Monday, November 28, 2005


Address for Christmas Cards, Booze

Who wants to send me a Christmas card? Naturally, I'll reciprocate. I feel closer to home and more connected that way. My snail mailbox is full of nothing but crass partisan political flyers, electricity bills, phone bills, gas bills and water bills. Also, I am working up a fantastic correspondence with the National Student Loan Service Centre! Hooray!

"I'm a 21st century digital boy
Don't know how to live but I got a lot of toys"

Boy, that's for sure! Anyways, help cheer up Another ESL Monkeyslave (new online name?). Send a Christmas card! I promise to send you the wackiest Taiwanese Christmas card possible. You can send your snailmail address to kaiboutilier(at)evilemail(dot)com.

My English address in Taiwan:

No. 2, 7th Floor, 19 Beixing Road
Beitun District, Taichung City
Taiwan ROC 406

The postal code, 406, is actually quite important because it's a little hard for the Taiwanese posties to translate "Beixing Road" into Chinese. That is to say, there are other very similarly named roads in Beitun District, Taichung City that are much more easily differentiated in Chinese than in the weird mess of mixed pinyin that permeates the romanization found in this country and its postal system.

If you're a real genius and can figure out how to print out and stick a foreign address onto an envelope, here's the address in Chinese:

406 台灣省 TAIWAN ROC

Are you seeing nothing but computer-code gibberish? If this is the case, click on the "Character Encoding" button in the "View" menu button at the top of your Firefox web browser. From the Character Encoding drop-down item, find the "Chinese Traditional (Big 5)" end button and click on it. The Chinese characters should appear on your screen properly now. You DO know what Chinese characters look like, right?

Internet Explorer users: figure it out yourself. Find the Big 5 button. That's the one you want.

I give you the Chinese address because it takes about 6 business days from Canada to Taiwan if you use the Chinese address compared to the 10 or so days it takes if you use the English address.

Happy upcoming December!

Sunday, November 27, 2005


北韓旅行 North Korean Vacation, anyone?

Who'duh thunk it? There are tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, homeland of everybody's favorite little dictator, Kim Jong II (here and here). If you are from the United States of America or the Republic of Korea, I'm sorry but you are not permitted to enter our prosperous land, where the people are ardent followers of the juche philosophy. Our Dear Leader sayeth so.

So who wants to go on a vacation to a repressive Communist regime? Who'd like to visit a rogue state? You are part of the Axis of Evil, aren't you? You're either with us or against us!

The amusing thing is that, in order to get into the DPRK, you have to enter from yet another repressive (semi-) Communist nation: the People's Republic of China. Alternatively, Russian citizens can take a train direct from Moscow, the capital of that fine authoritarian state, straight to Pyongyang, DPRK. It only takes a week!

Are you up for it? A Dutch friend of mine did the 7-day tour and says it was the best trip he ever took. Best of all, our neighbours to the south can never proudly and honestly stand up and say that they've actually BEEN to the DPRK, just as a tourist, just to look around!

God bless those other nations that nobody else gives two shits about.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Taiwan Snake Video

Enjoy some fine 70s edutainment!

Click on the title of this post! The linked page has a downloadable media file of an excellent introduction-to-snakes-in-Taiwan video in a format compatible with Windows Media Player. What makes the video so excellent?

ann and I crossed paths with a bright, slender, green snake, about 1.6 metres long, whilst hiking in (大坑) Dakeng on Sunday Nov. 20th. Since 12 out of the 37 snake species in Taiwan are poisonous, I am pleased to report that the snake cheerfully slithered along his/her merry way, not paying us any mind.

I believe the snake we saw was probably the "Green Bamboo Snake", a species the video calls the most common poisonous snake in Taiwan. The only difference between the Green Bamboo Snake in the video versus the one we saw is that ours didn't seem to have a red tail. Maybe the one we saw was a juvenile?

Sunday, November 13, 2005


頭嵙山 Toukeshan

After weeks and weeks of languishing around at my work in a 補習班 language/cram school and not bothering much to go out and get some exercise, I decided to climb the tallest point in 台中市 Taichung City, 頭嵙山 Toukeshan (or Mount Touke, Mt. Touke, or Touke Mountain, whichever sounds best). With a maximum elevation of 859 metres, it's not the most menacing mountain to grace the face of this Earth, but the hiking trails that exist on it range from moderate to gnaw-your-legs-off challenging. After all, ropes are provided for most of the trails.

At some parts of the trails, the ropes are just for the oldsters, but at other parts, the ropes are a necessity so that you don't fall backwards head over heels down the trail like a cartoon character. Upon further exploration, I discovered that the area is also home to a 獼猴園 Macaque Garden, a destination where you can observe Formosan Macaques up close and free of charge as they go about their daily monkey business. I can't describe how captivating it is to watch monkeys go about their business. It's all... too familiar.

