An American makes plans to move to Taiwan.


New Photos on Flickr

I have added new photos on my flickr:

KTV (Karaoke) I need to learn more Chinese songs...

Cat on the wall.

Market in Beitun.

School kids on bikes.

Labels: , , ,

Scooters VS Motorcycles. TW VS US

Some of my friends and family in the US were asking me, "Why would you buy a scooter rather than a Motorcycle?" Well here is my answer, you can correct me if I am wrong:

In America a Motorcycle can be safer at high speeds because it has a larger wheel, this allows you to hit pot holes without flying off your bike. However, in Taiwan you rarely get up to any speed that will send you flying, the cities are crowded. So far I have seen no traffic jams whatsoever but you rarely get up past 40 or 50 mph in the city. Another point is that there are TONS of scooters, they are very maneuverable due to the small wheels and if you are not able to keep up with their maneuvering that will be more of a danger. Taiwan driving is at a lower speed with more obstacles to dodge, American driving is at a higher speed where you need to worry more about road surfaces and maneuvering around large cars, rather than other scooters. Another point to mention is that Taichung is a totally flat city with really no hills to speak of so that makes it nice for scooters as well.

I also live on the first floor and I have huge garage doors on both sides of my house, I could park my scooter inside easily, and really I could park my dad's pickup truck in my living room if I wanted, I have enough room. I am considering whether or not to buy a new scooter. New scooters are quite a bit more expensive that a used one, but if I stay in Taiwan for a few years I think it could be worth it, I wont have to be as concerned about it randomly breaking down, and I can try to take good care of it to make it last a long time.

Labels: , , , ,


Taiwan Dreamin' Videos

I am currently working with my graphics programs to make an intro for my Taiwan Dreamin' show. I am planning to make a silhouetted landscape, black on red, the camera will move backwards across the land showing some Taiwan landmarks. There will also be the words "Explore" "Experience" "Examine" with the final image being similar to the one above.

I also want to comment quickly on some messages I've received online recently. I'm getting the feeling more and more that Taiwanese have a super strong stereotype of foreigners. Any time I mention that I don't like, or don't do one of these stereotypical things people act shocked. Well It's really annoying me. It makes me appreciate where I come from in Maryland. America has a lot of racial tension but we also have many accepting, tolerant, and fair people. Every day we can see mayn types of people and after getting out of middle school I rarely met with many problems in that area. Phoebe mentioned that many Taiwanese love to gossip, so even though it has not effect on them, and its none of their business, they can spread rumors and things like that. I think even if they think its bad for foreigners to date with many TW girls, it's their choice, and the girls like it too, so how is it really even bad. The people involved are satisfied and everyone else needs to butt out.

I hope I can do a segment on Taiwan Dreamin' discussing race issues in America VS Taiwan, and also dispell some stereotypes in the process.

Labels: , , , , , ,


More Taiwan Photos

Just letting you all know I updated my Flickr account with new Taiwan Photos:

My Flickr:
My Taiwan Set:

Here are a few of them:


Xbox360 VS PS3 - HD-DVD VS Blue Ray

Well sorry to tell you this mom, but your HD-DVD just went obsolete!

In an amazing marketing move Warner Bros, Walmart, and some other big name companies have decided to go exclusively to Blue Ray technology. Similar to VHS and Betamax there were two formats of the next-gen DVDs. Back when Sony was selling Betamax they had the better product, but made it too inaccessible. This time Sony learned their lesson by putting out the comparatively cheap Blue Ray player in the PS3, and getting other companies to go 'Blue-Ray' only.

The companies backing HD-DVD decided to hurry and cut their losses by cutting off their production. This also means that PS3 now is the only video game console that can play Blue Ray movies, Xbox 360 is stuck with HD-DVD, and since Sony is competing with Xbox360 its unlikely that they will allow them to use Blue-Ray technologies on that machine.

So I am guessing there will be big HD-DVD sales and you can grab up some good quality movies cheap, but not too long down the road they will stop selling normal DVDs and you will have to move to the Blue Ray player. Now that this has happened it's likely that PS3 will see a large shift in sales, however, the Wii, which relied on its controller as the main draw, should be unaffected.

Very interesting stuff!

Labels: , , , ,

Minor Notes

I wanted to go eat at this place today that I like. They cook the food up in front of you, similar to how they might make subs or something in the states, but instead of putting the contents in a bowl or in a sandwhich they just push it over to you and you eat it off the cooking surface. Maybe it sounds weird but its pretty cool, tastes good, fast, and it's not expensive.

Well it was closed, so I took my first trip to McDonalds. I ordered a Big Mac meal which is #4 here for some reason (#1 in USA.) I wish I could say something interesting about it, but really the interior of the restraunt, the fries, the Big Mac, everything was exactly the same. I guess the only difference is that people like to hang out in McDonalds here, kind of like Starbucks. So, it tasted exactly the same. I guess one thing is here the recycle and trash items need to be sorted by the customer and put into the proper bins.

