Saturday, May 30, 2009

philippines day 3

well today we woke up to pouring down rain, so we spent most of the morning and afternoon on the patio of the hotel and read magazines, studied chinese and chatted while looking at the ocean as it rained. i had a banana split for breakfast :X

this afternoon we attempted to go to this zipline place but we got there right as it was closing, so we went go karting instead. neither of the boys had ever done it, but they both beat me. my pedal was to the metal but i just wasn't going anywhere.

what else did we do today.. we walked around "downtown" and found this market that would sort of remind you of a stinkier taiwanese night market, but everything costs $2 or $3 instead of 10 or more. josh also noticed that the style of clothes are all really tight fitting vs the materinty-chic of taiwan. i prefer the puffy dresses.
the boys bought a million DVDs but i didn't see anything i neeeeeded. if anyone from home wants any cheap DVDs, now's the time to let me know. what show, what season.

we went to this japanese restaurant called 'spanish gate'. ... the name obviously didn't make any sense, but the food was delicious. better than the japanese in taoyuan. they had miso soup that tasted just like the miso at my faaaavorite japanese place in austin.

time to do a little research about where to stay in manila and then i'm headed to the shower. josh and i went to get another massage tonight because it's $5, but i'm all oily/baby powdered.

Friday, May 29, 2009

philippines day 2

this is an interesting area. literally the only "foreigners" we've seen have been this group of norwegian people who are visiting 'stan' (i was asked if i was his granddaughter.. apparently i look norwegian), and a bazillion semi-creepy looking, vintage military tattooed, 60+ year old ex-military men who are cavorting with 20something philipino girls. it is bizarre, to say the least.

aside from the general weird feeling that that situation gives me, it's an alright place. the heat isn't nearly as oppressive as i had imagined it would be based on the forecast. the beaches are pretty. the people are nice if not a little phony.

today we had breakfast at a little place across the street. their spanish omelet could have been straight out of texas. it was lovely. then we set off for 'ocean adventure' which was like sea world lite. i'm kicking myself for not paying the $100 to do the swimming with the dolphins thing.. but there was a torrential downpour so i'm not sure if i even could have done it.

after that, we headed to a casino where josh won $5 and steve and i both lost $10 or so. then we hit up the city center and freeport zone which could have been any city in mexico.. and took a crazy 'jeepney' back to our hotel. it was like a long jeep with a cover on the back with open air windows and a really low roof. only slightly safer than the motorbike with little cart attached that the three of us piled into last night.

josh and i got swedish massages at some place down the road this evening which was really, really nice. now i'm covered in oil and baby powder but a little more relaxed. then this evening we went to the bar attached to the hotel and i got cornered chatting with this 65yr old dude, JR, from dallas, ironically. he's an ex-IMBer and if he hadnt shown me a picture of his 20yr old wife, i'd say he was a normal good old boy. he told me a lot about philippino life (the girls who work in the bars make 3 dollars a night) (the local food is gross and they love canned corn beef.. which i like) (the only spices they use are garlic, soy sauce and vinegar.. even though basil and oregano grow wild in the gutters).

so things are good. i think 3 days in subic bay is the ideal amount of time. the only terrrible thing is that the super humid, rainy weather isn't good for my camera so i haven't taken ANY pictures. tomorrow i can at least get the beach and area around our hotel, but i don't really want to take it on the treetop adventure.. we'll see.

philippines day 1

well today has just been a cloud of traveling. we set off around 11 for the airport and our flight left around 1. the flight was 2 hours and we were in the exit row which was awesome.
once we arrived in manila, we were going to try to take a ferry but we missed the last one so we ended up in a taxi for a looong time. the guy took us to the bus station and we were on a freezing cold bus for 4 hours before we arrived in subic bay.

we're staying at the lovely arizona hotel. it really isn't even a little bit lovely, but it's clean and not too bad.everyone who works here calls you sir or maam religiously. subic bay would remind you of downtown cancun. we haven't seen it in the daylight yet though. i'm just excited to sleep in a bigger-than-twin sized bed tonight.

