Saturday, June 19, 2010


Apparently people here think limes are yellow and lemons are green... unless, of course, they play restaurant city. Then they know.

Rather dislike being called shy. It's not that I'm scared to speak, it's just that I'm terrible at thinking of things to say... even more so in chinese. I disliked being called shy so much today that i ended up making it a point to make the effort to talk more and am now much more comfortable with my coworkers.

Went to the Taipei Underground for real today. In the US if I see something decent for $5, I buy it. Here, there's whole stores of decent clothing under $5... I initially had to stop myself from compulsive buying. Taiwan must be the only place I've been where I actually "crave" shopping because it's so affordable and everything fits! Not a big fan of the pants sizing; everything only comes in three sizes: S, M, L. Also not a big fan of shop owners following me around while I shop, giving suggestions, pushing stuff in my face, and encouraging me to buy. Used to shopping in peace in the US with help offered if needed.

Shida Night Market. Snowflake Ice. Nom nom.

Tempted to never take the bus on a Tuesday again. The driver gets on my nerves, makes for a very long half hour drive.

Sushi! Paid for by mahjong money. (Not my mahjong money)

Sort've mind boggling seeing international students back in their natural habitat.

Huashan Creative Park (Preserved historical structures. Originally abandoned warehouses/factory that were used for wine production during Japanese occupation, this area was later discovered by artists and thespians and reoccupied for its tall open spaces.):

I need a place to put a potted plant... hey look, i'll just cut off the top of this tree and then it can have a stand! :

Outside Huashan on my way to food. Sign made of circuit boards announcing the beginning of the Bade Shopping District. Whole street just selling electronics. There's also a shoes street and camera street somewhere... saw the book street today too:

Another random building that caught my attention for being outside of the Taiwanese norm. (Not the orange one, the one next to it):

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Duan Wu Festival [6]

<--That's today! Most uneventful day ever. Holiday from work and no rice dumplings. (Thank goodness! I've had enough of those this summer to be done with them for the rest of the year!) I count it as one of my weaknesses that I get tired of eating foods rather quickly even if they happen to be delicious.

A coworker told me a different version of the story behind the holiday where QuYuan was emo, got drunk, saw the reflection of the moon in the river, thought it was beautiful, chased after it and drowned. I couldn't find this version of the story online in English; but the way she told it, it was quite poetic.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Fast Forward [5]

Super quick week... I can barely remember what all happened.

I've realized that I don't know how to disagree, but maybe in the contexts where certain topics were raised it's been appropriate that I kept my mouth shut? People were being astonished(-) by the state of google's workplace, where people wear shorts and t-shirts to work and only dress up for meetings with the outside (also the way American students dress and lounge in libraries). I've always marvelled(+) at the play at work creative environment that google sets up. "You wouldn't dress like that, right?" "ummm... I guess I'm an American too."

Here are some images from my walk home from the subway station. I've been trying to pinpoint what gives buildings in Taiwan a characteristically Taiwanese feel... Haven't really figured it out; in general their just like any other square building with strip windows/balconies or punctured windows. Am I'm just being tricked into thinking there's a Taiwanese style by all the Chinese writing?

Metal Doors are pretty common.

11am Decided to go looking for an English speaking church. I've been confused by my own feelings about Christianity but I still feel compelled to find a church. It's almost as if not going would be like giving up on truth or running away from things that I do not understand.

12pm I ran into Will's cousins. They came up to me after service. At first I figured they were part of the congregation and wanted to welcome me to the church, but then, "Hey, you know William Huang right? You were at our house for Christmas." o_o. I recognized them at that point.

1pm Met Wisdom at Shilin to go to the National Palace Museum, but first some delicious fried dumplings and red bean ice.

My aunt was surprised I'd want to go to a museum, but the exhibits were quite good.

Furniture: I found some of the furniture to be very spatial compared to the usual object-like designs that are more common nowadays.

Painting: I'd be interested to knowing the evolution of landscape painting within oriental culture. Rather than attempting realism, nature is portrayed abstractly from the very beginning.

Carvings: I've always been amazed by sculpture of any kind. The limited ability to "erase" mistakes when chiseling away from solid stone always seems daunting.

10pm Tennis! Racquet needs some fresh tape.

11pm I read somewhere online that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite helps to keep down the swelling... it worked!

6/7/2010 Reality
9am Design is hard in the real world. One word, money.

6/8/2010 White or Black
12pm Coworker kept pulling me under her umbrella to keep me out of the sun. I had to explain to her why Americans liked to be tan. She recalled the strange Caucasians from movies basking in summer sunshine on the beach.


8am This novelty is the rice burger from Mos Burger that I mentioned in a previous post.

