Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye to '05

It was a strange and wonderful year. We had friends become parents for the first time. Two marriages, ours included, and a new beginning that took us to the other side of the world. Now, more so than any other time, you think about friends and family and how lucky you are to have them in your life.
I would like to take this opportunity to say to all of those still checking in on us from time to time, that we hope you had a Merry Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year. We also hope that in the new year to come, if you can’t have everything you want, that you have everything you need.
I know that some of us have lost family members this last year, and if there is anything to be gained from such a terrible thing, it is to remind us how important it is to cherish the ones we still have.
So it is with a smile, that we say goodbye to ’05. It was a good year, but here’s hoping the next one is even better and that at the end of this new year, we still have all of the people we started it with.
Happy New Year,
Ed & Karen

Friday, December 23, 2005

An Xpat Xmas

(Tis a Sparse but Noble Tree.)

(It's Christmas Time....In The City.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Cold Wave Cometh...

We had been warned about the temperature dropping in Tainan. We scoffed at the idea of people freezing and wearing winter coats in 18’C weather. Now that it is starting to drop, we understand what they were speaking of. No, it isn’t cold, cold like it gets in Nova Scotia. But, in Nova Scotia there is relief from the cold. Every building, office ,store or vehicle that you enter has the heat on. In a subtropical environment like Taiwan, there is no such thing as heating. There are no heaters in the houses. Oil, electric or otherwise. The most you can do is buy portable electric heaters.
Those of you reading this back in the old NS, are probably thinking me a sissy, but remember we live in a cement building with tile and hardwood floors, it gets cold on the footsies. It is pretty cool in the old apartment in the mornings when we get up as well. We will need to wear gloves and scarves when we ride our motorcycle and scooter. Oh well, we will have to secure ourselves for a long, hard winter. You can swim in the ocean again by the beginning of March, so we will just have to hold on until then. January and February will be rough, but we will put on sweaters and pants and we will survive this winter!!! This I swear to you all!!! We will not succumb to the bitter 18 degree Celsius Taiwanese winter. We are made of a stronger stock, and be sure when the dust has settled in march we will be telling horror stories about that day in January when there was almost a frost!
Enjoy the season Everyone!
Here is a picture of a dish that was ordered to our table.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Small Game Hunting

They look like tennis rackets only slightly smaller and they weigh less. They look so much like sporting equipment that I decided to make a game out of their intended purpose. It is a sport played all over this part of the world, there is just no official name for it. I have heard it referred to as “mosquito tennis” & “swat ball”, but I prefer to call it “Small Game Hunting”.
The sport has taken shape over the last few months in to what I now find a quite satisfying pastime. The arena is the stairwell outside our apartment and there are no standard “periods” or “innings” if you will, The duration of the “inning” is as long as it takes me to have a smoke.
You see Karen, whom as a non-smoker, demands I smoke out in the hallway as to not pollute our home and her lungs with my disgusting exhaust. This annoyed me at first, due to the sheer number of mosquito’s attacking with the gusto of demented Japanese Kamikaze pilots. I have since accepted it as part of my new life here in Taiwan.
Picture it, if you can. Round One: I am standing in the hallway wearing a pair of slippers, a cigarette dangling from my lips and my racket in hand. The inning begins immediately after touching flame to tip. I get in to my stance, legs about a foot and a half apart, knees slightly bent, scanning the air above my head for the winged nuisance that has so plagued my existence these last few months. Bzzzzz. The first one dive bombs my ear and the dance begins. I begin swinging the electric mosquito zapper about my head and shoulders like a mentally handicapped maestro, conducting Hells Choir. The inning is officially over when the cigarette hits the flour. My highest count in one inning, is eight dead skeeters, but the sport is young and there is always tonight. I may just beat my record. So until next time, keep swinging at those skeeters!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thanksgiving, Kaoshiung and The Kindness of Strangers

