Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Little Things...

     Yes, I feel it is the little things about a place that make it stick in my memory. I lived in Oakland for just under 6 years and I will never forgot the wonder house I called home, for more reasons than I have space to write about here. Then I moved to San Francisco for about 4 months and for the most part hated it, because I lived on a Hill... a big hill. And I biked up and down that big hill everyday for 4 months. My time in SF was dull, nothing note worthy happened during that time, living in SF had little impact on my life. But I will never forget living there only because of biking up and down that hill.

     I just walked in the door 20 minutes ago after walking 4 blocks down the street in flip-flops and my soccer shorts carrying back two jugs, 3 gal. of fresh water that cost me $0.69 US. I cannot drink water from my tap so I have been looking for  a water re-fill station since moving into my new apartment, and I'm glad I finally found one because the empty 1.5 gal. water jugs were starting to pile up on my balcony and it seemed a waste to toss them out to buy a new jug instead of just re-filling them. A new 1.5 gal. jug costs $1.30 US, so I just two dollars, hooray!

     I know that paying a deposit on bottles is fairly common, but I have never experienced it my self until a few days ago when I was charged $52 NT for my $50 NT bottle of beer. "Now hang on a minute!" I said... Well I would have said “等一下吧!” But then they explained that I had to pay $2 NT extra as a deposit. So now when I go to get a fresh beer I just bring back the old bottle and only pay $50 NT, and that other 2 kuai (kuai mean $1) just stays in the system, I suppose until my last day in Taipei when I return to the shop with an empty bottle and and a smile on face and they'll ask "Another bottle Mr. Allen?" “冷先生再一瓶呢?” to which I'll reply  "Not today thanks, I'll just be taking my 2 kuai back." 2 kuai is about $0.07 US.  It'll be a small, but important victory to get it back.

     Lastly, in a continued attempt to seriously grab the Chinese Bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground (by that I mean get really good at speaking chinese) I found a local Taipei resident who is in a similar boat with learning English. I'm moving to China in August to study at a university and I feel linguistically under prepared. He is moving to New York in January to study at a university and also feels under prepared. So we've teamed up for language exchange. Today was our first meeting, first hour speaking all English, second hour speaking all Chinese. I have plenty of opportunities to speak Chinese with teachers and class mates during the 15-25 hours I spend on campus each week, but this language exchange is great opportunity to study and practice my chinese during my free time.......  my free time away from studying and practicing on campus........... But he's a cool guy and our first meeting went really well and I think I'll get a lot more out of this summer because these extra hours I'm putting in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kishu An 紀州庵

     So I walk past a really old looking building everyday when I leave my house. It is literally 20sec. from my house, I can see it from my balcony. For the most part it has been covered up by a giant shed, I assume to protect it from the weather. So Today I finally went over to it and tried to find out what I could about it. Turns out this building, and my neighborhood have an awful lot of history from the days of Japanese colonialism in Taiwan (Formosa 1895-1945)
     My neighborhood, now known as Guting 古亭, was called Kawabata-cho (river-district) during the Japanese occupation, and was the Administrative District for the Japanese Colonial Government. Not only was it the administrative district, it was the hot spot for the Japanese elite living in Taipei at the time. This beautiful area in south Taipei had a beautiful view of the river (right behind my apartment) and was filled with tea-houses and restaurants.

     The old building by my house was a restaurant and Japanese garden called Kishu An. They specialized in Japanese and Western dishes. It is the only restaurant or Japanese public house from that time period that still stands.

     After Formosa was returned to the Republic of China after WWII, the governor of Taipei turned Kishu An into a hostel for visiting provincial leaders, and later it was turned into a temple named "Kishu Temple" Now days, it is very weather beaten and run down, hence, why it is cased in big metal barn. And though I cannot get a very good look at it, and it still awesome to know I live half a block from a big part of Taipei's history.

The red star at the bottom right of the map is Kishu An 紀州庵. Below the star, and below the "109" is a small lane with a hook at the end, That is my street. To the right where the blue characters are is a small highway, and beyond that,  just off of the map is the river.

The best view of the original architecture.
Photo of the original Kishu An, circa unknown.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Taiwan National Soccer Team

Chinese Taipei National Team is the name given to Taiwan by FIFA. Last Sunday July 3rd, they played here in Taipei, in my backyard, against Malaysia, trying to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, won 3-2....... and I missed it. I missed the damn match. I didn't even know that the match happened until today. That is how unpopular the beautiful game is here. No one talked about the up coming game, there were absolutely no advertisements around town, you either knew that the match was going to happen, or you didn't... I didn't.  And I don't remember completely, but I'm pretty sure I didn't have a lot going on that sunday afternoon. I am currently still stewing in my own tears at the thought of missing this match.
Gosh Darn It! A million times Gosh Darn It!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Visit To Taizhong

Yesterday I didn't post because I was in Taizhong 台中 all day. Taizhong is about two hours south of Taipei on the west side of the island. Friends and myself went down for a Bike Polo Tournament which was a great time. Everyone in Taizhong is really nice. After the tournament we went to the local night market and I had some of the greatest food I've had in Taiwan. FIRST, 小腸包大腸 Xiǎocháng bāo dàcháng It is a sausage inside of a "rice sausage" (rice stuffed into the casing of any other kind of sausage) with a bunch a peppers and veggies on top. Delicious! SECOND, 芋頭冰 Yùtou bīng was for dessert. This is a bowl of sweet shaved ice, with red beans on top, with chunks of Taro on top of that. It doesn't sound like beans and tubers would make for the best dessert making, but they are both really sweet, and they were frozen, so on a hot day like yesterday, even a frozen carrot would be a treat.