Come Saturday, we’re saying goodbye to Taichung, our home for the past two months, which is yet another amazing place in Taiwan. We were cautious when we first came – people didn’t have the most effusive things to say about Taichung – it lacked an MRT or subway system, wasn’t either the capital of the south or the north, was full of triads and Taiwanese gang activity (this is still true), and when we came in 2013, we had a bad experience here with a hostel which wasn’t really a hostel. Despite all these things, we actually found plenty to enjoy around the city. It has changed a lot in the past few years, and the public transit is no disappointment. It also has lovely parks, cheap fresh fruit, a lot of great dogs and people, and of course, delicious restaurants which we’ve gone back to time after time. Without a kitchen, we end up eating out for pretty much every meal, and I think I’d like to write about these and record these in our memory. I’ve also attached prices and locations in case people wander onto this page and want to visit.
Ryan introduced us to A-Gen on our very first morning in Taichung. We’ve been familiar with egg pancakes (蛋餅) since we last visited Taiwan, but instead of being soft and oily pancakes, these are crispy, delicious, pancakes with an egg scrambled on the other side. Our favorite ones come with bacon and American cheese, and a light sprinkling of chopped green onions. AMAZING for just 40 NT (~$1.30 USD). We will have to hit them up before leaving the city. A-Gen is located on Meicun, two blocks south of Gongyi, and tends to accumulate a 10-minute line by 9 am, but as I have to get to work by 8 am, that suits us just fine. Continue reading Ode to food.→
This is the hundredth post we’ve made on our circumnavacation blog! Kudos to me and Steve. Steve for writing three of those, and me for writing the rest, a number which shall only be known to those who can do subtraction. A mystery, in other words. *wink*
This summer in Taiwan has gone far too fast! Let me try to recap what’s been going on in the past few weeks, what we’re doing right now, and what we’re up to in the next month or so.
The last time we saw our brave heroes, they were being reunited in Taichung… Steve and I missed each other a lot when I was in Taipei for two weeks, but it also had its perks. He used a lot more Chinese while I was gone, and people here do treat a white man differently when he’s not being accompanied by an Asian woman. He gets a lot more “Hello”s on the street, among other things. I on the other hand got to visit lots of cat cafés, ha! I think I got the better end of the bargain. Since I came back to Taichung, we’ve been doing more of the usual things, trying to explore more of the city, and paying more attention to our individual projects. I have a lot of ambitious plans for the second year of grad school, and some of it needs planning and attention now. Steve is also doing several freelance projects involving building apps and websites, and it’s consuming a lot of his attention. Continue reading Circumnavacation hits 100, and the summer is flying by.→
Written on the 506 train
Saturday, June 6, 10:03 am
For the next two and a half hours, Steve and I are going on a scenic, slow tour of the landscape between Taichung and Taipei, thanks to Taiwan Rail (台鐵). We are taking a not-so-express train that goes through many smaller towns, though still not the local train, which doesn’t even have seat reservations. So far, we have seen some lovely fields, rivers that are running fuller than they used to be because of the recent rains (but still not at full capacity), and some mountains and hills in the distance. It is not the kind of scenery we would expect to see in the US, because these aren’t a part of long-running ranges like the Rockies and the Appalachians. The mountains here are steeper, younger, and you come up on them very suddenly.
For the rest of the train ride, I think I will take the time to record my impressions and thoughts about my internship so far. There are two sorts of different experiences I’m going through simultaneously, which I will write about separately. The first is the fact that working (and living) overseas in Asia is a very different experience from the US, and I’m growing to understand more about the non-profit sector here. The second is that I am putting into practice what I’ve learned in my first year of public policy grad school about policy analysis, program evaluation, and statistics in order to run this program evaluation of their youth capacity building program.
The few days before I started at my internship, Steve and I were running around Taichung trying to set up our household. Even though we were crazy tired and busy, I still found time to worry about starting this internship. Plunging into full-time work, even just for ten weeks, is a considerable mental strain. What if my boss was hard to deal with? What if I couldn’t actually understand what they were telling me, since I knew nearly no professional Chinese? Even though I had talked on Skype to my prospective supervisor and found her very kind and the project for the summer quite promising, I was still on the verge of telling Steve that we had made a bad mistake, and couldn’t we just chill in Taiwan for ten weeks instead? Continue reading The 9-to-5 in Taiwan.→
This is the laziest post I will be writing in this blog. Rather than actually sit down to recount what we’ve been up to, I’m just going to repost some tweets I’ve been making on Twitter about Taichung, and add a little bit more detail. It’s kind of like a social media sausage! Enjoy.
This was set up next to the park near our house recently. I don’t really understand why they have people playing the trombones, and it looks more like a Christmas exhibit, but it’s pretty cool anyway. After I took this picture, I saw a 50-something year-old man kneeling to take a picture of this sign from a lower angle. People love their photo ops here, which is why they put this here, I guess! Continue reading Tweeting about Taiwan.→
Rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated… yes, we’ve been here for two weeks, and we’ve been fairly quiet, but that’s because we’ve been fairly busy! Today is the last day of my ten-day work week. Yes, I wrote that correctly. Last week, I started my internship on Tuesday, worked an event over the weekend, and am ending this week early to enjoy a well-deserved long weekend.
Where do I even start? Well, there’s much more time to talk about my internship ahead, so I will probably save that for another time. Let me tell you instead about the lovely city of Taichung. Taichung is on the western coast of the island, three hours south of Taipei. We’re in a valley basin here, and on the twelfth floor of the building where I work, I can look out the windows to the north and west and see the mountains in the distance that surround us. Early summer is the rainy season for East Asia. Yesterday, it rained from the time that I got to work until the evening, barely letting up to a drizzle. Today, it is grey and overcast, but I don’t mind since that means it’s not so hot! Taichung is in the high eighties most days with extreme humidity, and it’s only May… Continue reading The first two weeks.→
We’ve spent two crazy whirlwind days in transit, even though the calendar says it’s three, but we are finally here in Taichung, Taiwan. It’s been a true journey of planes, trains, and automobiles (and even buses!).
We woke up on Thursday morning around 4 am in Greenville, and Steve’s parents drove us to the airport, and we hugged them goodbye and gave kisses to Stella, who let out one farewell bark when she saw us disappear into the airport. We will miss that dog like crazy! I already do. We had one short but uncomfortable flight to Dallas/Fort Worth, and then a four-hour layover where we walked around the airport. We happened upon the inaugural direct flight for American Airlines from Dallas/Fort Worth to Beijing, which featured a bunch of Chinese dancers (probably from the local Chinese school), several TV crews which were going around and asking passengers about why they were traveling to Beijing, and a buffet table of Chinese delicacies. I overheard a photographer grilling the man behind the table on exactly what soymilk tasted like, which made me smile. Continue reading The first forty-eight hours.→