So thanksgiving came and went completely forgotten by most of the ex-pats here in Taiwan. I was talking to my mother, when she spoke of Thanksgiving dinner and I asked quite suddenly, when was Thanksgiving? I would have at least made a point of eating some manner of fowl and possibly some pig on that day. Oh well, there is always next year.
We spent our Thanksgiving day taking the train to Kaoshiung (pronounced Gow-shung) We hiked up the Monkey Mountain and took some lovely pictures of a smog shrouded city from atop it's peak. We spent a couple of hours taking in the sites. There were lions and tigers and beer, oops, I mean bears. We walked and sweated, and then walked and sweated some more. We managed to see most of the animals and were making our way back down the mountain, when a strange little Taiwanese woman came running in our direction, very excited and demanding to take our picture with our camera for us. Of course, my mistrust was immediate. I am after all, from the North End of Dartmouth. Common sense dictated that she was not a threat. She was maybe 55-60 years old, (it is very hard to tell with the Asian people) and no more than five and a half feet tall. I figured, even with my considerable girth, I could take her in a footrace down a mountain. She took a few shots of us, jabbering constantly about how attractive we are. The entire time she was snapping shots, the Dartmouth boy in me was expecting her to cut and run with our camera. She didn't do that, however, what she did do was invite us to her gentleman friend's car, whom she advised us, was a professor of English at a local university.
Karen and I went with her, reluctantly, already thinking up excuses for why we could not drive in the car with them. They turned out to be perfectly nice people who just wanted to offer us a ride to our next destination, which they decided for us. They told us we simply must check out the Lover's River, as it was especially beautiful at this time of night. Karen and I had specifically arrived in this city without a plan, and had every intention of Forrest Gumping our way through the day. I find those days always turn out better than vigilantly planned outings. This lovely old couple were a perfect example of the kind of thing Forrest Gumping can accomplish. So, we were driving in the back of a luxury automobile, wonderfully air-conditioned and given a full tour of the city. We said our goodbyes at the Lover's River, took a business card and promised to call the next time we were in the city.
The river was more like the Rideau Canal in Ottawa than a river. There were boat tours and lots of people walking hand in hand. It was very nice and Karen took many pictures. We made our way to a Pub called the Pig and Whistle, and proceeded to be thorougly unimpressed and overcharged at the same time. We finished out our day trip drinking beer on the train for the trip back to Tainan. It was a great day, all and all, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to do it again soon.
Bye for now,

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fire in the Sky

Sept 18,2005

They call it Moon Festival. I am not aware of all of the ins and outs of this strange holiday, other than it revolves around the full moon and people bar-b-que and light fireworks all night long. It was madness everywhere you went. It was loud and beautiful at times and downright dangerous at others, as Teenagers tend to shoot fireworks in to the streets at passing motorists.
"The Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節, or Moon Festival, occurs on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and celebrates the annual harvest. Families view the full moon during this holiday while eating rich pastries known as “moon cakes.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My Birthday in Taiwan

We started off at our apartment. It was Karen, Dave May, Aaron, Kelly and myself. I was given many wonderful gifts and we were enjoying a Taiwanese beer or two. We converged with our three Canadian neighbors from across the hall and they along with their friends brought our number up in to the double digits.
We moved on to a bar called the Rolling Stone, where there is all the free foosball and pool you can play. We continued our madness and mayhem there in to the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere along the line, I got an ice cream smeared in my face and a wonderful bouquet of flowers was given to me. I vaguely remember the ice cream, however, the giver of the flowers is a complete mystery. If anyone has any clues to the identity of the flower giver, you can leave an anonymous tip in the comments. There will be no reward at all, except for the feeling of doing a good deed.
To everyone that was there to help me celebrate my birthday, I say thank you. To all of you at home, I was wishing you were here. Thanks to Kelly L as well, for being the only one of my no good friends considerate enough to send me an e-card.
I have officially kicked off the “dirty thirties”. Middle age is just around the corner. Lord have mercy on my soul.

(Look! You are still allowed to smoke in the bars here!)

