Monday, December 28, 2009


IMG_3204, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Carnivore Preservation Trust, North Carolina


IMG_3202pl, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Carnivore Preservation Trust, North Carolina

Friday, December 11, 2009


IMG_3076, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

View from our balcony.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Picture #22

I know, long time, no see. I'll try to find some time this weekend.

Until then...

Bintan, Xindian, Taiwan

Monday, October 26, 2009

mmm... donkey

I have been gifted some donkey hide gelatin flavored candied dates. I don't know what to make of it really.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just a quiet weekend at home...

...well that was the plan. As we were sipping coffee this Sunday morning we heard the sound of firecrackers. That's not at all unusual around here but then we thought, hey, it's the morning. We assumed there was something going on at the temple and went to check it out. Sure enough there was a massive parade of sorts marching through our neighborhood stopping at each little temple.

When each group of costumed dancers stopped they would rush into the temple entrance as if they were attacking it. They would feign being repelled, dance, try again and then rush back out, followed by a long string of firecrackers. The drumming and strange bugle-like instruments really created an otherworldly atmosphere.

It's late now and I have tons of work to do as I shirked my duties in favor of following the parade around town. I'll have to put up videos and more commentary later. Until then, I leave you with these...

Our house is in this pic.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #21

The view from my near my office. It's cool to see the 101 every morning.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Morning Tea

A group of students I've been working with for awhile were nice enough to take me out for tea and brunch recently. We went to Maokong, a mountainy area just south of the city, accessible from the MRT system. From there we wound along the forest and tea fields, passing dozens of quaint tea houses and cafes. Finally we came to their favorite place, a 24 hour traditional-style tea house flanked by a waterfall on one side and a hillside tea plantation on the other.

It was drizzly out but, to me, it seemed life the perfect setting for sipping some tea. They showed me the Chinese way of formally making and serving tea and we tried a lot of tea snacks, followed by the best lunch I've had here yet-- goose and ginger noodles.

Here are a few pics.

Nestled in the hills.

Mmmmm...ginger noodles and mountain vegetables.

Sweet Taiwanese sausages and goose.

The ladies of class EH-2.

No! Lets stay longer!

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #20

Another shot from a bus window, Xinyi District, Taipei.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New digs

We've been busy. Work, work, work, and we moved into a new apartment. We both work Saturdays now so there isn't a lot of time for going out and about. Plus, since saving money is a priority right now we try to stay in anyway.

We have taken advantage of a few nice afternoons to walk around the botanical gardens and see some parts of town we haven't been to yet, like the Shilin Nightmarket (easiest the largest street market I've ever been to) and a neighborhood nearby that's packed with exotic bird stores. There, we found a friend for our newly acquired finch (he came with the apartment).

I'm technically on vacation now but picked up a short term class. The extra time in the afternoons is spent doing yoga, studying and unpacking. Al has been hired at a university so is busy preparing his courses which start soon.

busy, busy!

Botanical Gardens.

There are lots of things you can't do at the gardens.

Fish and lily pads.

The lily pond and an art museum.

Bird Street (Heping Xi Lu).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #19

Fake cat, real bird. In front of a shop off of Yongkang St.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


As many of you now know, Allister and I have decided to get married! Yay!!!

We've been together for three years, through three countries, and have been making plans for the future, so it was the logical next step.

Since our family is spread out all over the world, and it's not easy for everyone to travel, we will do a civil service here in Taiwan sometime next year, maybe in March. We hope everyone understands. We'll give you more details as we make plans.

We're very excited and happy! Thank you everyone for your well wishes!

Us, in Rotorua, NZ

Typhoon news...

First off, as I'm sure have you seen on your news, Taiwan has suffered much more from typhoon Morakot than it was initially thought. A week later the whereabouts of many still haven't been confirmed and there are thousands still stranded. The official death toll due to the horrendous mudslides in southern Taiwan may exceed 500 as entire villages were swept away by rivers of mud. It's difficult to comprehend the devastation. Now, the government is under fire for not responding fast enough and for initally rejecting offers of help from abroad. I hope that those missing are found alive.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #18

Xinyi and Donghua Roads, Taipei 101 Building in the background.

Typhoon Morakot Continued....

Well, Taipei missed the really strong winds and heavy rainfall, but the rest of the country wasn't so lucky. We'll have more rains for the next two days or so, but nothing crazy. In the meantime southern Taiwan is starting the cleanup and recovery from landslides, collapsed bridges and overflown riverbanks. Several areas in southern Taiwan had record breaking rainfalls this weekend, with more than 55 inches in one day and more than 98 inches so far, and it isn't over yet.