I also read a thread on Forumosa the other day about odd store combinations, such as motorcycle repair shop / noodle house. Well I found probably the worst one I can imagine, on the way to the Wells school. Ok, so you walk by the front of the store, and like most stores here, the shop has tables set up out on the sidewalk area, so as you walk by the store's door is on the right and the tables are on the left. I look in the store and it's full of cheap kid's toys, stuff you might see in the supermarket in the US. Little dart guns, crappy robot toys, little soldiers, but then, oh look whats on the shelf above that! Oh its Hentai Manga (Sex Comic Books!) Kids toys and porn, seems like a great combination! Hey Johhny, go find yourself something to play with, and take your time! What makes it even funnier is its out on the sidewalk area, while it looks like its all toys inthe actual store. So you can peruse in front of everyone! Oh man, makes me laugh everytime I walk by!

Labels: , , , ,


I heard there was an earthquake today...

but I guess I slept through it...

Labels: ,

Dance Club - 'Lobby'

I met Phoebe at Sogo again on Saturday night. She took me on her scooter to a dance club called Lobby. We met Queenie and her Friend Fei, a guy, riding on his motorcycle. So we waited outside for a bit and a bunch of her other friends showed up. A guy they called 'No-No' reserved a VIP type room upstairs with a window looking out on the dance floor.

So we paid about $500 NT to get in and then we get free drinks after that, I only had 2 beers, but whatever. So we all went to dance and went back up to the room. The group I was with was really nice and fun to hang out with. No-No was always doing some crazy and funny things, doing impressions and funny dances with the girls.

When I went out to dance I felt it was pretty fun, I am a decent enough dancer that I don't stand out at all I guess, haha, but in the club really theres not much room to do anything flashy. I felt that a few of the girls I danced near were giving me scared or dirty looks. Later some people told me Lobby is one of the clubs that can sometimes have an anti-foreigner vibe. There is another place called Pig-Pen that is full of foreigners and girls who are crazy for foreigners- not sure if I want to go there either. Maybe I can try, so far I haven't found that other people's descriptions are too accurate to me.

So in the end I had a lot of fun with Phoebe, Queenie, Fei, No-No, and the others. I got to see some hot girls and some crazy ones too. Too bad though, there were way too many guys there, like 70% guys it seemed! Maybe I can try the other big clubs around here, see if I like them better, and I need to try some in Taipei too because i think they must be a lot bigger and more fancy. So even anti-social Ian can manage to go to a dance club, I was super tired after that though!

Labels: , , , , , ,


For valentines I went out with my friend Phoebe. Queenie was supposed to come too but couldn't make it. She sent me some chocolate with Phoebe though. So we passed by a place called 'The Dive Lounge' it seems like a good place to get cheap drinks but they only sell hamburgers, so not good for dinner.

We went to another place called 'Oldies.' Has okay food but limited menu, mostly a bar too I guess. Both are supposed to be foreigner hang outs I guess. Anyway so Phoebe took me back to Sogo Dept. Store where we met, then I need to walk 45 mins back to my house. On the way I are one of the chocolates and as i swallowed it I thought to myself, was that some peanuts? Of course it was, so I got really allergic and red and itchy and threw up in an alley.

I got home fine, no big problem really, just annoying. Other than that it was a really nice night, just talking and relaxing with Phoebe. Glad we got hang out!



Birthday Video - Taipei + Danshui Trip

This video starts off with a clip of Ben and I setting off firecrackers on Chinese New Year. The following music video part is my trip to Taipei and Danshui. We went to many places and had a great time. This video is really special to me! Thanks to Cher and Joy for taking me around and helping me to see all the cool things and experience these places.

The video is up on LiveVideo here:

Please visit the LiveVideo page as well and give me some votes and comments and things. Just viewing it on that site will help me stuff get to be more well known. Thanks!


Teacher Jen

Today I did a few things. In the morning I walked to Carrefour and bought some important things like laundry detergent, toothpaste, and a proper Mini-SD Adapter. Now I can take photos as well as video, although the quality on the photos is not that great, and there is no flash, so the light needs to be decent.

The overpass on the way to work.

Anyway, I took a few photos on the way to my class today. Also, before class I went and got some beef noodles from one of the small local shops. I have not been eating enough recently because it's too annoying to find things I can eat sometimes. Oh well, I am getting better at it.

The Confucius Temple can be seen from the street the school is on.

So yeah, today I went to observe another teacher, Teacher Jen. She had a little bit more of a laid-back style than craig, she used some more games, and had some interesting classroom control tips. One was to use chance whenever there was some arbitrary decision to be made, that way, you, as the teacher, are not directly blamed by the students for picking who will do what. With some of the more rowdy classes she suggested using a points system and some arranged commands that the kids would respond to.

