Friday, May 31, 2013

Snazzy Suspenders/体を張っているテレビホスト/擺出的主持人

I don't really watch TV here so much as I turn it on and half-listen to it while I do other things, but the other day, my eye was caught by this talk show host and his snazzy suspenders.  I don't know anything about the guy, and for all I know he's the incredibly offensive Taiwanese equivalent to Rush Limbaugh, (or, hey, maybe he's a really cool guy!) but whatever the case, I couldn't resist taking a picture of him.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bugs are Cool/虫は面白いなぁ/蟲很棒

I've been hearing cicadas in the trees recently.  It's only May, but summer's here already.  Tainan's weather can be summed up in one word: HOT.  To cool off, I went out to eat with some friends the other day.  There was this neat bug that landed on our table for a bit and said "hi".

Monday, May 27, 2013


Just about everyone in Taiwan gambles, even if they never buy a lottery ticket or go to a casino even once.  Why?  Thanks to the receipt lottery.  What is a receipt lottery?  Well, take a look at the two receipts below.  Do you see the 8-digit numbers near the tops?  Those numbers are for a lottery drawing.  (Neither of these receipts is a winner.  Worthless!)
On every odd month, around the 25th, they have a drawing for the two previous months.  If you have saved all of your receipts from the past two months, then you can check online and see if any of the numbers match up with the numbers on your receipts.  Like most lotteries, there are lesser prizes for only getting, say, the last three digits, as opposed to the last 5, or even getting all of them matched perfectly.
I heard that the reason the Taiwanese government instituted this lottery was to encourage retailers to issue receipts, thereby making them more compliant in collecting sales tax.  A lot of small retailers here don't bother issuing receipts, and as a result can fairly easily skim on their sales tax payments.  The idea is that by having a lottery, then customers will want receipts and ask the stores they patronize to issue them.  This way more stores will start to issue receipts.  (It's a carrot approach, versus the stick approach of just seeking out and fining retailers who don't issue receipts, which they may or may not do as well, I don't know.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cutest Train Station? Or Just Most Adorable?/保安駅、台湾のもっとも可愛い駅舎

Ok, I'll be honest, it's not like I've been all over Taiwan and seen just about every train station there is to see, so I don't really know that this station, Bao'an, is the cutest in all of Taiwan, but it's a pretty cute, local station, and in all likelihood the cutest in the Tainan area.  Just look at it!  Judging from its style, it appears to have built during the Japanese period, and I was able to confirm that after some very rudimentary research.  (1 1/2 minutes on Google.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spider in the Classroom!/蜘蛛が教室に出没する!/教室有蜘蛛!

The other day, upon arriving at the classroom, I was greeted by a jumping spider on one of the desks.
Oh no!  Panic!  Spider!
Actually, my reaction was to take out my camera and try to get some photos, no small feat considering the fact that jumping spiders really do live up to their names, especially when a human-sized creature is chasing them around the classroom.  (I'm sorry, spider, I didn't mean to scare you.)

A spider and some jerk's gum.

Yeah!  Spiders are cool!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sand Sculptures/砂の彫刻品/沙子的雕像

I went to Masago last Saturday (11th) to see a sand sculpture exhibition they were having there.  Masago is in the northern part of Tainan, about an hour away from the central city.

I thought this kid's umbrella was adorable.

 Watch out, dude!

 The sculpture below is themed after the movie "Life of Pi".

 And here's the director, Ang Lee, making an appearance.  Ang is Taiwanese, so the success of "Life of Pi" was especially celebrated here.
This octopus was one of my favorites.

Unfortunately, it rained a bunch, so we didn't really see much more than this.  Still, pretty neat!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rainy Season?/梅雨?

A dentist's office in Tainan.

It seems like we may have finally hit the rainy season here.  It seems like we've had more and more rainy days recently, and it is about the right time of year for it.  (Taiwan usually has its rainy season from May to June.)  The rainy season is something that affects most of East Asia, but it hits Taiwan and Okinawa earlier than it hits mainland Japan.  Also, I just thought I'd note that it's already hitting the high 80's during the day here.  As far as I'm concerned, it's summer already.

Monday, May 13, 2013


So I was looking through some of the photos on my computer, and I realized I hadn't ever posted the photos from my trip to Sitou a couple of months back.  Oops.  Well, here they are.  Sitou is a park up in the mountains in Nantou prefecture.  It's one of the more accessible and heavily trailed parks, so it's pretty popular and busy on the weekends.  If you're looking for solitude, it's not a great place to go, but it is quite beautiful, and people who want to do casual walking rather than serious hiking will be please with what it has to offer.
 On the way up to the park, there's a local elementary school.  The school has a design much like an old Japanese school.  I wasn't clear on whether or not this design actually dates back to the Japanese period or not, but either way, it's a pretty campus.

 Not only is the school very Japanese-looking, but there were even pink flowers in bloom when we got there.  They remind me of sakura, and maybe they are sakura, what do I know?

 As you can see, a lot of tourists stop by the school just to see it.


 The sign on top has a monster who is the mascot of the theme park at the entrance to the nature reserve.

 And here we are at the Japanese monster theme park at Sitou.  The theme park is at the entrance to the actual park area, so if you have bratty kids who don't appreciate the wonders of the natural world, you can probably just drop them off here where they can play with the monsters.
 And here we are in the park.  Like most highland areas of Taiwan, there is a lot of rain here, so everything is very green.  The climate is also a bit cooler than the coastal areas, so the forest looks more like one you'd see in an area of higher latitude.
 Some parts of the park are just trails through the woods, some are paved roads, and there are also some areas with manmade structures like this bridge.  Like I said, it's not an isolated, natural area that you have to hike to, so it's much more accessible than most mountain areas.

 There were a bunch of colorful birds hanging out here.

 One of the inns in the park.  This one was named "Bamboo House" and was very pretty from this angle.  However, we later saw it from the other side and realized that it was just a concrete structure with bamboo affixed to the outside (and only to the front side at that).  Originally we thought it was an actual bamboo structure.  *Sigh*  Broken dreams.

One of the bridges in the park.
I'm not sure why I don't have more photos from this trip, but that's it.