observations about the philippines..
they looove KFC
and mister donut
there arent nearly as many 7-11s
there seems to be a surplus of girls? let's call them
it's super ridiculously humid beyond belief
there are palm trees and pretty light purple bougainvillea (thanks mom)
there is no hair dryer so i'm going to be wavy-humid haired megan for 4 days

our tentative plans include zip lining, a shooting range, some bar in the middle of the ocean, and a crazy open aired bus/taxi

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

jai hoooooooo

so after chinese and lunch this afternoon, i headed to nova, which is taoyuan's big box computer store. i pull out my AC adapter with the frayed cable and hand it to the computer dude who just looks at it and says 'oooh noooo'.

he says 4 minutes worth of chinese to me and i get the gyst that i need to go to some other store where they can fix it. computer guy #2 writes down something in chinese (tonight allen told me it says 'jing ho electronic material') and brings up yahoo maps, in chinese, on the computer. at that point, i know it's on minzu road and if i hit jung shan rd, i went too far.
i find minzu road (which is in the opposite direction as the guy pointed), and stop a couple blocks short of jung shan rd, outside of a bakery. since i've had such brilliant luck with people who own restaurants and other little shops, i decide to ask the girls at the bakery. they look at my little paper and just keep saying 'no address. police station there. ask police'.

i probably just would have walked into another store to try my luck but the girl actually walked me to the front door of the police station, so i had no choice, i just went inside. the taipei times just ran a big story about how the public is outraged that foreigners get off so easy because we can't speak chinese so we can't really get ticketed, and a big campaign has been launched to go after us.. so it felt weird to be in the police station.

luckily, it was like any other place i walk in and everyone kind of looked at me and pointed frantically to the one person who can speak 'a little' english. it was a police officer who couldn't have been over 25. the guy was super nice and he just took my paper and i could see the wheels turning. he pulled out his cell phone, put it away, went to the computer, went outside and looked up and down the street. in the end, he pulled out his car keys and told me to get in the police car!

he asked me where i was from, where i teach, etc as we drove about 3 blocks until he matched up a sign with what was written on my paper. the guy at the store thought we could probably fix it, but i needed to bring my entire computer.. so i went back to the bakery, bought the police officer a couple of little cheesecake tarts, (he accepted them after a little bit of protest), and went back to get my computer.

in the end, we found a new adapter that does work with my laptop. success! it was a crazy, roundabout adventure of a day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


my power cord died soo unless i can find a dell power cord at nova tomorrow, i'll probably be gone until i can order one online.

mrs. chan made a bunch of rice dumplings for dragon boat festival. the story goes that a poet jumped in a river to protest an oppresive chinese government, and the people threw in rice dumplings to keep the fish from eating him.
she made two kinds, a plain glutinous rice one, and one with red bean.
red bean is really growing on me. it's not too sweet, not too bean-y.

new stamp! it's a little castle/house. the initials threw the kids for a loop. i think they understood the 3rd or 4th explanation.

i'm going to the philippines with josh and steve on thursday and coming back monday. knowing myself, i'll probably find an internet cafe to give you some updates.

don't forget how lucky you are, darling

these are pictures that allen and i took on sunday. he took me to ximending so we could eat a boat full of ice cream. when i saw how giant the boat was, i decided to go with the smaller bowl. we totally could have done the boat though.
i didn't know he had his camera until we had eaten most of it. it was 'milk ice' like shaved ice that's more like snow.. with mango, kiwi and strawberries. yuuuumm!
we went to the chiang kai shek memorial because we had a bunch of time. it was beautiful. they were having some kind of special ed olympics or something. it was unusually cool and windy on sunday.
that building (and the other one across from it that you can see in another picture) is the national theater and concert hall. the scale of those 4 buildings/gates is soo big.
well the 7 of you who have been here since the beginning will be glad to hear that i think i'm much more sad about leaving here than i am excited about going home. my friend patrick asked me what food i miss from home that i can't get here.. and really, i don't crave anything from home anymore. i'm just going to miss danbing, fresh tea and cong dra bing.
it makes me all teary to think about not ever seeing the kuos or my kids. i looooove my monday night kids. i love that it's enough for me to just look disappointed and it makes them stop doing whatever they're doing.

