Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pictures FINALLY- Taipei Zoo, Taiwan July 2012

 I think the reason that I never uploaded pictures to this blog last year in China .... was because my internet was soooooooo SLOW and sometimes unpredictable. But I just uploaded this pics in a matter of seconds- literally. So I'm going to make an effort to include at least one picture in every blog entry that I post here from now on! (: These were taken at the Taipei Zoo last Sunday. It was a bit of a subway ride- about 45 minutes on the MRT but it only costs $60 NT ( only $2.00 bucks US) to enter and there is SO much to see..... so many areas .... over a wide area of space. Hippos ( real ones, not just the stone ones I posted here) Giraffes, Elephants, Gorillas, Koalas, Monkeys, Lions, Penguins, Pandas, Flamingos, etc. etc.

I was also VERY happy to see that each animal area seemed to be very "open" - lots of space for the animals to roam around in. They all looked very healthy and reasonably content, considering they are being stared at all day by "foreigners" - humans. There was only ONE ... kind of "cat" I'm not sure what it was in the "Nocturnal House" that seemed a little restless .... he looked like he was pacing around and could definitely use some more space and maybe some sunlight! But other than that, they all looked content. I was especially happy to see the Asian elephants - two together ... clearly enjoying having the company of each other. ..looking happy... eating greens from the trees above.  I was also happy to see that the zoo is working in partnership with the Thai Elephant Conservation Center to save the Asian Elephant. I can't read the Chinese but I found this poster (above) near the Asian Elephants.

Hope you've ENJOYED these first few pictures here .... I promise now that I'm no longer suffocated/surrounded by "The Great Firewall"....  there will be a picture in every post... and I'll dig up some "oldies" from China last year and post them too. K...  zaijian ( "goodbye") for now.  (actually zaijian seems so formal. Most Chinese/Taiwanese more often just say "bye bye".) Or maybe I could say something like "xianzai bye bye" ... "bye for now"?  Either way - I'll post again soon.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Goodnight Bats!

"It's ONLY 1:35am!" - me to myself

I feel like jumping for joy.

"It feels like it should be so much 'later'" - is literally what I thought when I looked at the computer screen clock. But that's ok. It means I'm not in bed any later than usual. It means.... I still have time to get to bed.... "earlier" - than 3am.

The other day I had a meeting with my School Manager. Just a followup after my 1st class observation. Everything went well with the observation and this was kind of "tying up the loose ends" meet up. We went to a coffee shop across the street from my school.

I had filled out a little questionnaire about things that I felt confident with, areas/things that I needed help with, what I thought could be improved, etc... and I didn't hold back. Not that, that means I was angry or extremely blunt, but I was honest on all sides. I don't always offer up my opinion on something randomly, but if someone asks me a question about my opinion I have this thing where.... I'm just honest. If I am asked something, in that moment I will give you my honest feeling/thought/idea/truth.

So when he asked " are you having any problems outside of work?" I wrote down that since I got here, for the past 2 months, I've been having trouble sleeping. Ironically enough, I found out that my manager's wife is a manager at a Starbucks in Taipei!

APPARENTLY - the coffee in Taiwan is not the best quality and so they add extra caffeine to it. I'm not sure "HOW" this improves the quality.... I would think quality would have to do with the flavor...but that explains my 3am night owl life that's been going on here.

I could drink coffee around 9pm and fall asleep fine back in the US... but that's not working here.
SO what I've decided to do is to stop all coffee-drinking after 1pm. Maybe we can stretch it to 3pm at some point- but for now? no mercy. Gotta be tough.

Sleep was definitely easier last night- I woke up feeling more refreshed this morning- like I had, had a better QUALITY of sleep. So hopefully I'll get in bed by 2pm here - "one hour early!"- and continue weening myself off and hopefully getting to bed by midnight on average soon.

Also, I'm going to try to write more here, more regularly, in this blog..... just to "vent"... and in between give some posts more in the vein of my "Tourist's guide to ..... Taipei" and/or " Things I love about New York..."

