Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Taiwan Blog Review: Shu Flies

The header of Catherine Shu's Shu Flies

There are many “expat blogs” in Taiwan.  These are blogs written by people from other countries, usually in the language of their home nation.  This blog is one of them.  They come in a variety of flavors, if you will.  Some are about individual lives in Taiwan; someone who’s left home and wants to update loved ones about their lives here.  Others have different purposes, like political commentary, or cool places to visit, or food.  Occasionally, I will highlight one my favorites.  This is as much about Taiwan as it is about the perspective of the "expat experience."

I have certain interests that I am interested in.  So there you go a classic banduccism.  If I’m interested in something that must be my interest, right?  English is supposed to be my first language but sometimes, I’m not sure that it is.  Maybe one day I’ll take the time to learn how to write.  Those of you that are asking me to proofread and edit your dissertations be forewarned.  I always thought of myself as a good writer, until I read blogs by people who really are good writers then I’m forced to acknowledge the sad truth that without Microsoft Word’s grammar check, I’d be in deep trouble, even with it I'm in pretty deep trouble.

"Hey Madge, get a shot of this temple, eh? ...Perfect"
The same with photography:  I never thought I’d be intimidated by a teenager’s photo skills, but once again I’m forced to face facts.  Adrienne from Vagabond in Taiwan is a much better photographer than I am.  My photo’s usually look like some tourist snapshot.  They look like, “Hey Madge, I’ll stand in front of the LaLa Shan sign so everyone can see how beautiful this place is,” when all you can really see is my white pasty skin, Bermuda shorts, and the pink zinc sun protection on my nose and one sorry little tree protruding from behind my ponderous bulk.  It’s sort of like looking at Jabba the Hut in a hipster fedora.  Once again I’ve wandered off the subject and into the deep recesses of my psyche, which is probably not a good place to go, so let’s get back to the subject at hand.  I wanted to review some expat blogs that I enjoy.  I probably won't do this every week, but occasionally.  

The first is Shu Flies, by Catherine Shu.  I check this blog every couple of days looking for something new, which is interesting because it’s not a manly blog; there’s no mention of guns or kung fu, or fast cars or anything like that, but it’s very interesting.  Catherine, is an American-born Taiwanese woman who is experiencing life in the place of her heritage.  She is inspirational for me because she’s straight-forward about overcoming her battle with depression and her fears of living here, and she writes honestly about those things.

She is the one who really inspired me to begin to write about living in Taiwan and how I deal with my own disabilities here.  The important thing here is that she doesn’t come from the point of view of the victim, she always speaks in the terms of this is what I face, and I can overcome it.  I really admire and look up to her, even though she’s young she has a powerful personal testimony. 

I don’t want you to get the idea that she’s just sitting around and contemplating these things, though.  She’s learned Mandarin well enough to be a staff writer for the Taipei Times, a large, English language newspaper.  It’s written in English, but you have to speak mandarin to interview folks.  Because of her job she gets to go to a lot of different, sometimes quirky, but cool businesses.  She sees parts of Taipei that people like me never get to.  I wouldn’t even know those places existed without her blog. 

I think Brenda and Catherine would become fast friends if they ever met, because they both seem drawn to the same things: Crafty, artsy things that are just cool.  (I'd add some photos from the blog but I don't want to infringe on her copyrights, you'll have to go to her blog to see them.) If you have a few minutes and want to see parts of Taipei that are off the beaten path, and just plain interesting take some time to check out this blog.  Meet Catherine, her husband Ron and her vegetarian, houseplant-eating cat Taroko George, (did I mention that she’s occasionally a clever punster?).   


  1. Hi Chris! Thanks so much for the mention!


  2. Great blog! i am so glad to came across your blog. it is really nice and make me amazing. we can follow each other?

    1. Hi Augusta, thanks for the encouraging comment.