Monday, December 31, 2012

Ingredients for a Taipei New Year's Adventure


1 backpack chocked full of warm clothes
1 Lonely Planet guidebook
2 wallets full of NT
1 scooter journey through wind and rain
(+ 2 hot yellow ponchos)
2 high speed rail tickets
6 metro coins
1 hotel reservation, made for the entirely wrong year
1 husband + 1 wife
0 plans except to have fun



The High Speed Rail was booked so we had to get "standing tickets," which quite literally means we stood for the whole ride.


Sean whipped out his Nintendo DS and we played UNO. I kicked his ass!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

a tribute for a fellow explorer, my dad

Horrible fashion sense.

Fan of puff Cheetos.

Animal lover extreme.

World traveler.

Kayaker, mountain climber, dirt bike rider, hiker.

Italian food and wine enthusiast.

Dreamer and achiever.

Husband and father.

Beloved.
My dad was one hell of a man who lived a truly amazing life.

That's why I'm not going to go on and on about how sad I am and how tragic this all is.

Of course I'm sad. Of course this sucks.

But my dad deserves to be remembered for everything he did, not the end of his life.

So I think I'd rather tell you about him instead.
This man was my father-- the man who made me wear elbow pads and shin pads every time I went rollerskating, who scared away my first boyfriend by answering our front door wearing a kilt, who helped me rot my baby teeth in soda for a science fair experiment, who drove me one hour everyday of summer break so I could go to horse camp, who went to all three of my college graduations and took me out all three times to fancy and expensive Italian restaurants to celebrate, who cat-sit for us many times, and who simply loved being a part of my life and then later on Sean's life too.

This extraordinary man taught me to think outside of the box-- to dream and strive and reach-- and taught me the painful patience it takes to do that most times. He did everything to help me achieve my goals so I could be the one left feeling proud and satisfied. He bailed me out of hairy situations on numerous occasions, and simply enjoyed life with me whether it be through a walk in the woods, cheesy Italian food, sharing travel stories, paddling in the sound, watching stupid movies, or scheming and dreaming.
Here is what I want you to know about him:

My dad lived his life intentionally. He was never a victim. He married the woman he loved. He met her at work and told her he would be a dentist (spoiler alert: that sure never happened!). He proposed to her over the telephone, and they drove a beat up car to Las Vegas to elope. He was living with his parents at the time and had to call his mother to tell her that he wouldn't be home for dinner that night. He and my mom lived all over the U.S. before once again packing up that car and driving west until they found a place they loved: the Puget Sound. They set up shop and desperately wanted to have kids. That much has always been obvious to both me and my brother. My dad dreamed and planned and achieved. I'd like to think I got that from him.
He was a adventurer. He conquered mountains--literally. Mt. Rainer, Mt. Baker, Mt. Shasta. I know there were more. He even took me with him. When I was in middle school, we climbed Mt. Elanor together. He was even crazy enough to invite my friends. I remember so clearly standing on top of that peak looking over the Olympic Mountains and just feeling in awe of my life and father. After all, only bad ass people climb mountains and then take along their teenage daughter and her friends.

What a guy.
He raced his kayak around Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay as a young man and as an old fart. One time, when he was paddling, an Orca whale swam right under his small boat. He never could get over that. He said the water hardly moved and it was one of the most spiritual things he'd experienced. He would take me out kayaking in his double kayak he had shipped over all the way from New Zealand. Mostly I would let him do the paddling and simply admire the view. He took Sean out all the time and even raced with him. My dad loved Sean to pieces.

He built the home of his dreams in the middle of the woods eight years ago. He planned the entire design and used to take me out to the property when it was under construction. We'd sit along the skeleton of the house, and he'd tell me all of his plans for the lawn. The house is truly a home. It's full of pieces of my mom and dad's lives. It's like a living museum and tribute to the man. Bears, cougars, deer, and owl roamed his front yard, and he loved it. He was always outside building new walking trails where just this last April he hid a bunch of Easter eggs for me to find.
He worked his butt off so he could do what he loved. He earned his BA in biology and got to spend the past 26 years as a hydrologist for the local utility district. For anyone who knows my dad, this was his dream job because he got to spend his days in the woods in streams and lakes and rivers. He had great stories of the salmon going upstream that would smack into him and make him scream like a little girl. I remember on those "bring your kid to work days," I'd don all the right gear: rain jacket, waders, boots and head to the forest with him thinking "I cannot believe my dad gets paid so much to play in the woods all day..." and you know what? Neither could he! He got to work side by side with my brother for two years. For a man who loved his children, what a gift that must have been.

