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Tag: Táibĕi

Last night, I went to The Beer Factory for the first time. It’s near the intersection of Bādé lù and Jiànguó nánlù. The place was huge, there was good food, and lots of cheap beer. The only downside is that it was all Taiwan Beer. I guess it’s kind of hard to fault them for that, since it’s their factory after all. But, still.
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Back when I lived in Guīshān, I used to go to McDonald’s fairly often. Barring convenience stores, it was the only place close enough and quick enough that I could get dinner between classes. Thankfully, in Táibĕi, there are many many more options. Right after moving back here, I made it a point to avoid the place. I usually go to Subway now, but there are also quite a few local fast food places within a two minute walk. When I finally did go back to McDonald’s, I was poorly prepared for the scene that awaited me: continue reading…

Cross posted from Toshuo Diet
After a late night of walking all over this wonderful city, beer can in hand and replacing my drink at a convenience store each time it ran out, I couldn’t stay asleep this morning. So, I got up at 9AM. Considering that I’m a self-avowed night owl, getting up at 9AM is pretty amazing. I bought a Mr. Brown Coffee, and a liter of water and hit the gym!
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Since my trip to the mainland, I’ve been mulling over my impressions of Shanghai and Beijing, and how they compare to the closest thing to a big city Taiwan has- Taibei. Before my vacation, I had a really distorted view of what the mainland was like. Living in Taiwan, I haven’t really had access to much mainland media, and everything in the papers here is pretty negative. Anyway, this is what saw in Beijing: continue reading…

Since my trip to the mainland, I’ve been mulling over my impressions of Shanghai and Beijing, and how they compare to the closest thing to a big city Taiwan has- Taibei. Before my vacation, I had a really distorted view of what the mainland was like. Living in Taiwan, I haven’t really had access to much mainland media, and everything in the papers here is pretty negative. Anyway, this is what saw in Shanghai: continue reading…

Get a grip!

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).

Today was a day that only comes once every few years. I was so absent minded that I managed to make Martin seem like some sort of organization and efficiency guru. Considering the lady who runs the local zăo cān diàn by the MRT said, “啊, 馬丁! 那個很糊塗的那個老外.認識!” when I asked if she’d met him, it’s saying a lot.

Martin’s been low on fridge space and I had an extra one here, so he and Rika came up to my place to pick it up. Being the clever guy that I was, I neglected to check my long unused fridge. Instead, I cleaned up my apartment so as not to offend Rika’s Japanese sensibilities too badly. When they showed up, their cab driver was waiting downstairs and they were in a bit of a hurry. In an impressive and manly display of strength, I reached across the TV sitting in front of it, and lifted the fridge up and over it… dumping nasty water that had been shut inside for months all over myself. With little choice, I grabbed a towel to mop up the floor as quickly as possible, handed the fridge off to Martin, washed off my feet and lower legs, changed clothes really quickly, put on my sandals and backpack, grabbed my shoes and socks and ran out the door. I figured I could just let my feet dry in the cab on the way into Táibĕi.

After getting into the city, we had to carry the fridge across the street and up seven floors of stairs. Rika pointed out that I’d forgotten my shoes in the cab. Doh! Well, it was about time to buy some new shoes anyway, so we headed up to Shilin night-market. It’s so huge that it’s also open during the day, and it’s got the only store I know of that sells a decent selection of shoes in my size. I got a pretty good pair for only $1500台幣, not too bad. Next on our agenda was Costco. There, nothing too disastrous happened and we got some great food! It’s been a year since I went and I love that place! I got all kinds of stuff you can’t buy in the town where I live, like rugged whole-wheat bread, a block of pepper-jack cheese, etc…

We got back to Martin’s place, unpacked all the stuff and then I had to take off, since had plans to meet up with Daniel at the train station at 8:00. Martin kindly lent me an umbrella, and I was off! It was pretty tight, but I managed to get there by 8:01. Daniel wasn’t there yet, so I just hung out in front of the California Fitness center and waited… until I remembered that our plans were for 9:00, not 8:15. Sigh… it’s just been one of those days. There was a neat mall behind the gym, so I figured I ought to seize the chance to check it out.