(What's left of the dartmouth crew)

(Not a pretty picture)

All photos taken by my lovely wife. (Which is why she isn't in any of them)

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Honky Motorcycle Club

I have joined the exclusive Honky Motorcycle Club. Dave May was nice enough to part with his Yamaha Husky 150cc motorbike. I was sick and tired of driving around on a little 90cc scooter; I am way to big for that nonsense. Every time I pulled up to a red light, I expected someone to pop up from behind a car and snap my picture. Then, of course, within hours I would show up in your hotmail the brunt of one of those terrible “….priceless” mass e-mails.
Mr. Johnny Shaw, formerly of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, currently residing in ‘Nam, was rumored to have said he would never own a motorcycle in Taiwan, as it was almost expected of him. He said that just about every North American who comes here gets a motorcycle, like they are too good for a scooter. I don’t know about all of that, I just got sick of riding around on a little mechanical, two-wheeled maxi pad. I am much happier with my motorcycle.
Karen has taken over full use and control of the Yamaha, Cabin 90 scooter that served as our only source of transportation thus far, and between the two of us we are tearing up the streets of Tainan. We have become known, locally as the “wheeled wygoran menace”, terrorizing locals and striking fear in to the heart of motorists everywhere. There is much cowering when the rumbles of our engines are heard thundering through the streets. The matching leather jackets are being tailored as I write this.
There will be pictures of our trusty metal steeds for the viewing pleasure of anyone who is still checking up on us. They will be posted shortly. I hope everyone back home has enjoyed their summer. I want pictures e-mailed to me of any Halloween shenanigans and whatever else that may be of interest. I am sorry for the long delay between blogs. I have been super busy at work. I will try harder to post more regularly.
Till next time,

(The Hog in all her glory!)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The incident at the Lounge.

Karen and I had been driving around looking for a place to eat for over a half-hour. It was after eleven pm, so most of the usual places with English menus were closed. We would drive by an eatery that looked alright, but it would be completely empty, and I can’t eat in a place that has no customers. The other thing we would find is a corner market style place absolutely lousy with locals, but it would smell like manure and be filthier than the floor of a mens room in a Scottish Pub. We were getting frustrated by this point, and not to mention starving.
We had come to a stop at a red light, and Karen noticed a little pub on the second floor of the corner building. She tapped me on the shoulder, pointed up and said “How about that place?” I glanced up to see a comfortably lit, modern and clean lounge. I pulled the bike over and we made our way up the neon lit stairs to the second level.
We walked in to the bar and the first thing we noticed was the leopardskin covered seats on the booths. Definitely tacky, but other than that the place was great. There was something scratching at my consciousness, but it wouldn't come to the surface. Something wasn't right with the place. My eyes scanned the folks at the tables and they, of course, were staring at us. I just couldn't figure out what was bothering me about it. I was too hungry to worry about it for long, so we made our way to a booth (non-leopard) and awaited a waitress.
She arrived at our table quickly enough, and handed us a completely Chinese menu. Karen and I sighed inwardly at the seemingly hundredth time we found ourselves in this position. “ Do you speak English?” I asked the waitress.
“Oh….ah..litto beet” she answered, holding her thumb and index finger about a half inch apart, to display physically the small amount of English she knew.
“Ok.. What kind of food do you have?” Karen asked her. The waitress then went on to point at Chinese characters on the menu, like it was quite obvious what kind of food they sold if you just read the Chinese menu. “Yes, but what is it? We don’t understand this voodoo language.” I responded.
“ Oh…ah…umm….chicun.” She stated pointing at the first item.
“Oh, Chicken and rice?” Karen asked.
“Ahh…yes!” The waitress answered, nodding her head vigorously.
“ I’ll take that then”, I stated, deciding on the first item on the menu that was spoken aloud.
Karen on the other hand, wanted a few more of the items on the menu translated. What followed was a whole lot of teeth sucking, umm’s, ah’s, headscratching and frowning as the waitress struggled to come up with the English translation of whatever Karen was pointing at. It was chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and the final thing was Taiwanese Tacos.
“ Taiwanese Tacos!” Karen got excited about the prospect of tacos. “What kind of meat do you use for the tacos?” After repeating the question five or six times and having the waitress really strain herself to come up with “pork”. Karen decided she would indeed try the Taiwanese Tacos made with pork. We also ordered a Budweiser for myself and a Corona for Karen.
After the waitress left, it struck me again that there was something odd, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then it occurred to me that there were woman at every table and they were all dressed the same. The same as our waitress. There was one woman and a group of men, at each table.
“Karen..I think this is a talking bar!” We had heard rumors about such places but had never been in one before.
“ No, I don’t think so.” Was all Karen had to say about that. We drank our beers and waited patiently for our food. The waitress brought over a basket with sliced maple covered sausage that was greasier than a fourteen year old fry-cook’s face.
“The hell’s this?” I asked Karen, as it would do no good to ask the waitress.
“It is probably just a free appetizer or something, you know they do that kinda stuff here".
Fair enough, they did do that kind of thing here. Then she came back with more food-six lone, greasy chicken wings in a tiny basket. That was, in fact, our meal.
The Taiwanese Tacos were just slices of maple sausage, and my fried chicken with rice was a basket of six wings. We had just paid the equivalent of twelve Canadian dollars on six wings and two sausages, and eight dollars each for the beers. We were heartbroken, but decided we would eat the food and try and enjoy it, then fly the hell out of this place.
We were half-way through our food when the waitress pulled up a stool to our table. There was no longer any question about whether or not this was a talking bar. Talking bars are an Asian phenomenon wherein lonely people go to these “talking bars” and each table comes with a girl to talk to. She is paid to keep your company and offer conversation. So that takes us back to our own personal “Talking girl” that was just now sitting herself down at our table.
I know the girl was just doing her job, she has to sit and talk to the customers. That is all well and good, but we don’t speak Chinese and she didn’t speak English. What followed her sitting at our table was five of the most awkward and uncomfortable minutes of my life. Not only could we not communicate with her, but even talking to each other felt rude as she was just staring at us and struggling to spit out the few English words she knew. Mercifully she left after an excruciatingly long five minutes, and we wolfed the rest of our food down and bailed out of there before she made another go at it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hi Ho Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go!