tonight in my second class i told carol i'm learning sea animals now so she told my kids to say an animal in english so i could say it in chinese. all through class, we'd be doing whatever and someone would shout 'lion!' or 'zebra!' and see if i knew it. they were totally impressed that i knew camel.
..did you ever wonder what 67,000NT looks like?! time to visit the bank.
my brother is 21 right noooowww since it's 12:31 in taiwan! happy birthday jeffy.
let's look at that money one more time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

too scared to open up

i'm way behind schedule because i watched the first episode of 'the fashion show' which is bravo's replacement for project runway since it moved to lifetime (lame). 我不喜歡. i don't like it.

chris took this picture of the 'good day/bad day' in the taipei times today.
it's a good day for killing ants and other vermin
it's a bad day for 'everything'
allen and i hung out in taipei today. pictures tomorrow. goodnight!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

oh, you are my star

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

stole this from sara and james at you can't go wrong with a fork. it had the word 'texas' and 'party' on it which i think qualifies it for this blog. and it's awesome.

always something there to remind me

there was an actual rose in my rose milk tea this morning. if an ant hadn't found his way up to my lid, i never would have known.
i had the best time at the kuo's today. mrs. chan made me delicious beef, pepper and onion stir fry. i ate the wholeeee plate by myself. mr. kuo probably asked me a million times to drink wine with him since i was done with class. we settled on water. he said he wants to visit me in texas in december. that would be awesome/hilarious. i hope he does come.

i asked where mr. wang was today and mr. kuo just looked at me and said 'wang shien sheng zai ni de xin' which is 'mr. wang is in your heart.' we cracked up. really though, his daughter was taking the big test to get into senior high so he couldn't come today.
i think i'm making friends with the fruit market ladies. today the husband was also there and he asked if i can speak chinese.. they said a little. for some reason i was just feeling shy so i didn't say much to him. maybe another day.
this time the entire market was open and i had to walk past partially picked over pig heads. blech. i just tried to keep my eyes on the ground, ignore the hooves, and concentrate on delicious lychees.
justin bought all of this stuff to make tacos with and he told me i could use whatever, so i whipped up a batch of deeeelicious enchiladas. they were stuffed with beans, green pepper, onion and tomatoes. you couldn't even tell that it was mozzerella cheese (which i didn't know until after it came out of the oven) once it was covered with enchilada sauce.
we got 2 new people in the dorm today, martin and olenka. they were in korea and bailed. they're from canada. they seem nice. i think everyone who comes from korea really ends up loving taiwan. apparently you have to work a lot of hours there and they have some awful game where the kids poke your bum.

Friday, May 22, 2009

to watch and observe life

did you see the pilot of fox's new show, glee? hate that it's on fox, but i love that it's a show about a glee club so singing and dancing is built into the story line. don't stop believin' was basically the daily texan's theme song so i kind of have a soft spot for it..
i've had an awful time the last couple of weeks trying to fill up the whole hour and a half of my beginners classes on saturday mornings because they just moved to a new book and it's reaaaallly easy. so today after class i stopped by the stationery store to see what they had.
i found playdough, little puffy stars and flowers for them to count/do stuff with, and sticky balls because i always harass my coteachers for them/borrow them from the front desk, and it'd be nice to have a couple of my own.
twbf mentioned 'white princess and seven little men' today at lunch which cracked me up. he also mentioned how when he looks in my eyes he can see my heart. swoon. it makes me wish i was the kind of girl who swoons over stuff like that. he's catching on though. anyway we had a really nice lunch.
the combination of cheapy pencil sharpener + triangle shaped pencils (which wasn't obvious when they were inside the box.. all i saw was the ABC's) resulted in chewed up pencils and this blister..
i hope they love them. we'll see tomorrow.

and everywhere in between

driving in a pack is awesome. i can see why there are motorcycle gangs. tonight, 8 or 10 of us drove to a thai place in nan kan for carly's birthday dinner and it was so much fun to drive with people you know around you. they all drive faster than i usually do, so maybe part of the excitement was flying around turns and zipping past other people?

