Monthly Archives: March 2013

Earthquake!

Yesterday I experienced my first earthquake.  I was at my desk writing something, and all of a sudden my desk kind of wiggled.  I looked up and my co-workers were surprised and we said, “Earthquake!” at the same time.  Nick was out teaching and he didn’t even feel it.

After posting my excitement over experiencing an earthquake on facebook, I saw that my friends in Taiwan (that’s what the locals call the main body of Taiwan) were posting that the earthquake was the biggest one they have experienced since being here.  Taiwan gets earthquakes fairly frequently, but they hardly ever reach the little islands of Penghu, so the fact that we felt it is testament to how big it actually was.  From the reports I’ve heard, the earthquake was a 6.1, which is pretty big, with at least one injury.  If you want to read about it, you can go here.

Well that’s all for now.  We just wanted everyone to know we’re safe. 🙂  Hopefully we’ll have a longer post later in the week.

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Categories: Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Traffic Jam

Living in Penghu has spoiled us in many ways, one of these being the fact that there is no traffic, like ever.  Living in the huge metropolis that is Houston, Texas, we have spent countless hours stuck in traffic jams about ready to cry (more me than Nick).  Since moving to Penghu we have enjoyed the quick 5 minute or less commutes to anywhere and everywhere we need to go.  But this morning was different.

We were on our way to school and got to a traffic light and had to wait about 2 minutes!  The travesty!!!  We assumed there must have been some sort of accident to create this horrific back up, and sure enough as we pulled into the intersection, I saw what had happened.  To our right there was a scooter stopped in the middle of the road and fish strewn everywhere!  There was a poor little lady who was quickly trying to scoop her fish into her basket so she could continue her trip from the fish market to her house.  There was even a police officer there to direct traffic while she was putting her fish back!

We both had a good laugh about it and thought that is something we would only see in Penghu, Taiwan!

Happy Trails,
Liv

Categories: Humor, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

An Uneggspected Purchase

If you recall, we have to get all of our fresh foods from the traditional markets around town.  This is a chore we have gotten used to during our time here, and we have become pretty confident in our “market Chinese”.  Market Chinese consists of the phrase “I want ____.” and the numbers.  Our Market Chinese rarely fails us, although from time to time, we do have to ask some vendors to repeat themselves before we can understand the cost.

With all that said, let’s journey back to last week.  I was sent to the market across the street from school with the simple mission of purchasing 8 eggs for our use that week.  I approached the vendor with confidence because we are frequent customers, and the couple who runs the stand is always nice to us.   Normally we just pick out the number of eggs we want and place them in a bag for the owners to weigh, but today, the lady was feeling extra helpful.  She asked me how many eggs I wanted (I think) and I told her eight (in Chinese of course, and I even included the modifier used when stating a number of things, I got skills).  As she started to count out eggs and place them into the bag, I was feeling very proud of myself (you’ve gotta embrace the little things).  By the time I looked back down and was about to reach for the bag, I noticed that there were definitely more than eight eggs in my bag.  I repeated my Chinese for eight several times, but she was still loading me up.

PAUSE

Before we proceed with the story, I should tell you that I am a non-confrontational person.  I don’t like to make people feel bad, or make them think I am upset with them.  This is especially the case when people are trying to help me.  It is something I am working to overcome, and I’ve come a long way, but occasionally, it is still really hard for me to feel as if I’m being rude to someone.  It doesn’t help that in this case, there was an added language barrier.

PLAY

I finally got over my aforementioned fear of confrontation, and reach over and told her it was okay, and that I didn’t want any more in the best way that I could.  She understood and put back the 20th egg she was about to put in my bag.  She then handed the bag to her husband and he proceeded to weigh the bag and tell me how much it was.    This whole time I’m thinking, what am I going to do with 18 eggs (that was the final count).  Of course I couldn’t help laughing over this egg mishap, and since then, Nick and I have been having an eggcellent time eating all those eggs. 🙂

You may be wondering, as I was, how she misunderstood eight for some eggstreme number.  I asked my co-workers this, and one of them mentioned that for certain products, like eggs, people in Taiwan measure the amount in weight, so we came to the conclusion that she thought I wanted eight kilos of eggs.  I’m certainly glad I stopped her when I did!

-Liv

Categories: Cooking, Education, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Happy Chinese New Year!

February 1oth was Lunar New Year, or more commonly, Chinese New Year.  I’m a little late posting this, but we’ve been seriously busy the past few weeks, so better late than never, right?  Without further ado, here is our first Chinese New Year experience.

Envision this: every store except 7-11 and McDonalds is closed, families travel miles to reunite, food is in abundance, red banners of blessing are on every door, families give red envelopes filled with money to one another, and fire crackers are exploding non-stop.  It is a very festive and long holiday in many Asian countries, the festivities last for almost one week.

