Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The Ghetto Jetsetter

In about 2 weeks I've travelled about 24000 km, and there's more coming up.

I got into Taiwan on the evening of February 28th after trying to start my trip out of Brantford, Ontario on Sunday the 25th. Monday the 26th was spent trying to get out of Pearson International Airport in Toronto, but no dice. I had to stay another night in Toronto, a night which passed well owing to the generous hospitality of an aunt and uncle (thank you!)

In less than an hour I'm departing for Hong Kong and I haven't packed yet. My computer's dead, permenantly I think, and I've blown all my money on plane tickets. I'll be in HK until Monday the 5th, the day I depart for Beijing. I'll be back in Taiwan through Hong Kong on Sunday March 18th.

The YMCA Taichung, where I'm borrowing a computer and connection to type this, has kindly permitted me to continue working with them teaching adults from mid-March to mid-June, at which time I'll depart for Vancouver for July and August.

Where I'll be in September depends on whether I get a job with the foreign service with the federal government of Canada. Tomorrow I'll be doing the standardized tests for the Canadian government foreign service (Citizenship and Immigration) at the Canadian Embassy (Consulate?) in Hong Kong. The Beijing trip is to try to meet up with some people who already have the job with the federal government that I'm currently targeting. They might be able to give me valuable information about what to expect if I'm offered a position with the federal government. Apparently I'll know in May as to whether I'm going to be offered a position.

My life just keeps going at a mile a minute. I need to zip back home on my scooter to have a cup of tea and enjoy my last few precious moments of peace and quiet before I hit the road yet again. I don't know when I'll get my pictures up but I'll provide a link here when I do. This blog might not be so updatable owing to the Great Firewall of China which apparently blocks all blogspot blogs. I'll hopefully be able to get some emails out anyways. We'll see.

Wish me luck!

The Strange Laowai

Monday, February 19, 2007


C-C-Cold in Montreal!


through the evening of Sunday Feb. 18th at the Toronto City Centre Airport. Not to be confused with Pearson International, this airport operates from a tiny little island in Lake Ontario literally 40 metres away from the downtown mainland. This still requires a 5-minute-or-less ferry ride.

Normally, the ferry in service is a fully heated two-floor behemoth that traverses the 40-metre gap with all the business-class style and service of the airport's only airline, Porter Airlines.

Due to the EXTREME ICE CONDITIONS, the behemoth ferry was out of service because the ice clogs up some sort of intake vents, making it inoperable. Thus there was only a smaller unheated uncovered one-floor ferry available, meaning that I had to endure a horrid five minutes in the -19 degree Celsius weather. Oh the inconvenience!

Yes, the refreshments at Porter's waiting lounge are all free...

...and yes, free internet is readily available. Stella is served inflight, free of charge, in a glass, and the seats are leather. To top it off, owing to my harrowingly icy inconvenience on the outdoor ferry, Porter has decided to send me a $50 voucher towards any future bookings with them.

The airline really goes all out. I can't imagine a better way to get from Toronto to Montreal. I certainly hope Porter does well. More people in Toronto and people who pass through Toronto should realize that there are better options than Pearson, VIA Rail, and Greyhound to get from Toronto to Montreal or to Ottawa. Porter is even affordable, too.

Snapped during my epic, minus-19-degree-Celsius, 6-hour trudge through the city. My camera's battery died shortly after this picture, so the two poutines I consumed will never be captured in photographic glory for narcissistic blogging adventures.

Can you see my breath? No? Well I sure could!

Time for a nap and some time well spent blogging! My batteries (both of the camera and metaphorically of my spirits) have recharged, so I should be going out again soon.

Initial observations about Montreal (since all Canadians have an opinion about this storied city):

Swear me off the poutine, thanks. I'm about as healthy as an Irishman at the moment, which means I've been eating too many potato-based products. Until next time, this is the Strange Laowai in Montreal saying, Je suis desolee. C'est ma premiere fois en Montreal!

