Wednesday, November 30, 2005


went to go watch harry potter 4 last night. you would think such a simple experience wouldn't be too different from what we're used to in the states. for one, the air conditioner was cranked up to 11. it was about 72 degress outside, but inside the theater as soon as the movie started, i think it was close to 60. it became more about trying to keep my arms warm and less about the movie. i really dig the pop corn here though. they had the choice between salty (buttered), and sweet. the sweet popcorn was pretty much kettle corn without the salt. after the movie ended, they pretty much pulled the projector while the credits were rolling. i guess they forgot that there usually a little extra clip at the end of harry potter movies after the credits. and after the movie was done, the theater attendant came in and said please bring all your garbage out with you. that explains why i sat on a seat full of sugared pop corn when i unfolded my seats and i blindly sat down like i always do. unfortunately i fell asleep during the last part of the movie. i started getting really drowsy during maybe the first quarter of the movie, and i tried my best to stay awake. oh well. can't say the movie was good or bad cause i missed the biggest part of the movie where everything comes together. at least i got to experience the classic date experience with cherie, going to the movies. i want to do as much of that while i'm here.

i think cherie is feeling better. we're gonna have dinner tonight with some of her relatives today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Damn it, is it Wednesday already??

Not sure if i can sum up my impression of Taiwan so far but here is what I'm noticing. There seem to be limitless amount of street and small store vendors. If you're amazed at how many stores there are here, you'll be equally as amazed on how many customers flood the markets. Another thing is that there must be 100,000's of scooters here. On the streets, I can honestly say I've walked by more parked scooters on the streets than I've walked by pedestrians. How is that possible? The available fruits here differs a lot from what you are used to seeing at American markets. It was my first time having guava here. I think it would be very nice in one of the smoothies I've been making in the mornings. Too bad its either very expensive or impossible to find guava in the markets in the US. I also get the sense that people are more trusting here than in the states. Like the way things are laid out in stores, or how the small places to eat are set up, you can easily get away with not paying. But I guess its something they don't concern themselves too much about.

And finally, what is the deal with their paranoia on germs, but without the willingness to do any cleaning? Like people seem deathly scared of germs you can carry on the bottom of your shoes. And yes, I agree, there is some truth to that. But most of those germs wouldn't be there if everyone just picked up a hose, mop, sponge, and some pine sol. You don't see Americans falling to their deaths because they wear their shoes in the house.

There are some weird things how now, the right side of the escalator is for people not walking up or down the escalator. you need to hail a bus, like you do a taxi. when you get on a bus, you need to read the sign that tells you whether you need to pay when you get on, or if you need to pay when you get off. its all written in chinese, so if you are a traveler, i bet it'll be very confusing indeed. also, most of the small restaurants here don't have picture menus. so its just written in text. probably about 90% of them are like that. so this place is not that accomodating to foreigners. its no surprise that i've only seen about 3 white people so far out of the tens of thousands of asians. and they were probably european.

yesterday, we went to taipei 101 for dinner, had some hot pot. it was really good. then planned out a pretty tight schedule for the few days i have left here.

Cherie is sick again. might just be the same thing she had a few days ago. bad timing i guess. she says she had never gotten sick here until the day before i arrived here. and i was worried that i was going to be the one getting really ill being out of my enviornment looking like a wuss. i guess all those years of exposing myself to germs at B and C grade resturants in LA have helped my stomach get stronger. we were supposed to go watch harry potter tonight, but we might opt out for another day. Unless she's feeling a lot better later, we'll probably just stay in and just watch more of the kdrama "Full House" and have a clean bathroom available to us.

Me no play joke, me no put pee pee in your coke

Everyone thinks I'm Chinese. Everyone who initially meets me thinks so. Even my Korean friends all have told me they thought I was Chinese. So its no surprise that people think I'm Chinese here.

I was doing some shopping yesterday and the person at the shoe store turns to me and asks me if Cherie is Malaysian. So she was asking a Korean guy who doesn't know Chinese in Chinese if my Chinese gf was malaysian. I thought that was pretty funny. Of course Cherie was the one who responded since I had no idea on what she was saying. I'm definitely picking up some of the dialogue even though its usually just the amoung like $800, 1 piece, or 3 months, etc.

Yesterday we went to get some beef noodle soup, and then for dinner we cooked in and started on a Korean drama which supposedly all the rage.

