Friday, June 18, 2010

The Taiwan Trip from like a year ago...

Okay, obviously I'm not being serious for people who lack sarcasm radar. Regardless, it has been 2 months since we've returned from Taiwan and I have not even looked in the direction of this blog for reasons regarding things like procrastination and forgetting about it...

On an embarressing note, I find myself obsessed with California Girls song by Katy Perry. It's similar to that obsession I had about Ke$ha's Blah Blah Blah about three months ago. Don't make fun of me. I like Candyland. And whip cream.

Anyway click below to read about the time in Taiwan - the wedding reception Taiwan style has it's own post that'll I'll put up separately with a couple of photo's. Unfortunately it's not a complete documenting on our days over there since it was a long time and I was getting tired and what we were doing was repetitive. But you'll get the gist of it!

No pictures yet, will add those later.


Fritz and I landed in Tokyo, Japan at the Narita airport. We got completely turned around trying to head to the gate of our connecting flight and wound up in the south wing when we were supposed to be in the north wing. Luckily, the flight was just beginning to board when we finally figured out where we were supposed to be. The people working at the counter in the south could only point us toward the north – they had no idea how to find out what gate number we were at even with the ticket we had in our hand. It was a little frustrating and tiring running from one end of the airport (twice!) but we got there okay.

I’m finding flying to start to be painful. My legs do not like sitting down and not moving for hours on end. I didn’t want to sleep since I was afraid I’d stay awake all night once we landed in Taiwan, but at some point I did fall asleep. We landed around 9:00pm and got out of the airport in Taipei by about 10:30. Holly and her husband Stanley picked us up. We stopped at a 7-11 (hugely popular around here) and got milk tea (yum!) then went right home!

At home, Jessica and Monica (Fritz’s nieces, Holly’s children) were there. Rather than hide from me like last time, they were all smiles and actually walking near me without hiding behind the nearest familiar face. But they don’t speak any English, so I felt silly saying anything to them. I just smiled and did my best to be friendly with them – language is a frustrating barrier with those you want to get closer with!

Everyone was talking in Chinese, no one said much to me other than hello. Fritz was trying on jackets and they were arguing as a family which ones he would wear.

It’s very hot in Taiwan and humid. It’s more the humidity than anything. You could practically swim in the air. I took a shower and then went to bed! End of day 0 of Taiwan.


Fritz and I woke up at 4:30am wide awake. After lazing around trying to fall back asleep, we finally got up and walked down to one of our favorite breakfast places a few blocks down from where his parents live. The nice thing about being out 5 in the morning is there’s little traffic (which is loud) however, the winds have yet to pick up, so the smells of the city mixed with country (manure) is thick and heavy in the air. Once we got there all was forgotten in terms of smells, since all we could smell was our upcoming breakfast.

We ordered an egg pancake with chive onions, steamed buns, and a rice ball each. Fritz’s was a salty rice ball mine was sweet – the names are meant to be self-explanatory. While ordering, the lady said I was very pretty (so nice) and asked if Fritz and I were classmates. Fritz responded that I was his wife, in which she asked when we got married.

“We’re not married yet, we will be getting married in 3 days,” Fritz explained.

“Oh! Congratulations and happy marriage!” The lady behind the counter said with a big smile.

As we sat down and ate, she brought us over a white carrot cake – it’s not like a cake, it’s more like a pancake and almost tastes like a potato. It was very good, we ate everything except for my sweet roll which I still have half of downstairs and might go get now that I’m thinking about it.

To drink we got the soy milk and rice milk. Soy milk is by far the best tasting, rice milk is nice, but it is very thick – almost shake-like and felt like I was drinking a meal in itself.

2:00 PM

Finally got a chance to get away and type. I am so full right now I feel ready to burst! Fritz, David, Christina, and I went out to what they described to me as a “department store.” My impression was something along the lines of Macy’s or even JC Penny, but in reality it’s more like a Walmart Supercenter. We drove into town and I got a chance to take some pictures of the area – it’s hard to take pics when you’re driving as fast as you do in those cars.