When we were kids, he rode dirt bikes nearly every weekend with my brother. They would come home covered in mud, limping, and with stupid grins on their faces, and all my mom would say is, "I don't want to know." And then he would come to my horse back riding lessons or my Tae Kwon Do classes and promotion tests or track races.
He was always there.

Combined, he must have helped my brother and I move nearly 30 times in the past 10 years. We joked that we should get a LeCuyer Moving Company sign for his green truck. Even when he said he wouldn't help, there he was with his tool kit mumbling to himself as he fought to get our damn futon apart again. Every winter, he would put on my snow tires, and every few months, he would change my oil. He made sure we had what we needed, always.
He never left us hanging. When my brother's wife left, he was on a ferry in hours to visit Joel. He toasted my brother, told him this was good, and then bought him a bunch of new furniture. When I was unemployed, he encouraged me to live with hope and not fear. He taught me to be the type of person who looked at that time as a gift, and that enabled me to spend months backpacking around southeast Asia instead of sitting on my hands worrying back at home. When I was so miserable teaching for Seattle Public Schools, he encouraged me to see it through until the end of the school year and then get the heck out of there and make my dreams come true. And you know what? It felt so good to do just that.
When I was 17 years old and told him I wanted to backpack around the United Kingdom for one month with my best friend, he steadied me with his dad look and asked me one question: what countries make up the U.K.? When I could answer that question correctly, he said: okay. My dad saw something inside of me, and instead of blowing out that flame, he encouraged that spark to roar into a fire, and here I am today living in Taiwan because of that. Really, though, what I like to think is that he saw a bit of himself in me-- a person with dreams and goals who was going to live their dreams come true no matter what.

I'd like to think he was proud as heck of me for even entertaining the thought at 17.

(And I think he was.)

My dad definitely rubbed off on me in one way: the wayward traveler. In the middle of college, he took off one year (much to his parents displeasure) and backpacked through Europe and Africa with his buddy. He got beat up in Morocco, slept on the side of the freeway in Iceland, and met all kinds of people. He was no stranger to adventure. Later, he and my mom got to travel through Europe twice making more dreams come true.
This man took me on week long hiking trips in the forest and enriched my life and imagination. When I got a C- in mircoeconomics in college, he laughed it off. When I earned my master's degree when I was 21, he was immensely proud. When I turned down a job because it wasn't what I wanted, he supported me. When I wanted to marry Sean, he said "it's about damn time."

At every point in my life, my dad was there encouraging me to create the life I wanted for myself and not settle for anything less.
So right before he died, I was able to hold his hand and thank him. I was able to tell him that because of him, I am in love with my life.

I'd like to think I gave him a gift then because really, what more could a father as loving and dedicated as him ask for?

Thank you Pa Man.

For everything.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nightmare

One thing Sean and I feared about moving overseas was what would happen if a loved one got sick or hurt or died while we were away.

Last Thursday, our nightmare started to unfold.

I noticed on Facebook that my brother posted something about his truck dying and a family member in the hospital.

I should say that I noticed this while I was in the teacher's office with two more classes to teach that day.

And the thing about being abroad is that it's not like I have this nifty phone that will connect me to my mother's cell. We keep in touch via carefully planned Skype chats (16 hours is quite the time difference) and Facebook emails.

Not exactly helpful in the midst of an emergency.

But what could I do? I fired off an urgent, inquisitive email to my brother and then had to get up, walk to the classroom, and pretend everything was okay and teach proper MLA citations as my stomach clenched in dread and fear.

I knew my dad had not been feeling well.

But when I finally got a hold of my brother and found out that my mother had driven him to the ER and they admitted him because the man had practically no blood left in his body I was floored.

Huh?

He wasn't hurt or bleeding so how on earth did this happen?

As it turns out, the doctors didn't really have a concrete explanation. So they pumped him full of new blood and let him go. Over the two days he was in the hospital, I had been keeping in touch with my family and felt anxiety and confusion and generally a WTF attitude as words like Lymphoma and chemotherapy were being tossed around.

Holy moly.

How does this happen?