Today we went to a place called din tai fung which probably all Taiwanese people know about. They are famous for their soup dumplings. They definitely lived up to their reputation on how good they were. We're going to head off to the gym here then maybe to taipei 101 afterwards to look around and get hot pot for dinner.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

no plans are good plans

if you haven't heard by now, cherie and i have a lot of interests in common. and the importance of having something like that really shows on days like yesterday. like all we did yesterday was plan our outings on where to go to eat. then we came back home in between and watched House MD that I downloaded and brought over to watch together. for people that plan their outings differently, feel like they need to go out and do more just because they are in a different country, or maybe don't like the same tv shows, then yeah, yesterday might have been a boring day. but for me, and i'm sure for her too, we just had loads of fun just doing just that. not to say that is all we're going to be doing. i'm still here for a week.

yesterday, she took me to this hot pot place next to her cousin's apartment she stayed in when she first got here, got some water melon juice at this stand, went to a super market...she pointed out some interesting items. like snoopy toaster, snoopy water heater, 3 other snoopy matching kitchen products, "black man's toothpaste" (not very pc, but it was called just that). we bought some groceries, i picked up this black seasame paste that you spread over toast like peanut butter. then we got some red beans with shaved milk (like shaved ice, with milk).

for the evening we got on the MRT (subway) for the first time, and went to the night market around Shilin. it was a really cool place, geared towards the younger crowd. we had some oyster pancakes, guava juice, some ground pork over rice, then we started playing carnival like games where you can win stuffed animals. unfortunately we didn't win a single thing, but its much cheaper than in the US. in the US you can easily blow through $50 in a matter of 15 minutes trying to win something. here, at least it doesn't go as fast, although the odds of actually winning something might be much lower. the last thing we did there was they had this place where you catch live shrimp, then they'll cook it for you. after about half dozen failed attempts (the hook kept popping off), the guy finally showed us the correct technique, and we easily caught 4. after you catch them, they'll cook them for you over a bbq so you can eat them.

i haven't gotten sick yet, even though everyone was saying everyone gets sick their first time there. {knock on wood.} i have been taking some echinecea and vitamin c just to keep my immune system boosted. and the weather couldn't have been nicer. the smog is still there, but we don't need the ac at night, and its just the right temp to be walking around at any time of the day without having to wear an additional or less layer of clothing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A slow and steady start

As usual I didn't get much sleep on the plane. I guess I'm a little more paranoid and still mystified by how this whole traveling by plane works. First I gotta rely that people handling my luggage won't actually out it on the wrong plane. Its very much like a mailman sorting mail at a post office. Even with everything being very computerized, human error plays a big part on how it gets to the destination. Then there is everything related to the flight itself. How good is the flight crew? How well is the plane maintained? Also it boggles my mind on how I can just enter a cabin full of people for a number of hours then step off to find myself at a place so far away. I think the number one reason I cannot sleep on the plane is because I can't fall asleep sitting up or even reclined. Even when I had a recliner at home, it was almost not worth trying to fall asleep on it fully reclined becuse I just couldn't make it happen. I'd resort to just crawling into bed from the recliner and then falling asleep shortly after.

So the first night and the first day I had only slept maybe a few hours tops within the last 60 hours. Plus Cherie has this really firm bed that I had to adapt to. So after a good nap last night before dinner I finally started gaining my appetite back. Which actually worked out pretty well in perspective because Cherie was affected by a stomach flu of some sort when I got here and hasn't had much of an appetite either. So the original plan to just plan our days around great places to eat has been a slow start. We've just been hanging out indoors for the most part, taking it easy, but still fun because this relationship is still all new to us.

We did go to the electronics mart under the bridge yesterday. We both picked up the extended 2200 mah batteries for our PSPs. And then had some shaved ice at Ice Monster on the way back.

Today we are planning to get around to check out some places more than walking distance. Really looking forward to eat at some places she's been telling me about.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Taiwan trip log

While doing a check-in with my parents at the airport, a guy with a turban asks so is this for china airlines 2PM (the one I'm on). I'm sure my paranoid parents didn't want to be hearing something like that as soon as I got to the airport while sending their son off to a foreign country with its own problems at the moment, the bird flu.

The first culture shock encounter was when I was using the urinal at the Taipei airport. A female custodian comes in and starts cleaning the sink behind me. I don't ever recall ever encountering something like that at the states.

When Cherie picked me up at the airport the first thing she tells me is that she's not feeling too well. Then she tells me more as we're walking towards the bus how sick she really is. Poor thing. If I had known I would have tried to find my way to her apartment by taxi. Hope she's a lot better today.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

too many megapixels backlash

SHARP announced today they came up with a 1/1.7" 10 megapixel sensor. normally, having more megapixels for a pocket cam would be an achievement that people would want, but it seems like people are just getting fed up with the more megapixels marketting gimmick, because people have wised up and know that a 10 megapixel camera really isn't going address any of the issue with their current cameras. it may even make the images softer. everyone pretty much has a digital camera now and are more knowledgable in the subject than ever before, and people know what their camera isn't capable of. i personally would prefer better lower light performance and less noise at higher ISOs, and i think that is the general consensus. it pretty much seems like SHARP has been bitch slapped by the public for their "accomplishment".

which may not be fair. people were speculating that the 7 megapixel sensors that canons and sony uses was not going to provide much more, then it proved that, at least for well lit conditions, it actually provided very noticable improvement even over the 5 megapixel cameras. then again, they were comapring it to a 1/2.5" 5 megapixel sensor to a 1/1.8" 7 megapixel sensor. we'll see when the reviews come out.