when we got back home, we went down into the garage one after another like a little mototcycle/scooter parade. it sounds lame now that i'm typing this, but you'll just have to imagine the awesomeness. for 3 minutes, we were our own little biker gang of english teachers.
dinner was reaalllly good. pad thai made by people who are truly from thailand. it came with an elegant little presentation of crushed peanuts on a lettuce leaf and a wedge of lime and then 4 white ceramic sugar bowls with sugar, chili oil, chili flakes and fish sauce to add according to your tastes. for $5.
carly is from england and she's here with her boyfriend, steph. they're so caring and sweet toward each other even though their style is kind of unconventional. love carly's eggplant colored hair.. she reminds me of my favorite parts of studying abroad in brighton.
that cake was chocolate with a layer of blueberry jam. it alllmost tasted like cake from home. i don't know how to describe taiwanese cake except to say that it's just full of air and doesn't have much of a taste. if your eyes were closed, you wouldn't be able to tell what flavor it is.
the best part of desserts are the teeny little utensils they come with. i know people will think i'm one of those weirdo's who's obsessed with the country she briefly lived in, but i'm definitely going to serve desserts with miniature spoons and forks from now on.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

so goode

one of my favorite girls in the whole wide world, ashley, is smart and beautiful and outgoing, throws killer tacky sweater parties, is an amazing group member for linguistics projects... and now she's applying for a really cool job at a winery, but she needs a bazillion people to watch her video.
you just put in your email to vote and they'll never email you again unless you check the box that asks them to.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

hey boy won't you take me out tonight

there are about 4 pictures in my 'taiwan' folder that haven't been posted on this blog at one point or another.
taipei 101 really is a very cool building, inside and out. the kids just call it 101.
two conversations to share today. chinese in italics, as always.
gary: does megan work at da chu on mondays?
me: no, i work in guei shan on mondays
class: you understood him?!
coteacher: you can ask her! you should speak english, but she can understand chinese.
gary: when will you go home?
me: july
gary: will you come back?
me: no
gary: oh.

i figured i should be honest since they're old enough not to freak out. they tell us not to tell the younger kids until we're 2 weeks away from our last class. i'm sure that class will be glad to have a new teacher, to be honest. i smile and bounce around when all they want to do is be dark and teen-y.
i played a game in there today where all they do is throw the sticky ball at various targets, and they'd throw it way over to the side and not even try. lame.
this is near allen's grandpa's house in mao li

i went to paspi for dinner and i haven't been there in a few weeks.. the owner had a bazillion questions for me in chinese that i could only grasp about half of.
as i was getting on my scooter to leave, this guy came out of family mart with 2 containers of juice and i told myself if it was papaya milk, i'd talk to him. sure enough, it was.
me: do you like papaya milk?
the guy: yep
me: it tastes good?
guy: yeah it's really good
me: my friends say i need to give it a try, but i don't think i'd like it
guy: it's really sweet
me: maybe i'll try it

i was all excited because i just learned how to say 'give it a try' and i remembered how to say 'papaya milk' 木瓜奶茶 ! without even thinking about it.
clean clothes. is there anything better?
allen's brother at a temple.
today on my way back from my 3rd rose milk tea of the week at the coffee shop, i just stood in front of the incense at the temple on the corner for a minute. i love how taiwanese temples smell.
coffee, the dog at the coffee shop, has his first lion cut of '09. he laid down beside me when i read today because he knows i'll scratch his back while i read. he smelled like johnson's baby shampoo.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

it's a long road we've been walking on

man i love rose milk tea. i like how it comes out of your pores all day after you drink it. it's just black tea with a whole bunch of milk and some rose syrup. yesterday i had a pot of it with a side of waffles for lunch at 'harwana cafe'.

