Archive for the 'travelogue' Category



Pain

I had hobbled home from the hospital. Some neighbors wondered what had happened. I told them in my limited Mandarin about the accident. I hobbled back upstairs to my apartment and finally was able to put my leg up. My legs had gotten the worst of the fall. I must have somersaulted over the front of the car, as it had hit me at an angle, impacting my scooter and throwing me over the top of it. I remember waking up in pain with blood flowing down my legs.

Continue reading ‘Pain’

Adapting to Culture Shock

K2 Melody getting ready for a play rehearsal

To say I’m disoriented is an understatement. I don’t feel like I’m any part of this place – just looking in on a culture and people I don’t understand. The streets are crazy – if there are rules, no one follows them … I haven’t seen one Caucasian female yet … is there a reason? The pollution is worse than I expected. Imagine putting your head over a sewer on a really humid day and breathing in as deep as you can. That’s what it’s like here, everywhere, all day, all night … Last night I met up with a giant black and orange beetle. Will I have to learn to live with all of this? I can’t even cross the street yet. How am I going to teach little kids?

I no longer follow Canadian culture and news all that much, so I had to find about this article from Michael Turton. It details the horrors of teaching in Taiwan. Lindsay Craig spent 7 months teaching in Taiwan in 2005. She quickly escaped the cockroaches and went back to Canada, somewhat traumatized it seems.

Continue reading ‘Adapting to Culture Shock’

Accidents Part 2

Bio-hazard? Yes, a bio-hazard to your wallet!

After I got up, worked a bit, caught up on some news, I walked the dog. Then, I hailed a cab for the short drive down to the scooter shop. I told them about my accident and that we needed to pick up my scooter. This is the one shop that I have dealt with for four years. They are very dependable and have picked me up many times before whenever my scooter broke down.

Yesterday, after I had spent 2 hours on the sofa, I got up. The blood rushed to my legs and to my wounds. The pain became almost overwhelming, but I managed to hobble to the dining table. Then, I started to feel as I would lose consciousness. My eyesight was graying, and sounds were muffled. I was also dizzy. Once I was back down, it was OK, but it was still an interesting experience.

Continue reading ‘Accidents Part 2′

Accidents Part 1

On my way home from work on Friday evening, at around 9PM, I was driving along a street when an old Mercedes-Benz E-Class hit me. I was on a scooter. It was in the opposite lane, turning to its left, meaning that it would cross my lane. I had right of way and the light was green. He must have accelerated because one moment he was just waiting there, without his turn signal engaged, and the next I remember thinking “Oh shit” and then I was on my bum.

My scooter hit the right front side of his car. It was pretty brutal, as the police photos showed. The front end of his car was toast, as was the windshield. I was wearing motorcycle gear, which included a full face motorcycle helmet, gloves, and jacket. I must have somersaulted over the car at least once. The next thing I knew, I was being dragged or aided to the side of the road. I was trying to take off my jacket. My shoe was missing. I felt blood trickling down my legs. I saw the driver on his phone. He had also dragged my scooter to the side. Then he moved his car to the side as well. He wasn’t supposed to do this, but there was traffic.

I almost lost consciousness. I felt the grayness enveloping me. Sounds were being obscured, but I didn’t faint. I was just woozy. The ambulance arrived and they took me to the hospital. After checking me out, they took my vitals and started to patch me up. I had a laceration on my right knee that needed three stitches. I doesn’t sound like much, but it was surrounded by abrasions. It was extremely painful when the doc was disinfecting it. After they bandaged me, they took some x-rays. Then, I was taken to the observation room.

I was mostly left to my own devices. I had the presence of mind to check if all of my things were intact, and I started drinking water from my own water bottle, as they hadn’t offered me. I downed at least 1L. The police came to take a statement, but they didn’t speak any English. They took my info and gave me a Breathalyzer test. I don’t drink any alcohol at all and the test showed this.

The doc told me that nothing was broken and that I was free to leave whenever I wanted to. I wanted to stay and sleep, but I had to get home. Spike needed to be fed and walked. I also had a post due. So I picked myself up and got up. I paid the fee and got my meds. In total, it cost me $18 USD and this included the ambulance drive plus three days worth of medications. I hobbled around after I had fed Spike and walked him. I worked a bit, but I don’t think I was very productive. I skyped with the wife.

Shit I Saw on my Way to Work This Week

New work is a bit further away than old work, but it’s still within 10-15 minutes of my house by scooter. However, there is a lot more traffic and I get to see some crazy stuff on my way there.

  • An accident between a scooter and a Mini. The scooter driver had a baby with her and she was fine, but it looked bad overall
  • A truck transporting natural gas containers with one that started spewing the gas loudly

Extreme Temperature Differentials & Coffee

Today, we went to the zoo. I was expecting rain, so I dressed accordingly. My morning walk with Spike showed me that it was a lot chillier than yesterday, when temps were up to 30˚C. Today, when I walked the dog in the evening, the temperature was down to 14˚C.

