Thursday, 30 September 2010

#273: Big Big Difference.

Made a realisation today - when I left England and Japan, I actually wanted to leave those countries. I was really looking fwd to moving on to the next big bound.

Taiwan is the first country where I didn't wanna leave yet.

Man, does this mean I'm entering that 'settling and roots' phase?


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

#272: Taipei, I Love You.

For a city that I'd never heard of before I came, and for a country where half the time people are mistaking for Thailand - this tiny island has proved itself to be pretty magical. It's like the best kept secret in the Pacific.

More than anything else, it'd have to be the people that has made this particular stop something special.

I've met with, lost touch with, kept in contact with, bumped into, drank with, ate with, danced with, travelled with, sang with, swam with, rowed with, walked with, climbed with, shot with, ran with, played with and laughed with some of the most awesome people in the world here. I love all you guys. Seriously each and every one of you peoples have shaped this experience into what it is and me into what I've become (That's right, I'm blaming you guys).

If it wasn't for a promise I made to myself before I left England, I probably wouldn't be leaving Taiwan now.

For sure this ain't goodbye...

See ya later, 我的台灣朋友.

Actually I have to come back. There's one last thing that I can't quite bring with me yet.

She couldn't fit in my suitcase.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

#271: Like A Strange Alien Landscape.

Everytime the girlfriend puts one of those blackhead nose strip thingies on my face, I'm both fascinated and horrified by the literal crap that it pulls out.

Not by the crap itself. That's to be expected. My face gets itself into some pretty hazardous environments.

But more at the freakin' length of some of these towers and columns. Just how far down do pores go? It's like my face is a big colander.

Monday, 27 September 2010

#270: I Have The Same Problem When Ordering for Large Groups

When packing up the apartment and sending stuff home, I thought I'd left just enough stuff behind to fill the suitcase and leave a bit of extra room for touristy stuff in Bali.

By the time I'd put everything into the suitcase I had to unzip the expandable lining and could barely lift the damn thing down the stairs.

When I got a hold of some scales it turned out the final package came out to over 50kg.

Umm... whoops.

After getting another box or two from the post office I left nothing to chance. My suitcase is now refreshingly empty.

Though now all I have to last me the next two and a half weeks are two pairs of pants, a sock and a coupla tennis balls that I use as laundry balls. I think it'll be ok.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

#269: Budget Cuts.

Crap, might have to delay my Great American Roadtrip.

Only just clicked today how hard that last-minute trip back to England last month hit my finances. Not good. Not good. Not good.

(He says the night before he's about to check into a four star hotel to spend the remainder of his Taiwan days.)

(...and also two weeks before swanning around tropical islands in Bali...)

Still, not good. Not good. Not good. =(

Saturday, 25 September 2010

#268: Potential: Maximise.

While my years in the Scouts have given me a knack for reading a map at a glance, it just wasn't handy and kinda dangerous to be messing about with paper maps while riding on a motorcycle. Especially on midnight rides.

So with my trusty hand-me-down Sony Ericsson k810i (released: 2007) and my even trustier TomTom Mark II bluetooth GPS receiver (released: 2005), some free online tools and Google Maps, I turned my non-smartphone phone into a navigation unit complete with waypoints and markers:

- I went to and downloaded their wicked awesome gps tracking app.
- I used Mobile Atlas Creator to create the entire Google Maps of Taiwan (including a bunch of zoom levels) into a handy zip file and copied to TrekBuddy's atlas folder.
- I used Google Maps to plan my original route.
- Since Google Maps doesn't actually have an option to export directions, I used GMapToGPX to create a directions file for TrekBuddy.
- Hooked up the TomTom to the phone, strapped the phone to the front of my bike. Ready to roll, simple as.

Despite my reputation for being a bit of a techy person, I very rarely have the latest and greatest hardware. Most true tech people don't. We just know how to use what we have to beyond their intended abilities.

I like to think of it as the less-greasy version of bodging something together. =)

There are those who'd think it's a lot of bother for a bit of extraneous convenience... but that'd be missing the point completely.