I don't know where Lisa and I are now. It's challenging to be that person who is caught at the crossroads of heartbreak with one person and potential hope with another person. But I know many people have been there. This is also probably the time that "rebounds" happen if and when they do. But I don't have the heart for a rebound. Actually, I don't think you need a heart to have a rebound, but I'm just not the person who jumps into something new so quickly. I'm still... longing for that past a little and I just need time to... sort through it and come to terms with it.

I wrote on Facebook earlier saying that I'm going to go to Guangzhou - and either way I still am - to visit Jenny's family for Chinese New Year-- to talk to Lisa in 6 months and we will "have the talk" in Chinese and figure out what went wrong.  But I don't know if that was just defenses, just my denial kicking in .... I'm still tangled up in this.... and I'm the only one who can get myself out of this web. I just need some time.

and some sleep now.

Remember if you are in TAIWAN, reading this, the COFFEE IS EXTRA CAFFEINATED!!!! Don't drink after 4pm!
 ..... unless you are a Taiwanese high school student who attends high school during the day and then goes off to  your complicated math skills buxiban, English buxiban, and weekend music class.... and you need 12 hours to catch up on all that homework. Then you've got a pass.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NYC EATS & SWEETS Katy's Recommendations

Hi friends, 

OK so I thought I would use my insomnia constructively here and make up a helpful little list of places that I would go to if I was in New York City right now. My friend Ann is going to visit NYC in August which is actually pretty soon ... but I'm sure she's not the only one. So, if you are on your way to "the city" - there really is only ONE in the world- here is a little list of some places that I love and that I'm REALLY missing now. So check em' out- GO and ENJOY for me!

#1. Roma Pizza - get a Fresh Mozzarella Slice.... or two!.... or a whole pie! Let it cool a little too... don't eat it toooo hot. A burnt mouth misses out on all of that sweet tomato-y basil-y and milky fresh cheese goodness. Seriously, I've never had any of their other pies .... because there is no need. Fresh Mozzarella is the end of the line. Why go anywhere else after you've been to heaven?....

   85 7th Ave
   (between Berkeley Pl & Union St)
   BrooklynNY 11217
   Neighborhood: Park Slope
   (718) 783-7334

see their review on YELP here ----> 
SUBWAY LINE - take the Q to 7th Avenue and walk down a little bit. 

#2. Calle Ocho - especially for their UNLIMITED SANGRIA BRUNCH. Just don't get too tipsy/crazy or you will get noticed and get cut off. I haven't seen this happen -- but I've heard that since moving to their new location, the restaurant has tightened its grip a bit and sharply narrowed the definition of "unlimited". I haven't been to the new location, and I've only been here for brunch --- but that said, the brunch is delicious, colorful, amazing .... a great time! The banana-lychee sangria was one of my favorites. 

Inside the Excelsior Hotel
45 W 81st St

New YorkNY 10024
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
(212) 873-5025

see their review on YELP here ------->
SUBWAY LINE - take the A, B, or C line to the 81st st./Museum of Natural History stop. 

#3. CRIF DOGS - every kind of hot dog imaginable - even turkey and vegetarian varieties. 
The "Tsunami dog" is my favorite here- it's bacon wrapped with green onions, pineapple, and teriyaki sauce. Very yummy. 

113 St. Marks Pl
(between Avenue A & 1st Ave)
New YorkNY 10009
Neighborhoods: East Village, Alphabet City
(212) 614-2728

SUBWAY LINE- I'd take the F train to 2nd avenue. That's easiest for this part of the  village I think.