獼猴園 Macaque Garden doesn't have a website yet, but I bought a couple of macaque pictures from the front counter, only 拾圓 ten yuan (NTD) per picture. Now if only I had a scanner...

A more multimedia-infused Strange Foreigner blog should be arriving soon as I am almost definitely getting internet at home this week. We're getting hooked up with an ADSL line on November the 15th. I wait with as much anticipation as you do.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Notice To Canadians In China

Well obviously posting this following email on my blog isn't too useful considering that Canadians in China can't read blogs. Whatever the case, it can be posted for Canadians in Canada to read.

I like how the message starts with, "further to a message sent to registered Canadians in China on 10-11-2005...". In other words, nobody knows what's going on. Go about your business. Be scared, but not too scared. Yay post-cold-war intelligence.

From: john.fink(at)international(dot)gc(dot)ca
To: kaiboutilier(at)respectableaddress(dot)com
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 15:34:51 -0500
Subject: Notice To Canadians In China


Further to a message sent to registered Canadians in China on 10-11-2005 concerning threats to four and five-star hotels in China, Foreign Affairs Canada would like to advise you that, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, Chinese security authorities have determined that the source of the reported threat is not credible.

You can obtain consular assistance and further information at the following address:

Taiwan - TAIPEI, Trade Office of Canada
Address: 13th Floor, 365 Fu Hsing North Road, Taipei, 105, Taiwan
Tel.: 886 (2) 2544-3000
Fax: 886 (2) 2544-3590
E-mail: tapei(at)international(dot)gc(dot)ca


Suite au message envoy? le 10 novembre 2005 aux Canadiens enregistr?s en Chine au sujet des menaces dans des h?tels de luxe chinois, Affaires ?trang?res Canada voudrait vous informer que selon le minist?re chinois de la s?curit? publique ,il a ?t? d?termin? que la source des menaces rapport?es n'est pas cr?dible et est sans fondement.

Vous pouvez obtenir une aide consulaire et de plus amples renseignements ? l'adresse suivante :

Ta?wan - TAIPEI, Bureau commercial du Canada
Adresse : 13th Floor, 365 Fu Hsing North Road, Taipei, 105, Taiwan
T?l. : 886 (2) 2544-3000
T?l?copieur : 886 (2) 2544-3590
Courriel : tapei(at)international(dot)gc(dot)ca
Internet :


Security Advisory to Canadians

From: tapei-cs(at)international(dot)gc(dot)ca
To: kaiboutilier(at)respectableaddress(dot)com
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 04:11:23 -0500
Subject : Security Advisory to Canadians

Dear Canadian,

Similar to other missions in this region, we have been advised to send out the following information to Canadians registered with the Registry of Canadians Abroad here in Taiwan.

"On November 4, 2005, Chinese authorities advised four- and five-star hotels in China, including Hong Kong, of a possible terrorist attack in the weeks ahead. Canadians in China should maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly in commercial and public establishments. They should also monitor local developments, follow the advice of local authorities, and register and remain in contact with the Canadian Consular offices in China or Foreign Affairs Canada in Ottawa (toll-free at 10800-1400125)."

As many Canadians living in Taiwan tend to travel to the Chinese mainland, we have brought this information to your attention.

For additional information, please see the Current Issues section of the Foreign Affairs Canada website:

Thank you,

Holly Kwan

Deputy Director, Administration and Consular Services /

Directrice Adjointe, Administration et Affaires consulaires

Canadian Trade Office in Taipei / Bureau Commercial du Canada ? Taipei

13 Fl, 365, Fu Hsing N Road

Taipei, 105, Taiwan

Tel. / t?l: (02) 2544-3000

Fax: (02) 2544-3592

Cher canadien / Ch?re canadienne:

Tout comme pour les autres missions de la r?gion, nous ?tions avis?s d'?mettre le pr?sent avertissement aux voyageurs enregistr?(e)s sur le registre des canadiens ? l'?tranger:

"Le 4 novembre 2005, les autorit?s chinoises ont averti les h?tels de quatre et cinq ?toiles en Chine, y compris Hong Kong, de la possibilit? d'un attentat terroriste au cours des prochaines semaines. On recommande aux Canadiens en Chine de demeurer constamment sur leurs gardes et d'?tre extr?mement prudents en tout temps, surtout dans les ?difices commerciaux et les endroits publics. Ils devraient surveiller l'?volution de la situation locale, suivre les conseils des autorit?s locales et s'inscrire aupr?s des bureaux consulaires du Canada en Chine ou aupr?s d'Affaires ?trang?res Canada (au num?ro sans frais 10800-1400125) et rester en contact r?gulier avec un de ces bureaux."