Oddly enough, Karen and I start work on the same day. We got jobs at two different schools that just happen to begin at the same time. The name of Karen's school is JOY and there are a number of them throughout Taiwan. I am working for a school called Sunflower. There are only three Sunflower schools but apparantly they all have a decent reputation. The weather here has been almost biblical in it's non-stop rain. It hasn't been forty days and forty nights, but it sure as hell feels like it. We venture out from time to time, facing booming thunder and startling lightning. We deck ourselves out in plastic and rubber to face the elements. Our scooter reluctantly starts on these rainy days, hoping to wait it out like everyone else. We force her to start and carry her heavy cargo from place to place in the torrential downpours. We have become accustomed to wet clothes and squinting through the rain at oncoming traffic. Sometimes the rain is so heavy that it feels like a sandstorm on our exposed skin. Ah, such is life here in our little slice of paradise known as Tainan. However, we are still looking forward to our first chill, as even with the constant rain, it still clocks in at around thirty degrees. No relief in sight, as it turns out September is the hottest month of the year in Tainan. We live in a steam room. BRING IT!!!
We brought in the morning in a park in the middle of the city, yesterday. The locals were singing Karaoke at dawn. They take thier 6am morning karaoke almost as seriously as they take thier 6am routine excercise. They do their Tai Chi and aerobics at that time every day, even sundays. I love watching the looks on their face as a group of westerners walk by drinking beer, still up from the previous evening, while they are starting thier day with a vigorous workout.
Ironically, for a town that starts thier day so early, you can not get a cup of coffee in it before noon. There is also nowhere to get breakfast. I don't think the Taiwanese eat breakfast, as there isn't an eatery in the city that we have found, open before noon. Maybe it's the heat.
We are not localized yet, but we are working on it. Although, it sure is hard when it is 29' degrees at 6 AM and rising throughout the day. God bless AC.
Until next time,
xie xie &
Dor syar
(thank you & goodbye)
Ed & Karen