Friday, 24 September 2010

#267: From the Goose's Neck to the East, to a Lotus Flower, to an Orchid, to the North.

5:00am. Kenting. Want to set off now but blinds are down on the front of the hotel?! Wtf! Locked in! Thinking of climbing out the window.

5:08pm. Kenting. Freedom! Taipei, see you at dinnertime.

7:30am. Taidong. Route9 is officially my fav road in the world. Had to ride thru rubble tho. Some sectio ns were utterly destroyed.

9:05am. FongBin Tropic of Cancer marker. I've seen more old ppl on mobility scooters than I've seen cars, bikes and trucks combined.

11:00am. XinCheng. Umm... I'm running about 3hrs ahead of schedule. (O.o)

3:30pm. Taipei. Roadtrip: Done!

(Batteries ran out earlier, but, for completion..) 1:30pm. Yilan. Crap, phone outta batteries. Now, where's my sextant...

This is the route I took, including detours and missed turnings.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

#266: From the North to the Sun & Moon, to the South, to an Imperial Goose's Neck.

7:45pm. Taipei. Roadtrip: Start!

10:02pm. Hi Emei Bye Emei.

11:40pm. DongShur. 100km of fresh twisty undulating tarmac all to myself. Shangri-la! Its here!

1:05am. Sun Moon Lake. Route21 you sexy thing, if I had 4 wheels I'd trace your curves even tighter and we'd both be tingly.

4:00am. XinYing. I got lost! In what smelled like redneck country?! At 3am! I've now seen real pitch blackness. Smells like mud+poo.

5:05am. Tainan. Extended pitstop. Pee. Looking outta place coz still in waterproofs from Taipei.

6:05am. Tainan. Breaktime over!

9:05am. PingBu. My god the roads between Tainan and Kaosiung are smelly. Pee and poo. Yet couldnt see any farms?!?

10:30am. Kenting. Made it. My bum hurts.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

#265: Winging It.

For all my stressing and fussing before any impending trip, I always seem to abandon all hope just before the start, chuck out my plans and proceed with the, "Ahh let's just go and see what happens." method of embarkation.

Things always seem to turn out well in the end.

Yet, if I decide to just go with the flow from the beginning - I'll spend most of the trip fretting about the lack of prepwork.

Never pronounce something as useless, even if you don't think you're actually using it.

It's all in the process, init.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

#264: Don't Count On Me.

If you're showing me that you've made no effort to help yourself first, and that you're planning on just relying on other people for the rest of your life.

Then don't plan on me being one of those people.

Monday, 20 September 2010

#263: Packing...

...up two and a half years of my life into two and a half boxes is either a testament to just how far developed my nomadic abilities have become, or an indication of a continuing disassociation with all that is tangible.

Bluddy 'eck.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

#262: In Defence.

On more than a couple of occasions I've been told that I have this incessant need to be right all the time - and usually on a related note, I've also been told that I always have an answer for everything (My parents know this lil trait very very well).

The first issue surprises me coz I never thought of it that way - I guess it comes from that I actually do tend to have an answer for everything. But not coz I need to be right, far from it. It comes from a time in a previous life when I was much more loudmouthed (even more so than now), and said mouth would be constantly getting myself into embarrassing situations.

As part of the process, I developed what I suppose for me - is a defence mechanism to try to always challenge my own opinions before putting them forward. To the point where now I never present a viewpoint without having sufficient logical evidence to back them up. Hyperlogic helps.

Apparently, this point-counterpoint thingy irks a lot of people.


It's easy to forget that people who are able to backup their opinions with lots of fancy words still don't necessarily have to be right. All it shows is that they've thought of their output before outputting. That's all.


I know what I know, if you know different, then let me know and I'll see if it revises what I know. Like it or loathe it; that's the best way that I know how.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

#261: Yi Ge Dan Bau Fan, Shu De.

