Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's in store for me?

I was so far away from home for a long time and after a while home started calling me. I tried to deny it but when every vacation was made for homecoming, and when I was always the missing piece in a family puzzle, I thought of returning. I am so glad that I did. Now I can see my folks whenever I can and spend time with them. I don't have any regrets anymore in not seeing how fast my niece and nephew are growing up.

I don't interact with Taiwan and I don't think I'll genuinely like it for what it is. But I cherish the moments I share with my family for fear that one day I may leave again. I used to feel guilty about not being closer to them and I think I will be torn unless there is a compelling reason to justify my going away. I am not young anymore and as the days go by, my adventurous spirit dwindles, and I just don't know what to do with that. I wish there is a simple answer out there.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tsong Tsu Time of the Year

It is Tsong Tsu time (May 5 of the Lunar calender, and 6/19 of 2007)again. Originally associated with the "Poet's Day", Tsong Tsu was first made by kind village dwellers to keep the fish from devouring the body of an ancient patriotic Chinese poet Chui-Yuen, who depressively gave up his life by suicidally jumping into a river. After days and nights of futile search for the body, the village people decided to wrap rice in bamboo leaves to feed the underwater creatures, assuming that food can keep the dead body from being attacked.

Mom made these wonderful Tsong Tsus that were extremely tasty. The ingredients included black mushrooms, chestnuts, lotus nuts, pork and sweet rice. Oh, the fried red onions added so much to the flavor. Here are two photos of the freshly cooked beauties:

And the aroma filled the whole house:

The nude one:

With yummy sweet and hot sauce:
And Finally, Li-chi for dessert!!

I am not sure if Chui-Yuen's body was ever found, but the Tsong Tsu tradition certainly brings some festivity to this hot lunar May day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

You are lucky to be alive in Taiwan

We should all feel very lucky to be alive to this day while living in Taiwan. I seriously mean it for the following reasons:
1. Pedestrians risk being killed every second crossing the street. The right of way never belongs to those who walks. You will get the honking and brutal staring from drivers and motorcycle riders if you take time to do your business of walking. And beware of the holes and unevenly paved roads that might trip you over. The best way is to watch the road as if you are walking on brittle ice.
2. Drivers are always on nerves in dodging the motorcyclists who seek to sneak into every space they can find and who never pay any attention to turn signals from the cars. Traffic rules mean nothing to them because they create their own in sliding through every crack of traffic.
3. Designated lanes for the traffic and people here are a luxury. The moment you walk out of the door, road rages await you. And the police is nowhere to be seen for law enforcement.
4. When it rains really hard in the monsoon season, you are literally walking in streams and rivers. Beach sandals go very well with my work outfits on rainy days. Everyone should have a pair or two of these if you do not want to ruin the shoes. Why waste the money when your nice shoes and clothes can easily be destroyed by hot sweat and tears from the heaven?

Every day is a maneuver and struggle in a place where human lives mean nothing. I used to love my mean friends in the states by inviting them to visit Taiwan. I threatened my American students by suggesting to throw them out to Taiwan when they failed to cherish the respect they had received for granted. It is a society where community well-being is non-existent and craps for others are acceptable as long as everyone gets what he/she wants. Hail to an orderless society! It is too late to draw city plans that should have been done 50 years ago. Regretfully, only strict laws can bring the society to order.

Everyday when I walk into my place safely, I am so thankful to have lived through another day by remaining intact.

Ohmmmm....may the Buhhda grant us some moments of peace.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Hot summer days

I can't even begin to describe how unbearably hot summer in Taiwan is. The humidity is making things worse each year. Soon as May arrives, the heat level escalates and the air permeates with mildew because of the monsoon rain. The moment you move, your skin starts to develop a sticky salty layer that can only be taken off with a quick cold shower. The only way is to stay in an air-conditioned room. Here in Taiwan, you do not see happy people walking about leisurely, but only those with perspiring struggles to survive the heat and humidity.

Before I go out of the house, I have to remember to carefully apply the sunscreen lotion and get my umbrella ready to shield of the blazing sun rays. I used to laugh at those women with umbrellas, but now I realize that these are necessary weapons to protect people from the sunburn kiss. The umbrella carriers range from men to young girls. It is quite a summer scenery here. Just to prove that I am not making things up, here is a picture of a man holding an umbrella. Then when I drive, I put on slip-off sleeves on my arms to fight off the harmful heat.

So summer really isn't a good time to be in Taiwan. It is a steam room with pollution from the flooding motorcycles. I am always looking for summer hide-outs so if you know any that is not too far from here, let me know and I want to check them out.