It's amazing how suddenly and completely your life can change.

Fast forward 36 hours and my father was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and intubated and almost dead. There I was, once again in the teacher's office with classes lined up, getting a simple, three-word email from my brother that read: Come home now.

Uhhhhhh....

Let me tell you, I was fully prepared for my father to be dead either before I even left Taiwan or by the time we landed.

I barged into my friend Jamie's apartment without even knocking, sobbing and mumbling, and the woman's a freaking saint for following me around and helping me do really important things like finding a flight we could get on ASAP and entering our passport info and credit card info because by that time all I was good for was sobbing uncontrollably and and tearing our (wet) clothes from our drying rack and shoving them in our backpacks (let me tell you I was not thinking and did not pack appropriately for Washington in December).

And then it occurred to me that I live in Taiwan and teach at an international school, so while yes my students are fluent in English there are no subs who are so then poor Jamie (who is most definitely not a middle school teacher) was saddled with not only all of my classes for two weeks but our insane foster dog Bojangles too.

We raced to the airport in  taxi and then I downed my Lorazapam and passed out for the 11 hour flight only to suddenly find myself back in America in the middle of this huge crisis.

Talk about shock.

If feels like a nightmare I'm still waiting to wake from. My dad is in Harrison Hospital getting constant blood transfusions and chemo and we're going to have to leave next weekend, in the middle of all this crap with nothing resolved, because I have to work and we decided to create this life, this really beautiful life, in Asia, 11 hours away by jet plane.

I guess this the price we (and our families) pay.

UPDATE:
My father passed away on December 10, 2012 at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, Washington. My entire family, Sean's family, and our good friends Jenn and Roger were there. It happened very suddenly and unexpectedly. We later learned he had a very aggressive type of T-cell lymphoma called Malignant Angiommunoplastic Lymphoma, which was complicated by the fact that he also had pure red cell aplaysia. So, fuck.

Monday, November 26, 2012

...And we call him Bo

Meet Bo:


He's our foster dog.

Last Friday, I walked into school and there he was hanging out on the second floor corridor.

It was 7:40 a.m. and with hundreds of students flocking around him, he was a little terrified.

I squatted down to pet him, wondering how on earth he came to be in the second floor corridor, when he just flopped on the floor, rolled on his back and waited to be scratched on the tummy.

That pretty much sealed the deal.

A kid from the school's humane society club took Mr. Bo home over the weekend and to a vet. Except for a dislocated paw, he's fine.

Now he's with us, laying on the floor after a dinner of chunky Pedigree, and he seems pretty content to simply be somewhere warm and safe and dry.

I know we cannot keep him.

We are real vagabonds. We have been for a while.

The Humane Society is actively looking for a home for Bo and we have someone who will take him if he's still with us by the time Chinese New Year holiday rolls around.

But this whole time all I can think about is how easy it is to do the right thing.

This guy is so special.

He's sweet and has huge personality.

And now, he has a home.

It is no hair off our back to give him a safe place to be where he will be loved.

For Bo, this simple gesture is the difference between life and death.

Doesn't he, and all the street animals, deserve a good life?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a ride to Nanliao

                                                           Vanilla ice cream + black tea
                                                                                                                                 Sunset + sea vistas                                         
                                                                 Scooter + light breezes
                                                                 Husband + wife
                                                                     Adventure

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bizarre, bizarre Chinese

So today is Tuesday.

And on Tuesdays, a bunch of us get together from 4:30-6 and "learn" Chinese.

It goes a bit like this:

"Did someone mention there'd be pizza?"

"Oh my god I am so tired!"

"Did you study?"
"Ha! No...."

"Is this how you say beer? Or was that beach ball?"

"Who's hitting up McDonald's with me tonight?"

"Wait a minute! You mean my brother's nickname means titties?"

The end, good night.

You see, we work really hard during the day and by the time 4:30 rolls around we're kinda done.

So sitting through 1.5 hours of Chinese after working from 7:40-4:10 can be, well, torturous.

Mostly because I'm in the first stage of "learning" Chinese.

There are five.

I looked them up:

1. Crazy Nonsense Stage: This language is bizarre and impossible and I'm not terribly convinced it's actually  a real language with rules and patterns
2. Acceptance Stage: Okay, I guess this is actually a real language
3. Oh My God I'm Speaking Chinese Stage: Tones are distinguishable and basic conversations can be had
4. Okay, I'm Still Just Speaking Chinese Stage: Most conversations can be had correctly and reading and writing skills improve
5. Pretty Much Chinese Stage: If it were not for your pasty complexion, people would be convinced you're Chinese

It's my goal, in the years that we're here, to get to stage two.