?tant donn? que plusieurs canadiens qui habitent ? Taiwan ont tendance de visiter la Chine, nous voulions vous faire parvenir cette information.

Pour plus d'information, veuillez visiter la section d'actualit? du site web du Minist?re des affaires ?trang?res du Canada:


Holly Kwan

Deputy Director, Administration and Consular Services /

Directrice Adjointe, Administration et Affaires consulaires

Canadian Trade Office in Taipei / Bureau Commercial du Canada ? Taipei

13 Fl, 365, Fu Hsing N Road

Taipei, 105, Taiwan

Tel. / t?l: (02) 2544-3000

Fax: (02) 2544-3592

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Visa Issues

Visa issues are okay. Branch manager Strawberry is fairly confident she can obtain the business licence by the end of November. There is a "congressional" election coming up in December, so the local governments will probably be following through on their promises up until the election. I believe Strawberry has been notified by the local government as to what time the license can be obtained.

Since you're so keen about Taiwanese visa issues, let me just say: teacher Eggplant, my colleague at Shane Taiping Branch, he is of half-Japanese descent. The deal with the Okinawa branch (Sino-Ryukyu Cooperation Society) of the Taiwan government is that I get a huge visa paper stuffed into my passport to be changed into an actual visa "sticker" upon arrival at CKS. This means I have to walk up to the "Consular Affairs Section" and ask to have my visa paper turned into a sticker before walking through customs at CKS.

At Okinawa, they tell you, "we offer non-extendable visas," but Eggplant, that happy-go-lucky man of half-Japanese descent, got a visa sticker that did NOT have a "cannot be extended" stamp on it, whereas my visa sticker DID get a "cannot be extended" stamp. We went through the exact same visa process, so why are our visa stickers different?

Presumably it's cuz I'm white, and visibly so.

In other news, I think I'm going to start a computer English education unit with some of my students in which they start their own blogs in English. The possibilities are endless.

Enjoy your November, everybody. Life is better in the subtropics.

Friday, November 04, 2005


單純 Danchun

A lot of Taichung people like to say they are very 單純 danchun, which literally means "pure" and/or "simple". But what does that mean?


We're very simple around here.


I finally had an enlightening conversation about the social meaning of this strange phrase, versions of which have kept popping up in various conversations I have been having around here.

單純 Danchun refers to Taichung people's relaxed, non-judgemental attitude that is considered a source of pride around here. In other words, in Taichung, nobody judges other people based on dialect or clothing, for example.

From a stranger:


We're more simple around here.

Buh??? More simple than???

It turns out that this is, more or less, an implied comparison with Taipei people. When people here go out of their way to mention that they are 單純 danchun, they simply mean that compared to Taipei people, Taichung people are less judgemental and more relaxed. They aren't comparing themselves to Japanese people, or Westerners, or anybody else. All eyes are focussed on Taipei, creating somewhat of an inferiority complex around these here parts, like Taichungers have to be extra genteel to make up for their lack of cosmopolitan flair that they don't want anyways because any kind of arrogant judgement that goes along with cosmopolitan flair would make Taichung too much like Taipei, and that is the last thing Taichungers want.

I must have been a sociolinguist in my previous life.


Transration, prease.

I sent an email to a new Japanese friend of mine who I met in Naha, Okinawa. Naturally, he responded in Japanese, so I need a gist translation, and I don't trust Babelfish. How's your Japanese?

"Yes ?えてますよ 昨日は?しかったですね! 私も英語を勉強して しゃべれるようにします Do you remember Yonaminesan? 彼もよろしく言っていました。私はサ?フィンもしているので 台?にもサ?フィンをしに行こうと思っています そのときは台?で一緒に酒でも飲みたいですね! メ?ルありがとうございました またメ?ルします See you again."

Babelfish rears its ugly head to produce this:

"Yes remembering, it increases, yesterday was pleasant, don't you think? is! I studying English, Do you remember Yonaminesan which it tries to be able to talk? He said may. In Taiwan we would like to drink that time when I it meaning that also surfing has done, even in Taiwan surfing will die intend probably to go together even with the liquor don't you think? is! The mail thank you and the mail See you again which is done."

Is he saying he wants to get drunk and go surfing in Taiwan?! Cuz that's what it sounds like! After all, I invited him to come over to Taiwan any time.

Drinking and surfing. Sounds dangerous... ...and fun. This guy's homeland is Ishigaki Island, a little Okinawan island paradise that is less than 200 km away from Taiwan. Presumably he has ample experience when it comes to combining the fine sports of drinking and surfing.

How do I formulate an articulate affirmative response that makes sense? To him, I mean...

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