Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Taiwan Re-cap

I’ve been most delinquent in getting this posted – but in my defense there was a sick T that needed to be nursed back to health, plus a horrid summer cold that did me in for a few days. Not that those excuses hold much water, but they’re all I’ve got.

Here goes:

We left for Taiwan on Friday night – flight left LA at 1 a.m. Quite possibly the best flight I’ve ever been on in my life. Although the ambien might’ve had something to do with that as well. Managed to sleep for about 6-7 hours (I was actually asleep before the plane left the terminal) and then killed the rest of the time watching movies and talking to the guy next to me. He was on his way from Florida to Viet Nam to visit his family. Garnered some wisdom – when in Viet Nam, best place to exchange your cash is the black market.

Unlike in Anaheim when we arrived at the hotel, The Howard Plaza Hotel, our room was ready for us, plus we had a breakfast voucher for each of us for every day we were there. Nice accommodations. Even had a copy of “The Teachings of Buddha” in the nightstand along with the New Testament.

Being the adventurous sorts that we are we decided to walk from the hotel to the conference center so T could pick up her materials/etc. Uhm, not the smartest move on our parts. Let me describe the weather in Taipei City while we were there: temperature at 9 a.m. – 35 C (which converts to 95 F) and while I have no data on the humidity, I’ll put it this way, walking from the door of the hotel to the corner, a distance of maybe 100 yards you were drenched (soaked through t-shirt) in sweat. To say we were sweaty/smelly is not exaggerating in the least bit.

Oh – biggest thing that was hard to get used to? Being stared at. Worse for T, her being a tall woman, but still felt like everyone was looking at me at times.

Best Experience: Tuesday night we went to dinner with all the people in attendance that were associated with the University of Oregon (all of T’s lab mates). One of the current students in the lab is from Taipei. Her parents treated us all to a nice sit-down dinner. There were 12 of us, all seated around a large round table. Table had a giant lazy susan in the middle. The people from the restaurant came in and asked if there were any food preferences – T piped up, no beef. Next thing, food just starts appearing. You just rotated the lazy susan until you could get what you wanted. Not sure all of what I ate, but I do know that the shrimp were to die for!

Learned a Taiwanese and Japanese toast that night – gan bei (Taiwanese) and kampei (Japanese). Means the same thing in both languages: bottoms up! Lucky for me as we went around the table I’m not sure how many times toasting everyone individually with this, that in Asia they drink out of what we would consider juice glasses. Helped on the individual toasts but they did add up. Amongst the 12 of us we consumed 23 L of beer.

After dinner we went for a traditional Chinese foot massage – wow, was that nice. For $55 US T and I each received a 15 minute head/neck massage followed by a 45 minute foot/ankle/calf massage. To say it was relaxing doesn’t do it justice!

As you’ve seen in the pictures we took a tour of the northeast coast region, later that night we ventured out to one of the night markets. Only way to describe the night market is part flea market, part “taste of…” festival, and part black market. And we managed to get there and back on mass transit.

Last night there was spent at the National Palace Museum, gala put on by the conference. Had the chance to see some great artwork/pottery. I can honestly say I’ve seen Ming dynasty vases.

Flight home – ugh. Too long, too bumpy, not as good of seats as the flight over. Then we had to spend the night in LA before flying home on Saturday.

All in all…great experience. Once in a lifetime experience. As I/we wade through more pics, some more might show up on here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I truly hate being sick in the summer. Have come down with a cold. T is out of commission with strep throat.

Lots of fun around the house these days.

I apologize for not getting the pics from Taiwan up yet. I'm a slacker and my head hurts.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Trip Report...California first. The highlights:

Don't stay at the Anabella Hotel in Anaheim. While the facilities themselves were fine, the service sucked. I've travelled quite a bit over the years, business and pleasure, and I've been told my room isn't ready. We waited six hours for our room, and after being guaranteed it would be ready by the 4 p.m. check in time, we were finally in our room at 4:30. One day of our stay, the maid service hadn't been by at 4:30 p.m., and no, we didn't have the "Privacy Please" on the door.

One night we had dinner at The House of Blues in Downtown Disney, T, myself and two friends. Outside table. This woman walks by, conversation at the table stops due to the fact that she is very well endowed. From the table next to us this guy leans over and says to me, "I'm gay and I noticed those!"

At professional meetings/conferences women will wear some crazy "cute looking" shoes to look good and you can totally tell they spend about 10 minutes a year wearing them from how they walk.