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I was held like a prisoner in the foyer of my building this morning. Karen and I were going to the 7-11 at around 4:30 am to get some breakfast, when this creature, straight from the depths of hell, crossed our path. Those of you who know me, know that I have never been a big fan of spiders. This monstrosity that entered my life this morning was even bigger than the one pictured in The Good, Bad and Ugly. He was HUGE. I froze solid at the sight of him. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer as I forced myself to edge nearer to him. Some of you may be asking… “ Why would you edge nearer to such a fearful specimen?” That is a fair question, and I have to admit, in hindsight, it was a mistake. But, you see, I felt it had to die. It was a crime against nature. An apparition, an abomination if you will. It was my duty, nay… my destiny to destroy it. It was like Jonah and the Whale, on a smaller scale of course, but epic just the same.
Karen had run up to the apartment to grab something, when I got the idea to crush the mighty spider with a DVD box left discarded in the hall. It took every fiber of courage and intestinal fortitude I could muster to approach the beast. He had climbed a cylindrical pillar and was about shoulder level with me. My face was about a foot and a half from his as I swung a roundhouse right in to the pillar. The DVD box crashed against the cement with a booming thud, but with my adrenaline pumping at full bore and the sheer might used to crush the demonic thing, my aim was off and I collided with the pillar just above him.
The spider leaped off of the pillar, right at me. My heart stopped as the thing hit my chest. Any poise and grace was long forgotten as I slapped girlishly at my chest with the DVD box and leapt backwards. There are a lot of folks out there that would have thought the speed at which I was moving, impossible for such a large fellow, but it probably would have been hard to spot with the naked eye. I put about two meters between the spider and myself.
We stared each other down as my heart clanged in my eardrums.
“ Oh, It’s going to be like that?” I heard myself echo through the deserted hallway. “What are you gonna do now?” I asked him. With that, and I swear this is true, the spider came at me. I scrambled backward up the stairs as the spider advanced upon me. I banged in to Karen who was coming back down the stairs and let out a less than manly squeal. The speed of the thing was terrifying. With two human foes to face, the spider grew less aggressive and backed off slightly. Karen had armed herself with a mop of some kind and proceeded to chase the thing from our path.
Is there a moral to this story? No, not at all. Were we able to rid the planet of this horrifying monster? Again, no. We failed at our mission, and if I had to pick a winner of the battle I would grudgingly go with the spider on this one. Well, he might have won this time, but from what I am told about Taiwan, there will be another. I promise the death of that one.
Till next time,

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Thar she Blows!!!!!!!!!!

Click me! Click me!

Finally... the net has come back to Tainan

It is over! The long wait for our internet service has ended and a new era of online hijinks ensue. A very special thanks to our new Taiwanese friend Angela, for her diligent work in procuring our service. I had made several attempts, throughout this last week, at finding someone within Hinet that could speak English, and had thus far come up empty. Angela had us sorted out in fifteen minutes.
Much has happened in this past week that we went unconnected to the outside world. We have moved in to our new apartment, set up our new Media Centre computer and purchased a 19 inch LCD Flatscreen monitor. I will now be embarking on a download spree unlike any previously seen in the free world. I am going to have to download all of my favorite programs and movies as the television offered here leaves much to be desired.
Karen and I are both hitting the pavement hard this week as we need to get jobs right away to avoid the expense of a visa run. Our visitor visa is only good for 60 days and it takes about a month for the paper work to be sorted out for an ARC ( Alien Resident Card) and if you run out of time you must leave the country and then re-enter Taiwan to extend our visitor visa. You don't need to leave for any set amount of time as it is the re-entry through customs that extends your visa. You can go to Okinawa Japan, which is a popular spot due to it's closeness and relative inexpense to travel there.
This Thursday marks our one month anniversary in Taiwan and we have taken care of everything but the job issue. We don't anticipate any problems on that end as there seems to be lots of opportunity here. We haven’t been able to keep up with the news from back home much, but we did learn of the unfortunate loss of Chris Pawluk, owner and operator of Incredible Edibles. He was a great guy and we spent many an evening in his company, treated to great food, drink and conversation. It has been said already, but I must repeat that downtown Dartmouth will not be the same without him.
To those of you who haven’t lost interest in us yet, we will be updating much more frequently now that we are online.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Food