The parking structure was underground and separated into categories of animals. I don’t know which animal section we parked in, all I know is we were right next to the doors to the market. It has a flat escalator like walkway going up and down which people take their carts up to. To get a shopping cart you have to pay 10NT (coin) the cool thing is, once you return the cart you get your 10 NT back! We should do that in the US so we don’t have so many stupid shopping carts all over the place from kids being idiots and dragging them 5 miles away from the stores. Anyway, we went in with the goal to find me some nice heels to wear for the wedding.

There were two shoe sections, however, like Walmart and Meijers their fancy shoe collection was lacking in variety and quality. Not even Mama Ho found something she liked and I definitely didn’t find anything that didn’t scream tacky or cheap! So we just focused on grocery shopping. Fritz grabbed some boxers and a boxer brief which is superb seeing as the ones he have are nearly falling apart. The great thing is we only paid a ¼ the price for the same products!

We bought some ready to eat food at the meat section and some pastries at the bakery section of the store. Their pastries consist mostly of bread like desserts or almost mini-pizza like buns. They have sweet ones, regular ones, and all sorts of flavored ones. I couldn’t make a decision so I just let Fritz and Papa Ho choose. I spent my time wandering around and looking at the food they had displayed. There was not a lot of English translation available, so I could imagine this place would be frustrating for someone who cannot read the language or have some readily available to translate for them.

Papa Ho bought me a double pack of these tiny looking strawberries. He said they are very sweet – I don’t think he knew I’ve eaten strawberries before, but I’m not going to nitpick, I love strawberries! He grabbed that when I was really looking at the cut up pieces of pineapple that was right next to it. So he told me to get one of those too. I’ve only had the pineapple so far. I can only say it tastes different than the US pineapple I have. I want to say fresher, though not quite as juicy, but still very good. Papa Ho also bought us some Taiwan root beer, which I put in the fridge once we got home. I will probably try it later tonight.

In terms of trying new things, I’ve done really well not turning things down. I can’t help it but to revert to the idea that if it’s not something that would come out of my momma’s kitchen then I probably won’t eat it! However, I tried boiled chicken balls which weren’t bad. The texture of the skin is… delicate, as soon as you apply pressure with your teeth the membrane breaks away and you get this creamy, gooey-like paste that tastes… like chicken! But it’s a strange and weird sensation, while it tasted fine, I declined after my first. They say over here that it’s good for the men anyway – good to increase blood flow. I made Fritz finish them, haha!

Fritz picked out chicken hearts at the market which I’ve never had, but my dad used to eat them because I remember my mom picking out the liver and the heart especially for him. So I didn’t object as much to trying it. I found that if I don’t look at the food as I eat it, I have less of a mental battle of putting it into my mouth, chewing, and swallowing. Again, besides the slightly salty, sweet seasoning they cooked it in, tasted like chicken. Couldn’t even tell it was the heart. I ate about 3-4 of those, but left the majority for Fritz. Papa Ho also picked out these chicken legs which were the same old. They cook their chicken different over here, whatever sauce they use to marinate is either very soy flavored or soy with a hint of something sweet. In this case, it was sweet and the skin had almost a gelatin look to it. I’m not a fan of skin on most my meat anyway, but what I did try was fine. I’m used to my skin being crisp is all. The meat was fine, wasn’t a big fan of the flavor, but it was chicken and you can never go wrong with chicken (unless, in my case, it’s the balls haha).

Mama Ho got me guava juice, the red heart kind not the green which is fantastic. I already drank a whole box – which is probably why I feel so full. I haven’t been hydrating either, which I noticed as I was gulping down my first glass. I was so thirsty! So now that I’m better hydrated, fed, and sleepy I’m going to make sure we go grab a bottle water before we venture out later today.

Momma Ho made us lunch, which was a variety of food that I didn’t really recognize. I tried them all except for the salmon (too rich for me) and a pot of boiled veggies and some meat, I was already full from the sampling of the rest of the food and all the juice I drank, I decided it was time to stop. Everything was fine, they had a cabbage dish that made me think of my Nana’s sauerkraut and sausage, yum yum. We also eat everything with a small dish of rice, which made me think that rice is to Asians what potatoes are to us German-Irish folk. Ah potatoes.

