My Chinese lessons with Mr. Hung, the security guard downstairs are going great. He helps me everyday with my lessons and I get to alleviate some of his boredom during the day. I met Jasmine today, a lady with two kids who are half Asian and half Caucasian. Her husband is a techy guy who also happens to be a Morman, so he is fluent in Chinese because he did his mission in Taiwan. I also helped Roger, a white guy working for Pressco, a tool maker for food and beverage packaging companies, jump his car. He lives on the 17th floor of our building and he’s here maybe 100 days out of the year, the rest of the time, he’s traveling all around Asia. He owned a beat up old Peugeot. This afternoon I drove (!) to the Lakeshore hotel and attended the Mid-Autumn festival of the International School.

Ms. Liu was very busy today, no time to talk with me. She’s managing three house moves this weekend. Lot’s of phone calls to make and lots of things to arrange. Dad got on Yahoo! Messenger today, that’s pretty funny. Watched a lot of Chinese children’s television. Also met Droopy’s mother, Sue.

Today is Tu-Di-Ma’s birthday, so there is a big party going on in the temple behind our apartment complex. Today I saw a puppet show, but I didn’t understand it at all because it was all in Taiwanese. We went out to dinner with Johannes tonight at the Japanese BBQ place. Vincie was a squirm-meister tonight.

Ran into Kay Dee at the rt mart today, we had lunch at mcdonalds and chatted about how things were going for both of us. I saw the mayor of Hsin-Chu. He was outside our apartment where a new highway has opened. It has only been open for two days, and there has already been an accident. He was discussing what should be done about it with a TV camera crew. I watched the local news, but I didn’t see myself.

Vince got his 6 month shots today. What a big boy! It was my first medical experience in Taiwan. I thought I was going to be able to avoid seeing Vince getting his shots, but I ended up holding his leg in place. Jeremy did the biggest job by holding him in his lap and his arms. The doc was very nice. No more shots until 9 months!

We had lunch with a couple, Erdam and Eloina, who work at Infinion, the third company associated with AMD and UMC. The have a cute 10 month old, Victoria. They are an interesting family, Elonia is Brazilian and Erdam is Turkish and German. So Victoria will have to learn: English, Turkish, German, Porteguese and now Chinese. We ate at a Japanese retaurant in the Science Park as they are staying at the Lakeshore Hotel. Lunch we really good and the kids had fun playing around each other. Vince hit his head against a wood railing and got his first real “goose egg” on his head. Then we drove around and found the Orange Mart and bought some baking powder and baking soda. They are impossible to find around here. I made some banana bread from some over-ripe bananas I had. Jeremy installed speakers from the computer in the dining room, so we listened to Car Talk while we ate dinner.

We celebrated my 30th birthday by driving into Taipei and going to the National Palace Museum. Man Fai came with us. We planned to leave at 8:30 am and got to the gate of the museum by 10:30 am. We had a snack at their tea house and went through the 2nd and 3rd floors. The creepiest thing I saw was in the Buddhist exhibit where they had taken monk’s skulls and cut off the top part where the brain is housed and turned it upside down, lined it with gold and precious stones and turned it into a bowl. Bleech! Jeremy and I were running out of steam quickly and Man Fai wanted to see the rest of the museum, so after lunch, Jeremy and I took a tour of a nearby park while Man Fai toured the bronze section. We fed fish and took a nap. Then we decided to head to the paper museum downtown, but traffic was so bad we abandoned that idea and headed home. We came back to Hsinchu and Jeremy did his first set of illegal parking/driving moves to buy me a birthday cake and some buns for dinner.

Went exercising today at the spa, ran about 2.5 kilometers, not a bad start. I spent the afternoon with Yvonne, the expat coordinator for AMD, and George, our driver, and pretended not to know Chinese when we were filling out our visa extension applications. A bit frustrating when they are talking about you and they think you don’t understand but you really do and they are saying mildly preturbing things about you. Then I spent the bulk of the afternoon making scallion pancakes from scratch! I even got the two kinds of flour they recommended, cake and all purpose. They came out with just the right texture, but needed a bit more salt. They were perfect with the stir fried beef that we made, the juice from the beef and the crunchiness of the scallion pancakes were good together. I prepped all the ingredients and Jeremy came home and did all the actually stove work.