I've been keeping up on the news on eTaiwan News website.

Luckily, Taiwan was well prepared for the typhoon so casualties have been relatively low.

Scary stuff!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Our First Typhoon...

... has so far been uneventful. But really, from the images we've been seeing from the rest of the island, we're really grateful to not be experiencing it.

Thursday at work everyone was getting excited about the first big typhoon of the season heading straight for the island. Taiwan gets hit with a dozen or more typhoons a year, usually starting in late May, but this year the season started late (as did the monsoon season in greater south Asia). Thursday night CNN was predicting a category 4 on a 5 point scale and even mentioned the word "super typhoon" a few times which had us a little freaked out.

We followed the direction of our coworkers and stocked up on water, food, and batteries for the flashlight, then preceded to make ourselves comfortable in our tiny one bedroom abode.

We woke up Friday morning to a definite storm outside but were surprised when early afternoon it lightened up to almost nothing--- Pizza Hut was even delivering pizzas! CNN still focused on the Philippines and southern Taiwan which was really getting battered and we had a hard time finding out what to expect here in Taipei. At this point the storm was downgraded to a category 2.

Finally, we found a good website for seeing the satellite images like the one below and it turns out we're in the eye of the storm, so more's still to come.

Now its early Saturday evening and the day was drizzly with no high winds that we can see. Restaurants were open and schools were closed. Everyone's acting like its all over yet if you look at the satellite images it seems more is still to come. I don't know how this all works. Of course, better safe than sorry, so we're staying in. :-)

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #17

Little birds for sale near the Guting MRT station.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two Months In...

Well, tomorrow is the two month mark in Taipei. It is also the day we would have had to leave if we didn't secure jobs and work permits in time. We celebrated by going to see Harry Potter (loved it), getting some cheap chicken and rice on the street, and indulging in Belgium beers at a bar we found called "Belly Wash" (bizarre).

I've been working for two weeks now at my job teaching adults intensive English speaking, reading, and writing. They range in age from 18 to 50 and are all taking this 10 week, half day course for various reasons. The diversity makes for a lot of fun, I think, although it is a little harder to help everyone reach their goals.

For me, the hardest thing about teaching adults is dealing with their sometimes flawed, or unrealistic expectations, like, "Now that I'm studying with a native speaker I'll sound like a native speaker," or "all I need is this 10 week course to ace the exam." Some people don't want to hear that learning a language is a lifelong endeavor. Kids don't worry about that stuff so much.

Anyway, overall I'm really enjoying my classes right now. Al is teaching adults and children and actually we're using the same books.

Nothing exciting to report, although we did experience our first big earthquake, a 6.4, which shook our house for what felt like a long time earlier this week. Nothing broken, amazingly-- I can't say I'm looking forward to more of those!

My favorite seat at one of my favorite cafes.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #16

Al, antagonizing the chicken who lives around the corner.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Picture of the Week #15

Two girls check out the menu at Grandma Nitti's on a rainy Friday Night, ShiDa.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

CKS Memorial Hall

We spent a recent afternoon checking out the National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. CKS was Taiwan's first president and generalissimo of the Kuomintang in mainland China before they had to flee to Taiwan when the Communist Party won the civil war.

As you can see in the following pics, the memorial hall has some fantastic architecture, the main central hall resembling the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. A small park with walking trails encircles the grounds and it's only a few bus stops away so we'll definitely check it out again in the future.

We managed to catch the changing of the guard in front of the CKS statue and spy a heron in the park before it started to rain and we headed home.

Me and Al in front of the main hall.

The grand Ceremonial Gateway from the National Concert Hall's steps.

Looking through the Ceremonial Gateway from the street.

The National Theater from the steps of the Memorial Hall.


Changing of the guard.

Changing of the guard.

Changing of the guard.

Lovely fish pond.
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Da-an Park

IMG_2212, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

A black-crowned night heron at Da-an Park.

Da-an Park

IMG_2210, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Da-an Park, a few blocks from our apartment.

Shi Da

IMG_2206, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Al on our street. We have about a dozen restaurants at our doorstep including Korean, Tibetan, Indian, and Middle Eastern food.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jobless but not lifeless...

Still no jobs, but lots of adventures.....

Sunset over Danshui, north of Taipei, where the river meets the sea.

Me, at the outdoor observatory at the Taipei 101 building (tallest in the world)!

Taipei 101 at night (it's designed to look like a stalk of bamboo).

Relaxing over tea at Maokong, south of Taipei.

The city on a rainy day from Maokong.

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