- I'm tired of posting links--- but I think they have a review on YELP too. Just click on YELP and see. OR trust MY review! :p

#4. DYLAN'S CANDY BAR!!! -  did you like Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory? - step inside this store and you will INSTANTLY feel like you are there.
I can't promise that you'll run into any Oompha Loomphas BUT I CAN promise that it has every variety of candy that you love- and even some retro- childhood favorites that might not be sold/distributed to most stores anymore. Next year when I go home to visit NY, I want to take my Aunt Joan and Aunt Anne here. They would LOVE it - esp. the old candies from "back in their day". ALSO- Dylan's has a great little cafe where you can sit and order ice cream sweets and even some "grown-up treats"-  really cute looking and yet quite strong, alcoholic drinks. The phrase "Like a kid in a candy store" - has never been more appropriate/literal- come here and you will feel the giddiness of youth, of all of the endless, sweet possibilities in front of you. 

1011 3rd Ave
(between 60th St & 61st St)
New YorkNY 10021
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
(646) 735-0078

SUBWAY LINE - probably your best bet is to take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 59th Street. 

Ohh... it is getting late over here. It's 2:15am and I'm getting a little tired actually, maybe late-night blogging is the key to cure my insomnia? hmmmm I'll have to try it more often. 

I want to post more links .... but quickly just to name some places off the top of my head.

OZZIE'S COFFEEHOUSE - Park Slope Brooklyn - a lot of varieties of coffee, a nice local/organic change from "Starbucks", comfy couches, tables, and chairs. They serve some delicious cakes and pastries too. 

AQUAGRILL - Spring St., Manhattan- a little on the expensive side, but they've got a nice variety of oysters - East Coast/West Coast, Canadian, etc.  really great menu in general - lots of different seafood. 

LOKI LOUNGE - Park Slope, Brooklyn. - it's more of a bar/lounge than a real "restaurant"- but they DO serve great food TOO... along with their drinks. Laid back, nice atmosphere. "Chill" - is what it is. I remember coming with some of my old co-workers after work- usually on a Friday after pay day. - good spot to kick back, sigh and say TGIF!

ahhh... there are still more places that I would recommend. But I think I'm just gonna to have to do an " Eats & Sweets: Part 2" entry at some point here .... because it's time for "Head 2 Bed" for me.

So don't gobble these up too quickly.... save room for more later! 

Good night!


Saturday, July 7, 2012


I have insomnia. Chronic insomnia. If it's been going on for 2 months regularly.... I don't know what else to call it. It's not "jet lag".

It's a pattern that just doesn't want to break. Although, maybe having late night cups of coffee are finally starting to have some effect. There was a time when I'd still be yawning after a few gulps of caffeine.

Maybe my body is changing. Maybe I don't have the same tolerance?

I don't want to take any sleeping pills .... but I need to change something.

I am often still sitting up awake when the birds start chirping in the morning- like they are doing now. One morning a few weeks ago I remember going to sleep around 4am. At some point I woke up "BLINDED" by this LIGHT outside of my apartment .... "UGHHHH!". My washing machine is out on the little porch around the corner from my apartment. There IS a light out there that you can switch on and off if you are doing wash late. I didn't think that someone was crazy enough out there doing their wash at 4 in the morning.... but I wondered why they didn't turn off the light. I crept to my window and opened/pulled up my shade slowly to see ....

The sun. It was Mother Nature. It was NATURAL light. There was no way for me to "turn it off". I smiled and laughed to myself at the ridiculousness of it .... this whole crazy cycle that brought me to the point of questioning and almost cursing the sunshine.

I am on a different teaching schedule this year - I still have two days off per week - but they are Wednesdays and Sundays. I thought at the beginning that it was my body getting used to a non-consecutive "weekend"... but it's not as if I am waking up early on Thursdays or even Mondays. It's not as if I have to wake up early. I don't have to be at work until 2-3pm most weekdays- staying til about 9pm when my last class is over. I would think that being "busier" would make me more tired- wanting to crash in bed when I came home. I DO want to crash .... but it's usually just on the couch, wide awake.

I went to work early today, "my early day" is Saturday- then came home tonight around 8pm - after some yummy dumplings and noodles dinner at my favorite little restaurant in Ximending called "Wonton Vegetable" - literally the English translation of the name on the menu looks something like that. I went on the computer til around 8:45 and crashed it bed at 9pm...

and here I am at 3:28 am, wide awake again.