allen and i went to lunch today at a place pretty close to where he works, so the whole time we were there, there was a steady parade of his 'work partners' walking past the plate glass window. i guess i've done that to people i've dated in the past. karma. the delicious dumplings were worth it. $2 lunches are amazing.
this is sherry and i. my beginners class had a demo tonight. ..they aren't dumb, but they aren't good. they're little parrots where they can repeat but they really can't think on their own. it's disappointing. even the ones who you think get it really don't get it when you try to talk to them before or after class.
they all memorized these 17 sentences. my first name is ____, my last name is ____. i want to visit ____. the taiwanese flag is red, white and blue. my favorite holiday is ______. every tuesday and friday i come here to learn english. there are 17 students in my english class. i study english for 30 minutes every day. every day i have to ____. i ____ to do it. i like to ____. i get ___ dollars pocket money each week. i am good at _____. thank you for listening.
at the end of the demo, one of the school administrators asked if any of the parents could do their kids self intro and she'd give their kid 150 stickers. nick's mom actually got up and did it. we were all amazed. she was so cute and nick just hid his face in his hands. good for her though. it's hard to get up in front of people and talk by yourself like that. especially in your second language (or third or whatever).
links of the day
courtesy of keith: with simple ideas for being green.
and if you didn't watch Gio on OnBeing yesterday, go do it. seriously. it's so cute. archives (all the way to the right), page 3, the kid in the white and red stripes.
and sycamore street press is so cute.
[sycamore street press].

ok ONEEEE more link..
if you love craft projects or handmade anything, check out happy tape. it's the prettiest masking tape in the world. they have a 20 pack for $40 (with shipping) and you can use it for a miiiiillion things. last time i saw it on etsy i thought that was a liiiittle too much, but when it sold out i was kicking myself. add it to the pile of things that will be waiting on my bed when i get home.

Monday, May 18, 2009

losing my cooling

this week in chinese i'm learning all of the bugs and birds.
hummingbird is fengniao (wind bird)
bee is mifeng and honey is fengmi
owl is maotouying (fur head eagle)
peacock is kongque (keyhole freckle)
..i don't think i know the individual meanings of any of the other ones.
pork with niubang (burdock) and marinated bamboo shoots from the japanese restaurant in guei shan. i eat that once a week or so.

monday continues to be awesome. teddy and lin are at 50/50 with 'thank' you vs 'sank' you. at least now they're aware of when they say it wrong. and we're starting to conquer the 'do does + verb without ing' ..they always want to say 'she does running to the store'. so that's exciting. jasmine is awesome though. it's all because of her.

in my baby class, i reinacted the down on one knee story of yesterday for my coteacher while the kids were writing down chinese definitions, but they saw me and started singing the marriage song. jerry, scott and bill looked at each other and then looked at me and asked if i really had a boyfriend. scott held my hand while i was reading with jerry.
that whole thing was funny enough, but then after class when i went down to the front desk, carol told me that debbie, one of the kids, had told the secretaries that i was getting married. !

patrick told me about OnBeing from the washington post today. they're little mini interviews with normal, interesting people. go to the far right on the menu and go to archives, the 3rd page, and watch the kid. he is awesome.

the touch of your hand

loooordy lordy i do not know how to begin this story. we'll begin with a coincidence while i think about how i want to word the rest. twbf and i were chatting on skype this morning and he said 'be careful' when we said goodbye and i said 'be careful of what? i'm just going to lunch'.

..but when i was parking my scooter and moving it over a little bit so it fit better in the spot, my foot slipped up underneath it and i burnt the top of my ankle. so today when he met me in the train station and i was holding a giant bag of ice on my foot, he said 'are you the girl who said "i don't need to be careful?"'
so then we made our way into taipei via a train, 2 MRT lines and a bus and we got to a giant mall/movie complex. we shared a rose milk tea, i taught him a fun pen and paper game, and we people-watched for 2 hours until it was time to watch angels & demons.

when we went upstairs to the movie theater part of the mall, there was a big open deck area with a bubble machine blowing a cloud of bubbles everywhere and cheesy love songs (think backstreet boys) blasting over the speakers. i turned around and there was a giiiiant, multicolored ferris wheel. it was really beautiful up there. i felt right at home when 'when you say nothing at all' by kenny rogers (?) came on.
(this is the shirt i bought yesterday. the sleeves are the cutest part, i'll show you some other time).