Okay well no nap for me, Fritz said we’re heading out to get shoes so here we go!
8:30 PM

I am so exhausted I’m going to do my best to get out as much as I can before I pass out. We went out and bought shoes for my dress, Fritz and I went into the first shop I saw and picked out a pair. I wasn’t too impressed nor worried about getting the perfect ones and I felt the ones we did choose were okay. However, Papa Ho later deemed them “too cheap” and had us continue to search for ones more appropriately priced. Most of the shoes out here have a Mary Jane quality to them, it’s in fashion since it makes everyone seem more youthful and doll like… which is also in fashion. I find most of them to be cute, but much too childish for my tastes. I’m going to do my best to find a nice strappy pair tomorrow, since we’re going back out to get them tomorrow.

We then went and tried on dresses at this place that I’m going to borrow two out of seven for our actual reception.

April 23, 2010

Again around eight and I am exhausted, ready to drop dead! We didn’t do too much today but did a lot of walking. It was mostly my fault that we walked so much, I feel so much larger (ie chubbier) than the girls around me. I know I’ve put on some weight I definitely need to get rid of but yeesh. The dresses we tried on yesterday and then today, I felt so large! Mostly it was the butt and just around my chest area…. So I guess that means I have a big booty and big boobies for the locales around here.

Still, nearly all the dresses we chose were strapless – since the others made my shoulders stand out – and my arms need toning. And is it me or has my face put on a little weight? So strange how I never noticed these things until I’m forced to really look and criticize how I look. Fritz is feeling the same, always going on about how chubby he looks and needs to lose weight. He is a broad, muscular guy anyways – but most of the men here are skinny. Like string beans! Fritz is more determined now than ever to go home and lose weight for the wedding in July.

The food here is always fresh and mostly proteins. I think maybe 3 weeks of this diet may help us get all that nasty crap we ate back at home and give us a fresh start. I told Fritz that and we need to do our best to not revert back to our old habits.

Anyway, we went down to get Anna’s digital camera fixed – there is two sides of a street, blocks and blocks completely dedicated to cameras. Seriously, every store you passed would be a camera store. It went on for a while (blocks are really long in Taiwan, more like a strip) and apparently it branched out in several directions. Fritz bought a UV lens to protect his camera and Anna’s trip to get her camera fixed was unsuccessful. After she talked to someone on the phone about it, we walked down the street to eat at what Anna called a “Pasta” place. Generally there aren’t very many Western food places over here and those that are, usually are heavily changed to suit the diets of the locals.

It was just a little restaurant on the street next to others, it was technically pasta – by meaning you could get spaghetti noodles or rice. Of course Fritz and Anna chose rice and I didn’t really blame them. I’m not sure I’d want to risk getting noodles from a non-noodle specializing restaurant. Anna just got meat sauce with just rice while Fritz and I shared a chicken with pepper sauce with rice. Fritz wanted me to add that the skin was crispy which was very much appreciated.

Then we had to go pick up my two dresses, which instead of riding the subway we walked. It was a very long walk and in the end probably a bad choice, because when they got there they had gotten in a brand new batch of dresses and asked if I’d like to try them on. The lady that worked there helped me put them on and take them off, which I don’t mind being partially nude in front of a professional women, but it’s a lot more awkward when neither of you understand what the other is saying. On top of me being sweaty, ugh, I just need a towel to wipe myself down with. I was grossed out with myself. Anyway, we ended up choosing two of the new dresses over the old ones we had chosen the other day. I like these a lot better because they look new and not as used. In another way too, maybe I’ll look unique instead of recycling a dress someone has used before, hah!

After that we had to walk down and fit Fritz for tuxes for the photoshoot. He had to pick two which he got a white one and a black one. Of course the vests, ties, and better cut jackets cost extra other than what we paid for the package. And of course, it made Fritz look much better in those rather than the generic blobs they put you in. So we had to get the extras and shell out $100 (3,000NT) which sucked because to take the two dresses for the day it had already cost us $100. Luckily we get the money back when we return the dresses! Not for the tux though, anyway we barely managed to scrounge up the money and at that point everyone was very tired.

