Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Potter's House, Taoyuan: Goodbye to the Nied Family

I made this video for Scott and Melissa Nied and their family as they left Taoyuan City for Tucson Arizona. They had served as missionaries in both Mainland China and Taiwan for the last fifteen years. On Behalf of the church we appreciate their service and the people you see in these photoes are their legacy. We will do our best to continue to serve Taoyuan City.

When I created this video the sound worked well but for some reason as I uploaded it to Youtube the sound cuts off. I apologize for that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taiwan Travelogue: Overlooking Tao Yuan City

Tao Yuan City Overview
(click on Images to enlarge)

On the very edge of the city is a small mountain called Hu Tou Shan (Tiger Head Mountain). A while back Emily and I took my scooter up there to look at the city. We took a few photos to give you an idea of what the City we live in is like.

Tao Yuan City, is the county seat for Tao Yuan County. We are approximately 30 km southwest of Taipei City. The population of Taoyuan is approximately 300,000 people; roughly the same population as Riverside California. But it is a much smaller geographic area. Because of the small geographic area the city is built up instead of out. People live in apartment high-rises; one friend lives on the 17th floor of her apartment building. Other people live in homes called Toutians. (pronounced Tow teeans) These are homes that are up and down. For example, on the first floor of our home there is a garage and one bedroom and a bathroom. The second floor contains the living room, Japanese tea room, the dining area and the kitchen. The third floor has three bedrooms and the laundry room. The fourth floor is the patio and a bedroom. There are no yards; the house is right on the street. No curb, no gutter the house is built right to the street. The patio on the fourth floor gives people a place to go outside in the evenings when it is a little cooler.

Tao Yuan City is known for the number of parks it has. There is a city ordinance that says If you own a vacant lot. The lot must either be fenced completely or turned into a park. So parks are everywhere. Other people take that land and put up a temple. You go around a corner and there’s a little neighborhood temple, in fact there’s a little temple about a half block from our house. People go there and light incense to their ancestors or leave offerings of fruit for the neighborhood god.

This photo shows the downtown area. This is the main place for shopping and business. There are a lot of large grocery and department stores in Tao Yuan. The two biggest are Da Ren Fa (which is called RT Mart). Sometimes Feng Shui masters name the stores. Companies pay them to give them a name that will guarantee prosperity. There is another store called Carrefour. Carrefour is a French company and the stores are huge. The one nearest to us is five floors and has everything from appliances to food to clothing to electronics: And just about anything else you could think of. RT mart is the same way, but Carrefour caters more to foreigners, they have foods and merchandise from foreign markets. RT Mart has more Taiwanese style foods and merchandise. We prefer RT mart because it’s closer and usually less expensive.

There are also a number of Traditional markets in Taoyuan. These places are much like swap meets in Southern California and they have absolutely everything. They are noisy and crowded. Hawkers are calling out what they have for sale. People are everywhere. It gets so crowded that sometimes you can’t get a scooter through. They're outside and Brenda and I love to go there.

Finally there is the night market. These are very popular places in Taoyuan. We have to ride past one twice a week and the place is thronged with people, rain or shine. Mostly they sell Taiwanese snacks and food. But there are also bargains on clothes and other simple things.

Here are a few random photos from the overlook and the road there:

Left: The Twelve Dragons at the Shrine of The Martyr. Right: A large Apartment Complex. (It was a hazy day, not all that is smog.)

Left: A temple on the road leading up the mountain.  Right: Winter vegetation on Hu Tou Shan.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Taiwan Travelogue:   Old Ceramics Street
Taiwan Travelogue:  The Traditional Market

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Random Asianess: Driving in Taiwan

The Taiwanese Driver’s License test.

President Ma Ying Jeoh has declared that the Taiwanese Government workers should work hard to improve English. So they have revised the Taiwanese Driver’s License test. The test was very difficult to take before because of the phrasing of sentences and the word choices. I have placed examples on my Facebook page. But the revisions…well, you tell me if they have improved.

Drivers are required to use distant lights when their vehicles are moving
in the urban areas at night, if the lighting is bright enough.

Distant lights are the High beams

If drivers are intending to maintain an orderly traffic for the safety of the
entire society and for the happiness of their families, they are required to: (1) abide by driving morals and disciplines, (2) improve their driving skills, (3) not smoke and not drink, either.

We can protect the entire society and maintain our family’s happiness by abiding by Driving morals and disciplines.

When meeting other vehicles on the merge-point at night, you are
required to: (1) turn on distant light, (2) turn on near light, (3) turn off lights and yield.

Near light is the low beams.

If drivers speed up, they will be cited in accordance with which of the
following requirement? (1) at least every 4 minutes of speeding up or
the vehicles pass through at least 1 intersection, (2) at least every 5
minutes of speeding up or the vehicles pass through at least 1
intersection, (3) at least 6km after the first citation is issued or at least
every 6 minutes of speeding up or the vehicles pass through at least 1
intersection. The foregoing requirement is not applicable to the tunnels
if vehicles are speeding up therein.

This is talking about the cameras at intersections and next to the road. You are timed and photographed if you are above the speed limit. You can be issued a ticket if after 5 minutes you pass though another inersection and you’re still speeding. You can get a second ticket.

Under which of the following circumstances are drives required to
attend the traffic safety lectures? (1) parking violation, (2) drivers forget
to have their driver’s licences with them, (3) snaki-driving.

Snaki-driving means weaving or swerving between lanes. Or changing lanes repeatedly to pass slower vehicles.

When vehicles are moving at high speed, which of the following is true
about driver’s visions: (1) cannot adapt to the situation definitely, (2)
decrease due to the high speed, (3) increase.

Your vision is unchanged but you travel farther in your reaction time. So you need to be able to see further to be as safe at lower speeds. The correct answer is decrease due to the high speed.

Accidents happen at the turn, because drivers: (1) ignore the blind spots
only, (2) ignore the inner wheel difference only, (3) ignore both the
blind spots and the inner wheel difference.

Inner wheel difference is the turning radius of the vehicle.

Which of the following is eligible for citation by using the movable
scientific instruments? (1) driving on road are required toer, (2) failure to maintain a safety distance, (3) both statements are true.

Toer is not an English word as far as I know.

I didn’t retype these questions I only copied and pasted. Many, many questions have spelling errors. The problem is that the test has been translated by software not by an English speaker; consequently, the people who review it don’t realize that they are using phrases completely foreign to an English speaker. In Chinese the words translated as near light would be easily recognized as the low beams, but in English it isn’t as obvious.

I’m not using this to say, “Look how stupid this is.” I’m using it to demonstrate the kinds of difficulties the language barrier creates. This is one aspect of culture shock. You’re not quite able to communicate easily.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Scootering in Taiwan:  New Helmet Technology
Cultural Unawareness:  Ticked Off in Taiwan