Friday, November 30, 2007

Leofoo Village

Yay, I got the net back up and running. Now I can watch more YouTube videos of people falling off ladders or finding leprechauns in trees or other such nonsense.

Last weekend, out branch took a trip to Leofoo Village Theme Park. Getting up at 7am on a Saturday is something I don't usually do, so I had to have been fairly curious to drag my ass down to school and get on a bus that early. The ride there was foreboding-- the bus we took came with an 'entertainer', a guy that told (supposedly offensive) jokes in Mandarin, and led the group in some KTV (karaoke.) I was planning on sleeping another hour.

When we got there, it was still too early to go in, so we mulled around the parking lot for a while before going in.

The original plan was to stick with the people from our branch. That all went right out the window when they made a beeline for the park's wettest water ride. Being that it was a chilly (by Taiwan standards) November day, and that it was not even 9 in the a.m., Luke and I ducked out of the line at the last minute (sorry Betty, Christina) and went to find Mike and Will, our friends from the Yingge branch.

We explored the park's four themed areas: Wild West, African Safari, South Pacific, and Persian Castle. I think my favorite was Wild West. Not only did it feature the park's only legitimate big steel coaster, the Screaming Condor, but it also held the Wild West show, which I will describe later. Will is a Texan, and he said the Wild West section of the town was literally identical to the small, Asian populated theme park town that he grew up in.

Anyways, the rides were all pretty standard stuff, there were thrill rides, a few kiddy rides, a big swinging ship ride, a free fall ride, and a nominal number of coasters. There were some interactive rides, and even a Budweiser Keg ride.

This ride almost made me vomit:

The zoo was pretty good. There were camel rides for NT$50, and there was a bicycle that you could peddle along a track over the monkey cages, and the bike itself looked like a baboon! Awesome!

Before we left, we went to the Wild West show. I couldn't understand it, since my Mandarin is still in its infancy, but I suspect that the real Wild West didn't have quite so many flamingos or parrots. I didn't take pictures of it, but imagine a big theatre with old west themed building facades as the backdrop, and a Taiwanese guy in a safari hat hearding flamingos, dogs, and parrots around a stage. That was the show in a nutshell.

We went for some dinner at a flower garden after the park, and that was the end of an interesting day out.

You can see the rest of the photos here:

Leofoo Village Trip 11-25-07

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Delinquency / Visitor

I'm posting from work because Luke and I have a delinquent internet bill out (which I subsequently lost.) I'm working to restore it, and getting back to my downloading of American shows that I miss. It's hard to know what is and isn't a bill when it's all in Chinese, and it's even harder to pay the one bill that isn't payable at the local 7-11.

In other news, Uncle Robert (Chicken Legs) Wyszynski is coming for a visit on December 8th. We will be riding a rickshaw through the black market (oh it's real) and into snake alley, where we will buy snake potions from gypsey pirates to enhance our respective vitalities. All of you in our family can expect shrunken heads and elephant tusks for Christmas.

Anyone who wants something from Taiwan should let me know, as I was going to try to send some small stuff back with him (therefore, no Uncle Tom, I can't get you that collection of Samurai swords.) And if you're feeling generous, I've linked my Amazon wishlist to the right, with books and DVDs and other small stuff that you can send me or not send me. I will try to teleconference in to the Wyszynski family Christmas party if Rich and Shoe can coordinate the technical aspect in Ohio.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Take Five...

I'll be updating the blog soon with some good stuff. Hopefully a few photos, the zombie play once I get around to uploading it, and maybe even an audio blog soon.

Until then, just enjoy this classic jazz by Dave Brubeck and his band. Hopefully it will help you relax on hump day and slide into the weekend.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Average Dinner

I've heard a few people from home request some details about Taiwanese food. This is definitely a country to visit if you like eating. There is literally restaurant after restaurant on many streets here, and most serve pretty traditional Taiwanese and Chinese style foods.

Friday night, after work, Luke and I went to one of your usual spots for a late dinner. we usually get the house specialties: dumplings (in this case, fried pan sticks) and beef noodle soup, a favorite among Taiwanese.

