Monday December 31st, 2012

The past year soared by quickly making it hard to believe that tonight is the celebration of 2013.

Things I will strive to maintain or improve over this coming year are as follows:

1.  Eat even less meat than 2012 (full vegetarian) and a lot more raw foods.

2.  More exercise, no matter how tired I may be at the end of my eleven to thirteen-hour days.

3.  Get more rest.

4.  Find a way to add four extra hours to the 24-hour time clock.

5.  Be selfless.

6.  Volunteer my time to those in need.

7.  Speak and read as much Mandarin as I can.

8.  Hike new mountain ranges.

9.  Explore more of this beautiful island that is Taiwan.

10.  Live, love, laugh and, of course, learn.

Thursday December 27th, 2012

On Thursdays, my first class is held at a campus not too far from my university.  After class, some classmates and I decided to go for a delicious lunch at Huge Burger.  While walking back to the university with one of my classmates for a Mandarin class, we heard tiny meows coming from somewhere.

The kitten pictured here was found trembling in an open corner and seemed unaware of where to go or what to do.  He wasn't too far from a busy road and was also in a small lane that belongs to one of the biggest night markets in Taipei.

A young girl that works at the Yoshinoya next to this small lane said the little guy had been meowing since morning.  They had a box prepared but seemed scared to touch it.  She had put out some milk in a paper cup that was approximately the same size as the kitten.  I asked if she had seen the mom or any other kittens around but got no for an answer.

I was ten minutes away from writing a test and time was ticking so I had to make a quick decision.  After a bit of hissing from this feisty guy , I scooped him up and plopped him in the box at the tiny restaurant and promised to be back after my test.

I returned less than an hour later with a smaller box and a lid so I could run this lucky little guy over to Animals Taiwan.  He should be in good hands now, I hope.

Wednesday December 26th, 2012

A week and a half since my last post without a moment's rest in between.

Glancing to the right, an appropriate album title for this month would be "December Deluge" but instead the nonsense continues on leaving a very dusty camera.

The homework icons on my desktop are quickly — and thankfully — disappearing one by one as 2012 nears the end.

So ready for 2013.

Bring it.

Friday December 14th, 2012

View from my balcony

7:15am — wake up.  7:30am  — drag myself into the shower.  7:50am — eat breakfast while checking email and Facebook.  Take the image shown here with my iPad.  8:20am — leave the house.  8:55am — arrive at school.  9:05am — short of breath after walking up hundreds of steps to reach my classroom.  9:10am — sit through a three-hour 'techniques of video shooting' class without actual cameras, lights or computers but a classroom where a professor draws various boxes on a whiteboard with a marker that lacks ink.  12:20pm — Chinese proficiency exam.  Totally aced it.  Note: basic level.  1:30pm — head back to my neck of the woods.  2:30pm — An hour and a half Chinese class at Dante's coffee shop where I finally grab lunch and a coffee.  Sweet, sweet coffee.  4:30pm — teach a grade three class for two hours.  7:00pm — start a new private class with two young students who speak near perfect English and really want to learn.  Nice.  9:15pm — decide that now is a good time to get some errands done.  Stop at the "everything store" for three items and walk out with seven.  9:30pm — stop at the "bag store" as the strap on my bag is sadly being held together with a butterfly clip, and admittedly has been for months.  The lady remembers me and, as always, compliments me on my Chinese.  I like that.  After quickly replacing a broken piece on my year-old backpack, she refuses to take any money.  I love Taiwan.  9:45pm — finally home and exhausted and still have yet to eat dinner.  My desktop contains dozens of icons that stare back at me, reminding me of pressing homework that should be done, however, here I am typing this blog.  Three more weeks of classes, one week of exams and then Hawaii.  Bring it.

34 more sleeps ...

Taken with my iPad
All of the bills pictured here were traded today for a plane ticket.  My trip can't come soon enough!

Sunday December 9th, 2012

Yuck.  That is all I have to say about this weekend's weather.  It poured rain ALL day yesterday and has yet to let up today.  On top of the sheets of rain, there's been lots of cold wind.  Brrrrr. 

I don't see a balcony image of my plants happening today!

Friday December 7th, 2012

My balcony in December 2011
I promised myself that the month of December would involve taking one image each day and posting it here with a small paragraph as to its relevance.  Have a quick scroll down to see how that is working out.

With a bit of time off this evening and no new photographs, I decided to look at the images from this time last year and was shocked to come across the above image.  All the plants here look so tiny compared to today.

My goal this weekend around all the school work and private classes will be to get an image of how much they have grown over the one-year period.  It's fascinating!

Saturday December 1st, 2012

Today's menu:

Breakfast:  Homemade cinnamon/nutmeg French toast with syrup and a sliced banana on top.

Lunch:  Oops.

Where did the time go?

Afternoon:  Bailey's and hot chocolate.

Dinner:  Homemade vegetable pasta with garlic, red onion, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms in a balsamic sauce.


Tuesday November 27th, 2012

Taken with my iPad
What a day!  It was two hours into my morning class — at the start of a ten-minute break — when this Black-browed Barbet smashed into the window of our third floor classroom.  Sitting on the opposite end of the room and near the front, I didn't hear it or see it happen.  What was noticeable were the many classmates huddled over the back window.

This little guy was on one of the lower ledges outside.  His face couldn't be seen, only his tiny, green trembling body.  As I was contemplating how to get myself through the window, one of my other classmates nudged everyone aside and was out there in a flash.

She grabbed the bird and I reached out to take it while she climbed back in the room.  It was frozen in my open hand as the two of us took the bird to the infirmary.  We were immediately turned away by the nurse — she said she was not qualified for this — although she was somewhat helpful in finding us a box.

I immediately got on the phone with a friend who rescues animals here in Taiwan.  He recommended the Wild Bird Society of Taipei (WBST).  I gave them a call but WBST said they didn't have enough manpower to come and get the bird so I found myself going back to my classroom to grab my stuff and heading down the many stairs of MCU to flag a taxi.

The bird was no longer confused but seemed more in a state of panic during the ride over.  I was helped immediately upon arrival and was told that nothing was broken.  One leg was injured but it's nothing serious.  The bird was given some vitamin D (pictured here) and put in a cage where it will stay under observation for a week.  After that, it will be released.

Be well, little bird.  And please, PLEASE watch out for those windows!

Thursday November 22nd, 2012

Image from my iPad

It's pouring rain and 21°.  The 7:15am alarm was most unwelcoming.  It wasn't a 'hit snooze' kind of of day, but a 'turn off the alarm' kind of day.  Class has started and I remain at home with a hot cup of homemade mocha.  I have a Chinese test at 1:10pm so this can only be a temporary time-out.  Hopefully the rain lets up in the next couple of hours.  For now, I am imagining homemade French toast with bananas, passion fruit and a little maple syrup.  Mmmmm! 

Tuesday November 20th, 2012

All I have is this image here.  It's of the newest growth on my balcony and now the tallest.

A few years ago, my friend gave me a TINY aloe that has now turned into five fair-sized plants.  For the first time, three of them are flowering.  Who knew?!


I do have to admit — this image was taken over a week ago and is already half dead.  I didn't think that would be the best opening line for this post.  This same plant hasn't finished flowering yet.  Another grows rapidly beside this one.

My plants are currently my procrastination from the piles of homework that seem to await me. 

Eight weeks to go.

So tired.

The zoo is a funny place ...

I enjoyed wandering the grounds and watching the animals immensely.

Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of animals staring back with sad eyes. That being said, others were swinging around without a care in the world.

During feeding time, the monkey pictured here was hiding. The man feeding the monkeys seemed to be staring to my left for some time and only then did I notice mom and her babe.  The moment the man disappeared, the pair headed down to grab a bite.

The animals were fantastic and I found myself wanting to climb into each and every enclosure for a play.

Well, perhaps not all of them. Eek.

Playing tourist ...

Feeding time

Hanging around
The Taipei Zoo is a great way to spend a cool, cloudy afternoon — and it's cheap, too!
照明寺 — Zhao Ming Temple

軍艦岩 — Junjian Yan Hiking Trail
There's been a lot of out and about over the past two weeks making it easy to post over 100 photos in "October Observations 2012".

With two more weeks to go this month, I decided it best to start an "October Observations II".

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

台北 — 北投       Taipei City — Beitou
A half hour drive ➜ quick MRT ride ➜ three + hour walk/hike ➜ an even quicker MRT ride ➜ another 30-minute drive home = made for a great day with some good friends!

10.10 Road Trip ...

銀河洞 - Yinhe Cave

216咖啡 - 216 Coffee

三峽區,新點區 - Sanxia, Xindian area

Happy birthday, Taiwan!

Today's road trip
Thanks for landing on a day that allows the nation a holiday!  Please have more of these each year!

Canceled class = time not wasted ...

Today's hike = a small part of 金面山 mountain range

Northern Taiwan = the red man marks the above hike
Things of note:

1.  Do not head up the mountain from Huanshan Road, Lane 136 at noon hour.  It's a steep hike over boulders in the direct sun.

2.  Bring mosquito spray.

3.  Plan for a full day hike.

4.  The mountain range is endless.

5.  Mark as my new playground.

October Observations 2012 ...

My newest album starts today with some shots of the Raohe Street Night Market (饒河夜市). Click the image on the right to see more.  ➜

No typhoon day for Taipei ...

There were heavy winds and sporadic periods of rain throughout the day and night, but nothing more than that.  The typhoon is gone and the sun has decided to present itself for the Moon Festival holiday!

Calm before the storm ...

24 hours after my last post ... the southern part of Taiwan must be feeling the effects.

Typhoon day in the north tomorrow?

Yes, please.

School's back in session ...

Week one down, with seventeen more to go.  I will be taking 18 credits this semester.  I imagine it's going to be busy.  The first day back, we were assigned 20-minute presentations (based on our internships) and I signed up to give mine next week.  I thought it best to get it out of the way.

It's Sunday morning now and I am facing a lot of work today.  It seems I have awoken with a cold.  Sniffly nose and a sore throat = not good.

September Starts 2012 ...

On the way to Manyueyuan

Sanmin Bat Cave

Xiao Wulai Waterfall

2012.09.04 Road Trip ...

Our road trip yesterday looked a little something like this although these routes aren't exact.  Some of the small mountain roads we drove on aren't showing on Google maps.

We ended up at destination B, or Sanxia,  in error by missing our turnoff.  Our goal was destination C, the Manyueyuan National Forest Recreation Park, but upon arrival we were told the park was closed due to damage from the recent typhoons.

We then set off to destination D, the Sanmin Bat Cave.  Although there were no bats, the cave was most impressive — 50 meters long and 30 meters in height.

Our final stop for the day, destination E or Xiao Wulai, was amazing!  There is a big waterfall — about 40 - 50 meters in height — that can be seen from the road into Xiao Wulai.  If you park beside the falls, you can go on a glass bottom skywalk overlooking the falls.  There were lots of trails in the immediate area, although some were closed due to it being typhoon season.

It was a great day and a long one — about a 10-hour trip in total!  The mountain roads were beautiful and I couldn't help but notice the abundance of maple trees. I have made a note to revisit these roads and Manyueyuan during the fall!

Images of the day will follow soon ...

New images in August Atrophy ...

Back roads near Luodong

Still no swimming due to incisions

Huge waves in Toucheng due to typhoons in the area