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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Preferred Prejudice

Interesting observation--I was eating lunch with a Taiwanese friend yesterday when he shared something with me.  He told me that Taiwanese people treat foreigners much better than their own people.  He claimed to have been noticing this all day while walking around with me.  I started noticing, too, after he had mentioned it.  Although this may seem unfair, I will take such a "prejudice" anytime over what happened to me in another Asian country which shall not be named.  In that one, I had to endure being mocked continuously almost anytime I went outside.  Nothing like that has every happened to me in Taiwan.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

On the Way to Tainan


 
 

I took a trip to Tainan a few weeks ago via the HSR (high speed rail).  I was apprehensive about this because I'd never used it on my own before and don't speak Chinese.  I had nothing to worry about though as the process was very simple.  I drove my car to the HSR and parked it in a 24-hour lot.  The lot transported me to the station via a van and dropped me off.  From there, it was easy.  All signs/notices were in English as well as Chinese and these allowed me to find everything I needed.  Various announcements guided me to the proper waiting area and updated me on departure information.  While sitting on the platform, I took these pictures of an arriving train and Taichung.

I returned to Taichung in the evening after touring Tainan all day.  Another van was waiting to take me back to the parking lot where I paid the equivalent of three dollars for about 12 hours of parking.  I then drove home.

Actual Tainan pictures will be posted in a few days.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Never Far From Home


It's always good to have a familiar site from home.  I discovered this Subway restaurant by accident while exploring the neighborhood around my hotel.  Since then, I've seen numerous McDonalds (of course), a TGI Fridays, and a Ponderosa Steak House.  Burger King doesn't seem to do very well in Asia so I haven't seen any of those.

Don't be confused by the Japanese writing next to the Subway.  Japanese businesses are everywhere in Taiwan.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tainan, Taiwan

I'll be posting photos of my most recent trip to Tainan later in the week.  I enjoyed the trip immensely and hope to return.  FYI, Tainan was the old capital of Taiwan for almost 200 years.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Xinshe Mushrooms


 
 
After touring the Summit Resort, we visited this facility which cultivates and sells mushrooms.  The facility is located in 'Xinshe,' a town not far from Taichung.  All tourists are allowed to pick mushrooms from the soil and purchase what they've picked at the counter.  You can also buy prepackaged mushrooms with an amazing variety from which to choose.  The best part for me was meeting the owner.  He seemed very interested in talking to me as there aren't many Americans who travel through these parts.  Anyway, he invited us for tea and gave us posters depicting different types of mushrooms before we left.  I promised to come back and visit soon!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Driving in Taiwan

I've been driving in Taiwan about a month and am starting to become acclimated to it.  The drivers aren't as bad as advertised, it's just there are too many cars (and motorbikes) for too small an area.  I have to admit, it was quite intimidating at first but I've learned the tendencies of the drivers--there are rules, you just have to know them. 

They say the first 10 combat missions for a fighter pilot are crucial and s/he will likely survive the war if they get through those.  I believe it's the same for foreign drivers during their first month of navigating the roads here.  At least, I hope so!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summit Resort8


 
 
Another picture of the waterfall and an amazing spider web near the former.  Click on bottom picture to view it better.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summit Resort7


I really like this photo--it turned out really well.  Please click on it so you can see the snails' shells up close.

Another New Experience

Yesterday, I got a haircut.  Now, this could have been traumatic what with the language barrier and not knowing the system here in Taiwan.  However, my hotel called around and found a place with some English speakers on staff so I felt I could control the situation somewhat. 

I showed up for the haircut at 1330 as previously scheduled, a reservation is required in Taiwan for all sessions.  I was welcomed appropriately without all the 'fanfare' that used to take place in another Asian country where I spent significant time in the past.  Anyway, I was immediately taken to a room where I was given a shampoo/scalp massage for approximately 30 minutes.  This was relaxing and I can guarantee my scalp was clean after all that!  The stylist then took charge and begin cutting while consulting with me every step of the way.  In the end, it was one of the best haircuts I've ever had.

And, of course, contrary to Taiwanese custom, I gave a tip.  For everything, I had to pay the equivalent of 30 dollars--a little more than I'd normally pay in the US for a basic haircut and a bad attitude.  I won't try to estimate what the equivalent service would cost back home because I don't think you could get the equivalent service there!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Different But Easy

I learned something new today.  Up until now, parking has been free for me in the three places to which I primarily drive.  I live in a hotel and can park in the basement below it for free.  I need only take the token I received from the parking booth and have it scanned by hotel staff.  At work, of course, parking is also free and very convenient.  Finally, I often go to Carrefour to stock up on food products and the parking is free as well--all you have to do is show your purchase receipt on the way out. 

So, what did I learn?  Well, I met a friend for lunch and had to park on the street in front of the restaurant.  When we exited, I saw a piece of paper on my windshield that looked like a parking ticket.  Before I could panic, my friend told me it was just a parking bill indicating how much I owed for the parking.  He told me I could take it to any 7-11 and pay it in person.  Apparently, they scan it and it's paid electronically after they've received the cash from you.  Different from the US but very easy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tipping in Taiwan

Long story short, it doesn't exist for the most part.  I visited TGI Friday's here in Taichung last weekend and was amazed by the diligence of the staff.  From the time I entered the restaurant, they were completely professional--probably the best service I've ever received in any establishment.  Although a service fee is included in the price, I left a tip anyway (which probably confused the waitress who saw it on the table).  Service like that deserves to be rewarded.

I wish staff in America had the same attitude as the aformentioned do.  I also wish the tip was included in the price.  Well, I guess it is at some of the better restaurants but the servers still expect a little extra from the customers regardless of the level of service.  If you don't ante up, you risk a confrontation in front of everyone.  I've had a few of those, not at restaurants, but in situations where I didn't realize a tip was required.  A bus service from the airport and the Best Buy employees who mounted my TV on the wall come to mind.  For the latter, I would have thought the $150 charge would cover everything but I guess I was wrong.

I wish anti-tipping clubs would form in the US.  Groups could go together to restaurants and other businesses and refuse to tip for bad service or when tipping should not be necessary.  They would have strength in numbers and be able to challenge the entitlement mentality there.

Summit Resort6


 
 
 
I wish the manor in the first picture had been more visible but the trees are nice, too.
 
This is odd.  Blogger won't upload pics directly from my computer but forces me to load them onto Picasa and then transfer them to this blog.  I wonder if that's intentional in order to get me to use their photo-sharing site?