Friday, February 16, 2007


Canadian Musician: David Ace Dean

One great thing about Canadians is that they're a rather creative bunch, at least the ones I keep running into anyways. It was just my luck, then, that I happened to bump into musician David Ace Dean at a house party in Brantford, Ontario yesterday.

Fluent in guitar, turntables and many more instruments, David Ace Dean has put out some pretty fresh tracks as of recently. I highly recommend the track One Year Older. It's got minimalist digital rhythm with just a hint of house influences that underlies a highly developed lyrical stream and a great hook:

And I'm one year older
Then when I moved in at the end of last summer
Since then there's some things I've gotten over

The harmonic instrumentation is very subtle, with guitar, synth vocals, keys, rounding out the sound. The result is a very textured song.

It's also well-written. I know from experience how hard it is to write a really good coherent song; One Year Older definitely fits that bill. Hear it for yourself. Let me know what you think.

Unnamed Friend: But where, Strange Laowai? Where can we hear David Ace Dean's latest hit?

Feel free to check out his myspace page. One Year Older should start playing automatically. That Myspace page should be the best way to stay in the loop about David Ace's latest music, or google him.

The backstory is that I had the chance to jam with the man himself! He is a very impressive freestyler; I was playing bass.

For my next music blog, I'll tell you about a smooth reggae band that hangs out in the green hills of Taidong County, Taiwan. The Strange Laowai: your part-time music reviewer! Music from around the world, straight to your computer!

BTW, more photos are up of my trip. I'll be in Montreal from the night of February 18th to the morning of Feb 21st. Leaving from Toronto through Osaka and Detroit for Taiwan on February 26th. Arrive in Taiwan on the eve of February 27th. I'll likely be in Taichung for February 28th and part of March 1st, but on the evening of March 1st I'll be on a plane for Hong Kong and will probably stay there until March 4th.

After March 4th, I'm not sure where I'll be, but when I know for sure, I'll let you know right here at

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Taichung to Brantford

From hiking in Daken, Beitun, Taichung City:

To a wedding at the Riyueguang Hotel in Hsinchu:

To a cold, snowy afternoon in Brantford, Ontario, Canada:

All in the span of a week. I'd say that this means the Strangelaowai is the laowai who really gets around. Right now there are discussions of possibly getting myself to Montreal and/or London (the one in Canada). There'll almost definitely be more pictures to come. So long for now!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Leaving Taiwan, 離開台灣, 881!

Nine days. Nine working days is all I have left until this trip to Taiwan is up. February 23rd is my last day. The reason there are only nine working days between now and then is because my last day happens to fall just after a big Chinese New Year break. Starting from February 26th, I have a maximum of 14 days to leave Taiwan before I'm considered an overstay on my work visa.

So although I only have nine working days left, I still have until March 12th, more than a month from now, to do whatever else it is I feel like doing, possibly including:

And that's only the beginning. Then I'm off to China. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going yet, but Lijiang 麗江 in Yunnan Province 雲南省 sounds amazing. It's in the area around Tiger Leaping Gorge 虎跳峽, one of the last scenic steep river basins in China that hasn't been dammed... yet. Construction has started, though.

Other than that, an old friend and colleague of mine will have arrived in Yulin 玉林 Guangxi Province 廣西省 for a job teaching Japanese around the time I finish my work in Taiwan, so I'll have to pay him a visit once he's settled in, perhaps along the way to Tiger Leaping Gorge. I quite enjoy the process of always departing while just in the middle of arriving.

After seeing the gorge, I guess it's back to the coast, Xiamen 廈門 perhaps, to take a boat further north, if it's possible. The time frame for all these plans might totally change once I find out which day the Canadian government exams in Beijing will be held on this year.

In the meantime, it's time to say goodbye once again to all the great people I've met here in Taiwan and specifically Taichung, that city that both disgruntles me and relaxes me. The notion of "dual realities" isn't only possible, it is in fact a good way to describe what I experience. Onwards!

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