We met Fritz’s dad at the clinic where he had just finished up his hemodialysis and he drove us home in the car. Monica and Jessica were there, so cute! Unfortunately they don’t speak any English and I don’t speak any Chinese. So all I can do is smile at them and not really react to the questions they ask or things they say. It frustrates me and makes me sad because they are actually reaching out to me, but I can barely do anything but smile. I can’t even nod because they could be asking me a question that perhaps nodding isn’t the appropriate response. Fritz is always tired at this point and I have to stare at him imploringly to get him to translate. Most of the time they are just babbling at me, but this is the first time they are really talking to me! So I feel disappointed that I can do nothing for them and hope that maybe someone has explained to them that I simply don’t know what they are saying.

They are still trying though, so that is the beauty of children, haha. Well it gives me one more reason to get on top of working on my Chinese. I would like to communicate with them and also I would not feel so lost when I’m here. Fritz always tells me its exhausting to listen to Chinese and English when he’s over here, but I find I’ll listen to people speak Chinese and I’ll try to make sense of it. With my extremely limited vocabulary and  my phonetic language background – it can led to a very mentally tiring day. It’d be nice to be able to shut my brain down when I’m surrounded by people talking to me, but that’s not humanly possible.

There are lots of people here and I am surrounded by Fritz’s family, but I feel very alone. I think I have an idea of what a lot of foreign exchange students must feel when they arrive to America and are surrounded by these hundreds of voices with hundreds of different conversations going on. It’s almost overwhelming and the sound of someone speaking English is like a breath of fresh air. In some cases, finding anything written in English is the same. I can’t read any of the signs here and sometimes the English translation is so poor, I still don’t understand what message they are trying to convey.

Well I’m tired, I had to go up and eat some of that fruit they bought me because Jessica and Monica were sent down to fetch me. So now I’m very full and very tired, and I have to get up and do my hair and spend a whole day at a reception. Oh boy, we’ll see how this goes!


APRIL 25, 2010

The whole family went out to make sure the dresses we chose for the photoshoot were sized correctly. Which they were, except one which had somehow gotten ruined by the sizing they did for me – so we had to pick another one. I had Holly and Anna pick one for me which they picked a pretty pink one with a black bow underneath the bust. I really like it, though they said all of my dresses were the same style. They all are strapless. It’s the only ones Fritz, Papa Ho, and the lady that was dressing me kept picking for me. I wasn’t too concerned about it.

Then we went over to the night market where we just walked around and looked at items. The family moves too quickly for me or Fritz to comfortably shop – plus the criticize and study everything we might consider buying – and always say there’s somewhere else you can buy it for cheaper. Night market is pretty cheap and most these places they mention we have no idea where they are. So we just looked so next time we go we knew right where the items were at that we were interested in.

Fritz got sick to his stomach about halfway through. We got shaved ice with fruit flavors – the same place we stopped when we were here last February. I shared one with Momma Ho and mostly ate the fruit. I got to try stinky tofu –it was okay, tasted a lot like sauerkraut minus the sausage and tasty nifflies. Fritz and I stuck with the chicken bbq’d on a stick shops, the rest of the family kept stopping at the food stands to order bowls of food. However, I did get to try pig liver and kidney. The kidney was chewy which I liked better out of the two. They also got some sort of medicinal soup with a tbone of some meat in it. The broth was really tasty, with a hint of some sort of ginger flavor –when I asked what it was they just told me Chinese medicine.

APRIL 26, 2010

Fritz and I got up around 6 AM today and went to eat at the place we did the first day. They recognized us and asked when the honeymoon was, which Fritz replied with, “Maybe next year.” No free dishes this time, but that’s fine – we ordered the rolled egg with chives, the white carrot cake, and Fritz got some   sort of skinny, long dumpling as well. I got soy milk this time, a much better and tastier choice I think.

Since we planned on going out shopping that night, I told Fritz we should sleep most of the morning so we wouldn’t be so tired. So as soon as we got back we went back downstairs and mercifully slipped into sleep relatively easily. Unfortunately, not even 3 hours later, Fritz’s mom woke us up since she wanted to take Fritz to the bank to fix something with one of his accounts here.

