Betel nut beauties, or scantily clad women selling betel nut from a glass booth, are a common sight in Taiwan. The betel nut (or areca nut) is actually a seed from a type of palm tree. This stimulant produces a mild buzz when chewed, much like chewing tobacco. It is a common habit among taxi drivers and truck drivers.
When learning a foreign language, I'm certainly spoiled. I was educated in French from kindergarten (grade 0) through grade 10. The first six years of that education were in an immersion program. Half of a day of class was spoken and written entirely in French. My middle school years (grades 6-8) were at a bilingual school that tried to place multi-lingual teachers in common subjects, such as math and science.
That's how I found out that the Belgian way of counting is different than French, but only in certain sets of 10 (70,80,90.) The confusion about what to call dinner is another interesting difference.
Now, in Taiwan, I see that the playing field of language is even further mingled. The mainland Chinese way of saying 一 or 1 is pronounced differently in some cases than it is in Taiwan, but not in normal counting. I've even heard that 0 is pronounced differently. In Chinese, the number 二 (er4) or 2 is pronounced differently once you count above 100, or when you are askin…
In Taiwan, there's the official end of the new year (Chinese new year, that is) and its celebrated with a lot of fireworks, and attempts at seeing how many people can fit into a city bus.
Its also known as Lantern Festival.
From the questionable resource, wikipedia:
"In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, for only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones; in modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in shapes of animals."
We can now all be emperors. Along with all the bureaucratic nightmares that ensue.
"The Lantern Festival is also known as the Little New Year since it marks the end of the series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year."
As I was advised by our friend Jack, its the time after which you no longer say "新年快了" (happy new year, or for the literalists, new year happy.)
Of note, it is still acceptable to be happy after this time. "In some …
Its pointy, while girthy. Square, yet rectangular. It is also a huge rocket. There's a button in the bottom of the food court that you jump up and down on to make it launch. No joke.
It has mirrors to sun itself with.
It reminds you where you are.
It contains a non-functional sundial.
They prevent counterfeiting of tickets by changing the color of the actual building, not the one on the ticket.
The fine print isn't so much fine as it is in Chinese.
The elevator is a roller coaster
Which dumps you into space, so you can take satellite-grade photos of just how huge Taipei city is.
And to keep the building from falling over, a monkey, a dog and a cat have to survive in harmony with each other inside of this ball for at least a year at a time. Coincidentally, it is also the shock absorber for the entire building, exposed so that people can see what they're buying souvenirs of later.
Taipei 101 is marketing genius.
They will try to sell you things more expensive and smaller than an…
Cori and I enjoyed a lovely time in Thailand. We ventured to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket.
This trip has taught me many things:
1) Buddha, he is taller than you, even when he is not.
2) Thai people are impressed when you can eat the real "local" level of spice.
3) Always request a new credit card when the old one is shut down due to fraud. Always.
4) Do not believe a man who says he is an english teacher if he is hanging out on the street with a towel in the back of his shirt at 11am on a Thursday.
5) Just because a hotel has cleaners doesn't mean that they will follow their namesake.
6) Bangkok is hot.
7) All the hippies in California moved to Chiang Mai
8) Elephants make great gifts.
9) Bangkok is hot, but in the way Phoenix is hot if Phoenix was next to the Ohio river.
10) Would you like that fried? Of course you would.
11) Thai is a hard language to pick up once you start learning Chinese.
12) Just because a sign is in english doesn't mean its in english.
After sensory overload in Bangkok, we headed south to Phuket for a little rest, relaxation, and sun. We stayed at Indigo Pearl, a 5-star resort on one of the northern beaches. We quickly realized we had crossed over into a world of luxury and extravagance as soon as we climbed into the sleek, black, hotel van. Before the engine was even running, the hotel employee in the front passenger seat reached back to offer us a platter with two neatly rolled damp towels for us to clean our hands with. During our 10 minute ride to the resort, we were given bottles of water as the driver turned up soft jazz music. I couldn't help but turn to Dave and giggle as we pulled up to our destination.
The resort is stunning; every room is a work of art. The design concept, created by visionary landscape architect Bill Bensley, is based on Phucket's tin mining past. The architecture and design are meant to evoke a Thai factory from a century ago. This concept is carried out down to the most minute d…
Making our way to the revered Grand Palace wasn't an easy feat.
Coming from the Khao San area, we fought through the crowds of people, dodging back packers and street vendors with every step. Emerging out of the hippie jungle, we found ourselves on a busy street corner. I looked up and saw the Chedis in the distance, glistening in the sun like the Emerald Palace in the Wizard of Oz. "We're almost there!" I thought.
However, directly in front of us was the dizzying sight of traffic whizzing by us in various directions. The last thing I remember is Dave grabbing my hand, then my mind went blank.
Somehow we made it across the road safely. In the intense afternoon heat, we continued to walk down a dirty, shadeless sidewalk lined with people that appeared to be selling trash. Feeling parched, we stopped to buy a bottle of water which was stocked in an old freezer box. Finally, we approached the Palace.
The first gate we approached was guarded, and had a sign that said &quo…
Our first evening in Bangkok, we ate at Hemlock, a Thai restaurant just north of the Khao San area. With it's dim lighting and white linen table cloths, the restaurant felt intimate yet upscale.
The menu was extensive, offering standard Thai dishes as well as some unusual ones. Our food was delicious as well, yet the prices were mid range.
Perhaps the most memorable part of eating at Hemlock was the fantastic view we had looking out on to Th Phra Athit Road:
In our direct line of vision was the Anal Tour sign.
Of course we had our share of laughs and juvenile jokes while nibbling on lettuce wraps and sipping on masala tea, but we found the most amusement in watching others as they confronted this absurd sign.
Some people stopped dead in their tracks, while others merely glanced at the sign and chuckled.Others strolled by the sign nonchalantly, did a double-take, then quickly back pedaled while reaching for their cameras.
My favorite was a solo traveler who after spotting the si…