It basically went from being summer in Taipei to fall in a day. Now that’s something. Plus, we’ve been having all of this crappy rain. Forecasts show rain for every day of this week. I wore my Arc’Teryx Alpha SV jacket today over a breathable t-shirt and was very comfortable. When the wind started, I zipped it up and the hardshell protected me very well. I couldn’t say the same for some of the kids, who were wearing t-shirts and shorts, and throwaway raincoats a step above plastic bags.

This morning, I made myself some sandwiches for lunch, and they were pretty good. However, the ice latte that I had was a bit much. It was pretty strong, and I had trouble taking a nap after I came home from work. That’s why I usually only drink coffee after my nap. Speaking of coffee, I bought a coffee bean grinder from Carrefour. It was a stainless steel model from Electrolux, but that’s all they had and it grinds only 50-75g each time. I ground up 150g for this week, and spilled some precious Blue Jamaican coffee all over the place. Well, it wasn’t too bad, but I swept it up because I didn’t want the pets to get high on coffee.

My New Daily Routine

Usual art supply suspects: Tombow ABT, Sakura Pigma

For the month of July, my daily routine wasn’t that filled up. I still worked about 8 hours a day, but it was nothing to write home about. Now, for the month of August and probably for the rest of the year, I’ll be following this routine, which includes 35 hours/week of teaching, 10-15 hours/week on writing, 10-20 hours/week on my business, Asterisk*Cycles.

The trick in surviving grueling routines and long days are power naps as well as little pockets of goodness, which are easily wasted if you aren’t careful.

Continue reading ‘My New Daily Routine’

Traffic Signs: Better Late Than Never!

Traffic signs are a problem in Taiwan

Why? Because people don’t tend to follow them. This photo was taken in the MRT.

The Grand Hotel & Diamond Tony’s @ Taipei 101 85F

Diamond Tony's

Yesterday, I picked up my wife from her work in a taxi and we went out to exchange some jade bracelets that I gotten her for our anniversary two weeks ago. They were too big. She browsed around, got what she wanted and we left for lunch @ Diamond Tony‘s, at Taipei 101′s 85F. You have to enter through the Xinyi side entrance of Taipei 101, the one that goes directly to the elevators. Once aboard, you are whisked to the 60F, then transfer over to another elevator which goes to the 85F.

It was my wife’s birthday and I wanted to do something special. Lunch was great, but the view was awesome. If you’ve never been to Diamond Tony’s, it’s well worth the detour. I had a braised New Zealand steak, veal carpaccio, some soup, and an espresso. My wife had snapper with chive sauce, smoked salmon, and a soup as well, with a glass of house red and some coffee to finish off things.

Frank Gehry's Orchid collection from Tiffany's

We went by Tiffany’s to exchange her present. I had gotten her the Frank Gehry’s Orchid necklace two years ago, but I was sure that I had bought her the earrings instead. So I had bought the necklace twice. It was kind of funny. We exchanged the Orchid necklace for the Orchid earrings and were whisked away.

Continue reading ‘The Grand Hotel & Diamond Tony’s @ Taipei 101 85F’

Scooter Culture

There’s one thing that you quickly learn while living in Asia, it’s a scooter-based culture. After a while, you see that car drivers, lorry drivers, and taxi drivers all drive like scooters. It’s one of the most absurd things that I noticed. While I’m sure that there are plenty of good drivers in Taiwan, I’m just impressed at how badly some of them drive. It’s just obscene.

In the last two weeks alone, I’ve seen about 5 scooter-based accidents. It’s quite horrific to see. My last accident was last summer and I ended up somersaulting over the hood of a Mercedez-Benz, whose driver had cut me off, from oncoming traffice: he was a kid coming from the opposite side and crossed the double line, meaning that I had nowhere else to go but over his hood. Luckily, I had my motorcycle jacket, helmet, and thick gloves on. I quickly learned that being sweaty is the price to pay for being safe.

I have never sustained an injury while driving my scooter in the last 4 years. I have been in one accident and a few scrapes and falls, but since I wear a reinforced motorcycle jacket, it just rolls off. I also wear thick jeans and hiking boots.

While I do admit that I drive fast, as fast as possible sometimes, I am quite safe. I stay away from the taxi drivers, buses, and slower scooter drivers by staying ahead. There’s always some drivers who are faster than I am and I never try to keep up with them. I always stay at my speed and weave my way through traffic.

Since I drive as fast as I can, it’s probably good that I only have a 125cc scooter. Ideally, I’d upgrade to a PGO 200cc or a Kymco Ego 250cc, or even a real 500-600cc motorcycle, but since I’ll only be staying 1 or 2 more years here, it’s a waste of money.

There’s an art at staying safe while driving fast. The trick is not to drive too fast, especially in heavy traffic.


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ranjitwithkinginbehand.jpgI'm Range, your host. On the menu, photos, art, stories, entertainment and reviews. Links, maths, education and social issues. I'm in Quebec (Canada) or Taiwan (R.O.C.). Follow me on Twitter.

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