with General Tsao's chicken combos and neat little sweet-and-sour packets?) but a lot of Taiwanese cuisine we've tried is generally unidentifiable at best, and cooked in sweet, briney oils at worst. Even the deserts fail to strike any chord of familiarity (think dense cubes of gelatinous goo). This isn't to say we haven't found several foods that we can't get enough of- namely, pork and cabbage dumplings, beef noodle soup, taro balls, steamed layer cake, shaved ice, fresh fruit teas, fried squid, and rice, rice, rice with just about any vegetable, egg, or brothy topping- but the craving for American food is slowly over-taking the desire to expand our palate as the days go by. While we may be getting slightly less adventurous on our weekend dining excursions, we do, however, eat Taiwanese food every day for lunch. At school, "Auntie" prepares a huge pot of white rice and about three to four trays of, for lack of a better word, toppings- no pre-packaged Sysco school lunches here. All the teachers take a small bowl and fill it about 2/3 of the way up with rice, saving a bit of room at the top to pile on whatever new dish Auntie has concocted that day. Here is a sample schedule of what any given week is like for food:

M- Fish-flavored wheat gluten, spongey tofu, cabbage, mixed vegetables
T- Pork and onion stew (one of my favorites) and a watery egg and eel soup
W- Brown tofu squares, egg and tomato mix, oily Chinese eggplant and a whole fish
T- Curry day- horray! Big chunks of carrots and potatoes in a spicy/sweet curry sauce
F- Green vegetables, sweet garlic sausages (another favorite) and cabbage
Bonus: One great thing about Auntie's lunches is her delicious, homemade soy sauce that we always drizzle on top of whatever we get- and some days, it's just rice and soy.
Taiwanese fun food fact: One of the few foods that Andrew Zimmerman- the bizarre foods guy for the Travel Channel who eats bugs and intestines like they're popcorn- cannot stomach is a particular Taiwanese fruit called Durian. It's a large, melon-shaped fruit with spikes on it similar to a pineapple. Cut it open to reveal a slightly stringy, squishy interior that honestly tastes and smells like a rancid arm-pit. Yes, I tried it- I'm glad I did for the bragging rights, but it is a truly hideous fruit.

So where is all this going? Well, up until a few weeks ago, our favorite restaurant to savor some flavors from back home was a place called "The Diner" that has- you guessed it, diner food. The menu features items like banana pancakes, Denver omelettes made with organic eggs, and breakfast burritos- all complete rarities for Taiwan. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of their food out-does most American diners. The main caveat we had was the travel time it took to get there- it's in the heart of downtown Taipei, and it took us close to an 1 1/2 trip, basically making any quick brunch we wanted to have into an all-day event.
But no longer! Sansia now has its very own The Diner rip-off, literally seven minutes away from
us. It's called "The Door," and in true Taiwanese fashion, it's pretty much a blatant copy-cat establishment- which of course is fine with us, considering our love of original! (There seems to be very few qualms here with copyright issues, and we've seen several hilarious rip-offs, including, but not limited to: Abercrombie and Fith, R.Q. Polo (instead of Ralph Lauren Polo) and Blueberry (Burberry, anyone?) The decor is very cozy and cool, with hard-wood floors, black and white photos, lime green ceilings, and brick walls. Every menu item we've tried so far has been a great success, and we absolutely love having this place right around the corner. It's open late and has all-day brunch, but the dinner items are excellent as well. Although I'm sure our days of adventurous Taiwanese eating are far from over, it's comforting knowing that a meal that reminds us of home is just a walk away.

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