And today, we made some great strides in getting there.

For example, Jamie repeatedly said, quite clearly, "Oooh Shiiiit" twice, to the teacher, much to our amusement.

Especially because our teacher is one of my student's mothers and completely fluent in English, swear words and all.

So as this very kind woman did her best to keep from outright laughing at Jamie, who was endeavoring to say "how much" in Chinese, we all kinda lost it.

But seriously, we did learn to count to 10, the days of the week, as well as a whole host of barnyard animals.

We'll get there.

For now though, as we struggle to make some semblance of sense from this five tone language, we mostly just sound like a bunch of whales calling out to one another.

Pretty funny indeed.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

taiwan's east coast: hualien & taroko gorge

A few of us decided to rent a car and drive for "just a few hours" to Hualien. Our "few hour" drive was actually more like six or seven hours on Taiwan's Highway 11, one of the windiest, scariest roads in the world, through tunnels that were never ending and sometimes pitch black.

I guess the drive would have been smoother if we would have figured out how to turn on the car's lights before we left the car dealership. You know what they say about hindsight.
Every once in a while, we stopped to stretch our legs and admire the view. Hualien is on Taiwan's east coast, which is simply breathtaking. What the west coast lacks due to over population and industry, the east coast makes up in natural wonders. Highway 11 is truly gorgeous.

Ocean, blue and vast.

Mountains, green and craggy.

Rivers and gorges and small villages, raw and beautiful and alive.

It's amazing, really, that the east coast should be allowed to hog so much of Taiwan's appeal. On the other hand, every other week when a new typhoon forms out in the Pacific, I am suddenly grateful to live along the west coast nestled safely in the rain shadow of Hsinchu County.
Finally, we made it to Hualien. One weird thing about Taiwan is that all the towns look the same.

Beetle nut girls? Check.

Copious amounts of 7-11 and Family Mart? Check.

Some random temples thrown in for fun? Check.

Scooters everywhere? Check.

However, our friend Peter did introduce us to something new: sex motels.
You see, Taiwan is the 8th most densely populated country in the world. What does that mean? That means there are a lot of people crammed onto this tiny island. They live on top of one another in high rise apartments, often times with their extended family.

Basically, it's hard to find places to, you know, do it. Thus, sex motels.

Now, we had no intention of staying in a sex motel. It was simply the result of careful planning and 3 hours at the travel agency down the road. Would it have been nice for the lady to say, "Hey stupid, this is a sex motel?!" Well, yes, it would have. Alas, she did not, so, unawares, we checked into a hotel that had a drive-thru lobby and charged by the hour.

Oops. 
Our friends Jamie and Luke stayed in the deluxe suite, which came with a sex chair, while Sean, Peter, and I stayed in a regular room with just a condom dispenser outside the door.

Peter snored all night.

Literally.

I became desperate I tried to make ear plus out of toilet paper. They were rather useless, so it was in (not) high spirits that the next morning we crammed into the car again for the 30 minute drive to Taroko Gorge, the whole reason we had undertaken this quite absurd journey in the first place.

In the pictures, Taroko looked like a slice of heaven. I was not disappointed.

Mountain peaks, caves, valleys, rivers.

Suspension bridges, tunnels, temples, and venomous snakes.

We spent the day climbing and exploring and sweating and smiling.
That night, before dinner, the world shook.

Earthquake.

Now, I can tell you from experience, there is no worse place to be during an earthquake than on the first floor of  shoddy sex motel.

This was not my first earthquake. I remember a few and one in particular: the Nisqually Earthquake that struck the greater Seattle region in 2000. I was in 9th grade home economics when the earth jumped up and down and sideways. I dove under the table with my classmates and waited silently for the earth to stop raging.

Unfortunately, the sex motel provided no tables to dive under. Instead, I paced by the window watching the locals because I can tell you one other thing: when you're in Asia and the earth starts trembling and the Pacific Ocean is your next door neighbor you see images of Thailand and Japan wash through your mind like a tidal wave.