Wells English School.

I think her students were learning well, and seemed really interested to learn the new vocabulary.
I was able to learn alot from watching both Craig and Jen, I think I can put together a good lesson plan tomorow.

Some interesting looking buildings on the way home.

I will go to school about 2 hours early to get started. I think in the future maybe one hour will be enough. I also considered using my laptop to type up my plan because I think I can organise things better on the PC than on paper. Once I have it all planned I can jot the outline on a piece of paper.

My new watch.

Hmmm- after watching Jen I went down to the nightmarket. It was crowded with young folks as usual. I bought a semi-cheap watch from a vendor there. Its a big fat digital watch, super easy to read in a millisecond, just what I want for class. Also I think it looks pretty cool, kinda overly big.


Teacher Craig

Today my boss Tammy had me come in to observe one of the teachers in 3 of his classes. Each class was about 90 mins. Teacher Craig, as he is called, was super helpful, very nice, and very honest about his teaching style and theories. I think watching his classes really helped me get an idea of the flow of the class.

The Wells school has a strict lesson plan for each session. Craig was able to fit 5 - 7 activities into each class. That will help me with the pacing a lot, and I think thats one hard part of lesson planning. You have a certain amount of material, a certain amount of time, and you need to figure out how much time to spend on different segments.

It was also obvious between the different classes that the students make a huge difference in the way the class goes. Some classes are slow and take a lot of patience, others are quick and you can really see them learning and retaining knowledge. Some classes may even be too energetic and you would find yourself trying to keep everyone focused. It seems the pacing between exciting and more calm activities is really important. If the students can feel interested and happy then they will look forward to coming each session.

The teacher's aide can also be very important for keeping discipline and dealing with grading. It's also important to keep the language between teacher and student strictly in English. If the students realize they can talk to you in Chinese they will become lazy and less creative in trying to use their limited English to convey their thoughts.

So I think I learned a lot today. Tomorrow I need to watch another Teacher, Jen. I hope I can learn something different from seeing her style.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Ian went to a bar!

I walked about 45 mins from my home to the Sogo department store in Taichung and met one of my MSN friends, Phoebe (which I used to think was spelled Pheobe...) We drove to the Jing Meng area and went to an Italian restaurant called Fatties. It was good, I had some salmon and cream sauce with fettuccine. Once again it was fun and I personally didn't feel all that nervous or awkward. I guess it's easier when you don't really have any expectations or intentions of dating or whatever. Just meet as friends, if you like them later then thats fine.

So after eating Phoebe took me to Feng Jia, the same place Jess and I went, but this time it was later and much more crowded. Just for fun we went down this one part of the street where it was so crowded that people just had to stop sometimes, it was pretty crazy, good place for pick pockets I'd guess, I put my wallet in my front pocket. After that we went and had some tea drinks at a little cafe type place.

So then Phoebe suggested that we meet one of her friends at the bar, they both work there as bartenders/hostesses. Most of you know I am not a guy who just goes to bars, but this place was small and knowing someone who works there is nice. So I just had one drink, a Red Baron, it wasn't very strong at all, but thats good for me, haha! So I just hung out with them till about 2:30 am and then they helped me get a cab home for $400 NT, it's kinda far from my house.

Phoebe and her friend Queenie were both very cool, funny, and hot as well. I gotta get a scooter soon so I can go hang out with people easier. $400 NT is too much to spend driving around.

Labels: , , , , ,


FEB 09 - Ian's Birthday!

A while ago I told my MSN friend Cher that I was trying to think of something to do on my birthday. We came up with the idea of going to Taipei and meeting up with her friend. So yesterday I woke up early, got a taxi to the high speed railway station. Sadly the time it takes to get there and the price of the taxi is really disproportionate to the HSR fare and speed.

So I managed to buy a ticket, instead of using the automated teller things I went to a real person, which took much longer. Later I found that the machines seem to have and English option, I need to try that next time. The train came, it at about 10:16, and I was off to Taipei! They don't call it high speed for nothing, I think the top speed I noticed on the indicator was 286 kmph. When it got to Banciao I thought maybe we were halfway there but it only took about 10 more mis from there. The whole trip takes 2 - 3 hours on a normal train I heard, HSR is about 50 mins.

So I met Cher and her friend Joy at the Taipei station. We went to a big mall, Breeze Center, I think, and ate a good lunch. Then it was off to Danshui, which was even colder and rainier. We took the MRT (Metro) this time. Cher and Joy were both really funny and sweet and getting to know them and making jokes was really great. In Danshui we walked down some night market streets and then up to Fort San Domingo. The signs were a little confusing to me, but it seems the fort was used by the spanish (hence the name) but later was used by the English. There were some other sections discussing the Dutch's occupation as well.

