Sunday, 21 December 2008
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Work - currently I'm busy thinning peaches, which will be finished this week and followed by some apple thinning before the first harvesting of the season begins in a couple of weeks with apricots.
The crop is looking good this year with the exception of the plums which are disappointing.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Friday, 14 November 2008
I leave just as ex president Chen has been arrested and detained pending charges of graft, bribery, forgery, money laundering and illegal possesion of state assets. He is also one of the few world leaders with the guts to stand up to the Chinese communist party and it's goverment. His arrest is making news around the world, and depending on the editorial stance of various news outlets he is either a crook or one of the few world leaders with the balls to stand up to the Chinese. Which is he? He is both.
The Taiwanese judicial system will deal with him, fairly or otherwise, but to many he will always be the hero of Taiwanese independence.
I believe that that the Taiwanese government is correct in choosing to engage with the mainland government in dialogue, but I also believe that Taiwan is, and must be recognised by the rest of the world as, an independent nation, providing that that is the will of the Taiwanese people.
As for me, my posts will likely become slightly less frequent, as I will have more limited internet access, and will be busy with work, but I'll do my best to post regularly. I'm yet to replace my stolen camera, the crazy exchange rate fluctuations of the currencies I use mean that it is cheaper for me to buy the camera I want in Australia rather than in Taiwan.
So it's goodbye Taiwan, for now anyway.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Monday, 3 November 2008
There is an election in the United States of America tomorrow, the result of which will have ramifications around the globe. There is also an upcoming election in my home country of New Zealand, which the rest of the world probably couldn't give a damn about.
As for Xu Xu, he has perhaps spent more than enough time in the megopolis of Taipei. His Chinese language studies have finished, he went to an evangelical mass conversion and a buddhist retreat in the space of a couple of days, and seems to have started referring to himself in this blog in the third person. It's still another couple of weeks before I head to the isolation of the Australian orchard for another season of fruit and flies, and later in feburary a world of backpackers who will come to struggle with the same. I'm escaping the city tomorrow morning, heading for the east coast backwater of Taitung for a few days. I'll be away from the internet and away from as much Taiwan and world news as I can manage until about the tenth.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
This guy seems to me to be some kind of intolerant religious fundementalist nutjob, but I could be wrong. It seems strange that the Taipei government would give such exposure to this kind of crackpot, but perhaps it's on the grounds of religious freedom of expression. I might wander down there tonight to see what it's all about. I wonder if he will be asking people for money.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Once through (actually before) the plate of hot chillies I ate the night before while half cut caught up with me, so I made for the conveniences. I had heard from many sources about the state of toilets in China so thought I had better use the government's best in the immigration building. It wasn't a good sign of things to come. There was one western sit down type (although I do also like the asian squat), but the seat had been stolen and the last time I had seen such filth was in a small Moroccan town. At least there was a door. No paper though so I decided to wait. Right on the Chinese side is a two storied underground shopping mall. This place is big. As soon as you go down the escatator you will find a miriad of stores selling cigarettes, liquor, food, clothing, bags and watches, the last three at least for the most part being FAKES. If you are in the market for some counterfeit Rolexes, Omegas, iPhones, Louis Vuitton, Prada, you name it, then this is a good place to start. You need to have honed your haggling skills, and quality varies from poor to pretty good, but it's a fun place to spend a couple of hours, the shopkeepers will be constantly calling out to you, some will speak english, many won't.
Perhaps now I will write a few words concerning public behaviour. Living in Taiwan I have become accustomed to a certain amount of spitting, pushing, and general rudeness. Perhaps my standards are too high, but there is no nice way to say this. Many Chinese men are purely disgusting in the way they behave in public. Spitting, swearing, discarding rubbish, pushing, I don't want to generalise, but even if it's only 30% of the population it's more than enough people who show less respect for others than your average street dog or cockroach. There can be an amusing side to this, when in Macau I happened to be walking past a bus stop when a large group of Chinese workers had finished work for the day on a maaasive casino development, and were getting on the bus. The scrum was amazing, I've never before seen people climbing over each other to get on a bus! One bloke would get on, then grab the arm of his mate still three people back, and try to pull him over the top of the others! It actually meant that the bus filled up very slowly, as it was difficult for any one person to get his whole body through the door!
Leaving the underground mall I went for a walk around the local streets. Perhaps I picked the wrong street, as less than an hour later after buying a cache of toilet paper and finding another grotty toilet in a department store I discovered a zip open in the back of my bag and my camera gone. A few days later that pisses me off more than it did at the time, the loss of the pictures more than the stolen camera.
I struck an arc up a narrow alley which took me past a local brothel, the girls lined up outside for my perusal. Macau has it's share of these too, when I'm with Jenny I don't attract any attention but when alone it's a different story. In Macau however the girls merely called out to me, here in Zhuhai I was grabbed by the wrist and prevented from walking any further! It was quite amusing and after a few seconds the girl let me go. Prostitution is open, obvious, and big business both in Zhuhai and Macau. Even in the Venetian casino in Macau, the biggest in the world, I was approached by a girl asking if I wanted a massage.
That afternoon I stopped for a beer in the pedestrian street which is lined with kiosks which double as bars and cafes. The friendly serving girl was from Hunan province and she told me about her time in Zhuhai, about the sort of people who go there, the prostitution scene, the counterfeit goods (a couple of years ago there was a spate of fake beer). She didn't have a passport and had never been to Macau or Beijing or anywhere outside China. She had also had her purse stolen on the same street where my camera was taken, and said it was a notorious strip for pickpockets.
