Xin nian kuei leh! (Happy Lunar New Year!)

It’s New Year’s Day in Taichung.  Almost all of the shops and restaurants are closed.  The streets are empty, and the highways are crowded.  Most people have traveled to their parents and grandparents in the country to be together for the New Year holiday.  So we went for a walk.


We were fortunate in passing by this small shrine near our apartment when the lion dancers performed.  It was too loud for Luke.


Pretty soon the dancers were done, packed up, and off to the next temple.


Every temple and every religion (and there are any here) has their own New Year’s celebration.


We fed the fish.



Xin nian kuei leh!


Two Language Cross-Cultural Puns

We were out driving yesterday and ran across the sign for a small cafe.  It was 8 Na Na.

Get it?

The word for eight in Chinese is “ba”.

You need to know both Chinese and English for the cafe name to make sense.  Banana Cafe.

I love it.

Strawberries for Christmas

The strawberry season in Taiwan starts in December, just in time for Christmas.  Yesterday we took Christine and Joan’s suggestion and drove north to the strawberry fields.  We hopped on highway shield 3 (not flower 3 which is larger, nor squiggle 3 which is smaller – you get used to it) and drove an hour or so into lovely foothills.    The road was lined with orange trees (they are also in season now)


and wild poinsettia bushes


and cute (Taiwanese are very big on cute) giant strawberries,


and small, well-tended strawberry fields.  Dan stuffed his feet in the provided plastic boots and headed out to pick his own.




He got a little carried away.  We have plenty of strawberries now.  Fortunately they are pretty tasty.



We headed back home through the misty, jungle foothills.  Lovely day.


Three Markets

Our daughter and her boyfriend were visiting us recently (visitors! we had visitors!) so we took them to Keelung, one of our favorite places.

They had already visited us for a week then went to Thailand for a week to visit his sister and were stopping by for 24 hours on their way back to New York.  We had a lot to pack into 24 hours.

We picked them up from the airport and whisked them to the hotel. Their plane was late so we thought we had to skip the first market, but they were ready for an adventure.  First stop…Keelung Night Market.  Jaime was willing to try anything.


We nearly closed down the market at 1 am and staggered back to the hotel. We had a slow start the next morning. But there was time to buy a couple kites from the vendors outside the fish market.


Then it was into the fish market.  There is an aquarium recently opened in Keelung, but I don’t know how it can compete with the variety seen in this fish market.  The fish were so fresh that the market didn’t smell fishy at all.  And the colors!


After a little breakfast sashimi,


we took our guests along the coast and up the mountains to the old gold mining town of Jiufen.  Now it is primarily a tourist town.  The old street is fascinating. It’s filled with interesting stalls and shops.


Then it was time for a quick drive back to the airport and waving farewell to Laine and Jaime.


American Time

When we first arrived we heard the phrase, “I don’t have American time.”  It was confusing.  Aren’t Americans always rushing someplace?  Isn’t our life in Taiwan just a little bit slower?

But our Chinese teacher finally clued us in.  American time is leisure time.  American time is time to read and follow Facebook and hang out.

American time is time to not work.

The Taiwanese work. They work hard. They work long hours.  The students go to school, and then cram school, and then do their homework before getting not nearly enough sleep.  The small business owners are always in their shops or stalls.

We have American time.

Scooping up the field mice…

It’s a beautiful morning.  Still warm, but comfortable now.  The sun is shining through the banana tree leaves, and the clouds are fluffy and gorgeous.


As we were driving home the other day through similar lovely weather, Dan mentioned that he had an idea for his Chinese name.  We have a friend who chose a name which translates to Handsome Dragon Dragon.  It raises some eyebrows, but he figures it’s his choice and that’s who he wants to be.

Dan wants his Chinese name to be Little Bunny Foo Foo.

(All together now…Little bunny foo foo, hopping through the forest…)