Man, there's nothing quite like stumbling home in the middle of a typhoon, half tipsy and fending off the advances of a local chickadee working her Daisy Dukes to maximum effect. Ordering a meal from your favourite 24hr YongHe soya milk breakfast store on the way back, in Mandarin, specifically making sure it's Buddhist vegetarian (36days and counting...) and then landing in your bed in one piece.

And still being coherent enough to blog about it 5mins later.

I'm gonna miss you, Taipei.

Friday, 17 September 2010

#260: "Kkkkkkkrrrrrrrrccccchhhhhhhh...."

The day I stop using a wallet with a velcro band on it, is the day I admit that I am in fact, over 25.

It has to happen one day.

Just not today.


Thursday, 16 September 2010

#259: Yikes.

Man if I knew back then what I know today...

...I'd be the biggest manwhore ever.

Dodged a bullet there.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

#258: For The Greater Ease.

Along with being a functional procrastinator, I'm also quite a lazy person.

Actually I'm an incredibly lazy person.

However I'm an incredibly lazy person cursed with an aptitude for foresight.

What this means is that I often find myself taking steps into ensuring my laziness for future events.

What actually happens is that I'll expend more effort in my preparations than if I had actually just gone through with doing whatever I was trying to avoid itself.

I once constructed an entire system of ropes and pulleys out of LEGO around my bedroom so that I could open and close the door from my bed. Took weeks of building, testing, revising and fine tuning before I got it opening the door just so.

The door was one metre from my bed. The Goonies had a big effect on me.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

#257: Mental Rider.

Crap, just did the maths on the days I have to be in town in order to finish up last-minute-leaving-the-country stuff and the amount of time I actually have left in the country.

There just isn't any time in between all the paperwork, moving palava and tax forms for me to get an extended leave to get my round-Taiwan roadtrip in.

Guess I'll just do a speed run - ride down and touch the tip of Kenting, and back in 3days.

Monday, 13 September 2010

#256: Rediscovering My East/West.

When I first started learning Mandarin, one of the first things we learnt was that the Chinese word for 'thing' or 'something' was 東西 (Dong Xi), aka 'East West'.

This struck me as something quite quirky and poetic in that ancient Chinesey ethereal way. It became one of my favourite mental concepts as the image of two opposite directions that encompasses all things, both physical and abstract is a pretty profound knock on the head.

It was also something completely new to me, coz in spoken Cantonese, we refer to generic things as 嘢 (Ye).

That was until I was speaking to my Mum one day and I referred to a random object in the kitchen. Then I realised I'd just used the 東西 form of 'thing' in Chinese.

I speak to my Mum in Hakka, and in Hakka, we don't say 嘢, we say 東西.

I'd actually been using both forms all my life and to that point in time, I'd never realised that 'Doong Xee' in Hakka was in fact 東西, East West.

It took me coming to Taiwan and learning a third form of Chinese to make the connection.
Blew my mind.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

#255: So... Velvety, Like Drizzling Honey All Over.

As a treat to myself and in celebration of my final month in this apartment, I went out and bought toilet paper.

The extra deluxe stuff this time. Multi-ply with quilts. They're scented too. Lavender, I think.

My bum-parts are loving me right now.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

#254: And Still - No Hangover.

So evidently, after four bottles of Scrumpy Cider and a Heineken, the most a glass of Absynthe can do is make me "merrily tipsy".

Mmmm. Minty.

Friday, 10 September 2010

#253: Mark: One Epoch.

For my very last class, I was covering a kid's class for a teacher on holiday.

I'd taught them for two lessons this week.

When I told them that their regular teacher would be back next week, they asked why.

I told them that I was leaving Taiwan, they asked whyyyyyyyyyy.

I told them that I probably wasn't coming back anytime soon, they asked WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?


Then I told them to bugger off coz I wanted to go home already.

I'm officially in negative income now.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

#252: Worldbuilding.

It's often overlooked - so much so that I have to remind myself every so often. Something about the best success stories I've seen, read and heard about in the world.