Along with my pan sticks, I decided to get a side dish. There are some side dishes that I've really liked: garlic pickles, pig ears, and marinated tofu chiefly. This night, however, I was in for a surprise.

fried dumplings and my side

Luke's beef noodle soup

What I thought I was ordering was a block of tofu (bean curd) and a tea egg-- an egg boiled in tea that has absorbed all the tea flavors, quite good. What I got was a block of tofu and some kind of Satan's Egg. Look at this thing!

As you can see, the white is a gelatenous semi-clear brown, like brown Jell-O. The yolk is half green sludge, half yellow goo. It tasted vaguely like an egg, but I didn't finish it. I asked a friend who has lived here for years what it was, and she said it's a preserved egg. She says she's heard that the best ones are preserved in horse urine. Mmmmm...

Believe me when I say that despite some of the weird stuff, most of the food here is really good.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Grand Theft Auto: Taipei

I found this video of a police chase through Taipei and I thought I'd share.

It reminded me a lot of Grand Theft Auto on Playstation. The police chased this guy for miles and miles, had him in stopped traffic at least twice, and didn't break the window and drag him out. The chase went from city, to highway, back to city. They shot out his tires, but kept letting him drive. Every time he slowed down, they'd fire a volley of shots into this seemingly invincible Honda Hybrid (they build 'em tough in Japan.) Meanwhile the number of police cars (and scooters, ha!) kept multiplying until I figured the only logical next step would be to get a helicopter in on the action.

For those of you who can't stomach violence (or police inadequacy) they do eventually shoot and kill the guy at the end, but it took them long enough.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Japanese War Criminals Alive and Kicking

Someone linked me to an article recently that describes the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII. Such horrendous acts as blowing up Red Cross and merchant vessels and then slaughtering or torturing any floating survivors, cruel medical experiments, and methods of execution ranging from beheading to sledge hammer to the head to burying alive and crucifixion.

British Historian Mark Felton has written a book documenting the horrors of these acts, Slaughter At Sea: The Story Of Japan's Naval War Crimes.

From the article:

According to Felton, officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy ordered the deliberately sadistic murders of more than 20,000 Allied seamen and countless civilians in cold-blooded defiance of the Geneva Convention.

"Many of the Japanese sailors who committed such terrible deeds are still alive today," he said.

"No one and nothing has bothered these men in six decades. There is only one documented case of a German U-boat skipper being responsible for cold-blooded murder of survivors. In the Japanese Imperial Navy, it was official orders."

Imperial soldiers at work exterminating Allies

What bothers me is that even 60 years later, and after overwhelming historical evidence and eyewitness testimony, the Japanese government refuses to formally apologize for war crimes and does nothing to prosecute those responsible for them. Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe refused to admit that the Imperial Army and its contractors kidnapped women from Korea and China and forced them into sexual servitude, and the true nature of the evil and hatred that existed in Japanese society during the time of the Empire is totally diluted or ignored in modern Japanese education.

As much shame and embarrassment as it may cause the Japanese to admit wrongdoing, it must be done if they are ever to be taken seriously as a peaceful nation or are given any of their military power back.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'll pass, thanks.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good morning, Lucifer.

I'm constantly surprised by some of the English names that kids (and even adults) have here. At our kindergarten, we have a kid named Soccer, a kid named Seven, and another named Lucifer (really.) There are also students named Cicada, Virginie, Pony, Dabby, Queeny, and Alvis that roam the halls of Hess.

I've heard of friends teaching kids named Computer and Free Pizza (because 'everybody likes free pizza!') and I've met adults with such unusual English names as Ariel, Maximo, Buster, and Allister. I talked with a woman last night named Taco (I even checked the spelling.) I think with the kids, their English names are picked out by their parents or English teachers and they stick. With the adults though, they have the ability to pick their own names. After all, it's not like their English name is their legal name, but rather a convenience for English speaking Chinese when talking to other English speakers.

Still, with any sort of fluency with another language, you would think that they would pick names that sound a little more normal in conversation. I laugh every time I hear Christina tell little Lucifer to stop running or sit down, and I think about what it would be like for him if he lived the rest of his life with that unfortunate moniker.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

When bad pets go bad, dang!

I've seen this photo before, but I've never read the full back story.

May 18, 2007—A saltwater crocodile holds the forearm of a veterinarian following a grisly attack at Taiwan's Shoushan Zoo in April.

Good God. Remind me to go to the aquarium if I ever feel the need to see Taiwan's imported wildlife.

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