Tag Archives: travel

From the Ministry of Silly Chinglish Shirts

I dearly wanted to ask this kid whether his choice of t-shirt was intentional or not; and also, whether his parents understood it!

Well, now that I’m finally back in good old New York and my last silly t-shirt gift has been posted to its recipient, it’s time to collate my best photos– of the best silly t-shirts with broken English (or, Chinglish) spotted in Taiwan.

Given to a friend and former roommate, we puzzled about what the intended meaning might have been. Perhaps, "Every setback is a hidden opportunity?" What do you think??

So although these shirts are not brought to you BY the Ministry of Silly Walks, they were photographed in the same gently-poking fun spirit. Other amazingly silly captions spotted over the year (but lacking in pics) are listed below, in order of remembered hilarity: Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Being Back is Weird

Everything looks familiar, but I feel like an alien. Like I’ve been turned inside out, so my lungs and nerves and liver and intestines are on the outside, and my skin on the inside is rendered a useless organ–sheltering nothing and sweating and goosebumping all over itself.

I sit in a cafe in the health food store in my hometown, that I have been frequenting with my mother since I was three years old. Before I could read, I used to walk around and smell the whole grains and fresh produce and no-sugar-added juices and spritzers. My favorite treats of all time with carob-covered rice cakes, because I didn’t even know chocolate existed. Then came honey sticks– little straw-like tubes full of flavored honey, and black and red “Panda” brand licorice. Later when I discovered chocolate, there were Tiger’s Milk Bars: a light chocolate coating over a nutritious, protein-filled peanut butter interior.

Now I sit at a booth, a recent addition to the cafe of 5 to 10 years ago, with a cup of coffee and a carob-covered rice cake. I used to have Proustian flashbacks of nostalgic childhood memories when I bit into these; today, it tastes slightly stale and waxy. The coffee is lukewarm.

Why does nothing measure up to my memory of it? The menu is in English, not Chinese, Japanese, Malay, or Vietnamese, but I don’t comprehend it. How is a small cup of soup $8.25 USD??

On the left side of the wall, even the First Aid for Choking sign has been re-vamped, refurbished. Now the people choking and saving one another are rendered in full color, and the instructions for how to save lives are more detailed. But it is illegible from more than 10 feet away, whereas the old CPR signs that were required in restaurants in the 1990s were full of huge line drawings of the intricacies of the Heimlich maneuver. I used to study them as a child, preparing myself for the inevitable moment when I would be called upon to save a life. As a 10-year-old. Of course this was perfectly logical to me back then.

Being back in America, from a year living in Asia, is weird. But being back in my small and beautiful but cloyingly intimate seaside resort hometown is unimaginably stifling. I had no idea it would be like this. I feel smothered by the 25 years of memories tucked into every crevice of this place, by the heartache and resentment and despair and fear and desperation I used to feel here as a teenager. My mantra from ages 13-18 was “Get Me Out of Here.” So to be back, with only sketchy plans to go to NYC, only flimsy job leads, little to no savings to speak of and no immediate employment prospects (in the middle of a recession) is TERRIFYING.

But then I think: it was all worth it for the amazing year I’ve just had. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I Left My Heart in Japan

Temple aglow at night at Asakusa

Can you imagine why?  Below, some views from along the winding and often surprising journey through this beautiful place…

This was my first gong spotted in a Japanese temple, but by no means my last. Temples abound! This one in Ueno Park in Tokyo.

Did I mention that there are lots of temples? This one in Kamakura overlooks the ocean.

Big Buddha.... (Kamakura)

.... little Buddhas! (Kamakura)

Kanji: Chinese characters imported into Japanese language, usually with different pronunciation and often with different character pairings or even some different strokes. Result: I can almost read.... sometimes. This is something something flavor room, I think....

Tokyo sunset...

