Yesterday, I got a bit frustrated with Apple’s Aperture photo editing and organizing software as I was trying to sort and post my photos from our trip to Brunswick, Georgia and Taiwan over December 20, 2010 – January 9, 2011. I arduously climbed Aperture’s learning curve and humbly accepted its irritating return to projects after copying images to a new album. As a result, I posted our photos to Flickr in the following collection of fourteen sets. I will blog about some of the many pictures in the coming weeks as I continue telling our story of this recent trip to see our folks in different parts of the world. Click the link below to begin seeing what we saw on our trip.
Today’s notes from Taiwan concerns food, business, and Taipei.
First, food is obviously an important part of any society, but food in Taiwan is so much more than just eating. It is enjoying, savouring, and experimenting. Instead of having a meal of a main dish and some sides, our meals have several dishes. There doesn’t seem to be any side dishes. The vegetables are on the same level as meats. Tofu holds it own as well. Fruits are celebrated and in many more tastes, textures, and colors than anything you will find back in the States. Rice is integral to most meals and it generally comes in a plain white variety. However, Ma and Ba mix their own rice concoction with purple rice, couscous, and oatmeal–it is very hearty, but also uniquely yummy. I have also been drinking the best green tea that I have ever had. Ba calls me the “Tea King,” because I drink so much of it.
Today, Ma and Ba took Y and I to a Hakka restaurant down the street from their house. We had at least seven dishes on the lazy susan that we shared: roasted pigs feet, pepper beef, fried shrimp covered in mayo and sugar sprinkles, clam soup, boiled chicken, stirfried tofu (the softest that I have ever had that was stirfried), and stirfried vegetables. After dinner, we had a cold tofu dessert and we picked up some pastries for later.
The thing that I like about business here in Taiwan is that there are few corporate conglomerate department stores. Everywhere you go whether in Jhongli or Taipei small businesses rule the roost. Here, there is still a sense of entrepreneurship. A person can run a small business that specializes in a single thing or theme and make a living from it. I am impressed about how every street seems to be lined with businesses that cater to every need imaginable without there needing to be soul-sucking places like Wal-Mart or Target. I believe that there is a greater sense of dignity for people who own, manage, and work at many of these businesses that serve the same needs that the mega-department stores attempt to do in the United States.
Counterposed to the small retail businesses are the large manufacturing companies in the industry and science parks around Taipei. Within smartly designed, immaculate looking structures, much of the cutting edge electronics and industrial work is being done. The number of businesses in these parks is awe inspiring.
Today was my first visit to Taipei. Y and I took the TRA train line into the city for her optometrist appointment this morning. Afterwards, we stopped by the Nova electronics marketplace (one building, but many many different stalls owned by different people who offer different kinds of electronics goods) and the toy shops: Hot Dog Toyz and Paradise. I am amazed at how many people there are in Taipei, especially on the trains and subways.
Unlike in Jhongli where I haven’t seen any other Caucasians, I saw several in Taipei. They were young and old, male and female. I wonder what brought them here, and where they are from originally. They all seemed much surer of their surroundings than I am, so I also wonder what makes them stay. Y and I have talked about the possibilities of jobs–Taiwan, the United States, and elsewhere. It will come down to where we can find work, but I can say that I am increasingly interested in Taiwan and what it has to offer.
For my 700th post on dynamicsubspace.net, I wanted to include my initial notes on Y’s and my trip to visit my in-laws in Taiwan.
We flew Continental from Jacksonville to Houston to Narita, Japan to Taipei, Taiwan. I particularly enjoyed the flight to Narita, even though I was very tired at the end, because we flew on a Boeing 777 Dreamliner. We got back row seats (only 2 wide) and it was comfortable and relatively quiet–at least compared to the uncomfortable short leg room and noisy 747 between Narita and Taipei operated by United. I liked the individual on-demand video system on the 777. I got to watch The Crimson Rivers with Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel, and I watched part of the second Nodame Cantabile movie with Y. Also, I was pleasantly surpised by the quality of the food on our flights. We had beef with rice, chicken enchiladas, and a delicious egg breakfast. There was also a midflight desert of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.
I have been eating very well at Y’s parents’ house. Ma and Ba make excellent food, and they are determined to make us gain weight. I have had the most excellent tofu, fish, and chicken as well as tasty vegetables and fruits that we cannot find back in the States.
Y’s parents’ house is located in a very nice part of Jongli outside of Taipei. We There are bakeries, department stores, a huge library, and 24 hour convenient stores everywhere. There are people everywhere and so many scooters. I wish that I could take a scooter around the city even though I would have to be very careful with how aggressive drivers here can be. I made a point of asking Y to show me around a 7-11 store around the corner. It is so fascinating! Good food, many conveniences at much more reasonable prices, no dust on the goods, and video games for sale in the store (World of Warcraft Cataclysm is only about $2.50 here–I will have to find out what the subscription rate is). Also, you can order digital photos and pay your bills from the store.
Since my iPad died shortly after we arrived to Taiwan, I used Ba’s computer to rewrite my review of Tron: Legacy for the SFRA Review (my verdict: go see it before it leaves theaters despite some of its gendered stereotyped misgivings found in much cyberpunk). In exchange, I wanted to super charge their older Acer Dual Core Pentium based computer. It also gave me an opportunity to work in a Traditional Chinese based install of Windows XP. After completing a draft of my review last night, I did these things to their computer and I am amazed what a difference a little tuning did:
- uninstalled outdated Norton AV
- installed Microsoft Security Essentials
- ran scan–all okay
- updated Windows XP several times–lots of security updates
- uninstalled proprietary Acer software (except drivers)
- uninstalled all versions of Flash Player
- installed Firefox
- installed latest Flash Player
- installed latest nVidia driver
- moved all Desktop files to My Documents
- moved all Desktop shortcuts to Quick Launch Bar
- installed optional Windows XP updates including .Net Framework 4 Client
- made Desktop icons large
- disabled ADSL connection, configured through wireless Netgear router that Y and I brought with us to use with our iPads
- installed Internet Explorer 8
- installed AUSLogics Disk Defrag
- defragmented primary partition last night and rebooted this morning
After dinner last night, Y and I took a stroll around the neighborhood and through the park. We also picked up some slippers for me to wear in the house.
This morning I finished editing my review of Tron: Legacy and emailed the final copy to Ritch Calvin. Now, I am typing these notes of our visit on my blog.
I am looking forward to the rest of today. We are visiting a university that has a connection with Kent State University through its TESOL program for Ba’s work. I will have my camera with me, and I will post many pictures when we get back to Ohio.