Monday, May 27, 2013

Beware: I am looking for you

One great thing about working with your friends?

When you're in the midst of a panic attack over the cobras slithering around your workplace, you'll find something like this on your desk.

And suddenly, the situation doesn't look so grim.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A shark, a tiger, and a cobra

Let's play a game.

I'll give you a scenario and then you tell me if you think my solution is logical.

There is a shark in the water where a lot of people are swimming. So, logically, you close the beach and get everyone out of the water.

That was easy, right?

Okay, round two:

A tiger escapes from the zoo, where many people are enjoying an afternoon. Naturally, you close the zoo and don't open it again until the rogue beast is caught. 

Makes sense, right?

Alright, here's a tough one.

Two Chinese Cobras are on the loose in an urban school campus that's quite small. Some 1000+ students go there everyday. Chinese Cobras can grow to be 6' long and are poisonous and sometimes deadly. Obviously, you wait until the day is half over before you decide to make a vague announcement about some snake, without giving it a name, and then later leave a piece of paper on each teacher's desk urging them to tell the 1st-12th grade students to avoid the grassy areas, which many have to walk through to get from class to class.

Wait a minute...


That doesn't sound right.

In fact, that sounds insane.

What would make sense? Hmmm...close the freakin' campus until you find, catch, and relocate the two huge, poisonous, deadly snakes roaming around a small urban school campus.

To me, that makes a lot more sense than the advice to "walk carefully."

So there. 

Sometimes Taiwan boggles my mind.

This was the note left on my desk Friday afternoon.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happily ever after


More so than anything else, leaving behind my two precious kittens was what killed me the most as we were leaving the US for Taiwan.

We got Roma and Buggy the week after we got back from our backpacking trip through SE Asia in 2011.

The girls spent 1.5 years with us and we loved them dearly.

The first thing we asked when the school representatives from IBSH took us out to dinner in Boston was: can we bring our cats.

They said yes.

Which, technically, was true.

It wasn't until we landed back in Seattle and started sifting through the process that we realized: no, no we could not.

In order to move any animal to Taiwan, a rabies free country, one has to undergo a strictly laid out process. We would have needed six months and $8,000 USD, $4000 per cat, to do so.

We only had four months and were living paycheck to paycheck.

We were simply devastated.

Our cats were our family.

We tried to find them a home with friends and family but could not. In the end, we had to take them back to the same no-kill animal shelter we picked them up from in the first place.

It was easily one of the hardest things I've had to do.

However, this story improved dramatically one day when I was emailed by the animal shelter and told that a lovely couple adopted our girls. I was even happier when that couple contacted me and sent pictures of Roma and Buggy lounging in the sun at their beautiful home.

And over the past 10 months in Taiwan, we've tried to pay it forward too by co-fostering two dogs: Dr. Gus Bojangles and Lady (can you tell which one Sean and I named and which one Luke and Jamie named?)

Bojangles was with us for about three weeks before tragedy struck back home and we had to leave. We got to spend another week with him when we got back. We were worried about him because we had no way of contacting the people who adopted him. They only spoke Mandarin. However, it made our day when we received an email with pictures of Bojangles and his new family up in the hillside playing around.

Then, it was Lady whose story is still unfolding. She's this spitfire puppy who is currently being fostered by a family up in Taipei until she finds a permanent home. She was too green for us to handle; in the one month we co-fostered her, Jamie and Sean were stuck at home most of the time because Lady could not be left alone. If she was, our whole building complex would hear about it.

I think for the time being we're done fostering animals. We travel too much. We're heading to Japan next Wednesday and then over the summer we'll be traveling a lot too: Vietnam, South Korea, and the Philippines.

But for the time being, it makes me happy to know that our girls are happy in the states with their new people and these two dogs are safe and well loved and off the streets.

Now that's making lemonade from lemons. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wrong turn at Sun Moon Lake

My big brother Joel flew in for a one-week visit.

We did all of the traditional things:

Din Tai Fung dinner with dumpling galore.

Scooter, scooter, scooter.

Taipei and culture.

But we also wanted to take advantage of his visit and go somewhere new: Sun Moon Lake.

From all of the reading I had done, it seemed like a great destination for a Sunday day trip.


Not that the trip wasn't great, but certainly not day trip great.

We got a late start (typical) and didn't hop on the HSR until 10:30. That wasn't too bad.

We arrived in Taichung at 11 and found a bus to Sun Moon Lake. I guess it was our fault for not clarifying. I anticipated a 30-minute ride. Two hours and many small towns and stops later, the bus ambled beside the lake.


We walked around the lake and were very grateful for the cooler weather and fresher air.

After a few hours, we realized, hey this will take a long time we should probably head back and thus began the four hour trip home.

Inclusive of getting on the wrong HSR train and everything.

I wonder if Joel will ever visit again?

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