3.30pm Waited in line for 2 hours to get my Visa fixed. A German and French guy were sitting in front of me speaking English. It's amazing how English has become a cross-cultural tool for communication even when no english speakers are around. I'm baffled by Taiwanese students needing to score high in English in order to get into better schools. Even if the student is high scoring in every other subject, if their English skills aren't there, they lose. English may be important, but is it essential?

6.00pm Dropped by the Chiang Kaishek Memorial since it was only one stop away.

I was surprised by the paved roadway replacing what i would usually expect to be a grand stairway.

Finally, enjoy this sideways movie... Couldn't figure out a quick way to flip it. Note how the figure walks faster at 7 seconds. It never fails to amuse me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Intern [4]

6/1/2010 New
8am In desperate need for a lint roller. nobody owns dryers around here... and most of my clothing is black.

9am Immediately feeling overdressed. (Supervisor later tells me to please dress more casually tomorrow)

10am Meeting, what are they saying?

Update on the BIG project at the office is that it is no longer.

But in other news, I get to work on design. First assignment is a wedding reception area on the roof of the Victoria Hotel. I am presented with a plan with a rather arbitrary oval drawn between a pool and a garden. I'm told that it is the predetermined shape of my design... I was relieved later to find out the form could still be rethought.

Foreign interns are given a lot of freedom in design here. One, because the boss is a teacher and is open to new ideas. Two, because we're not really expected to know or learn Taiwanese codes and regulations so we're allowed to design without those in mind. This suits me just fine.

12:00pm Out for noodles and afternoon nap-time

5:00p Liking the people a lot. Finally people around my age interested in buildings (that wont just send me to tourist attractions) to ask about places to go, eat... and print portfolios.

6:30pm Work over. Tired even though I did pretty much nothing other than fail to install software on the office computer. Maybe just the energy of being in a new environment.

10:00am People at work keep telling me to relax. Is this saying something about me? I think the GSD has given me a 'never time to relax' mindset that I did not used to have. Undergrad was busy, but people would never have told me I needed to relax back then. I used to get more comments on how relaxed I seemed as I was able to make time for people and other events.

12:00pm I find out that the general opinion is that food is better further south in Taiwan. Why am I in Taipei again?

1:00pm I'm enjoying the fact that there are pillows specially made for office nap times. They're shaped for the head on folded arms over desk sleeping position.

Wish Chinese writing could stick to one direction. Right to left or left to right...

6:30pm Dinner with the boss, supervisor, and Wisdom's family. His dad is a (supposedly well known) contractor in Taiwan who recommended me to the Architecture firm. Thai food at the Sheraton. It was uncomfortably fancy/formal, but I found the conversation quite good. There was a lot of talk about what one could learn from approaches to design and education in other countries as well as travel and cultural experiences. I was told I looked bored... not good. I'm guessing it's because listening to chinese wears me out. It's not a completely foreign language but it still takes a lot of attention to keep up.

9:00pm Met up with Dan from MRT in Shanghai. Bar I was recommended was closed. Ended up eating rice burgers and drinking juice at Mos Burger. Interesting.

9:00am New project. Site is at an important Taipei intersection. Designing a 14 story commercial/office building replacing the two story hang ten to the the left of the building left of the white Sogo. It's viewable from the above ground rail as well as the ground level station exits and viewing area within the green sogo across the street. It's somewhat intimidating designing stuff that might get built. Especially in such a hotspot.

3pm Fridays are 'Happy Time' days at the office. Beverages on the office. Office also got in some free pastries. I was surprised when I at the donut and found out it was more bread-like than cake-like. Tien-tien-chuen (sweet sweet circle)

I.M. Pei building on the same intersection as our office. Wondering what the dimple is about... I find it hard to distinguish good skyscraper design... haven't learnt too much about it in school and at first glance it seems like many of the most famous skyscrapers are not so different from the not so famous.

10am Eslite bookstore building. Galleries, Stationary, Product Design, Fashion, Accessories, Books.

12pm Dinner in the Taipei Underground with David C, friend from back in high school that lives in Taipei.

2pm Jianguo Holiday Flower, Jade, and Artisans Market. On weekends these three markets take up the space of a parking lot underneath a roadway that is used for office/business parking during the week. It was a pretty gloomy day, so most of my pictures did not come out very well, but it was quite a spectacle. The continuous stretch took up four or more city blocks.

4pm Sole purchase was two semi-precious stone chops which I will be getting engraved at some point. The engraver within the market was overpriced. I'm starting to think the stones may have been too even though I was able to haggle the price of both down from 1,200 to 800 NT. I should have tried for 600. Too late now. Although signatures are becoming more common, chops are still used in Taiwan for official forms as a mark of identity and agreement.