After this we went back down by the water, it was a very dark day but the view was still fun. People were still setting off fireworks over the water, CNY celebrations won't stop until Monday the 11th. We played some little games at the night market and then headed back into Taipei. There we went through another night market, ate some shaved ice dessert, and took some silly photos.

In many Asian countries it is popular to go to these crazy photo-booths. In America I have only seen the old style which quickly takes 4 photos. This kind lets you choose all types of backgrounds, and you can go out and write on them too. Then the machine lets you print them as stickers of all different sizes and even e-mail them to yourself. So then we were pretty exhausted, we had been out playing for almost 12 hours. I got back on the HSR from the MRT, and went back to Taichung, took a Taxi home, and my legs were aching!

Somewhere in there I also bought my favorite Taiwanese artist's (Chang Chen Yue's) CD, an older album called "Useless Guy." I took a good bit of video too so I will edit that together, maybe with one of his songs, so you can see the trip.

So thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes and greetings, and thanks to Cher and Joy for a really memorable birthday trip!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Chinese New Year!

CNY eve was on Feb 6. Maria and her family took the neighbors and I out to eat a big dinner at a restraunt they reserved. We ate fish, crab, lamb, chicken, beef, and plenty of vegetables. It was really a great meal, lots of food and I think we ate almost all of it too really. So we were all feeling fat and full and happy so we walked on home.

At 12 midnight Ben came down and we set off firecrackers, I took a video of it, pretty fun. Much louder in person than in the video. Ben said that back in the day, everyone on the street would come out at 12 and set off the firecrackers, it must have been something special to see, just one was exciting!

So everyone treated me well on CNY, very fun and memorable!

Labels: , , , , , ,


Talking to Americans

I had to post this one. I just hope I am not this bad.

After living in Taiwan for a while maybe I will have a small bit of international knowledge.


I got a job! Damn, I am so awesome!

I casually wrote out my resume yesterday, I thought, "Hey, might as well get a head start, maybe there are some people out there not preparing for CNY yet, they can get my resume early and consider me over the new years break. Then in the afternoon I got a call from Tammy Wu at Wells English Buxiban. She got an appointment with me for today at 10. She explained the address and the landmarks to look for. I knew some of them so I thought its easy to find.

So I got dressed up, wearing a tie and all. Walked down, got a little lost, but eventually I found the school, it has a big W logo. So I interviewed with the owner, she is very friendly with a kind face and attitude. I think we get along so she explained the job and all that. Basically I can tell she is ready to hire me as long as I give a good impression. I know I am prepared and will do a good job, so I don't feel very nervous. So she basically hired me right away, not sure if she even offered the job, just started getting my information for the ARC forms.

Then she decided, hmm- chinese new year is coming so everything will be closed, maybe we can do the health test today! I said - sure! If you can take me there, that's fine. So we jumped in the car and went to the hospital, they X-Rayed me, took my blood, and poked me in the stomach. Asked a few funny questions and then I was outta there. I guess I will have an ARC very soon.

After that we went to take the photos we needed too. That was quick, although I don't think my hair was as perfect as I wanted.

Then Tammy and her Husband took me to MOS BURGER. It's a japanese burger place, some weird burgers, but actually really tasty, better than McDonalds of course. I had like a pork and cabbage burger...

So yeah, the pay is like $580 NT an hour and about 15 Hours a week. $580 NT = $18 US, so that's about $1080 US a month, which is $34,000 NT. My Rent is $10,000. So even with only 15 hours a week I can pay the rent with a 3rd of my salary. Later they can offer me around 20 Hours a week, once I know what I'm doing.

So yeah, I will be all legal, easy to get a legal scooter, easy to do everything after I got an ARC.
I think their book seems good too. It a work book for the kids, a homework book, and a teachers guide, all made in the same system. I will get to see two other teachers first as well.

Okay, so go watch my video some more, I want more votes! Show it to your friends! Send them the link to the live video page:

I will try to get it up on youtube as well.

Labels: , , , , ,


Taiwan Dreamin' Promo

Okay, I downloaded a trial version of this editing software today and took a few of my DVDs I recorded and smashed them all together into this video. I guess this will portray the exciting style that I hope my Taiwan Dreamin' Program will take on.

This editing program is actually really amazing because it runs on my laptop pretty well, and I had like over an hour of footage i was editing down to the short video. I might try to buy it.

I used the punk rock version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" a cover by 'Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.' I think it's exciting and also gives you the idea of dreaming about travel. There are some little jokes in there too if you pay attention to the lyrics and the images.

Okay so here is the link to the video on LiveVideo:

Taiwan Dreamin' Promo

Please Leave me comments on the LiveVideo page, and vote too! Let me know what you think!
Also, don't feel bad if you were left out of this one, I will use all my intros eventually!