Where do I begin with the Taiwanese food. I think the food here can be categorized much the same way as our other site. It is good, bad and ugly. There are restaurants here that make your mouth water, just walking by. I have had some of the best food I have ever eaten here. I have also experienced some pretty rough meals I could barely get through. I have yet to, and probably never will eat from anything with wheels on it. The smells that come floating out of these carts are truly god-awful. There is something here called stinky tofu, and it smells like cow manure. The locals love it, but myself, I will never know the pleasure of stinky tofu, as it will never touch my lips. There is also lots of mystery "beef" at these wheeled carts, usually offered forth on a stick of some kind. You can eat anything that walks, hops, flies or swims in Taiwan, and most people do. I have been sticking to cow, chicken and pig for most of my meals, maybe I will get more courageous as time goes on. It is truly unfortunate that I never did develop a taste for seafood, as they probably have the best in the world here, and it is very cheap. I am sure the will be more updates in this vein as my palate adapts and explores more exotic offerings. Bon appetite!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tropical Heat Waves

Today we got up early and went to the Tainan University Hospital to get our health exams done so that we can successfully gain employment here in this country. It was a lot of waiting in line and jumping through hoops, but after a few hrs we were done and decided to scooter out to the beach. It took about 20 mins in city traffic but is very close and well worth the trip. It has been no less than 26 degrees here since we arrived and that is only from dusk til dawn. The rest of the time has been about 35 plus and 100% humidity. The beads of sweat havent stopped since we arrived. The water at the beach was as warm as it was in Mexico, so it wasnt much of a relief, but still pleasant nonetheless.
The beachfront was a mess from the typhoon we missed by exactly two days, but the water and waves more than made up for it. well, hafta go, much drink to be consumed, as today is to be a celebration of Johnny's last day here!

Monday, July 25, 2005

New Digs

Today we are proud new renters of a cool little deco-mod apt, complete with A/C, high speed internet, a japanese style sliding door bedroom, blue leather furniture, and a fully stocked in-living room bar. We are going to be living in the nicest part of town, right next to the most famous temple in Taiwan. The rent will be $220CDN, plus bills. The guy who was living there had a family emergency and had to go back to New York. We lucked out as we were the first to see the apt. We also got hooked up with cell fones. They're really cheap here, and absolutely crucial to have. We are looking at scooters tommorrow, and will be able to get a good used one each and pay less than $1000CDN for the two of them. I'm still on the fence about driving here though. It's indescribable to someone who's never been here, you have to be always watching your back, even when you're just walking, or you will be hit by a scooter. See, there are no sidewalks to speak of, and all traffic (pedestrians included)is on the road. It's the insanest thing i've ever seen. Extremely dangerous, yet you can't get by very easily without one. I guess we'll hafta buck up and learn to go with the flow. There are no rules of the road, and red lights are mere suggestions. It's nothing to see piles of scooters take a left turn on a red without so much as a shrug. Sounds easy enough, but add 10,000 cars and rows upon rows of scooters into the mix and watch the mayhem that unfolds.
The city of Tainan is like nothing i've ever layed eyes on. We are driving around with Aaron and Johnny and Angela on the backs of their scooters for miles and miles and the city just never ends. Its like Times Squre in NY times a million, in every direction. I'm not sure if i could ever get used to that, but i'm sure as hell gonna try.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Taiwan a rock and roll all night...

