Daily Archives: February 2, 2013

Eating, Eating, and More Eating

Friday, February 1, 2013 – Day 3

It’s only been three days but I feel like I depend on relatives to take me out. It was expected but I just want to run at the park to exercise on my own for 30 minutes. But I’m hesitant to even go to the park half a mile from the house because of our first day’s little adventure getting lost. If I had a phone on me, I’d feel safer. I’m thinking of getting a temporary sim card or phone while I’m here. Makes more sense since I still have 33 days to go.

Today we went to The Mountain again but this time my grandma and aunt came and I was amazed at how much strength my 92 year old grandma has. The walk up into The Mountain has many stairs and she kept on shooshing us to go ahead once we got to the top. She seemed to start getting irritated that we are right behind her so we went forward. We also unexpectedly hiked for 30 to 45 minutes. Even though it was a very nice easy hike, I was wearing a cardigan long sleeve shirt, boots, jeans, so I was sweating within 10 minutes.

Hiking in Taiwan

Hiking with dad in non-hiking clothes


After our hike, we found my grandma on a see-saw leg swing thingy-ma-jig exercising.

Grandma on leg swing

Grandma on leg swing

Grandma on leg swing

Grandma on leg swing with dad


She thought I was taking a photo but I was recording her and she’s getting quite some exercise:

Grandma Exercising on Swing

Then she asked me to come with her to a bed of bamboo where she was doing leg lifts, sit ups, and full on stretches! I can’t even touch my toes lol

Grandma Leg Lift

Grandma doing sit ups and leg lifts

And I recorded her stretching:

Grandma Stretching

While we were on the bamboo bed, her friend, who speaks very good English approached us. After chatting for a little bit, he offered me hot soybean milk. He was very kind but he served me milk in a dirty ass mug where he just tossed left over milk someone else had drank. I didn’t want to be rude, I kept waving my hand no and saying “xiexie, xiexie” but I accepted the mug of milk when he kept insisting because he gave the puppy eyes… Then my grandma came to the rescue!!! Thank God!! I can’t understand a thing she said but she was rubbing her tummy and waving her hand in a no gesture. So I gave the milk back, happily and said “bukechi” or my butchered version of “sorry.” The older man was sad but I was relieved I wasn’t going to get diarrhea (possibly!). My dad translated for me and she was telling him that we are going to have lunch and the milk will give us a stomachache once mixed with the soup so we can’t take it. Who knew? And thank you, universal body language.

Anyway, we just had breakfast at 8:15 am then at 10:30 am, we were having lunch (white carrot soup and a bowl of clear noodles chow mein). Then at 11:00 am, my second aunt came to take us out for her birthday lunch at a buffet style shabu shabu. Two lunches… Yup, I’m going to come back with 20 pounds extra in my belly.

Lunch shabu shabu

Second lunch at shabu shabu buffet

Our second lunch was delicious but I was too stuffed to get seconds, what a waste since I was at a buffet restaurant. I met my cousin’s son, Eric, and his girlfriend, Emily, which makes me his aunt. Mind you, he is 23 years old.

Lunch shabu shabu

My cousin-nephew (?), dad, second aunt and her husband

Lunch shabu shabu

Group picture for my second aunt’s birthday lunch


So night time came and I still had no plans for going out so I was bored. Thankfully, my pregnant cousin, Yun, and her husband, took me out to the night market shopping. As we were heading out the door, my dad said I was going to ride with my cousin’s husband because she is pregnant and can’t carry me along with her on her moped. It was a bit awkward but as soon as I got on the moped, awkwardness went flying out the door, or shall I say street. It was so much fun to ride the moped at night! Not too fast and fast enough to feel the speed lol What a dare devil moped rider, right?

When we got to the night market, I was too excited that I forgot to take out my camera to take pictures. We fished with a tissue paper, and I was terrible. At first, I was a bit disappointed of the night market – minus the fishing and super duper adorable dwarf rabbits! The night market looked like an oversize fair with lots of stinky tofu smell lingering in the air. But as we walked a little more, there were so many clothes, shoes, and hair accessories vendors! It was a night time flea market galore and it closes until 2 am! I was happily shopping until it started sprinkling. I just got a couple of long sleeve shirts for about $6 each! I like cheap.

fobby sweater

$6 beige shirt with fobby writing

blue sweater

$6 blue “whimsical” sweater


I must return to this night market for some more shopping. And this time, I will have some room in my belly for some smoothie, stinky tofu (which I have never tried), and fresh strawberries.

PS: To learn about “The Mountain” read my previous post: “The Mountain”

“The Mountain” and Please No Pee Splashing

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I feel like Doogie Howser, typing about my day late in the night when I can’t sleep. Today I met a lot of relatives. It’s been exhausting not understanding Mandarin. It’s not that I have a lot to say but it’s that I can’t say it and it’s not that I want to eavesdrop and listen in on their conversations but I’d like to at least understand what they tell me. On the other hand, sometimes I’m glad I can’t understand Mandarin – I’m saving myself having to answer lots of inquisitive questions.

Everyone has been very nice and their comment is usually “how piaoliang,” or “how pretty.” I don’t know what to reply, either a) pretend I don’t understand and smile like a dumb ass or b) say “thank you,” which I think might be construed as impolite since it doesn’t show humbleness. My dad told me to say “borabora” to such comments, which means “no no nothing nothing.” Something like that. But my “bora bora” is not as convincing as my puzzled-dumb-girl smile. So I guess saying “no, no” sounds worse than saying “thank you” and not being humble lol The only advantage I have is that they then figure out I know a useless amount of Mandarin. Then they feel sorry for me for not understanding Mandarin so my humbleness reputation slate is clean again.