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Long Road Home

Leaving on a jet plane, a photo by Fields of View, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

Greetings, dear readers! My apologies for the long delay in posting, but it’s because I was packing and leaving Taipei. (cue sad music, movie credits, etc) However! All is not lost! Chin up, disconsolate selves who wish the girl would stay in Formosa (including me!), and consider this: I have much more to write about and reflect upon from my last few months. And then, once I get back to the States, the blog has many possible future lives in its, well, future…

All of these things to be determined and executed, but for now, I am spending a transitional month traveling in Japan and in California, as I finish up research on my grandfather Liao Wen-Yi’s life (15 years of which was in Japan, SCORE! and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution has a whole Taiwan KMT/independence archive– double SCORE!) and wind my way back towards home.

So I will try to stay connected to all of you via the blog, and continue to consider the nature of travel and transience and research and writing, and TAIWAN (as I get nostalgic for foods and drinks and places I will wax even more poetically about them, right?)….. but in the meantime, I turn my eyes to you, dear readers.

What else do you want to hear about Formosa? Please weigh in NOW, in the comments section, so I can make sure in upcoming posts that I answer your questions, tell you no lies, and strive to entertain and inform on this topic in this format, for just a tiny (or very long) bit longer.

So please please please tell me: What else do you want to hear about? Give me some topics and I will write a post inspired by YOU!!!

Some possible topics include but are not limited to: more food and travel around Taiwan posts/advice, on the traveling life, on writing, on research, Taiwanese history findings, how to travel to Tokyo on a shoestring, top 5 (or 10 or 100) things you should do in Taipei while you’re there, the unbearable lightness of being… (the feeling, not the book, ha), cooking in Taiwan, beaches, hikes, and so forth.

Also to everyone in New York, Cali, England (and elsewhere) and in Taiwan: I miss you. My heart is now being pulled towards the east and the west and every which way, so I hope I will see you all soon. And to some of you in the SF area, that soon is going to be now…. before you know it! Now please, help me out and ask some questions!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Midnight in the Garden of Abandoned Chiangs

A few weeks ago, my friend and I went out to Cihu Mausoleum Park, in Taoyuan County, to see Chiang Kai-Shek’s preserved remains and the garden of abandoned Chiangs. I would say, without exaggeration, that this is the most surreal place in Taiwan that I’ve been to all year.

I had wanted to go see the Generalissimo’s former summer home after my professor at Zheng Da explained to me that Chiang Kai-Shek has never been buried. Instead, his preserved body waits in his former home for the day that the “Republic of China” reclaims the China mainland from the “Communist rebels,” at which point it will be given a traditional burial in his hometown. However, the “Republic of China” retreated to Taiwan in 1949, more than 60 years ago, and Taiwan has not had a seat in the United Nations for 40 years. So the pickled body of Chiang may be waiting for quite a while. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Pippi Longstocking in Taipei

Friends + Cast after the show. Pippi is the one with the orange braids, of course!

Do you remember Pippi Longstocking, the beloved Swedish books (and movies) from your youth? Well, apparently Pippi has gone from the “south seas” all the way to Taipei, and our friend Bryan told us about a wonderful Swedish director’s version at a Taipei theater on Guling Street.

So we trooped down, for a live show in Chinese with Pippi, wiping the floors with towels strapped to her feet, dancing and singing with her friends, the white horse and the monkey Mr. Nilsson…. as well as a few human children too.

And it was surprisingly good! Great, even. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What I’ve Been Eating Lately

Sushi Express, you complete me.

So I’ve been packing and shipping boxes home the last week or two, as I enter my last month in Taiwan. Which leaves me very little extra energy to write every day, work on the book, make coffee, sleep, say good bye to  friends, follow up on research— let alone blog. (Also maybe I was being haunted in the fantasy treehouse–possibly).

But I still had time to eat!

So this is an unabashed excuses-making post, documenting some recent photos of food in Taipei. Aka: what I’ve been eating lately.

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized