A Tuesday in Taipei: Part 2

In my previous post, I took you from the front door of our apartment building (our apartment is on the 4th floor) to the bus stop, to downtown Taoyuan, and left off the post just as I was across the street from the train station. I thought I got a shot of the front of the station, but I guess I had another case of “extra light finger.”

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

I headed to the train station at about 9:00 am, though I wasn’t really good about noting the time for use in the blog. Just know I left the house around 8:30. And got to the MRT station in Taipei at 10:30.

When I got to the train station, the first thing I noticed was how open and spacious it was. Certainly not like the last several times I’ve been there. On the weekend and during rush hours (the times I usually end up traveling), it is a very busy place. But look at it on Tuesday morning when rush hour is over.


Here is the platform as I wait for the train to arrive. Just beyond the platform on the other side, you can see some construction going on. This will be a new train station for Taoyuan. It may not be open before I leave, but it will be great. The current station doesn’t have an elevator.


I was taking the train from Taoyuan to the Banqiao station–a trip of about 20-25 minutes, where I would transfer to the MRT (subway) system.


I’ll have to get some more pictures the next time I’m at the Banqiao station, but this is the best of the bunch. I also hadn’t yet figured out the settings on my camera. And then later the pictures get a bit blurry, and these are the best of what I took.  I think a practice session is in order. You may be seeing more of my Taipei travels.

Anyway, at the Banqiao station, you can catch the TRA (train), the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit system, or subway), and the HSR (High Speed Rail). I believe that it is the only MRT station other than Taipei’s Main station where you can get any one of these three major transportation systems. I’ve only been on the HSR a couple of times, but it is amazingly fast.

I headed to the MRT platform.

100_0672The MRT system is very convenient. It has expanded significantly in the six years that I’ve been here, and more construction is under way. If you look at the map below, Banqiao is on the Blue Line (#5), five stops from the bottom on the map.

mrtMy destination was the Shandao Temple Station. If you follow the Blue Line to where it turns, the stop is halfway between the Red and Orange Lines. I went to Exit 6 and this was the view.


And this:


The day wasn’t very clear, but if you follow the street to that open sky, you’ll see the Taipei 101 Building. Not only is it one of the tallest buildings, it has a great bookstore that has a large selection of books in English. It also has a branch of Jason’s Supermarket, a place that caters to foreigners who are looking for specialty food items from home. I found Bisquick there a couple years ago.  haha

I had 90 minutes to myself before my scheduled meeting, so a work session in a coffee shop was in order. Right across the street from Exit 6 was a Starbucks, but I was after a local establishment. Lo and behold, there was a great one located right next door to Starbucks. I was on my way.


It had a recessed entry with a few tables outside. The whole thing was very inviting.


I opted to have coffee inside where it was quieter. They had a lovely menu in addition to their coffee offerings, but I ordered a hot latte (taking a break from my iced latte of summer).100_0697

As I was trying to find pictures for this part of the journey, it was good to realize that I need to go back here to get more pictures. After all, I need the practice.  🙂

Hopefully, you won’t have to wait as long for the next post, but it will have some pictures that will make the wait worthwhile.


178 days to 60!


A Tuesday in Taipei: Part 1

Getting There is Half the Fun!

My outing on Tuesday of this week combined business and pleasure. I was meeting someone I had done editing for, but we were including a bit of sightseeing. Going to Taipei can be an adventure in itself, so I decided to document my travel from my apartment to the MRT stop in Taipei. Since people are interested about my life in Taiwan, I thought I’d share this prologue to my time in Taipei. Getting there would involve a bus, a train station, and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, where I planned to meet my party at  Exit 6 of the Shandao Temple Station.

When I walk out of my apartment building, I turn left through a bit of a courtyard. This is what I see.


Then I turn to the left and approach the gate into our apartment community. On the right you can see where the guard is. In front of the gate is a space for occasional gatherings, and beyond that you can see the Guishan Township offices.


After coming out the gate I turn to the right and go to the first corner.


On this day, when I turned that corner there was a truck blocking the view, but this is the same street where the “piano moment” occurred.


Last week, when I made the turn, I saw this, just slightly ahead of where the truck above is:


Here are the parking spots that had the “motorcycle, motorcycle, piano” configuration last week. On Tuesday morning, no piano. No motorcycles either. But that will change when these shops open in another couple hours.


As I continue toward Guishan Houjie (Back Street), I can see my bus stop across the street.


Here is what Back Street looks like during the day from the bus stop.


I thought I took a bus picture, but apparently I didn’t actually push the picture button hard enough. I told you I’m an awesome photographer.   haha   Anyway, it  takes about 20-25 minutes to get from the bus stop to downtown Toayuan. This is the view when I got off the bus.


From this position, I turn right to head to the train station. This picture shows the covered tiled walk. My apologies for the lighting, but I was facing the sun at this point. Speaking of point, I should “point” out that within a couple of hours, this walkway will be jammed with people and vender carts. I always like when I get there “before the rush.”


After coming out of that walkway, I walk past a department store (that I didn’t photograph), and then go right a few meters to cross the street to the train station. Here’s the view down the street while I’m waiting for traffic to clear.


In the next episode, I will show you the train and the subway system (MRT).  🙂

181 days to 60.

If We Were Having Coffee: Mid-Semester Edition

Taiwan 047If we were having coffee, I’d tell you:

It’s mid-term exam week. It’s a very formalized affair here, and I’ll be grading all kinds of inane papers very soon. The only good part is that I don’t have classes this week, just tons more grading. As if a writing teacher doesn’t already have enough of that.

In addition to grading the mid-terms, I’ve created a to-do list that I want to get through this week. It’s probably a tad too ambitious, but I’ve already make some progress over the weekend, including some data entry for a research project–A LOT of data entry. Almost caught up. And it wasn’t even on the list.

I have an outing tomorrow. I’ll be going to Taipei to meet someone who wants to consult with me regarding academic writing, and it involves “seeing some sights” afterwards. I feel a blog post coming on.

I’ve had a few fairly large issues weighing on me lately, and one of them got resolved last night, so I’m feeling much more hopeful about getting back to the other things that need my attention.

I restarted the writing group this semester, and it really took. Most weeks, we now have 12-16 people. And they are starting to help choose the topics we cover. Further, they asked for some conversational “practice” time. PLUS, it’s at the coffee shop, where I’m having a coffee as I type this. The group isn’t meeting this week (mid-terms), but as you can see, it’s not keeping me away.  🙂

But I also ended something. I have cancelled my membership to Curves–for now.  The two evenings that I would normally go are now taken up with an evening class and a work session with a student helper (only night she can make it), and they aren’t open until 11:30 am, so I can’t go before work.  However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not exercising. I’ve increased my walking to every day, and I will increase it further over the next few weeks. Which leads to the next thing I would tell you.

November 4 marked the one year anniversary since I joined Curves, started walking, and totally changed my way of eating (as well as my thinking about it). I had a strong intention of becoming healthier as I approach my 60th. In the year’s time, I am excited to report that I lost 35 pounds! Now my intention is to do it again. I have to thank Joycelyn and Farther to Go! for the tools and motivation to accomplish this goal, after MANY failed attempts in the past. I’d also like to thank my husband, who has been totally supportive.

I am happy to be blogging again, even if on a limited basis. I’ve started visiting blogs again too–not as much as I’d like, but I hope to increase it a bit as I get a few things crossed off that darn to-do list. Thanks to everyone who has welcomed me back! It is just what I needed.  🙂

It’s 189 days to 60.


The One That Got Away

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome days, you would never imagine the things that actually happen. Like Tuesday. It started out like a “normal” day. I wanted to go to one of our neighborhood restaurants for a coffee while I worked on the textbook project. This particular restaurant is half way around the corner of the block from our apartment, so Dave and I headed over there to get me set up for a couple hours.

Along the shops on that side of the block is a lot of parking, mostly for motorcycles. (Motorcycles in Taiwan is a blog post or three all its own, but not now.) As we turned the corner, and walked toward the shop, we noticed something unusual in one of the “parking spots.”

  • instead of motorcycle, motorcycle, motorcycle,
  • we saw motorcycle motorcycle, PIANO

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYeah, I wouldn’t believe it without a picture either. And I know you can only see one motorcycle in this picture, but there was another one parked right next to that one. You can see a traffic cone in the street in front of the next shop, as well as other things you often see on streets outside of shops.

Now, back to the story. As a former piano teacher who has been in Taiwan for five years with no piano, I was slightly intrigued. Dave was less so, but it was fun to dream for a few seconds.

Dave went home, and I got settled into my work, but thoughts of that piano out there kept popping up. So I thought, “Why not just ask the restaurant owners if they knew anything about it.” (As an aside, these are the people who rescued the dog that we adopted from them.)*

Well, they didn’t. They were as surprised as I was to find a piano out there. The wife started talking to people and quickly located the owner in the midst of supervising the loading a truck. Apparently, they were moving. After a couple minutes of Chinese conversation, my friend turned to me and asked me if I wanted the piano. I was dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t seriously thought about this possibility; suddenly, there were many issues to consider.

  1. Our apartment is on the 4th floor.
  2. We would have to make room for it in the apartment.
  3. The piano wasn’t in really good shape (due to large fluctuations in humidity and temperature), although the key action was decent. And it was not terribly out of tune. (Yeah, I checked.)
  4. We’d need to have someone come to service it at some point.
  5. I hadn’t had time to quilt or do much of anything “fun,” so how would this be any different?
  6. Dave would think I was nuts. Oh wait, it’s probably too late for that.

The two of them talked some more, and I think I was asked four or five times if I wanted it, not impatiently, but with excitement, and I kept saying, “I don’t know.” The owner was willing to GIVE it to me. So I finally said, “OK, I’ll call Dave and see if we can figure out how to do this.”

They put a note on the piano that it was taken, and I called Dave. He’s so awesome. He  just gets his tape measure, measures the elevator roughly, and then heads back over to take a closer look at the piano. In the meantime, the husband of the restaurant team, Karch, started doing some measurements as well, and writing dimensions on a chalkboard that was on the wall of the porch to their shop (the same porch our dog had spent her days on).

When Dave arrived, he took more measurements and said it would be tight if it was possible at all. He looked at ways that some parts could be removed to gain an inch here or there. He went back home with the measurements to check the elevator one more time. While he did, I had visions of ten minutes here and there, moments when I could sit down and lose myself in music like I used to do. In spite of the fact, more can be done in longer periods, having the opportunity to sit down at a moment’s notice was quite appealing.

He returned with the verdict. In his words, it was “frustratingly close,” but no way without putting the piano on its end, which wasn’t a particularly good idea. Besides, that was if we figured out a way to get it that far.

In the end, we had to say no to the piano. But the good news is that I realized if I even dreamed about it for a few minutes, it opened up other possibilities. For example, I’ve been putting off quilting because I don’t have a “block” of time for it, but maybe I can set things up that even ten or fifteen minutes can provide a restorative interlude in the busy days.

It was also a reminder of all the people who have been so thoughtful to me and my husband. This is just one example of the many kindnesses the people of Taiwan have given us. Even though I’m returning home next summer, Taiwan will always hold special memories of generous and kind people.


*And here she is.  🙂


 191 days to 60!

To Blog or Not to Blog: The (Late) Trick or Treat Post

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my blog. School started, publication deadlines stepped up, and taking a couple days off from blogging seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Days, turned into weeks, and it’s now been 6 1/2 weeks (45 days) since a post.

I did think about posting on Friday, October 31. Actually, I almost posted this picture on Friday. It’s from last year, but I like it. But thinking about posting it wasn’t the same as posting it. So Halloween came and went without a post from me.

When I first stopped posting, I still read and commented on a few blogs, but it got to be less and less until the last few weeks, when I’ve only read a small handful here and there. I followed two a little more reliably–one because I’m hooked on the story that is evolving on her blog, and the other because I dream of someday doing some quilting again.

But today, I got daring and opened a couple other posts, and what should hit me but this from Not a Punk Rocker. Her post: Ten Reasons I’m Taking On Two Challenges [(1) a blog post each day this month and (2) exploring photography through a photo a day]. Well, the photo thing is pretty much beyond me, but it was interesting that I would run across a daily blogging challenge at a time when I’ve been struggling about taking the plunge.

So I started my own list of ten reasons, with a twist. Five reasons why I should join the challenge to post every day in November and five reasons why I shouldn’t. Before I started writing this post, I asked my husband if he thought it was a bad idea to get back into it. Although he knows I get a lot out of blogging, he thought with everything else going on, such a commitment might lead me to be a bit suicidal. While suicide is nothing to joke about, I did appreciate that he made me laugh.

And now, on to my lists!


Reasons for blogging every day in November:

1. It keeps me connected with some interesting people and their writing.

2. It gives me an outlet for some of my thoughts.

3. It builds up a body of writing that doesn’t happen when I’m not blogging.

4. I like it.

5. It helps keep me balanced, i.e., when I’m blogging, I can’t work as much.  🙂


Reasons for not blogging every day in November.

1. I am so far behind, it seems like an indulgence that I can’t afford.

2. It adds another layer of pressure to a life already kind of full of deadlines and stress.

3. There are other things that might have a higher priority in the overall scheme of things.

4. I don’t really need it.

5. I already missed November 1 by the time I found out about the challenge.


The Middleground

And then I realized I need to take my own advice. I often tell people that things don’t have to be just black and white–lots of shades in between. So having gone through this process of weighing pros and cons, I realized that I didn’t need to make the list at all. What I really need is to just jump back in with this crazy post–nothing snappy or exciting, just something that gets me back in the water.

If I only write once a week, it’s 4 times a month more than I’m writing now.

So my challenge is to write once or twice a week for November and see how that goes.

I look forward to reconnecting with my blogging friends.


197 days to 60!