Fritz was pretty upset, I was a little bit since that was the first deep, restful sleep I had managed to get at this point – but I wasn’t too worried about it. Fritz hasn’t been sleeping well though, he keeps waking up in the middle of the night and wandering around since he can’t force himself to sleep again. I usually don’t wake up much earlier than 5, and lately I’ve been forcing myself to stay in bed until at least 6:30 AM.

Anyway, I got a quick shower in before we had to go. Apparently something was wrong with Fritz’s stamp. In Taiwan, they do not trust written signatures so everyone has a stamp with their name on it done in a special font. That is what is used to sign any official papers – especially ones dealing with money. Whatever was wrong got fixed and then Fritz and I walked to a strip mall that we had visited before with his parents while Momma Ho went back home. Fritz and I walked a TON today and I can definitely feel it in my feet, even lying down. It was hot and humid as well and I chose to wore jeans since it had been cool that morning and everyone had told me it was going to rain. It cools down quickly when it rains and I get cold very easily. Wasn’t the case!

The strip mall opened at 12 and we were there about 45 minutes early. So we went and shared a meal at this restaurant above the mall with a slightly Western influence to it. The food, again, pretty in presentation but honestly bland for me. Fritz said that I told him a while ago that Americans use a ton of seasonings. Which is true, so when I mentioned it tasted bland, he reminded me of me explaining it to him and perhaps that’s why it seemed that way to me. He also said they didn’t use a lot of salt over here either.

When we got back out things were slowly starting to open. We walked down to a place that kind of looked like Gap called The Net. Everything was made much too small for a broad shouldered guy like Fritz. We then went to a more hipster looking store called Hang Ten – where we intended to buy jeans. When you buy jeans in Taiwan, they come pretty long, however, they will measure your leg length, take your chosen jeans to the back and fix them so they don’t drag. How awesome! Unfortunately, my broad hipped and big American self is on the larger size of these jeans – Taiwan is really making me self conscious of my weight – but I did find one pair that I liked. I am looking forward to wearing those in the future! Fritz also got a couple pair of nice button up shirts which he will use both the jeans and the shirts for the photoshoot! Yes! Clean jeans and he looks so good when he wears button ups, he thinks he looks to preppy to wear them regularly (and he always gets really obsessive over how big his belly is when he’s over here and talks down on himself a lot). I told him he looks good in those shirts no matter how big his belly is and to not worry about it – he’d need big shirts here anyway because of his manly, muscley shoulders.

After that we wandered around. Eventually we wound up in a book store, very Border’s like only not being Border’s. I found a scrapbooking sort of section where I grabbed some stamps and browsed the rest of the gift section – but couldn’t’ find much that I wanted. Since we only had enough money to buy our clothes and shoes for the photoshoot, we couldn’t get this cute solar powered cat statue I wanted (well we could’ve but we decided to play it safe) and vowed to come back!

Fritz made me walk way too far to go see his dad at the kidney dialysis clinic. I was complaining about how tired I was along the way. Fritz was nice about it though and didn’t really say much about my whining. After visiting his dad, we took the subway back to the night market.

Since we got there around 4:00 not every shop was open yet, but most the ones we needed (shoes) were and it wasn’t very crowded (good, hate crowds!). Fritz has been saying a lot that he wants me to wear converse with one of my dresses, so I caved since I figured why not (not really going to see the shoes unless we want to) plus they are a lot cheaper over here than in the states. We picked out a pair of pink ones for me and we couldn’t find any cheap ones in Fritz’s size or color. We ended up in another shoe store with some mimics that Fritz was going to buy – but his feet were too big! Bummer! He ended up picking these other shoes that kind of look like a tennis shoe form of loafers (which are usually leather) and we got a matching pair. Fritz said they were really comfy and he never suggests us having matching anything , so I agreed to it since I’m cheesy like that.

Fritz bought a shirt that had a shark on it (his favorite animal) that says Mr. Shark to go with his favorite shirt Mr. Taco. I bought a pocketwatch necklace for about $1.00  (~$30-$90 in the States) and we ate some more bbq chicken and then went home.

So I am tired and it is 8:00 again. Consistent days so far. Yeehaw. I miss the family at home and the kitty kats! And Tilwyn.

Think I’ll play some piano music and try and sleep now… 

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