The locals, however, were completely nonplussed, so it was with a sense of exhilaration that we headed to the night market to gorge ourselves on dumpling and soup and noodles.
The next day, as we drove home, I felt even more sure we had made the right choice by getting on that airplane to Taiwan one month ago. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taiwan A-Z (sorta)


Architecture
Admitted art history nerd here. As anyone who travels with me knows, I have a thing for buildings. I love me some cathedrals when in Europe and I love me some temples when in Asia. So when we went to Taipei and our friend Peter asked us where we wanted to go, my first response was "Take me to see a building!" I was not disappointed!





Bugs
In the middle of our first night in Taiwan, I woke up at 4a.m. due to jet lag. I stumbled down the narrow, dark hallway toward the kitchen wanting nothing more than water. The lights flickered for a while as they powered to life and I noticed something huge and black and hairy scurry past my feet: a Hunstman Spider. Incredulous, I stood dumbfounded until I heard Sean shriek. Who knew spiders came that big?! Thirty minutes and a lot of swearing later, the spider was defeated by my brave husband and a hot red miniature broom. Since then, we've encountered four more within our house. The last one woke Sean from a deep sleep as it battled a cockroach on our bedroom floor. That night it took far longer than 30 minutes to crush both the spider and cockroach; we had to move our mattress, take the bed frame apart, move the headboard, and then war. Sean swears the spider jumped towards him and his trustworthy red broom with fangs bared. Eke!



Car Trips
The winding, coiling roads of the east coast teeter hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean. Tunnels, some so rudimentary they look as if they're still under construction, plunge your car into claustrophobic pitch black with nothing but your headlights to guide you. Landslides from Typhoon Saola shred the mountainside and at some points leave the highway hanging precariously to the cliff side with 50 per cent of its support washed away. It's an exhilarating, petrifying experience, especially considering the road's hairpin turns, ubiquitous double decker tourist buses, less than satisfactory width of the lanes, and pile after pile, some 10 feet high, of recent debris brought down by storms.




Dumplings
Self proclaimed picky eater here. Italian and Mexican food are my thing, Chinese food not so much. So when we day tripped to Taipei with some friends via the high speed rail, I longed to take advantage of the city's abundant Western culinary pursuits. I was very quickly vetoed. Majority ruled and majority wanted dumplings now. Din Tai Fung, a world famous dumpling restaurant, was where a mass consumption of dumplings was to take place. I dragged my feet as we passed beckoning Italian restaurants and as I marched up the steep and winding staircase of the narrow and tall restaurant. Our eight person party of Americans, which consisted of me and seven guys, was stashed in a private room with a door that closed and everything. We were brought every kind of dumpling imaginable and fried rice and pig blood soup. And you wanna know what? It was all friggin' delicious. So there Jackie. As a new dumpling convert, I was very pleased to discover 10 freshly steamed dumplings cost only 30NT, which is $1USD, at local night markets.



Earthquakes
While we were in Hualien, which is right on the Pacific Ocean, we had out first 5.3 earthquake. The epicenter was Hualien. It was not one of those rolling wave, side-to-side earthquakes; it was the jack hammer, jarring up-and-down type of earthquake. Suffice it to say, I kinda freaked out because we were staying in a really shitty (sex) motel on the first floor and the building was making all kinds of ugly sounds and I was just like, "FUCK!!!!!!!" and then, "HOLY SHIT will there be a tsunami?" but then we looked out the window when the quaking stopped and all the locals were like, "Hm. Whatever. Now is a good time to take out the trash," so all of us went to a (outdoor) night market and ate tons of dumplings and drank Taiwan Gold Beer. The best part of the whole thing? Luke didn't even feel it. Jerk.


Friends
These people make living in Asia rock!






Ghost Festival
During ghost month, it's not uncommon to walk past people burning money in temples or leaving food as an offering to long gone ancestors. It's also not uncommon to happen upon a festival honoring the dead. After our first official week of school, we hopped on the bus to celebrate and found ourselves in downtown Hsinchu smack dab in the middle of the ghost festival; fireworks boomed (dangerously) close overhead and haunting figures, some 15 feet tall, roamed the busy streets. It was a very surreal, mesmerizing Asia moment.



Home
Let's be honest here: the apartment kinda sucks. But, we've taken great strides to make it ours. So while  the kitchen and guest bathroom make me shudder, I can live with it. It's free, it's spacious, and it has rockin' AC units. We slapped on some blue and red paint and bought tons of furniture covers and throw pillows. The end result? A place that's cool, cozy, and just ours. No complaints here.




