Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Well, like I said, this morning began like any other. I finally found my way to the couch, freshly showered and a cup of coffee was placed into my eager hands. I opened my book and began to read. The coffee this morning was especially delicious. I became lost in my morning routine and a newly acquired vampire teeny bopper novel. That is until I heard a crash and felt the piping hot liquid scalding my bare legs. I had become so caught up in my book that I missed the coffee table and my favorite cup, coffee and all went crashing to the floor. The granite floor I thought was so awesome when we moved in wasn’t forgiving at all. The last cup of coffee was all over the floor and my favorite cup-shattered. Grrr. . . .
Sunday, August 22, 2010
As the sun goes down each night, we are often treated to loud sounds of explosion. Our apartment has windows on both the north and south faces of the building. So, as the sounds begin I dash towards one side of the window trying (usually in vain) to get to the window in time to see a brief fireworks display. I'm not sure as to the reason for the display but each night brings some beauty to the sky in quick sessions. As if competing for the nightly display, a few moments later a separate mini-display will start somewhere else around town. Who knows why, but I enjoy dashing to the balcony in an attempt to see the lights.
Monday, August 16, 2010
She walked over to my school bag, which always is appropriately stocked with dog cookies, and proceeded to roll all over it. I figured I knew what she wanted. I reached in and grabbed a cookie. Squeakers took it delicately out of my hand (thank goodness, I was worried I would lose a few fingers), promptly dropped in on the ground, ran over to me and started jumping up and down squeaking. I petted her until our ride came. She looked at us as we got into the car and drove away. Then, she picked up her cookie and trotted off.
Squeakers without a doubt, is one of the funniest looking dogs I’ve ever seen. She’s a medium sized dog but quite scrawny. Living in the hot, humid Taiwan weather, her owners thought it appropriate to shave the poor little thing. She is completely shaved with the exception of one tuft of hair on her tail—it resembles something close to a paint brush. The hair cut sadly makes her look as if she has some weird disease. Squeaker’s ears point straight up giving her a comical expression. One ear is normal but the other one is missing the tip as if someone came along with scissors and cut it off.
Now as Frank and I walk through our neighborhood, we always look for Squeakers. If she is out prowling, she runs to us squeaking and begging for attention. She’s no Audrey, but she’s definitely helping the weeks go by until our little pooch is back with us.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Other than school, we have not had the opportunity to do much this week. Each morning, we walk down the street a few blocks to a small place that provides breakfast food. It’s a street food drive through that is constantly busy with people stopping on their way to work or school. The people who work there are nice and welcome us with large smiles each day and provide us with different breakfast choices. They want us to try everything!
In the evening, we return to the streets in search of food. Sure, we could go to the grocery stores and buy food to cook (we’ve actually done this once) but the available street food is quite good. We have visited a different place each day ranging from buffets, to “a choose your food and they cook it there”, to sitting down at a small table and laughing with the owners until they bring us something delicious to eat. One owner and his wife want us to learn Chinese and made us practice the names of the dishes before serving to us. Then, there is the tasty tropical fruit sold at multiple stands throughout the neighborhood. Pineapples, mangoes, bananas, kiwis... It has been quite nice to get fresh fruit on each outing into our community.
Audrey is doing well. Unfortunately, the quarantine location is on the opposite side of town so a few days a week we get a taxi for the cross-town trip. She is quickly putting on weight and has a different look about her. The trim physique earned through hours of swimming has morphed into the bulges of a couch potato in two weeks of limited activity and extra food. I guess that’s a warning to us all on the dangers of staying locked in a small area, eating too much and not exercising. The people who run the quarantine are nice and let us visit her after the posted visiting hours are over. Two more weeks are left and I’m sure she will come out a little confused but OK. She seems resigned to kennel life and doesn’t dash for the exit as we return from the small, concrete dog run. She is always excited to see us and will be ecstatic once we jail break her from there.
Friday ended with a special treat – our ARC cards have arrived. This opens our doors to transportation and communication. At the same time, we hope to begin bike commuting to school. Last week we went to the Giant (bike brand not monster) store to purchase bikes. Giant is manufactured in Taichung so I had hoped for a better deal than what we got but bikes are on the way. Bikes are made a bit on the smaller size for the locals so larger bikes need to be brought in for us.
I guess that does it for the moment. Thanks for the kind words and thoughts as we continue to transition to life in Taiwan. It’s amazing to think that we have only been here for 12 days.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Our passports were whisked off a few days ago with the promise of returning attached to an ARC. One week, two weeks, who knows but the sooner the better!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Life on the 8th floor of an apartment building provides great views of the city. In this northern part of Taichung, most buildings are shorter than ours so between the north and south windows I see much of the city. On top of buildings, stainless steel vessels gleam like rockets polished for takeoff. These shining pots contain water. Reportedly, the source of water for Taichung is pure though somewhere along the pipe to where it flows into my glass it becomes questionable. Is it that the polished stainless steel covers a dark and contaminated inner shell? Or are the pipes laced with a visit to the infirmary. Maybe I'll find out but in the meantime, we are boiling a lot of water before drinking and hoping small doses of the contaminants will toughen up our tolerance.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
American School in Taichung
c/o Frank (and/or) Krista McGowan
21-1 Chu Yuan Lane, Pei-Tun
Taichung, Taiwan 40661
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
This time, the stars aligned themselves and Krista and I entered an apartment vacated by teachers who have moved on. They were quite kind, leaving furniture, kitchen items, place settings and other items (key among these is a french press for Krista as ours broke somewhere in security - the x-ray people were a bit worried with all the shards of glass she was packing).
So, where are we / how are we living? At first glance, Taichung is bigger than I expected though relatively calm. We live in the north/northwestern part of town near the forested hills. Our apartment is spacious - three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen area and a living space. Several of the rooms have window AC units, which have been greatly appreciated as we adjust to the tropical environment. Our kitchen contains a stove top but no oven - apparently ovens are not a common appliance. The heights are interesting with counter tops being too low for me whereas cabinets are almost too high. Maybe the low set sink is my path out of dish duty...
Monday, August 2, 2010
Our address is:
8F, No. 505 Jyunhe St
Taichung Taiwan 406
The road narrowed and the dense fog limited visibility in all directions, making us feel as if the only ones moving this morning. It was a moment of tranquility, a time to relax into thoughts when the hint of a powerful smell reached my nostrills.
"Do you smell something?" I aked Krista. Of course she did. Her sense of smell is so much more sensitive than mine.
"Yuck, it's like something died. Where is it coming from?"
We rolled down the windows. The smell intensified. Heads out the window, we realized that this smell was internal. "What could it be?"
We pulled over at the next shoulder to see Audrey staring out from her travel kennel, covered in poop. She has to be in the kennel because of space and the upcoming plane trip but this was gross. The walls, her blanket, the top of her head and everything in between was covered. The smell was almost overpowering. What to do? Her eyes begged for some immediate action but that was not possible. There was no water around. The door slowly closed as she likely cursed me for not rescuing. We hopped back into the car, rolled down all the windows and raced towards the closest campground. The beauty of the Redwoods Highway was now a thought of the past as the crisis set in.
Reaching Elk Prairie campgrounds, we found a water nozzle with enough pressure and set to washing Audrey, the kennel and a few bags unlucky enough to be near the kennel windows. Unfortunately, Audrey was sick. A 3:00 am jaunt that morning likely led to a smells-so-good-that-I'm-gonna-eat-it delicacy. As she commenced vomiting we snagged a remaining camp site, called it a recovery day, and hope to see Elk.