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.

Today I decided I am going to learn how to play the recorder. Spent the morning surfing the web for recorder-related items. I think I’m going to buy a 50 dollar Yahama plastic alto recorder and some method books. I learned how to play Silent Night on a cheapo recorder from the RT Mart. Ms. Liu and Ms. Ong came over this afternoon to play with Vince. Ms. Ong had bought a ton of clothes for the V-man. Every mom who sees me says I’m not dressing Vince warmly enough. Now I know why my parents made me wear a down jacket in 55F degree weather. Jeremy also told me that I am kicked out of the carpool. If I continue to use George, it’ll cost us about $450 a month. Crap-ola. We also went out tonight and got Vince some nice shoes and some nice clothes. They were pretty pricey, but we had some fun…

Saw my first scooter accident today. Bam! Two scooters ran into each other. One driver got up, the other lay under his scooter which had flipped over. I didn’t stop to help, there were people already there and goodness knows I can’t even really speak the language. So I left the scene of an accident today. Bleh!

Vincie’s first tooth! Woo hoo! Bottom right one is barely poking through. He’s growing up, sniff, sniff. Went to Taipei today, saw Carrie and Asuka and had a nice time eating Peking Duck in their hotel. Yum, yum. It was quite different than what we are used to. The pieces of duck had more meat on them and the pancakes were very large, almost like whole wheat tortillas and the onion was not finely chopped, just a huge stalk of it in the center. They also had thin, thin scallion pancakes which were wrapped around green beans. That was yummy, but Jeremy thought they were too mealy. Then we went to Costo, and stood outside the door because we were too stubborn to pay the membership fee. They wouldn’t even let us look around to see if we’d like it… Sigh. Asuka urged me to be more aggressive, but he didn’t know that I’d already done my agressive thing by just asking if we could look around. I think Navier, one of my goldfish, is already slated to have a short time on earth… He’s swimming kind of sideways.

Today we went out to lunch with Ms. Liu, her husband, Leah and Droopy’s parents. It was *great*. Finally, Jeremy had someone to talk to in English. Turns out that Droopy’s dad works in the same field as Jeremy and speaks English very well. It was such a relief for Jeremy, I think, to be able to shoot the breeze with someone. Then we went to Ms. Liu’s house, which is an old, old house in which his family has lived in for more than 50 years. It was cool to see their stove which has huge gas burners. We picked up our 3 fish that they gave us (I’ve named them Luther Deux, Navier and Stokes) and put them next to our TV. Vincie is a bit unhappy today, he made a pretty big puke after dinner tonight.

So today we got a fish! Ms. Liu went to the petstore and got a small aquarium to put their beta fish in. Apparently their beta fish is not too well loved at their house. I’m trying to figure out where to put it so that Vince can’t gets his paws on it. His name is Luther Deux.

So I’m trying to be a bit more proactive, hahaha! I dropped Vince off at the nanny’s and I went and walked 3 kilometers at the gym. Bumped into Olivia’s (a cute-as-a-button 4 year-old) mother on the way there, she promptly told me the gym I joined was going to go under, their business isn’t too good. I *love* that it is within walking distance of my house. Anyways, after the gym, I bought dinner and was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I called Kay Dee to vent, which was nice. I got Vince from the nanny’s and I tried to squeeze through a tiny, tiny space between two cars with my car. I’ve seen George do it a million times, I hit both side mirrors. Luckily they are on hinges so I only have to bend them back. Then I went to the realtors and talked about the spa some more. They seemed to think it was very expensive. Oh well, at least I’m using it… Anyways, they invited me to lunch again, and discovered that they put yellow mustard in their soy sauce and eat raw garlic. Will gastronomic wonders never cease. Then I got George to drive me to Bei-Pu where there is a lot of ethnic food. The place was pretty quiet on the weekday. We also went to buy the famous Hsinchu peanut butter and strolled around the newly-opened pet store. They sell crocodiles (tiny ones…), hedgehogs, albino snakes, scorpions…. Crazy.. Otherwise, it looks just like the PetSmart.

So I’m feeling like I’m the queen of the lame-Os these days. I’m doing nothing except sitting on my hiney, not exploring the whole wide world which is Taiwan. Sigh. Jeremy has been under the weather, he’s caught Vince’s cold, so he came home early to rest. I’ve been really focused on watching a lot of Chinese TV. They have the cool subtitles on all the programs, so if they say a word often enough, and Vince gives me a few minutes, I can look up a word. I walked about 20 minutes to a major intersection where Helen and Ms. Liu told me there was a wet market, but I couldn’t find it. I wound my way back home. I have to say, walking for an hour in Hsinchu is like smoking a pack of cigarettes. Ugh, I do not like pollution. I like governmental regulations on pollution. People in the US do not know how bad it can get with a zillion two-stroke scooters zooming around. And I also like ADA regulations. Nothing like a good sidewalk with ramps, that would really cheer me up! I think Jeremy’s office has packed enough cubicles in their space so that the hallways between the cubicals are too small for two people to pass side by side. They are as wide as an airplane aisleway. Talk about a fire hazard. I also accidentally set on of our kitchen towels on fire today. (Can you tell… I’m a bit weary of being an immigrant today)