I went back to Táibĕi yesterday. As usual, I couldn’t resist hitting at least one night-market while I had the chance.

Shilin Nightmarket

After that, I headed over to Xiao Yu’s place for Daniel‘s birthday party. He turned 28, and it was a pretty fun group. The group was split pretty much in half between his foreign friends and his English students. One of the students played a trick on me and told me she was Japanese. She was pretty shocked when I just started talking to her in Japanese, but kept her composure well enough to say she’d moved to Taiwan when she was little and that her family spoke a regional dialect anyway. I asked where, and she said Kyoto. “Great!” I said, “My old roommate was from Kyoto!” I then tried some Kyotoben dialect on her and she gave up joke. I guess it was really bad luck that she tried it on the one western guy she’d ever met who actually had friends from Kyoto. It was amusing, though. Another guest was a cool British chef guy, who cooked all kinds of tasty stuff for the party. He actually has a work visa sponsoring him to work as a chef. I’ll bet that was tough.

Daniel, Brian and I

Most interesting of all is that I got to meet Brian Mathes. He’s been studying at the language school at Zhèngdà this year, and it turns out he and one of my best friends from college, Ryuta, became good friends there. Unfortunately Ryuta’s already graduated from CU with a Chinese major, left Taiwan and gotten a job in Osaka. I really, really regret not keeping in touch with more of my Japanese friends from college. Here’s a pic of Kazuto and Ryuta hanging out in my dorm room five years ago:

Kazuto and Ryuta

It sounds like life as a language student is pretty good at Zhèngdà. Brian said that he started on the CIEE program, which charges something like $5000USD per quarter. He was put in the exact same classes as people who sign up directly through the school, and they only paid about $700USD per quarter. Being the bright guy that he is, he switched out of CIEE at his first opportunity. From what Brian and others have told me, Zhèngdà has small classes classes and offers better instruction than Shīdà or Táidà (except for ICLP).