Labels: , , , , ,

I got a job interview!?

I was just looking around on Actually, I was looking at scooters at first, but then I saw an ad on the side for a teaching job, so then I just went into the jobs section. I saw a few good ads so I fixed up my resume and then sent out a few letters of interest with my resume and a anti-fraud copy of my diploma (I made a layer in photoshop and put 'copy' all over it, and 'ask for id' in the middle.)

Suprising even to myself, I even called one place, because it was right here in my district. Sadly they allready had someone. But then a few hours later while I was working on my video editing I got a call asking to come in for an interview. Tomorrow is the last day before the Chinese new years week off, so I got an appointment for 10am. I am pretty excited, I just need to show up and talk with the owner of the school I guess, let them get an impression of me.

One thing I want to stress to her is that I want to be legal. I need an ARC, and I really don't want to work before I receive it. Also I know some teachers are arrested when doing demos and things, so I am worried about that. I like to follow the rules so I think that's a good point she will want in an employee anyway.

So I am pretty sure I know how to get there, it seems pretty close. She mentioned an old train as a landmark and I think I recall seeing one when I was walking to the night market in that direction, see, all the walking paid off, I allready know my part of Taichung pretty well!

Well wish me luck on that!

I was editing my video earlier as well so expect another post in about an hour or so with that as the topic!


Friendly Foreigners

Well, just as many other things are becoming obvious to me, I think the stereotype that all foreigners in Taiwan are losers is being busted, in my mind at least.

Even though I was told this by foreigners, but I have met my neighbors and they are super nice. The French guy gave me some chinese learning tools that are really helpful, he is here to study and goes to sleep early every day, not a party animal or anything.

The other is a couple, a French girl and a South African guy. They are both really generous and polite, and just interesting to talk to. I guess they like to go out to the pubs and stuff, but not like in a crazy way, maybe I need to tag along in order to get a feel for what normal people are doing on weekends, haha!

They also were asking what I will be doing during the non-foreigner-friendly Chinese New Year, where everything is closed and the Taiwanese are all inside with their families.

On another note, but still related to Foreigners, the Canadian guy who is selling the scooter said I can either pay him to bring the scooter down or try to do it myself. It would be a long drive but I'd also get to see Taiwan and maybe even film some video. I think maybe it'd be worth it. All I need to do basically is keep heading south till I get to Taichung. With the mountains on the east and ocean on the west there is not too much room to get REALLY lost, although, who knows, I might manage it.

Either way, getting back to your hometown is easier than going to another person's place.

So yeah my experience so far has been good, and with the people I met online too, all the foreigners I meet are educated and pretty responsible. When you are in a foreign country, you just gotta do what yah gotta do sometimes!

Labels: , , , , , ,


So now I am looking at scooters for sale in Taichung, they seem reasonable as well. Low prices, like 10 - 15k. They are in Taichung too so that makes it easier.

The thing is I still don't have an arc because I don't have a job yet. You know, having an ARC is really a big deal, its used for everything. I guess I underestimated, I need to hurry and get a job!

Well, maybe somebody can sell me a scooter and then settle the other stuff later. But I wonder if I get pulled over will the original owner get in trouble if they let an unlicensed driver use what is technically their bike?

Hmm- gotta figure this out!

Labels: , ,


Theres a guy I met online who lives in Taiwan, he makes a lot of videos while riding his motorcycle, and just talks about random topics. Anyway, I was talking to him on MSN and he said that he has a cool scooter for sale. It's 125cc, which is i guess the biggest class of scooter, and it's been modified as well. He is going to put it on sale online today, for about $22,000 NT (about $660 USD.) I think it sounds like a good deal, he seems confident that it's a great scooter. I think its a good value too, I can probably get a crappy used scooter for less, but who knows if its going to break right away.

The only problem is he lives faaar North of me in another city, and also I don't have a working visa yet so we wouldn't be able to do the paperwork right away. I am trying to think if it would be cost effective to take it down here in a truck or if i might as well just buy a scooter locally instead.

Anyway, I think I will try to buy that, he got offline, but when he comes back I'll ask him more.

Labels: , , , ,


Things to do.

My father scanned my diploma for me, so I have a .pdf file of it on my computer. I can take that on a USB Flash drive to the print shop and have them make me a few copies. I also need to find a way to get my transcript, so I can show people.

Feb 6 - 11 this year is Chinese New Year, so during that time many things will be closed, I won't be able to look for a job during that time really, so I think maybe I can travel to other cities and visit people who are home on vacation, or just visit places on my own. I have one MSN friend who I will meet in Taipei on my birthday. Taipei is kind of like a business City so many people who stay there do not call it their hometown, so during CNY they will travel back down south to see moms and grandmas. So when I arrive there it will be one of the least active times of the year in Taipei, or so I've been lead to believe.