so we get out of the movie and get in a little glassed-in car on the ferris wheel, we're about half way up and i'm getting crazy butterflies watching taipei 101 get smaller and smaller in the distance. then he asks me to close my eyes for a minute..

when i open them, a card is in my lap and he's literally down on one knee with a little black box in hand. inside was a sparkly necklace, and he asked me to be his girlfriend and said he loved me.. i explained that i wouldn't exactly call it 'love' just yet, and i'd happily be his girlfriend for a month.. but not when i go home.
he said really, you don't think you'll ever come back? and i said no.. i really don't think so. so i guess now i'm a twgf.

when we were sitting on the train going home, we were spelling words in the palm of our hands and this old couple across from us was whispering about us.
i was hoping i could just add his necklace charm onto the one i wear every day.. but i don't think the styles really mesh. it's hard to tell in this picture, but the one he bought seems a lot fancier than my little silver seasons charm.

so that was my day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

hotel california is a wedding song now?

busy day today. 2 classes in the morning and then right when i got home, tess and i left for wu fen pu road in taipei which is famous for being the place where the night market vendors buy their clothes from. it's interesting because they have samples hung up all along the walls and then in the middle it's just rows and rows of clothes wrapped in plastic. so you bring them the sample and they go get you one in the plastic wrap.
i bought a shirt for $3 and a dress for $10. love taiwan.

dena goes to this bakery called love cake and she always brings back delicious garlic bread, so today i set off to find it. turns out they have two locations. i brought home ham and cheese bread..
and deliiiicious garlic bread.
dan and i went to justin's wedding reception tonight. justin was a chef at latini's for a long long time. he is so sweet and fun and friendly, i was so happy to be invited. the reception was really interesting.

before you walk in the door to the ballroom, they took your red envelope, opened it, counted and recorded how much money you gave the couple in this giant weddingy ledger. there are no wedding gifts, everyone just gives cash.
they put as at the table with justin's friends from canada, where he went to school for 10 years. they were all taiwanese but spoke english fluently. i sat beside a really nice couple who live in taipei. the girl was a merchandise buyer for a clothing company in taipei for a long time. she helped me figure out how to eat the food and explained the ins and outs of the reception.
when i sat down, one of the servers came over with a knife and fork and asked if i needed them. i said no thank you, chop sticks will be fine. then i flung the million-course dinner all over myself and others and dropped at least half of what i tried to pick up. i was so embarrassed because i've really mastered wooden chopsticks, but those slippery plastic ones are a whole different thing.

we had..
a tray of various meats
the most ridiculously difficult prawns ever. two people had to help me with those.
shrimp noodle soup
pork ribs
an unidentifiable animal-innard dish
sticky rice
a whole fish, who spent most of the evening staring at me
black chicken soup, which i now love. look how far i've come.
almond milk soup, totally yummy.
some kind of sweet potato pastry things
fresh fruit
the best part of the entire night was the light saber interlude. the lights went off, blacklights came on, and the female servers processed in with tealights in white gloved hands and stopped intermittently in the aisle. then, two male servers came in with blue light sabers and walked around the tables a few times.
meanwhile, a whole orchestral overture is booming in surround sound. thennn, two more guys with red light sabers came in and walked around. then they all left and the lights came back on and we went back to eating dinner. no explanation given.
coolest taiwan wedding factoid:
the couple takes these elaborate wedding pictures and the bride gets to wear all sorts of pretty outfits in them. none of them are her actual wedding dress, they're just costumes. but what i learned tonight was that the 4 dresses she wore tonight were also borrowed from the photographer. they cut them down to fit her and then when she's done with them, they rip the seams and make them fit the next girl.

at first i thought it was kind of sad not to have your own wedding dress.. but after seeing her in a beautiful sparkely white dress, then a beautiful silver sequined dress, then a pretty purple organza dress, i think i'm on board with the bazillion dresses thing. no one ever wears their wedding dress again. why not wear 10 for the price of 1?
time for bed.