Casey here: Yesterday we went on a shopping excursion that included $1.00 wrist watches, delicious boxed cakes, window shopping for ukuleles, and shoes. I’ve needed shoes for a wedding that I’m a bridesmaid in later this month and accidentally bought three more pairs as well just because. In any case all of the shoes came in boxes, and as we were leaving for dinner this happened:
Looie was very graceful about trying to get into this tiny box while we all watched and laughed. It’s hard to tell from this angle how much he really doesn’t fit. Here’s what he looks like with an aerial shot:
We left him like that and went off to Safe and Save for small poorly worded notebooks (my favorite is a composition book for school titled: Go Ahead And Guessing), electric fly swatters, and groceries.
We ate at the teppanyake restaurant across the road. I would have pictures for you except that I was so enthralled with the whole process that the camera didn’t come out at all. I know Betsy has mentioned this before- but it is fast, delicious, fascinating, and cheap. I spent most of dinner with my elbows on the table and my chin propped up on my hands, staring at the grill and trying to figure out what you would have to modify in order to start a chain of these in America. I mean, in between stuffing my face with delicious, spicy food.
We came back tired and happy to be greeted by this:
Please note the baleful stare and cardboard destruction. Also, the fact that Cricket fits much more readily into the shoe box than Looie did.
My grandmother Ruthe and I (Betsy’s daughter Casey) are visiting Betsy and Dan in Taichung for the next two weeks. We traveled from Seattle through Tokyo and arrived Wednesday night after 11pm. We all stayed up chatting for a bit before unceremoniously collapsing.
If you are ever travelling through Asian airports, may I recommend a travel partner who could use a wheel chair? Attendants took us straight to our gate when we couldn’t read the language, we had a line entirely to ourselves to get through passport control, and were let on to the planes first. It was a more pleasant and comfortable 17 hour journey than I expected. (Especially the first leg where we were surprised to find ourselves in the Economy Plus section. It’s amazing how much of a difference 3″ of additional leg room make to your mood…)
Things my parents have neglected to mention so far in this blog:
* The air is sweet smelling. Actively so. It’s not yet to cloying, but I could see how it could get there. Flowers? Exhaust? Incense? Garbage? A combination of all of the above? I don’t know.
* Storefront temples! Temples! In Storefronts! I don’t know why this amazes me, but I am tickled just the same.
* One of their showers has a Winnie the Poo head where the water shoots out of his mouth. It’s bizarre. (I gather they’ve not tried it yet.)
* The carrots are GINORMOUS. Here, I took a picture:
Things my parents have mentioned that I can now corroborate:
* The vegetable ladies are the nicest
* The mountains where AST is nestled are gorgeous (I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them)
* Looie and Cricket are the most photogenic cats imaginable. Here, I took a picture:
Derrick loves West Side Story so much that he came to our place for movie night even though he’s very allergic to cats. Alas, the best of intentions and allergy medication just wasn’t enough and he couldn’t stay past “I Feel Pretty”.
Vacuum cleaners were on sale at Save and Safe today. Anything that can keep the dust and cat fur under control seemed like a really good idea. The best choice in the store? The special edition Hello Kitty Dirt Devil.
Dan may have been influenced by the Exorcist parody commercial that was playing nearby. Keep in mind when you watch this that Christianity is a minority religion here. How many in the Taichung Save and Safe understand the religious references in this clip?
p.s. we tried the vacuum and it’s great! Just what we needed when the cats are shedding.
We were complacent. We thought we had this living in Taiwan thing nailed. Turns out what we had nailed was just going around our small circuit of familiar places.
Exploring new parts of Taiwan was more tiring than we thought it would be. Everywhere we went we had to figure out what was a hotel and what the road signs said and where to eat. There are fewer national chains here than in the US so there was less that looked familiar. We couldn’t recognize the signs that mean “good food here.” Once we got to the east coast, there was very little catering to westerners. There were fewer people who were willing to try out their English.
We hadn’t fully realized how easy Taichung and the school made it for us. Every day on the road was a new challenge in figuring out where to get what we needed – food, lodging, tea. Some of that is exciting and fascinating. Too much is exhausting.
This road trip was intended as a full circle of the island. But when we got close to Taichung we made a beeline for home. Ostensibly this was to check on the cats. In reality, it was an excuse to crash on our own bed and eat our own food for a day or two.
Yesterday we napped with the cats all day long, then ate spaghetti and watched American TV (Big Bang Theory). Today we ate at the most American restaurant we know (Early Bird Diner) and shopped at Costco. I’m hoping the culture shock is out of our systems now. We plan some day trips in the next couple of days and then will hit the road to explore the northeast coast before school starts again.
Every day we venture outside our familiar path we are getting a little more comfortable with the new and different world we live in. But sometimes, we need to step back and regroup before we venture out again.
Looie is getting much more comfortable with us. Here he’s clearly had too much computer time.
The weather has been practically perfect here lately – just the right temperature and sunny. The cats have enjoyed it as well. Here’s Cricket basking in the sun.
It’s getting colder here. The tile floor in the unheated apartment is particularly chilly. Looie and Cricket are therefore very interested in the quilt my mother made for us. I had Mom back the quilt with flannel so it’s nice and cozy. Looie likes to fold the quilt back and sit on the flannel side. Cricket prefers burrowing underneath. (It’s important to check carefully before sitting on the quilt. She’s hard to see when she’s under the covers.) I don’t know if it’s because of the cold apartment or their bonding to each other, but they really like to curl up together to sleep.