Friday, August 7, 2009

Bicycling in Taiwan

Cycling is the latest fad to take Taiwan by storm. Who knows how much longer it will remain popular (bowling died a quick death about 10 years ago, leaving dozens of abandoned or converted properties around this part of the island). Anyway, I like to think that me getting into biking is more a result of the suitability of where I’m living now in the countryside, as well as being too old to jump around playing basketball like I might have done in previous years, and not a passing fad.

The bicycle I bought is maybe 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of some of the premium bikes you see so often around here now, but it’s more than enough for my needs. I wanted the black model, but only yellow was available from the factory with the larger frame. I’m just happy to acquire a bike with a 21 inch frame, since most shops don’t carry these.

If the bicycle was a red bike with a bell, a basket, and training wheels or tripod (to borrow a facebook friend’s words) this might be a less boring  picture, but since they requested to see the Giant XTC SE V, here it is!


Burger King in Taichung

About 7 years ago when I moved to Taichung, I remember my first trip to a local Carrefour where I saw a Burger King restaurant in the food court. All the signs and tables were there, but how disappointed I was to discover that it had recently gone out of business!

Where I live now, there is very little indeed in terms of western food. Although I love Chinese food, the Chinese food available here is not the greatest and the only western food within a half hour of my home is McDonalds, which is not particularly appetizing to me or healthy. 

bkSo imagine my excitement when last month I read about Burger King reentering the Taichung market by opening their new flagship store near the FengJia Night market. I paid them my first (and perhaps only?) visit yesterday (picture at right).

Happily, I also see from the BK web site their second Taichung store is scheduled to open just a 5 minute walk from one of the schools where I sometimes go to study Taiwanese. Since Chinese New Year Taichung has both a Costco and now BK again. I can enjoy them occasionally but it’s nice healthwise to have a good buffer in between them and me!

Language Gaffes

Yesterday when I was studying Taiwanese I made two language mistakes that are rather indicative as to how difficult this language is to an (aging) western learner (Actually, I’m sure I made many more but these were the two that stuck out).

First, I read a prayer which should have been addressed to choân-lêng ê Pē (Almighty Father). Instead, however, I added a nasular tone to the second word,   * thus addressing my prayer to “Almighty Illness” or “Almighty Sickness”!

Later I made a similar mistake as I was reading a story about a superlative thief who deftly climbed over a chhiû*-á (wall or fence) when I thought I was saying he had climbed a chhiū-á (tree).

I doubt I’ll ever get beyond these nuances, but at least I’m having fun with the language and can share some simple stories and conversation with Taiwanese friends and acquaintances.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dedicated Bicycle Lanes in Northport

Now that I’m regularly riding on my new moderately-priced 21 inch frame Giant XTC SE V bicycle, it’s reassuring to know that in BeiGang they’ve recently added dedicated lanes for bicycles. No matter where I looked, the scenery was similar (last week on the blogosphere I saw a similar post regarding lanes in northern Taiwan).











Thankfully, there are unobstructed countryside lanes and paths in the rice fields and along the coastline that run for miles once you’re out of town. I’ll never be one of those cycling around the island, but one morning last week I biked 54 km to Dongshi in Chiayi with some friends and have been out several mornings for rides half that far this week on my own.