Downtown Disney

- "Jedi Mickey" at one gift store.

- Lego Store...life size Darth Vader

and R2-D2. Need I say more?

- Friday night we're walking back to the hotel to get ready to leave for Taiwan and I hear the President of the Oregon Athletic Trainers' Society scream "PARKERS" from the balcony of the "New Orleans" restaurant. Naturally I flashed her my boobs and promptly received some beads from her.

Don't trust the Super Shuttle guy to drop you off at the proper terminal. We had about a ten minute walk to the correct one in order to catch our flight to Taiwan. The look on our faces had to be priceless at the Air China counter when the woman asked us where our entry visas were as she quickly flipped through our passports. That's right we were flying China Airlines. We were in line to go to Beijing, not Taiwan.

All in all a great time. Had the chance to catch up with some great friends, and actually learned a thing or two at the conference!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I’ve gotten some very thoughtful comments on “Friends” – Mary, I’m holding you to yours.

I’m glad I’m not the only person out there struggling with this issue.

The internet is a great thing, it’s made people around the world accessible – hell, and I was able to return email while we were in Taiwan and spend a few minutes chatting with a friend who lives in Boston! But as much as the internet has been a good thing it is also part of the problem.

Yes, without the internet I wouldn’t have met a significant portion of the people I call my friends, but it’s also the bane of those friendships! Until we all have a Star Trek holodeck installed in our houses there is no way to meet up with them on any type of regular basis, kick back, have a good beer and solve the world’s problems.

That’s the reality. We’re here in Michigan while they are scattered throughout the country, and most are not in an easy driving distance.

So, yeah, I’m thankful for the internet bringing the world closer, just feels like its put us on an island at the same time.

Ok, pity party over…back to regular stuff.

Promise to have stuff on the trip later this weekend. LOTS of pics to download and figure out the best way to post.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Homeward Bound

We're heading back to the states today. Will arrive in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Full trip report plus pics to follow hopefully by the middle of the week.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Taiwan Update #2

Hey everyone...back at the gaming den/Internet cafe while T is at the conference.

Ok...so we made it here no problem. T gave her presentation yesterday. In fact she ended up being asked to stand-in for the co-moderator! Lucky for her, her former office mate at the University of Oregon was the other co-moderator. Ended up with a nice shirt as a gift for stepping in.

I spent yesterday walking around the area around the hotel. To say this is a busy place would be an understatement of EPIC proportions! There is a large department store about 2-3 blocks down from the hotel along with a plethora of shops, but the thing is they don't open until noon, and don't close until at least 11 p.m.

In fact the whole city is a night owls dream! The shops are actually busier at 10:30 p.m. than they are at 10:30 a.m. Evidently the place to do shopping (you know who you that should be expecting gifts!) is a the night markets. Planning on hitting one of them either tonight after our dinner or tomorrow.

So, while I was walking around by myself yesterday I was trying to figure out some sort of plan for lunch...MANY small restaurants/food stands along my route, BUT absolutely none of them had English anywhere near the menu. So I threw in the towel and headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the lunch buffet. Set me back $650 in new Taiwanese dollars (exchange rate is 1:32 US to New Taiwanese)so roughly $20. Good food.

T and I walked around trying to find a place to eat dinner. Found a great place. We get seated. Handed menus. Nothing but Chinese characters. I'm getting nervous. Luckily they sent someone over who spoke English. Small dinner, some pork dumplings, shrimp fried rice, and we split a Taiwan beer. Total cost: $517.

We both got a laugh about that.

We're taking pics. Won't be able to post them until we get back though.

Once we get home Saturday it will probably take me a few days before I can get them edited and put together along with a complete summary of the trip - there were some funny moments in Anaheim as well.

OK...gotta run. Who knows when I'll get online again. Talk to all most of you when I get back (you know who you are!)

Sunday, July 01, 2007


If this doesn't make any sense, it's because I'm in the middle of what could be called at best an online gaming den, and at worst an internet cafe.

Trip is going well.

Getting stared at by just about everyone.

It's hot - 35C, not sure what that is in F - and humid here. To hot to do any running outside even though I want to, and even if it was cool enough to run the maniac drivers would get me.

Let's just say that lanes seem to be a fluid concept at best. There's also nothing like almost being run down by a scooter as you walk down the sidewalk.

Ok, gotta go now...my hour here is almost up.

Becky - if you read this, tell Grandma/Grandpa all is well and I'll call 'em Saturday when we get back!