While having my beer I saw a local cop encouraging a homeless man to leave the pedestrian street by kicking him in the arse when wouldn't walk fast enough, a local prostitute finish her carton of drink and just throw it down on the street, not drop it, but but give it a good chuck in a busy street as soon as the straw came out of her mouth.
At around eight in the evening I made my way back over to the Macau side of the border, wondering if they would have any interest in whether or not anybody had stocked up on counterfeit goods. They were not interested, although I never saw any such products for sale in Macau.
Despite having my camera nicked, I actually had a fun day in Zhuhai, and would go back given the opportunity......
Friday, 24 October 2008
Friday, 17 October 2008
Monday, 13 October 2008
Wikipedia has an excellent article on Romaniation of Chinese in Taiwan HERE.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
romanisation of the Chinese language has always been a bit of a problem - sometimes if you are lucky you can see the same street name spelt differently on the same intersection!
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Renting from second landlords can be convenient and problematic. Convenient in that it will be easier to negotiate a short term deal. Problematic in that tenancy laws become blurry, also in that you will probably never meet the real landlord or even know his or her name, so if the house has a serious problem that you feel needs fixing and the second landlord is unwilling to bother the real landlord over it, there is little you can do.
The reason I had to move house was the lease (which here is a standard red booklet which both parties have copies of and which details the terms of the lease) that I had signed with the second landlord for three months was broken by her when she decided to emigrate to the United States of America a month earlier than planned. While it was she that broke the lease, I wasn't sure what recompence I was due, so had a couple of people look over the lease, which is all in Chinese. Apparently every clause was there to protect the landlords rights, and nothing was stated regarding the tenants rights. There are laws protecting tenants however, so to cut it short she refunded me a months rent. I was still without a place to stay. It was looking like I'd be back on Chicago Stu's sofa, when one of the waiters at my local drinking hole, Orange Cafe, said I could stay at his place, as he was spending all his time at his girlfriends house. Great. So I'm now staying there. It's not the sort of place I would rent by choice. It's what's known as a "suite". I've looked at such places before and rejected them immediatley. Basically the front door opens onto a corridor with a number of doors. In this place there are seven rooms (at least here they all have windows). They are all sublet seperately, and as is usual in Taiwan, the tenants don't know each other nor do they have any interest in knowing who the other tenants are. There is no common area. People just come home and go into their little room. There is the most basic kitchen facility, and a shared bathroom. This kind of living arrangement is common in Taiwan. To me it is a miserable existence but it will suffice for the three weeks or so I have left in my semester.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Saturday, 27 September 2008
The Xinhua agency, which has sometimes been accused of carrying state propaganda, took down the story and blamed it on a "technical error".
The article described the Shenzhou VII spacecraft orbiting the Earth and outlined a conversation between the astronauts.
Friday, 26 September 2008
However, it should not be forgotten that this was delibarate contamination of a food product using a poison substance, to give a false protein result in watered down milk. Unfortunately the Chinese system of govenment deals with such matters in a predictable manner. Several low level officials are sacked from their positions and publicly denounced, while the communist party leadership is portrayed as wise and comforting, claiming that they will put everything right, saying that those responsible will be punished severely, while taking not one ounce of responsibility themselves.
The Department of Health has so far failed four Taiwanese companies' products due to melamine contamination. There is a great deal of public concern here over this issue. The government is offering free kidney checks at public hospitals.
Strangely, the government here has raised the permissable level of melamine in food products from 0 ppm (parts per million) to 2.5 ppm. Thus some products which were initially ordered withdrawn are now back on sale. This has caused some anger among the public.
In China there is now a booming market for wet nurses.
The use of baby formula in China has been very high, due in part to aggressive marketing by milk powder companies, which has led to a widespread but false belief that formula is more nutritious than breastmilk.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Monday, 15 September 2008
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Friday, 12 September 2008
Saturday, 6 September 2008
On another note, my landlord has shafted me on our rental agreement, I have a signed document saying I can live here until the end of October, but I have been told that I must leave at the end of September. This is of course a great inconvenience to me as my semester doesn't end until mid October. I will be out on my ear with another 3 odd weeks of sleeping place to find. I wasn't planning on heading back up to Hell Valley but my good friend Chicago Stu has offered to save my bacon..... pending further developments.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Yesterday was air raid day in northern Taiwan. At two thirty pm air raid sirens sounded an attack wail in Taipei and north Taiwan, and for thirty minutes until the all clear was sounded, everybody (except the police and military) had to remain or go indoors, people driving had to pull over and sit in their cars, people on scooters had to pull into alleyways. It was eeirie to see deserted streets and freeways, and to not hear the rumble of the city, but within I would say about four seconds of the all clear being sounded, scooters were roaring again, horns were blasting and all was well in Taipei once more.....
Monday, 25 August 2008
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
There were market stalls, games, music, and lots of Taiwan beer flowing. I planned to just have a couple of quiet ones and head off. I purhcased a cup of the Taiwan Draft beer, a freshly brewed unpasturised beer which is difficult to find outside Taipei, bought a couple of traditional chinese sausages with a few cloves of garlic thrown in the bag for good measure, and sat down with some locals. Within two minutes I had four new friends who kept filling my cup and toasting me, refusing to allow me to buy any beer. Two guys worked at a girly bar in Taipei, and another fellow was a stock trader, there with his prison guard fiancee.This went on for some time, but finally we parted and I wandered about some more with a new perspective on things. I even had a go at the maze constructed entirely from beer crates.
All in all it was a great afternoon out.