What a trip! I spent eighteen and a half hours with my knees pressed up against the seats of the people in front of me. I could barely walk when we landed in Taiwan. Karen and I were the only people on our flight that had our luggage lost. Three out of four bags were sent god knows where. We hopped on a bus from the airport a whole lot lighter than we expected to be with the missing luggage. We travelled for five hours fuming about the mix up and landed in Tainan around noon. Johnny and his friend Angela met us at the bus stop and took us back to Aaron's pad where Karen and I washed the stink of the last two days off of us, and then walked to a nice restaurant and had dinner.
Karen and I took a nap while everyone else went back to work and woke up at around ten o'clock. Dave M had arrived with Cindy and we had a few beer with Dave, Johnny,Aaron,Kelly,Angela and Cindy. Dave and Cindy took off early, as Dave had to take the bus to Taipei early the next day to play soccer. The rest of us went to the Armoury, a bar usually frequented by expats. This bar stays open all night and beer is very cheap. We met some locals who bought us beer just to test out thier english skills. We left at around four A.M and went to an amazing park in the middle of the city. There was a public washroom I named the gekko house, due to the large number of gekko's on the wall. It was there that I urinated in my first hole in the floor. We took a leisurely stroll through the rest of the park and ended the night watching the sun come up from the empty streets next to Aaron and Kelly's place. It was a great first night, and our welcome party is tomorrow. So far, so good as far as our time in Tainan, We are looking forward to getting our own place and settling in. Tomorrow we go look at Johnny's old place and if everything goes well we will move in as soon as possible.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Taiwan Bound

So it has officially begun. This trip that we have been eagerly anticipating for what seems to be years now. No more jumping through hoops, no more scrimping and saving, no more tiresome paperwork, no more planning and preparing, and most importantly- no backing out now.
There we sat nervously, at the Halifax airport, baggage in tow and the Merlins at our side. We had already said our goodbyes to everyone else, and had just finished our final meal before our journey. We then sadly went our seperate ways, and made our way to the boarding gate.
Once there, we were advised that our flight had been delayed 20 mins, no big deal. We then proceeded to board the plane and make our way down the runway, where we had stopped and were advised by the captain of further delays at JFK in New York. Apparantly NY was experiencing T-storms and due to construction there were only 2 lanes open instead of 4, so JFK was backed up and we had to wait 50 mins to take off. Now this wouldnt be that bad, except for that the plane we were on was a 3 seater, 10 aisles long, and no room to stand up straight without bumping your head. And as always, the plane came complete with a screaming colicy newborn 2 seats up from us.
Finally we were given clearance and arrived in JFK about 1 1/2 hrs later. After much confusion about where to go, we made it to customs, along with the other 21 planes that had also just landed there. The scene there was horrifying, 1500 bodies hearded in a the longest line-up i'd ever seen, in a small, non-air conditioned area. It took us 2 hrs to navigate through that line, neck in neck with hot and sweaty strangers. We were sweating profusely, and there were actually people passing out from the heat and exhaustion of carrying too many bags. We originally had a 6 hr stopover there, but that quickly dwindled. Once we did get to the gate, we had about an hr to wait. There was nothing open, no vending machines and no water.
The plane we were about to board was operated by China Air, a jumbo double decker jet with 2 levels and a lounge. We were happy to learn that there were tv's on the backs of all the seats that played all the recent movies for free and had pre-recorded tv shows like the Simpsons, etc. The rows across were 3, 4, and 3, and aboout 50 rows back. The 7.5 hr flight to Anchorage, Alaska went quite smoothly, save for some minor turbulence. It turned out we were allowed off the plane there in the 1.5 hrs while it re-fueled, which was a welcome oppertunity to stretch our cramped legs. We were finally able to get bottled water there, a great deal at $10 US for four. The airline wouldnt sell us any water, and their tap water tasted like swamp water.
Once again we board the plane for the 9.5 hrs to Taipei. Another long stretch with minor and frequent turbulence over the water. We woke up at 5:45am local time to the captain announcing our near arrival and current local temperature of 28 degrees and clear skys. NICE!!!!!!!!
The experience in the airport however, was not as pleasant. We were soon to learn that only 1 of our 4 checked bags had arrived with us. It would seem that they had lost most of our luggage.
After much emotion and hesitation, we left the airport almost bagless, and boarded the comfy bus for a 4 hr ride to Tainan. The views were foriegn and tropical. There were tons of rice fields and palm trees to be seen. We had to change buses once, but boy was i glad we did. This last bus had comsisted of nothing but big leather reclining lazy-boys, equipped with tv's, nintendo, and in-chair massagers. Heaven compared to the last 2 days.
We arrived in Tainan at about 12:30pm local time, to a massive parking lot filled with screaming cabbies and mounds of parked scooters. At last, we finally made it!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