Also, it's not any worry or stress or anxious thoughts or heart palpitations keeping me awake these nights. I don't feel any of that physically/consciously anyway. The only frustration that I've had *knock on wood* was with Lisa. Maybe it's something related to that ... but not consciously.

As far as "that", I've decided to kind of take a breather with that. I'm not gonna play the "crazy lady" and go off on her online. I'm NOT going to post- even though there WERE times when I was tempted- a QQ status update on my - public- so anyone in China or anywhere could see it- profile with something like "Very sad.... I just heard that Lisa Li has resorted to prostituting at the Dalangtaosha Hotel in Guangzhou. From car sales to the 'sales and marketing'  position of a whore, a concubine. No one should hire her."

But I mean after reading a status update that translated to - "Dalangtaosha. Casual. One Night" what else would you think? - after, additionally, Googling "Dalangtaosha" of course.

Quinny has not gotten back to me about "why" Lisa never gave me her new QQ number. But Quinny is very "young and innocent" .... like, I feel like even when we were working at Best Learning, Lisa knew that Quinny was a very naive, sensitive girl/woman. Despite being 23-24, you know... just young... concerned with "work-life" but still stuck in the dreamworld of a 13 yr old girl.... I'm not sure how to explain it. But I feel like there are things that - well I know there are things that Lisa kept Quinny sheltered from.

So I'm not surprised that she didn't give Quinny her new QQ number .... but I am surprised that she didn't give it to me. I told Quinny that I'm tired of sending messages to Lisa, telling her that I miss her. She knows that I miss her. If she misses me, she can send me a message.

I feel like right now, as cliche as it sounds, we need space. I wouldn't be surprised if she found someone to have sex with, to connect with on that level. I wouldn't hold it against her .... I just want HONESTY. I can handle and understand the truth, the "not telling me" .... is worse. Maybe she thinks that I had "ulterior motives" for coming to Taipei. But I don''t, I didn't. There wasn't anyone "waiting here" for me.

I feel like we don't trust each other, and at this point, we don't share enough language to have a private conversation about it.  So - we need time to ourselves. Time away from the "why?" internet conversations.

At the same time.... when one door closes/ is only left open a crack and things look dark .... new fresh air comes through....I'm finding friends here in Taipei. My old Teaching Assistant, Ann and I have become good friends. She lives in Taipei. We are exactly the same age- though her birthday is April 12th. She speaks English very well, she went to university in London and she's travelled all over- Japan, Korea, the US , Thailand, Europe. She's on Facebook in English and Chinese... not on "QQ".

I mean, she has the life, and we have the connections that I wish that Lisa and I had. It's ... just a little easier. I've also become friends with one of her old high school friends Rene, who lives a little further down south in Taichung, Taiwan.

Ann has quit her job at my school and is going, with Rene to the US for 3 weeks for a wedding. Not just "the US" but she's going to New York City! - what "a sign"! what a beautiful thing! .. though Ann has been before, Rene has never been to New York. I'm looking forward to seeing their FACEBOOK pictures online. (:

Lisa is not a fool, but neither am I. It's one of those things that, for the sake of my sanity, I have to put on the shelf and just let it sit there for now. I'm going to continue learning Chinese and .... eventually maybe we will have the "why/what happened"conversation- with WORDS. Without fear of being watched online by the censors in China.

In between, maybe there will be other people, other things .... but I'm not going to burn the bridge, play the crazy woman. I wouldn't judge her or misunderstand her for finding someone. I just don't know how it went downhill so fast ....I have several possible ideas/reasons... but really, none of that matters. Remaining "friends" in that, "Oh... it's been so long, how are you?" type way is the best "solution" for now. Leaving open the possibility to reconnect when the language barriers are down and hopefully our guard is down.

But I hope she knows that I know that not all white/asian/black people are the same. I hope she knows that she's not easy to replace....