The big news for today is that I went swimming in the pool close to the nanny’s house. It’s always a bit awkward in the changing room because I’m just not used to the procedures and customs. It’s also weird because I can see all these signs that say, PLEASE DON’T something or other and I don’t know what it says. I had a nice 10 lap swim. I’m thinking of extending Vince’s time at the nanny’s for 3 hours a day.

Spoke today to Diane, a lady at the Carlton Spa and found out she is here for 3 years. She’s trying to get together a bunch of expat wives to do activities. Also spent an emotional lesson with Mr. Hung, he’s not feeling so well these days. Also talked to Olivia’s mother, who is struggling with taking care of Olivia who is refusing to go to school. Also went to the post office, everytime I go, there is a new procedure or a different price (last time the postcarts were 11 dollars, this time 13 dollars). I’m not sure what the deal is. Oh well, whatever. Big news is brewing at AMD. We will find out tomorrow. Leah has midterms tomorrow, we gave her a PEZ dispenser to cheer her on…

Today, I spent a long time talking to my family and then we had a *long* expedition. We went to Carrefour in ChuBei, then we tooled around HsinChu and went to the port. There were these beautiful, beautiful kite stands that were being blown by the gusting wind, there were many, many kites set up and I picked one that had a long, colorful dragon tail. We flew kites for a little while and then went downtown to look for eyeglasses for me. No luck. Then a nap and finally dinner at a little restaurant that Jeremy’s Chinese teacher recommended. Finally, we say a movie that’s a spoof on these old Chinese movies. Had moves from Pulp Fiction, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. So many jokes that I didn’t get…

This was the big 10-10 weekend in Taiwan, so we decided to go to the island of Kingman with Jeremy’s coworkers on a tour. We left Hsinchu Wed. night and got to the Smith’s house at 10 pm. Jillian, Mattie and Dakota were all up waiting for us. We had fun romping around their apartment for a little bit until we all fell asleep around 11:30 or so. The next morning (after a breakfast of pancakes and eggs), we went to the Taipei airport to catch an 11:30ish flight.

We got into Kingman and had a nice lunch, after lunch we went to: knife factory (where they make knives out of shell casings), peanut candy factory, birds and their underwater friends, beach where we looked across the water to China. That night, we had dinner at the hotel where we were hosted by Jim’s wife’s mother and father. It was Jim’s mother in law’s birthday. She turned 30 again. This was the big drinking night of the expedition. They have this very famous liquor called GaoLiang. Jeremy and Jonathan were “toasted” numerous times, (Jonathan especially well “toasted” with many three-cup toasts.) It was pretty funny. The kids were bored. And Jonathan and Jeremy regretted it the next morning when we had to climb a mountain.

Next morning, we climbed a mountain. The guys were a bit hungover, the kids were unimpressed and uninspired, we trudged up most of the way. After lunch, we went to a war memorial and played on a big playscape that happened to be there. The playscape was impressive, three stories tall, a bit rickety in places, but the kids had a great time and were not seriously injured. Then the Smiths went back to the hotel for a nap, and we went on… Saw a fake lighthouse, a huge tunnel carved in granite for boats to dock in safe from enemy fire, and a noodle shop. For dinner, we had an all beef extravaganza. All parts of the cow were represented.

On Sat, we took a boat to Small Kingman, we saw another boat tunnel and more shops selling peanut candy. Small Kingman is a 10 minute boat ride from big Kingman. First we went to a beach and peered out onto a small island where they kept all their lepers (there are none there now…) We saw a lot of China today. We were within 2 kilometer of the mainland. Then back to Kingman for lunch. We also saw a beautiful old village built by a family with a lot of money they made in Japan. Then we came home :).! Had pizza at the Smiths, let Vincie crawl around for a while and then drove back to Hsinchu!

Our impression of the island is one of concrete bunkers, camoflage, howizters, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, military men and peanut candy and drinking. There were also a lot of cows. Also, the air was so deliciously clean, it was nice to breath easy for a while. It was fun, but a lot of it was lost in translation.