School for Elderly in Taiwan

Grandma’s school

Today was my grandma’s graduation from an arts and crafts school for elderly people but by 11:30 am, which is when we got there, they were mopping the floor. I did get to have a yummylicious slice of seafood pizza with an aoli sauce lined on the top. I never thought that combination would be appetizing but it was quite good. I was hoping to take photos since I haven’t found the right moment to take photos of family without being obnoxious but it didn’t work out.

Mountain Fengshan Taiwan

View from “The Mountain”

Before going to my grandma’s school, my aunt’s husband took my dad and me to “The Mountain.” I wouldn’t say it is really a mountain but a large property on a large hill rather than a mountain-mountain. This property belongs to 20 different owners who have allowed a group of older people to use it without paying a dime. This big group of retirees are a strong community who enjoys meeting throughout the week to get out of their monotony. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was amazing. It is a very run down place in the middle of The Mountain with lots of DIY’s since they run the place themselves. It is a place where retirees can remain socially and physically active – they do exercise together, go on field trips, and meet every day (or often) to have a home-made lunch at The Mountain. Everyone pitches in since it is not an organization run by member fees or anything like that.

Pineapple Harvest

Pineapple Harvest at the entrance of “The Mountain”

Having lunch at The Mountain was one the most down-to-earth experiences I’ve ever had. They had yellow watermelon and another fruit (I don’t know the name) on four children sized tables connected in a line with several children size outdoor plastic chairs. The whole mountain set up is pretty much outdoors with canopies and run down roofs. They had plastic containers for the watermelon seeds and skin. There was a “tea station” which consisted of a separate children size table with a portable stove top and a stainless steel kettle with hot boiling water already poured in. Then there was a plastic see through container with dried green tea leaves and two tea pots: one smaller brown tea pot for brewing the tea and one large white tea pot with a strainer fitting the top for pouring the tea.

As people started coming in for lunch, women started preparing flat rice noodles, soy bean sprouts, fish ball in a soy based pork marinade, pork stew in brown sauce, and a soy based soup. While we waited for lunch to be done, the president of their group, sat at the “tea station” spot and was busy the whole time talking and brewing this delicious green tea, of which I drank several small cups. They were amused that I liked the tea and asked for more, I don’t know if it was because I was supposed to say “no, thank you,” but I wanted more so I kept saying “yes, please, thank you.” Anyway, the whole experience was as though everyone had a role in getting lunch ready without explicitly saying anything.

What made this lunch even more enjoyable was the amazing hospitality. The ladies preparing the food knew I don’t speak Mandarin but they kept on talking to me as if and sweetly grabbed me by my arm to grab soup and gave more food after I said no, thank you. I wish I had taken a picture of the tea station, the lunch table setup, and The Mountain, and the gathering itself but I thought it was inappropriate to snap pictures as if Ms. Can’t-Speak-Mandarin doesn’t know about down-to-earth mountain gatherings ;P

Then after we were done with lunch, my dad went to smoke somewhere and took like what felt 30 minutes. While my aunt’s husband and the Grumpy Pomeranian, Manny, and I were waiting, we watched a couple of old guys sing karaoke in another little station area, which is a separate group from the retirees’ area. I didn’t know that you are supposed to clap after each song, I would just smile while my aunt’s husband and another guy clapped loudly as the guy wrapped up his song. I felt bad I didn’t clap, not that they were good singers, but I’d appreciate some clapping even if I sounded like a dog howling in pain or worse, like a cat in heat, or even more scary, a rabbit crying.

When my dad showed up, I suddenly had an urge to pee, since I had a large bowl of breakfast soup, lots of green tea, watermelon, and a small bowl of soup for lunch, my bladder was at maximum capacity. I was surprised I had drank so much liquid and lasted this long. So I had my first squatting toilet experience. You squat into a porcelain toilet in the shape of a men’s urinal but horizontally placed on the floor and pee while squatting. Then you flush the toilet by pulling on a string that hangs up high in the restroom. It’s weird squatting – scary stuff actually.

During my peeing, many thoughts went through my mind:

“please don’t splash, please don’t splash”

“eww, is that prior piss water sitting there, is that piss going to splash my lady parts,”

“it smells like a septic tank,”

“where do I throw the tissue paper,”

“I don’t like squatting toilets.”

On another completely unrelated note, tonight I found out I have wifi connection! But it is a very weak connection. And I only get signal at the stairs or in the living room. I’m still ecstatic though because I feel bad using my aunt’s computer.

And another, completely unrelated to the unrelated note, my aunt’s husband rushed to the computer right after dinner to play what I think was Farmville hahahaha Who knew men over 60 enjoyed Farmville?

Lastly, here is a picture of Manny and my youngest aunt riding on a moped. Manny, the Grumpy Pomeranian, is one of the smartest dogs I’ve met. He knows very impressive tricks, more impressive than Scooter’s, AND he is a little dare devil. He enjoys riding on the moped with his face popping out on the side so he can get a better front view look hahahahah OMG, what a peculiar dog he is.

Dog Riding on Moped

My aunt and Manny, the Grumpy Pomeranian, riding on her moped.


PS: Excuse my terrible spelling of how the words sound to me in Mandarin! Like borabora…