Job
I adore my job for multiple reasons. Here they are:

A. My schedule
Mondays: three 50-minute classes
Tuesdays: two 50-minute classes
Wednesdays: five 50-minute classes
Thursdays: four 50-minute classes
Friday: two 50-minute classes
Everyday: 10 minute passing periods that I do not have to supervise, 1 hour lunches

B. My students
When the bell rings, they automatically sit down and stop talking. I don't have to say a word. Plus, they have everything on their desks: books, supplies, homework. Once again, I don't need to ask. They work really hard. They are nice.

C. My coworkers
Well, that's easy. They are my friends. We go out to eat, we watch movies at each other's homes, we go on road trips, we go grocery shopping together, we scoot around town together. There's no work place crankiness. Wow what a difference that makes!

D. My parents
So far, they have high expectations for their kids and keep in contact in a pleasant, considerate way. I'll take it.




KTV
Words fail me, so here's a video:



Lost in Translation
Restaurant menus are very amusing to me mostly because each item listed on a menu comes in the form of a complete sentence with both a subject and predicate. My favorite noodle bar in town serves the best ramen I've ever had. Every time I go, I order "the garlic sauce burns the spicy pork noodle."


Night Markets
People and sounds and smells burst from the narrow alley ways littered with all kinds of food, drink, and goodies. Every Asian town has at least one night market. Some are just a small street filled with a few vendors and others are these complex mazes that take up multiple city blocks. They all have a few staples in common: stifling heat, towering piles of dumplings, and stinky tofu. The best part about a night market? You just never know what you're gonna find!




Outdoors
Sometimes, words paint the best picture. This is not one of those times. I'll let the island speak for itself here:





Parks
I moved to the 8th most densely populated country in the world. There are tons of people, like everywhere, all the time. And their scooters. And their noise. It's hard to be alone. It's hard to find quiet. It's hard to find space, good old fashioned open space with no apartments, cars, etc. But Taiwan does one thing right: its parks. Nooks and crannies hold beautiful temples and paths and ponds; small trails you can lose yourself in for a minute or two and hide away from the commotion of people living on top of one another.





Sex Motels
So, once upon a time, Peter, Luke, Jamie, Sean, and I drove to Hualien. We booked the second cheapest motel we could find and, as it turns out, it was a sex motel. Now, what does that entail, you may find yourself asking. First, it's a motel that charges by the hour so one can "rest" or stay the night. Then, as a courtesy, there are handy condom dispensers outside each room. The real treat, which I'm pretty sure we paid extra for, was the sex chair. A what? I know, I likewise had no idea such a contraption existed. Well, words will fail me so just soak it up:


Typhoon Saola
What nasty piece of work you were! Two days after landing in Taipei, we experienced our first Category 2 Typhoon. Our bedroom flooded in one inch of rain water and a tree smashed through our bedroom window in the middle of the night. Hsinchu City flooded in one foot of standing water and the entire country closed shop for the day (except for my school, which held orientation the day Saola made landfall. It was a soggy two minute walk to school!).



Universal Healthcare
I got an ear infection a few weeks back. I went to see an ear, throat, and nose specialist. The doctor prescribed me two medications. For the doctor's visit and drugs, I paid a whopping $13 USD. And that's without any kind of health insurance as I'm still waiting on my health card. Before I left the states, I had to pay $25 just to see the doctor and forget about tests or meds. Thank you Taiwan.

Vroom
Scooting around town is just about my favorite thing to do in Taiwan.



Weather
The second we step out from our air conditioned apartment, our skin grows sticky with moisture. By the time we've reached the bottom floor, we're miserable and sweaty. After 10 minutes walking along Jeishou Road, we're looking for the closest 7-11 so we can pop in, grab a drink, and most importantly linger in the freezing cold safety of the store. Bless you, 7-11, for your 30 cent iced teas and frozen air. Apparently we can look forward to this until mid October. Rumor has it that it actually gets "cold" in Taiwan over the winter but I simply cannot believe that this hellishly humid place will ever be anything other than roasting. If it does get cold, I'm going to run naked through the streets and relish it. I miss scarves and sweaters and seeing puffs of breath and fire places and not sweating.

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