Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taiwan Parting Shots aka cleaning out the camera

We're in Minnesota now, getting over jetlag and enjoying the hospitality of Alex's parents!  After uploading all 879 of my photos onto my laptop, I became nostalgic (already!) for Taiwan.  There was so much great stuff we didn't get to share on the blog.  Here are a few shots that didn't make it.

Our blog has been surprising free of awkward/hilarious translations.  I believe (and hope, for their sakes) that most Taiwanese don't understand what the English text on their tshirts actually says (one of my favorites was a grandmother wearing a shirt that said "Flirty").  This caption was in a squatter-stall in the women's room.  Any suggestions as to what this actually means?

The Taiwanese are serious about obeying the laws.  NO ONE jaywalks, and they diligently wear helmets when riding scooters.  But that doesn't stop them from expressing their individuality while being safe!  Here Alex is sporting a helmet adorned with what appears to be a muppet-scalp.

Speaking of expressing yourself, this scooter was completely bedazzled in a tribute to the NY Yankees.
Baseball is the most popular sport in Taiwan, and the New York Yankees, with a Taiwanese player on their roster, is Taiwan's favorite team.

Some of you may remember the post on odd pets.  Perhaps the oddest thing about the pets is the context of their environment.  For example, this rabbit on a leash outside a shaved-ice stall.
Dogs in Taiwan often ride on the front of scooters with their owners.  When this guy rode off, the dog was positioned between his feet.  This is not limited to small dogs, or even one dog.  We saw scooter riders with multiple pups under their feet, and golden retrievers cruising with their masters.

Looking for a deal?  Pick up a teacup pig in Taitung's night market!  These little porkers will set you back 1300 NT, or 40 USD.  These porkers are highly coveted in the UK and will set you back $1,100.  At a price like that, you might as well shell out a couple hundred more and get a round trip ticket to Taiwan to pick up a few of the little guys here.

Helmets and pets aren't the only cute accessories in Taiwan.  Your dessert can be adorable too!  Here's a selection of cream-filled treats in the shape of classic cartoon characters.

A bento-box of sushi-gummies.

And for the more tongue-in-cheek sweet tooth...
Band-aid and sanitary napkin themed chocolate.  No, we did not eat these.

Don't let all the candy and fried food fool you; the Taiwanese are extremely health conscious.  Everyone is always watching their weight and eating "Chinese medicine" foods.  Regular workouts are also a part of the culture, though the Taiwanese idea of working out differs in approach from American custom.  In the early morning, middle-aged to elderly men and women gather in groups in the park to essentially swing their arms around.  Laughing at the end of the workout is also good for the body.  Here's a video from my trip a few years ago, taken in the morning at Da-An Park in Taipei.
video

The parks also feature work-out equipment next to jungle-gyms and slides.  Though they mimic in appearance ellipticals and stairmasters, they offer little resistance.  I think they look pretty neat, and they're definitely fun to play on.

I was also taken with the design of Coca-cola machines next to the National Palace Museum.  I believe they feature a ceramic by Chinese artist Taikkun Li.

The best part of the trip for me wasn't the crazy food, scenic vistas or interesting style/design.  I loved getting to spend time with my Taiwanese family.  It was such a treat to get to be in Taiwan with my cousin Sharon.  Sharon is my age, but grew up on the West coast so we didn't really get to know each other until we were both in Chicago.
Hanging out with Sharon is one of the things I will miss the most about the Windy City :)

Getting to meet my cousin's 2-year old son Chris was also a highlight of the trip, in case you hadn't noticed from all the attention he's already received on this blog.

And of course, my lovely Ama (grandmother), and all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles who were so wonderful to us while we traveled!  I will miss them all very much.

Although we'll be busy with the big move over the next two weeks, I hope to post a few more gems of our trip.  Look out for posts on a Japanese tea house in Taipei, old family photos, and aboriginal clothing in the near future!

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