Should be noted that I'm talking about a very specific type of success here tho - the kind in which produces what is regarded as the best of whatever their chosen product or service is. Whether it be the self-made millionaires, the most (commericially) successful movie makers, the best restaurants, the top business firms etc.

In other words, the 'obvious' kinda success.

Anyways. The one common thread I've noticed throughout - is not what is often written about the figurehead's force of personality, or the long history of the company, or even the plain blind luck these entities went through to get to where they stand today.

Instead, the formula seems pretty simple. Blatently obvious even: These companies and the people within them tend to be made up of the very best personnel that the world has to offer. Whatever your definition of "the world" may be. The clincher is that they absolutely will not settle for second best.

Sounds so easy - if you want your enterprise to do well, surround yourself with people who are the best at what they do. Take no substitutes, accept nothing less, cut loose any dead weight on sight. After all, you wanna be the one setting the bar, not one of the ones aiming for it.

This whole post is pretty redundant. But I'm writing it for myself. I'm gonna be starting my own business one day. Of that much I'm sure.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

#251: Time Travelling.

Something's not right here.

I'm going to bed at 11pm.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

#250: Oh, To Be Wonky Again.

For my final week, I'm suddenly finding myself covering kindergarten classes in a school way way waaaaay on the other side of town. Despite the length of time I've worked as an English teacher, I've actually never done a proper kindy schedule before (8:45am-4pm days as opposed to 1pm-9:30pm days).

On the one hand, I'm thankful for the extra hours, the challenge and fun of actually learning something new again - and the fact that these tiny lil geniuses are freaking amazingly cheery blighters!

On the other hand though... having to wake up at 7am everyday is really kicking my arse.

A regular human bean might say that is not exactly excessive, some might go as far as to say that it's actually what normal people have to do everyday of their lives. Quite naturally and happily... well maybe not all quite so happily.

But, whoever said I was built to be regular?? (O_o)

3more days... I can hang on for 3...more...days...

Monday, 6 September 2010

#249: 249 Already?!?!?

Wait, when did I go past 200 posts??

*looks back*

For my 200th posting I wrote about...

...denture cream?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

#248: 4years, 8months and 5days.

Or 1709days.
Otherwise known as 244weeks and a day.
Which could also be 4.68years.

Though effectively that's 1221 weekdays. (Thanks Wolfram Alpha, you scary irreverent data crunching beast you.)

That's how long I will have been with my current company.
Tomorrow will be the first day of my final week with them.

Through all the experiences I've heard from my fellow teachers over the years on how they feel about the company, both positive and negative; I gotta say - they've treated me well in my time with them.
Of course there were times when it coulda been better, but there were many more times when it coulda been a lot lot worse.

From the newbie teacher way back then to this jaded bastard writing this now, I really cannot complain about the path I've taken. Thanks guys. =)

Looking back on my old blog 1709days ago reveals musings on boobs and miniskirts shortly after I settled into Japan.

Haven't grown that much then. Good!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

#247: Lightbulb Moment.

Huh, I may have hit upon a way to take all my experiences in the past five years, and monetising it...

So how does one go about making a business plan?

Friday, 3 September 2010

#246: Missing Rumbles.

You know that thing where when you're so engrossed in what you're doing that you completely miss a meal?

Yea, that just happened.

Good thing I'm in TW.

I *heart* 24hr 豆漿 Breakfast Stores.


Thursday, 2 September 2010

#245: October.

TPE -> HKG -> DPS -> LHR

Sorry Griffiths, you're a handsome man, but you're not motorcycle bungee jump handsome.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

#244: Karma.

Somebody stole my umbrella on the train today. It was quite a nice spring-loaded one that I'd bought only 2days ago...

As I went and bought my fourth umbrella this year, couldn't help but smile at the universe getting me back for stealing all those umbrellas from the front of combini's in Japan...

At one point I think I had 12 of those cheap clear plastic jobbies behind my front door.

It rained a lot in Japan.