paint all over my desk

I’ve been having fun with watercolors the past few days.  This is why I got a beat up desk with a Formica top.

ennui tree

camera boy


7-11 Adventures – Angry Birds and the Electric Bill

A few days ago we got what seemed to be the electric bill.  First step was to determine if this was an electric bill, if it was for us, and if it was accurate.  We were a little cautious since the last document we got from the phone company turned out to be advertising and not a bill at all.  Sunny translated for us – it was our electric bill.

We knew that bills are paid at 7-11 but didn’t really know the procedure.  First we stopped at the bank machine at our new bank (remember, this is a cash economy).  A few days ago a very nice woman at the bank showed us how to withdraw cash. It’s not that we haven’t used an ATM before, but it is easier if the prompts are in a language you can read.  Cash in hand (actually, zipped carefully in a front pocket), we ventured on to our nearest 7-11.

We also took along our sticker book  – kinda like S&H Green Stamps for those of you old enough to remember.  7-11 is offering Angry Birds mugs this month. We have been trying for weeks to get one of these.  Either we didn’t have enough stamps, or we had the wrong kind of stamps (for the fancy pen instead of the mugs) or they didn’t have any.  So frustrating.  We were determined to get an Angry Birds mug all our own.

We got in line at the 7-11 and watched the man in front of us pay his bill.  It’s so simple.  There are bar codes on the bills so the clerk just scans them in like any other purchase.  Hand over your cash and get back your bill stamped paid with the receipt attached.

Then we tried to get our mug. The clerk didn’t speak English so he ran to the back room to get his phone with the translator app.  That wasn’t doing it, so a nice young man in line spoke up.  His English was quite good.  We’ve had this happen at most stores. There is a certain age Taiwanese who has good English.  Older and younger are more reluctant to speak to us or don’t know the language.  Everyone here is very helpful.

We didn’t have enough stamps for our mug, but we could pay extra and buy one.  Or four.  Apparently if you buy one you have to order it (preorder was the term that sent the clerk for his phone app to translate).  And if we bought four mugs we would have enough stamps to get one for free.

In a month or so we should have five Angry Birds mugs of our own.

If we understood that properly.

Our favorite dumplings

We’ve been meaning for some time to introduce you to our favorite dumpling place. It’s two doors down from our apartment front door and quite wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that we have yet to get a picture of the meal.  Here’s what we got you today….

dumpling debris

We get the same thing every time – one bowl each of spicy wontons, an order of leek and pork dumplings, and an order of steamed soup dumplings (soup inside, not outside).  The past few times we also got pickled cucumbers and carrots. Today the freebie sides included lightly pickled greens and something that must have been daikon radish kim chee.  Yum.

So yummy that we haven’t been able to take a photo before devouring it all.

You’ll just have to visit to find out for yourself.

Collages and a little painting

I never really understood the term “mixed media.”  I don’t know why you would limit yourself to just one tool.  Isn’t everything mixed media?  So I’m not surprised that watercolors and photographs seeped into the collages.

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We have a sunset problem

And a cloud problem.

Every day I look up from my desk and see breathtaking clouds.  Then the sun moves a little lower in the sky and it becomes even more beautiful.  Then I call Dan in and look back out the window …. and it’s beyond words.

I have too many photos of sunsets and clouds.  It’s not like the sunsets are all the same, either.  I can’t stop taking photos out my office window.

Take a look and see what I mean.

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The Night Market

Taiwan is famous for its night markets.  There are at least five good sized ones in Taichung alone.  We knew that different markets were open different nights of the week but weren’t sure of the schedule.  This is where making friends with your doorman comes in handy.  We took our guidebook down to the front desk and asked which to go to. At first the doorman was reluctant to make a recommendation because a taxi would not get us close enough and he was trying to minimize the walking that I would have to do.  These markets are incredibly crowded.  Some of the streets are blocked off for pedestrians, but the market spills over into other streets where a few brave souls try to take their scooters, or even an SUV. It’s a lot like trying to drive along the street in front of the Pike Place Market.  Pedestrians have enough clout there to force the cars to a crawl.

night market crowd

We convinced the doorman that we did know what we were getting into and he sent us to the market near the university.  The place was hopping.  If I understood properly, this market is going every night of the week.

There are food vendors everywhere.  We tried little grilled sausages threaded on a skewer with slices of raw garlic (cooked by the heat of the still sizzling meat), mango and strawberry soft serve ice cream, and a bun stuffed with green pepper and beef and cooked in a charcoal fired contraption like a tandoori oven.  Lots of more street food to try next time we try this.

Dan eating

Taichung also has morning markets with very fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat (and I mean very fresh here), plus evening markets that add in plenty of prepared food to take home for dinner.  In addition there are breakfast food stands everywhere. You really don’t need to cook in this town if you don’t want to.

fruit stand

(the things in the foreground of this picture are stuffed, candied cherry tomatoes.