Either way there should be enough open to make it worth the trip, we can go eat somewhere and possibly see some of the sights, with not as many people crowding the streets. I guess from some points of view this might be a great time to visit.

I still need to find a place that sells bed sheets, I didn't really have a chance to do much when I was sick these days.

I wanted to start taking photos so I attempted to buy a memory card for my camera, sadly, I didn't buy exactly the right thing. I have a Micro SD with a Normal SD adapter, so what I need now is a Mini SD adapter that I can plug the Micro SD into. Then I can take photos...

Also, I was invited to CNY dinner at Maria's house so I need to bring some kind of gift, like food. I think just some kind of food that is easy to serve out, like umm, fruit, or some candies...

This morning, momentarily, they are supposed to come install my air conditioner so I am waiting for that. I'll post more later, hopefully I can get that Mini SD card soon!

Labels: , , , , ,

BERSERK – Yes this is relevant.

I wrote this while I was sick, so it's a little odd, but I still think it's interesting. I am editing out some really abstract parts now, so give it a read:

If you haven't watched the Anime Berserk and you don't want to see any spoilers then don't read any further. However I know many of you don't watch anime, and others have already seen the whole thing. Anyway, don't worry, this will be relevant to my Taiwan Dreamin' blog.

Berserk is an Anime about a man named Gatsu, awoman named Caska, and their leader, a man named Griffith. The setting is based on medieval/feudal Europe, and there are many battles taking place in a large war. However the real point of Berserk is not in the fighting, although there is plenty of it. It’s basically about following a dream. Many of the bad guys in the story are aristocrats who take their standing for granted and haven’t earned any of the respect they are given, constantly plotting against each other. Gatsu and Caska both had horrible childhoods, and were saved by Griffith. Caska is in love with Griffith unconditionally and will fight for him to the end. Gatsu is a simple soldier who likes to ‘swing his sword’ but he feels he has found meaning when following Griffith, and considers Griffith his good friend.

However the truth about Griffith will not go well for either of them. Griffith has a dream, to attain power, and he will follow it to the end. He mentions one night that to him, a true friend is someone who has a real dream and will fight for that independently of him, even against him, if that is what it takes, that they should be on the same level in that aspect. As he says this it is shown that Gatsu is listening from down the stairs, a metaphor for Gatsu being a follower, and not equal to Griffith.

The anime ends in the most depressing way possible. Soon after Griffith is appointed a very high rank by the king for all the help he has given the kingdom, he is arrested for treason. Griffith is tortured for an entire year, transforming his mind and body into the most weakened state possible, with no real hope for recovery. Gatsu and Caksa rescue him, and Griffith now sees that Gatsu has surpassed him in power immensly and also won the love of Caska. Griffith makes a deal with the devil lords using a charm he has kept since childhood. This turns him into a demon and he uses the blood of his former comrades as his baptismal water.

The result is that almost all the main characters are killed, Gatsu is almost killed, beaten until he can’t move, with his arm bitten off, and his eye gouged out. In a kind of revenge for surpassing him Griffith rapes Caska in front of Gatsu. I really can't imagine a sadder or more horrible scene.

In the comic (manga) the story keeps going as Gatsu comes back from the brink of Death to get revenge on Griffith. I can’t describe how horrible those scenes can make the viewer feel, even though Caska wanted to be with Griffith, she didn’t want it like this, and Griffith is just staring at Gatsu as he does it, just in defiance of Gatsu, as if to say, you are not on my level and you never will be. I take what you want, even when I don’t care for it, because I am more powerful than you, and you can’t do anything to stop me.

As I said before the story is about following a dream. Griffith wants to be powerful, but Caska and Gatsu’s dreams just revolve around Griffith. The truth is, if you have a dream, it can’t depend on others (although caska points out that until Gatsu accomplishes his dream he will never be able to put her first, therefore he has to be a loner until then.) There is something special about a dream, or goal, that you strive complete on your own. One of the most horrible feelings a human can have is when they are devoted to someone or something and suddenly that thing is gone, or changes into something else. In this case you are not only diverted from your path, but the path is now non-existent. Your goal is shattered, not because you abandoned it, because it abandoned you.

I think in a simple form this has happened to me, and to many others. Although Berserk takes this to a whole new level of tragedy, many of us have felt this way in relationships. Whether you were married or with a boyfriend or girlfriend, if you are not equals when you separate, you will have this feeling of despair. As Griffith said, people will never take you seriously unless you put yourself on their level. It doesn’t matter how well you treat someone, if you want to be with them as equals, you cannot portray yourself as their servant, or their dependant. Even a housewife who is ‘taken care of’ by her husband can hold a very valuable place in his life as an equal, not as an underling. I think in some ways it doesn’t even matter if you are the bread-winner, it is the attitude, the self confidence and ability to hold your own.