Since there aren’t any malls in the town where I live, it was pretty nice to browse around. Daniel showed up around 8:45, so the wait wasn’t too bad. We decided on seafood and drinks and so we headed into the MRT and were off! But, I forgot the umbrella Martin lent me. Geez I’m glad it was a Sunday.

Last night, after work, I caught a bus back into Táibĕi and met up with a bunch of my old Mòdàwèi buddies for dinner. Martin, his girlfriend Rika, Ariel, and Mike W. were all there. Originally, we were going to eat at Alley Cats, but it was full. That kinda bummed me out since there’s nowhere in Guīshān I can get decent pizzas, calzones, or that sort of food. It turned out alright, though. We ate next door at an awesome Sìchuān restaurant. Sadly, I can’t get that kind of food in Guīshān, either.

After that, we went to a movie theater (another amenity Guīshān lacks), and met up with James, Jesse and Emily. We saw Inside Man, with Denzel Washington. It was pretty good! After that, James and I managed to get into Deluxe with out cover, and met up with Caskey, Sharon and her Polish buddy who’s a grad student in Taiwan. All in all, good times were had by all. I’ve got to say, I’ve never had a cooler group of co-workers anywhere. MDW guys rock.

I’ve been posting a bit on a great new Taiwan podcasting blog, Wan An Taipei. First off, let me say it’s got the potential to be a great blog, and that JT’s English pronunciation is good enough that I couldn’t tell he was Taiwanese through the first half of his podcast that I listened too. One thing that struck me as odd though, was the way he said 晚安 and then “Taipei” right together. I’ve seen the handouts at the airports saying to pronounce it “tie-bay”. I know tons of foreigners ignore those. Still, it sounded weird to hear a Chinese guy to pronounce a Chinese name in the middle of a Chinese sentence based on a messed up romanization of said Chinese word. To me it was kind of like and English speaker pronouncing “tennis” as “tennie” the way a French person would, but doing so in the middle of an English sentence. Maybe it would be like this: “Let’s play tennie if it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” JT asked for feedback on his site, so I told him it sounded weird to me. Today, he posted a great question:

Recently there’s a question that really intrigues me. Why is Taipei not “Taibei”? It’s actually the first time that came across my mind.

I spent a while writing what is possibly the longest comment I’ve ever written on someone else’s blog. Then, I decided that if I’m interested enough in the topic to write so much, it might as well go on my blog. Here’s my comment in its entirety:

The reason is this: in the past, Taiwan used a method of romanization called Wade-Giles. Wade-Giles uses apostrophes to denote whether or not a sound is voiced. For example, “p” in pinyin is “p`” in Wade-Giles, while “b” is “p”. In a similar way, “k” in pinyin is “k`” in Wade-Giles, and “g” in pinyin is “k” in Wade-Giles.

Unfortunately, the Taiwanese government decided to use Wade-Giles WITHOUT the apostrophes. As a result, it became impossible to distinguish between voiced and unvoiced sounds. All p’s and b’s, were written as p’s; all k’s and g’s became k’s; and all t’s and d’s became t’s. Thus, all words that would be “taipei”, “taibei”, “daipei”, OR “daibei” in standard pinyin became “taipei” according to the ROC.

When I first moved to 臺北 (tái bĕi), all of the MRT stations used this horrible system. For example, 古亭 was written as “kuting”. From this, it was impossible for me to tell if those characters should be pronounced as “kuting”, “kuding”, “guting”, or “guding”. It turns out the third choice was the correct one (gŭ tíng).

I cannot even begin to explain how many difficulties I had asking people how to get to places back when I didn’t know many characters. Fortunately for everybody, the mayor of 臺北 (tái bĕi) actually listened when a lot of foreigners complained about this problem 3 years ago. Unlike most politicians who felt that romanization should be based on political agendas, he actually considered the needs of the people romanization was originally made for (non-Chinese speakers who can’t read hanzi).

Now, nearly all of the street signs (in Taibei) and MRT signs have been corrected and now use standard pinyin. The one biggest exception is the word “Taipei”. Since it has been a well known name for a long time, it is much harder to change its written form to match the way it is pronounced. Just think how long it took people to start writing “Beijing” instead of “Peking”. It may be just as long before “Taibei” starts appearing on street signs.

If any of you are interested in how to write words in Wade-Giles, there is conversion chart on Wikipedia.