We had the week off from work, and spent most of the time cocooned on the couch with books.  We are proud to say that our New Year’s goal of reading a book every week is being fulfilled, and then some!  We did take the occasional respite in order to walk the dog, feed ourselves, and go see the New Year’s festivities in town.

To kick off our New Year’s celebration, we were invited to have New Year’s Eve dinner with Anly and her family.  Her mother made some traditional foods, like fish, and we added some burritos to the feast!  Fish is a traditional food to eat on New Year because the Chinese word for fish 魚 can also mean abundance or more precisely “more than enough”, so people like to eat the fish to represent the hopes of an abundant year.  Tradition says you are not to eat the full fish to symbolize that you will have more than enough in the year to come.

Our small city, normally rather boring, was bustling with New Year’s festivities.  A small road in the heart of downtown was blocked off so that games and street vendors could line up to entertain and feed the crowd.  We went to the street on several occasions with different friends.  We played some games, ate Taiwanese snacks, and had a fun time!  My favorite part about this street was that a certain street vendor was selling corn dogs (my snack of choice)!!!!  In addition to the street, the cultural center in town hosted a performance group from China.  We went to see the last performance, and were really impressed.  The performance featured very talented dancers, jugglers, singers, amazing balancing acts, and so much more!

We came to Taiwan not knowing what to expect during Chinese New Year, but we enjoyed every minute of it!  Next year we hope to have just as much, if not more fun, celebrating Lunar New Year, we might even put up the red banners. 🙂

These are the infamous red banners.  Each one contains a prayer or blessing for the year to come.  These were up on every house!

These are the infamous red banners. Each one contains a prayer or blessing for the year to come. These were up on every house!

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One of the games set up for the holidays. You used bb guns to pop balloons!

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As I was walking down the street, this is what I saw! It is rare that we see this many people in one place in Penghu.

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This is a ring toss game.

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In the background they are selling chocolate covered marshmallows and tomatoes as well as sugar covered tomatoes and strawberries. In addition to games and food, some stands also sold clothing and other knick knacks.

-Liv

Categories: Family, Friendship, New Year's, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

All Aboard!

If you remember, Nick and I traveled to Tokyo a few weeks ago for our winter vacation.  We had a great time while we were there, but right now, I want to tell you about our experience with the trains.  Having been to Taipei several times, we felt like we could confidently navigate the train system in Tokyo just like we do in Taipei, and then we looked at the train map.

A little overwhelming, huh?

A little overwhelming, huh?

At first we were taken aback, but then decided that we were confident enough in our Nick’s navigating skills, that we could conquer it.

After arriving in Tokyo, we headed to the train station to start the journey to our hostel.  With map in hand, we got on the train, only to find out that the particular train we got on did not announce stops in English!  We freaked out for a moment, but then realized that we could look out of the windows and see which stop we were at, so that calmed us down. After riding for some time, we realized that the route the train was taking was different from what was on the map.  None of the stations were the same, and we I once again resorted to freak out mode.  Nick, however, kept his cool and figured out what was going on.  Soon enough he realized where we were and where the train was headed and successfully navigated us to the hostel with no more problems.  To our relief, as soon as we got on the newer trains inside the city, English announcements were made on every train.  After that, it was smooth sailing navigating the train system.

If you’ve never been to Tokyo, or a city with an expansive train system, you wouldn’t know how big the train stations are, but let me just tell you, most of them are the size of a large shopping mall, and a lot of them have a shopping mall inside of them, so you need to know your exits.  Train stations can have anywhere from 2 exits to 5, 6, 7, (a million?).  Thankfully, my master navigator thought of these tricky train traps ahead of time and planned ahead.  He found a very helpful website that gave a layout of each train station and surrounding and area pointed out what exit to take to get to certain attractions.  If you’re interested, you can view that website here.  Needless to say, that saved us tons of time and prevented us from getting lost for days inside a train station. 😉

One more thing, as Americans we are used to personal space, but on the trains in Tokyo, personal space is not a commodity.  There were so many people packed into some of those trains, that no one could move.  It was very overwhelming to me, but the native people didn’t seem to mind if they were practically leaning up against a complete stranger.  Some people would call this culture shock, but I prefer the term cultural experience.  I enjoy getting to learn about how people from different countries around the world interact and live, and riding the trains in Tokyo added to my cultural experience.

Nick said that he read that out of a city of roughly 35 million people, 20 million of them use the train system everyday.  That is a lot of people, and it makes me smile to think that for just a few days, there were 20,000,002 people riding those trains. 🙂

-Liv

Nick looking like a pro on the train.

Nick looking like a pro on the train.  I was tempted to take a picture of the really crowded train ride, but we didn’t want to be labeled the stupid tourists. 🙂

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Tokyo Station- this is one of the most beautiful train stations we saw during our time in Tokyo.

train station

Categories: Family, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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