Men and women always chase after people they see as out of their league. In high school the football captain who doesn’t seem to give a damn about anyone, who is more popular than the rest, he is the object of devotion. The truth is a man like this, like Griffith, will only use those lower than him to get what he wants and he yearns to find someone on his level to rival and challenge him. In a traditional sense, the football captain will end up with the cheerleading squad captain, and the admirers will just be pushed aside. I am not saying that these captains are actually better people, but they hold themselves in high esteem, they value themselves, and they won’t be attracted to those who don’t. It even makes me think of Benjamin Franklin, the only man on the US currency who wasn’t a president. It didn’t matter, he was so important, and held himself so highly that others couldn’t ignore him, it didn’t matter what is upbringing was, he had aspirations of greatness.

This may be a good way to describe why I wanted to move to Taiwan. My dream is to become worldly. When I am an old man, I hope to be wise. Others will come to me to ask for advice, and I will have an answer for every question. I hope I can face every situation that people find in their development. In the past I have met many people who make me feel ashamed of my level in comparison with them. Whether it is their intelligence, their bravery, their physical abilities, or their life experience, I just know I am vastly below them. I hope that pushing myself to become more independent in Taiwan can get me where I want to be. In the past I let my dreams lie in other people’s hands, or I drifted aimlessly. For a while now I have had this dream, this goal, it does not rely on any one person, only myself.

I guess even though Griffith thought his dream didn't rely on others, when Gatsu left the group and he was arrested, he found he needed others to save him. It's important when pursuing your goal, not to cut ties with your friends, or leave them behind. Don't be too extreme, respect your friends who have helped you to this point, and don't forget you will need them again in the future. In coming to Taiwan I had to leave my friends in the US but I will still keep in touch and let them know how I am doing, and I am sure they will offer me help when I need it.

I really do think that when someone finds a flaw with themselves they need to try to fix it, don’t just accept it as the way that they are. It’s important to know your current limits, but keep working to set your goals higher. This may mean quitting your job, to search for something more challenging or rewarding. Another situation is when a couple has become indifferent. They are not happy or unhappy with each other, they just stay together because that is what is easiest.

I am naturally a very lazy person, I always do whatever is most convenient or easy, so once I completed college I needed to find some kind of goal to work towards, something that I could work up to. I worked for a year to earn the money I needed, and now I am in Taiwan. Now I must get a new job, in a new field, and also learn a new language, in addition to the normal everyday struggles we all face. I hope that when I get back to America and say “Yeah, I was just living in Taiwan, learning Chinese, doing Graphic Design, and Teaching,” people, maybe even older than me, will think wow, this guy has accomplished a lot. Now I haven’t done anything impressive yet, but I hope I can, and I hope that I can say that it was my own perseverance that got me there.

So I think the final lesson is this: Set a goal of your own, try your best to take it on headfirst. When you can do something on your own to progress do so, but when you need your friends and family, that is okay too, and let them know how much they have helped you. Still it is important when you are young to find something you can accomplish that is unique and impressive. You will be telling the story for the rest of your life and inspire others to find their own dream, however big or small it is.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Journey to Taiwan

I wrote this on my laptop the other day and now that I have the internet at home I can post it:

I am in Taiwan! I have to tell you all about the trip, it was pretty crazy for me. My dad's best friend Stevie drove me to the airport, DCA, we left at about 6:30 am. I arrived at the airport and checked in with Alaska Airlines. It only took like 3 mins to get through security so I had a looooong wait until the plane took off. It seems everyone I know gets through the security pretty fast, I think 1 hour early should be enough, not two.

Checking in bags and everything was easy. I had everything at the correct weight. Then I was on that plane to
LAX, that took about 5 hours or something, pretty boring, I just read my Taiwan Guide that my mom bought for me. After arriving in LAX I had to leave the buidling I came into, and go over to the international building to look for China Airlines.

Before leaving the first building I had some of my
US$ changed to NT$, they didn't have enough NT$ for the amount I wanted though. Once again I had to go through security, and it was not a big deal, took slightly longer, maybe 10 or 15 mins. One annoying thing was that I was wearing my coat and sweatshirt that I needed back in Maryland but LA was much warmer. So after security I came to another money transfer station and changed the rest to NT$. Waiting for the plane didn't take too long and I called a few people on my phone. I was disapointed, however, that in all the airports on my trip there was no FREE wireless to use. If you forgot some info or need to send an e-mail you will need to pay, and I wasn't even sure how you were supposed to do that.