All the parties are over and the goodbye’s have been said, the only thing left to do now is leave. My Godparents who also happen to be my aunt and uncle, put on a great going away party for us, there was lots of food and drink with family that I will miss immediately. It started early and ended early, leaving us in decent shape for the party the next day with my friends.
Kelly and Joe went all out ( and organised a wonderful send off party for us. There were a lot of people there, some who just dropped by and others who stayed and drank in to the morning with us. The guitars came out, as would be expected and there was some drunken sing-a-longs lead by Jay, Mike and Mole for the most part. We tore in to ‘er oldschool and the beer didn’t last that long. Karen and I brought a 24 and Kelly and Joe had 24 and most people had their own stock, so it wasn’t for lack of supplies. Everyone seemed to have a good time and I am glad I got to spend that last night with all of the people I will miss so much.
I would like to say it ended respectfully at Kelly’s, but I would be a bald faced liar if I did. Larry, Sara, Amy, Mike, Jay, Bruce, Karen and I ended up at the Liquor Dome. We got gleefully drunk and ended the night on the dance floor, wallowing in our own shame. Kelly, Joe and most of the other folks had the common sense to call it a night before it came to that. Oh well, it couldn’t have ended any other way as far as I’m concerned. My only complaint is it wasn’t a Dartmouth bar that we closed down. I said it last night, and I will say it again now. Thank you Kelly and Joe for the amazing bar-b-que and party. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was, as always, a pleasure. Thank you Dave and Judy for the t-shirts and your generous card. And thank you every one else who came out to see us off. We will be thinking of you often, and keep in touch. I speak for both of us when I say goodbye and we love you all. See you in a while.

Ed & Karen.

Bon Voyage pics

Friday, June 10, 2005

The patience to deal with the Visa Application Process… Priceless!

We have visited numerous websites, called various info-lines, and spoke to different representatives from the Taiwanese Consulate in Toronto and Vancouver. The only uniform information all of these sources agreed upon is that we had to send money. The amount, of course, varied every time.
In the end we received a little help from a friend who just went through this process himself, and hopefully, things haven’t changed that drastically in the short amount of time that has passed between our respective applications.
We have packed up our passports, application form, two 2 x 2 pictures taken within the last 6 months and still bare a resemblance to the sender, One self addressed stamped envelope, a photocopy of our flight itinerary, and a money order for $220.00.
Now we play the waiting game and hope the information we pieced together from the various locations is accurate enough to get the little visa page affixed to our passports. Ahhh. That’s some fine bureaucracy boys! The best part is, we get to do it all over again in 60 days if we don’t have ARC cards procured by our new employers. Oh well, Hey….do you want to buy a car?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Quittin Time

So it is decided. We are quitting our jobs on June 30th. This will only be the 2nd job Karen has quit, but for me that number is much higher. I have quit or been fired from no less than fourteen jobs in the last five years. Some of these jobs had spectacular exits, I have roasted marshmallows on the red hot embers of the burning bridges. Others I have slipped out quietly, like a cat burglar. They didn't even know I was gone until the fourth or fifth day went by without me showing up for work or calling to explain. Anyway, whether it be loud and confrontational or subdued and simple, the fact remains, I love to quit me some jobs. There is no better feeling than to hoist your middle finger to the company that has been paying you to pick away at your soul, like some relentless crow, day in and day out. Goodbye Minacs, you have kept me fed and drunk for lo these many months, yet I can't help but resent you for employing me.
Viva los unemployed!!!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Not there yet.

We are currently and impatiently awaiting our departure. It is looking like July 18, 2005. We reserved tickets on a flight leaving that day, and it was a much better price than we had anticipated. It’s crunch time as far as saving up money as we only have two months left and 5 pays. The more we save, the more comfortable we will be when we arrive. It is a precarious balance, between saving money and wanting to party and hang out with the friends we will be leaving behind for so long. If we do nothing and save all of our money, we will regret not taking the time and money to enjoy our friends while we can. If we go out too often and spend a lot of money we will be broke when we leave and not buy all of the supplies we will need for our project. Hopefully we will make the right choices. It will be a tough two months.