Then I got on the CRAZY LONG flight to
Taipei. It took 1 hour longer than it was supposed to. I sat next to some annoyingly quiet people who I assume were taiwanese. We had two meals, Dinner and Breakfast, they were both delicious. I also have to comment that China Airlines has some VERY pretty Flight attendants. I think I spent about half the trip just watching them preform their tasks. Each seat had its own TV thing with a headset so you could watch movies, tv shows, and listen to music. I watch Balls of Fury, and 3:10 to Yuma, listened to some taiwanese music, which sounded old to me, and watched 3 TV shows. One was a japanese show where a guy went around Taiwan eating all the yummy foods. Another had my Favorite Taiwanese musician Chang Chen Yue visiting his home-town. Lastly was a talk show, with the very cute Xiao S, they had Andy Lau on the show, sha sha's favorite actor.

So then I arrived in
Taiwan, now the real challenges start. Well one piece of advice I can give international travelors is PRINT YOUR ITINERARY!!! You MAY need it for checking in with your airline to prove you are the one who bought the ticket, and also when you go through immigration you need to list your arrival and departure flights on the little imigration card. So I lugged by bags to immigration not knowing I needed a imigration card so when I got to the front of the line I was sent back to fill it out. I didn't have my itinerary and was freaking out, durring this time a TON of people showed up and all the lines trippled in size. So I didn't know what to do, so I just made up a flight number. I was watching the immigration people and decided they were not using a computer to check the information, just making sure all the fields were filled out and stamping them. So I got to the front of the line again, I had one thing filled wrong but the guy fixed it, he didn't catch the made up departure flight number. Keep in mind, however, I DO have a departure ticket to Hong Kong, I just didn't have any way to find out what it was.

So finally I got through to the baggage claim. My bag was over by the China Airlines since I took so long. With the plane being an hour late and the immigration delay it was getting late, about 10:30. I took my 180lbs of luggage over to the express bus window and bought a ticket to
Taichung for $250 NT. I got my stuff onboard and then went to sit down. I fell asleep and when I woke up again we were aproaching taichung, it was about 12:45 by then. I was TOTALLY exhausted I was by far more tired than I have ever been in my life. I felt almost delirious, I could barely move my body. I think the change in time and temperature really got to me, and in addition I didn't sleep well on the plane and was dragging around my own weight in bags, not to mention I was getting over being worried about the immigration form.

I asked another
passanger when I should get off since I was going to Beitun District. He was really helpful and talked to the bus driver for me. After getting off there was a Taxi driver waiting. He spoke pretty good english and we had a good chat on the way to my apartment. I showed him the address in chinese that I had printed. We got to the general area and couldn't find the right house number. We stopped by a 7-11 to ask directions. I was sitting in the car squashed by my luggage, the driver and the 7-11 kid stood in the street discussing, then a police car showed up and 4 police officers poured out and joined them. After some discussion it was decided that we passed the house. Then they must have asked why the passanger didn't know where he was going and it was pointed out to the group that I was a 'Laowai' (forreigner) then they all peered in the taxi to confirm. It was pretty funny. So we went back a bit and down a side street. There it was, and my lessor came out to help me with my bags. I paid the taxi 200 NT$, about 6 bucks american.

lessor Ben walked with me down to the same 7-11 and I bought some drinks and thanked the clerk. I went back, paid the rent and deposit, and took my ass to bed. Suprisingly I didn't sleep all that late, maybe I was too excited. So that's how my trip went. I think most people would be better off breaking the journey into two or three parts, staying in hotels between sections of the trip. But after about 30 hours of travel I had made it.


Pei Xin + Internet

I met my MSN buddy Pei Xin today. She used to teach me some Chinese online, she has really good english, actually sounds like a California girl sometimes, haha! We went to eat and then just hang out in my house a little bit. I felt a little sad though because I was still a little sick, so I don't think i was as energetic as usual, haha. Also I didnt shave for a while and wore my glasses and a hat, so I think I looked bad too- haha! Oh well, its not important. She told me she had fun, so that's good. She had to drive her scooter for 1 hour so I feel a little bad about that too, I will go visit her place sometime.

I got my internet and phone line installed today. Seems like a fast connection, it is DSL at 100mbps. I will be online often so I am happy about that.

Right now I am feeling tired so maybe I will sleep soon. I told my mom I would talk to her on Skype tomorrow night at 9 so I need to remember that!

Labels: , , , ,

Stomach Virus?

Well as soon as I got home from the internet cafe last time I got super sick. I threw up and then felt so weak and dizzy and crappy. After I threw up I felt better so I figured either I ate some bad food at the night market, or I had a stomach virus. So I felt pretty drained all day yesterday. I went to the pharmacy and with the help of the chemist who spoke a little English I got some Ibuprofen and some acid reflux medicine. For some reason I was just aching all over. Really sucked. Anyway, today I feel almost back to normal although I am still a little queasy. I think maybe I got sick from the mayonnaise on one of the foods, every time I think of the flavor of mayonnaise I want to puke, haha!

So yeah, I am getting better now - so don't worry!

Labels: , , , ,